wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Will WrestleMania Get Back to Manageable Lengths?

March 28, 2020 | Posted by Ryan Byers
WWE Becky Lynch WrestleMania 35

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.

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Big Daddy is defending a trademark infringement lawsuit from the estate of an obese British wrestler:

Can you confirm or debunk an urban legend? I heard before that Sting the wrestler trademarked the name before the Sting the singer did and Steve Borden leases the name to him for one dollar per year. Kind of like a gentleman’s agreement.

This is at least partly true.

The bit about Sting the wrestler registering a trademark prior to Sting the singer appears to be accurate, at least in the United States. (Keep in mind that Gordon Sumner, the singer, is British.) Anybody can go online and run a search of all trademarks registered in the U.S. through the Patent and Trademark Office’s TESS service.

I ran the word “Sting” through that search engine, and there is an entry which shows that a gentleman by the name of S.L Borden, the wrestler’s real name, has registered the trademark “Sting” for use in the provision of “entertainment services, namely live and televised performances by a professional wrestler/entertainer.” This registration was made in 1995 with a statement that the “Sting” name was first used in commerce in 1986.

Meanwhile, there is no indication that Sting the singer has ever registered a trademark for his name in the United States.

Though it is true that Sting the wrestler appears to have secured registration for that name prior to Sting the singer, I’ve been able to find no credible source which says that the wrestler licenses the name to the singer for $1 per year or any other amount of money. Yes, there are some websites which make this claim, but I’ve not seen any of them present backing documentation that seems legitimate. If anybody is aware of a source that I’m missing, please let me know.

It should be noted that it’s not even necessary for the wrestler to license the name to the singer in order for the two men to use it simultaneously. In fact, it’s possible that the singer could register a trademark for his name as well and the two men could hold the two trademarks simultaneously. When you register a trademark, it’s not as though you have the sole right to use the mark and nobody else can use it at all without asking your permission. When you register the trademark, you register it in connection with a particular purpose, and, if somebody else wants to use the same mark for another purpose and there is no indication that the two uses would result in confusion in the marketplace, then they could coexist.

Thus, if the Sting the singer did try to register his trademark and registered it in connection with music or similar services as opposed to registering it in connection with live and television professional wrestling performances, there’s a chance that it could still go through. Granted, it’s not as clear cut a case as someone who might want to register the word “Sting” to promote cat food or something else totally unrelated to the entertainment industry, but it is technically possible.

Also, just because Sting the wrestler owns the rights to the trademark, it doesn’t mean that he has to formally license the name to Sting the singer in order for the musician to use it. The singer could use it without a licensing agreement if the wrestler just decided not to enforce his trademark rights. Granted, this is a bit risky, because there are circumstances under which a person can lose their trademark protection if they do not defend the trademark from competing uses, but that might not be much of a concern here given that Sting the singer’s use of the name predates the wrestler’s use of the name and the singer is by far the more popular of the two. This means that Sting the wrestler would be permitting a preexisting use of the name, which is less likely to be seen as an abandonment of the rights that he does have.

And that’s probably far more than you wanted to know about the intersection of the lives of Steve Borden and Gordon Sumner. (I also inadvertently typed “lives” as “loves” in my first draft of this article, which would be the answer to a totally different question.)

APinOZ‘s real name is Lucky Pierre:

When wrestlers compete in a Triple Threat match, all three workers compete at the same time. However, in a Triple Threat tag team match, there are only two guys in the match at a time. Why don’t Triple Threat tag matches have a member from each team in the ring together?

Allowing only two wrestlers into the ring during a triple threat tag team match is better than putting one member of each team in the ring, because keeping the match down to two competitors at any given time allows the bout to be worked like a traditional tag team match.

As you know if you’ve watched wrestling for more than two weeks – particularly if you watch WWE – there is a formula to most tag team matches. The babyface team has the advantage early. Then, the heels manage to isolate one of the two faces. They keep the isolated face out of his corner for a decent period of time, but then he slips away and gets the hot tag. There are a bunch of highspots following the hot tag, and you get to your finish where either the babyfaces or heels win.

If you have a third body in the the ring, that basic tag match formula gets shot all to hell.

And I should also note that, in some of the earliest three-way singles matches in mainstream wrestling, only two guys were allowed in the ring at the same time. If you watch WCW Starrcade 1995, you can see a “triangle match” between Ric Flair, Sting, and Lex Luger, with the rules being that only two men were allowed in the ring at a time while the third guy stood on the apron awaiting a tag. That’s somehow even more awkward than one of three tag teams not actively participating in a triple threat, because in tag matches you’re at least used to seeing a couple of guys on the apron. That’s why I’m glad that the all three wrestlers simultaneously competing in three-ways became the standard.

Of course, if you give me the choice between a one-on-one match and a triple threat, I’m taking the one-on-one match 99% of the time, but that’s another story for another day.

Mohamed pulls no punches on this one:

Why is Reckless Rollins being pushed even though he doesn’t draw a dime?

