Ask 411 Wrestling 09.25.13: Matt Striker, Andre The Giant, Wargames, Bret Hart, More!
Posted by Justin Watry on 09.25.2013
What would have happened if Bret Hart had signed with TNA? Will WWE bring back Wargames or King of the Ring? Could Andre The Giant have succeeded during the Attitude Era? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Wrestling!
Not too much stalling today.
Here in Wisconsin, I want to give a shout out to my uncle who visited from North Carolina. It has been nearly two years since last seeing him, and that is way too long. He does not follow wrestling nor does he read any of my columns regularly. However, my uncle has come across a few online over the years. His favorite part? All the comments! He loves them as much as I do.
As for the wrestling scene, it is just another week. WWE is feverishly trying to sell us all on yet another pay-per-view. All the while, TNA Impact Wrestling is fighting off all the bad press and getting their normal 1.0 television rating on Spike. In other words, it is hard to tell what year it is. 2007? 2010? 2013? Sigh. You know what the say?The more things change...
Summerslam 2013 PPV Buyrate: Why am I not surprised? WWE gives CM Punk and Daniel Bryan the spotlight as faces, and the number goes down. All the while, their most die hard fans were illegally streaming the show. Now, THAT is showing support for guys who scratched, clawed and worked their tail off to get to the WWE main event scene. Oh well, they had their shot. Kudos to the fans that actually support their efforts. I fear for what the Night of Champions buy rate will look like. Either way, John Cena will be back soon enough and likely go right past Punk/Bryan on the pecking order like before. Have to follow the money. At least his fan base PAYS for stuff!
Backlog Of Questions: Once again, as discussed numerous times, I have the full backlog of questions. Some were deleted due to being outdated (Royal Rumble 2013 pick, WM29 topics, etc). Others are included every single week. The rest are current and arrive in my email inbox daily. The link is at the end of each column. Everybody is more than welcome to send me a question.
Wrestling Gone Wrong (I Ask YOU!) Response: Sorry! I read zero responses on last week's question. Not a single comment, tweet, or email.
Your Turn, Smart Guy...
Last week, I asked about the last Royal Rumble winner to not get a major championship match at WM. While Will1225 tried to be clever with some crossfire and joke about the World Title match from 2012, the attempt failed. I actually said Sheamus would defeat Daniel Bryan for the World Title in less than a minute more than a full week BEFORE WrestleMania 28. Yes, it is true. I did. Thus, that scenario went exactly as I wrote about (on another website, Google it). The actual answer came to us from Shark who said Vince McMahon from 1999. He won the Rumble and lost that claim a month later to Stone Cold. Of course, The Texas Rattlesnake went on to defeat The Rock for the top title, as Vinny Mac did not even have amtch. Props to you! This week, how about a question on ECW? Remember, no cheating folks.
In 2006, ECW was awarded two draft picks from WWE: one from Raw and one from Smackdown. Name them!
Questions, Questions, Who's Got The Questions?
Let's start like we do most weeks - taking a look at the best posts from the comment section without any cuss words or insults. Trust me, there were a few out there! One hot topic was the infamous Triple H-Booker T feud from early 2003:
jb619: I've heard people say this a few times, and I never understood why. The racial undertones were pretty clear. The counterpoint is that HHH was only calling Booker out for doing jail time. HHH mentions Booker's "nappy hair", that Booker should "do a little dance for him", and there's a segment where he treats Booker T as a bathroom attendant. Hmm, I wonder what they could've been hinting at in that angle?
Beats me. I took the story line as a heel Triple H acting like a jerk towards a 'lesser' talent who was only a World Champion in WCW (as referenced in a later promo during the build). You know, how a bad guy should act in a scripted television show? Maybe it was just myself being only 14 years old at the time? Maybe not? Again, nothing about that jumped out at me as racism. However, I can only speak for myself.
dennett316: He also said "You people" in a not so subtle allusion to race. Technically, he could have meant 'lower card talent' or 'WCW guy,' but the implication was clear, and you'd have to try really hard not to see it.
Count me as being in the camp of simply mocking WCW. I looked for the Raw promo where HHH tore down Booker's accomplishments in WCW but couldn't find it. Triple H thought he was 'above' everyone from WCW and the mid-carders in WWE...but what do I know? Conspiracy theorists love this kind of thing, so have at it....
BR: If Daniel Bryan is to win the WWE Championship finally at WrestleMania, I'd like him to win against Triple H. Not just winning the title, but pinning the boss would be the best way to end this. Plus, I really don't want to see Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan at WM when we've already seen it twice (SS included) and it looks like we'll be seeing it more in the next few months. The last thing I'd want is Orton vs. Bryan match #6 or whatever at WM.
Yeah, Randy Orton will be done with Daniel Bryan by the 2014 rolls around. You do bring up a good point. What is the end game for Daniel Bryan - winning the WWE Championship for a third (fourth?) time OR triumphantly over the evil boss in a non-title match. It comes down to Bryan finally reclaiming the belt for an actual long title reign or defeating the boss in a one on one clash at WrestleMania XXX? Very interesting.
Kevin Kittridge: I don't think you have to be miserable to think that people chanting "cotton candy" are stupid.
I wouldn't use the term stupid necessarily, but that is pretty close. It was right up there with chanting for JBL, Michael Cole, or Jerry Lawler. Of course, then you have the 'experts' who just HAVE to chant Husky Harris months later at Bray Wyatt! Don't 'internet' fans' want success for him? Why immediately try and ruin his big moment? Such backwards logic. Beg and cry for him to make the main roster and then turn around and tr to sabotage his career. How does ANY of that help Bray get over and become a huge star? It doesn't. Just a bunch of 'internet fans' who have to prove they read online rumors to others watching and be 'cool.'
Or yelling Sexual Chocolate at Mark Henry even after an excellent heel run and proving to be more than just a silly comedy character with Mae Young. Oh boy. Way to prove how smart you all are. Bravo. The Fandango-ing and all that kind of stuff is fine (fun too) because it pertains to the actual product. Trying to BE the show, instead of ADD to it, and hijack attention away from the wrestlers is best served for the Impact Zone 'cast members' in Orlando. Thankfully, it rarely happens, and these kinds of fans are the small (but vocal) minority of the WWE Universe.
Before getting to the emails, I want to thank everybody for the support last week during my Fact or Fiction appearance! Always a joy to participate - happy to return anytime. Now, to the first email, thanks to Eddie!
I have been meaning to ask this question for a long, long time to all the wrestling writers at 411. I've thought it over, and I simply can't come up with a logical answer. Perhaps there is something I'm just not getting...
Why haven't more big name wrestlers been on Celebrity Apprentice? First off, yes, I'm aware we've had Goldberg and Maria, and admittedly Goldberg is pretty big. But one of the draws of the Trump-McMahon partnership is synergy, so I'd assume it'd be utilized more. One thing the Donald does very well on Celebrity Apprentice is bring in celebrities from multiple fields, thus increasing his viewership (theoretically). I fully grasp that active big name wrestlers like CM Punk or John Cena wouldn't have the time schedule needed to contribute, they're needed on the active roster. However, what I can't comprehend is why retired or part-time wrestlers who ACTIVELY SEEK OUT reality TV opportunities haven't been on the show. Specifically, the three that come to mind are Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho. They're certainly bigger stars than many used on Celebrity Apprentice, they'd bring in more eyeballs, and they're unique in that they're from a different field.
It seems such an obvious, natural fit. I can't figure it out. Anyone over at 411 have another reason?
To be honest (always truthful with you all), I didn't ask anybody on staff. This email arrived in my email inbox on Wednesday last week. At that point, this column was already more than half done. Just because your email was well written and polite, I threw this in last minute. Stone Cold seems to be doing well with his movie roles, television show, and his podcast. I am not sure if HIS schedule would allow it, much less big stars like CM Punk and John Cena (as you listed). Shawn Michaels has his hunting show but does not like being away from his family for long stretches of time. Would Celebrity Apprentice really be the right place for HBK? Chris Jericho would seem obvious (appeared on Dancing with the Stars). However, he is still going back and forth with Fozzy/WWE. Maybe in a year or two it would fit much better? I would actually throw in the name Edge just for argument's sake as a former WWE Superstar that would seem like a nice addition to Celebrity Apprentice. if anybody in the comment section has another good name, feel free to throw it out there.
Long story short, why would WWE voluntarily take one of their top stars off television for months at a time? Back in 2007, WWE struck a deal with CBS's Survivor to get a contestant. Who was sent? Ashley. Not exactly a big main event star. Just someone who was on TV each week but not going to hit their bottom line. Ultimately, I do agree with you. Maria and Goldberg was perfectly acceptable names. You would just think others would be all over the show with the obvious Vince-Trump connection. Anybody care to add more? Since the question went out to 411 writers, please add your two cents. Again, this was a late addition to the column, so take it for what you will. The best answers will be featured next week!
Don't forget. The Trumpster did once own Raw...
We roll on with an email from a mystery anonymous reader.
Do you think Jim Johnston should be in the WWE Hall of fFme?
This question was sent my way recently for a question and answer column (on a different website). Everybody there was in agreement that he deserved a slot. However, it had to be explained to the WWE audience just how important this guy is. Just saying he "does the music" probably would not work. Air a nice two minute video package with him in the studio putting together different tunes. Just the normal Hall of Fame induction highlight reel may not be enough for someone to never really appear on television (if ever at all). As for a good time, I figure WrestleMania XXX will be a huge, epic milestone event. What better way than to celebrate a long tenured employee? Works for me.
Next up is Stevenson asking about Wargames returning!
Are the WWE (and HHH in particular) looking to bring back Wargames? I ask as the recent story line involving "The Corporation" is setting up the perfect opportunity to see this return. We have HHH, Orton and The Shield causing all sorts of heck for the roster and for five guys in particular. Namely Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Big Show, Dolph Ziggler and, as of this past Monday on Raw, The Miz. This gives us an obvious 5 on 5 Survivor Series match, but given just how much heat the heels have been getting over their behavior, a simple elimination tag would be a waste of this superb build up. Why not bring back Wargames at HIAC and give this thing the pay off it deserves? On top of this putting people other than Cena or Punk in as the face team could give both Ziggler and Rhodes the boost they need to get back on track, would make a nice moment for Big Show, give Daniel Bryan a huge nod as the WWE's top face (if he's team captain) and gives Miz one last chance to get over with his useless face character (if the Orton attack leads to him becoming more aggressive again). Wishful thinking or a possibility as the HIAC PPV is being phased out after this year, and this would be a good way to re-launch a classic with a justifiable blood feud.
Note: As usual, I wrote this well before Raw.
1. What do you mean bring back Wargames? I could have sworn the lovely 'dirt sheets' said a War Games match was taking place earlier this year at Elimination Chamber with The Shield. Oh wait. That never happened, did it? My mistake. Must have been a great "source" reporting that! These are the same accurate folks that recently reported Sunny was mugged, only to update the story days later by retracting it with her comments making fun of the fact that nobody double checks facts or actually has any real knowledge on the situation. Irony at its finest. Anybody call Sunny to verify? Nope. Search for this supposed police report online? Nope. Send her a message through Facebook for more information? Nope. Just post stuff with no repercussions whatsoever. Welcome to the internet...HOT NEWZ = CLICKS!!!
Edit: Hey, how was that Mr. McMahon appearance Monday night again? The boss is back! Oh yeah...
2. The Heck on a Deck pay-per-view is being phased out after this year, huh? Says who? Did Triple H say this in a conference call? Has Vince McMahon spoken on this to the public? Was this confirmed in a listing for 2014? I may have missed that news. Oops! Must be more of those always reliable 'dirt sheets' that were just referenced. That nonsense means nothing. It seems like somebody took a guess and passed it off as a news report. So comical how much of that stuff is just so wrong, yet still trusted day after day after day. Until next October rolls around in 12 months, nobody knows for sure.
3. Now to the actual question, I would not even think of bringing back Wargames at the Heck on a Deck pay-per-view. That kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? Setting up the cell is hard work on its own. Then have a Wargames styled setting around the ring(s) too? Wow. Good luck with that. If anything, doesn't Battleground seem to fit the theme better? Since I am writing this before Raw, maybe something is announced there? Or nothing at all.
In the end, the Survivor Series seems to be the end game for this. Battleground is too early, and Heck on a Deck has its own PPV theme to focus on. Plus, the five on five (or four on four) structure for Survivor Series fits too perfectly to pass up. If that involves a Rhodes family clash with the McMahons or another locker room revolt against Triple H, that is fine. Go ahead and even tack on some ridiculous stipulation for the winning team! CM Punk will probably still be wrapped up in the Paul Heyman feud. John Cena won't be back until then. Therefore, you are on the right track. The attention will have to be on Cody Rhodes or another face looking for a boost up the card...and that is not a bad thing. That is a good thing! Right, DDP?
Michael poses a very interesting 'What if?' question concerning Bret Hart...and TNA?!?!
I randomly thought of this the other day, and I'd like to hear your opinion on this. Suppose Goldberg never gave Bret Hart that career ending concussion, and Bret never had the stroke, and continued to wrestle for WCW until the WWF bought them. At that time Bret would have been 43-44 years old, and possibly still wrestling. What if the WWF didn't pick up Bret's contract/Bret refused to work for them? Now if he never had to retire, and never had the stroke, he and Vince wouldn't have made up, and he wouldn't have buried the hatchet with Shawn, possibly no Bret DVD, no HOF, etc. How do you see these "what if" events playing out? Do you believe he would have signed with TNA in 2002 or simply retired? What would Hitman's legacy be like today if things played out differently than they did?
This seems like a question made for the comment section. I won't get into a ton of detail but will throw in a quick reply. Bret Hart would not have joined WWE with The Alliance (WCW/ECW) in 2001. That is pretty much guaranteed. I do not think 2002/2003 would have changed anything. While Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, Scott Steiner and others headed over to WWE, my gut instinct tells me Bret would have still stood his ground. Now, does that mean he would make occasional appearances for TNA? Yeah, probably. He would have stayed active and stayed far away from any Vince McMahon contract offer. At least, he would have been okay with TNA for awhile...until Vince Russo started writing (again) in 2006 and all the other former WWE stars started showing up.
From there, everything would have simply fell into place. Bret Hart being in TNA is like mixing oil and water. The paycheck would have been great, but the pile of garbage programming put out on Impact eventually starts to stink beyond words. He would have ended up quitting at some point or getting fired. Either way, Hart and TNA is not exactly a match made in heaven. Then he would have made his way (slowly but surely) over to WWE. I doubt The Hitman's legacy would have changed much. Just like Kevin Nash, Mick Foley, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and others, their time in TNA means next to nothing to their legacies. All of them are known for their WWE, WCW, or ECW careers...definitely not TNA.
Remember the King of the Ring tournament? Kevin certainly does...
Why is there no King of The Ring? Would it really be that hard to use a tournament to put over one mid-carder each year? There's no need to make a pay-per-view out of it. I would include the final match in a pay-per-view, though. You can spin-off countless angles from it. What gives?
Two answers here:
1. I agree with you. One of my small pet peeves is when wrestlers compete twice in one night (Curtis Axel at Night of Champions for instance). It just does not sit right with me for obvious safety reasons. Therefore, you can easily run a King of the Ring tournament for a few weeks on television and build up the Finals for a PPV event. I believe this was the format used in 2006 with Booker T and Bobby Lashley. It was very well done and could have gone either way in the end. Of course, KING BOOKA was victorious!
2. On the flip side, this topic goes back to the 'paying customers' argument. If WWE announced a KOTR pay-per-view for next June, how many of you would buy it? How many of you would shell out $50 for it? Or would you celebrate the move...only to illegal stream it come show time? Exactly. That is MY point. Same thing with Wargames, Halloween Havoc or any other 'highly requested' return. Does it really matter? The fans that buy wrestling pay-per-views in 2013 are going to purchase them regardless. The fans that steal them and do not contribute a dime to the company will do so regardless (and then try to justify thievery). Bottom line: WWE does not need the KOTR and have no financial/story line reason to bring it back.
Andre The Giant is always a good topic. 44 Ton Fandango Wildcat Gravy brings him up this week...
If Andre the Giant were alive today, do you think he would still play any sort of role in WWE? Do you think he would have ever won the title in the mid-90's thus prohibiting the pushes of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels? Would he have followed Hogan to WCW and could we have had a Giant vs. Giant match? Or do you think he would have stuck around and finished his career in the Attitude Era?
For some reason, I think he would have followed Hulk Hogan around. From WWE to WCW back to WWE and maybe even to TNA today...before heading back to WWE eventually with a Legends Deal. That is just my gut reaction. Bret and Shawn were going to go their own ways, regardless of what Andre was doing. Of course, his size was going to earn him a contract somewhere. However, his in-ring days were done. By the time the Attitude Era started up, all I am picturing is all these cuss filled promos and crazy scenes, while Andre can barely move and certainly not deliver any strong promos. It would not work. His era was custom made for him, and everything fit. Maybe I am off. Would Andre succeed in the Attitude Era? Sound off.
James asks about Alex Riley on commentary!
Am I the only one who enjoyed Alex Riley as a commentator on Smackdown and also miss people like Matt Striker who when they spoke on commentary actually sounded like they knew something about "this business" as Triple H likes to call it?
Agreed and disagreed.
I have always been a fan of Alex Riley, dating back to before he even appeared on WWE television. His theme music, look, personality, promos, and even his name all fit perfectly to be a top name one day. While his 2011 face run was great, that is so far off in the distance. If doing some work on commentary and out of the ring is the path to stardom for him, then so be it! Everybody has to take a different route to super stardom I enjoyed him on Smackdown a few weeks ago and would welcome him getting any kind of TV time in 2013.
Where I disagree is Matt Striker. His wacky stats and completely out of the blue facts meant nothing to the actual match or product going on. Completely irrelevant things for the 'internet fans' to go wild over, while the rest of the world had no idea what he was referring to. It felt like he would spend all day on the internet looking for the weirdest (is that a word?) things to say and then go out there to recite them looking for a reaction. Clearly, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler wanted no part of that. Referencing wrestling history from 50 years ago and naming every single little move did not help matters. For every one fan that knew what he was talking about was another 100 that just scratched their heads and went "Huh?" We get it. You are an 'internet fan' who likes all that stuff. Great! Now, just call the match. The final straw for me was Survivor Series 2010 when he completely ruined the main event finish. Somehow, he kept his job up to the Royal Rumble 2011, where he (again) ruined a great moment by childishly "marking out" to Booker T returning. Just ridiculous. I wish him well, but all of his useless knowledge did not fit WWE at all.
We finish things up with a nice email from Millard66 about WrestleMania XIX and that disastrous buy rate.
I've got a theory on the low buy rate for Wrestlemania XIX. The US invasion of Iraq started on March 19, just 11 days before WM XIX. So:
1) The economy had slowed down quite a bit between 2002 and 2003, so buying something like WM was a luxury a lot of regular fans probably couldn't afford. People tend to tighten up on spending in war anyway, so it didn't help that Mania was that close to the start of the action. Casual buyers probably chose to sit out that WM.
2) The actual invasion period of March 19 - April 9 was a huge ratings draw for cable news. People were watching the war and casual PPV buyers may have ignored the WWE for those weeks. It would be interesting to see how other programming fared during those weeks. For example, how did the 2003 NCAA basketball tournament do in comparison to 2002 and 2004?
3) There traditionally has been a strong connection between the WWE and the military in terms of fan base. Once the troops were deployed businesses suffered in places like Fayetteville, NC (Ft. Bragg) and Killeen, TX (Ft. Hood). The deployment was also a hardship on many military families financially - not to mention the emotional uncertainty - so dropping $60 on WM would not have been a priority.
