Ask 411 Wrestling 09.11.13: Brock Lesnar, Magnum TA, Olympic Wrestling, WMXIX, More!
Posted by Justin Watry on 09.11.2013
Why did WrestleMania 19 garner such a low PPV buy rate? What would happen to the wrestling business in America if WWE died? Why does everyone hate TNA? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Wrestling!
Are you ready for some football?
I know I am. Outside of Christmas and WrestleMania season, this is the best time of the year. Every NFL team thinks they have a chance. Every fan has high hopes for a playoff berth. Everybody has some sort of excitement. All the while, I get to watch my Green Bay Packers each week, either live at Lambeau Field or in front of a big screen television. Yes, I am beyond privileged to have season tickets. Good luck to everyone on the waiting list for the next 30 years!
One last thing non-wrestling note, for those who care, my Super Bowl prediction is the Broncos over 49ers. While it is a different sport, I just recently correctly picked the Heat to defeat the Spurs in the Finals before the NBA season started last year. Make of that what you will.
On the wrestling side of things, how ironic Goldust returned (AGAIN!) to WWE on Raw. How many times has he come and gone yet STILL delivers every time? We just covered that in this column. Amazing. Moving forward, Night of Champions is this Sunday night! Hopefully, all the paying customers get their dollars worth. Without John Cena (and Sheamus) wrestling now, it'd be nice if all the CM Punk/Daniel Bryan fans rallied together and produced some good pay-per-view numbers. Hitting the illegal streams just promotes the fact that John Cena should return and dethrone Bryan/Punk in the top spot. Put your money where your mouth is and prove me wrong! Speaking of money...
Pay-per-view events NOT on Sunday: WWE has held pay-per-view events outside of Sunday night. Heck, I attended the first ever Taboo Tuesday in Milwaukee second row! I established that last week by writing (and I quote!) "I think Sunday has proven to be their best choice over the years for WWE. On rare occasions during the past 30 years, there has been pay-per-view events held on different nights, but more often that not, it always goes back to Sunday." Jim Ross added his two cents over at JRSBARBQ.com this week: "I'd assume that there is research to indicate that Sunday is the best night for WWE PPV's plus it is and has become a tradition that I don't see changing. Plus, it works well with the cable and satellite operators which is critical."
Stone Cold: There was some good follow-up on Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Attitude Era. Whatever the reason (injury, burned out, upset with management, changing of the guard, etc.), he was only on top for a few years. The man made a truck load of cash for himself and WWE. No doubt. However, the point still stands. His main event run did not last very long. I am not even sure what point I am making here - just pointing out the facts.
Tatanka (I ASK You!) Response: Why was his push stopped? The consensus seems to be he just wasn't a top level Superstar, while Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Lex Luger, and others were beyond him on the card. You have to remember. Not every single wrestler is going to be a main event player. That is the cold, harsh reality. Tatanka reached his peaked, and what goes up must come down. Just the nature of the business.
Your Turn, Smart Guy...
Last week, I asked about all of the Elimination Chamber winners. In no time, Adam became the winner with this response: The winners in order are: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Triple H, John Cena, Bobby Lashley, The Undertaker, Triple H, Triple H, Edge, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Edge, John Cena, C.M. Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Jack Swagger. Wow! Nailed it. The infamous Extreme Elimination Chamber winner was even included (Lashley). Props to you kind sir! As for this week, how about a question concerning the women of wrestling? Remember, no cheating! Lay off the search engines. That is my job!
Who won the first ever one on one Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James match on PPV and with what move?
Questions, Questions, Who's Got The Questions?
Let's start out like we do most weeks - a little followup from the best posts in the comment section.
Daniel Wilcox: Regarding WWE throwing away money by having Brock face Hogan and Austin unadvertised on free TV; there was no money to be made, really. Brock wasn't much of a draw for WWE between 2002 and 2004, certainly not during the summer of 2002. They could've built a feud between Hogan and Brock or Austin and Brock for the Vengeance pay-per-view, and it wouldn't have drawn any better than having Hogan facing the Un-Americans as he did on that show. Brock's Summerslam main event with the Rock drew 20,000 buys less than the previous year's show and his 2003 run saw the company draw their worst buy rates for years. Arguing that there was bucket loads of cash to be made with Brock/Austin or Brock/Hogan is revisionist history quite frankly. Lesnar was only a major draw with UFC and his 2012 WWE return. To further that point, you already mentioned the awful Mania XIX buy rate (about 550-600,000?) that was headlined by Brock/Angle.
Jay El Bee: So what you're saying is that Lesnar was almost as big of a draw as WCW & ECW combined, since SS 2002 only got 20,000 buys less than the SS 2001 which was during the WWE-Alliance feud. Also the buy rates in 2003 were down because that's when they started doing brand exclusive PPV's, not because of Lesnar.
Lee Price: That PPV (WrestleMania XIX) did have a Rock/Austin match on it as well, who were proven draws by anyone's standards. Perhaps interest in the product in general was on the wane?
Lots of good stuff here. Thank you for contributing some intelligent discussion guys. Appreciate it! Just a real quick reply:
1. Brock Lesnar may not have been in a position to draw on pay-per-view in 2002. However, that is partially Stone Cold's point for walking out so sudden. Let the newcomer be built up for another couple months, maybe longer and THEN give fans the big showdown. Doing when he was still a relative unknown without any build doesn't make sense. On that point, Smackdown had the same television ratings (if not more some weeks) than Raw during 2002 and 2003. Therefore, Lesnar was certainly a draw on television as he was WWE Champion for most of that time period. Maybe not on PPV as much back then...which leads to the next point.
2. As Jay mentioned, the company went to brand exclusive PPV events in 2003. Sorry, but a "Smackdown only" show was not going to draw compared to past years no matter who was on top. Same with a lot of "Raw only" PPV cards. Convincing folks to spend $50 on a wrestling show is hard enough. Now, cut the roster in half and ask the same price? Even more difficult.
3. Lee makes a great point about the awful, awful, awful WrestleMania XIX buy rate. Maybe interest in the product was down? Blaming Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle for the poor number does not add up. That show was absolutely stacked from top to bottom. Just because the WWE Title match (from Smackdown no less) just so happen to go on last does not make them the scapegoat. A number of matches could have gone on last. If Stone Cold vs. The Rock was the final match, does that mean we can blame those two (huge draws) for the buy rate? Or Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon, if that was the last match of the evening? The mystery still remains why WMXIX did such a dreadful PPV buy rate. It was not just down a little bit or a some slight decrease. When other WrestleMania events were grabbing just below or above one million buys, this one doing less than 600,000 buys sticks out like a sore thumb. Big time! That is a HUGE drop off folks. I have read a million different theories - let me hear yours! Why did WMXIX deliver such a dreadful PPV buy rate? The best answers will be posted next week.
Moving on, I want to flip the script this week! Instead of getting to 10-20 different emails, this week will focus on just one email. Matt H sent me over a dozen rapid fire questions. To save time, I will have to trim some of it down a bit. You can thank Matt H for this 'one week only' change in format...
1) Why do you think TNA is hated on so much? I've seen a couple of their shows live, and I can honestly say that I've enjoyed them better than the WWE live shows.
It is all an opinion.
If you enjoy ROH most, good for you. If you enjoy TNA Impact Wrestling most, good for you. If you enjoy the indy scene most, good for you. If you enjoy WWE most, good for you. I happen to follow WWE as closely as possible and don't really worry about much else. That is my personal preference. I do not listen to country music. However. millions of other people do. That is their choice. I do not watch American Idol, yet millions of others do. Kudos to them!
Now, why does TNA get so much hate? Well, first of all, the 'hate' comes from the internet - not exactly the land of positive minds. Therefore, their product is off to a rocky start right out of the gate. WWE has tons of casual fans who do not worry about the IWC and/or online forums. Therefore, they get the benefit of the doubt and can work with different types of viewers Impact has their die hard fans and not much else. Thus, you know they only want the best for the company. While it may not always be deserved, that means being VERY hard on their decision making. It is because the fans care so much. Compare it to your sports team. Hate, cry, whine, yell, scream, get frustrated, whatever - the emotion is for wanting the absolute best.
2) In this day and age with Twitter, Vine, Facebook, or whatever, why don't we see more angle advancement on live shows?
If anything, there is too much story line advancement these days on a weekly basis. Imagine today's fans trying to live through the 1980's when stories would take six month to evolve. Seriously, we are three weeks into the huge Daniel Bryan/Corporate Evolution story line, and fans are growing impatient with the pay off?!?! That is just ridiculous. Think of waiting all the way to WrestleMania XXX for a future Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan, not Night of Champions? Then tell me about angle advancement. Live shows or taped shows, it does not matter much in 2013. The aspect of "BEING LIVE!" is completely over rated nowadays. Television ratings do not move, and as long as you can just simply not read spoilers, there is no difference. Just another one of those 'internet myths' out there...
3) Do you want a sandwich and chips because my wife is making me one?
Knuckle sandwich? Peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Cheese and ham? Turkey? Thanks but no thanks.
4) Why didn't Vince McMahon buy out World Class Wrestling?
Never had a reason to during the 80's. When Vince McMahon started expanding, their brand in Texas started to dismantle. The timing just missed out on a major bidding war for talent. However, WWE now owns most of the tape library, has inducted the Von Erich Family into their Hall of Fame, and even released a DVD set on the promotion.
5) What happened to XPW?
It just disappeared?
Normally, I would ask somebody associated with the company and perform my due diligence. In this case, it does not interest me one bit. When you have shows called Baptized in Blood, Go Funk Yourself, among others, you are not going to find major success...nor entice me to care about your product. Doing shows every once in awhile around Philadelphia is one thing. Having a sustainable roster, regular promotion and a legitimate fan following is another. Ultimately, XPW followed the same path as a million other wrestling companies. Have great success coming out of the 'boom period' from the Attitude Era before fading into obscurity. Then it is an uphill climb just to produce one big event. On top of that, their ridiculous "wrestling" and hardcore style is never going to sell towards a broad audience, especially in 2013. Small group of niche fans who want blood and guts with no real feelings for a human being? Sure. Anything more actually worth while? No.
Edit: Upon a quick Wikipedia search (I know, terrible source), XPW will return in late 2013. Oh boy.
6) Why doesn't 411 talk more about CZW, PWG, Chikara, etc?
Well, I am not the 411 boss. Therefore, I can't answer for sure. My guess is the demand is not there. Why post something that may get 100 clicks when a WWE news article will get you 1,000-5,000 clicks? Publishing something on those companies listed is just taking up valuable website space on the front page for something that could bring much more attention...and ad revenue. Money, money, money!
Edit: If the 411 boss wants to chime in here, feel free to. Thanks!
7) I couldn't care less about pro wrestling past 1970, do you?
If by past, you mean before, then I agree.
This was touched on a tiny bit during my first few columns here at 411mania. Love me or hate me, I will be honest with everybody. Anything from the 1920's, 1950's or even the 1970's just does not interest me. For some, it probably does. My guess is 99% of the fans watching WWE every single week could not care less about anything before 1980. Maybe early 1984 when Hulk Hogan won the title? I know that seems harsh and ignorant, but it's the truth. If you want to pretend you know (or care) about wrestling history before then, go ahead. No doubt, some of you do care and were alive to live through that time period. The majority of fans though? No way.
8)Magnum TA...future star. Really?
This is up for debate.
In the world of wrestling, there are many 'What If' cases. Magnum TA may be one of those prime examples. What if he never was in that car accident? What if he won the World Title? What if he was healthy for a WWE/WWF run in the late 1980's? What if Vince McMahon wanted to snag him and create a star to a global audience? Admittedly, I am 25 years old and was not born until 1988. Thus, it is unfair of me to speak on his potential and upside. As noted above, I am sure there are plenty of long-time wrestling fans who will happily and politely tell us all about Magnum. From what I have seen/read/gathered, he was going to be big star someday (regardless of which promotion pushed him to the top) and certainly had all the tools to succeed.
10) In your opinion, what constitutes a wrestling star?
The easy answer is money.
If you draw a good house on the indy scene, make a great living and have a fan following, you are a star. If you are in TNA, make some money, and can have your t-shirt sell, you are a star. If you are in WWE, draw great ratings on television, get noticed on the street, and sell pay-per-view, you are a star. Now, there are different levels of stardom. John Cena is more of a star than Kofi Kingston. Bobby Roode is more of a star than Robbie E. However, I think the best way to make a conclusion is through fans PAYING to see your product and in turn - certain wrestlers...thus making them stars.
11) What would happen to wrestling in America if WWE died?
Ah yes, the age old question...what if WWE died?
Well, it won't happen first of all. They have too many streams of cash coming in that even if a bunch of areas are money losers, the others pick up the slack. Not to drag on, WWE is king. It is like asking if UFC died, what would happen to mixed martial arts? Or if the NFL ended? Or MLB? You get the point. In my mind, the entire industry goes away, I am sure that will be contested in the comment section, but WWE takes up what, 85% of the market? Maybe 90% or more? Instantly, that leaves a small, niche group following the business. For argument's sake, there would be a bunch of indy promotions around and not much else. In other words, WWE would take away the wrestling business. Overseas would be fine and unchanged. Since this question was just about America, I stand by my thoughts.
12) Why couldn't pro wrestling be an Olympic sport?
Pro wrestling is pre-determined.
However, the Olympics have had their own mess of 'scandals' over the years for fixing medals. At least WWE admits it is scripted. Unlike a select few...
13) Does the term "smart mark" even have meaning now a days?
Yes, it does.
Just from my point of view here in Wisconsin: I know 'smart marks' and 'casual fans' who watch WWE. Trust me! There is a massive difference. One side knows Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are married and have kids. The other side STILL questions me to this day if their relationship is real or not. One side knows who Dave Meltzer and Wade Keller are. The other side has never heard of them. One side visits wrestling forums online and is a part of the "IWC." The other side has no idea what "IWC" means and only goes to WWE.com for wrestling news. One side loves the heels, going against the grain and makes up ridiculous chants to keep themselves entertaining at live events. The other side does not even know what heel means to the wrestling world. One side will cheer for CM Punk no matter what, even when he is destroying The Undertaker and dumping Paul Bearer's 'ashes' all over him. The other side loved CM Punk up until Raw 1000, then hated him through WrestleMania 29, and just recently started to love him again. I saw that with my own eyes! It is simply amazing to watch a WWE show with a 'casual fan' and then with a 'smart mark.' I could go on forever with examples in my own life. I am sure all of you reading this have your own stories as well! The imaginary line may be blurred in 2013, but it does still exist. Trust me.
14) Is indy wrestling the true backbone of the wrestling industry?
For this question, I will not be answering. Instead, this topic goes to the one and only AJ Kirsch! You may have seen him recently getting interviewed on the legendary Larry King Live show, as well as many wrestling companies. He has been involved with WWE Tough Enough, TNA Gutcheck, and is currently making headlines with Hoodslam. AJ responds:
Independent wrestling USED to be the backbone of the industry. With a plethora of territories scattered around the country, it made for a diverse pool of talent, each with their own distinct styles, from which the WWF plucked the very best and brightest.
But, now that the WWE has essentially monopolized mainstream professional wrestling and created it's own development center, which is essentially a factory built to crank out WWE superstars, the independent promotions of today play a far less important role in producing the future superstars of the WWE, in spite of most of them emulating the WWE product, resulting in a far more narrow and monotonous genre of what is one of the most malleable art forms in the world.
Also, be sure to check out his official Youtube page featuring this classic promo from earlier this year:
I Ask YOU!
This week, Pete Gas Fan brings me a question I do not even want to touch!
This one has bugged me for a while, and I keep forgetting to ask it.
Why were Bob Holly and The 1-2-3 Kid billed at a combined weight of 343 pounds in Royal Rumble 1995? I know they were supposed to be heavy underdogs against Tatanka and Bam Bam Bigelow, but I'm SURE they legitimately weighed more.
There you go folks. I leave it up to the comment section and everybody reading this. What was the deal here?
How about it? I ask you - why were Bob Holly and 1-2-3 Kid billed like that?
Cheddar Bob (@cheddarbob316) @JustinWatry Did the Rock ever not deliver on a guaran-darn-tee? I know he delivered at Backlash 00 and KOTR 00. #Ask411
Yes, I edited out that little cuss word. Personally, I do not type (or speak) using foul language. Leave that kind of thing to the Youtube videos and very polite commenters below! Honestly, answering this would require going through every single episode of Raw, every single episode of Smackdown, every single episode of Heat, and/or every single interview/promo he ever delivered. Sorry, I am not doing that. However, what I will do is going through the year 2000 and early parts of 2001 for a decent sample size. Only listed is what happened on the actual PPV program:
Royal Rumble 2000 - He did guarantee a Rumble victory during an interview. Rocky ended up winning.
No Way Out 2000 - No interview during the event. The build up was spent on Rocky making fun of Big Show. No surprise, he ended up losing.
WrestleMania 2000 - Did an interview during the event. He delivered a big impassioned speech but never guaranteed victory. He ended up losing.
Backlash 2000 - You are right. Rocky guaranteed victory right before his match...and went out to claim the title.
Judgment Day 2000 - The Rock and Shawn appeared in a quick backstage segment. No guarantee mentioned. As the pattern goes, he ended up losing in the main event.
King of the Ring 2000 - You are right. Rocky guaranteed victory on Sunday Night Neat before the pay-per-view. True to form, he won the belt later that evening.
Fully Loaded 2000 - No guarantee or promise during a promo segment earlier in the night. His match ended up being filled with controversy. However, Rock did leave with the gold.
Summerslam 2000 - There was plenty of focus on Kurt Angle and Triple H but very little on the current WWE Champion The Rock. Almost in an afterthought, Rocky did win the triple threat title match.
Unforgiven 2000 - Big promo right before his match. No guarantee but still was victorious...even though there was a tiny bit of controversy in the main event.
No Mercy 2000 - The Rock lost his title to Angle. He never guaranteed victory.
Survivor Series 2000 - Defeated Rikishi - with no guarantee attached.
Armageddon 2000 - Great promo before the excellent six person Heck on a Deck main event. Never mentioned winning the title or any guarantees. Of course, he was later pinned by Angle.
Royal Rumble 2001 - The Rock delivered his usual catchphrases and gave an intense promo before the Rumble. However, he never guaranteed victory. Stone Cold ended up winning.
No Way Out 2001 - Rocky never specifically guaranteed he would defeat Angle for the belt. However, he followed the same path he took earlier this January versus CM Punk and told everyone a title change was coming 100 percent. No doubt.
Ultimately, that is as far as I am going. Like I said, it would take every Raw promo, every Smackdown promo, every Heat segment and every single interview he conducted from 1999-2002? Maybe more? No thanks. I am sure SOMEWHERE in there he slipped up and did not deliver on a guaranteed win. However, from what I remember (and just listed), The Rock was fairly clean. Feel free to dig up some footage and prove me wrong though. I welcome it.
My Darn Opinion
Be careful what you wish for...
...you just might get it.
Raise your hand if you have been begging for Randy Orton to turn heel during the past 12 months (or more). Now, raise your hand if you are upset he defeated Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship and attacks him every single week.
Raise your hand if you wanted to see John Cena and Sheamus off television because of their 'stale' characters. Now, raise your hand if you think there is a lack of good guys standing up to the McMahons as we speak.
Raise your hand if you wanted TNA Impact Wrestling to cut back on monthly pay-per-views, go live, hit the road, and tone back on certain talent. Now, raise your hand if you are worried about the stagnant TV ratings, sub-par attendance numbers, and all the cost cutting measures going on in 2013.
I could go on and on here. The bottom line is just to be cautious. What YOU may want to see is not always best for business. Sorry to steal a line from Triple H there, but it fits. For every action, there has to be a reaction. In order for Orton to be a heel again, he had to take down your beloved Bryan (and/or CM Punk eventually). With Cena and Sheamus gone for the next few months, that was a big one-two punch for the roster depth whether you want to admit it or not. Calling for TNA to try and be like WWE may sound good on paper but was never a realistic option. As we see, the company now has to foot the bill somehow. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but a lot of things can be predicted beforehand by simply using logic and common sense instead of personal wants. Always remember that!
Be careful what you wish for...
...you just might get it.
Now, let's get some "ME!" plugs out there for all of you...