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Ask 411 Wrestling 07.02.14: HOF Creation, Backstage Powers, More!
Posted by Mathew Sforcina on 07.02.2014



Howdy.

So, despite the name up above, this isn't His Massive Q-ness. Sforcina's on a week's leave, due to something work-related. Ask him about it, if you really wanna know. And ask him about his brand new Hyundai. He loves to talk about that.

So who am I? Jed Shaffer's the name. If you're a loooooooooong time reader of 411 (more than a decade), you'll remember me from the pre-Crisis days (i.e., before "The Split"). Or you may know me from my stint on Wrestlecrap, where I still – very occasionally – write a column called Rewriting The Book. Or maybe you know me from the podcast I had for a couple years (and if you do, HOLY COW, SOMEBODY LISTENED BESIDES FRIENDS?!?). Or maybe you don't know me at all. That's probably the most likely of scenarios. Anyway, I owed Mat a solid for something he did for me, so here I am, filling in for the week.

And because fill-ins who are friends get special treatment, it's mostly a TOTAL OPINION WEEK. With a smattering of facts in there. Maybe. We'll see what's in my grab-bag.

Before we go any further, if you didn't know it by now, you can send in your questions to Mr. Sforcina (or whomever is filling in at the time) at ask411wrestling@gmail.com and he will answer it. Eventually. You should see the backlog.

Okay, so, I introduced myself … described this week's theme … put up the email addy … is there anything else?

BANNER!!!



No, that wasn't it. It was …

Zeldas!



Check out Mat's Drabble blog, 1/10 of a Picture!

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Previously on Jed Shaffer's Ask 411 Wrestling:



If you sit through all five minutes of that, I owe you a cookie (offer not valid on planet Earth).

The Trivia Crown



Trivia will not be seen this week due to rogue sunspot activity and will return next week. Thank you.

One Guest Host's (Awesome) Opinion



Okay, let's kick this pig. Arthur Gordon has a question, and … oh. It's about death. Way to set the mood, Art.

I was kind of curious about something after reading your answers about Mick falling through the Cell and JR and everyone's honest fear about his well being. After Owen's accident at Over the Edge, do you think there is any fear of a similar accident happening with a major spot? For example, I remember Jack/HHH did the fall through the cage at No Way Out. But, what if a panel had given out somewhere unexpected and someone fell through? Or, in a TLC match, what if a spot off of a tall ladder was blown and someone hit the turnbuckle pole, or landed wrong on stairs or a table? Or even, someone slipping off the top of a cage during a match?

I'm just curious if there is any fear (outside of what I would assume is just the standard concerns for big spots) of those types of accidents leading to a death?

Thanks and keep up the good work!


I'd wager no more than there was before Owen's death. And that's because of two factors:

1) Injuries happen in even the most minor of spots. Take Triple H's quad injury in 2001 (skip ahead to the :50 mark):



Not exactly Elix Skipper's cage walk-rana spot, is it? Eddie Guerrero injured his elbow doing his own finisher in his first WWE match. Randy Orton hurt himself doing that fist-pounding-on-the-mat gesture (I wish I was making that up). The fact is, stepping into the ring on any given night can put a wrestler in the hospital. If the officials and wrestlers became paranoid about every possible spot turning the ring into an abattoir, at best, we'd see wrestling devolve into something that made the Attitude-era "WWE Main Event Style" look like Joe/Kobashi. At worst, it'd lead to numerous injuries because people are being too careful. And that leads us to the second factor.

2) Despite wrestling's unfortunate and lengthy roll call of the dead, very few deaths have happened in the ring. Owen Hart's wasn't "in the ring", strictly speaking; it was a stunt more closely related to mountain climbing than wrestling. I know, splitting hairs, but really, his death was not the same as a spot in a wrestling match gone wrong. I know of a whopping four deaths, off the top of my head, that either happened in the ring, or as a result of actions in the ring. There's Plum Mariko, who had a brain abscess from prior injuries that ruptured on a routine Ligerbomb, triggering a fatal brain bleed. Mitsuharu Misawa is believed to have died from a spinal cord injury off of a belly-to-back suplex (his family won't allow the medical examiner's ruling to be released, but the circumstantial evidence is strong enough). There's Gary Albright, who collapsed in the ring and died hours later; he was found post-mortem to have diabetes, an enlarged heart AND several blocked coronary arteries. And last but not least, Ted DiBiase's father Mike had a heart attack while in the ring and died on the way to the hospital. No ladders, no cage matches, no crazy stunts; either health or unfortunate circumstances.

