Ask 411 Wrestling 06.18.14: Mr. Summerslam, Vince's Ego, More!
Posted by Mathew Sforcina on 06.18.2014
Is Ricky Steamboat the greatest wrestler of all-time? Should the WWE just ignore the IWC? Who is the most impressive Royal Rumble performer? Was Mae Young really that important? All that and more covered this week in Ask 411 Wrestling!
Heya, this is Ask 411 Wrestling, and I'm Mathew Sforcina, and I'm clearly the next signee to WWE. I mean, I'm the only guy who got a photo with Emmatwice while she was here. In both usual and Super Saiyan modes. So I'm here by my phone and waiting for the call.
Oh yeah, the column. I guess I can do that. But it'll have to be a Total Opinion Week since I have to stay by my phone. And work, but mostly the phone.
Sheamus V Cena in Selling: Sheamus being worse at Cena in selling threats is certainly a viable position to hold, and I might even agree with it depending on the criteria. But with Cena being THE Guy that all the storylines revolve around, his belittling is a bigger issue, in my view. If/when Cena is fixed, then we can fix Sheamus. But fixing either of them is better than not fixing them.
The Magic Fixing Machine: I read the question as it being a case of being able to shove a guy or girl into the machine here and now, and the effect going on from now on. So while shoving Benoit in would heal him and in this case bring him back from the dead, he'd still have murdered Nancy and Daniel. There's something to be said for having him serve punishment I guess, but I thought there were other fixes to make.
But by all means, if this machine is retroactive and can save guys, then absolutely I use it on Benoit (for Nancy and Daniel), Owen Hart (for the Hart family) and Eddie Guerrero (for me).
Hyped Debut Losses:APinOz points out that The Radicals lost their debut matches in WWF in a clean sweep against The Factgime or whatever it was called at that point. Now, one Raw isn't a huge hype but it's still a big deal there (even if that was only because Eddie buggered his elbow up, since the original plan was for the series to end in a tie).
The Trivia Crown
What am I? I'm a match that had five competitors. One competitor has held the Tag Team Championship with three of his four opponents. Two competitors in this match were in the very first instalment of the gimmick, but only one of them has won it before. Only one guy in the match never held the World Heavyweight Championship. The guy who won the match has opened a WrestleMania with one of his opponents - a match he won - and he has closed a WrestleMania with another in a losing effort. A ladder, a table, and a chair all came into play in this match, but it was not a TLC match. What am I?
Well of course Maravilloso has the answer, but I'll give DarthDaver the nod here.
What am I? I'm a match that had five competitors. One competitor (Big Show) has held the Tag Team Championship with three of his four opponents (Kane, Y2J, Miz). Two competitors in this match were in the very first instalment of the gimmick (Y2J, Kane), but only one of them has won it before (Kane). Only one guy in the match never held the World Heavyweight Championship (Miz). The guy who won the match (John Cena) has opened a WrestleMania with one of his opponents - a match he won (WM XX he beat Big Show) - and he has closed a WrestleMania with another in a losing effort(WM 28 - lost to Miz). A ladder, a table, and a chair all came into play in this match, but it was not a TLC match. What am I? 2012 MITB ladder match for the WWE Championship.
I have the question this week.
Who am I? I am known mainly as a face when I was a wrestler but heel when I was a manager. I've been known as a number, although one of my numbers is only good enough to equal a comedic Canadian's (and that's including the reign WWE doesn't acknowledge!) Where I was born is not where I was once billed as "Mr. (Location)". I currently own a business that has a name similar to a wrestling segment of times past. Of the men I've managed, four have been world champ and two are perirenal names on the "Should have been world champ" lists. A former Brass Knuckles Champion and member of an Army, I am who?
