wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Who Is The Next WrestleMania Icon?

April 14, 2017 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina
John Cena

Why hello there dear readers! My name is Mathew Sforcina, and this is Ask 411 Wrestling! I hope you’ve had a good day or night or whatever time frame you’re reading this, and/or whatever time frame this is posted. I got a very busy Easter period coming up, so let’s get down to brass tacks.

Got a question? Send it through to [email protected] if you’d like an answer.



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The Trivia Crown

Who am I? I have an obvious link to the guy just above this question. My last match in my second last run in a ‘major’ promotion was a tag team win that was full of greats. I’ve teamed with a current WWE authority figure, and once lost a title to a current WWE superstar who then lost it to a different current WWE authority figure. A guy who’s finisher is probably not the move you think of when you think of me, and a guy who is currently signed to WWE, I am who?

Tatankasaurus (and John) have the answer for us.

Who am I? I have an obvious link to the guy just above this question. (ECW Tag Team Title with Mikey Whipwreck) My last match in my second last run in a ‘major’ promotion was a tag team win that was full of greats (in TNA him/Great Muta vs James Storm/Great Sanada). I’ve teamed with a current WWE authority figure (William Regal), and once lost a title (WWE United States Championship) to a current WWE superstar (Rhyno) who then lost it to a different current WWE authority figure (Kurt Angle). A guy who’s finisher (Buzzsaw Kick) is probably not the move you think of when you think of me (Green Mist), and a guy who is currently signed to WWE, I am who? Tajiri!

I was thinking of the Tarantula actually.

Who am I? I have a connection to the above wrestler. My named finisher is medical in nature. I’ve not been world champion myself, but I have managed three of them (and managed a relative of a fourth, who one of the three doesn’t like). I’ve won a piece of clothing, and have a perfect record in ECW. I’ve had a pet, a loss to Santino, and I once made out with a former ECW manager. Who am I?

Getting Down To All The Business

We’re gonna start with WM fallout a bit, starting with AJ.

The undertaker has been the WrestleMania icon for years. We would have experience the last WrestleMania with taker. I wonder firstly would WrestleMania sell as much with out the dead man? My next question is should there be a new WrestleMania icon? And if that’s a yes who would make a good icon? Undertaker WrestleMania value lies with in his streak. Everyone used to watch wondering if his opponent would end the streak after Brock defeat of taker many wondered when would be his last match. My last question is are there anyone who has been a superstar longer than taker? Or left more memories in that ring than undertaker? And was it reigns time or is WWE just shoving the Rock’s cousin down our throats?

Lots of questions there. Let’s take them one by one.

The question of if WM will sell without Taker is something that you can’t really answer, given that now the WWE business model is so different, that having a drawcard for WM isn’t strictly necessary, as they don’t care about popping a buyrate, they obviously don’t care that much about drawing in new fans, else they wouldn’t make the show so damn long, Wrestlemania is now a perpetual motion machine. Cities bid on it, and WWE makes money there, then they make money all around the show, and then they get network subscribers signing up for WM and then hopefully forgetting about it.

Putting on memorable matches for the purposes of making money directly off the show? They don’t really go that way now. Now it’s possible that not having Undertaker at all might be a problem, there is a chance he gives the proceedings a boost without needing to put on a good match as such, but we’ll have to see. But I think the current model doesn’t need a Taker, or Taker like person.

Should there be another Wrestlemania Icon? Yes and no. If WWE wants to continue their current thinking, where WM is a big show and you want the big names on there, then having one name above them all sort of makes sense, but on the other hand if all the part timers are there anyway, it’s a little hard to sell one as being that important as such. And on the other end of the scale, if you decide that maybe you want to focus on long term positive growth, if you want to make everyone who wrestles week in, week out, make them the big stars, then having someone come in at WM and overshadow them is not good.

But there’s a middle ground where yes, having a WM guy is doable, you can have a show where you draw people in with big part time names and then present the day to day guys as being more important and the big deals. And in that case, yes, having an Icon for the show helps.

As for who, Cena. You could make a case for HHH, especially if your ring name was Hunter, but I think that Cena is going to become the closest thing they have, a sort of Taker/Rock combo, where no matter how well he’s doing as the Garfunkle to Rock’s Simon, or the Salieri to his Mozart, or the pop culture reference of your choice between those two extremes, Cena will come back for a WM if he can, I think. I might be wrong, maybe Hollywood will suit him better, but I can see Cena, after he beats Flair’s record, moving into the Taker role.

I presume you mean, when you ask about being a longer guy that Taker, that you mean someone active right now, because otherwise we’ll be here all day listing people with longer careers. But The Undertaker character started in 1990. The only guy on the roster with anything close to that who is still wrestling and isn’t named McMahon would be Goldust, who first debuted in the WWF around the same time as Taker, albeit as Dustin Rhodes. But that was a short run, and he’s had long gaps away from WWE, so I’m not sure you’d be able to compare the two.

More memories than Taker? Well that’s subjective, as I’m sure some people can remember every one of Taker’s WM matches, while other people can’t really remember any beyond the most recent. But I think in terms of Taker memories, you have Roberts, 9’s entrance, 13’s title win, Kane 1, killing Bossman if you’re generous, this spot,

Kane 2, Orton, DAVE, Michaels 1, Michaels 2, this spot,

Streak Ends, Shane jumps, Reigns. 15 of his WMs are memorable. That’s a very high number, and no, I don’t think anyone can match that. Maybe Shawn, if you remember the Rockers well?

As for it being Reigns time V shoved down his throats, it’s kind of both. For the story WWE is telling with Reigns, for the way he’s been presented, made total sense for him to win how he did. And for how WWE is planning around Reigns, again, makes total sense for Taker to put him over strong on his way out. But that doesn’t mean WWE isn’t forcing a storyline, isn’t forcing the narrative in a way it’s not flowing.

Which is their right, by all means, but the thing is, the truly successful centrepieces for the company, there’s been this level of fan agency involved, in that we felt some ownership of them, at least from Hogan onwards. Hogan needed us to cheer him to get his second wind. We’d seen Bret and Shawn grow from being tag wrestlers to becoming the top guys. We chose to cheer Steve Austin and The Rock, forcing them to turn face. Cena we’ve made into the polarizing figure that WWE has been forced to accept.

Reigns on the other hand, we liked him, sure, but we didn’t choose him. We chose Ambrose of the three, and Reigns has never gotten past that point, with a couple of exceptions.

But that path is so well tread it’s not so much a path as it is the Grand Canyon. Suffice to say, it was both the right move to make, and a case of Reigns getting shoved down our throats. It’s just that in this case, WWE’s ‘right’ move involved said throats and stuff getting shoved down them.

Staying with Undertaker, Shaun will probably be disappointed.

Been following ask411 for yonks, really appreciate all your hard work and for consistently delivering one of the most interesting reads for a wrestling fan on the internet. I was just wondering can you tell me when the first time The Undertaker raised the lights with his entrance was?

Probably not, no. I glanced through his WM entrances, and 11 was the first time he raised the lights there, so it’s 95 at the latest, but without sitting down and watching every show from his debut till then, I can’t tell you. Perhaps a reader has a better educated guess than mine?

STILL on Taker (you’d almost think people liked him or something), Jon has a crazy idea.

Mat, I’ll probably get barbecued for this one, but here goes… The Undertaker character is likely in the top 5 all time profitable characters for WWE. So what if it didn’t have to end? How’s this?

Baron Corbin comes to the ring for a match and while he’s waiting for his opponent, the lights go out. When they come back up, he’s gone. Weeks go by and then out of know where, the dong hits at the end of a Raw episode. Taker comes out but not quite in the full Undertaker garb. He then cuts a promo almost but not quite out of character about the body being weak, but the spirit of the Undertaker not being held back by any one single human form. He closes by promising an explanation soon. Then at the end of the next PPV, right at the end of the main event, the dong hits again and the newly repacked Corbin comes out and destroys both wrestlers using Taker’s classic move set. As the show ends, the last shot is of Mark Calloway standing on the stage nodding in approval.

If done correctly, could this work?

So you’re saying Baron Corbin would take moves from someone else? Like Mega Man?

I could see that working in a Lucha Underground or CHIKARA setting easy, but WWE… They could play it as Taker finding a protégé, I suppose, you could make it work, but the problem is that you’re relying on Baron Corbin to have the same presence and ability as Taker did in that role. That’s not really a knock on Corbin, he’s improved a bit from where he was, but Taker so owned that role, that anyone else trying to redo it is going to be fighting an uphill battle no matter what, let alone being someone who’s only just recently come into their own.

In a perfect world, maybe, but this is not a perfect world, so no, I don’t see this working in reality. Taker was a one off, Kane worked because it was an adjunct and he wasn’t being Taker exactly, just an evil equivalent, which is an important distinction.

Corbin being Taker’s chosen successor, that could have legs. But Undertaker 2.0? No, no thank you.

Finally moving on from Taker, April asks if you only have to count the hair on your head.

We’ve all seen hair vs hair matches, but has there ever been a facial hair vs facial hair match. Like say Jack Gallagher put his ripper of a moustache on the line against Tony Nese’s beard?

That does sound like something you’d see in old school Memphis, maybe between two managers with a big beard and an impressive moustache between them. And certainly I can think of a few cases where someone bet their beard on a match/es outcome, or had it shaved off as part of an angle.

But I did find a couple of examples. Back in St Louis in 1984, there was a “Beard vs Mask” match where Grappler I beat Tommy Rogers and then, presumably, shaved off Tommy’s beard. A similar gimmick occurred in Texas in the mid 70’s, apparently, between Red Bastien and The Spoiler. I presume Spoiler won and shaved off some red hair.

You know, speaking of gimmicks that should make a comeback… Who do you hate these days more than a Spoiler?

Fine, moving on.

8,000 fans flocked to the Dreamland Auditorium in San Francisco on January 12, 1937 to see Man Mountain Dean and Brother Jonathan fight in a beard vs beard match too. In late 1953 in Mexico City, ”Tough” Tony Borne put his hair and beard up against Blue Demon’s mask, drew 25K.

There’s a couple more matches in the 30’s to 70’s with beards on the line, so it’s happened, although not recently. Although in Memphis in 89, Jeff Jarrett put up his hair against… the armpit hair of Dirty White Boy Tony Anthony.

But yeah, it could make a comeback. You just have to put in the rules that the loser must stay clean shaven for X weeks…

Kevin brings us back to an infamous moment.

Hey man love the column, I was watching the Sept 23rd Raw and at the end, Jim Ross goes on a huge shoot about Vince, his history in the Company, and how poorly he was treated. At that point he brought out Fake Razor. What were they trying to do with JR at this point in time?

Turn him heel.

You’re expecting a Chandler here? That was the point.

There’s always been this small but powerful faction in WWE who sees Jim Ross as being too southern, not good looking enough, a turn off due to his medical issues, just not what a commentator should be. The fact he’s arguably the greatest play by play commentator in wrestling history is irrelevant, apparently.

WWE has also had this idea that they can tell stories involving the commentary team, that if they’re gonna be such a big part of the show anyway, why not tell stories with them? Plus they’ve wanted a heel play by play guy for reasons I’ve never understood.

Plus, Russo was there at the time, so SHOOT ANGLES! SHOOT ANGLES EVERYWHERE!!!

So, you want to make Ross into the secondary part of the commentary team with Vince and Lawler, have a heel play by play guy of sorts, and why not toss a shoot angle in there as well? That seemed to be the logic, both in 96 and in 99, albeit in 99 losing the Vince angle and adding in Michael Cole getting kicked in the dick.

So yeah, it was to turn JR heel. Oh, and prove they were still using the Razor and Diesel trademarks, but that’s a whole other matter…

Bill did have a follow up from last week, actually.

“One of the main reasons RAM is a thing now is that people who travel in for WM tend to get package deals. Not just with flights and accommodation and such, but also with tickets to WM, and Raw, AND SD.”

Is this a thing WWE offers? I mean, it makes sense for them to do something like this, but I can’t remember seeing this mentioned as a possible package deal, but I also haven’t looked too closely at ticket news, since I never had any concrete plans to go, so it’s entirely possible I never paid close enough attention and that’s why I’m clueless about them. I’ve heard about travel packages, but not ticket packages.

It’s something WWE has moved into doing officially, but it’s existed for a while. WWE had a variety of ticket packages for the WM weekend, for instance, all of which included tickets to the Hall of Fame, NXT, WM, Raw and Smackdown, as well as Axxess and Universal Orlando tickets, which just so means you’re probably not going to be able to attend any of the other wrestling shows on there that weekend, what a shame.

*1/13th of a Chandler*

However, certainly down here in Australia, every year there is a travel deal that gets passed around Facebook and the like, where for a large fee you get the full deal, tickets to everything, airfares, accommodation, the lot. Basically tour companies will buy blocks of seats and the like, do it all in one go, take you around in a group, like any other guided tour. I assumed that this had equivalents for other countries, but perhaps I was wrong, maybe it is just an Aussie thing.

Easier now that WWE sells the ticket packages themselves, I suppose, the companies can just buy them in bulk rather than getting each show’s thing separately.

So yeah, WWE will sell you linked tickets, and apparently they’re moving into offering accommodation as well, but not airfares and the like. But for a fee, other companies will be more than happy to do that for you.

From not at all controversial to about as controversial as you can get right now. Jeremy?

Has Sami Zayn taken a stance on or been outspoken about the crisis in Syria?

Not in any long form interview, that I know of. However his Twitter account has posted several tweets on the subject recently, encouraging donations and the like for charities trying to help those gassed and others like them. He’s also tweeted about the region in the past.

You might consider that being ‘outspoken’, and/or taking a stance as it were. You may not, you may think he could say more given the circumstances. But he’s not ignoring it, nor is he focusing on it exclusively. Your opinion about his opinion is your own, and I’ll leave it at that before I piss someone off.

Pedro asks if WWE should have brought in all of Team Extreme.

Do yo think WWE lost an opportunity in bringing LITA, to capture the title in Wrestlemania, just like the Hardys….???

Not really, no. Lita’s pretty much retired, and I’m not sure how well she’d fit back in with the Hardys, at least in the 6 to 12 months when Matt breaks again. Plus she’d have to have come back to SD, since that was the Women’s title match with a “All Comers” gimmick, so she’d be separated from them anyway.

The Hardys are still active wrestlers, and ones with a gimmick that could be very popular. Lita’s got a bum neck, and hasn’t wrestled regularly in over 10 years.

I could see Lita being a special once off manager if the Hardys find themselves going after a tag team with a female manager (call up Blake and Murphy and just stick them back with Bliss? Hook Miz and Crews up with Maryse? Mickie James, Drifter and Heath Slater as A Band?), that could work. But Lita as a full time return performer? I don’t see that happening. Unless her neck is suddenly good again, in which case by all means, although I’d be annoyed if I wasted my one female wrestler return miracle on Lita when Victoria is still available…

From drunk with power to just plain drunk, Connor?

Was bobby heenan drunk at superbrawl 1995? His commentary was strange and he was acting odd

That’s certainly the prevailing opinion on the subject, yes.

I’ve not found any claims by anyone that he was or wasn’t drunk as such, but given Heenan’s overall opinion about WCW, him having a few adult beverages before a show wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility.

That said, a drunk Heenan is still better than (name of announcer you don’t like).

Ben takes us from one manager to another.

Has anyone ever asked… How many tennis rackets has Jimmy Cornette gone through?

Yes, someone has asked that I’m sure. Maybe not to me, but I presume that topic has come up.

Next, we-

Oh, you want to know the answer? Well that I can’t answer. I’ll see if I can get a line via Maffew to Cornette to see if he has anything resembling a ballpark figure for next week. Or some other way that I don’t have.

Hey, it’s Jon again! Maybe.

What do you think are the biggest flop gimmicks in wrestling history? Use whatever definition of “flop” you’d like.

Hmmm. Well in my mind, a flop gimmick, a really big one, is one that is supposed to be a main event/money drawing gimmick, so that when it fails, it really kills a person’s drawing power. Of course, the problem is that this doesn’t mean that the person isn’t doing good work, in fact you can argue that the biggest flop gimmick in wrestling history was The InVasion My Name Is Stone Cold Steve Austin. Yes, he was fantastic in that role from a performance standpoint, and I loved it, but it took Austin’s popularity and ability to make money and drown it in a bathtub of milk, or at the very least break it in half like one of Debra’s cookies.

Of course, it can be hard to separate the failure of a performer and the flopping of a gimmick. Kozlov ended up as a solid midcard guy, but his main event run at the start didn’t go well at all. That the gimmick’s fault, or his? Same as Sin Cara, it didn’t get anywhere near what it was supposed to, but I think that’s due more to the man playing the gimmick than the gimmick itself.

So gimmicks that were the problem, flop gimmicks, my list would probably include stuff like Tensai, Kizarny, the whole Blood Runs Cold angle in WCW, Drew McIntyre (the first time around)… Mohammed Hassan, too.

But the biggest one? Sean O’Haire. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

But I feel the need to justify that one, as it was a conflux of a few things. Because yes, a major reason it failed was that O’Haire couldn’t pull the gimmick off live. And yes, by the time he got there, all the physical positives he had had when he came on board with WCW had been scrubbed out of him. But that’s kind of the point, because those promos were so damn good, it made me, at least, think he had it all back together, and was going to be The Bad Guy going forward.

And then it didn’t happen.

But what of you, dear reader? What do you consider to be the biggest flop gimmick in wrestling history? Heck, how do you define a flop gimmick anyway? Leave a comment below about that, or anything else we discussed this week, and I’ll see you all next week, at some point. Hopefully.

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Ask 411, WrestleMania, WWE, Mathew Sforcina