All of this is speculation, of course, but wrestling doesn't exist in a vacuum. December PPVs usually do worse than others because Christmas shopping puts an additional strain on people's budgets. The casual fans are probably the key to the low rate. Those are the folks who push up the WM buy rate and usually don't buy another PPV all year. If circumstances reduce those buyers, then WM is going to suffer.
I do not put much stock into the 'bad economy' line. That has been going on for YEARS now, yet movies have record breaking weekend box office earnings, video games sell ridiculous amounts of copies, sports (especially NFL) continue making major bank off fans, plus the past three WrestleMania events all surpassed one million pay-per-view buys. Even if money is tight, people still spend on what they enjoy. That has never changed. On that same note, some December PPVs sell worse than other months. However, some years, the December PPV does better than other months. Again, if people are interested, they will spend the money - Christmas time or not. It is really that simple.
The military stuff is interesting. I checked for NCAA March Madness/cable news ratings from 2002-2004 and came up empty. If anybody wants to chime in with any statistics found, please do so. None of the 'invasion period' hit home for me. None of my friends or family were involved, so personally, I am not one to comment on that. Again, if anybody wants to share a story on that changing their spending (or viewing) habits in March/April 2003, feel free to.
I Ask YOU!
This week's question comes from Jake concerning a tag team title change nearly 20 years ago.
Quick question, why did the Headshrinkers lose the WWF Tag Team titles to Shawn Michaels and Diesel the night before SummerSlam 1994? It made their match with Bam Bam Bigelow and IRS non-title. Any reason why Bam Bam and IRS could not have won the titles on the PPV?
There you go! Have at it. Your marching orders have been set. Inform Jake, myself, and everyone on why this happened!
Please, I Ask YOU - why did the Headshrinkers lose the tag straps so suddenly?
My great readers came through! This concept will stick around...for now. I love
Walter The Walloper (@WalterWalloper) If WWE were to suddenly lose all TV and no other networks picked them up, would they keep doing house shows and PPV? #ask411
Well, that would not happen. I am a proponent of the 'never say never' catchphrase, but I feel confident here. Even today, Raw is among the most watched shows on ALL of cable television. USA Network is perfectly happy with that. Obviously, WWE is happy with that and with their other programs, the company makes a ridiculous amount of money off ad revenue each quarter. Now, would they keep running shows? Yeah, they'd have to. Just ask TNA about the summer of 2005. WWE would still have a website, large following, and plenty of social media outlets to promote their upcoming live events. Obviously, business would take a drastic hit for the short-term. However, the brand name sells itself. Again, this would never happen. Fun to discuss though, huh?
Speaking of fun...
My Darn Opinion
Loyalty or no loyalty. That is the question...
I am curious about TNA Impact Wrestling and their passionate viewers. Fans love to spout off about the company and supporting it because the show is always so much better than WWE. That is all well and good, but where is this loyalty being backed up? Just look at pictures from any live event. A story on ProWrestling.net had an attendance listed at 200 fans last week. Yes, 200 fans! Where are ALL these fans who talk up TNA? I do not see them in the crowd. Just look at the television tapings (St. Louis recently grabbed 1,500 paying customers) attendance. Where are all these loyal fans? Look at their (rumored) PPV numbers. Where are all these loyal fans? Illegal streams? How does that help TNA grow? Way to support the team! The taped specials are hardly even existent with DirecTV even pulling them from the schedule at one point. What happened to buying these PPV shows at a much cheaper rate? All talk and no action? Big surprise! I'm shocked.
You figure at a time like now with so much negative financial news floating around, the die hard TNA fans would step up and speak with their wallets. Not empty words that mean nothing through wrestling forums on the internet. Instead of whining and crying about people not giving them a chance, go to a live event. Travel some distance for a pay-per-view. Buy one of their taped specials. Give them a few bucks through Youtube. Buy a t-shirt. Heck, go out and purchase a Dixie Carter action figure that is constantly plugged during Impact...somebody out there has to want one of those, right? Bottom line: Giving TNA two hours a week on Thursday night is great. However, is that really enough? Think about it.
Loyalty or no loyalty. That is the question...
Now, let's get some "ME!" plugs out there for all of you...