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Ask 411 Wrestling: Who Trained Shane McMahon?

February 10, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

If you have one of those queries searing a whole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

Hey, ya want a banner?

Here comes Lev., as well as the money:

I’m curious about Shane McMahon’s punches. Tried looking it up online but all I can find is mockery. It has been an ongoing joke for years so why doesn’t somebody actually teach Shane to throw a good worked punched? Is he above reproach because of his name? Who trained him?

The reason you could only find mockery is that Shane McMahon’s punches – which I remind you he’s been trying to throw for something on the order of TWENTY YEARS now – are deserving of only mockery.

I could rant about Shane McMahon for a while, but I won’t, since that’s not what the question is about. However, the short version is that Shane is one of my least favorite in-ring performers of all time, and his return to WWE to face the Undertaker at Wrestlemania a few years ago was the straw that broke the camel’s back and lead to me to no longer watching WWE on a regular basis.

I’m sure that you’re correct that the reason Shane-O-Mac continues to be allowed in the ring despite having some of the dirt worst fundamentals a high level performer has ever had has everything to do with who he is, but I think the real question here is . . . just who is responsible for all of this?

Shane himself has actually gone on the record to answer the question. On May 4, 2016, the WWE Network streamed a “podcast” hosted by Mick Foley in which McMahon was interviewed about his life up to that point and his then-recent return to WWE. Shane said that Dr. Tom Prichard and Al Snow both helped train him. Interestingly, during a November 2018 episode of his podcast, Dr. Tom’s brother, Bruce “Brother Love” Prichard recounted stores in which he and “Macho Man” Randy Savage would work with Shane in the ring before WWF shows started, circa the early 1990s. Though these were unlikely formal training sessions, it was mentioned that Savage would show Shane things like how to lock up. Punches weren’t mentioned, though.

Interestingly, in more recent years, there has been a lot of press generated about Shane training with real-world tough guys. In the building to the aforementioned 2016 match with the Undertaker, WWE.com published an article stating that McMahon was training with former kickboxer and UFC striking coach Phil Nurse as well as former WBF Bodystar and strength and conditioning expert Jim Quinn. Shane also tweeted about spending time with Renzo Gracie as part of the build to this match, and he also rolled with BJJ black belt John Danaher last year.

It’s not entirely clear how much of those more recent training sessions was legitimate and how much was purely promotional in nature, you’d think that somebody would have fixed this guy’s punching problem somewhere along the line.

Keith H. is a big draw:

Can you find a rundown of the average prices of PPV’s by year and the price of Wrestlemania by decades?

Also, you mentioned that WWF/E PPVs have only hit the one million buys eight times. Can you list those PPV’s from highest to lowest?

Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of information out there about what pay per views have cost from year-to-year. I was only able to find one real resource on that, and it is Chris Harrington’s excellent Indeed Wrestling blog, specifically this post that was initially put up in 2013 and updated through the autumn of 2015.

Even that post only includes data beginning in 2006, when a “regular” pay per view event cost $34.95 and Wrestlemania cost $49.95. In June of that year, the standard PPV price went up five bucks to $39.95 where it actually stayed all the way until January 2010, when it jumped up another five dollars to $44.95. That’s actually where the price stayed until the last data point on September 20, 2015 for that year’s Night of Champions show. However, by that point, PPV was breathing its last breath because the WWE Network was a year-and-a-half old.

During that same period of time, Wrestlemania was $49.95 in 2006, $54.95 in 2007, $49.95 in 2008 (an odd price decrease), $54.95 again in 2009 through 2012, $59.95 in 2013 through 2015.

As to WWE pay per views breaking one million buys, you are correct that it only happened eight times before PPV became a thing of the past. Unsurprisingly, all of those shows were Wrestlemanias. Here they are, with buy data being provided by Pro Wrestling History, which probably got it in turn from the Observer:

1. Wrestlemania XXIII: 1.25 million buys
2. Wrestlemania XXVIII: 1.217 million buys
3. Wrestlemania XXVII: 1.124 million buys
4. Wrestlemania XXIX: 1.104 million buys
5. Wrestlemania XXI: 1.09 million buys
6. Wrestlemania XXIV: 1.041 million buys
7. Wrestlemania XVII: 1.04 million buys
8. Wrestlemania XX: 1.02 million buys

What’s interesting about these numbers is that, if you poke around on the comment sections of websites like, oh, say, 411mania.com, you’ll see a lot of fans complaining about how they don’t like celebrities and part-timers taking up space on ‘Mania that could go to full-time wrestlers.

Kevin Owens was not having a good day

However, if you look at the top four shows on that list of eight, all four of them had either a celebrity or a part-timer as their number one attraction. Wrestlemania XVIII is the show that was headlined by Donald Trump and Vince McMahon’s hair being put on the line, and Manias XXVII through XXIX were built around the Rock facing off with John Cena, first with Rocky “hosting” the show and then with their two matches. Heck, even number six on the list features an outsider, as it was primarily sold on Floyd Mayweather wrestling the Big Show.
So, there you go. If you want to have a WWE show that draws an historic number of paid viewers, you usually need to bring in somebody who is not normally part of the WWE roster.

Bryan J. is managing things, generally speaking:

This is sort of an opinion question. You know when they have those “general manager gives a speech to the whole roster” segments? When faces and heels are standing really close to each other; the fact they can stand there and not fight, do you think that hurts the illusion? Even as a kid, I always thought the good guy and bad guy wrestler would fight each other if within striking distance, even if they weren’t in a specific feud, just … because it’s what they do, like beta fish. Does that lack of conflict, the fact they can behave long enough to listen to an announcement bother you?

No, I can’t say that has ever bothered me. I could see the argument if there were two wrestlers who actually had a blood feud being made to stand next to one another, but, if anything, I think that two guys starting a fight with each other just because one dresses in the heel locker room and one dresses in the face locker room is even less realistic than two unaffiliated wrestlers coming to blows because they’re compelled by some unseen cosmic force to do so.

That being said, I do have a problem with the “general manager gives a speech to the whole roster” segments, but it’s not the one that Bryan points out.

My issue with these segments is that they make the general manager the star of the show when, really, the wrestlers should be the stars of the show. They also rob the wrestlers of agency by placing all of the power in the general manager’s hands, and, with the wrestlers not having agency and not being the ones who determine their own fates, they are less compelling characters.

Let’s take a cue from non-wrestling media for a moment, specifically action movies. I’m not a big action movie guy, but I know that one of the reasons that action movies are popular is that the audience gets to put themselves into the role of the hero. They get to imagine, for a second, what it would be like to be a larger-than-life badass who can catch a bullet in their hand while jumping off of an exploding helicopter. In that respect, wrestling is (or at least should be) like an action movie. We should see the wrestlers, particularly the babyface wrestlers, as the height of cool. We should be watching them take their lives in their own hands and fight to triumph against all odds.

However, in a wrestling landscape dominated by authority figures who take up substantial period of time on the show, you don’t get that. Imagine what Die Hard would be like if, instead of focusing on John McLane storming Nakatomi Tower, we instead had to sit through twenty minutes of John McLane’s boss lecturing him about what an idiot he is, followed by McLane getting in about two minutes of action, followed by three more segments in which his boss drones incessantly and makes it clear that he is the star of the film, not McLane.

That is essentially what WWE (and American promotions that emulate WWE) has done to itself over the course of the past twenty years. They’ve taken agency away from the wrestlers and handicapped them in such a way that they’re not the stars of their own stories. They’re ancillary characters in the stories of the company’s on-screen authority figures.

Can we bring back Jack Tunney?

APinOZ wants to talk about something decidedly not Australian:

During a recent YouTube search, I came across a clip from the Mid-Atlantic territory from August 1981. During a studio squash match, Wahoo McDaniel gets distracted by Roddy Piper, allowing Abdullah the Butcher to hit the ring. Abdullah destroys Wahoo with a foreign object. The scene is so graphic that the version I saw is weirdly edited but it looks legitimately gruesome as Abdullah carves Wahoo’s forehead open.

My question concerns the angle itself and the follow-up (or lack of): Several online posters have claimed to have seen the unedited version of this. Was it so bad that Mid-Atlantic were forced to edit it subsequently (there were rumors it almost cost them their TV slot)? Have you seen the unedited version? Also, given the violence of the angle, there was almost no follow-up that I can find, at least on the WWE Network. The angle is referred to and the edited version replayed a few weeks after it happened? Abdullah didn’t make another TV appearance in the region for a long time. Was there a dispute between he and Mid-Atlantic? Piper went on to feud with Jay Youngblood, so was there some sort of edict from management that they didn’t want to go ahead with the feud between Wahoo and Piper (with or without Abdullah?)

I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever seen the unedited version of this angle, and I’m not entirely certain that it exists anymore. You’re right that there are several comments from people online on various websites claiming that they remember seeing an unedited version, but it does not appear to be circulating anywhere . . . which seems like an oddity in this day when we have almost total access to any media that we want at any time.

As far as future encounters between Piper, Abdullah, and Wahoo go, they definitely wrestled each other coming off of this angle. The fact that you can’t find a lot of it taped for television just goes to the different nature of the professional wrestling business at the time. The purpose of shooting a big angle like this was to get people to buy live event tickets to see hot matches, and you didn’t necessarily get a lot of follow-up on television between the wrestlers.

There were plenty of follow-up matches between Wahoo and Piper and Piper and Abby. Many of them were tag team matches involving the Hot Scot and the Madman from the Sudan taking on Wahoo and his partners Ron Bass or Jay Youngblood, though you also had a singles match between Abdullah and McDaniel on September 13, 1981 in Hampton, Virginia and a “Lights Out” match been Abby and Wahoo on October 4, 1981 in Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as Piper facing McDaniel in singles action on October 1, 1981 in Norfolk, Virginia, on October 5 in Asheville, North Carolina, on October 6, 1981 in Columbia South Carolina, on October 10 in Greensboro, North Carolina, and on October 11 in Hampton, Virginia in a Texas Death Match.

Of course, a couple of years later, Wahoo and Piper would go on to become friends and tag team partners, but that’s another story for another time.

Connor is clowning around:

Why was Doink turned face? He was so much cooler as an evil clown.

My understanding is that it was a combination of factors. First, there were shows leading up to the turn where he was getting babyface reactions, and, in those days, wrestlers would be more frequently turned based on how the audience reacted to them than they are today. Second, the WWF was getting ready to head into its very kiddy-friendly “New Generation” era, and there was some thought that he could be easily marketed and merchandised to children.

And that will do it for this week. If you’ve got questions of your own, be sure to send them in to [email protected].

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers