Ask 411 Wrestling 12.12.12: Gay Wrestlers, Lisping Wrestlers, Drunk Wrestlers, More!
Posted by Mathew Sforcina on 12.12.2012
Is Pro Wrestling ready for a openly gay character? Was Steve Austin a major dick to Scott Hall? Why haven't the WWE changed their Title yet? Does the WWE change their plans based on smark cities? And how will Undertaker enter the WWE Hall of Fame? All this and more, only in Ask 411 Wrestling!
Hello, it's a triple date, and welcome to Ask 411 Wrestling. I'm sick.
I even have a Doctor's Note to prove it!
Oh, and I'm also Mathew Sforcina, but that is a given, surely. Anyway, I have a virus which is not deadly by any means, but I am feeling really bad, but here I am, doing this column, because I don't have a partner with which to gain sympathy from by exaggerating the extent of my illness I'm a dedicated Professional Wrestling Internet Broadcast Journalist who isn't going to let some virus stop him from doing his job of saying ‘I don't know' to questions!
I suck: I'll level with you, I do feel that my quality is slipping slightly due to fatigue, coupled with real life issues. It's a big part of why I decided to look for replacements rather doing, say, a Total Opinion Month or what have you. Hope to recharge the batteries, and get back the edge I supposedly had before.
Your Turn, Smart Guy…
Who am I? The son of stripes, I grew up fascinated by hot rods. One of my nicknames is extremely ironic considering the accusations brought against me early in my career, which cost me my first real big break in the biz. A finishing move I popularized has become a family trademark ... of another family. My tag team partner even used that very move to win his first and only world title. I played a "Dead Man" months before Mark Callaway, I've wagered away both my mask and my hair, I stole my final show, and my passing made headines in a foreign land. Un Maquina Amor, I am?
Ray has the answer for us.
Who am I? The son of stripes,
Father, Sandy Barr, was a former referee (among other jobs)
I grew up fascinated by hot rods.
- a friend of "Hot Rod" Roddy Piper
One of my nicknames is extremely ironic considering the accusations
brought against me early in my career,
- The Intruder / The Love Machine
which cost me my first real big break in the biz.
- accused of rape, right as he was becoming a fan favourite in PNW as Beetljuice
A finishing move I popularized has become a family trademark ... of another family.
- The Guerrero Frog Splash
My tag team partner even used that very move to win his first and only world title.
- Eddie Guerrero
I played a "Dead Man" months before Mark Callaway,
- The afore mentioned Beetlejuice
I've wagered away both my mask and my hair,
- Mask as "The American Love Machine" v Blue Panther. Hair in a tag team match against El Hijo del Santo and Octagon.
I stole my final show,
- The tag team hair match mentioned earlier, on the When World's Collide PPV
and my passing made headines in a foreign land.
Un Maquina Amor, I am?
- Art Barr
No-one sent one in this week, so it's up to little ol' me.
What am I? I'm a set of tag titles, held by over 15 different tag teams. I've been held by companies, by families, by Connections, and by Crews. I've been vacated due to injury, due to partners splitting up, and yet at least once an injury has led to someone being replaced with no break. The team that has held me the most overall had 5 reigns, while the single longest reign was that team's second. Multiple World Champions have held me (depending on your definition) as well as at least 2 men who had long, successful announcing careers later on. From a guy who's career high point was pure Wrestlecrap to the first man to ever hold a certain major title, many men have held me, although one team held me without actually winning me. I am what?
Questions, Questions, Who's Got The Questions?/My Damn Opinion
James starts us off with a classic question.
More and more I miss the moments I really "mark-out"
The last couple of years I can only remember the Rock and Lesnar returning as 2 moments.
What are your all-time favourite "mark-out" moments?
Warning, a bunch of videos are gonna be included here.
Apart from moments where I won big matches/had a big match/got a ‘Super Dragon' chant, which are mark out moments of a different kind, I suppose the only moment that made me jump up and down like a little girl probably counts as my fav mark out moment, is when Trish Stratus turned heel at Wrestlemania XX. Just a perfect storm of characters I liked, a turn I loved, and how she somehow turned hotter before your very eyes.
Other moments that stick in my mind that I was around to see liveish and thus could mark out for properly were ECW Reforming (yes, the rest sucked, but dammit, this moment was GOLD).
