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Ask 411 Wrestling: Would Lance Storm Have Won the World Title if WCW Didn’t Fold?

April 28, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Lance Storm

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?

Paul has two unrelated questions, one about a Texan and one about a Scotsman (no, not the Scotsman that used to write columns around here):

1) Do you think the WWE should eventually give Drew McIntyre a face run? I think in both his tenures he’s played a dastardly heel, outside his 3MB stint. I thought just after his release some YouTube videos surfaced of him and he appeared naturally funny.

It’s a moot point to ask whether he “should” get a face run, because he almost certainly will get a face run. That’s just sort of how professional wrestling works these days. With the exception of a few outliers like John Cena, it seems as though everyone turns every two to three years, so McIntyre will almost assuredly wind up changing his gear in the other locker room probably sooner rather than later.

If I had my druthers, I would probably not turn him face in modern-day WWE, because, if McIntyre is going to be a good guy, he would be best served to be the semi-silent, killer sort of babyface, letting his actions do the talking. That’s not to say that he’s a bad promo, but he’s got the look and physicality of a babyface who should be dismantling people and not giving a single care about it. He’s not the kind of babyface who is best served to be delivering lengthy monologues and cracking jokes. Unfortunately, though, WWE has seemingly forgotten how to book that sort of babyface, despite the fact that one of their most popular and endearing acts of all time (The Undertaker) was cut from that cloth.

To recap: Could Drew McIntyre as a babyface work? Yes, absolutely, but I doubt that the promotion in its current state will handle him as effectively as he could be handled in that role.

2) It might be age catching up with me, but I kind of remember ECW running a Tommy Dreamer/Terry Funk angle where Funk was slapping around Tommy Dreamer and Tommy refused to fight back. Nearly in tears begging Terry to stop, “You’re my mentor, I love man”. Then it abruptly ended as I think Funk left ECW. Any known long term plans for the angle?

I think what you’re talking about is the Funker’s return to ECW in late 1998/early 1999. Terry made a surprise comeback on the promotion’s December 26, 1998 show at the Elks Lodge in Queens, New York, where he laid out Tommy Dreamer after Dreamer defeated both of the Impact Players in a three-way dance. Then, at the 1999 Guilty as Charged pay per view on January 10, Funk cut a promo claiming that he attacked Dreamer because he was upset at Tommy for selecting Jake “The Snake” Roberts as his tag team partner at November to Remember ’98 instead of selecting Funk. Later on the same show, Funk interfered in Dreamer’s “Stairway to Hell” match against Justin Credible and allowed Credible to get the win, continuing the beating after the match.

According to issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter from around that time, Funk and Dreamer were scheduled for a singles match at March’s Living Dangerously pay per view. However, Funk fell ill with Hepatitis A (he actually wasn’t feeling well heading into Guilty as Charged) and pulled back his wrestling bookings significantly. Initially, it was reported that the Funk/Dreamer match was being bumped off of the March ECW PPV and would instead run on their May show, Living Dangerously. However, after contemplating his illness a bit more, Terry decided that he was going to wind down his in-ring career, and he was gone from ECW shortly thereafter.

Of course, as you might expect, Terry Funk never actually stopped wrestling. He worked on an indy show in Lubbock, Texas in May of 1999 and did a speech before his match claiming it was his farewell to the city. Then, on June 6, he wrestled an indy match against Sabu in Mississauga, Ontario and told local media that it would be his retirement bout. He kept making occasional in-ring appearances, though, with the most prominent one being a tag match with his brother Dory on the tenth anniversary show of Japanese promotion FMW on November 23.

(In an odd historical side note, Shawn Michaels was brought in as a special guest referee on the same FMW card, and in exchange for that spot one of the things he asked for was that the promotion book the students he was training at this Texas Wrestling Academy . . . which resulted in Bryan Danielson/Daniel Bryan getting his very first tour of Japan the following month.)

Around the time of the FMW match in November, there were rumors that ECW was actually looking to get Funk back into the fold, because Dusty Rhodes had committed to some dates with the company and one of the matches that they wanted to run was a tag bout involving Rhodes and Dreamer on one side and Funk and Raven on the other. However, that never came to fruition, because, in early 2000, Ric Flair turned down a role that WCW offered to him heading up a group of legendary wrestlers called the “Old Age Outlaws” who were to serve as foils for the newly-reformed nWo. Without Flair, WCW called in Terry Funk to take that spot, and Funk became a full-time performer on WCW television for several months, bringing him out of his pseudo-semi-retirement.

Mike wants to see how we rate:

The live broadcast of The Main Event, featuring the Hulk Hogan – Andre the Giant rematch on February 5, 1988, drew a 15.2 Nielsen rating and 33 million viewers, both records for American televised wrestling. According to a recent podcast episode of Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard, The Main Event II, which aired on February 3, 1989 and featured the breakup of The Mega Powers, had the third highest television audience in the history of American televised wrestling.

What show had the third highest television audience in the history of American televised wrestling?

With all due respect to the former Brother Love, the records that I was able to locate show that he’s actually got his shows mixed up a little bit.

The Main Event does, in fact, boat the highest television rating in the history of U.S. professional wrestling, with the 15.2 number that Mike mentioned.

However, The Main Event II, appears to actually be in third place, not second. That show did in fact feature the Mega Powers exploding, as the result of an angle shot during a match against the Twin Towers of Akeem and the Big Boss Man.

The show earned an 11.6 television rating, and it’s actually tied for third place in terms of U.S. wrestling ratings. The show that it’s tied with is the episode of Saturday Night’s Main event which aired on March 14, 1987 (taped February 21). That show focused on a twenty-man battle royale which involved both Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant leading into their match at Wrestlemania III. Andre managed to toss the Hulkster over the top, making him look strong headed into the championship encounter two weeks later. Oddly, they didn’t just let Andre win the match, as that honor went to Hercules instead.

The second highest TV rating in the history of U.S. wrestling goes not to The Main Event II but instead to . . . The Main Event III. Yes, that’s right, the top three spots on this list are all held by installments of The Main Event, which makes sense given that it’s the largest network exposure professional wrestling has ever had in the country. TME III aired live on February 23, 1990. The show previewed Wrestlemania VI by featuring Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior in key matches, with Warrior successfully defending the Intercontinental Title against Dino Bravo and Hogan retaining the WWF Title over Randy Savage. Buster Douglas, who just earlier that month upset Mike Tyson to become boxing’s World Heavyweight Champion, served as a special guest referee for the Hogan/Savage encounter.

The Main Event III scored a 12.8 rating overall.

For what it’s worth, the highest rated episode of Monday Night Raw (May 10, 1999 with an 8.1 rating) is only the twenty-fifth highest rated show in the history of U.S. wrestling. Everything ranked higher is either an episode of The Main Event or Saturday Night’s Main Event with two exceptions: The Brawl to End it All, a WWF special aired on MTV on July 23, 1984 and the first ever Royal Rumble show, which ran as a TV special on USA on January 24, 1988, prior to the show becoming a staple on pay per view.

Uzoma wants us to be serious for a minute:

Had WCW not gone under, could Lance Storm have become its World Heavyweight Champion?

Quite possibly. He certainly seemed to be on that trajectory as the company was closing its doors, as he’d had a fairly substantial reign with the United States Championship in addition to being allowed to simultaneously hold the Hardcore Title and the Cruiserweight Title (the latter of which he was probably a bit too heavy for, but that’s neither here nor there). It certainly seemed that the folks who were booking the promotion towards the end were quite high on him, so I could certainly see him grabbing the championship for a quick run in the middle of a longer feud with a babyface champion like Booker T.

Of course, the question is whether the people who were booking WCW towards the end of the promotion would still have been booking it had it survived. Prior to the WWF buying out the company, it appeared that it was going to potentially be purchased by a group of investors headed up by Eric Bischoff, though Bischoff’s cadre pulled out when they learned that WCW programming was no longer going to be carried on the Turner cable stations.

We don’t know whether Bischoff’s plan was to head up creative himself after his proposed buyout or whether he would put somebody else in that position, but Storm’s future in the promotion probably would have depended quite a bit on what the new sheriffs in town thought of him.

As a totally unrelated aside, because I mentioned Lance Storm and Eric Bischoff in the same answer, I feel that I must tell one of my favorite stories about Storm, which he himself has brought up on a few different podcasts:

Apparently, when the former Impact Player had just joined WCW, Vince Russo was working on ideas for him, and one of the concepts that Russo came up with was that Storm could play the role of Eric Bischoff’s illegitimate son. That proposed gimmick was squashed when somebody pointed out the fact that there’s only about a twelve year age difference between the two men.

Pete R. (not to be confused with Peter) has a trio of queries:

1. We all know Kevin Dunn heads up WWE production, but who heads up NXT production?

There’s not a lot of information out there about this, but, according to IMDB, a gentleman by the name of Christopher Watts is listed as the producer of almost all of the major NXT shows over the course of the past five years. I’d try to give you a little biography on Watts, but that’s incredibly difficult because there was a pretty high profile murder case last year in which a man with the same name killed his pregnant wife and two small children. All of the hits that I get when trying to research the WWE Christopher Watts just lead me back to the murderer.

2. When wrestlers in WWE come back into gorilla after their matches, do they get feedback straightaway from Vince, etc., or do they just pass through and go straight into the locker room?

I’ve heard a handful of stories about Vince McMahon greeting wrestlers in gorilla immediately following their matches, but those usually only come up after particularly significant bouts on major shows, so it seems that, for the most part, Vince isn’t talking to every wrestler about every match as they walk back through the curtain.

3. I believe WWE wrestlers have to get to buildings about 2 p.m.? What is their typical schedule from 2 p.m. until they leave about 10 p.m.? Also do they have to stay until the end of the event or do most wrestlers leave straight after their match?

I don’t know if the exact call time is 2 p.m., but you’re generally correct that, for a televised WWE show, wrestlers are showing up in the early afternoon for a program that won’t hit the airwaves until 9:00 p.m. eastern time.

What are they doing prior to the fans entering the arena? To a degree, that depends on who you are and what day it is. Some wrestlers manage to get into the ring early once it’s set up and work on spots, either for that night’s show or just more generally. Other wrestlers, particularly those featured prominently on the upcoming program, are given their scripts and are no doubt attempting to memorize lines. Many backstage segments on the show are pre-taped as opposed to airing live, and those are shot in the afternoon as well. Finally, there are periodically talent meetings prior to the shows at which key issues are addressed – with one notable recent example being Hulk Hogan’s “apology” to the roster prior to the Extreme Rules pay per view last summer.

Oh, and Total Divas gets filmed. Can’t forget that.

As far as leaving after your match is concerned, I don’t know what the official corporate “rule” on the subject is, but I’ve heard for years that it’s considered disrespectful to leave before an event is over, absent a few key exceptions. (For example, when a travel schedule is tight or when the top stars on house shows used to work in the middle of the card so they could leave without getting mobbed by fans.) In fact, leaving in the middle of a card being a dick move was even referenced in a promo a few years back when Ric Flair dressed down Carlito:

Lee W. is tired of being in second place:

Who is the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time?

It’s the Honky Tonk Man. Just ask him.

Seriously, though, I think that there are four main questions we should ask ourselves when asking whether somebody was a great Intercontinental Champion, namely:

1. Did he have great matches as champion?

2. Did he have memorable feuds as champion?

3. Did he draw as champion?

4. Did being champion elevate him to a level he wasn’t at before?

To determine the greatest IC Champ ever, I took all of those criteria into account and then underwent the highly scientific approach of reading the championship history a couple of times, ultimately settling on the man who I felt did the best job of checking these four boxes.

This lead me to none other than . . .

Did he have outstanding matches and feuds centering around the Intercontinental Title? Absolutely. Everybody remembers his Wrestlemania match against Ricky Steamboat for the belt, but their feud also had an excellent angle with Savage using the ring bell to crush the Dragon’s throat. Also, though it doesn’t get much press in modern day, the Macho Man’s feud with Tito Santana was considered one of the best in-ring feuds the WWF had during that particular era. (Savage defeated Santana for the title, and they had several rematches after the fact.) Plus, even though they didn’t have any mat classics, the Randy Savage vs. George Steele Intercontinental Title feud was memorable for its involvement of Miss Elizabeth. It was also during his IC reign that Savage first started to mix it up with Hulk Hogan on a regular basis.

Was Randy Savage a draw as Intercontinental Champion? While no IC Champ has been THE focal point of the WWF/WWE because it’s a secondary title, Savage was as much of a drawing card as any Intercontinental Champion has been. At the time of his reign, the WWF was running two and sometimes even three house show touring crews simultaneously, and Savage did successfully headline one of those crews as IC Champion, defending against opponents like Santana, Steele, the Junkyard Dog, and even Paul Orndorff and Bruno Sammartino in a couple of cities.

As far as elevation is concerned, there’s no question that Savage’s time as Intercontinental Champion set the stage for him to become WWF Champion almost exactly one year after he dropped the IC belt. Though there could potentially have been other ways to get him there, it’s hard to say that Randy Savage as we know him would have developed the way that he did without his Intercontinental run.

So, there you have it. My case for Randy Savage as the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. Now comes the part where some twenty year old in the comment section tries to convince me that Mike the Miz is better.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers