Ask 411 Wrestling 08.21.13: Stone Cold, Undertaker, Lex Luger, Ken Shamrock, Sin Cara, More!
Posted by Justin Watry on 08.21.2013
What would have happened if Steve Austin had been unable to compete at WrestleMania XIX? What caused Lex Luger to win the WCW Title in 1997 over Hulk Hogan? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Wrestling!
WWE Summerslam is officially in the books for 2013.
Like many pay-per-view events, there was a lot of very good stuff sprinkled in between a few negative moments. That is to be expected. As I wrote about in this very column last month, Daniel Bryan and John Cena had their own "Hulk Hogan/Ultimate Warrior WrestleMania VI" moment with the up and coming face beating the top face clean in the middle of the ring for the gold. Now, just ignore the aftermath with Randy Orton, and we will be okay! Nothing (and nobody) is perfect. We move forward to the Fall season where you know Raw ratings are going to get slammed by NFL, and fans can start thinking about plans for Royal Rumble through WrestleMania XXX. Glory days!
As for this specific column, I have not got it all down just yet. There are still a few things being worked on and could use some small tweaks. It has been a long two month process, but we are almost there! Hang in there folks. I appreciate all the feedback thus far and can promise everyone that this column will only improve from this point forward...
Last week's question about the IC/US Titles being important was strictly limited to WWE. Re-read the email that was sent my way. It was just about WWE, no other company. Thus, my response stuck to WWE only. Also, the questions I respond to are the ones emailed to my inbox. The email address is clearly listed below; it is not hidden! If you do not think good topics are featured, then send me something more interesting. I can only answer what is handed my way. Plus, since it was brought up, the backlog of questions is still being used. Many have been deleted due to their outdated nature (predicting WM29 matches, 2012 story lines, etc.). However, a few are used every time I put this column together. Just last week, the DX, Macho Man, and Goldust questions were dug up from a long time ago.
Your Turn, Smart Guy...
Last week, I asked about the location of every single WrestleMania. Luckily, there are more participation than usual. That is good! This little feature will stick around as long as everyone keeps on responding. When the day comes where nobody replies, it will be time to stop. The star of the week was none other than Shark who was correct before anybody else. The states to host WM (not counting 2014) were New York, Illinois, California, Michigan, New Jersey, Indiana, Nevada, Connecticut, Massachusetts Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Florida, Arizona, Georgia. For some reason, I always tend to forget where WMVIII and WMXII were. Is it just me? Major props to Shark once again! This week, let's try a classic "Who am I?" trivia question. Remember, no cheating!
I am a former IC Champ. I am a former Tag Champ. I am a former WWE Champ. I wrestled in the main event of a past WrestleMania event. I have even pinned Shawn Michaels (at least) twice. I am not Bret Hart but have lost a title to The Hitman. Finally, for one night only on Raw in 2009, my hometown was Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Who am I?
Questions, Questions, Who's Got The Questions?
Let's start with some comments from all of YOU on when the IC/US Titles began to lose their luster!
Bruce L: I'd definitely say the IC title became a fairly useless prop in 1999. I'm not sure any title has ever been as hot a potato as the IC belt was that year. Looking at Wikipedia Ken Shamrock entered the year as champ, lost it in February to Val Venis (who, despite being a good worker, was more of a comedy act than anything else), who lost it just under a month later to the Road Dogg (who was popular at the time, but nobody's idea of a credible singles champ), who lost it two weeks later to Goldust (who was not exactly at the peak of his WWE career), who lost it two weeks later to the Godfather (who was also a comedy act on top of not being that good a worker), who lost it less than two months later to Jeff Jarrett (a decent choice given his track record), who lost it two months later to Edge (who barely even existed at the time), who lost it back to Jarrett the next day, who lost it two days later to D-Lo Brown (a good worker, but not one who was going to the main event), who lost it back to Jarrett later that month, and he got another two-month reign before losing it to Chyna -- who, given the way she was booked at the time, was probably the most credible champ of the year by far. Of course, she lost it two months later to Jericho, who would spend 2000 revitalizing the title...but then in '01, they gave it to Prince Albert, who lost it to Lance Storm, who could've been a good champion if he had been booked as anything other than another anonymous cog in the "Alliance."
Pete Gas Fan: In regards to the Intercontinental title's prestige: I remember on the December 8, 1997 Raw when Stone Cold Steve Austin gave up the title because he felt it was below him. That tarnished the belt's prestige, and soon it was traded around like my sister.
Shuck Ducky Quack Quack: Yes, the IC title was passed around a lot around 1999/2000, but so were all the other titles. What really devalued the IC around that time was the addition of the European and Hardcore titles. The same group of guys had 3 belts to fight for so the IC didn't feel as special. In 1990, there were two singles titles on a show, in 2000 there were five, it watered things down.
These were the best three explanations that I read. Thank you to everyone who discussed this! To sum it all up, the constant title changes, weak champions, and inclusion of MORE belts really did hurt the prestige. Over time, it was just too late to help out very much.
Jon has a question about WrestleMania and the unlucky stars who missed out...
With all the talk this past year about Antonio Cesaro's absence from the (WrestleMania 29) card, I was wondering who the biggest omission ever was from a WM: meaning, a guy who was over/ a titleholder/ in a good feud- etc who was not on the card for no apparent reason.
Great question! I am sure many will be able to chime in with their thoughts below.
For those who care, let's not include any pre-show or dark match. Nearly every single person get son the show then. We are strictly focusing on the actual pay-per-view. Right off the bat, two names jump out at me. In 2005, it seemed like Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, AND Booker T were going to miss out of WrestleMania. Lucky for Rey and Eddie, they found a way to make the opening contest against each other (as tag champs). Sadly, Booker was nowhere to be found. Again, we are discounting any pre-show/dark matches here. I felt the five time WCW Champion had a solid 2004 and really closed the year strong. He had to have been able to find a spot SOMEWHERE on the event. Of course, history tells us Booker rebounded just fine in 2005 and 2006. However, not even making the WM21 card is crazy.
The other major mishap was in 2007. Ric Flair and Carlito were running the classic 'student/mentor' story line for months on end. In February, Flair snapped at Carlito backstage and delivered one of his best promos ever. Yes, ever! It was great and REALLY should have been the spark needed for them to get more attention leading into April 1st. Instead, the two ended uo feuding AFTER WrestleMania 23. What did the duo do at the grandest stage of them all? Wrestle on the pre-show in a tag match against Gregory Helms and Chavo Guerrero. Sorry, that does not count. Flair should have been on the main card in some form. It is no wonder he (and WWE) started to plan for his retirement months later, culminating in a high profile match versus Shawn Michaels at WM24.
Of course, there are others: Godfather in 1999, Matt Hardy in 2004, John Cena in 2003 (rap battle), Kane/Rob Van Dam in 2004 (Heat), and a couple guys this year, etc. This could go on forever if we really went through every single year! Outside of the obvious mentions, WWE is always in a no win situation come March/April. If they cram in guys/gals for a pointless eight person tag team match, it is deemed as filler to get every wrestler a paycheck. Shouldn't it be an honor and privilege to work the biggest event of the year? Not just being handed a "pity" match? On the flip side, if some mid-card stars miss out on the show and have no story line at the time, WWE gets slammed for 'misusing' talent. Really is a slippery slope...
Moving on, Matt brings up Stone Cold Steve Austin the night before WrestleMania XIX.
When Stone Cold was hospitalized the night before his WrestleMania match against The Rock, was there an actual 'what if' when it comes to the possibility of him not being okay to compete? I know it was only panic attacks that led him there, but.... What if?
I am not sure it ever got to that point.
Based on everything written, reported, and ever shown in the excellent Mania of WrestleMania documentary, there was never any thought of Stone Cold missing the event. Even after being checked out of the hospital Sunday morning, Jim Ross knew he was hard headed enough to work the match. In other words, nothing was going to stop the man from having one last battle inside that ring and making The Rock look like a million bucks. I have been in a couple of 'panic' situation, obviously nothing even close to a major star being rushed to the hospital a day before the biggest event of the year...BUT never have I started to think 'what if' and let my thought process wander. My main focus and frame of mind is always on whatever is going on at the time causing panic. That's it. Back to 2003 in Seattle, nobody should have been planning for something the next day or changing things up. It had to be ALL about getting Steve Austin healthy and ready for WMXIX first and foremost. Nothing else.
Now, did some guys start to think 'what if' at some point? Probably. They shouldn't have, but that is just human nature. When the texts/calls started to spread that Stone Cold was in the hospital (even if it was secret to mostly everyone) Saturday night, can you imagine the response? Wow. That would have been a total mess. Because I am still rambling on, the best scenario that fits with that specific story line would be for The Rock to wrestle The Hurricane, and we all know the outrage for THAT would be huge. Replace Stone Cold with Hurricane? Good luck handing out refunds on that one. Outside of that idea, nobody else (not already on the card) makes sense. The Rock would be left without an opponent. Hey, maybe he could take on John Cena - once in a lifetime...in 2003! Of course, WWE could have also had Bill Goldberg debut in the company a night earlier than he did and answer an open challenge from Rock, but that's be giving away a huge, huge HUGE dream match without any kind of hype.
We change gears with a question about WWE Raw, thanks to bigwally!
I have a question about taped RAW episodes. When the WWE goes overseas or wants to give talent some time off at Christmas or something, they'll tape an episode (usually the night after the live Monday RAW) for airing the following week. Alternating live and taped shows seems like a cost-effective way to run things (and they did it this way for some time in the '90s, of course), but the taped shows get lower ratings, so I see the disincentive. My question is: Is there anything in the WWE's TV deal that limits the number of taped shows they can do in a year (or whatever the relevant time-frame is)? Aside from lower ratings, are there other disincentives that prevent the WWE from taping more often?
Well, I can break this down into three sections:
1. There is nothing in the USA Network contract with WWE about the taping schedule. They just want ratings. That is their only concern. Live, taped, on delay, taped in an Orlando sound stage, from Madison Square Garden and drawing 20,000 - it does not matter one bit.
2. WWE just does what they know best. There is no incentive (or disincentive) to alter their current business. The television model works. The touring schedule works. Unless something major happens, nothing major will happen. Wait, that did not come out right. Whatever, I hope that makes sense! Profits are made each quarter, and the company has nobody breathing down their neck in terms of competition. Just easy sailing for WWE...
3. As for ratings, this is one of those lovely 'IWC myths' that holds no water today. It did during the Monday Night Wars, but that was because another option was available. Nowadays? Being live vs. taped means NOTHING in 2013! The Big Bang Theory grabs anywhere from 15-20 million viewers for their new episodes. Are they live? Of course not. The show is filmed months in advance. You just avoid the spoilers. Was LOST live every week? Of course not. That show was filmed months in advance, yet you avoid spoilers and tune in! Is The Hobbit live in theaters? Of course not. You pay money to watch the journey and not care when it was filmed. I do not read spoilers for any shows on television and never have. In that sense, they are all 'live' to me. Some folks just have this compulsion to read spoilers on everything...then complain if something is too predictable. That makes sense, right? Just avoid that stuff, and there is no issue. Outside of MAYBE sports (NFL, MLB, etc), it does not matter one bit if something is live or taped in 2013.
Moving to wrestling, taped shows on Saturday would draw major numbers for many companies over the years. Live? Of course not - filmed weeks/months in advance. Just ask TNA Impact Wrestling how much TV ratings move comparing live vs. taped. The show has gotten the exact same 1.0 rating for the past five years. Live, taped, studio, on the road, big matches, no matches, legends appear, X-Division focus, crazy story line, weak story lines - no difference in numbers. Still tht usual 1.0 rating! Smackdown usually does WORSE when the show is live. Notice there has not been one of those special Tuesday night episodes in awhile? Yeah, that is why. Raw was just taped a few weeks ago. The rating was right in line with their current viewership. Going back a little bit, but how about this: One of their highest numbers in the past few months? Any guesses? Figure it out yet? Yep, it was the taped Raw show back in April. Ultimately, this lovely 'IWC myth' is still around because people just have this never ending mindset that the 'internet' fanbase is the majority of the WWE Universe. It is just not true. They (we) are the small, small, SMALL minority who barely make a dent on the financial side of things. Go ahead and read the spoilers. Go ahead. WWE does not care one bit. It makes next to no difference in ratings. The casual fans have no idea what the 'IWC' even is and will watch the show regardless.
Up next: Ken Shamrock is the point of discussion thanks to James!
What are your thoughts on Ken Shamrock when he performed for WWF at the time, and why do you believe he never became a bigger player in the WWF? I remember him being my favorite Superstar growing up because of how intense he looked when he busted out the Ankle Lock Submission but for the life of me can't figure out why he never became bigger in the company.
He was entertaining.
It is funny. I was just thinking about his time in WWE over the weekend with somebody else asking the very same thing about Ken Shamrock. Basically, his career during the Attitude Era came down to two major turning points. First, the company DID try their best with him. The man picked up big wins, was treated as a legitimate tough guy, had great theme music, became King of the Ring over The Rock in 1998, and even held the IC Championship. No doubt, the effort was there. Sadly, he (along with many others) never stood a chance to break through. With The Rock, Mankind, Triple H, Edge/Christian, Jeff/Matt Hardy, Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Undertaker, and others taking form in the mid-late 1990's, Shamrock was not as talented as them. Good guy to have on the roster. He just was not able to keep up with all the amazing stars at the time. Secondly, his MMA career was not finished yet. That is one of the reasons why TNA Impact Wrestling will continue to fail in their experiments with King Mo, Bobby Lashley, Rampage Jackson, Tito Ortiz, and whoever else they bring in. I would say it is nearly impossible (or least VERY difficult) to train for both professional wrestling and MMA at the same time...and then perform at a high level on top of that. You simple have to choose one or the other.
Hey, remember Sin Cara? Yeah, that guy! Well, Daniel sure does...
I think I'm one of the few amongst the internet wrestling fans who likes Sin Cara. His moves look great, and he has an awesome look. However, he has not been without his issues, working against people who aren't used to his style, injuries, drug bites and so on. It's been a rather average 2 years for someone who was meant to be a huge deal. When he's great, he's great, book him with the likes of Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan, Tyson Kidd and so on, and he'll put on some amazing matches. However, when he's bad he's bad, and you'll see botches and what not galore. My question is what does WWE need to do if they want to make him a big deal, if they want him to be the next Rey Mysterio what are they going to have to do to get him there in your opinion? I honestly think rebuilding the Cruiserweight Division around him would be the best way to do. It's partly what worked with Rey, and I can't see why it shouldn't work for Sin Cara. They just need to get a bunch of really talented Cruiserweights from the indies and around the world to go with who they already have (Evan Borne, Rey, Daniel Bryan, Justin Gabriel, Yoshi Tatsu), set up a huge tournament with the goal of the final match being Rey and Sin Cara and just let them go at it on a PPV with Sin Cara going over and the torch being passed. I don't know if it's just me, but I think if they want him to get over and be as big as Rey, they need to try and build him up like Rey was. I'd like to hear what your thoughts are on Sin Cara, and if you think there is any hope for him to be salvaged in the WWE.
There is always hope.
Until a man is released from the roster, never consider them to be 'done.' Last year, Jack Swagger was getting crushed every week and losing at every turn. In early 2013, he comes back, picks up some big wins, and defeats five other men inside the Elimination Chamber to get a World Title match at WRESTLEMANIA 29! All in a matter of weeks...just like that. Michael McGilliscrewthisspellingcutty was going nowhere for the past two years. I seem to recall him losing on Main Event and even Saturday Morning Slam earlier this year. Out of nowhere, he is paired with Paul Heyman and facing HHH/John Cena during Raw main events. Now, he is the IC Champ. In a flash, everything changed. There are other examples, but those are the most recent. If WWE wants to do something, they will do it...
