Ask 411 Wrestling 03.06.13: The Undertaker Edition
Posted by Ryan Byers on 03.06.2013
How many finishers has Undertaker taken during his WrestleMania streak? Would WWE still have given Chris Benoit a tribute if they knew he was a murderer? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Wrestling!
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I'm Ryan Byers, and I'm still here filling in for Mat Sforcina as he continues to heal up from his recent wrestling-related injury, which conveniently damaged his typing arm.
Rumors that Mat's departure has something to do with the new taller, pudgier member of the Aces and 8's that TNA is getting ready to debut are completely unfounded.
Not a ton from the comments section last week that I really feel like following up on. There were a handful of people who had different explanations for why Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart never feuded and who had different explanations for what caused Bruiser Brody to chase Lex Luger off during their cage match in Florida decades ago. However, I'm sticking by what I wrote. Yes, there are different accounts of both incidents floating around out there (particularly Luger's account of the Brody story, which sounds like a face-saving measure to me), but what I went with was the information from the sources that I consider to be the most credible.
Your Turn, Smart Guy
I have to admit that I might have tried to go a little bit too obscure with last week's question, which was:
I got the majority of the mainstream exposure I received in my wrestling career as an enhancement talent in both the WWF and WCW in the 1990s. However, before that time, I was actually a fairly big deal and a multi-time champion in Puerto Rico, and I was also pushed in Texas during the dying days of that territory. In recent years, I have popped up on the occasional indy show, and I also made one mainstream local media appearance in order to decry steroid use. Who am I?
The answer that I was going for was Frankie "The Thumper" Lancaster, who got a run towards the end of World Class and held titles in Puerto Rico but really only ever served as an enhancement talent on a national stage in the U.S. He appeared on local media affiliates in Florida after the end of his career in anti-steroid pieces.
There were several guesses made, none of which were for Lancaster, though a couple of them did fit the majority of the question, though not quite all of it. Let's try for a question that doesn't suck as much this time around . . .
I am a "second generation" wrestler who has been part of the industry for almost ten years. I have held a championship in one of the biggest wrestling promotions in the world and also participated in a Money in the Bank ladder match despite the fact that I had a steel rod surgically implanted into my back long before becoming a wrestler. Who am I?
Questions, Questions, Who's Got the Questions?
The Vanilla Killa sent in a series of questions, after claiming that other questions in the column he's read recently have been boring and too easy. He apparently didn't read that question I had to answer a few weeks ago about consecutive pay per view wins, which was not easy in the slightest.
1. Given that everybody respects the Undertaker and he's the locker room leader and all that I gotta ask: Has there ever been any heat on the Undertaker in the WWE?\
There's nothing I've ever heard of, though you have to keep in mind that he has spent literally his entire time in the promotion as a top guy (with the possible exception of the first year or so), and guys who are on top of the company tend not to have their actions question unless they go really over the top with bad behavior like Shawn Michaels.
Speaking of Shawn Michaels . . .
2. I was thinking about how Shawn Michaels used to be this baby-kissing smiling babyface on camera but off camera he was a complete asshole during his initial babyface push back in 1995-1997. Can you name some other wrestlers that were playing super nice guys on camera but were COMPLETE asshole off of it?
This is a difficult question to answer, just because we're not dealing with these guys on a day-to-day basis, meaning that largely what we have to go off of here are fan accounts and shoot interviews, which are typically one person's opinion. Thus, in order to really provide somebody's name in a concrete fashion in an answer to this question, there have to be enough stories to show a track record of behavior, which is difficult.
In any event, the only person who really springs to mind outside of Michaels is Randy Orton. Granted, his character, even when he's playing a babyface, isn't exactly the nicest, cuddliest man on the planet. However, he has been a face, and some of his fan interactions that were brought up online when he was a face were pretty heelish. Word is that he's mellowed out now that he's gotten married and started having his own children, though.
3. When Benoit went crazy and killed himself and his family, WWE gave him a tribute show on Monday not knowing he actually did the killing. Now my question is if they knew (along with the rest of the world) that he did the killing, what would have they done with the Monday's show? Would they mention him and the incident at all?
There's no way that they could have gotten away without addressing it. Vince McMahon probably would have given some kind of statement to open the show, similar to what he did on the actual program, though it instead probably would have condemned Benoit's actions or otherwise attempted to distance the company from what he did.
What probably would have followed would have been classic matches and other clips, none of them featuring Benoit. Aside from contacting the USA Network and asking that they air other programming (which would have been a huge headache for all involved), that's virtually the only thing that the company could have done given the tight timeframe between when the news broke and when the show had to air.
4. Is there an exact time and date when the chair shots to the head were banned? When was the last chair shot to the head? HHH vs. Taker II at WM? And was this ever addressed on television during commentary or something?
From looking back at various news articles on the subject, it appears that the ban went into effect in March 2010. The idea behind the ban was to limit concussions in wrestlers due to the recent research that shows the dangers of those injuries and has led to discussion and reforms throughout professional sports, particularly in the NFL and NHL. Of course, some of that research hit particularly close to home for the wrestling industry, as Chris Benoit's brain, when examined, showed significant degeneration, perhaps contributing to the tragic manner in which his life and the lives of his family came to an end.
The chairshot-to-the-head ban was never mentioned on television, because it's not a storyline ban. In fact, I would wager that the vast majority of fans who did not find out about the ban through the internet don't even realize that exists . . . shots to the head really just aren't that big of a part of professional wrestling, particularly if you look at the entirety of its history as opposed to the last several years.
And, yes, the last example of a WWE chairshot to the cranium is probably from the Undertaker/Triple H match, though this past Monday's Raw did feature a Honky Tonk Man guitar shot to Heat Slater's noggin.
5. How do you think Vince would have booked Hall and Nash coming over if he were in Bischoff's place? Would he have his guys just kick their ass and thus prove his dominance (meanwhile costing himself millions and millions of dollars)? Or would he have swallowed his out of control ego and actually booked something like the nWo and actually make money like WCW did?
Hypothetical questions like these are virtually impossible to answer, but the only thing that we can use to make an educated guess like this is past history . . . and, based on his track record, Vince McMahon has no aptitude whatsoever for booking an invasion angle. So, no, I don't think his handling of Hall and Nash would have been particularly effective if he were in Eric Bischoff's position in 1996 as opposed to the other way around. Then again, Bischoff's handling of Hall and Nash wasn't exactly effective in the long run, so maybe that shouldn't be considered too big of a knock on Vince.
6. During his WM streak how many "finishers" has the Undertaker taken?
Let's break it down. Note that, to determine whether a finisher was hit, I am relying on J.D. Dunn's play-by-play in his Wrestlemania reviews, which you can find on The Dunn List on this site . . . so, if I screw it up, I guess I can shift the blame to him.
Wrestlemania VII Opponent: Jimmy Snuka Finisher: Superfly Splash Did Taker take it? No.
Wrestlemania VIII Opponent: Jake Roberts Finisher: DDT Did Taker take it? Twice.
Wrestlemania IX Opponent: Giant Gonzalez Finisher: None established. Did Taker take it? N/A
Wrestlemania XI Opponent: King Kong Bundy Finisher: Atlantic City Avalanche Did Taker take it? Yes.
Wrestlemania XII Opponent: Diesel Finisher: Jack Knife Powerbomb Did Taker take it? Twice.
Wrestlemania XIII Opponent: Sid Finisher: Powerbomb Did Taker take it? No. (It was attempted but cut off by Bret Hart.)
Wrestlemania XIV Opponent: Kane Finisher: Chokeslam/Tombstone Did Taker take it? One chokeslam and one tombstone during the match, an additional tombstone on a chair after the match.
Wrestlemania XV Opponent: Big Boss Man Finisher: Boss Man Slam Did Taker take it? No.
Wrestlemania XVII Opponent: Triple H Finisher: Pedigree Did Taker take it? No.
Wrestlemania XVIII Opponent: Ric Flair Finisher: Figure Four Leglock Did Taker take it? Yes.
Wrestlemania XIX Opponent: Big Show & A-Train Finisher: Chokeslam/Baldo Bomb Did Taker take it? One chokeslam, one Baldo Bomb.
Wrestlemania XX Opponent: Kane Finisher: Tombstone/Chokeslam Did Taker take it? One chokeslam.
Wrestlemania XXI Opponent: Randy Orton Finisher: RKO Did Taker take it? Yes.
Wrestlemania XXII Opponent: Mark Henry Finisher: World's Strongest Slam Did Taker take it? No.
Wrestlemania XXIII Opponent: Batista Finisher: Batista Bomb Did Taker take it? Yes.
Wrestlemania XXIV Opponent: Edge Finisher: Spear/Implant DDT Did Taker take it? Three spears, one DDT.
Wrestlemania XXV Opponent: Shawn Michaels Finisher: Sweet Chin Music Did Taker take it? Twice.
Wrestlemania XXVI Opponent: Shawn Michaels Finisher: Sweet Chin Music Did Taker take it? Three times.
Wrestlemania XXVII Opponent: Triple H Finisher: Pedigree Did Taker take it? Yes.
Wrestlemania XXVIII Opponent: Triple H Finisher: Pedigree Did Taker take it? Twice, plus a Sweet Chin Music from guest referee Shawn Michaels.
So, by my count, that's twenty-six finishers in twenty matches . . . or twenty-seven if you want to count that post-match tombstone from Kane.
7. Has RVD ever used the split legged low blow that Johnny Cage has used in Mortal Kombat? If not why not? That would have been perfect for him, especially during his heel run. And speaking of RVD how come he hasn't turned heel or something? He's as stale as stale can be. Does he just flat out refuse it? Why doesn't TNA make him do it after all they're his employer and I think it would be good for business.
I haven't played Mortal Kombat in twenty years, so I have absolutely no recollection of what you're talking about, but I don't recall Rob Van Dam using anything that fits that description.
I don't know the precise answer to the question of why he hasn't turned heel recently, but, just thinking it through; the reason probably has a lot to do with the fact that his wrestling style is not well-suited to being a heel. RVD's matches are built around breath-taking highspots and athletic maneuvers, and heels aren't supposed to wrestle that way. He was able to get away with it in ECW just because that audience considered itself part of the show and knew where and how it was supposed to act, but, in just about any other environment, he's not adapted to being a bad guy.
Plus, when wrestlers get to a certain point in their careers, when fans have watched them for a couple of decades, they grow to respect, like, and cheer them almost regardless of what their on-camera personae are supposed to be, and Van Dam has probably gotten to that point . . . so I don't know if turning him would get the desired result regardless of his wrestling style.
AWookie - I hope literally - has a question:
I was wondering about Chris Masters's debut. As I remember, he broke Stevie Richards' nose and possibly knocked him out before he put him in the first ever Masterlock. It was just supposed to be a Full Nelson used as a resthold, until the ref noticed Stevie was out and called the match. My question is: what was going to be the plan for Masters before that match? Don't get me wrong, the Masterlock worked, but it seems like they dumb-lucked into it. Was there always supposed to be some submission or other finisher he would get heat off for months, or did he basically invent half his gimmick by breaking a man's face?
I don't know where you heard this story, but, based on everything I've heard, it's completely false. The plan was for Masters to use the full nelson as a finisher from the get-go, due to WWE wanting to go more "old school" with its wrestling style at the time. You can hear Masters himself discuss this on Episode 65 of Colt Cabana's excellent Art of Wrestling Podcast.
Frankie's Mom wants to know about some of WCW's weaker moments:
What was the pay off or the intended one for the Raven, just a regular kid, series of vignettes with Raven and Kanyon driving around in a Ferrari being all suburban middle class slacker? From memory there was supposed to some sort of angle involving Rowdy Roddy Piper as some sort of inspiration or mentor to Raven. Did this actually happen?
The seeds for the vignettes setting up some sort of storyline involving Raven and Piper were definitely planted, as, during one skit, Raven took a look at his high school yearbook and, in picking it up, we saw that he had quite a few photographs of the Hot Scot from the peak of his career.
However, the vignettes never really lead anywhere and meandered to a pretty unsatisfying conclusion. They started airing in January 1999 and continued throughout February, introducing former ECW valet Chastity as Raven's sister and the Sandman as Raven's wacky neighbor "Jim." Ultimately, they concluded when the actress who played Raven's mother told her "son" that WCW had called him and wanted him to come back to work. When he came, he had Chastity with him in his corner. The "Jim" character, meanwhile, was dropped before the vignettes even stopped airing, and he just showed up randomly one evening essentially doing the Sandman character but under the name of Hak for what I can only assume were legal reasons.
As far as Piper's involvement is concerned, I could not find a definitive answer as to why it didn't go down as planned, but the most common explanation floating around out there is that someone in the upper echelons of the company put the kibosh on it because they didn't think that Raven was worthy of feuding with a wrestler of Piper's calibre. Some of the theories say Piper himself back out (which I find unlikely), while others point the finger at Hulk Hogan and/or Eric Bischoff.
Along similar lines or crappy WCW pay off, the angle involving the Steiners and Chucky from Child's Play, what exactly happened there?
There was mysterious laughter dubbed over random segments on all of WCW's shows for what seemed like months, and everybody speculated as to where it was coming from. Ultimately, the source was revealed to be the Chucky character from Child's Play, who appeared on the big video screen during a segment of Monday Nitro and berated Rick Steiner. At the time, Rick was feuding with brother Scott, and Chucky laid out his reasons for why Scotty was the better of the two Steiner brothers.
What was this meant to build up to? My understanding is that the segment was meant as a one-off to promote the newest Child's Play movie (which, if I'm remembering correctly was Bride of Chucky) and tangentially built up the future Rick/Scott encounter. It was never followed up on, and I don't think that it was ever meant to be followed up on, either. Mercifully, there were no further appearances by Chucky.
Last of all the WCW Junkyard Battle Royale, is it true it cost something like $200,000.00 to organise and film? Was there any aim to it despite creating mayhem and spectacle to try and create a cheap pop?
According to the Bryan Alvarez/R.D. Reynolds-authored book The Death of WCW, the Junkyard Invitational cost $100,000.00 to pull off. There was no point aside to try a "different" type of gimmick match that in theory could have taken off and established the company's hardcore division. Fortunately, it appears that everybody involved realized it was a horrible idea and it was never attempted again.
Dabid and Don is back for two more questions:
1) What was the thought process behind putting the WWE Title on Rey Mysterio in 2011 for an hour? It made Miz look bad because he couldn't regain the WWE Title. It made Rey Mysterio look bad because he could only hold onto the WWE Title for an hour. And it made John Cena look bad because he pretty much stole the WWE Title from the WWE's biggest underdog world champion ever, Rey Mysterio, who had already wrestled a tough title match earlier that day. What did the WWE writers have in mind with this whole mess?
I don't know . . . I don't think this was nearly as big of a disaster as you seem to.
WWE had already given up on Miz by this point. Almost the second he lost the WWE Championship the first time, the promotion decided that he was going to be a midcarder and treated him accordingly. Making him look bad was and still is a non-issue.
As far as Misterio is concerned, I don't think that he looked too bad, either. John Cena has reached the point where fans accept that he can beat anybody on any night under any circumstances. In other words, there's no longer any shame in losing to John Cena, particularly when you've already had one match earlier in the evening.
And was Cena "stealing" the title a dick move? I guess you could interpret it that way, but that wasn't my immediate thought. In a perfect world - and for the most part in modern WWE - the championship should be valued by the wrestlers as the greatest accomplishment they could possibly achieve, something that they will literally take almost any opportunity to get. If I am remembering correctly, in storyline, Cena didn't request the match with Misterio. Vince McMahon booked the match with no input from either wrestler. If the championship is as important as it's supposed to be, it wouldn't make any sense for Cena to turn down the opportunity, particularly in a world where babyfaces have no problem taking advantage of situations by cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase.
(And I'm really tired of the Money in the Bank briefcase existing, but that's another story for another day.)
2) I didn't watch WCW much during its "glory days", and from the footage and documentaries I've seen of the NWO, I don't get it. What exactly were the NWO trying to accomplish? They were wrestlers on the WCW payroll wrestling on WCW TV and WCW PPVs, but they were trying to "take over" WCW? What does that even mean? For that matter, Hogan had already been WCW Champion for essentially his entire stay in the company--why would he turn heel and form the NWO? The whole thing just makes no sense to me.
Actually, you're missing a critical element of the story. The nWo guys were NOT WCW wrestlers. If you paid attention to the storylines, particularly the early ones involving the faction, you would see multiple references to WCW wrestlers "converting their contracts" to nWo contracts or certain wrestlers being "free agents." They were definitely portrayed as a separate organization attempting to stage a hostile takeover of WCW, and they were given access to WCW programming despite not being part of the roster because of Eric Bischoff's role as a double agent, being the vice president of WCW while simultaneously promoting the New World Order's agenda.
Brandon Ray is looking for something a little bit more stable:
Watching the relationship between the Undertaker and Paul Bearer during the Attitude Era made me realize that one of the things driving the storyline was the conflict between 'Taker and Paul Bearer, which could never really be resolved in the ring. Bearer wasn't a wrestler, and could never legitimately hang with Taker in the ring. As a result, Bearer had to work through proxies, bringing in other people, actual wrestlers to carry on the conflict. He obviously worked with Mankind and brought in (up?) Kane. Were there any other wrestlers that he brought in to face the Undertaker during the storyline?
There weren't many of note, though there were a couple. In 1996, Bearer brought in "The Executioner" (Terry Gordy under a mask) to assist Mankind in his feud with the Undertaker, but his run literally lasted only two months and came to an end when UT trounced him in a no holds barred match at In Your House 12. Paul Bearer also served as the manager for Vader beginning at the 1997 Royal Rumble when he helped the Mastodon go over the Undertaker and through Vader's subsequent WWF Title match against Taker at In Your House: Canadian Stampede.
That's it for this week's Ask 411. If you can't get enough of Ryan, follow him on Twitter here.