Getting Down To Business/One Man's (Important) Opinion
Raza starts us off with a work or shoot or worked shoot or shot work or…
Thanks for answering my previous questions, this time I genuinely need an answer about main event of Starrcade 1999 between Bill Goldberg and Bret Hart. Despite reading all the stuff over the years on the internet, I could not ascertain as to what happened to the finish of the match. Some says it was WCW who tried to replicate ‘the Montreal Screwjob" whereas other things indicate that management of WCW wanted to screw Goldberg out of the WCW title. I still couldn't figure out whether was it a worked shoot or it was some sort of blunder by the management of WCW.
Please explain if you could?
Sure, the explanation is Vince Russo.
Next up is-
OK OK. Starrcade 99 was Russo's attempt at bringing together the two biggest things of the last couple of years in wrestling, the nWo and Montreal, together into one angle. It was 100% a work, as WCW management at the time were more concerned with Russo not living up to his claims rather than who had the belt. Russo wanted people talking, and he thought that by screwing over Goldberg and having Bret be the bad guy this time around would get people talking and tuning into WCW like when people tuned into WWF after Montreal Alpha. But of course that didn't happen because Montreal was getting parodied weeks after it occurred and had had it's sole ‘good' redo at Survivor Series 98 under… Russo.
If Bret hadn't got the concussion during the match and stuck around for the nWo 2000 deal… Well it might have worked, but it's a hell of a leap, to think that such a tired thing like the nWo could still have relevance just because it had silver now… But that's a question for another time.
But no, it was totally a work dude. People don't talk about it because few people were watching WCW at that point, and those that were now actively try to erase the memories.
Connor has a simple question.
Is Ricky Steamboat the greatest wrestler of all time?
I hesitate to nominate anyone as the greatest of all time, but if such a person does exist it's probably Ric Flair but more importantly it's a guy or girl who can work heel or face effortlessly and perfectly. Steamboat may well have been the greatest face wrestler of all time, that you can argue somewhat successfully, but he never worked heel so he can't be in the running for best of all time. In my view.
Drew walks to talk recent turns.
Last Monday Seth Rollins turned on the shield which i think was horrible considering that A. it came out of nowhere B. it made zero sense considering the fact that the shield decisively beat evolution back to back ppvs. Even his lame explanation of "i can break up the shield cause i can" explanation shows that no thought was put into the turn and it was done just to do a turn. with that being said 1. what do you think is the worst turn ever and 2. what do you think of Seth Rollins turn on the shield ?
The worst turn ever? It really comes down to how you're looking at the question, in terms of what constitutes a failure here. Are we talking about just the turn itself, who had the worst turn and then the aftermath is irrelevant? Or do we mean who's turn ended up doing the most damage to them and the industry?
I ask that since Austin's Heel Turn at Wrestlemania X7 is arguably the best and the worst heel turn in history since it was logical and believable and led to some great stuff but also got the wrong reaction at the time and killed Austin's drawing power and thus lost a lot of money for everyone.
So, in terms of long term damage, Austin at X7. In terms of what it then produced as on air product, Michael Cole turning heel. And in terms of sheer execution, the Savage heel turn on Hogan still annoys me in how badly it was handled.
I tend to focus on heel turns, face turns are harder for me to recall for some reason.
Now, Rollins in particular? I'm not a big fan of snap turns usually, I feel a turn needs some build up and logical explanation, no matter how shocking it ends up being. You should know it's coming and book accordingly. This one may or may not have had that depending on which reports you believe, so there's that to consider.
However, overall I can see the logic to it, in that all three of them would have a justification for leaving, in that Rollins was the Glue tired of being overlooked, Reigns was the Chosen God Child who could realise he didn't need the others, and Ambrose is Fucking Crazy. Rollins just was the one that happened.
So there is logic there, but so far the execution has been weak. If you didn't want Rollins to say why he turned on Smackdown, for instance, he shouldn't have been on Smackdown at all. Have HHH give him the night off, or show him in a private box with booze and models or something, sending him out there with nothing to say was a bad start, even if few people saw it.
Since then… Well it hasn't been horrible, sure. But not worth breaking up The Shield, in my opinion. But it has only been a couple weeks. MITB will be the first major test, as we get to see if Ambrose/Rollins is as good as it has to be to justify the break up, and then Battleground where we get Reigns V Orton for the Title is the point where we see if Reigns can actually go right now or not…
Andrew talks concussions.
I recently re-watched Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar from Wrestlemania 30. I'm confused as to why the match was as awkward and low quality as it was. I only ever recall hearing a report (not Paul Heyman's post-'Mania Raw promo) that 'Taker suffered a concussion at some point in the match, and that's it. But upon reviewing the match with this context in mind, I can't say there ever seems to be a moment where 'Taker suffers a concussion, and I honestly don't think he looks like he's operating with one (though I admit I have zero concussion experience). Rather, he appears perpetually blown up throughout the match. By the time he leaves he doesn't seem any more worse for wear than usual, much less suffering a concussion. Either that or he's no-selling it, which doesn't seem possible (though, again, I'm no doctor).
What do you think happened to turn the match sour? Was it as simple and unfortunate as a concussion, or were the stars simply not aligned for 'Taker and Lesnar that night? That is, was Lesnar too rusty from being away from wrestling so long, combined with perhaps Undertaker's age finally catching up with him, and maybe just some bad luck in calling the match?
I've had my bell rung a couple of times, never a full blown concussion, but after one or two matches I've been a little short circuited. Mainly when they end with second rope powerbombs. But it can occur on simple bumps, if you land wrong.
However, looking over the match, if it didn't happen in the very early belly to belly and it just has a delayed effect, or on one of Brock's strikes, it might have been on the upending on the outside, but it would have happened at the latest on the Germans. But it did happen, he went to the hospital because of it, so he did ring his bell at some point during the match.
Now, the concussion didn't help the match at all, but even if it hadn't occurred, the match was in a hole due to Taker's overall condition, subpar booking leading in and the two clearly not clicking. Had the build shown that Brock had a real shot, it might have gone better. Had the match been shorter, it might have gone better. Had the two worked out a better game plan, it probably would have gone better. But if Taker hadn't got a concussion, it surely wouldn't have gone worse.
The end of the streak should have been something we were prepared for, it should have been a lot quicker and Taker should have been healthier. But we got what we got, alas, so we just have to move on and accept Brock as Bonus Final Boss of the WWE now.
Nightwolf continues on from previous questions.
1. Continuing from 2 weeks ago when I asked your opinion on Triple H/Shane McMahon. Don't you think it would have been smart to just give to company to Shane McMahon? I mean he already had the Executive experience and could have moved to CEO once Vince stepped down/died. From my understanding, no one in the WWE has the experience to fill Vince's shoes as CEO. I mean both George Barrios and Michelle Wilson know nothing about wrestling, Triple H doesn't have the Executive experience to be CEO, and Stephanie has cut back her roles. Shane Macmahon would have been the smarter choice in my opinion.
I'm hesitant to endorse the concept of giving corporate positions based on nepotism, but in this case yes, Shane would have been a ‘safer' choice, in that he has the respect of the boys due to what he's done in the ring…
But also had the chops to keep Wall Street happy. But the problem was that Vince wasn't thinking in those terms. He was thinking in terms of who he wanted to replace him, and Hunter is closer to what Vince wanted in that. So Vince groomed Hunter to get the job, which is why Shane left.
However, I'd like to point out something, in that whoever runs a wrestling company doesn't have to actually ‘understand' wrestling.
*waits for furore to die down*
I mean, it helps, sure, but a businessperson brought in to run a wrestling company doesn't need to get involved in creative. All they need is to find good bookers and trust them. A good booker will ‘get' wrestling, and they are the ones who need to say "We need to do this for the long term success". The exec can be the one making the merch and getting TV deals and all that, and the booker produces the shows. By all means the executive can have opinions and such, but if they leave the booking to the booker, that's a perfectly acceptable situation, provided the booker is good enough.
And sure, it's never really happened so far in wrestling history, but there's a first time for everything, right? Right?