Victoria turning heel by beating up all the Diva Search contests was an awesome moment, given that it was the end of Happy-Go-Lucky Victoria.
I like heel turns, so sue me. And also heel promos, so stuff like HBK in Montreal (a.k.a the Hart/Hogan fake outs) and Rock in Toronto (Mothercanuckers!) as well.
But then there's also the classic stuff that everyone includes. Foley's first title win, Foley off the Cell, Three Faces of Foley (I'm also a Foley fan), Shane buys WCW, end of WMX7, Cena as #30, stuff like that. Oh, and one of my favorite title wins of all time.
I love that moment.
I'm sure below will have many more, and people picking apart mine. But any moment is a mark out moment for someone, and that's fine. One man's mark out is another man's eh.
Bobby forces me to go put on my by now dusty ‘Ask 411 Games' hat.
I have a question about Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game. It was released in the arcades in 1995 and then for the home systems a short while later. It only had 8 characters which was pretty low even in 95. My question though is why wasn't one of those characters Diesel? He was in the midst of a nearly year-long title reign at the time the game was released and had been a pretty major player in the WWF in the year prior. He was easily a bigger name than Doink, Bam Bam Bigelow, and most of the other names included. So why wasn't he in the game?
Because it took a while to program the game. It takes time to film a wrestler, turn them into sprites and then program them into the engine of the game. Judging by the appearance of the wrestlers in the game, it looks like the game was filmed between July and September 93, considering that Taker has the urn and Shawn Michaels looks like Sexy Boy V1.0. And during that time, Diesel had only just debuted as HBK's bodyguard, and thus was fairly low on the totem pole, relatively. Sure, by the time he came out he was the WWF champ, but that was a fair while after the game was being started, and thus they couldn't have predicted it.
Although I can defend Doink: Doink is a colorful, unusual character that would draw over casual fans, as opposed to just 8 men in different colored tights. Including him gave the game some color and variety. You need that in an arcade game.
Josh asks about a topical subject in the wider community.
Cool column and all that. My question is do you think there will ever be an openly gay wrestler or gimmick that is not used for comedy purposes? I'm a gay guy who happens to like wrestling, not to watch men in pants, I just enjoy the drama and sports elements. What pisses me off is that the only time sexuality seems to be referenced is either in a mocking tone or in a ridiculously over the top "Orlando Jordan" way. Do you think any of the major companies would ever take a risk on having a wrestler who happens to be homosexual rather than it being integral to the gimmick or descending into awful comedy? Also from a backstage perspective would you feel comfortable working with an openly gay opponent?
To answer the second part first, I would have no problem whatever with that. And not just because I know I'd never appeal to a gay man.
Although some wrestlers do have general mindsets of racist, sexist idiots, wrestlers generally tend to be fairly open about various issues like sexuality and religion and stuff. Not saying everyone agrees and it's all a big happy family, but you tend to hate people because they are dicks or stupid or talentless, not because they are gay or atheist or Bronies or whatever. It's based on your actions, not your labels.
Of course, you can, and will, be judged unfairly on said actions, but it's a start.
As for the issue of a wrestler who just happens to be gay, the problem with booking wrestling is that you have a finite amount of time to spend on character development. If a regular drama needs to spend an hour in flashbacks to establish exactly why the main character always has pancakes for breakfast, they can do it. And if they need to spend 20 minutes on a B-story about a minor character's pet, they can.
Now, I'm not saying that a person's sexuality is a minor plot point, although it would be kinda nice if it was so inconsequential that no-one really cared, but in wrestling you can't create nuanced, complex characters easily. Over time, sure, but when someone debuts, they need one simple, clear hook to get you going, to give the fans a reason to care about them off the bat. So for a character to be gay but have that be a minor issue is counter-productive.
And, sadly, there is a perception among many people, from fans to the IWC to wrestlers to bookers that your average wrestling fan is, to put no to fine a point on it, a backwards redneck idiot, or that backwards redneck idiot's kids, depending on what market you're selling to. So I don't think it'll happen on a major stage for a while, since it takes a little longer for your average social change to seep into wrestling on the big leagues. Indies are quicker on the uptake, but it will be a while for a major league company to do that. Or rather, for TNA to do it, because WWE won't.
And the thing is, if the talent is good enough, it'll work. You intro them as a regular wrestler, where his sexuality isn't even thought about because people are too busy focusing on how he's beating people up as part of his team. You might have him have some sort of odd haircut or maybe a lisp. But he just beats people up as a loyal member of a team, fighting for fair play or justice or something. Have the group as a whole, talk about how they have felt injustice. The other two can be talking about being held down due to their ethnicity or their wrestling background, but he can be talking about something else. The trio can wage war on the company it is invading, attacking people, and then after a while they can splinter as the leader chases fame and glory and the muscle walks out. And then the third man can talk about how he's been betrayed and let down by everyone his entire life. How he let himself be manipulated by a crazy bloodthirsty jerk who made him believe that the only way he could be himself in this industry was to revolutionise it by violence, then turned on him out of spite. And how when he finally got a shot, he took it, and won a major title, and then the fans, who had accepted him, and who had made him think that maybe they would accept him for who he is, then turned because he signed to WWE. And then he rotted in developmental, waiting, until he got tired of being held back because of who he is. Because yes, he is a wrestler, he is a talented young man, a former world champion, and he's gay, and his name is…
And that's as good as you'll get, in that the first character who is openly gay and where it isn't a major issue will need to go through a period where it IS a major issue, more for the attitude about it than the thing itself. He needs to be a heel, fighting against a perceived injustice, since that, hopefully, leads the fans to hating the idea that there is an injustice, and so they then believe that there isn't one, and thus they don't mind it. So later on, he can move onto developing a more well rounded character.
The first one has to go through that, so that others don't have to.
Joe wants to talk titles.
I have a question about the WWE title. The one they've been using (the spinner) is the one that they made for John Cena. There have been talks for awhile now about making a new one, but so far it looks like it won't happen. Iv'e read that the reason they won't is because is sells a lot of replicas (god knows why). To me it seems stupid for anyone besides Cena to carry it. That would be like TNA keeping Hardy's god awful title, and having other wrestlers use it when they win. I know CM Punk has spoken up about them making a new title, but has anyone else? How would you feel if the company you worked for had you carry a title that was designed for another wrestler? I'm also sad to hear that you're leaving 411. I hope you have great success, and wish you the best in all your future endeavors.
I'm not leaving dude, that was a joke. After I come back at the end of January, you'll have me till at worst case scenario (outside of massive personal trauma) till Wrestlemania, if only so I can do Evolution Schematic: Kane (Version 2.0) for 411's Countdown to Wrestlemania. Although I do have rough patches, I do love doing this column and aren't about to give it up unless someone makes me a hell of a pitch.
Anyway, the reason the Spinner belt is still around is that after RVD divorced it from Cena a couple steps with 7 simple words, "And look at this one, it spins!"…
It was in an odd place where it was very much tied to Cena, but was just divorced enough to not matter. So it was a debatable thing… Right up until WWE started going PG, and with it came a big fat contract with Mattel in 2010. The multi-year deal is worth a lot of money to both parties but, crucially, means that WWE can't change the WWE title belt until 2015, when the deal runs out and they are allowed to alter it. Supposedly Mattel made toys of the Spinner belt, so WWE has to keep the Spinner belt.
Supposedly work continues on it, Punk has stopped asking about it since he kept getting run around on it, or so he claimed at the Ohio Comic-Con a couple months ago.
Now, would I use a title belt designed for someone else? If asked to, yes, since a good wrestler should be able to make anything work. I don't dislike the spinner belt because it's Cena's, I dislike it because I think it looks bloody ridiculous. With or without spinning, it just looks like a jewel thief swallowed the evidence then threw up onto a piece of sticky leather. The fact that it is Cena's belt I don't like, I do feel that a title should be above, any one man, but I can work with it. I'd much prefer the belt I thought was the best one they ever made, Undisputed V3.0.
What, expecting something else?
(Fantasy Booking Time: One idea I always had was to get a victory by some cheap, BS route over Cena, the then WWE champ. Count out, or pinfall in a tag match, whatever. Then come out the next week with my valet and point out that I beat the champ last week. Therefore, I'm the Champ. And when announcers scoff, I say that I'm the champ since I beat Cena… And have the title. Pull out Undisputed V3.0, toss over shoulder. Point out that this is the official WWE Title belt, that… thing Cena had made is no more official than the Smoking Skull belt. Not my fault no-one else paid attention. So, I'm the champ and thus I will start ‘defending' it. Defend for a bit until a match is signed, Cena V me V other guy, for both titles. I then win that match by pinning other guy, then come out on Raw and say while I'd love to toss Cena's belt in the trash, to avoid a massive lawsuit, I have to carry it, as it is ‘officially' the title. But everyone knows it isn't. So, this here, the Undisputed V3.0, is the real title, and this thing, my valet will wear. Valet wears it all the time to mass heat.)
But yeah, I don't like personal titles becoming official versions, but I could make it work when asked. As long as it wasn't ugly. Then all bets are off.
Time for comedy!
Damn shame this is the last one of these, these were awesome.
This game, however, was not awesome.
This gets a little bloody when the announcers start having fun. You're warned.
And I'm willing to overlook the issue with the Rock's Sunglasses and its place in wrestling history since Puppet H is still the best thing ever.
Thwack Thwack Cadillac Blackjack is Very European.
Any idea why the WWE decided to name the now defunct European title that name? Were they making a major push in the European market at the time? Or were they just stumped and decided to go with that? Naming it the TV Title would have made more sense to me.
They named it that because it was originally designed as nothing more than a vanity title for the British Bulldog that was meant to boost business in the UK (and the rest of Europe as well) by having Bulldog defend it over there a bunch.
No Chandler, that's the original idea.
The UK market was the second biggest market WWE had, after the US/Canadian market, the UK was where they did a lot of their overseas business, you'll notice on old PPVs they mention it especially once a show.
It was never meant to be a ‘real' title, it was just something for Bulldog to carry round with him. It wasn't until Shawn Michaels threw a tantrum did it end up being anything, and even then it took a while and wasn't much.
And even if they had intended on making it mean something from the get go, the TV title brand, as it were, was taken by WCW already, they wouldn't take an idea from the competition so obviously.
Dave asks about crowds and retirement.
2 real quickies! Love the column and look forward to it every week. My question might be too simple/boring to be answered but I'm very curious. How do you think the WWE will handle the eventual induction of the Undertaker into the HOF? What I mean is the WWE has gone to extreme measures to never have the undertaker "out of character". He's never spoken at the HOF inductions, not the guy the send to do charity stuff (not that they would do that now). Does he come out in a suit and speak as "Mark Calaway", does he somehow give a "real" speech but "in-character" or do they avoid him ever speaking at all in some way?
It's an interesting question, and I think it comes down to a point of whether they know he's going to retire permanently or not. Because if they believe they can trot him out every few years for one more match, then he'll be inducted after he's dead and so it doesn't matter.
But assuming that he does at some point draw the line (WMXXX say), then it is tied into how he's going out. Because the last couple of matches with Hunter at WM have humanised him, even if it's very slightly. He's a lot less like the monster he once was. So if they are going to have him lose on his way out, then he can come out and give a small speech as ‘The Undertaker' but shoot on it. If he's going to win, then he gets inducted the next year, so that they can have him come out in full shoot mode. Which is silly on one level, since he's been interviewed at UFC fights a bunch of times now, but they're gonna maintain that aura as much as they can.
So yeah, there is no hard and fast rule, it depends wildly on what else is going on, and if they need to keep him as a character or if he's riding off into the sunset.
And 2 Last week I saw you mention the crowd in Phoenix is not full of smarks. Does the WWE ever actively change what they are doing in a given nigh based on the city? Do they account for the Montreal or NYC crowds at all?
Yes and no. On a superficial level, they do change the show depending on the city. Hometown boys will lose more often than not, and they'll put in a Screwjob spot if they are in Montreal (or at least they used to, they don't do that much any more), they do tailor the show to the city, and sometimes will book towards a certain match because of the town.
But that does not mean they would radically alter the booking of their programs based on the fact they are heading into a smark city. The reactions they get in a smark city, if they stick and carry on, MIGHT cause a change in booking, but they don't tend to change the booking because of a crowd being smart. They'll toss a line or two in, maybe a spot, but radical storyline overhauls require many crowds saying the same thing, not just one smark city not reacting properly.
