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Ask 411 Wrestling: Why Did Ultimate Warrior Not Main Event Wrestlemania VII?

August 22, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Ultimate Warrior

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals to Ask 411 Wrestling for August 18, 2018.

After a couple of weeks off, we’re back with a fairly research-intensive question this week, so if you like reading lists of data, this is the column for you!

If you don’t like that, then we’ve also thrown in some more history and opinion-based questions as well.

Regardless of the style of question you prefer, you can help the column out by sending it in to [email protected], and I’ll get to it as soon as I am able.

Speaking of getting into it, let’s do just that.

Twister and Shouter is now becoming an asker:

It’s generally agreed that after the relative drawing failure of the Ultimate Warrior’s world title run, the WWF turned to their tried and trusted ‘Hogan vs Evil Foreign Heel’ formula to fill the main event of Wrestlemania VII and seize back the torch that had been passed to Warrior at WM VI. I’ve got a couple of questions on this point: (1) When roughly did they give up on Warrior and decide to transition the belt back to Hogan via Slaughter? Was there a specific ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ moment? (2) Early in Warrior’s reign, when the future may have still seemed bright, were there ever any rough plans as to him main eventing WM VII, and, if so, who did they have in mind as his prospective opponent(s)? (3) What, in your opinion, were the main reason, or reasons, for Warrior’s relative failure as champion?

Honestly, I used to buy into the “Hogan vs. Slaughter main evented Wrestlemania VII because Warrior failed as a draw” school of thought as well. However, when I started doing some research to flesh out an answer to this question, I came to realize that Hogan vs. Slaughter (or another Iraqi sympathizer) may well have been the plan all along as opposed to a quick fix for a failing Warrior title reign.

There are three main sources that I would point to in reaching this conclusion, two of which are men who were in the WWF at the time these matches were booked and the third being a journalist reporting on the situation as it was unfolding.

Perhaps most compelling is an interview that Sergeant Slaughter himself did with the Two Man Power Trip podcast in September 2015 that you can still listen to here. In it, Slaughter states that he was not in the WWF at the time he watched Wrestlemania VI and that he wrote to Vince McMahon afterwards, telling Vinnie Mac that he enjoyed the show. McMahon reportedly called Slaughter back “two weeks later” and asked if the former drill instructor was willing to return to the promotion. Shortly after that, McMahon brought Slaughter to his home and told him that he wanted him to help sell out a show at the 100,000+ seat L.A. Coliseum and pitched the heel turn as the way to do it.

The interview does not talk about whether Hogan vs. Slaughter was the original plan or whether it was replacing an earlier-conceived match, but the implication certainly seems to be that the former GI Joe cast member turning heel was in the works for roughly one year prior to WMVII.

Second up is a segment from Bruce Prichard’s podcast. Prichard was in the company around this time, working not only as Brother Love but also in a backstage capacity. The clip that I am referencing is below:

For those of you unable to listen to it at the moment, Prichard reports, oddly enough, that the original plan was for TUGBOAT of all people to turn on Hulk Hogan and become an Iraqi sympathizer, building up to a Wrestlemania match with the Hulkster.

I am very sad that we do not live in the alternate reality in which that actually happened.

Shortly after the two minute mark of the clip, Prichard says that the Wrestlemania VII main event plan was always to do Hogan vs. Tugboat or Hogan vs. Slaughter. This is not explicitly stated anywhere, but if you put the information in the Prichard podcast and the information in the Slaughter interview together, it seems reasonable to assume that Hogan/Tugboat might have been changed to Hogan/Slaughter as a result of Slaughter reaching out to McMahon in the weeks following Wrestlemania VI.

Prichard also states that the rationale behind putting Warrior with Randy Savage at Mania VII was just that they were the next two biggest names down the card after Hogan and Slaughter.

Finally, I went back and reviewed the Wrestling Observer Newsletter from January 1991 through Wrestlemania VII. In all of the coverage of the card, including the controversial Hogan/Slaughter match, there was never any reference to a Warrior title defense being meant to headline the show. Also, the January 28 edition of the newsletter references the fact that Sgt. Slaughter had been negotiating with the WWF to return during the summer of 1990 and that his heel turn was part of those discussions, which lends further credence to the idea that Hogan vs. Slaughter was a long-term plan and not a last minute replacement.

All in all, it sounds like the original plan was to have the Hulkster face off against an Iraqi heel at Wrestlemania, and the Ultimate Warrior was never in the mix.

Darth Daver is wiki-wiki-whack:

I noticed a while ago that Wikipedia had started removing the “In Wrestling” section from articles about wrestlers. In my opinion, this was the most valuable section of the articles, particularly their finishing/significant moves and descriptions thereof.

What are your thoughts on this, and do you know of any movements/petitions to get them reinstated?

I have never been the biggest fan of how Wikipedia articles covering professional wrestlers are structured, as they’re supposed to be biographies of living persons, but 90% of the article text usually focuses on kayfabe storylines and accomplishments, which would be the equivalent of detailing the lives of all of the movie characters Tom Hanks has played on his personal Wikipedia entry.

(And don’t even get me started on the fact that Wikipedia’s editors have, for some reason, decided to list WWE’s worked attendance numbers for events as legitimate.)

With all of that being said, it appears that the removal of the “In Wrestling” sections (which, for the uninitiated, were lists of a wrestler’s signature moves, championships, theme songs, managers, and the like) were removed as the result of a debate and consensus between the Wikipedia editors who regularly contribute to the site’s professional wrestling “project.” If you would like to read some of the archived discussion, you can do so here.

Because the issue has already been thoroughly discussed and voted on by those associated with the project, it seems unlikely that the “In Wrestling” section will be reinstated anytime soon.

I personally don’t think it’s that big of a loss. Wrestlers’ championships and accomplishments are remaining in the articles in their own sections, and I’ve never really seen a practical application for a listing of the moves that a given wrestler does, particularly when the descriptions of the moves were written in as nonsensical a manner as the Wikipedia descriptions were. (For example, on one page, Bubba Ray Dudley’s Bubba Bomb is called a “sitout full nelson atomic drop,” which I can GUARANTEE you is a description nobody actually in the professional wrestling industry has ever used.)

So, yeah, I’m not seeing the big loss. Your mileage may vary.

Sels is working the territories:

Has anyone wrestled in all of WWF/E, WCW, ECW, NJPW, AAA, CMLL, ROH, TNA/Impact, and NXT?

If you answer the question strictly as it was asked, I believe that the answer is “nobody,” though I’m open to being corrected if anybody thinks of a wrestler that I’ve missed. If you think about it, the fact that nobody has accomplished this isn’t particularly surprising, because WCW and ECW closed down in 2001 whereas NXT didn’t start to operate as a developmental territory until 2012, which is an eleven year span. A lot of careers begin and end over the course of eleven years, so there’s not going to be a lot of overlap between people who appeared in WCW and people who appeared in NXT, particularly when you account for the fact that NXT is a developmental league and will be populated primarily by younger wrestlers.

However, I’m not going to stop the answer there. I’m not going to stop it there in part because there are several guys who are very close to reaching this accomplishment and in part because I don’t think that the question is entirely fair.

Let’s start with the issue that I take with the question. I don’t think that it’s proper to consider WWE and NXT two separate entities. They are the same company, ultimately under the direction of the same people, and they have the ability to use the same resources.

If you alter the question in that way and fold NXT into the WWF, there are two wrestlers I could find who have appeared in all of the listed promotions, namely:

Christopher Daniels: Most reading this will know that the Fallen Angel has had lengthy runs in both TNA and ROH. He is also a former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion in New Japan, and he’s had a handful of appearances as an enhancement talent in both the WWF and ECW. Oh, and he almost broke his neck in WCW. He appeared on a couple of AAA shows while he was in TNA and the companies had a working relationship, and he had a match on a CMLL show earlier this month, likely due to ROH exchanging talent with that company.

Konnan: K-Dawg began his career in Mexico and has been a legend there for decades, so it’s only natural that he’s wrestled for both CMLL and AAA. Of course, Monday Night War fans will recall him in WCW and might even know that he was one of the many luchadors that ECW brought in as a special attraction on their shows. He also spent quite a while as part of the 3 Live Kru in TNA before becoming LAX’s manager. His runs in the other promotions are a bit more obscure. He worked a series of dark matches and one house show match for the WWF in 1991 and 1992, using the name “Latin Fury.” In November 1994, he and several other luchadors were brought in to work a series of Mexican-themed shows for New Japan. Finally, Konnan wrestled in one of the most poorly-received matches in the history of ROH, as he teamed with Divine Storm to defeat the SAT and Ghost Shadow in a trios match on January 11, 2003.

There are seven wrestlers who are missing only one of the listed promotions (again, considering WWE and NXT to be the same company):

AJ Styles: Styles never wrestled a match for any incarnation of ECW, though he was at various times a fixture in WWE, NJPW, ROH, and TNA. His first appearances for a national wrestling outfit were in WCW as half of the tag team Air Raid in the short-lived cruiserweight tag division, and he’s been a guest star for both AAA and CMLL during major shows from those promotions.

Jushin Liger: Like Styles, Liger never appeared in ECW. Obviously, New Japan is his home promotion, and he’s appeared in all of the promotions that NJPW has had working relationships with over the years, including WCW, ROH, TNA, and CMLL. He also appeared for AAA on Triplemania II and VIII. His one and only WWE appearance was his NXT match against Tyler Breeze in 2015.

Eddie Guerrero: Eddie Guerrero has appeared for all of the listed promotions except for TNA. Of the remaining companies, Ring of Honor is the only one for which he was not a full-time performer at any point, though he did work two shows for them in their early days, namely on February 23 and April 27, 2002.

Hector Guerrero: Interestingly, Eddie’s brother Hector also appeared for all but one of the promotions that we’re discussing, namely ROH. He was the Gobbledygooker in the WWF, he was a jobber during the Monday Night War in WCW, and he faced Shane Douglas and 2 Cold Scorpio in 1995 for ECW. He was a regular for CMLL in 1992 and 1993, though he only ever had one match for AAA, a trios match with brothers Chavo and Mando in 1994. He briefly managed LAX in TNA, and, as part of that run, he wrestled a six person tag with Homicide and Hernandez against Beer Money and Miss Jacqueline in 2008.

Psicosis: Also known as Nicho El Millonario, the original Psicosis has been a regular for WWE, WCW, ECW, CMLL, and AAA at various points. He was also a participant in the same NJPW tour of lucha talent that we mentioned in our Konnan blurb above, and he was in the match that crowned the first-ever NWA TNA X Division Champion, later doing some appearances for the company in 2004. ROH is the only company on our list that he is missing, which actually surprised me a bit.

Rhyno: Everybody knows about Rhyno’s time in WWE, ECW, ROH, and TNA. Under the name Terry Richards, he did four matches as a WCW enhancement wrestler in 1995, including a World Television Title match against the Renegade. New Japan has brought him in several times over the years, perhaps most notably as one of the participants on the company’s first ever tour of the United States in 2011. He also did a one-off match for AAA in 2007, making CMLL the only promotion he’s missing.

2 Cold Scorpio: Just like Rhyno, 2 Cold is only missing CMLL from our list. In the 1990s, he bounced around between the WWF, WCW, NJPW, and ECW. He appeared for TNA during their ECW reunion shows in 2010 and 2013, and he’s worked four AAA shows that I could find record of, including the legendary When Worlds Collide pay per view in 1994.

Last and I suppose actually least, there are numerous wrestlers who are missing only two promotions from the list, and I’ll name them here, with the promotions that they’re missing in parenthesis: Rikishi (ROH & CMLL), Chris Benoit (ROH & TNA), Scott Hall (ROH & CMLL), Juventud Guerrera (ROH & NJPW), Chris Jericho (ROH & TNA), Jerry Lynn (AAA & CMLL), Michael Shane (NJPW & CMLL), Sabu (ROH & CMLL), Rey Misterio Jr. (ROH & TNA), Miguel Perez Jr. (ROH & TNA), Scott Steiner (CMLL & ROH), Super Crazy (WCW & TNA), Rob Van Dam (CMLL & ROH), Drew McIntyre (CMLL & WCW – if you count the WWE version of ECW), Brian Kendrick (WCW & CMLL – if you count WWE’s ECW), Norman Smiley (ROH & NJPW), and Bushwacker Luke (TNA & CMLL – if you count Jim Crockett Promotions as WCW).

Connor is climbing aboard the A-Train:

What did anyone ever see in Albert? He got quite a big push in late 2002/2003 as A Train and was even Intercontinental champ before that but to me he was just a big dude with no charisma or talent

Eh, I think you’re being a bit too hard on him. Albert/A-Train/whatever you want to call him actually had some real highlights in the ring. I think that the more boring portions of his career all occurred when he was being booked against the wrong opponents.

If you look at Albert’s greatest matches, almost all of them came when he was wrestling smaller, more athletic opponents. Many of these occurred during his run as Giant Bernard in New Japan. He’s great at playing the large, bruising bully. However, when he’s in the ring against somebody who is almost his size or slightly bigger, he’s not nearly as impressive. This is, unfortunately, what happened to him in most of his WWF/WWE runs.

That’s why I cringed when one of his first opponents in his stint as Lord Tensai was John Cena. I knew that wasn’t going to be a great match or program as soon as I saw the two entering the ring. What the company ought to have done was booked Tensai as a dominant competitor over smaller wrestlers for many months and THEN pulled the trigger on a Cena feud. It worked for Umaga, after all.

In short, I think you’ve underrated Albert a bit. Go reevaluate some of his work.

John knows that to everything there is a season:

This is regarding the initial face turn of the Road Warriors back in the mid-1980s. I remember that just prior to the start of their turn, they were featured on cover stories on two different Bill Apter publications. One was a fan poll asking whether or not they should be banned from wrestling (Wrestling 84), the other was detailing a plot by NWA officials to do just that (Pro Wrestling Illustrated, September 1984). It seemed that after these two magazines were published, fan sentiment began changing toward the team. Do you think that this turn after their rather sympathetic coverage was simply a coincidence, or could there possibly be more to it?

I think that it’s simply a coincidence. Though the Apter mags did cooperate with certain wrestling promotions at various points in their history, an actual face turn being helped along in part by the magazines seems like much more direct involvement than what I’ve ever heard about them having.

And with that, we’ll close up the mailbag this week. Should you like to check in with us and perhaps ask your own question, shoot an e-mail to [email protected]