2. I was watching WWE's video on their most violent Barricade moments. Could you explain how wrestlers protect their opponents when they drop them on the barricade or crash them through the barricade ala Roman Reigns spearing the Undertaker through the barricade?
When you drop a guy onto the barricade, although you try to do your best to help them, it's mostly on them to protect themselves. You aim to land them in such a way that their head is protected and that they are balanced and then it's up to them to fall off safely. Also you try to land, if you can, with your legs on the ground or some such, you break some of the impact elsewhere if you can manage it.
As for through the barricade, the barricades themselves are apparently very well padded and are now velcroed together, so they break apart easily. WWE then ensures that wherever the speak is to occur is as free of debris and other things as possible, so that there's less chance of hitting something. And then… You just do it and absorb the blow. You know it's coming after all, and it's not THAT dissimilar to being speared onto the ground, you just get an impact sooner.
At least, I assume so, I've never dealt with WWE barricades. I only deal in old school metal ones, which are heavier and had edges and stuff (one tore a hole in my gear just this week) so you treat them differently. But yeah, WWE's barricades are nice and padded and Velcro now so it's easy.
Michael asks about WWE being in a tough place.
Is WWE in a "damned if they do, damned if they don't" position with the majority of IWC now? Seems like most recent major situations in the company have been met with chagrin lately rather than happiness or even a "wait and see" approach:
Bryan finally becomes champ and instead of being satisfied with that, his fans immediately question his feud with Kane and how he looks weak by always running. Some people even question why he didn't immediately defend against Orton or Batista whom the IWC generally hates.
The Shield break up with Rollins being a huge shock defector and people question why they broke them up.
The Streak ends (which no one predicted) and people are question why it ended and why they let Lesnar be the guy to do it.
So, it seems regardless if the IWC gets what they want (Bryan as champ) or if something is truly shocking(Shield break-up, Lesnar ending the streak, etc.) people just aren't happy. If wwe does booking 101, people complain, if they pull a swerve no one saw coming, people complain.
Naturally with WWE aiming their brand at a family friendly audience, some members of the IWC will complain that there's no blood and no tits and what have you.
Naturally with WWE a publicly traded company, some members of the IWC will complain that they aren't running the company just to put on good matches.
Naturally with WWE being an international company, some members of the IWC will complain about every single decision because it doesn't help or please them.
Everything WWE can and will do will cause some complaints, some bitching, some issue.
But not this much, and not this often, and not on this scale.
Apart from the contrarians who will complain no matter what, and the deluded who refuse to accept a change in the business, most of the IWC's complaints are based on WWE's failings in storytelling. And those are (mostly) on WWE, not on the fans.
Asking for consistency across the brands is not too much to ask.
Asking for continuality to be maintained is not too much to ask.
Asking for compelling storylines, or attempts at same, is not too much to ask.
Asking for competitors to get recognition for ability and appeal is not too much to ask.
Asking for Cena to Turn Heel… Yeah, that's crossing the line. But interesting? That's fine.
The IWC had a lot of faith and good will leading out of Wrestlemania and the Raw after it. Bryan had the belts, Paige had the belt, Cesaro had the statue and Heyman, The Shield had each other, and we all had hope.
And then it mostly went to heck.
It all comes back to the problems of WWE is mistaking family friendly with childish. Characters are either flat and uninteresting or interesting but sidelined. Talent is put at the back of the car behind what Vince thinks is funny. The IWC's complaints, the sane and reasonable ones, tend to focus on just improving the product, and having a short fuse for BS since WWE has pulled this crap time and again.
… The phone ain't ringing now, is it?
WWE has burnt the IWC time and again, so it naturally is hesitant to give blind support for it. WWE can fix that, but it'll take time. So you either focus on improving the product and getting the IWC back on side with a compelling, coherent and well told story, or you decide to screw it and keep doing what you are doing and let the IWC wallow with the Network. Either is viable.
Needs more Lana.
Joey Joe Joe Shabadoo has one of those ‘simple but hard and discussion producing' questions.
I know there is no consensus among the IWC (on almost any topic). However, it seems relatively apparent that Shawn Michaels is Mr. WrestleMania. Who, your opinion, would be Mr. Royal Rumble and Mr. Summerslam?
Both Austin and HBK have had several wins, and some impressive results at the PPV, and Kane has longevity on his side, and consistency… Triple H has had some great matches, but also some real stinkers… Flair maybe…
But I kinda feel like it has to go to Cena. He's had some big Rumble moments including wins, memorable eliminations and Ironman results, title matches, and he's still going. But if you don't consider future possibilities, HHH. But if you DQ him based on the 03… ‘match' then HBK gets to double up, I feel.
Mr. Summerslam though? Bret Hart. Even with the Nexus match, his run from 88 to 94 was spectacular. 95 was… Eh, and 97 was back to awesome. Not the longest run, but almost every match a classic.
But by all means dear readers, whom do you suggest here? There's much less a clear cut answer than WM, although of course one must first decide what the criteria for a Mr. PPV title are…
The Ghost of Faffner Hall asks if a certain woman is overhyped.
I have a question for you regarding the recently departed Mae Young.
Now, I don't want to make it seem like I'm talking ill of the dead here. By all accounts Mae was a wonderful person, and tough as nails to boot, and while the oversexed grandma schtick was not my cup of tea, she seemed to have a ball doing it. And even at 80-plus years, she could take a powerbomb through a table like a champ, so I can't help but admire that.
I watched an episode of WWE Vintage dedicated to Mae, which praised her as a trailblazer and a pioneer in the industry, and a huge influence on women's wrestling in America. My question: was she really? I consider myself a wrestling historian of sorts, in that I've been a fan for over thirty years and even as a kid I read all I could get my hands on about wrestling's past, both in America and overseas (which wasn't so easy to do in the pre-internet days). Even though women's wrestling was never as dominant as men's, I still knew a lot about all the biggest names—Moolah, MIldred Burke, the Crush Girls, etc. –but I had never even heard of the name Mae Young until she showed up during the Attitude era. It makes sense that WWE wouldn't have video of any of her matches pre-1999, but every big name, male or female, has at least one big match and/or moment that cemented their place in history, and Mae doesn't seem to have any, at least none that are very well-known.
I recall a 411 article from a couple years ago which named Mae as one of the least deserving Hall of Fame inductees ever, saying that she basically rode Moolah's coattails all the way to the HoF. Is this the case, or is she really as much of a trailblazer and as important to women ‘s wrestling as the WWE makes her out to be?
Mae Young's first match occurred when Bruno Sammartino was not yet five years old. Her last ‘match' took place 4 years ago. For sure longevity she has to be up there in respect. But true, a long career that didn't go anywhere wouldn't be worth much, so did she actually do anything?
The problem is that she was the heel, and thus you know Mildred Burke since she was the all conquering hero, but not that in the 40's and 50's Burke would often wrestle Mae, and the two helped establish women's wrestling in Canada and Japan as well as across America.
Also it should be pointed out that she trained Moolah, so the woman who had a stranglehold on women's wrestling for decades was due in part to her, and she was involved in a few title situations of her own.
Plus Mae was one of the first women to be flat out vicious in the ring, she went out there and was a heel of heels.
So yeah, although she didn't have a direct hand, so to speak, in wrestling becoming a mass pop culture entity, she wasn't a player in the rise of wrestling on TV, she was very important in the early formation of wrestling and women's role in it. Was she instrumental? Not really. But she was there, and she sure as hell made an impact, as she was the second banana that outlasted all the firsts.
Ben keeps it simple.
I hear quite often how Vince McMahon has an unbelievably huge ego (like it's a bad thing). But on the flip side, would it be safe to say…. "No ego, no product"?
Yeah, there's something to be said for having the guts and the balls to stand up and fight and to have the drive and determination to make a go of something. The ego needed to risk it all on Wrestlemania is pretty huge, yes. If Vince McMahon wasn't very sure of himself and what he wanted, WWE wouldn't exist.