Derek has a couple questions.
Longtime reader, I look forward to this column each week. It's great! I've got two questions for you...
1. I have always wondered about this, my first stumbling across WCW was Starrcade 91: Battle Bowl. The stage setup is pretty basic, except for the WCW logo, which is leaning and has a portion cut off. I've attached an image. What was this deal with this stage, did the sign break and they didn't pay to repair it?
I think you can see the reason for it if you watch the video in question.
I don't know for sure, and I couldn't find proof, but I suspect that someone decided the logo had to be on an angle because angles are cool, but they realised that if they did that, the point of the first W would be sticking down and could injure someone, since when the wrestlers come in, their heads are close to the bottom of the logo. So O&HS, or the equivalent, must have stepped in.
Unless someone below knows more.
2. My friend Manny posed this question to me and I had no idea. When did they stop using the atomic drop? something like found here...
I haven't seen it used in a match in years, do you know when this move fell out of fashion?
This is one of those questions that when I read it I thought it was silly, but when I thought about it, I realised it was pretty much right. I can't recall the last atomic drop I saw.
Now, there is no giant mailing list where all the wrestlers get told what is and isn't in fashion ("2007: Year of the Double Knee to the X!"), but a combination of the move needing power to pull off well, plus it being fairly unrealistic, and looking horrible if not sold right, plus most guys working either high flying or technical styles, not safe, cartoony 80's style, could very well lead to the move dying out. Inverted atomic drops are still around, but the classic one just seems to be deemed too cartoonish for most people.
But if you have a different opinion, let me know below! I'm going to move onto Kevin for now.
Love the column, and thanks for answering my previous questions. Predictably, I have a couple more:
The Cat was great. He seemed to have a solid following. But he never really got over in WWE. I was curious why? The man seemed to be a natural born entertainer.
According to Mr. Miller himself, it was because of the WWE having all the writers and the backstage stuff, as he was, according to interviews he has given, told that the writers didn't know what to do with his character, and that he never knew who to talk to, that he didn't know who his friends were.
Now, while I have no reason to doubt that, I think another factor is that in WCW, Miller was one of the more eccentric characters they had who was over, the guy was flamboyant in a way WCW could handle. When he got to WWE, he didn't stand out as much, as WWE was more about character, so what character he had wasn't really enough on its own. They could have added to it and made it work, but when it didn't click immediately and he wasn't a guy Vince created, they obviously didn't try too hard and just moved on.
Not setting the world on fire when you're already slightly behind the 8-ball coming in isn't a good combination to have. Cat got lost in the shuffle because of it, and thus never got dealt out. But hey, he did have an awesome moment in the 2004 Rumble.
I heard one of Scott Hall's biggest problems during his last tenure with the WWE is that (due to his alcoholism) he was taking a pill that would make him ill if he came into contact with alcohol. Despite this, Stone Cold kept giving him beer baths. Is this true? I am not making any excuses for Hall as he would have inevitably fallen off the wagon, but this would be another huge bullet point for the ‘Stone Cold is a Giant D!@k' resume.
Yes, he was taking Antabuse. For those playing at home, that's one of the first medications developed to fight alcoholism, as it inhibts the body's ability to oxidize acetaldehyde, which is what alcohol is partly turned into in the human body, and that leads to various negative side effects, designed to discourage drinking.
And yes, this did lead to him having a reaction to Steve Austin pouring beer over him on February 19th edition of Smackdown, which led to him throwing up backstage. The response? WWE felt he may have to stop taking the drug so as to avoid problems with alcohol related angles they wanted to run.
But, on the other hand, he had taken beer baths at several house shows and been fine, leading some to believe he was only taking it for TV tapings.
Still isn't a good look, and WWE should be ashamed (if this is true) that they cared more for their angles than Scott Hall's issues, but I don't think Austin is to blame here. He could have stood up and said no with Scott, yes, but I don't think he was going in there and saying ‘Let me pour beer all over Scott' either.
Finally, Tosh.O replayed the clip of an Indy guy doing his best Brock Lesner Impression last night (no, not crapping the bed with Goldberg). I read about it a couple of months ago when it happened. Any word on how that guy is doing?
