Ask 411 Wrestling 01.01.14: GAB91, Respect, WWE HOF, More!
Posted by Mathew Sforcina on 01.01.2014
Should we blame Hulk Hogan for staying on top for so long? Could anything have saved the 1991 Great American Bash from being a disaster? Is Dolph Ziggler's name too Nazi-esque? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Wrestling!
Welcome to the first Ask 411 Wrestling of 2014! I am your host, Mathew Sforcina, and I'm writing this on New Year's Eve. Which shows you what level of dedication I have to you, dear readers. I mean, there are a couple of parties I could be going to, but instead I'm here, doing this!
I mean, why go out and get drunk when I get drunk here much cheaper. Sure, I won't network with my fellow wrestlers nor will I possibly meet or connect with that supposed kindred spirit out there for me, thus ensuring that my life will remain as dull and unloved as it currently is but hey, let's talk wrestling!
*blows party favor pathetically*
Oh all right.
I'm fine, really. I'm just broke so no travelling for me. Besides, I'm no good at parties. I just sit in the corner silently (if it's a party with wrestlers) or get asked questions about wrestling (if it's with anyone else). It's fine, really.
Anyway, enough self-pity and regret, let's get to it. Total Opinion Week as I said last week, possibly with just one person's questions, we'll have to see…
Nothing really, beyond some discussion about the Eras of the WWE. But then, eras are hard to work out at the time. I mean, after WM6, everyone assumed we were in the Warrior era, didn't work out that way…
The Trivia Crown
I am a wrestler with no testicular fortitude. I was part of a wrestling segment which was never done before and since then hasn't been done again. My real last name is pronounced the same way as a current wrestler's fake last name, but spelled differently. I've been managed by a world champion and have managed two world champions. In a kind of irony, my finisher shares part of its name with the finisher of another wrestler and both have parents from the same ethnic heritage and have relatives with Armed Forces experience. I've shared tears with former ladies' titlists
and many men have fought over me. Oh, and I write left-handed. Who am I?
The Marvin is right!
Real last name Mendez, similar to Rosa Mendes. Managed two world champs, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, managed by a world champ, Daniel Bryan. Finisher is Black Widow, similar name as Victorias Widows Peak, both are of Puerto Rican descent.
Are you AJ Lee?
I'm thinking up the question this week, so yeah.
Who am I? I'm currently employed by WWE in some form or another. Every ring name I've ever had has at least one part the same all the way through. I've been Royalty (Twice!) and working class. Last time I won on Raw was 2009, if you don't count dark matches. I've been tag champ 4 times with 3 different men, none of them having an actual tag team name. I once stood against a company I would later become a part of. And both of my female managers are 2 time Women's and/or Diva's champions. A man who has a famous New Year's Resolution, and who (according to newLEGACYinc) is a proud black man, I am who?
Getting Down To Business/One Man's (Important) Opinion
Anyway, David sent in some nice long questions. I'm going to do some minor editing (that he suggested), although I'm torn about it. I mean, I get that you guys are here to read what I have to say for some reason but sometimes you guys do good stuff too… I dunno, readers, which do you prefer?
1) The Great American Bash is arguably the worst card in the history of PPV wrestling. It's one thing to fantasy book without guidelines and quite another to do so within the confines of what WCW was after Flair's departure. So while this type of fantasy booking might lack imagination, that's largely because it's grounded in reality. You can't sign Hulk Hogan or decide to make a guy who hasn't been built up the champ out of the chute or have a guy become a character he would not become for another 5 years. In this case, Dusty decided the need for a top heel to replace Flair was his main goal, but for this exercise, your free to choose any goal. Here's the guidelines: You can look 3 months into the future of WCW in 1991 and cherry pick up to three developments like free agent signings, heel/face turns, fraction/stable creations, etc. So how would the Bash look with you as booker?
Honestly not THAT different, simply because you'd hope that with a new boss, everyone would lift their game. A big part of why GAB91 sucked so bad was that most everyone was phoning it in, since with Jim Herd in charge no-one was willing to work hard since they didn't think it would get them anything. So given that I would be nominally in charge now, you'd hope that everyone would buckle down and work hard. Certainly if they didn't I'd pull back their push and try someone else who would.
Anyway, the goal is to put on the best wrestling show you can, so as to make lots of money. Which should kinda be the same idea as EVERY promoter, but ok. David formed the Dangerous Alliance early in his booking, so I'll go a slightly different direction.
As far as the PPV goes, in the week or so prior, have Race make overtures to Luger to become their new client, have Luger refuse but Windham question the loyality (talk about how he's seen how Flair used to work, getting others to help him, slimy and manipulative, Race is the same) then on the show drop the Scaffold match, just do Eaton V Austin for the TV title. Shorten the Studd match into more of a squash, after Simmons beats Oz have Oz go crazy and attack his manager and kill the gimmick, have Morton use the computer on the leg 5 minutes earlier for the finish, put the mixed tag between Sting and Luger, Sting can lose and then Luger and Windham, Race and Hughes come to the ringside, watch. Luger starts face (high fives, offer a handshake), Windham refuses the advances. Luger then works the match as the heel but not heelish, in that Barry starts strong, Luger makes a cut off then works him over. But while he uses the cage, he doesn't do anything heely. End of match, Luger wins clean, Race and Hughes enter the ring, offer Luger the new belt, he tells them off, Barry attacks from behind, beatdown. Sting goes for the save but Koloff comes out and joins the beatdown.
You then run with the Best Friends Luger and Sting fighting off… The Master Race? That seems like it crosses a line… Anyway, Race's army of Windham, Hughes, Koloff and then soon put in Austin and then Big Kev as their new muscle/bodyguard (Hughes becomes the job boy). Luger defends the World Title while Sting gets screwed out of the US title thanks to Koloff helping Austin get that belt, with Race then getting Koloff gifted the TV title and then hell, merge it with the York Foundation, Taylor and Morton win the tag titles too while York goes from manager to valet/eye candy but in a suit.
… I might be the only one who likes that sort of thing but screw it, if I'm booking I can do that.
The Master Race control all the secondary belts but Luger and Sting (along with Simmons, an unmasked Pillman and El Gigante) feud with them and keep their paws off the World Title.
Now yeah, that's not a perfect storyline, but it's certainly doable. And I think it would be a nice enough change to have a Strong Face Champ, even if it is Luger. NWA was not nearly as dependant on the Flair type than they thought they were. And worst comes to worst, you put the belt on Windham and go to Sting chasing him while Luger moves down the card. You just had to move away from this idea that the champ HAD to be heel.
As for bringing in guys, I would hold off and see who I could cut and then who would impress me, and/or who the guys on top knew about. You always want to get the opinion of those who can work, since they know who can also work. There would be some backslapping and all that, sure, which is why you don't give them their own book, but you certainly take input.
So yeah, similar angle to what David had, I just didn't give myself the foresight to bring forward the Dangerous Alliance. I spent that on pushing Austin, Kev and Pillman.
2) When I watch wrestling from the 70's, 80's and 90's, I see nothing but guys who understood that wrestling at it's very core was a simulated fight...yet when I watch today, the vast majority of wrestlers just seem to be doing a choreographed exhibition and few are those who can work the crowd into suspending their disbelief.
Wrestling is no different than any other performance art, and in the ring it just seems like guys today don't understand the nuance of the performance that guys of yesteryear understood intrinsically. Wrestling isn't about a move set or high spots. It's about anger, rage, fear, jealousy, and any other emotion you can think of expressed physically in the ring.
So am I just an old 35 year old, yelling at the kids to stay off my lawn, while muttering to myself that "back in the day, guys knew how to wrestle"...or do you think the art of working and manipulating a crowd is dead and what we are left with is more of a variety show with sterilized athletic exhibitions, as opposed to the dramatic simulated fight inside a soap opera of days past?
Generalisations are a nasty trap to fall into, in that for every cliché and trope you can trot out someone will be able to find exceptions. I mean, you say that people can't work, but then you have stuff like Regal V Cesaro on NXT just this past week.
(You should have seen that by now. If not, there you go. Even has Fink, what more do you want?)
Anyway, there's a few different explanations, depending on who you want to blame.
The old school idea is that the current crop of superstars grew up idolising guys like Michaels and the Hardys, and so they want to go out there and show off every move they know, they care more about getting their spots in than telling a story.
The old old school idea is similar, except that it's more the fans fault, in that with the internet and the ‘smart' fans, now every match has to have 50 billion flips to get ***** and that is what guys are focused on, getting good press and getting their ass kissed on Facebook groups and the like rather than making money.
The Indy worker idea is that it is all WWE's fault. They HATE wrestling, they want Sports Entertainment, and that they make wrestlers into silly gimmicks and the like and refuse to push real wrestling.
And the WWE, if they can be bothered to respond, will blame the death of the Territories, since now they have to train people from scratch, they can't just bring guys in with gimmicks and working skills straight away.
Plus there's a bunch of other reasons someone can come up with. So which is it?
All of the above to some degree.
People like simple stories, they like there to be a good guy and a bad guy, they want a single clear reason why something is how it is. It's what wrestling is built on after all. But there isn't one single reason as to why wrestling doesn't tell stories like it used to. Which isn't totally a bad thing, there have been improvements in wrestling storytelling over the years, not everything was better in the old days. But society has changed, wrestling has changed and the way we view and are fans of wrestling has changed.
You're average wrestler today is probably more athletic than his predecessors, in terms of what he can do in the ring, and with that can come a different style of wrestling, one based on more wowing you with athletic ability than storytelling. And for a lot of people, storytelling is now mostly about angles, promos and what the announcers do, story is what you do to get to the match where you can do those cool moves.
And after all that, you might get signed to WWE where you're going to learn how THEY want you to wrestle, which is pretty similar to everyone else, unless you're a freak who can prove they can work how they want you to while doing all that ‘wrestling' stuff.
There are just so many factors, from MMA to Youtube that have influenced how wrestling is put out, it has changed so much in recent years. But is that a good or bad thing? Both. I for one would love some more old school wrestling thinking return to the big leagues. But on the other hand, I don't want to lose the new style of wrestling. I want both, and that shouldn't be too much to ask, but here we are…
But I'm sure there will be some discussion on this below. But it does flow onto the next point…
3)It seems to me that fans today judge a wrestler/story after the 1st week and it's because of this collective rush to judgment that WWE and TNA are discouraged from taking any amount of time to tell a story. In today's world, creative could come up with a brilliant story that is meant to be told through chapters, week to week, in classic episodic TV like Breaking Bad or Walking Dead...but then the fans decide that the first chapter is the whole story and just dump all over it. It's like turning on Die Hard and deciding it sucks after 15 minutes because all it's about is some jet lagged cop trying to win back his old lady at an office Christmas party.
So who's to blame for modern attention deficit disorder wrestling. The impatient fans or creative whose task is to create stories that appeal to fans who demand everything right here and right now, instead of challenging them with deliberate stories?
Well… I see where you're coming from. Really I do. There is a big part of the internet who will immediately hate or, it must be said, love something based on gut reactions. If it looks to benefit their chosen guy…
While it looks bad for said chosen guy?
That said, I think there's a difference. Yes, attention spans are shorter than they used to be. But plenty of TV shows manage long involved stories well. They difference here is that WWE has lost all it's credibility when it comes to faith in its booking. The default stance is that a WWE storyline will suck unless proven otherwise because so many of their storylines in the past couple of years have sucked. The ‘let's wait and see where it goes' mentality had to take hit after hit, after Cena's ‘Worst Year Ever' and Bryan being screwed over and never getting his revenge, and Ziggler getting buried and Sandow losing MITB and just angle after angle, WWE has burnt a lot of online people about their storylines.
Have there been good storylines? Absolutely. And has the in ring work been up to scratch? A thousand times yes. But the major angles WWE has put out, the stuff they focus on, that's not batting a good average. And so people are much more cynical about WWE products. That's not a good thing, of course, but it's a thing. Same as TNA, they've burnt all their cred again and again and again. ROH too, albeit due to the technical problems more than the booking mistakes they made.
So yeah, it's not so much that people demand instant gratification. It's more that the big leagues right now have a track record of not providing ANY gratification, so why would trust them?
4) If we acknowledge wrestling for the art form that it truly is, then we must also recognize that for one man to win, another must agree to lose. Arguably the single most important aspect of wrestling is the art of putting somebody over. The jobber was given any number of tasks with a single instruction: "Make him look like a million backs." Sometimes the assignment was a new talent, often a green guy with a great body who didn't know what he was doing, which made him dangerous, both to his opponent and his box office potential. Sometimes the assignment was a midcard talent who the promotion was getting ready to move up and work with or become champ. Sometimes the assignment was a main event talent, fresh off a big, high profile loss, who needed to begin being rebuilt. Every type of style in the ring needed to be accommodated and any number of finishers needed to be taken, all requiring top notch skill, athleticism, and timing.
So why can't the WWE create an "Enhancement Talent" category, creating a wing to recognize the best jobbers of all time in the Hall of Fame? You have a legend with whom they worked to induct them and explain what a thankless job these guys did and how great they were at doing it, then let them have a few minutes to say a few words. They can be the cold opener before the tapes start running on the main show. Ultimately however they wish to handle their inductions, if WWE is to have a true Hall of Fame to recognize outstanding contributors to the industry, then it will always be incomplete with out a wing honoring those who laid the foundation for the Sammartinos, Funks, Races, Flairs, Rhodes, and Hogans...The Jobbers. Am I wrong?
WWE should be proud of the fact that they've managed to convince so many people that the Hall of Fame means something.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a Hall of Fame as such, it's just that right now we have two contenders, one of them is owned by the company that owns everything and thus can do what they like, and the other one has slight problems of its own (Hello Mr. Benoit…).
I mean, WWE owns the Hall of Fame, so they can do whatever the hell they like. And Brooklyn Brawler will be inducted at some point. But guys like Tony Atlas and Koko B Ware and Johnny Rodz are in the HOF. They don't need a separate section, they'll just be inducted if/when they need a fill in to make up some numbers. Since, again, WWE owns the joint, and can induct whoever they like, short of legal issues. WWE could induct Mr X with just as much credibility as anyone else, since there's already jobbers in there.
5) I know I'm in the minority and I would never argue that they could not have been done better, but I rarely agree with the most common criticisms of WCW's invasion of WWE and the UWF's invasion of JCP, which are the two invasions...or lack thereof..that receive the most scorn by wrestling fans. Too often business realities like relegating guys who are succeeding in order to elevate guys fresh off of failure or paying those same failures huge money, which means everybody else who is over will demand double what the new guys get are ignored.
Lost in all the attention given to blown invasion angles, is what I believe to be the single biggest blown invasion in US wrestling history. In 1988, Verne Gagne, Fritz Von Erich, and Jerry Jarrett agreed to a co-promotional agreement precisely because all three knew they were in trouble. They knew WWE was not just some fad after 93,000 went to the Silverdome. They all understood, despite their egos that they were still the smartest of the bunch, that they needed something big in order to compete.
Keep in mind that World Class was arguably the hottest territory just a few years earlier, as was the AWA, before mismanagement turned each promotion ice cold. But both maintained a relationship with the still fledgling ESPN, even in 1988. I believe with Jarrett in control and his innovative ideas, maybe he could have sold ESPN on a partnership. Recall that ESPN was not the power in 1988 as it would become and coming off of WWE's huge 1987, I think ESPN could have been sold on becoming more invested in the wrestling business.
Now consider that Jarrett's CWA still did "good" business in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. And just 3 short years earlier, the AWA ran strong in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado, and parts of California and Canada, while World Class had Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and international TV deals. Also recall that while Crockett's expansion began in 1987, by the Spring of 1988, they were already on borrowed time and had pulled back. They were still trying to run big cities outside of their territory, but they had largely abandoned the UWF territory, no longer running shows with their top talent. That is a ton of markets to strategically run shows, in essence touring with a scalpel, rather than a machete.
I believe with Jarrett in charge, the combined talent roster of all three promotions including free agent talent and conceivably talent who left in 1988 like Curt Hennig being convinced to take a wait and see approach, and a strong partnership with ESPN could have led to the best invasion angle of all time...up to that point of course and possibly changed the course of wrestling history as we know it.
And even if it fell short of the best expectations, Verne and Fritz blew what was their last and best chance to survive and continue to make money in wrestling. That this blown invasion would lead to Fritz selling out to Jarrett in 1989, killing World Class, and the AWA would survive 1989 on fumes before closing their doors in 1990, I believe makes it a far worse missed opportunity than what WWE and JCP missed by allowing dead promotions to die slowly again. Do you think this could have worked and at least survived until WCW started buying everybody in the mid-90's?
Well sure. I mean, if egos were put aside, any wrestling company ever could have a shot at making it. And while it lacked the star power/panache of the WWF, having so many big stars on one show like Pro Wrestling USA could have done would definitely have made a go of it, sure. It wasn't an invasion though, but sure, it could work.
But you're kinda going in and saying "If it didn't have the reason it failed, would it have worked?" which is kinda obvious. I mean, it might not have worked, but the reason it failed was the egos of the promoters, and how they had to be the ones on top, their guys had to look the best, and then you had payoff issues and blow ups and… Everything. Politics is on every level of the business, at all parts.
(Certainly down here in Australia. I always maintain that there's enough world class talent in Australia for one GREAT company. Thing is, said talent is spread across a dozen companies and half the talent won't talk to the other half…)
So sure, if the promoters had focused on the big picture, it could have worked. Or it could have just delayed the inevitable. Hard to say.
But I will take slight issue with the "rewarding the failures" argument. Sure, some guys might take offence to guys coming in from a company that just failed and being pushed over them, they might well complain about paying ‘failures'. And to them, I say the following.
"BOO FUCKING HOO. Get over it."
Wrestling is a business, and once a company is bought out, they are no longer the competition. They are now your fellow wrestlers, and they have a money making angle built in, ready to go, that should make everyone involved a lot of money. By adding the two audiences together, less the overlap, you have that many more people tuning in, and buying your merch, so in the end you make more money.
I mean, I understand that it can be a tough pill to swallow, to start working with guys that a short while ago you were working against. But you're working with guys who you don't like all the time. I've wrestled plenty of guys I don't like and who don't like me. You're a professional wrestler. So many people fail to take the first part to heart.
But that's just me being bitchy about how the InVasion was blown so badly…
6) I've been listening to the Steve Austin's interviews with Chael Sonnen (who is a huge fan and actually attended the Power Plant in 1998 and was invited back, but by the time he finished college, WCW had closed shop) and Jim Ross got me thinking about things that could be done to help wrestler's performance.
I think emotion is the key element that guys today lack, but there is something I do believe WWE, TNA or any other company could do to turn back the clock in another way that I believe might just help wrestlers become better performers and make the product better. Now I know this might seem like antiquated thinking but I would bring back Kayfabe...to a degree.
Back in the day, heels and babyfaces were kept separate. They did not travel together, they did not dress together, they did not room in hotels together, and they did not socialize in public together. And I firmly believe this practice helped wrestlers who were not natural actors become much better performers. And this is the practice I would bring back to wrestling.
Back in the day, Vince used to work the boys and create real tension that he hoped would show up on TV, obviously Bret and Shawn would be exhibit A for how Vince used to rile guys up against each other. Now that blew up right in his face, but I still think the idea behind it is smart, there's just a more professional way to do it. The heels and babyfaces can get together to discuss their match, but other than that, their on different teams. The babyfaces travel with the babyfaces, the heels travel with the heels. There are two locker rooms, one for heels and one for babyfaces. Catering gets separated for heels and babyfaces. I don't care if a heel/face are best friends or like to ride together or share rooms. Wrestling is their job and they should treat it as such, so if observing kayfabe can help bring out a better performance with more natural emotion, then I can't think of a single reason not to make it standard practice. Am I wrong?
I don't like to deal in absolutes when it comes to opinions. Facts, sure, I can say that is true or not most of the time. But when someone says "Oh, if X and Y were done, that would be better, right?" it's hard to give a definitive Yay or Nay to it. It depends on the people involved and how it is applied. For every guy who is being held back by the WWE scripting their promos, there is another who if you gave him bullet points he'd be totally lost. For every guy who needs to learn how to slow down and tell a story there's another who needs to work on making his moves more flashy and speed up a bit.
(That would be me, for the record.)
But, in this case, in my mind, I can tell you that I don't see this being a good idea, for a simple reason that feuds where the guys legitimately hate each other or at least have dislike, the times they work is because the people involved are talented enough to focus on the in ring stuff instead of the personal stuff (HBK/Bret, Benoit/Sullivan), while the majority of the time it makes it for bad matches.
Booker V Batista, Jericho V Goldberg, Edge V Hardy, hell the InVasion had this too, in wrestling you need real emotion, sure, but trying to build dislike and distrust rarely works out. If it comes up and you can use it as part of another story, ok, but actively trying to encourage the practice is the exact opposite of what I'd try to do.
I'm not saying everyone has to love each other and everyone be all smiles and rainbows, but as you say, it's a job. They should be able to separate the two. When people take wrestling too seriously is when there are problems. You need to be able to turn off, in order to turn up.
I'm not being too clear here, and I apologize for that, I just can't quite work out how to say what I'm thinking. I guess part of it is that I prefer to work with guys I like, who I get on with, so I want others to be like that too, given that a lot of wrestlers are… slightly egotistical at times, to be polite.
But yeah, the death of Kayfabe to that degree is not one I mourn. But others below may well agree with you…
7) I know everybody loves fantasy booking (their own of course...because everybody else is dumb...). But it seems like everybody fantasy books failures, but nobody fantasy books a success to make it better or make it potentially have a longer shelf live or lead to other cool ideas. So what successful company/angle/storyline would you alter to either be even better or last longer? Pick anything you want and please give as much detail as you can and make the case for why your way is indeed the highway.
Well, to be fair, most people who fantasy book are doing so to fix errors, so I can certainly understand why you rarely see improvement fantasy booking like this.
However, I do have an idea… But I can't share it right now. Because I'm (very slowly) working on it as a ReWriting The Book for Wrestlecrap/Jed. I'd be the "guy on the other site" for the record from the State of the Union. So, some point in 2014, I hope to have What if Flair Lost at Wrestlewar 89? up there.
This is slightly out of season now, yes. But I'm not keeping it on ice for a year, please.
I haven't really featured Hogan Vs Flair. That's wrong of me. Here's the main event from their latest show, you should check out all their stuff, good work.
And here's a couple of random nL videos I like that I found floating around…
One day I will get onto a call.
And be totally boring I know.
And now, we get some other questions from other people, starting with Axl From Paris
Hi Mat, greetings from France,
I have two opinion questions for you.
1) I seem to remember that in the nineties, when the wrestlers were announced before their matches, their height and weight, and the city they were billed from, were always explicitely told: "From Whatever City, Whataver State, Wrestler A, standing at xxx feet tall, weighing xxx pounds". Now, it seems random. For instance, they always give Big Show's height and size, because he's so huge you have to be impressed, but they don't bill him from any particular city: why not? When it comes to Orton, they give his weight, but not his height, and they say that he's from St Louis: why are we supposed to care about the city Orton is from, and not Show? Is there a logic out there, outside the obvious "let's emphasize the height and weight of our giants"? And do you happen to know when they stopped giving us the "full info" on every wrestler, and why?
I don't know for sure, but I'm fairly sure it is indeed a "Emphasis only the important/impressive stuff" situation. Orton's height isn't too special, so don't mention it. If they are heel they just get a ‘From (Country)', rather than details. As wrestling became more and more detached from sport, stuff like this came about.
Certainly with the rise of MMA there was a brief resurgence in this sort of thing, but the last time there was a major focus on entrance announcements was when Muhammad Hassan was being groomed for a World Title run, they made a point to make Jericho and Benoit into US guys, so Jericho was suddenly "Born in Manhasset, New York" and Benoit now "Residing in Atlanta, Georgia".
Basically WWE just announces what they like, no more, no less.
2) I just read on Ziggler's Wikipedia page this: 'Nemeth revealed in Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling Podcast that he chose the name "Dolph" because that was his great grandfather's name and he said that his friend suggested the name "Ziggler"." I have always been stunned by this particular alias because of this man.
Sure, Adolf Ziegler is not the world's most famous nazi, but still, he's not some totally obscure and forgotten dude. I don't think that anyone in WWE or in Dolph's entourage tried to pay tribute to the official painter of the Reich, but how come nobody noticed this ressemblance? I would think that WWE being so cautious about its image, they would try to avoid these kind of unwarranted parallels. Have you heard about some discussion of this point, or am I the only one that finds it strange?
I never heard anything, nor did I find anything about this connection with my Google Fu. That said, I'm sure WWE does full and detailed searches whenever they go to trademark a name. And this may well have rung a warning bell, but the thing is, I hadn't heard of that particular Nazi before, and I know most of the more famous ones. You need to draw the line somewhere. I mean, if someone started calling themselves Albert Spear, that would probably need to be reworked. But a guy called Albert doing a spear should be ok.
You can't strike every name of everyone involved in horrible periods of human history off the list of acceptable names. The big ones, sure, and direct references you should avoid of course, but I think there is a difference here. There is such a thing as overthinking…
Brian wants me to talk about me. With Pleasure!
1) What was your biggest misconception from being a fan transitioning into a wrestler, something you thought you knew or needed to do to sell a crowd or whatever and turned out something else was true? What would you say was the biggest pleasant discovery and you worst surprise transitioning from fan to wrestler?
A big part of my transition was realising that not everyone knew what I knew. I'm not trying to sound like a snob or anything, but I did have a very high benchmark for what I, as a young man, thought everyone knew. I'm smart, like Mensa level smart, plus I was raised by parents who encouraged learning and what have you. I went to a selective high school and am a uni grad. The thing was, when I began to train/think about being wrestling, I had all these ideas and gimmick concepts that I thought were obvious that were totally overshooting. But I've said that before…
I think when I was starting out I was sure I would have to learn a lot of moves and need a lot of variations in order to keep fresh, but I soon learned that when you come in with two or more people, you don't need a lot of variation, since your stuff interacting does a lot of that work. So I know a lot fewer moves than I thought I would. I've tried a few new moves a year, and some stay (DDT) and some don't (neckbreaker).
I think the biggest pleasant surprise was how much my size was a benefit. I got reactions a lot easier than most other guys, my stories in the ring are easier to execute. But on the other hand, I've been… Some of the stuff that I've seen done and said has been somewhat unpleasant. But hey, that's part of the business…
(Note that I've never seen anything illegal or truly bad, just… Shitty.)
2) If you could travel back in time and talk to yourself when the thought of becoming a wrestler 1st entered your head, what would you tell yourself? Are there certain things (athletics, education, training, etc) that you believe had you done them it would have given you a bigger tool chest to succeed as a wrestler?
Yeah, I should have done wrestling back in high school. It was a choice, and I chose archery at the time because it seemed easier. I was a lazy kid. Hell, still am in many ways. (The last 4 years of my high school, my ‘sport' every week was being scorekeeper for the girl's basketball team.) But if I had a wrestling or judo background from kid time onwards, I'd be in a much better position.
However, the biggest mistake I've ever made was waiting. I should have turned up to training back in 2000, when I started university. But I took Mick Foley's advice to heart and felt I had to graduate first. Total mistake. If I had had a few years experience when I finished uni, I would have been in a much better position to fly overseas and make a go of it. But ah well, such is life.
3) I really enjoyed the ladder match between Sean Waltman and Eddy Guerrero at Souled Out 97. I'm not saying it's perfect or "5 stars" (I hate star ratings for wrestling as much as I do movies), but I thought it was a really entertaining match. But I've heard shoots with both guys and both thought it kind of sucked and was disappointing. Are there any matches/wrestlers you really liked as a fan, but after becoming a wrestler you now see as severely flawed and vice versa, is there a match/wrestler you never appreciated as much until you became a worker?
Royal Rumble 2000, HHH vs Cactus, that's still the match that made me want to become a wrestler. I'm not saying it sucks, but certainly looking at it today I tend to notice the flaws, the spot calling, the random Rock interference, more than I do the stuff that made me want to become a pro wrestler.
But I tended to remain consistent with my likes and dislikes. I've certainly gained more respect for some guys, but it tends to be guys I liked before. Like Arn and Tully, always been a fan, it just became more pronounced and respectful as I wrestled and realised just how good they were.
I suppose the match my opinion has changed the most about is HBK/Bret Iron Man. I respect them going out there and working for that long. Still despise the match though.
Oh, and I tend to have less respect for strict deathmatch guys than I used to.
4) Finish this hypothetical: WWE signs you tomorrow and after a cup of coffee in NXT, you're brought up to Raw. You're given a strong intro and after a few months you're over big. After a solid push, the fan reaction just keeps growing, your t-shirts fly off the shelf, and the ratings breakdown consistently trends highest when you're on screen. Vince is convinced you're a money draw. After winning the title at Mania, Vince tells you the torch has been passed and you're his guy...and you start making big money. You keep moving forward and the business is stronger than it's been in 10 years. You get offered movies and commercial endorsements for even more money.
You're living the high life as TMZ has reported you left your girlfriend Tara at your townhouse in New York and apparently have filed restraining orders against Jessica Alba and Megan Fox, although rumor is you have two porn stars squired away in your Malibu beach house and recently referred to your tiger blood in a promo. Now you start thinking if you can keep it going a few years, not only can you retire in the near future or start making movies/TV, but your parents, siblings, best friends, and future children can be helped exponentially...and you can increase your porn harem by 4...
Now after the second year on top, the business starts to drop and while you're not making peak money, you're still clearing HUGE coin. Pretty soon the business is just a little below where it was when Vince gave you the ball. Being the top guy, you have a good idea what the boys are making and you know that you're making the lion's share as "the man"...which means if you are replaced as a top guy, you will take a huge hit in your paycheck and the others guys don't have 4 homes (don't forget your house in Australia and the one you bought your folks) or movie offers or porn harems or a fleet of cars or a group of loved ones who have come to rely on your financial assistance.
With all of this in mind, would you not do absolutely everything in your power to keep your spot? What if you like your colleagues, but have ZERO confidence that they can draw better than you? What if you felt that the candidates to possibly take your spot had maybe sandbagged you and not been as helpful and supportive as you had been to Cena? Would you still just accept the demotion and not fight like hell to keep that top spot? Would you really be a team player or would you get on the phone and call Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and Ric Flair and ask them how you keep yourself on top for as long as possible?
Absolutely, this is the problem, in that everyone and their dog knows that long term growth and profits rely on you building up the next big guy while the current one is still going. Everyone gets that, you know that you should be able to get him ready while the other guy is still around.
And no-one ever does it. Because it just goes against the fibre of wrestling promotion, to take a hit like that. Why risk rocking the boat? Why not keep going while you are able?
See, the solution is one that, if you're up the point you say, where I've got Asa, Amber, Lexi and April and I'm 10 years in, the solution is now out of reach. What I should have done is a few years in/when I find a guy who I think could be The Guy, go to Vince and bat for him. Say that I think he could be The Guy, so why not push him and we can be The Guys. Push him as the center while I take a slight back seat and work with this hot up and coming guy and work the semi-mains till we see if he's legit or not.
But again, as you say, that might cost me. It's a hell of an ask. And one that so far pretty much no-one has done properly, no-one in history has gone quietly into the night without injuries or something forcing them to while being THE Guy. It's totally against human nature.
While I will grant you that it's a hell of an ask, and that no-one could possibly live up to that sort of thing… Still gotta cop to it. It's totally understandable, and I don't believe I could do better, but it's still the wrong thing to do. You still have to be called out on it. Just not as badly as we do. It should be more quiet disappointment than blind rage.
However, if during those 10 years I hadn't saved anything? If I'd lived like Ric Flair and spent $500 for every $100 I got? Then yeah, THAT you can call them on. Every wrestler should be thinking of what happens when they retire. And they will retire. So maybe get the girls to go onto a rotation basis or something…
Manu has a follow up of sorts from the last couple of weeks.
"I do know that WWE only has three of them right now, not so much for the cost as because they're really hard to make properly. They have the hero belt, the champ's appearance one, and the spare."
That was regarding the giant logo belt.
What's the "hero belt"? The one they show on TV? If so, why is it called the hero belt? Is that something it's been called in wrestling circles for a while, or just something you call it?
Yeah, the Hero belt is the one champs carry to the ring on TV and major public appearances. And it's a term that has crossed over into wrestling from TV/Film, in that Hero props are props that are more detailed because main characters will be holding/using, and you had Hero models in miniature work, for instance on Star Trek: The Next Generation there were two models of the Enterprise D, a two foot one and the six foot Hero miniature. (And a four foot one brought in during season three, to get the Trekkies off my back.)
So yeah, some terms in wrestling aren't from old school Carney, some of them are TV terms…
Jason also has a follow up. I tend to include these sorts of ones early, for the record, so as what they are referring to is still fresh in your mind. Just so we're clear.
Howdy sir! Jason here. Reader for it must be a year or two now. Glad you're back. Much respect. Seeing Chris ask about pulling the tights made me think of something that's been on my mind for a while. The exposed turnbuckle always seemed like a cheap way to end a match, and not because the heel is being a cheaty mccheaterson. Perhaps you, as a wrestler, can confirm whether it's as deadly as it's made out to be? I know it's hard and it's covered for a reason but considering the fact that it's stationary and it seems almost silly how hard it is to properly smash someone into it, it just doesn't click with me, one of the few things that I don't get, no matter how it's used (whether tossing someone head-first into it, whipping them chest-first into the corner... Cena detaching it and using it to choke someone out doesn't count). Is it as bad as it's made out to be? I mean how different would it be compared to slamming their head into something else that doesn't have much/any give and is hard (outside post? ring apron? barricade? or even a chair lodged into the corner or something like that which certainly looks far worse than the turnbuckle). I just can never quite buy into it kayfabe-wise and I always hope for someone to kick out of it when I (thankfully rarely) see it. Thanks for answering, my regards given.
Like most things in wrestling, it's not as bad as it is made out, but not as nice as you'd think.
When you remove the turnbuckle pad, you're exposing the hook that is holding the ring rope to the ring post. This is metal, and it is under strain, since the entire point is for the ropes to be pulling in while the post pulls out. But it does have some give, yes. Ropes move, you hit it and it will move, a little.
But if you were to take one head on, it's a raised metal edge basically, it can indeed mess you up. It's just that, to be honest, most of the time people don't hit it. You just move your head near it, or maybe just headbutt the rope, and then sell. Like anything in wrestling, you try and give the appearance of danger without actual danger.
But yeah, it's worse than the ones you suggested because there's an edge to it. You hit a barricade or a table, it's all flat. An exposed turnbuckle has a nice thin metal spike deal that can really mess you up. If you sell it right.
And on that moment of total kayfabe breaking, I will bring this edition of Ask 411 Wrestling to a close. I hope your New Year's Eve/Day are both wonderful and not at all bad, and your 2014 will be that much better. Until next week, dear readers…