wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: What Are WWE’s Worst Decisions in History?

November 23, 2021 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Vince McMahon WWE Smackdown 7-16-21

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.

Hey, ya want a banner?

I’ve been told I should promote my Twitter account more. So, go follow me on Twitter.

Jonfw2 is opening up a big ole’ can of worms:

With the advent of NXT 2.0, I got to thinking about the worst decisions WWE has made in its history.

In no special order, I’d have WrestleMania IX’s booking, Hulk and Flair not feuding, no Taker Sting match, ruining NXT, Slaughter the Iraqi sympathizer, fumbling both ECW and WCW opportunities, and the hand birth

What would, say, your top ten be?

In no particular order, I’d say that WWE’s ten worst decisions in is entire history were:

1. Using a quick release mechanism for Owen Hart’s entrance at Over the Edge 1999
2. Continuing Over the Edge 1999 after Owen Hart’s death
3. Not drug testing wrestlers for a large portion of its history
4. Letting Mel Phillips work with young boys
5. Taking money from the Saudi royal family
6. Airing a tribute show to Chris Benoit without having all the facts
7. Continuing to do business with Jimmy Snuka after the Nancy Argentino incident
8. Firing Dawn Marie while she was pregnant
9. Allowing Bill DeMott to train at Deep South Wrestling
10. Letting Stephanie McMahon compare 9/11 to her father being prosecuted on steroid charges

I guess I’ve got a slightly different definition of “worst decisions” than the fellow who posed this question.

Let’s throw it to False Count Radio:

I just wanted to let you know that in this article, you mentioned False Count Radio was defunct; however, it is not. Just wanted to let you know, since we’ve been doing shows on and off for 13 years, including with regularity since 2016. Can you please update your article or publish a retraction? Thanks!

Yes, believe it or not, in November 2021, somebody wrote in with a correction for a column that was published in March 2020. But, timely or not, it does appear that I made a mistake, and you can listen to False Count Radio right here. I suspect that March 2020 me got the impression that they were no longer active because of their YouTube channel, which as of the time of my original comment had not been updated for years, or their Twitter account, which has been dormant since 2010.

Booyaka, booyaka, it’s reh269:

I don’t know if you addressed this in a previous column. If you did please post the link.
How is Steve Borden able to use and trademark “Sting” when Gordon “Every Breath You Take/The Police” Sumner was using the name for at least a decade before Borden’s usage?

I covered this back in the March 28, 2020 edition of the column in some detail, but the short version is that the two men, whether explicitly or implicitly, have just decided to coexist with the same name.

sebkane is selling like Ricky Morton:

Did the Road Warriors ever face the RnR Express? Also, in your opinion do you think the team of Ziggler and Roode is underrated and could be used a lot better?

There was, to my knowledge, exactly one Road Warriors vs. Rock n’ Roll Express match, though it happened in about the last place you would expect it to.

Hawk and Animal faced Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson on January 19, 1998 in a match taped for WWF Shotgun Saturday Night, after that program had dropped the unique concept of airing from New York nightspots and instead became just another syndicated c-show. This was during the short-lived NWA “invasion” of the WWF, with Jim Cornette managing the Rock n’ Rolls and ended via disqualification when fellow NWA wrestlers Barry Windham and Jeff Jarrett interfered. You can see a weird clipped up video of the match here.

So, yeah, it was the Roadies vs. the RnR’s but past their primes in the WWF and with the natural heel/face dynamic completely reversed . . . but it happened.

The next closest thing was a four corners tag team match that happened on March 30, 1985 at a Mid-South Wrestling Superdome show, with the other two teams being the Dirty White Boys of Len Denton & Tony Anthony and the Fabulous Freebirds of Buddy Roberts & Terry Gordy.

The two teams also shared the ring in several bunkhouse stampede battles royale on Mid-Atlantic/Jim Crockett shows in 1986 and 1987 as well as in the tag team battle royale that opened Wrestlemania XIV, during which the Road Warriors were redubbed LOD2000 for the first time.

Bryan is trying hard to be topical:

I don’t know where you’re located, but here in the United States there’s been a form of political protest during sporting events where people are chanting “let’s go Brandon” which is a PG way of saying “f Joe Biden” what I’m wondering, do you think the WWE could capitalize on this by naming a mid card guy Brandon and he thinks the crowd is cheering for him? Sure it’s silly and juvenile, but this is pro wrestling we’re talking about. And we know how petty Vince is.

Anything is possible, and we know that WWE brass are not exactly fans of the Democratic party, but I have a hard time seeing this happening simply because the E has seemingly gone out of its way to avoid being political since Donald Trump began his presidential run over five years ago now.

Tyler from Winnipeg will see you at the movies:

What is Wrestlemania: The Movie? I’ve never seen it or seen it available.

There’s not much out there about Wrestlemania: The Movie. As best I can tell, it was a working title for what ultimately became known as The Mania of Wrestlemania, a documentary about Wrestlemania XIX that wound up being released as a special feature on the Wrestlemania XX DVD set. It was the first production of WWE Films that was not co-produced with another studio.

Michael K. is going on about gridiron stolen valor:

There have been tons of pro wrestlers who had college and pro football careers but has anyone been as overblown as Brian Pillman’s? Yes, he was small and it was amazing he made an NFL team but still, he was on the Bengals for one year as a backup and yet, the way JR and others have gone on for decades, you’d think he was a Hall of Famer (to be fair, the Bengals are lacking in that area). I mean, to this day, his son wears Bengals attire like he’s a legend. Even Steve McMichael, who was a legit NFL all pro, got less discussion for his football career than Pillman still does.

Why is his football career so overblown?

It is true that Pillman’s football career was made into a big part of his backstory despite the fact that he played very little in the league. However, even though Michael acknowledges that it was amazing Pillman made a team at his size, I think he’s underselling just how impressive it is. It’s not just that he made the team at his size. It’s that, at his size, he was able to get on to the team as a free agent after going undrafted, after which he played in six pro games AND, even though he did not have a particularly long or impressive career in terms of statistics, managed to earn the respect of everybody who played with him, to the point that he received the Ed Block Courage Award from the Bengals, an honor that is voted on by the other players on the team.

Thus it is true that thinking about Brian Pillman as a football player who went into wrestling as opposed to a wrestler who dabbled in football early in his life is a bit overblown, but what he accomplished in football is worth mentioning.

And I don’t think it’s correct to say that his football background got more play than Steve McMichael’s. I can’t think of a McMichael segment that I saw on Monday Nitro where the the Chicago Bears went unmentioned.

Also, regarding the tights: I would say that the Bengal tiger pattern has as much to do with being from Cincinnati as it does playing football for Cincinnati, both in terms of the father and the son.

On the subject of other overblown pro wrestler football careers, I would actually give my vote to Lex Luger. It was definitely mentioned that he played professional football, and I have a definite memory of at least one wrestling program displaying a picture of him wearing a Green Bay Packers uniform, when in reality he was with the team for one season, got hurt in their training camp, and sat on the injured reserve list for the rest of his tenure.

Lee in Liverpool has me crunching some numbers:

Which wrestler has spent the longest number of combined days where they have been holding at least one WWWF/WWF/WWE title?

As with many of these statistics-based questions, the answer is that it depends on how you want to count things.

The highest number that you can possibly come up with for any wrestler is that for the Fabulous Moolah, who among her reigns as WWF Women’s Champion held a title for 10,984 days.

Of course, you can argue that it’s not entirely fair to compare Moolah to other WWF wrestlers in this regard, in part because she owned and controlled the championship for much of its existence and in part because the championship was not regularly featured in the company for many years and would come and go whenever the promotion decided that it was going to put a couple of women’s matches on their shows.

If you disqualify Moolah for those reasons, the person who holds this distinction will be another individual that probably comes as a surprise to modern fans. It’s none other than Bobo Brazil, who had seven different reigns with the WWWF United States Championship between 1963 and 1971, which totaled 4,072 days. However, you can also call Bobo’s holding this distinction into question, not because he owned the U.S. Title like Moolah owned her belt but because the championship was only sporadically used and, as a result, some of his longer reigns with it were due more to inactivity than anything else.

The next individual on the list, who does not have any of the same asterisks next to this accomplishment as Moolah and Brazil is none other than Bruno Sammartino, who held a championship in the WWWF for a grand total of 4,059 days, just 13 less than Brazil. Bruno’s combined reigns with the WWWF Championship comprise 4,040 days of that total, and he also has shorter reigns with the WWWF International Tag Team Championship and the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship that contribute to the total.

Arguably coming in after Sammartino is Antonio Inoki, who spent 4,000 days as the WWF World Marital Arts Champion, though there are extenuating circumstances here just like there were with Moolah and Brazil, because the Martial Arts Title was essentially a vanity belt given to Inoki that wasn’t part of the WWF’s regular presentation, even though Inoki did briefly lose it to Olympic judoka Shota Chochishvili.

After Inoki, the numbers drop off significantly. The next highest individual is Hulk Hogan with 2,204 days and Bob Backlund with 2,122 days.

After the Hulkster and Howdy Doody, we’ve got a couple more questionable entries on the list. You can arguably give Villano III 2,040 days with a WWF championship and Tatsumi Fujinami 2,015 days with a WWF championship. You see, Villano is a seven-time WWF Light Heavyweight Champion between 1983 and 1994, though he never once wrestled on a WWF show and instead held the title when it was controlled by the lucha libre promotion UWA. Similarly, Fujinami was a WWF Junior Heavyweight Champion when that belt was in the hands of Japanese promotions as well as a holder of the rarely seen WWF International Heavyweight Championship.

After that, there is a small handful of male WWWF/WWF/WWE wrestlers who have held championships for a cumulative total of over 1,000 days. Those individuals are: Kofi Kingston (1,987 days), John Cena (1,882 days), Triple H (1,717 days), Mike the Miz (1,710 days – much of which is the Intercontinental Title), Pedro Morales (1,679 days), Brock Lesnar (1,440 days), Bret Hart (1,434 days), Big E Langston (1,420 days and counting since he is a current champion), Chris Benoit (1,278 days – though 560 of those were with the WWF Light Heavyweight Title when it was controlled by New Japan), Randy Orton (1,247 days), Shawn Michaels (1,198 days), Edge (1,150 days), The Big Show (1,148 days), Sheamus (1,096 days), Seth Rollins (1,094 days), Chris Jericho (1,060 days), Kane (1,041 days), and Xavier Woods (1,007 days, which is particularly noteworthy because he’s pulled that off exclusively with tag team championships).

In terms of women other than the Fabulous Moolah, the top names are Leilani Kai (1,198 days), Judy Martin (1,157 days), Asuka (1,150 days), Charlotte Flair (1,095 days), Bayley (954 days), Trish Stratus (829 days), Velvet McIntyre (817 days), Shayna Baszler (764 days), Becky Lynch (678 days), Alexa Bliss (641 days), Sasha Banks (610 days), Princess Victoria (574 days), Beth Phoenix (571 days), Alundra Blayze (540 days), and Rockin’ Robin (502 days).

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.

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WWE, Ryan Byers