wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Will Pro Wrestling Move On From Vince McMahon?

July 25, 2022 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Vince McMahon WWE Raw XFL, Bruce Prichard Wrestlemania Image Credit: WWE

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 hole 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.

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Let’s start with Night Wolf the Wise, who sent this question in before the big news of this past week and actually even before the allegations of impropriety that appear to have lead to the retirement of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon:

I was watching an interview with Paul Heyman. In the video Paul talks about how everyone thought it was the end when Bruno Sammartino retired. He goes on to say wrestling moved on when Sammartino, Backlund, Hogan, Stone Cold, the Rock, and John Cena retired. He said eventually the day will come when wrestling moves on from Roman Reigns and Vince McMahon. He said I don’t like the thought of revolving around one man (Vince McMahon). Do you agree with what he said? Is that the main problem, is no one wants to move on from Vince McMahon and that wrestling as a whole revolves around Vince McMahon?

Yes, for the past forty years the professional wrestling industry has revolved around Vince McMahon far more than anybody else. In the 1980s, the main story in the professional wrestling business was Vince buying out his father and attempting to expand nationally, running all the other territories out of business in the process. In the first half of the 1990s, the main story in the professional wrestling business was Vince’s assumed downfall as a result of sex scandals and drug charges, only for him to dodge those bullets. In the second half of the 1990s, the main story in the professional wrestling business was Vince being put on the ropes by a revitalized WCW and ultimately battling back to essentially put down the spiritual successor to his last rival from the territorial era. Then, from that point on, the professional wrestling business revolved around him almost by default, because he was the top dog in the only truly international wrestling company on the face of the planet.

Is that one man receiving so much attention and having so much power problematic as Paul states?

To an extent, you have to consider the source, because, even though it was many years ago now, Heyman is a guy who tried to run a form of opposition against McMahon and lost. However, Paul E. still has somewhat of a point – though from my perspective, the problem isn’t so much the man as it is the monopoly. Lack of competition is going to have negative ramifications for almost any industry, because it leads to lack of innovation, higher prices, and decreased consumer interest due to a less diversity in the product. (In other words, if vanilla was the only ice cream flavor, a lot fewer people would be interested in eating ice cream as a whole, and those who were left would have to pay much more for it.) Most likely, those things would have occurred just as readily if Bill Watts, Eric Bischoff, Jerry Jarrett, Tony Khan, or anybody else had wound up as the head of a monolithic, monopolistic wrestling promotion – they just would have had a different set of idiosyncrasies and preferences than what Vince McMahon did.

However, that is no longer where we’re at. Vinnie Mac is, at least ostensibly, out of commission. In addition to that, as WWE’s fan base gets whittled away and AEW attracts more eyeballs, it becomes harder to refer to them as a true monopoly. Whether the industry and its fans were ready to or not, we do now appear to be poised to move away from Vince.

Will professional wrestling survive his loss?


Even if you put aside the fact that there is another wrestling company out there now that has an impressive national television deal and is backed by a family that could buy and sell the McMahons ten times over, wrestling is still going to go on. In the current entertainment client, live sports events are big business and incredibly meaningful for advertisers. Though pro wrestling and especially WWE has a tortured history regarding whether it wishes to be considered a sport, it has no problem categorizing itself as such when it adds a couple of zeroes to the end of the checks it receives for television rights fees. So long as television networks, streaming services, and other similar platforms see professional wrestling as something that they can use to attract more eyeballs to their sponsors’ products, professional wrestling will continue to survive, just like professional football will continue to survive, professional basketball will continue to survive, and professional mixed marital arts will continue to survive

The industry and the genre are much larger than any one man, no matter how large that man (and his grapefruits) may be. We will all be here discussing this mat game well beyond Vince McMahon’s retirement, well beyond Vince McMahon’s death, and well beyond the point that Vince McMahon is a name that young fans have only passing familiarity with, as foreign a concept as that may be.

Jason is taking this “Legend Killer” thing too literally:

How many people that Randy Orton has RKO’d have since passed away? Benoit. Moolah, who else? We can probably keep it to TV to save sanity.

By my count, there are eleven, namely:

Test, Lance Cade, Chris Benoit, Rosey, Eddie Guerrero, Roddy Piper, Kamala, Umaga, Dusty Rhodes, Shad Gaspard, and Luke Harper/Brodie Lee.

I may have missed a couple in there because, while there are match databases, there aren’t exactly databases of who hit what move on who when and where, but I am sure the comment section will let us know of any omissions.

I can only hear Shaun‘s name being screamed by Sherri Martel:

What has Raven done to show he’s got a good mind for the business like people claim he has?

Per backstage reports, all of the best feuds that Raven had during the course of his career were largely put together by Raven himself, including his feuds with Tommy Dreamer, the Sandman, and CM Punk as well as his run to become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion in TNA, which was a rare highlight in the early years of the promotion.

HBK’s Smile wants to revisit one of my readers’ favorite topics, namely the Intercontinental Title reign of one Richard Q. Steamboat:

Had Ricky Steamboat not requested to take time off after becoming IC Champ, what would have been the plans for his title reign? Who were his opponents expected to be, and who would he have lost the title to and when, or was such a long reign planned that the “finishing touches” had not yet been discussed?

The Savage to Steamboat title change was on March 29, 1987, and he continued to wrestle regularly for the company through the end of June. During that time, his regular opponents were the Macho Man, Hercules Hernandez, and Paul Orndorff. Almost all his matches prior to losing the belt to the Honky Tonk Man were against Savage, while he tangled with Hernandez and Orndorff afterwards. I have no reason to believe that Herc and Mr. Wonderful would not also have been going toe-to-toe with Steamboat if he remained the titleholder.

Also, I have read that Randy Savage never wanted to have another televised match against Steamboat so as to not diminish the greatness of their WM3 match (which I assume is why they didn’t meet in the WM4 quarterfinals). So after a few house show rematches, what what were the plans for Savage at that time?

Since Savage did not factor in to the Intercontinental Title picture much once Steamboat was gone (he did have some house show matches with Honky) there is no reason to believe that he would have been treated any differently than he would have been if Steamer remained in the company. Macho largely moved on to Hulk Hogan after his IC Championship rematches from Wrestlemania III, and we all know where that lead.

Tyler from Winnipeg is testifying:

Are the Dudley Brothers in the convo for best tag team of all time?

Probably not. That’s not to say that they weren’t a good tag team, but I was able to come up with fifteen teams that are better pretty quickly off the top of my head, and, when I can do that, I can’t say that they’re in the conversation to be the best.

For what it’s worth, the fifteen names that I came up with were as follows – and it may not even be an exhaustive list of who was better than the Dudleys:

Rock n’ Roll Express, Midnight Express (Eaton/Lane), Midnight Express (Eaton/Condrey), Steiner Brothers, Road Warriors, Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, Fabulous Freebirds, the Funk Brothers, Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero, Tencozy, Minnesota Wrecking Crew, The Atomic Pair, Antonino Rocca & Miguel Perez, and Kenta Kobashi & Mitsuharu Misawa

Dylan is probably going to slap his forehead as soon as he sees this answer:

What is the longest period between two wrestlers having a one on one match against each other? To clarify, they can have had many matches in that period, I’m just looking for the longest period between their first and last matches.

My first thought is Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, who I believe had something like 19 years between their first and last matches against each other. But maybe Undertaker and Triple H, or someone beats that record?

This is one of those questions where it is difficult to do comprehensive research, because you would technically have to look at every pairing of wrestlers ever in history. However, it’s also one of those questions where I am pretty darn confident that my initial intuition is the correct answer.

Who am I talking about?

The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young.

Records from early in the careers of these two women are going to be spotty at best, so we may not be able to definitively say when their first match was. However, we do know that they faced each other on November 11, 1949 at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri, at a time when Moolah was not yet fabulous and was wrestling under her given name of Lillian Ellison.

The final one-on-one match that these two venerable grapplers had against each other was on October 19, 1999, when Moolah successfully defended the WWF Women’s Championship against Young on a match taped for the tenth-ever episode of Smackdown in Louisville, Kentucky.

That is just shy of FIFTY YEARS in between matches, which is a physical impossibility for the vast majority of professional wrestlers.

Peter wants me to dust off the old crystal ball:

If WWE were ever to have a super face/superhero fronting the company again, like they did successfully with Hogan & Cena (and tried with Luger & Reigns), who of their current roster do you think they could use? They’d need to be smarter than their last attempt where they tried to push Reigns down our throat but it has worked twice for them.

It’s worked more than twice. Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund . . . all of those guys were very successful and still in the same “unbeatable babyface” mold as Hogan and Cena. Really, you could argue that Steve Austin was cast out of the same dye as well, even though his character had a harder edge and heels were allowed to get more heat on him than they were the other men on this list.

Anyway, that wasn’t the question. The question is who the next super babyface could be. Frankly, I don’t think that anybody on the main roster at this point fits that bill. Why? Because we’ve seen them all as losers who get booked to go 50/50 with just about everybody else in the company. You’re not going to create a John Cena or a Hulk Hogan out of somebody who has had a middling record on national television for years and years.

As a result, I would turn to NXT and Bron Breakker. Though he still has some things to learn, this guy seems to have all the raw talent and many skills that you would want from the face of your professional wrestling promotion. Assuming that they keep him special and don’t book him like everybody else when he final gets the call to Raw or Smackdown, he could very well be he next face of the company.

Lee in Liverpool has a big . . . question:

Who are the top ten Richards in wrestling history?

See, now this is the kind of “listicle” question I can get behind, because it’s not something that has been answered a million times on the internet before.

Here we go . . .

HM: Richard Belzer – Though not actually part of the wrestling industry, actor Richard Belzer was part of one of the most infamous moments of the Rock n’ Wrestling era, when Hulk Hogan choked him out and dropped him on his face on an episode of the talk show Hot Properties that the Hulkster was appearing on to promote the first Wrestlemania.

HM: Richard Johnson – Not to be confused with WWE’s Big Dick Johnson, the masked Richard Johnson teamed with his brother Rod Johnson on the first-ever TNA event. It set the tone for the promotion, as they’ve been dicking over their fans ever since.

HM: Rick “Quick Draw” McGraw – A perfectly serviceable undercard wrestler in both the WWF and Mid-Atlantic for right about a decade, Richard McGraw will always be known for two things: being the subject of playground rumors that Roddy Piper killed him in a match and stealing his nickname from a cartoon horse.

10: Richard Slinger – Though he never broke through in the United States, Slinger spent seventeen years rounding out cards in All Japan Pro Wrestling and later Pro Wrestling NOAH after getting into the AJPW Dojo thanks to his status as Terry Gordy’s nephew. It’s probably best he didn’t come to the west, because Vince McMahon would’ve rechristened him as Dick Slinger.

9: Rick Fuller – Fuller was one of my favorite underneath wrestlers during the Nitro era of World Championship Wrestling. He had a certain attitude and intensity that made him stand out from the pack. Then, years later, he came out of nowhere and had a surprisingly good run as Tyson Tomko’s replacement as Giant Bernard’s tag team partner in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

8: Rick Bogner – I feel bad for Richard “Rick” Bogner, because in the U.S. he will forever be known as the Fake Razor Ramon, a career killing gimmick. However, for years before that, he was having wild brawls in Japanese promotions like FMW and WAR, often teaming with and being seen as the equal of Mike Awesome. He really could have been something.

7: Stevie Richards – Okay, maybe this is a little bit of a cheat, but I had to give Dancin’ Stevie some props because he’s a guy who has always worked hard to get the most he possibly could out of some small roles, whether it was turning a goofy undercard comedy gimmick into a cult favorite with the bWo or churning out some fun skits that almost nobody watched during Stevie Night Heat.

6: Rick Martel – Most people reading this will know him as “The Model” or as one half of Strike Force, but you can see a lot great Martel before and after that as well. Go check him out in the pre-Hulkamania WWF as a tag partner of guys like Dominic DeNucci, Tony Garea, and Andre the Giant or his surprisingly good late career run in WCW, mixing it up with Booker T. and Perry Saturn.

5: Rick Rude – He’s simply ravishing. Yow.

4: Ricky Morton – One half of the Rock n’ Roll Express, Morton is considered by many to be the best “seller” in the history of professional wrestling perhaps even one of its best babyfaces. Plus, thanks to his brief run as part of the York Foundation, we have kayfabe confirmation that his first name is Richard . . . which is probably the only good thing to come out of that gimmick.

3: Dick the Bruiser – Though his real name was William, for a period of time he wrestled as Richard Afflis and then became Dick the Bruiser, so we can confirm that Dick is short for Richard in this case. He’s an absolute legend in the Midwest, having a career that began in the mid-1950s and concluding in the late 1980s.

2: Ricky Steamboat – This man was born Richard Blood, which has to be the greatest name for a professional wrestler that was never actually used for a professional wrestler for any significant period of time. Unfortunately, it would not have really fit Steamboat as that’s far more a “heel” name, while Steamer was the a strong natural babyface.

1: Ric Flair – Could it have been anybody else? Richard Fliehr, no matter what you want to say about his activities outside of the ring, is one of history’s greatest performers in it, and most of the guys who could rival him in in-ring performance don’t qualify for this list, because they’re not named Richard.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.