The answer is that pretty much nobody is drawing a dime at this point, at least not as that term is traditionally defined. Business indicators are down across the board in pretty much all categories, and there does not seem to be any one member of the full-time roster who bucks that trend. If that’s the case, you may as well push Rollins, who, aside from the fact that he can’t convince fans to spend money to watch him, is one of the more talented guys in the game.

HBK’s Smile asked this question back in February, and boy did the answer to it become clear as time passed:

Will we ever get back to a manageable length of WrestleMania cards? What would it take for that to happen?

Well, it appears that the answer to the question is that a global health crisis needs to limit the number of people who are able to appear in the same building at the same time, thus requiring WWE to divide Wrestlemania up into two separate shows, each one being half the length of what the original would have been.

Let’s throw out this year’s show as an aberration, though, and answer this question as though 2020 never existed.

From what I’ve heard, one of the reasons that these pay per view cards and their pre-shows have gotten longer and longer in recent years is that one of the statistics WWE really likes to tout these days is the number of consecutive hours of content that fans are consuming on the WWE Network. They like to say that fans are watching an average of five or six hours per person on PPV days as opposed to three or four hours, and it results in them “over-serving” fans, giving them more content than what only the hardest of the hardcores are interested in watching. This strategy is also referred to as “Csonka-sizing” shows.

In order for the length of the shows to be cut back, WWE would have to abandoned that business model. Something would have to come along that leads them to believe shorter shows would be better for their business. Perhaps the most realistic possibility of this happening that I can think of is the promotion selling the rights to air its PPV shows to some outside company, which has been rumored to occur for the last several months. If that happens and the third-party wants shorter shows, then you’ll get shorter shows.

Chris B. is the prodigal son returning home:

Hey Ryan! First time asking since Matthew left.

I was watching a Whatculture video the other day and they were talking about masked wrestlers (such as Sin Cara, Doink, etc) and the multiple people who have played them.

This got me wondering.

With Edge and Christian using the Conquistadors gimmick at one point and the never-ending run of “Machines” in the 80’s, it has got me wondering if there is such a thing as a “universal” masked gimmick that is available to any wrestler to use. Is there like a “Black Spider” character usable by any superstar which commentary then plays dumb on (even though it is “Mr. America” levels of obvious as to who the performer is?

I hope I’m explaining this well.

I think that I’ve got the basic gist of the question. You’re asking whether there are any “public domain” masked characters for lack of a better term; characters that anybody can use without having to worry about infringing on the intellectual property of any other wrestler or wrestling promotion. (Who knew there would be so much IP talk in this week’s column?)

I think that the answer to your question is . . . not really. Granted, there are some super-generic masked gimmicks like assassins, executioners, and invaders, but I get the impression that you’re asking about something a bit more specific than those.

Probably the closest thing that I can think of is one of the gimmicks mentioned in the question, that being the Machines. The Machine mask and gimmick has been used in both New Japan Pro Wrestling and the WWF with seemingly no ill will between the two sides.

The look and the name of the Machine was first used by NJPW wrestler Junji Hirata when he returned to the promotion in 1984 after completing a learning excursion in Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling, where he portrayed a First Nations character named Sonny Two Rivers. (Yes, that’s right. A Japanese guy pretended to be an indigenous North American, and people bought it. Go figure.) Hirata originally called himself Super Strong Machine, but eventually he formed a tag team with a Korean wrestler named Yang Seung-Hi, with Hirata being dubbed Strong Machine #1 and Seung-Hi being dubbed Strong Machine #2. They worked as a duo September of 1984 through January of 1985, when they became a trio, getting joined by Yasu Fuji as Strong Machine #3.


While he was touring in Japan, Andre the Giant wrestled different combinations of the Machines on several occasions, including a singles match between Andre and Hirata on May 31, 1985 in Saitama.

This lead to the version of the Machines that my readers are probably more familiar with, that being a three-man stable of wrestlers who showed up in the WWF in 1986 when Andre the Giant was suspended in storyline and returned under a hood as the allegedly Japanese wrestler Giant Machine, flanked by his partners Big Machine and Super Machine, who were portrayed by Blackjack Mulligan and Bill “Masked Superstar” Eadie, respectively. That group also employed some part-time Machines, with Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, and others all donning the hood at various points.

In an interesting bit of trivia, a variant on Andre’s Giant Machine gimmick made an appearance in, of all places, a WCW video game. In December 1989, the video game Super Star Pro Wrestling was released in Japan for the Nintendo Famicon, the system that we knew in the states as the Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Star Pro Wrestling had a roster consisting of both home grown Japanese wrestlers and Americans who were popular in Japan, with Andre appearing as a non-playabe final boss character. In April 1990, the game was brought over to the United States and localized to use WCW talent. (Fun fact: The Road Warriors were the only guys to appear in both the U.S. and Japanese versions.) Of course, Andre was in the WWF at that time and couldn’t appear in a WCW property. Rather than replacing him with another wrestler, the developers simply covered his face with a Machine-esque masked and referred to him solely as the “WCW Master.” Between the build and the ring gear, it’s pretty obvious who the character is meant to be.

Putting aside that digital cameo, the U.S. Version of the Machines lasted less than a year all told, but Junji Hirata never really stopped working as a Machine, as he stuck with the gimmick through his retirement in 2014.

Thus, I suppose that if you were looking for a generic masked gimmick, you could try to work as a Machine and see what happens. Junji Hirata doesn’t seem to care.

Tyler from Winnipeg is coming out of left field on this one:

Is Paul Roma the father of Chris Masters?


This question really caught me by surprise, because this is something that, if true, would be pretty widely known. I googled the two men’s names together to see if there was something that I was missing, and it turns out that there are some threads out there on pro wrestling discussion forums asking if they are related because some people claim there is a physical resemblance. I suppose I can see that, but it’s not so close that I would assume they’re father and son.

For what it’s worth, it doesn’t look like either Roma or Masters have any family members in the professional wrestling industry, though Roma does have a nephew who is a pretty jacked professional bodybuilder (or former professional bodybuilder – I’m not seeing any record of him being active after 2014).

Bryan has two quick questions for which there is no through-line that I can see:

1. What is your ultimate “guilty pleasure” in wrestling? Something horrible, like a bad angle or gimmick that you enjoyed anyway.

I have watched a LOT of bad wrestling. For those of you who may not be familiar with my back catalog on 411, I’m the guy who used to do recaps of the Russo years of TNA Impact, Half-Pint Brawlers, Total Divas, the Herb Abrams UWF on ESPN Classic, Wrestling Society X’s b-show, and probably a few other stinkers that I’m forgetting about. I don’t do that because I’m a masochist. I do it because there is part of me that enjoys watching the shows, much in the way that there are people who enjoy bad movies. (I enjoy those as well, though not quite as much.)

Probably my favorite of the whole lot, though, is the original 1980s incarnation of GLOW. There is so much that there is so phenomenally weird and surreal about it that I have a hard time looking away when it comes on to my screen. Virtually every single segment of a GLOW show that I have ever seen has lead to me asking, “Who thought this was a good idea?” at least once. The so-called wrestlers all went on to camera after only a few weeks of training. The gimmicks look like they were developed by a guy who walked through a Halloween superstore while reading a book about the world’s most prevalent racial stereotypes. There were skits in between the matches featuring jokes that the writers of Hee-Haw would have rejected. The owner of the promotion, David McLane, booked himself as an on-screen character and also booked himself to be beaten up by members of the roster so much that you started to wonder whether he had some sort of prurient interest in it.

The modern retelling of the GLOW story, through recent documentaries and the Netflix series, is that it was some bastion of women’s empowerment, but the reality is that it was an epically goofy flash in the pan of a television series that probably wouldn’t have gotten on the air if it weren’t for the white hot popularity of the WWF at the time.

2. Jeff Jarrett broke 1,000 acoustic guitars. Exactly how much revenue was generated from this?

A quick search on Google Shopping lead me to the conclusion that the absolute cheapest acoustic guitars out there cost about $40.00 in U.S. currency. So, if Jarrett truly did break 1,000 guitars during his career, that’s $40,000.00. Of course, that’s in 2020 dollars, and Jarrett hasn’t been a full-time in-ring competitor for several years now, so you should probably adjust that downward a bit to account for inflation.

However, the vast majority of guitars that I’ve seen Jeff Jarrett break don’t look like they’re legitimate guitars. They look like they’re prop guitars designed specifically for the purpose of el-kabong’ing people. I would imagine that you could probably build those out of some basic raw materials for just a few dollars each.

Eddie is belting it out:

Growing up in a town 45 miles northwest of Atlanta, I got hooked on Georgia Championship Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida, and Continental Championship Wrestling. Every now and then when the planets were aligned and in one accord I could get Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. So, needless to say, I am partial to the NWA. I have started watching NWA Power on YouTube and have a question. When Nick Aldis refers to the 10 pounds of Gold as “Sweet Charlotte” do you think that his way of paying tribute to the Nature Boy?

It could be a reference to Ric Flair, but to me it reads as a more general reference to Charlotte, North Carolina being the headquarters of Jim Crockett Promotions/Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, the NWA member territory that later become so heavily associated with the umbrella organization that some younger fans don’t even realize that there was a difference between the two.

You also have to keep in mind the fact that, though it is his adopted hometown, Flair was actually born in Tennessee and mainly grew up in Minnesota – also spending some time in Wisconsin – before his professional wrestling career even began.

Uzoma was known as “Quick Kick” in the XWF:

Did you know that Low Ki was planned to compete in the original ECW had it not gone out of business?

Yes. Mike Johnson reported that in a PW Insider Q&A, and Paul Heyman essentially confirmed it in a 2013 WWE.com article, saying that he ultimately decided to not bring Ki in because he felt that the promotion may not be viable and he didn’t want to debut somebody in a company that was going to die.

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].