Ask 411 Wrestling 11.28.12: The Future, The nWo, The Homeland, More!
Posted by Mathew Sforcina on 11.28.2012
Did WCW run the nWo into the ground? Did a Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan match get yanked because Flair was too popular? Does Vince McMahon know how much he sucked as an announcer? All this and more this week in Ask 411 Wrestling!
… Gee, if I thought last week was tiring for me, I must be exhausted this week!
Wait, I am!
Welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling, The Shield From Incorrectness your weekly column of questions and answers! And this week is going to be yet another Total Opinion Week given that I'm still tired, there's a storm outside my window so my internet is choppy and pretty much all the questions this week were opinion anyway. And because I said so, dammit!
The video issue: The comedy videos in the middle I thought was so self explanatory that I didn't even need to bother explaining them. I mean, they are clearly delineated from the rest of the column for a reason, so if you're not interested, you can just scroll past. I apologize if my use of videos causes problems reading my work on your preferred format, but I'm sticking to the current system, so… Yeah.
Your Turn, Smart Guy…
Who am I? Before I began my wrestling career, I played college football with someone who is now in the WWE Hall of Fame. I played pro football in Canada before starting my wrestling career. I wrestled in several areas early in my career, even using the real name of another Hall of Famer in one area. After I went to work for Vince McMahon, I was teamed with a veteran and together, we won the tag team titles, the only WWF title reign for him. After losing the belts, I went to another major promotion, and started using a famous phrase . When I returned to New York, I started challenging for singles gold, and won it after several months of pursuit. I made several WrestleMania appearances, including one that was rather memorable. After my second tag team title reign, I had a somewhat lengthy feud with my former partner . In my final match with the WWF, I wrestled a tag team partner in a rare televised "face-vs.-face" match. I was also one of the early holders of a world title, although it had not reached "world title" status when I was champion. In my final pay-per-view appearance, I made my first appearance for an organization. Now, many wrestlers claim they want something I have. A career-long face, I am who?
Some Jerk has the answer.
Who am I? Before I began my wrestling career, I played college football with someone who is now in the WWE Hall of Fame.- with Tully Blanchard
I played pro football in Canada before starting my wrestling career.- for the BC Lions.
I wrestled in several areas early in my career, even using the real name of another Hall of Famer in one area. - Georgia and Florida, used the name Richard Blood (Ricky Steamboat)
After I went to work for Vince McMahon, I was teamed with a veteran and together, we won the tag team titles, the only WWF title reign for him. - with Ivan Putski
After losing the belts, I went to another major promotion, and started using a famous phrase . - The AWA, Arriba
When I returned to New York, I started challenging for singles gold, and won it after several months of pursuit. - the IC Title
I made several WrestleMania appearances, including one that was rather memorable.- Wrestlemania I-XIII
After my second tag team title reign, I had a somewhat lengthy feud with my former partner .- Rick Martel.
In my final match with the WWF, I wrestled a tag team partner in a rare televised "face-vs.-face" match.- vs Virgil.
I was also one of the early holders of a world title, although it had not reached "world title" status when I was champion. - the ECW Title
In my final pay-per-view appearance, I made my first appearance for an organization. Now, many wrestlers claim they want something I have.- WCW, a steady home life.
A career-long face, I am who?- you are Tito Santana
… This worked fairly well. Tell you what, have you, dear reader, got a great YTSG question? Send it in, and I'll use it! Just make sure to tell me the answer when you submit it…
Anyway, you have me this week.
Who am I? I'm a former world champion, but I worked as a jobber in two major companies while working the Indies. My first match as a full fledged member of the WWE was a victory over a guy who had been both Cruiserweight and Hardcore Champion. The first guy to make me tap out once I became famous is a guy who now isn't in the spotlight. I won my feud with Shawn Michaels (technically) and won my last match with the WWE. I've dated a former Women's Champion, held something that isn't really a title but kinda is, and once feuded with a ring announcer. Who am I?
Questions, Questions, Who's Got The Questions?/My Damn Opinion
Joe begins us with a pretty simple question.
Hello Matt. Love the column. I read it every week. I also found your match with Fat Mommy and Chewbacca entertaining. Anyway I was curious to know your opinion on the future of wrestling company's in America. I have been a life long wrestling fan, but I have noticed a decline in the popularity in the sport over the last 15 years. I think it reached it's peak during the Monday Night wars, and will will never get that big again. With the steady decline in quality with WWE, TNA, and even ROH I feel that it may only have a decade left before it's popularity is gone in America. What do you think?
Actually I'm kinda optimistic about wrestling's future overall, and neutral about American Wrestling. Let me explain, since that's the point of the column.
In order to understand the future of wrestling in America, you need to discuss the future of wrestling in the world in general, as the two are somewhat intertwined. Because I think with every new expansion, every new TV deal, wrestling is becoming much more of a global thing. Yes, the ratings are down overall, but now you have wrestling fans in practically every country on the planet. So wrestling will become something that, even if locally to you becomes smaller, globally it will grow.
So what does that mean for wrestling in America specifically? I agree that numbers will continue to fall slightly, the audience will become smaller. But wrestling is something that will never vanish. Even if McMahon and Dixie and Sinclair and Quackenbush all fail and close up shop, there will always been local companies putting on shows. Wrestling is simplistic at it's core, it's a morality tale, good vs evil, and that NEVER goes out of style.
But that won't happen. ROH might well die, but WWE and TNA aren't going anywhere, both have enough cash flowing in to continue indefinitely, I believe, unless major booking disasters occur. And there might even be a slight upswing if a major problem sweeps MMA. But wrestling will become something more diffused, less fans locally, but more globally.
Unless, of course, someone hits it big. If someone, be it Bryan and his Yes/No, or The Shield and their righteous crusade, or Joe Park's split personality, or some wrestler who's just this week taking his first steps into the ring, if someone in wrestling captures lightning in a bottle, gets something that the pop culture society latches onto? Then all bets are off. Wrestling might well have a rebirth, if someone can get a gimmick and a storyline that gets over huge. And if said gimmick and storyline doesn't get jobbed out to Ryback.
Or at least, that's my guess.
Couch Potato Puddin Pop Ramma Lamma DingDong is… They're doing it on purpose, is what they are doing. But anyway, question?
Would you ever be interested in seeing the oriinal In Your House paper view come back? In hard economic times' I think WWE could stand to buy a few reasonable properties at low cost and come across looking as philantropists by doing so.
I have three answers to this question, depending on how strictly you're asking the question.
If you're asking it literally, to the letter of the question, then yes, I am, since I think it would be a marked change in WWE's thinking and a major shift in their business model and that would be very interesting to see.
If you're asking more broadly, in the sense of would I like it to happen, then sure, cheaper for me is always something I like.
But the spirit of the question, an overall picture, I'm not so sure. I mean, the WWE already has a problem with it's PPV product, making it seem important, actively drawing a line between the ‘main' and ‘non-main' PPVs would not help this. I mean, in an ideal world, yes it would be a great idea, but WWE won't do it because of money and I'm not sure even if they did that they'd do it right, and thus I'm not on board with the idea overall.
Sharpshooter says he has no question, but does in fact ask one.
Hey Sforcina, this isn't so much a question, as it is an idea that I'd like to get your thoughts on. Back when CM Punk was wrestling under a mask, he was having a match against Cena on Raw. The Nexus came out and jumped them both. I remember telling my buddy that The Nexus really screwed up there. They should have stayed away from Punk, but nothing ever came of it. Or so I thought. Looking back at it, Punk was the one who destroyed The Nexus. He did what Cena failed to do, by infiltrating them, disbanding them, and condemning most of them to irrelevance. Do yo think that was his plan? Was his speech/threat at The Slammies aimed at Barret and The Nexus, rather than Cena? Do you think they'll ever acknowledge this on air? It could be an excellent catalyst for a Punk vs Barrett feud, or it could be factored into the Ryback program. I'd love to get your take on this. Thanks, and enjoy Australian Thanksgiving (That's a thing, right? I'm picturing a fried kangaroo, eucalyptus stuffing, kiwi pie, and goblets of Foster's all being served by koala's in tuxedos. Is that pretty accurate?)
Well, a small section of the country does celebrate it, Norfolk Island has it around the same time as you Yanks do, as it was brought there by American Whalers many decades ago. But that's like saying America celebrates Australia Day because one town in Ohio founded by an Aussie celebrate it. Overall we don't, since we-
And now it's time for ‘Pick Your Punchline!' Choose one of the following punchlines, or use your own!
- don't need a day to be thankful for our lives, since as Aussies we do that all the time.
- don't need a day to overeat and drink beer and watch football, that's called ‘The Weekend' down here.
- don't like Pumpkin Pie.
- already have enough public holidays and… Wait, maybe I spoke too soon.
- (insert your own line here!)
And your description is so off point mate. Koalas in tuxedos? They wear waiter's uniforms clearly.
Anyway, I'm fairly sure WWE didn't intend for Punk to kill the Nexus. That would be a fairly complex storyline, with no real clear heel/face lines. And I don't think WWE wants to bring up Ryback being in Nexus, so that angle is out.
By all means, if/when Punk V Barrett comes up, they'll probably mention it in passing, but I don't think it was planned, it's just that it made sense for Punk and Nexus to align and then Punk went onto bigger and better things and Nexus just died.
Tom has two questions.
Love the site and love your work, its a great way to be at work and not do any real work,
Has this whole C.M. Punk heel turn taken place just to make sure Rock gets face heat when he and Punk meet at the Royal Rumble? I think that when these two meet, a significant if not majority of the male fan base that supported Rock over Cena, will not side with him against Punk, due to a variety of reasons which I'm sure you don't need me to tell you.
Mostly, from where I sit at least. The idea was that to carry the Rock/Punk program where Rock wasn't around for every show, you'd need some real hatred, a burning issue. And it's kinda hard to do that with face Punk V face Rock. But make Punk an insane, desperate for respect madman who despises The Rock for coming and going when he likes? Well then, Punk can ramble on for long periods on every Raw between now and the Rumble, with or without Rocky.
And the Rumble is in Phoenix, Arizona, which isn't exactly the smarkiest of smark cities, so I'm not sure how the live crowd will react. It'll probably be more balanced than WWE would like, but I'm not sure Rock will get booed out of the building or anything…
Secondly, I was watching Flair vs Hogan from MSG in the early 90's and it got me thinking. When watching the MSG match I noticed Flair was getting alot of cheers from the NYC crowd. It's been said that the dream match of Flair vs Hogan never took place in WWF, due to it not doing well at house shows, which resulted in the double main event of Wrestlemania VIII. When the WWF said that it "didn't preform well at house shows," did that mean that they didn't want anyone getting cheered over Hogan at the biggest show of the year??? If that's true, it would coincide with Jake Roberts story that they tried a program with he and Hogan, but it quickly got stopped due to people cheering for him as opposed to Hogan. As a fan I don't like that Hogan was so protected but as Jake said, "You don't kill the golden goose."
That would be a valid reason to not do the match, yes. Had Flair been getting cheers and positive reactions, then pulling him from the match might well have been a logical, good choice, although Hogan wasn't exactly at the peak of his popularity at the time.
But as I understand it, the issue was not Flair getting cheered, but instead simply the case that the house shows were not selling out fast enough, that there wasn't enough interest in the match up from the fans in WWE's base. Had the shows sold out on day 1 and then the crowd been split 50-50, WWE would have been less likely to pull the plug, as they would have had to think about things longer. But the house shows did not pick up, did not get really hot crowds, and that's why they pulled it. Simple as that.
Matt takes us to commentary.
Hey dude you do a great job on this column...anyway
Was Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoons banter scripted? Half scripted? On the fly? Because seriously they were incredible together...Royal Rumble 1993 has great commentary...
(embeds best of heenan and monsoon youtube vid...;) I like the vids F the rest)
Embed a vid? Don't mind if I do…
Heenan and Monsoon was, like most old school commentary, done on the fly but with a goal in mind. They would occasionally feed each other lines or ideas about what to say, and they'd have Vince McMahon or someone in their ear to tell them to put over this guy or talk about this, but for the most part, they knew how to talk, when to tell jokes and when to focus on the action. Like working a match, they had spots they'd hit, but for the most part they just worked the match together with no script.
So let's get the self-publicity out of the way first.
Shawn has a bunch of questions.
As always, great column and thanks for answering my questions yet
again. Got a couple more for you.
1. Do you think the WWE will/should come out with a show similar to
Livewire when it was first launched? With WWE getting into social
media so much, the idea of a show specifically for fan interaction
seems like a good idea. Instead of flooding Raw and Smackdown with
Twitter and Tout stuff, have an hour show entirely for it. Live
Tweeting with wrestlers, Tout responses to in-studio guests; it seems
like a no brainer considering they did the concept at a time when the
most advanced fan interactive thing was phone calls.
Except that you end up with stuff like this happening.
I mean, I can see the logic, and if the network ever happens then I'm sure they'll launch something akin to this, but unless someone very high up, i.e. the man in charge decides to lay off social media, it's here to stay. If anything, right now, such a show would be in addition to keeping all the current stuff throughout the broadcast. Vince loves the idea that he can cause stuff to ‘trend', that he can have stuff occur with a tangible way to claim he's important. #Raw is trending right now on Twitter, it must be important, if it's up there with "Bishop" and "#5ThingsIFindAttractive", right?
So yeah, I see the logic and would support it, but it won't happen because WWE is currently too obsessed with being popular on the internet and thus popular culture, and so they won't cordon off such interaction, they'll keep it front and center as much as they can.
2. Why did Vince get to do commentary for so long on Raw? I understand
that he is the boss and can do whatever he wants, but did all those
years go by with nobody having the courage/freedom to tell Vince that
he sucks on commentary? Did Vince not listen to himself and realize
how horrible he was? Or did Vince need to micromanage that badly?
Geez, some things I've had to defend in this column, from Russo to Mongo…
Anyway, I think the problem here is that you're looking at it, I presume, from a stance of that Vince's style of commentary sucks. Just a wild stab in the dark, that you don't like how he doesn't call moves, and just tells stories and is a bit over the top at times. Problem is, each of those is a positive for Vince.
Vince just has a view on what announcers should do that's wildly different from most of those people who are watching AND who read this column. He has a set idea on what his ideal announcer is, and that's a guy who tells stories, is enthusiastic about the people involved but not so much the moves, instead focusing on character and story. And who better to tell the stories and point out the things he wants than himself?
Of course, it helped that he had people he trusted at the time to be in the Gorilla position, ‘running' the show while he did commentary, after he lost a few people from the organisation due to illness, death or jumping ship he was somewhat forced to leave commentary, even if the Austin feud hadn't begun, he'd still have to move backstage to run the show.
But again, while you may or may not like Vince as a commentator, you're looking at it from what you want, and that is different to what Vince wants and what Vince feels is best. So, naturally, he'll make choices different to you. Not to say you have to like it, but you should understand it.
3. Why were there so many changes to the In Your House: Buried Alive
card? Not only were there numerous last minute changes, most didn't
make sense. For instance Savio Vega was injured and couldn't face
Stone Cold(a heel at the time), so they replaced him with HHH(also a
heel at the time). Why did they replace a babyface with a heel to make
a heel vs heel match? They also replaced Faarooq with Goldust to face
Marc Mero, but at least that was still face vs heel. Were Savio and
Faarooq actually injured?
Both men were out until Survivor Series, which would indicate both were legit injured, but then again, maybe not. This was when Russo was starting to get a say, which is why so many people on the card were ‘heels', since he was still working out the kinks. It would get better, at one point there was a bunch of interesting characters who all wanted the Title and didn't like each other.
So I can't say for sure if either man was legit injured, but it's possible. However, I can explain both replacements, as they tied into each other. They all set about to begin the new power alliance between Hunter Hearse Helmsley and Mr. Perfect. Hunter wasn't on the show, and so when a spot came open, they slotted him in, regardless of the opponent, so that Perfect could come out and steal his girl, and then make sure that Marc Mero kept the IC title (with that replacement being irrevelant as long as it wasn't Hunter) via Perfect's actions, leading to Perfect and Helmsley getting into an argument. That all set up the next night, where Perfect and Helmsley manipulated and schemed to get the IC title onto Helmsley.
So the PPV was booked to build up to the following night's Raw. Now where have I heard that before…
4. While watching all Raws/PPVs starting from 1993, I recently watched
Vader's debut and his attack on Gorilla Monsoon. What is the first
case of a wrestler attacking an innocent bystander like a president,
announcer, etc? If you could find the first ever and first in WWE, and
which one do you think was the best executed.
That would be the first time in WWF someone attacked the Authority Figure, yes. But attacking any innocent bystander? Oooh, that's a tough one. I mean, if you include refs, then you're asking for the first ref bump, which is kinda impossible to call. Off the top of my head there's Vince McMahon in late 1991 when he got a wooden chair smashed over him…
But in the old days, when there were riots and fans who legitimately hated wrestlers, attacks were more common. So the first time a wrestler attacked a non-wrestler would be practically impossible to find/prove, not that someone won't try I'm sure either below and/or via email. But I'll say McMahon was the first in WWF and thus be proven wrong.
Best executed attack on an innocent bystander? I really like the cameraman in the first Hell in a Cell, since it was part of the overall arc of Shawn Michaels being so desperate to escape he'd do anything to get away from Undertaker. Kane setting people on fire is always fun. But the best one of all time, I can't go past Stan.
Nightwolf follows on from last week.
I was reading your column this week, and noticed a question about the misuse of talent. Which brings me to my 1st question?
1. If there is a lack of talent, then why not bring back some territories again? I mean it would make sense to have territories to help develop wrestlers better. This might not be the best example, but take C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan for example. They both came from Ring of Honor, and now look at them. They are 2 of the best wrestlers the WWE has today. So why not bring back territories to help hone wrestlers skills more?
That is the exact thinking that gave us the last great idea of Shane McMahon, and that thing I just won't shut up about, like Wrestlemania in Carnival and Tara in general WWE: Global Domination. I've covered that before, to whit:
The basic gist was that the WWE would set up a small, offically branded company in each major market. You'd have a WWE Europe, a WWE Asia, a WWE Mexico/South America, maybe a WWE Canada, as well as WWE America (FCW) and so on. They wouldn't be called that, but the basic idea would be that these companies would train and look for talent from their region, run shows, and also give WWE places to send people to season, to move them about so that guys and girls got to work in front of different crowds, in different styles, and learn how to work effectively anywhere. WWE would be able to find talent all over the place, be able to send talent it wasn't using to places they could (got nothing for Zack Ryder to do right now? Send him to WWE Australia for a couple months!) and recreate the territorial system with them at the helm of it.
And yes, I still think it's a good idea. But it would be expensive and would cause logistical nightmares, given the trouble WWE had to communicate with just one developmental system, imagine half a dozen…
But yes, WWE even knows it, they do on one level miss the territorial system, but on the other hand, they don't want real competition. But hey, it's not like the current system totally sucks. Your current US Champion says hi…
2. I read in an interview that Wade Barrett said there has never been a British World Champion. I mean there have been people from Canada, Mexico, Italy, Russia, Iran, France, India, etc. So why not a British Champion?
That said, you could argue that Chris Adams was a world champ, if you were generous. And/or Nigel McGuinness if you're more/less generous. But generally, there's a bunch of reasons, any of which could apply. British wrestling for a long time was a much different style than American wrestling, and so it might be hard for people to adjust.
Distance is also an issue, as in the old days you'd need to commit to move to America to go work for them. Many guys just aren't world champion material, some of them Brits. British wrestlers also tended to get shoehorned into British gimmicks that wouldn't work as main event talent.
There is no giant conspiracy, no anti-Haystacks Calhoun movement. Just timing and luck, as the talented British guys either didn't get a shot, or didn't want to move, or got a bad gimmick, or couldn't cut it, or other of the many reasons why most guys don't make it, regardless of their origins.
Kevin rambles slightly, but that's ok.
Sorry for clogging up your Inbox. Thanks for answering my questions.
I think you know by now I am a HUGE WCW fanboy. One of the few. After watching all the Nitro's and RAW's, I can safely say that I highly prefer Nitro. Hell you turned on RAW in 98 it was Vince front and center with Austin. Turn it on three years later it was the same damn thing but with HHH in the mix with his rambling 20 minute promos and then destroying everyone in the company....I cannot count the times he beat Jericho and Jericho never got revenge for being owned backstage and in the ring.
Not really a question but more of a comment: Today you mentioned that WWE has ridden Cena for years. WCW gets blasted for doing the same with the nWo. Yet it survived barely two years in its initial form and then moved to the Wolfpac v. nWo. I personally find 98 to be the second best year behind the Summer of 96 (97 had its moments but that summer with the terrible Road Wild and Fall Brawl booking really hurt WCW, and of course Piper going off the deep end, as well as the never ending Mongo feuds with anyone, especially JJ. Thank God for DDP and Savage) Unfortunately you can see the seeds of destruction....However, there was some seriously great shit. Long matches. The crowds were hot and there was Jericho who has never topped his 98 run in my mind; I believe it was Slamboree when he intro'd the Cruiserweight Battle Royal, still one of my favorite moments ever. Anyway....the nWo v. Wolfpac feud never got the blow off it deserved.
I think you're confusing ‘riding too long' and ‘riding into the ground'. The nWo angle had a perfect place to end, or at the very least change the story, at Starrcade 97 and Hogan losing to Sting. The nWo as a concept was already getting into trouble with the bloated membership and constant run ins and stuff, splitting it just made it worse as the focus remained on the nWo ALL the time.
Cena, at least, isn't a part of the entire show, there are moments when he isn't mentioned and not on air. Plus one man is able to have a wider variety of storylines and situations. So while Cena has been ridden on for too long, it's not quite as bad as the nWo.
Fantasy Booking: I think that WCW could have maintained the 98 level through 99: You feud Hart v. Savage and put the belt on the former when Savage gets injured and then turn Bret hell (I love heel Bret). Keep all titles off Goldberg. Raven was a great US champ (for a day) and his feud with Saturn was fun. Have him feud with Booker and Benoit and even Jericho. Have Jericho and Goldberg have thei have a blow off at WWIII 98. No Warrior....Yet. Have Hogan win the title at Havoc. Goldberg wins WWIII. Starrcade 98 and a long Goldberg run. Bring in Warrior in 99 to keep Hogan occupied. Have Fall Brawl 99 the blow off for nWo v. Wolfpac....Save the Elite formation for the nWo 2000, as you know Bischoff would go with that eventually.
Not saying WCW would have been huge but the ratings and buyrates remained strong until April 99, showing that the nWo had life left. But what irks me about the Elite is that it really hurt guys that got really over like Konnan and maybe when Eddie returned they could have reformed the lWo and now had it destroyed by the Elite. I have a lot more thoughts but I don't need to write a dissertation....But all the elements were there and it keeps the Elite at bay for a year or more. Also, bring back Savage in 99, as I loved that final run of his and have him be the Wild Card. Even have Hart come back in late Summer and help end the nWo for a while with Goldberg.
What , if anything could WCW had done to probably not overtake WWF but to keep things going strong....Also get the NBC contract.
Back to 2001: One of the biggest shames of the Death of WCW: 01 had some good shit. The Cruiserweights were back. Flair was front and center. Nash was interesting again. Lance Storm was fun to watch and I am a fan of the Cat. Rey and Konnan and Kidman were getting minor pushes. Awesome was back to kicking some ass. I liked the Mag. 7 and Steiner was one of the last great heels. That runs was awesome. DDP was back over again. The angles actually made sense, and for the first time in a long time they were interesting,and there was some wrestling on TV.
There's a mix of good points and bad points there, and some that wouldn't be possible (Savage had injuries for a while and thus wasn't available). Some I don't like but see the logic, and some I flat out disagree with, like Goldberg not winning any titles. You cannot draw out Goldberg without gold involved. And I agree that WCW did have some positives in the dark times.
But overall the issue with WCW remains the same, that they weren't able to do what was best for the long term survival of the company, too many people only looking out for themselves. Wrestling is a business, but it's one with many shareholders, and you cannot only view it in terms of what you personally can get out of it. People help you on your way up, you owe it to others to help them get up also. Be it advice in the back, giving up some TV time, or even putting a guy over.
And if you find anyone who does this well and without fighting you, I'll call you a liar. Because to get ahead in wrestling, you do need an ego after all, so it's a constant battle to balance all the issues, all the egos. The booker needs to swallow his pride, and not just keep plugging away with what worked once, but change and adapt with the times.
And show me one who can do that, and I'll just flat out slap you for lying to my face.
The nWo needed to die, and stay dead. Fracture it if you must, but the name and the idea should have died in 97 or at least early 98. Elite and so forth just kept making the problem worse, at some point the same people in the same matches just will not draw. You need to move new people in.
But far easier said than done…
And on that downer note, I need to call this quits, and hopefully next week return to your regularly scheduled quality. Until then, dear readers…