wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Why Does Vince McMahon Push Big Guys?

November 11, 2015 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina

Howdy, folks. Welcome to another edition of Ask411 Wrestling with a misleading byline. I am not, in fact, Mathew Sforcina, but that lovable, occasional guest host Jed Shaffer, alumnus of 411 and semi-sorta-editor over at Wrestlecrap. Sforcina wanted to take a day off to play Fallout 4, and really, that’s a damned fine reason to take a day off if there ever was one. Try not to wander into any Deathclaw lairs, eh? You’re too new to the game to have a character built up enough to outrun them!

Fortunately, you don’t have to level up to send a question to Sforcina, or whomever is guest-hosting on a given week. Simply send your email (and a sack of caps, if you want faster service) to [email protected].

One thing humans, ghouls and Deathclaws can agree on? The awesomeness of BANNER~!


Check out Sforcina’s Drabble blog, 1/10 of a Picture! I don’t know that anything would stop this from updating.

Sforcina On Twitter~!
Me On Twitter~!

Feedback Loop

As always, I don’t do the feedback on comments put on his column. That’s his conversation, not mine.

The Trivia Crown

Oh, no. Not going down that rabbit hole again. Not after my one attempt backfired. But I will give you the answer and the winner to last week’s, since Sforcina did provide me such information. The question was …

Who am I? My first ever loss was to someone best known for a gimmick involving a number. My PPV debut saw me beat a cross-sport star. My first title win was the night after beating the dragon of the guy I took the title from. I’m batting 50-50 in my last matches in big American companies. A Canadian once tried to run me over, albeit at the behest of another Canadian. Because of me, creative control was beaten, Randy Orton was once mugged and 141 is secretly important, I am Who?

The winner is SkrapPack.

Who am I? My first ever loss was to someone best known for a gimmick involving a number (dark match vs Chad Fortune). My PPV debut saw me beat a cross-sport star (Steve McMichael). My first title win was the night after beating the dragon of the guy I took the title from (Beat Saturn, then Raven next night for US Title). I’m batting 50-50 in my last matches in big American companies. A Canadian once tried to run me over (Lance Storm), albeit at the behest of another Canadian (Chris Jericho). Because of me, creative control was beaten (harris brothers), Randy Orton was once mugged (Bounty placed on Goldberg was stolen from Orton by Lance Cade and and Mark Jindrak) and 141 is secretly important, I am Who?
You are Bill Goldberg

Getting Down To All The Business

Okay, first question honors for me always go to people who wrote me directly, just because it’s an ego stroke. Taha wants to know about match rules.

If a wrestler gets disqualified in a triple threat/fatal four way match, how is the winner determined? Or does that wrestler get eliminated and the match continues?

Standard one-pinfall-to-a-finish triple threat/fatal four way match rules make it impossible for someone to be disqualified, as the act of doing something that disqualifies oneself more or less requires a victim to benefit from the disqualification. Kevin Owens hits Ryback with a chair, boom, disqualification, Ryback wins. But adding in a third person messes up that simple dynamic. For example: in the main event of Wrestlemania 30 (calling it XXX sounds like a porn parody), say Randy Orton smashes Batista with a chair. Orton has broken the traditional rules … but if you give the match to Batista, you’re screwing Daniel Bryan for … not getting hit? And you can’t simply send Orton to the back because the match was defined as one-fall-to-a-finish; the DQ counts, in a roundabout way, as a fall. The math just doesn’t work. Multi-man matches with one pinfall have to be no-DQ.

Now, if you change it to elimination rules, you could see someone get disqualified. But man, that feels lame. I’m struggling to think of an elimination multi-man match where disqualifications happened. I’m sure someone will come up with one in the comments, but for the life of me, I don’t know any.

Another direct-to-me question comes from Jeremy Roberts, who has wants to talk contract signings and how they get used.

Is it implied that feuds without a contract signing have had a contract signed “off-screen”? Besides the need for an easy trope, why do some title fights or special stipulations require contract signings as opposed to others?

First half of the question … I suppose you could say yes it is, but then you have this problem of matches made “on the fly” by authority figures during the show. Given that Triple H, Stephanie, Kane, guest hosts and a litany of general managers made matches whenever they damned well felt like it (cue Teddy Long WWE 2K graphic), I’d say the contract signings are a mere formality, speaking in kayfabe. Otherwise, we have to believe that as soon as a one-on-one match ended in some kind of double-run-in, Teddy Long hustled all four men to the back, got the lawyers, got contracts drafted for a tag team match, signed, and got everyone back in the ring, all in the span of the commercial break.

Now, the second half is a far more complicated answer. And while there isn’t a definitive, objective answer to it, I have a theory. Better than nothing, right?

Other sports have a couple of facets to them pro-wrestling can’t imitate: infrequency and legitimacy. These two factors provide a number of benefits for presentation and emotion that wrestling can’t duplicate; they can only approximate. The first of these two is infrequency. Wrestling is around all the time. WWE has televised wrestling no less than three days a week, and house shows on other days, and the wrestlers are on most every show. Rollins defended the championship every month, and sometimes more frequently. Cena’s entire gimmick for most of the year was defending the US Championship every week. But look at legit sports.

Football? 16 games, plus playoffs. Five months of games.
MMA? Fighters average three or four matches a year, five if they’re particularly resilient and don’t mind a hectic schedule.
Boxing? Even less often than boxing. Sometimes two, occasionally only one.

And while the other major sports have a more frequent schedule, they’re still only around 6-8 months out of the year counting playoffs. That infrequency allows those sports to do something WWE can’t, because of their omnipresence: make every event matter. You miss this week’s Raw? Shrug, watch next week’s and you’re back up to speed. You miss Packers/Cardinals, or Rousey/Correia? You missed everything. Every event feels important, because every event stands on an island. No matter what Tony Schiavone would have you believe, not every night can be the greatest night in the history of our sport if your product is on TV close to 50% of nights in a given week.

And that leads into the other facet, legitimacy. UFC knows what it’s doing running the weigh-ins for big fights on Fight Pass or free TV: seeing Daniel Cormier get face to face with Anthony Johnson after they post their fight weight makes the fight feel important, and it tells the world “this shit is serious, it’s on”. In January, we in the United States have a sporting tradition called National Signing Day; it’s the day when high school football players can legally announce what university they intend to play for upon graduation. It’s covered by ESPN and the sporting media like the visit of a Pope, because it can help set the tone (and the narratives) for a university for the next several years, especially if he goes against expectations and picks an unexpected school. These are moments you can’t get in a sport that is scripted, and, in tandem with being infrequent, their only-occasionally-happening frequency makes them feel all the more important. Wrestling can only approximate it.

Contract signing segments, while cliché at this point because we see them every couple months, are attempts at giving a match a big fight, once-in-a-lifetime feel. It’s so important, so crucial, so central to the ongoing nature of the promotion, the formal agreement must be seen by the public. So, long story short: some matches get it to make it feel real and special, because WWE is trying to manufacture what other sports naturally have.

One more direct-to-me question before we get to Sforcina’s master list. Mr. Ace Crusher has a question about another trope, in a roundabout way.

Why hasn’t the concept of non-interfering “ring seconds” (guys that support the fighter in the ring like coaches, teammates, and others who have buckets, towels, water, cold spray etc but DO NOT interfere) has not permeated North American wrestling, despite being commonplace in Puro?

Does North American wrestling divorce itself so much from the illusion that it is a “competitive sport” that they don’t even both having other trappings and traditions of other combat sports like boxing and MMA?


Oh, you wanted more detail. Okay.

Sadly, 40 years of interfering seconds have conditioned the fans to assume that any non-wrestler accompanying an active wrestler is likely going to get involved. The Grand Wizard, Bobby Heenan, James E. Cornette, Sunny, Larry Sweeney … North America’s rich history of ring seconds is mostly the kind who don’t just sit on the sidelines. Occasionally, you’ll come across one; only once that I can think of in WWE did Elizabeth do anything more than clap. Paul Heyman talks and watches and has awesome facial expressions. And that’s all I can think of off-hand.

Now, I think Evolve could’ve pulled it off, back when they stressed the “we track wins and losses” aspect of the promotion. Have people come out with the wrestlers like Team Taz did back in the day, trainers, cut-men and the like. But WWE, TNA, even Ring Of Honor, they’ve gone too far down the sports entertainment path to do it wholesale. Maybe they could pull it off with one wrestler, if he had some kind of shoot-fighter/MMA gimmick, or if an MMA wrestler that hadn’t previously been a wrestler made the jump. But otherwise, I don’t see how it could happen without a wholesale change in the way the business is portrayed.

Next up is P from Q, which sounds like Sesame Street code. Anyway, he’s asking about a divisive former WWE exec.

I would like to know why people get so upset over John Laurinaitis’ run as VP of talent operations. Sure, his Wiki page tells how much Cornette hated working with him in OVW, but it seems his overall sloppiness can be redeemed with his signings: CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Ryback, Wade Barrett, Sheamus, Swagger, Ziggler not so bad, isn’t it? Especially if you count the Divas who went through Diva search (Maria, Maryse, the Bellas, etc.)
Am I missing some horrendous contracts he signed besides Nathan Jones? He can’t be blamed for the stupid overpushing of Heidenreich, can’t he?

Johnny Ace’s tenure could possibly be the only non-wrestling employee in WWE history to be more divisive than Vince Russo. Why? Well, let’s look at the guys you mentioned for starters.

CM Punk – one of the hottest indie acts at the time. Something of a lay-up, but fine, he gets a point here.
Cody Rhodes – second-gen wrestler, from a family with two successful wrestlers so far. Again, easy shot, but fine.

Take away the chip shots and what do you have?

Sandow – spent an eternity in developmental, took forever to get pushed, has spent a few years trying to be even moderately relevant.
Ryback – injuries and start-stop booking have squandered any potential.
Barrett – see Ryback.
Sheamus – never as popular as WWE wants him to be.
Jack Swagger – really?
Ziggler – see Ryback.

Add in “talent” like Rene Dupree, Kenzo Suzuki, Kevin Thorn, Sylvester Terkay … the list goes on and on. His hits are few and far between, and fewer still hit big, while his misses are absolute bombs. Compare that to JR’s tenure. Right off the bat, you have Foley, Rock, Lesnar and Austin. Boom, done. Nobody Ace hired comes close to even one of those.

But if your argument to that is “yeah, but JR had the Attitude era, Ace came along in the downturn!” … okay. We could mention how the biggest stars of the era were in developmental under the tail end of JR’s run (Cena as Prototype, Batista as Leviathan), so he can’t take credit there either.

Or we could go to his track record with Divas. You look at the ladies in his tenure and it looks like an athletic Victoria’s Secret catalog. This is the kind of woman he hired:

And with her also came Ashley Massaro, Joy Giovanni, Amy Weber, Christy Hemme, Maria Kanellis, Maryse and the Bellas. None of these women came into the business as female wrestlers; they were models, pageant girls and reality show contestants, and only after they got hired were they taught the difference between a wristlock and a wristwatch. Meanwhile, compare the women he could’ve hired who were active in the indies at the time: MsChif, Cheerleader Melissa, Lacey, Rain, Daizee Haze, Allison Danger, Sarah Stock, Sara Del Rey, Madison Eagles … you get the point. Johnny’s bimbos and Barbie dolls were popular, sure, but because a disproportionate number of them were willing to get naked for Playboy. At best, these were fan service hires; at worst, an insult to people who actually respect and like women’s wrestling.

So, bottom line, his track record is one of a few mild hits, many wild misses and, as far as women goes, a clear preference of tits over talent.

Since my claim to fame was a “what if” gimmick, I’d be remiss if I didn’t answer a couple questions like that, and Connor Watson has a pair of them.

How would business have been in 1995 had Razor Ramon been the one to face Bob Backlund for the title in MSG instead of Diesel? I doubt his reign would have lasted a full year but Razor Ramon is miles ahead talent wise over Diesel

No change. Wrestling was in the crapper in ’95, and changing out Diesel for not-Diesel wasn’t going to make the winds blow a different direction. Last time I did this column, I answered a question about the 90’s and house show attendance. I won’t make you look it up, and I’m too lazy to bother, but the long and short was that until ’97 or so, WWE was in a downward spiral as far as live gates go. 92 was bad, 93 was worse, and so on and so on until 97-98. None of the champs, not Bret, Shawn, Diesel, Yokozuna or anybody else helped change the downward slide. It was the overall product, not the champ, that was keeping people away. When they changed presentation, they changed their fortunes.

As for match quality, I don’t know the change would’ve been all that great of a boon. Take Bret and the awesome Survivor Series ’95 match out of the equation because that match is the bee’s knees, and what do you have left? The first Bret match, which was just killing time to get to the end angle, so no change there. Then Michaels at Wrestlemania (probably an improvement), Sid the next month (no thanks), a tag match with Sid and Tatanka at KOTR (all the facepalms), another Sid match the month after (RUN FOR YOUR LIFE), the Summerslam fiasco of King Mabel (*gagging noises*), the tag match against YokOwen (maybe a little better, maybe), Davey Boy (maybe an extra half-snowflake), and then we’re at Bret. So, match quality-wise, maybe three matches get better, but I doubt the difference would be so big as to make them memorable.

If David Von Erich didn’t die in Japan, would he have beaten Flair for the NWA title and became one of the greatest stars ever? the guy seemed to have all the right tools to succeed in the business

Everything I’ve ever seen points to yes, he would’ve defeated Flair, at the same event where Kerry would go on to defeat him in memory of David. Reportedly, the NWA brass was high on him, and it likely would’ve been a rivalry for the ages in WCCW.

But therein lies the rub. The Jim Crockett faction of the NWA was getting the most noise, slowly becoming the defacto national representative of the Alliance thanks to the belt revolving for the most part around Flair for the decade. Once Vince Jr. bought out Sr. and made his national bid, it changed the game for everyone. Some people hitched their wagon to Crockett, while others, like the Von Erichs, split off. In my personal opinion – and I have absolutely no proof to back this up, just rampant speculation – I think David winning it at best results in no change, and at worst, may have hastened WCCW’s demise. If he is christened champion, even if he only gets the same nominal title run Kerry did, he was viewed as the true superstar of the family. I think Fritz would’ve tried to ride his son to national prominence as soon as he could, probably sooner than he did … and he’d run full-speed into the Stamford wood-chipper.

That’s just my opinion, though. Your mileage may vary.

Rahil Rajani has a short question about a short man.

There was a person that looked exactly like Hornswoggle in one of the WCW promo videos for a PPV in the early 90s on the OMG WCW Top 50 DVD, a midget, in one part he opens a door for some girls, who is he ?

You mean the guy at about 1:30?

That’d be Cheatum The Evil Midget. He was a … mascot? Hanger-on? Underling?

Okay, that was a bad pun. I’m not giving myself a Chandler for that.

Anyway, he was featured in the infamous promo movies WCW created for two of Sting’s feuds: Jake Roberts (the one I’ve embedded, at great expense to my sanity), and later, Vader. It’s not Hornswoggle, though, as Dylan Mark Postl (the man you know as ‘Swoggle) was born in 1986, which would’ve put him roughly in kindergarten when the first of the three promo movies came out. Cheatum served no real purpose, other than to be a character in the videos to make the scene feel more sinister. For some reason, WCW felt the need to have him reappear in future videos.

Because when you have Jake Roberts or Vader, clearly you need a midget chanting “spin the wheel make the deal” to set an ominous tone.

Looks like we’re staying in WCW, courtesy of Brian and another “what if” question.

What if hall/Nash never jumped but instead Shawn michalels and hhh jumped instead. How would have the nwo played out?

The nWo worked out of the gate for several reasons; the presentation of Nash and Hall as invaders sent by WWE, their wholesale slaughter of everyone they crossed paths with up to and including announcers, showing no recognition of current face/heel alignments, and their general cocky, coolest-guys-in-the-room tone.

But another factor that I don’t think most people consider? Appearance. Nash is seven feet tall, and was damned well built. Scott Hall is only an inch or so taller than Triple H, but his lanky frame made him look huge, and his dirty, sleazy appearance made him look unseemly and dangerous. They had WCW so scared (kayfabe, mind you) that there were armed guards stationed around the commentary booth. They didn’t carry baseball bats or knives; just their mere presence was enough to demand men with firearms. That’s serious.

Could you really pull that off with Shawn Michaels, who barely cracks six feet and looked like a hair metal singer, and Triple H, who at the time was still the Connecticut Blue-Blood wearing jodhpurs and doing curtseys? No way. That’s not even close to a one-to-one trade. That’d be like putting The Miz in the Undertaker’s ring gear. Not to mention there’s card position. Michaels was main event, sure, but Trips had yet to win a single championship and was languishing in feuds with garbagemen and hog farmers. Hall was a multi-time IC Champ, had helped pioneer (kayfabe) the ladder match, and looked like Tony Montana’s brother. Nash was taller than Undertaker and had just finished a year-long run as world champ.

No, the nWo’s chance to succeed depended on having two strong, intimidating, high-position wrestlers portray the vanguard of the invasion. Shawn, gifted athlete though he may be, wasn’t scaring anybody, and Trips would’ve gotten “who’s that?”. Dead in the water.

Uzoma would like to psychoanalyze Vince McMahon. Dude, you do realize there’s a page limit to this column, right?

Where did Vince get the notion that big muscular guys like Hogan would make excellent Faces of the WWE? I mean let’s face it, they can’t exactly wrestle all that great. I think the only exception to that rule is Bruno Sammartino because he’s one of those once in a lifetime wrestlers that could actually wrestle. How does Vince expect his wrestlers to grab his Brass ring ( giggity) knowing damn well most of them don’t fit his mold of what a superstar should look like? I know what you are going to say… but Stone Cold. Yes, but Stone Cold is an exception to that case as well because everyone at some point in their life wants to punch their boss in the mouth and stand up to them.

From Hogan.

Not that he told McMahon muscular guys were the way to go, but that Hogan proved McMahon’s theory. See, McMahon has always valued pomp and circumstance over substance, sizzle over steak. McMahon believed the show was the thing, and Hogan and his 24” pythons and flexing proved him right time and again. Hogan helped crush the territories. Hogan made Wrestlemania a thing. Hogan sold out the Pontiac Silverdome.

I think, though, that while that was true in the past, the “Vince likes muscleheads” line has gotten rather hoary in its – and his – old age. Let’s look at the champions since the advent of the PG era, which is generally considered to be mid-2008:

Triple H, who was hardly at his “I just ate Scott Steiner” peak of 2002.
Edge, not the least bit beefy.
Jeff Hardy. Next.
Randy Orton. Lanky, well built but, again, not roided up.
Batista. Bulky, but he was never incredibly cut like you’d expect of a bodybuilder.
Cena. Well built, but not bodybuilder well built.
Sheamus. See Batista.
Rey Mys – no, I don’t even have to finish that.
Del Rio. Moving on.
The Rock. Keep going.
Daniel Bryan. See Rey.
Brock Lesner. Far more cut the first time around. Now he’s more bulk than anything.
Seth Rollins. Wrong.

Over on the WHC side, add in like Ziggler, Mark Henry, Christian, Kane and Swagger. And proceed to laugh at any of them in a body-building contest. And if you go back further than that, you find guys like JBL, RVD, Big Show, Undertaker, Jericho, Guerrero … none of those guys are winning Mr. Universe. McMahon may prefer big slabs of meat, but if the champion is considered whom the promotion is built around, it’s been long and long since you can say someone met Vince’s musclehead ideal and got a world championship. Triple H’s reign of terror from 02-04 might be the last guy to truly fit the bill, if you don’t think Batista or Sheamus fit the mold (I don’t).

Natan Farber wants to talk about the Flair retirement ceremony on Raw and his cavalcade of guests.

Hey…love this article and love this site so much! Keep up the great work! My question is in regards to Ric Flairs star studded retirement celebration on RAW. Many legends and currents superstars at the time were called out by HHH to pay tribute to Flair. Some of the choices are obvious (Horsemen, Steamboat, Michaels) but can you explain why Jericho got to come out for this? Cena? Dean Malenko? And when all the Superstars came out together on the ramp, Big Show of all people went up to the ring to hug Flair. What was that about? Are they exceptionally close?

In case you’d like to see it, he was kind enough to supply a link.

I always get a little choked up at the after-show footage, when Taker does the one-knee salute. Anyway …

The simplest answer is: it’s Ric Flair. Everybody who’s ever set foot in the ring since 1981, short of Ole Anderson, has reverence for Flair. The man has more ****+ matches than just about anybody, and has done it with a variety of opponents from bruisers from Terry Funk to Randy Savage to Edge. He may not have mainstream appeal like Hogan or Rock, he may not have been the stalwart face of a promotion like Undertaker or Sting, but he is an icon thanks to longevity and success. Sixteen times world champion counts for something.

But if you wanna be specific … Jericho worked with Flair in WCW. Malenko was a Horsemen. Show’s first title run of any significance (i.e., didn’t get vacated a week later) was going over Flair, not to mention the WCW connection. And Cena, aside from being the face of the company, just respects the hell out of Flair, like everyone else in that locker room.

Let’s see, what next … what next … I think I’ve answered a question in every edition I’ve done from Nightwolfofthewise. No reason not to keep up the tradition!

We all know that Smackdown as been a semi decent ( slightly decreasing B rated) Show. How would you rebuild Smackdown and who would you put on Smackdown?

Part of me would jump at the idea of reinstituting the roster split, because making separate but equal brands is the easiest solution … but doing so would necessitate separating the world championships, not to mention finding an organic way to split the shows. I don’t like doing either of those, so, here’s my plan.

1. Make people notice Smackdown again. How do you do that? Crown a new world champion on it. The last time the WWE World Championship (I’m ignoring the Big Gold Belt, because WWE stopped treating it as main event years before it was absorbed) changed hands on Smackdown was twelve years ago. Hell, even if we count the WHC and lower tier championships, it’s been almost three years. The audience has been conditioned to treat Smackdown as a placeholder show, where you get minimal plot development, and either Raw retreads or Raw dry-runs. You have to do things to make people think they can’t miss Smackdown, and the main championship changing hands is a step in the right direction.

2. Everybody appears on Smackdown. Stop with the “Cena is Monday nights only” policy. No more “Kane is representing the Authority” nonsense. Unless you’re Brock, there’s no excuse being a full-time performer on one show only.

3. No more ignoring Raw’s storyline developments and treating Smackdown like a bubble universe. If Bray Wyatt attacks Roman Reigns on Raw, Reigns doesn’t tag with The Dudleys on Smackdown against New Day; he goes hunting for Wyatt. If a championship gets held up at the end of Raw, The Authority doesn’t wait until the next Raw to make an announcement; they get right out on Smackdown and make their proclamation. The shows must flow from one to the other seamlessly and continuously. They should be like the Marvel Cinematic Universe: one continuity, always moving forward, each chapter drawing from the last and influencing the next.

4. And to that end, stop it with the damned Raw recaps. You have 33% less time than Raw. You don’t need to fill up 15% of those two hours referencing another show, especially when Raw doesn’t do the same in reverse. Shows like The Walking Dead give you a brief recap at the beginning, of issues pertinent to the episode you’re about to watch. That should be the absolute limit. Or, to reference Walking Dead again, they announce at the start of their episode to cue up their website for a “two-screen experience”. Do the same here; direct people to either cue up the app or the Network, and run recaps, character bios, extra promos, whatever, there. Make the show all about the right now, not about what already happened. I can find that anywhere.

5. To call back to the MCU, one thing that makes them a success is that they have compartmentalized the creative process for TV and movies, but they have one guy – Kevin Feige – who lords over both and makes sure all the water flows in the same direction. I’d do that with Raw and Smackdown; separate creative teams to prevent writer burnout, but an overseer who makes sure continuity is followed.

Is this a perfect solution? No. There are other things you can do to add spice – since Cena established the precedent, I’d make the US Title always defended in open challenges on a weekly basis, and put it on Smackdown, while the IC Title is on Raw with the same rules. Maybe add a stipulation of “if you make it three months, you get a world title shot on the appropriate show”. Good way to add fresh challengers with a minimum of effort. Again, none of these are the magic bullet, but you pile up enough of these things and it’ll start to feel important again.

Or, you could just put Heyman in charge again.

Melvin has a simple question about submissions and how they finish. Take it away!

When did tapping out become a legit way to submit in the WWF? When did it become commonplace?

When this guy came around:

Bringing the UFC influence (which was gaining attention at the time, mostly due to its “human-cockfight” reputation), where tapouts were commonplace, as well as one of his catchphrases being “I’ll make you tap” were the flashpoint. Once people started tapping to him, it just became the norm across the board.

Next is Razor Rodney, and he wants to apply a modern business tactic to an old business and see what happens.

I hate hypothical questions that have no real answer. Anyway, here’s a hypothetical question with no real answer….if crowdfunding was a thing in 2000, would ECW have a shot at being around today?

No, because there’s an aspect of crowdfunding you’re overlooking: they have a ticking clock. Game X’s Kickstarter pops up and has X days to raise $700,000 dollars. Once those days are up, the fundraising is over. If it made or exceeded the amount, yay, project funded. If it didn’t, well, there ya go.

ECW’s financial problems weren’t so limited that a one-month infusion of cash could save it. Month after month after month, the dirt sheets would talk about paychecks bouncing, wrestlers working for free because they drank the Kool-Aid, etc. So say you raise the $1 mil ECW needs to make payroll, pay off production costs, venue, equipment rental, breakable table manufacturers and so on for April. What about May? And June, and July, and the rest of the year? To pull that off, you need an ongoing PBS-style pledge drive, not a one-month fundraiser. And even the most loyal of ECW mutants would find their patience tested and their wallets barren if Crazy Uncle Paul came calling every month with his hand out.

William continues the theme of business-related ideas and wants to WWE to emulate real sports in a way.

Do you think WWE (or at least in-ring shows) would benefit from a short off-season? I know many would argue that stopping Raw for, lets say, 4-6 weeks, might just lead to viewers getting out of the habit of watching and perhaps not coming back – but I would think it could be a good thing. It could potentially give the talent, and particularly the writing staff, an opportunity to come up with considered, drawn-out plans for storylines, and obviously give the talent an opportunity to properly rest up. Do you see any appeal in an annual ‘off season’ (maybe even just between mid December and mid January) – or do you think it would actually yield bad consequences?

I can think of at least one promotion that already does this: Chikara. Their season finale this year is in early December, and they don’t come back until late January. It does give each year a kind of start-to-finish feel to it.

But taking that from a small venue to the stage of televised pro wrestling has a lot more challenges. I won’t argue the benefits you listed, as I agree with all of them; it would give creative time to recharge their batteries and map out a plan for the upcoming year. It would allow some of the active but banged-up wrestlers some time to rest and recuperate. And I think absence does make the heart grow fonder. Season finales naturally provide a great hook to keep viewers wondering how things will be resolved and what will happen next.

However, the challenges may outweigh the positives. An off-season of four to six weeks means no house shows, so there goes that revenue stream. You’ll likely have to move the Royal Rumble to February, because you can’t run a major event without any build-up; that means January no longer has a PPV, so there goes a month of PPV buys. That also affects the Network; you’re now not providing any new programming of any kind. You might see a subscriber drop, as you can only watch so many old matches.

And then there’s the biggest problem: the USA Network. I don’t know the contract off-hand, but I’d bet that, unless some serious renegotiating happens, the broadcast contract doesn’t allow for a month’s worth of hiatus, so now they have to fill the space. Easiest thing to do is some kind of best-of or year-in-review show … but who wants to watch that? Ratings will likely crater, and that could affect advertising rates. And there’s nothing that’ll piss off USA faster than seeing their ad rates drop on their highest-rated show.

So, while there are incredible benefits to be had, the financial logistics might prove too difficult to stomach for anyone.

Adrian asks about a remarkably common wrestling conspiracy theory:

I’m just re-reading the Death of WCW by RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez, it’s fascinating stuff. This may be a common conspiracy theory but do you think Vince had a hand in the downfall of his competition ? Reading the stuff Russo, Nash and Hogan got up to it seems glaringly obvious they are going out of their way to wreck the organization. In your opinion did Vince send Russo to bring the downfall of WCW ? They were on the way down when he landed but he was the final nail in the coffin.

I have a signed copy of the 10th anniversary edition. Perks of being a staff member. 🙂

While Vince has been known to pull some seriously evil business tactics, I think this kind of Machiavellian plot is a step too far, even for him. He prefers the direct approach, crushing people under his boot heel.

Besides, he hardly needed to send Russo to WCW to help kill the promotion. WCW was imploding at record speed all on their own. When 1999 started, Nitro was pulling low 5’s and mid-level 4’s on the reg. By the time Russo went to WCW in October, Nitro was struggling to stay in the 3’s. Buyrates too steadily slid down the hill as 1999 went along, falling the high point in February of a 1.1 to a .29 for Fall Brawl. Halloween Havoc did bump up to a .52, but you can credit that to curiosity as to how Russo would do in WCW; the next two months it dropped right back down, beginning an inexorable slide into the teens for almost the entirety of WCW’s final run. Russo didn’t cause that; WCW’s years of misuse of undercard talent, reliance on the same old main eventers, slip-shod booking, and rehashing of the New World Order tainted the WCW brand. Russo was merely one in a line of shepherds who let the sheep wander off the farm, but he can’t be blamed for opening the gate.

Okay, time to close up. Last call for questions, and we round it out with Wendell Baugh, who wants to talk Randy Orton and Triple H.

Despite often being bland and always being terrible at promos, I’ve always liked Randy Orton. He has good in ring work and he’s never had a big issue putting over guys not named Christian. Looking back if say Orton had two times when he could’ve become loved even by the IWC. In 2004 after SummerSlam and in 2009 all the way up to Wrestlemania. My question is why and how did Triple H end up ruining both of those? Orton not as good a son as Batista

I don’t know that you can directly blame Triple H. He may be a common denominator, but the circumstances surrounding them are distinct.

In 2004, Orton’s run got ruined not by Triple H, but by his face turn. There was no sound reason to cheer Orton, and no logic behind the turn. So Evolution turned on him, so what? Why would that make an egotistical, smug little shit like Orton likeable? For that matter, why did Evolution turn on him? They were supportive of Orton leading up to Summerslam. It would’ve made more sense if they played up how Trips was jealous that Orton beat someone he couldn’t (Benoit), and have him get more progressively jealous as Orton dispatches with others Trips can’t get past. Instead, they just went “I’m jealous, kill him” like a Lifetime movie, had Trips take the belt, and then didn’t give Orton any sympathy in the follow-up for what should’ve been his chase back to the top.

2009 is different altogether. Okay, yeah, the Wrestlemania match was hot toilet. Possibly the most tepid grudge match ever, all things considered. But what happened after that? Orton won the title at Backlash, went on to beat Batista twice, beat Trips a three-stages of hell match at Night Of Champions, before finally dropping the belt in September during the endless Orton/Cena feud. Hardly the stuff of failure. It wasn’t the stuff of legend, but in no way can you call that a bad run. But I’d argue that by this point, there was no way Orton was becoming an IWC darling. Seven years of inconsistent booking, unusual promo cadence and uneven performances had already made him a love-or-hate performer. Even if he and Trips had put on a ***** clinic at Mania, he would always have his detractors.

And with that, I’m closing up shop once again. Sforcina will be back next week, and I will return to unlocking everything in WWE 2K16 the hard way. Tis been a pleasure.