But there is a downside. The same ego that can drive you to the top of the mountain makes you want to climb other mountains. And every time Vince tries to climb a mountain that isn't Wrestling he fails. Hard.
Plus, the mountain he has? It should be bigger, richer, if his ego was pared back a little to acknowledge that he doesn't get current pop culture all the time, and that people other than him can have good ideas, it could be a better mountain.
But yes, without the ego, no mountain exists.
I've outlasted rafiki here…
How in the blue hell are people like JTG, Yoshi Tatsu, and Ezekiel Jackson still employed by WWE???? They haven't done squat in YEARS not even on NXT. For all the folks who made fun of WCW for paying people to sit at home WWE is doing the same thing. Wassupwitdat?
Well obviously now all three are gone, but overall, in the last few years WWE moved away from just cutting people to letting their contracts run out in order to look better during Linda's political run and then to avoid bad press, until such time as Wall Street got antsy so they then fired a bunch of people because Wall Street is bipolar like that.
However, the WWE and WCW comparison isn't that apt because of the way the contracts were structured. When WCW paid Lanny Poffo to sit at home and do nothing, he was paid 6 figures to do so. When WWE had JTG under contract to make the occasional appearance, he's being paid a fraction of that, since WWE contracts are now based around tiny downsides but bigger slices of merch and tickets and the like. So if you are hot and popular you make lots more money, but if you sit at home you get a lot less. Thus WWE could afford to keep guys like JTG and Hawkins and the like at home and out of the spotlight and off the indies where they might make someone else money and if they need a job guy or if one of them has a great idea or shows a real passion to come back, they might be able to use them. It's not a bad strategy, if you have the cash to burn.
John asks a question many people have asked.
Why is Koko B Ware in the hall of fame? Not in a "why is he there when my favourite wrestler x isn't there" way, but in actual fact, why did Vince / WWE decide to induct him? I've only been following wrestling since 1999, so have only really seen Koko in his early Wrestlemania appearances that I went back and watched, and whilst his matches are fun there seems to be lots of guys that were on the same level as him. I'm just wondering whether there is some backstage reason I don't know about which meant that he got sought out for special attention over lots of other guys.
Supposedly the main reason he got in? The WWE Legends of Wrestlemania game.
Apparently Brian Gerwitz made a pitch for him that surprised everyone, including Vince, but Vince came around after hearing about the chance for brand cross promotion with the video game. Apparently that sealed the deal.
The facts that he was a minority, wasn't hated, on good terms with the company and not doing that badly for himself all helped but that was the main reason, he got in because of the game, and he got in the game because…
Sergey writes in from Russia and asks about sweetening sounds. I could make a t.A.T.u joke here but it would just depress me.
I've recently re-watched WCW circa 98 and noticed that they used fake crowd sounds during the shows. Watching the shows you can notice that even during in-ring segments and promos there is a constant crowd noise. There is no crowd silence during any segments or match at all. Just watch JJ Dillon/Sting/NWO segment at Souled Out 98, then watch some boring match from that show and then listen to the crowd noise during the credits in the end of the show (yeah, that was the time when they did all that credits stuff specifying producers, etc.) - the same crowd sounds repeating through all the shows mixing with actual show sounds. So what was the point of that? And were there any known similar fake crowd sounds in WWE?
The idea was to make it seem like the wrestlers were more over and more popular than they were. There's wasn't anything more beyond that, it was simply an attempt to make you think things were more important and bigger and more popular, but the technology was limited and the execution was dodgy. It was nothing more than incompetence.
And WWE still does it, they are just much better at it. But every Smackdown and every other taped show has sweetened crowds, WWE is just much better at not matching loud crowds with silent shots. They'll continue to do it whenever they can, they'd probably prefer to do it all the time, but alas doing it live is kinda tricky, so…
And on that note, I bring this edition to a close. Sorry it's a bit brisk this week, but I gotta watch the phone after all. I'll be back next week with a bumper edition, I hope, until then dear readers…