Now, do they care to do that with Sin Cara? My guess is no. I have no idea what his contractual status is, but it would not surprise me to see him walk away from WWE in the next 12 months. Truth be told, I actually was a fan of his for most of 2011. Even looking past the negatives, he was something new and had the fan support. Then the in-ring screw ups started to add up. I think we can all look past a mistake or two. They happen; no big deal. However, it was getting out of hand. After that, the Wellness suspension came down. That one stung. Instantly, you lose the trust of WWE brass and any part of your loyal fanbase that may "believe" in you as a character on television. That is tough to overcome if you are new. From there, it was injuries. Now, WWE has yet ANOTHER reason not to push you on Raw/Smackdown. At that point, his appearances made less and less, and I think many just moved on to other new, young acts in the company.
The entire idea of a rebooted Cruiserweight division has been out there online for years now. As usual, there is never any actual truth behind the rumors. Thus, Sin Cara is stuck in the same spot he has been for the past year. I actually would not mind seeing what you laid out. It would certainly let the masked star become his own and have a nice spotlight. At this point though, you have to wonder how much a potential Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara showdown even means. Mr. 619 has hardly been on television in months, and Cara has been all but forgotten about. As noted above, WWE can build both back up for the dream match, but it will take some real effort. Realistically, the experiment of Sin Cara seems to be one of those classic cases of a lot of hype meaning very little. There is not really blame on any one person. WWE tried their best. Cara tried his best. Even the fans tried their best to stick with him. It just did not work out.
Note: That entire section on Sin Cara was written before Monday night. Sad but true...
Throwing in a little Summerslam history, Connor asks about a classic 1992 match.
What is your opinion on the Bret Hart/British Bulldog match from Summerslam 1992?
Would you rank it up there with the greatest matches of all time or is it simply an average match elevated by a hot crowd? The rumor is that Bulldog was blown up early on and Bret basically wrestled himself for 20+ minutes, although I read somewhere that Davey had a staph infection and forgot all of his spots due to being on so many pills. Is there any truth to that or just Bret's word?
Seems like rumors and rumors piled on top of of more rumors, sprinkled in with more rumors...and Bret Hart's word...
You be the judge of which hold more credibility.
All of it just blends together. Bret Hart carrying his opponent on any given night? Yeah, seems reasonable. Davey Bot being blown up early? Yeah, that is a side effect of drugs. Staph infection as well? Probably, quite common back then. Forgetting spots? It happens. In the end, I'm not sure it really matter what the back story is. The two had a great match and delivered big time for the company. Now, if we had a situation like Victory Road 2011 with Jeff Hardy and Sting? Yeah, then I would care more about all the crazy rumors. None of that took place though. The two had their match to the best of their ability and minus a few hiccups, everything turned out well.
As for the legacy of the bout? Meh. In 1992, it was revolutionary and (probably) the greatest match ever seen inside a WWE ring. Probably. In the past 20 years though, I could name dozens and dozens of better matches that were more entertaining. It does not hold up well over the years and the folks clinging to it in 2013 are likely just doing to for their own memories, and that is okay. Nostalgia can be a double edged sword. No Hulk Hogan 'hogging' the spotlight. Big IC Title match in the main event. Two great technical workers. Clearly, it had a lot going for it before the bell even rang. As noted with the Attitude Era many times, fans only remember what they want to remember. Over time, it is plain to see the faults and flaws. If you wan to put on the rose tinted goggles and live in a fantasy world, go right ahead. I call it like I see it. Without repeating myself too much, the 1992 Summerslam bout between Bret Hart and Bulldog ranked fifth on my list of best matches for that single event. Fifth! Of just Summerslam shows. Imagine the other Raw, Smackdown, WCW, ECW, and PPV matches that have surpassed it. Here is what I said in a recent 411mania feature:
To me, this match has been overrated throughout the years. I am NOT saying the actual bell to bell contest was terrible or anything like that. It was clearly great. However, after more than 20 years later, this just does not stand the test of time. In the early 1990's, Bret vs. Bulldog was probably the greatest match fans had ever seen. Now though? I am sorry. Even with that, this gets a good reputation because of two things - the men involved and an IC Title match being treated as the main event. Anything with Bret and Davey Boy is automatically going to get 'FIVE STARS!' from certain fans. Plus, the fact that mean old Hulk Hogan was pushed to the side for the night also plays into their favor. Just going by actual in-ring action? Barely makes the top five in Summerslam history...
Raza asks a question about Lex Luger in WCW.
On the August 4, 1997's Nitro, Luger defeated Hogan for the World Heavyweight Championship. Afterwards, a celebration occurs which makes it look as if he will retain the title for longer period of time. However, Luger lost it back to Hogan 5 days later at Road Wild 1997. Was it Hogan didn't want to lose the title to Luger at all or was there some politics?
There are politics with EVERY decision made in professional wrestling.
From the bottom of the card on live events to the main event of WrestleMania, there is always a reason behind the move. As for the quick title change mentioned? It was your typical late 1990's "ratings pop" finish. Hulk Hogan was destined to drop the belt to Sting at the end of the year. To play up the unpredictability and swerve the audience, Luger won the title. As with most swerves, it made no sense and didn't help anything outside of the momentary buzz. Look no further than TNA Impact Wrestling over the past month. Why did Chris Sabin get the title? Why? To grab some headlines for a week? To 'pop' a television rating? Okay, that is all fine and dandy. The next week though? Ratings dropped. The week after? Ratings and viewership went down again. The week after THAT? Yep, another drop in viewership. Three straight weeks! After that, the gold went right back to Bully Ray. Again, I ask. Why did Chris Sabin get the title? Same reason Lex Luger beat Hulk Hogan in 1997 - create waves for a week and pretend that 'shocking' fans is entertaining. It's not and rarely, rarely, rarely works out long-term. No surprise the same people who worked for WCW in 1997 are working for TNA in 2013...
Everybody loves The Undertaker! STD Steve wants to know about his WrestleMania undefeated streak.
At which point, did they decide to make The Undertaker undefeated at WrestleMania?
Good question. Surely, the comment section will have a lot to say about this...
There were passing mentions in the early years. However, it never a part of the story. Things started to pick up in 2001. When facing Triple H, it was (again) noted a few times but nothing major - this time it meant more though. For me personally, it was a year later. After defeating Ric Flair in a great brawl, Taker held up five fingers on each hand to mark his 10th victory at WM. From there, fans officially became aware of The Streak. In the year 2003 and 2004, it was not a major selling point but had fans nervous about him winning to preserve the undefeated record. Ultimately, the correct answer is 2005. Randy Orton walked out on Raw and told the world he was going to end The Undertaker's undefeated WrestleMania streak. That became his next mission on the legend killer gimmick and continued each year after. It just sort of...happened. Nobody backstage had the idea for Taker when he debuted or anything like that. The whole thing was simply a giant coincidence that he was planned to win the first couple Mania matches. There are others who have undefeated records at WM but nothing even close to what Undertaker has done.
We move past that with a great question from Ty!
Which wrestler, had they stuck with it, had the most potential, but quit the business on their own will (not fired, injury, etc.)?
There are tons of guys.
For the sake of my sanity, I will just name three names from the past ten years. Also, let's leave out retirements such as Lita, Trish Stratus, Shawn Michaels, etc. Just stick to young(ish) wrestlers! Immediately, Muhammad Hassan jumps out at me as a potential star. He had a good heel run going in 2005 and despite his limited in-ring skills, the man received heel heat every night. Of course, WWE took the gimmick one step too far and aired the worse segment possible on the worst day possible. In no time, Hassan was off television. The *rumor* is that he did not have passion for the business after that and left. Too bad. If he had stuck with it, a simple change in character would have brought him right back into the fold. The second name is Monty Brown. He was a solid hand for TNA and even came to WWE for a nice spot on ECW every Tuesday night. As most know, a family issue forced him to quit wrestling. I wish him nothing but the best in his personal life. Hopefully, a future return is not out of the question. Finally, the man known as Maven! Yes, he had a fan in me. Technically, WWE did fire him. Thus, it is not entirely fair to name him. The first ever Tough Enough winner will forever have eliminated The Undertaker over the top rope at the Royal Rumble in 2002. At least he something, right? Just when his heel act was starting to get over in 2005, he was let go as a part of a massive cut in talent. Such a shame. Even his work as a face was pretty decent. The man does well for himself in 2013, so I give him props for that, but still being relatively young, why not give WWE another shot? I would love to see it.
How about all of YOU? Anybody you wish to see return that left the business on his/her own?
Last week, rafiki asked a question about Orville Brown and how a car accident changed his career. Best answers?
v: If Orville Brown hadn't been injured, Lou Thesz's title reigns with the NWA would've been delayed, or possibly never even taken place. Considering how important he was to them, and for how long he was, this could've significantly changed the development of the territory system in the US. It would've been a HUGE game changer.
Ron Gamble: Everything I have read about the Brown/Thesz situation, including quotes from Lou Thesz himself, says that Brown was going to be the first NWA champion and hold the belt for one year, then Thesz would beat him and hold it for one year. Thesz's title reigns would have been delayed, but not by much. The biggest effect is that Thesz would not have held the title from November 1949 to March 1955. With Orville Brown still in the title picture, they would have swapped the title at least twice during that time, and Thesz's total championship reigns would have been closer to ten, instead of the six it is now.
My Darn Opinion
You want some TNA Impact Wrestling discussion?
Be careful what you wish...
In the next few months, TNA is going to be at a major turning point. There has been all kinds of rumors surrounding the company recently. Talent have been released, including a man who broke his neck wrestling for them just last year. Guys and gals are being asked to take lesser deals than before, ranging from top executives to lower card wrestlers. The big partnership with OVW is reportedly a mess. Cost cutting measures are being taken very seriously. Their road tapings are not going as well as originally planned and can run up to $500,000 per show. Television ratings have (still) not moved and even gone down a little in the past year. That is with their Spike TV deal expiring next year! The One Night Only pay-per-views have drawn flies for DirecTV, so much so that the major cable company just stopped airing the specials altogether. Even the Hulkster's own daughter has been shown the door. I will stop there, but the examples are endless...
Any way you slice it, the flurry of news has not been good - whether you choose to believe all of these rumors or not.
However, the biggest decision(s) yet are coming up. Come October, the TNA contracts for both Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff are coming due. At the end of 2013, Sting will become a free agent, like he is at the end of every year. Going back to the rumors for a second, all three seem to be either on their way our or at the very least NOT guaranteed 100 percent to stick around. Ironically enough, a story came out last week that Bischoff is now running TNA Creative. Take that for what you will.
As I just outlined two paragraphs ago, it may be time for TNA to simply move on from all three. Television ratings did not boost on a consistent basis since Hogan came aboard. Sorry, but "popping a rating" once in a blue moon means nothing. Their PPV events have NEVER drawn on a monthly basis, hence them eliminating 8 of the 12 this year. Live attendance is still shaky, with some pretty horrible numbers (400, 800, etc.) coming up every few weeks. Bischoff has been working backstage (not on screen anymore) but likely is collecting a nice paycheck. While he adds a ton to production, is it worth the price tag? Sting was put into the TNA Hall of Fame last year in October. This year in June, he lost a match that ensured he will never get another TNA Title match again. It sure seems like he is being shown the door. Mentioning high dollar talent and budget cuts to save money, does Sting want to stick around another year? You know he has been eyeing that WWE Legends Deal for awhile now.
Long story short, ratings have not moved one inch with these three guys the past few years. Their salaries are (rumored) to be a very big amount, especially for TNA. The PPV buys are still in the toilet, and that is WITH only four a year. The road tapings are costing a ton of cash and have been hit or miss in terms of numbers. With all due respect to each man, they are not adding much to the bottom line in those categories. They have had a few years now to prove otherwise. It just isn't going to happen folks. The experiment was worth a shot, but it won't work. Accept that and move forward. Does Eric Bischoff want to help Creative and stay on board? Maybe. Will Hulk Hogan go looking for another WWE payday with the historic WrestleMania XXX next April? Maybe. Is there even anything left for Sting to do in TNA? Maybe. Each year seems to be his last in TNA, but it actually does seem that way this time. I am extremely curious to watch all of this play out very closely. Most importantly, TNA and their roster of young guys should be watching even more closely.
Now, let's get some "ME!" plugs out there for all of you...