That would be this guy, I take it. Don't watch if you don't like neck bendy videos. Or gratuitous slow motion.
You can then see the Web Redemption video here. The guy's name is Lee Robert Weber, and I was able to find nothing on the guy. He was a yardtard, and hasn't made it into the business legit, by anything I could find. He learnt how to do a moonsault, or at least how to look as if he could via editing. That's all.
But by all means, if you're out there Lee, do drop me a line and let me know how you're getting on.
Michael takes us back to an earlier question, sorta.
I keep wondering why the WWE is hesitant to consistently push jack Swagger and I think I have the reason: His lisp. Honestly, he's got the size, the wrestling background, has proven he can put on good matches(both single or in a tag team), and has a heat magnet for a manager, so there's no reason he shouldn't be a main event player. And since he is a former world champ, it wouldn't exactly be out of left field. But there's his lisp. Do you feel that the powers that be are hesitant to push him due to this? it's kind of like why I feel Roderick Strong will never make it in the WWE. His voice.
This one's a bit old, obviously. But there is a huge amount of back and forth rumors about this. Vince is cold on him, or the creative team like him and sent him away so as to push him on return, or the agents dislike him, or he keeps getting caught for pot, that he's too egotistical, there's a lot of misinformation out there on him.
But then, he's a guy who draws intensely opposite reactions from people. Some people love him, others hate him. I've heard him be called realistic, cartoonish, a great talker, a horrible talker, a good worker, a crappy worker, a guy worthy of a big push and a guy worthy of getting fired. There's little middle ground with the guy. I try and take it, since I neither love nor hate him, but I can see most people fall into one of those two categories.
His lisp is pretty down the list. If you have an odd sounding voice, yes, that's a strike, but if you have the charisma and/or can still cut a promo, it doesn't matter if that promo sounds a little off. Seth Rollins is doing fine as #2 in The Shield despite his lisp, and his silly, odd haircut.
That said, since he has Vickie, why not have her do most of the talking to generate heat while Swagger racks up the wins? Kind of like Heyman with Lesnar. Granted, she's not nearly in Heyman's league as a speaker, but she does draw a reaction from the crowd. That way, she draws the heat, while he looks like a wrestling machine. Or am I thinking too big for Swagger?
Again, we're well past that point right now, but I think that while that can work, WWE seems to be dead set against pushing a main event talent who can't talk for themselves. That might be due to a lack of high class managers, but the fact remains that WWE insists on world champs being able to talk for themselves.
So what would Swagger need? A face turn, from where I sit. Especially now, when there's a lack of them. Bring him back after WM as Ziggler's first opponent for the World Title, or have him be a surprise ally against The Shield, but try him as a USA Babyface. Couldn't hurt, and those angles rarely fail.
Or hell, Swagger V Cesaro! Now that would be a pretty awesome dynamic…
Patrick has a simple question.
I have a question which I wish you woud put on the 411mania's wrestling section.
It's about Randy Savage's wrestling gimmick/look. Due to the cowboy hat and the beard and the glasses, was Randy Savage's gimmick kind of based on a real person such as Merle Haggard or Hank Wiliams Jr?
Not to my knowledge. The beard came first, and then the glasses, and then, after the crown, then came the cowboy hat. We think of it as iconic now, but it took a few years to come together. In fact, he debuted the look while working as an announcer, from what I could piece together. It was not based on anyone. No-one else could handle those color schemes…
Evil Jeff has a simple question.
just a quick one - when Crush debuted in the rather fetching orange & purple combo, did the WWF ever acknowledge his past as a former member of Demolition?
Not on air, no.
In the WWF Magazine, they did have a small article about how Crush went back to his native Hawaii and Smash went into the Repo business, but on air, no, they were different wrestlers. Once the Attitude Era began, then they did talk about how Crush was a former Demolition member, while he was leading the Disciples of Apocalypse. But during the Kona Crush period, no, they didn't say it was the same man on the air. They might wink at it in various supplemental material, but on the air, no.
And with that, we bring this edition of Ask 411 Wrestling to a close, and hope to see you again very soon. Well, that is, next week, when we post the next edition. And what's this ‘we' stuff, there's only one man involved here, one man and one search engine.
I know I said the column had ended, but then again, I know how much everyone just loves these comedy segments.