So, bottom line, yeah, there might be some worry, but the statistics bear it out; injury is far, far more likely than death. So why get extra-worried about the least likely of scenarios instead of the daily dangers of the job?

Okay, a series of questions from Axl from Paris, and… it starts off with a question about a dead guy. What the hell?

1. Do you know if Vince had planned to create a Hall of Fame before Andre died, or was it something of a spontaneous emotional decision? With the WWF expanding worldwide at the time, it seems logical that they would do anything they could to appear a massive company with a huge history, so my guess is that they probably had the idea before my fellow Frenchman André passed away, but I didn't read anything on that subject...

No. It was made pretty much to honor Andre The Giant, since he was the one and only inductee when it was created in 1993. Besides, at the time, WWF wasn't expanding; the crash was really taking shape at this point. This was more a posthumous tip of the hat to an industry icon, one of the few that the Fed had been on good terms with at the time.

2. Why did the Hall of Fame go on a eight-year hiatus between 1996 and 2004? You probably already have answered that question, but I hope you will do it again, since I can't find a decent explanation on line. It went on a fine start, with 22 inductees in the years 1994-1996, after the first year when Andre was the first man in. So why did it stop for so long, and why did Vince decide to do it again in 2004?

I can't find any definitive reason outright, and if Vince or anybody associated has said so, feel free to correct me, readers. But I think if you look at the pieces of the puzzle we do have, I think you can get an idea.

First, the WWF/E was in full-on crash mode in 1996. The house show circuit was flatlining, PPV rates were in the toilet, Nitro was embarrassing Raw with giving away results and other guerilla tactics, and Shawn Michaels wasn't drawing like they'd hoped. They'd just lost Hall and Nash, and we know what that led to. Bret was on sabbatical. WWF was concerned about keeping the doors open and the lights on; celebrating history just wasn't important, since they were on the precipice of becoming history.

Second, WWF didn't own every video library and trademark under the sun like they do now. Wrestling's history was still politically fragmented. They couldn't go inducting Harley Race or Dusty Rhodes or Nick Bockwinkel when these guys weren't on the payroll. They had a limited pool of legends to draw on, and as far as their own history goes, they were on the verge of tapping the well dry.

And that speaks to the last part of the puzzle: anybody else worth inducting was either on somebody else's roster (Hogan, Savage), on bad terms (Sammartino) or, in the case of Backlund, still semi-active on TV at a time when WWF was openly making fun of WCW's aging main eventers.

Put that all together, and you have some good reasons why the HOF came to a screeching halt.

Now, as for why it picked up again? Again, I haven't seen hard data to say why, but I think it's equal parts that they were in a position to start showing reverence for the past (i.e., they owned most of it), and it was a new cash revenue stream. DVD set tie-ins, another show on the schedule, more content for the Wrestlemania DVD so they can raise the price a couple bucks … never underestimate Vince McMahon's ability to find a way to make a buck.

3. Also (and you probably already answered that as well), why don't they build a museum or something like that around the Hall of Fame concept? It could be on permanent location in Stamford, or on special display only during the Wrestlemania weekend, but I'm sure people would love to have a physical WWE Hall of Fame museum to go to (and the WWE could maybe sell some nice merch as well [insert Koko B. Ware joke here]). Thanks a lot for your fantastic column!

It's been in discussion for years. Two things seem to be roadblocks: location and the popularity of the sport. American football can get away with having their Hall Of Fame in a smaller town like Canton, Ohio instead of New York or Los Angeles, because it's football. Nothing draws like football in the USA, so people will make the journey, regardless of destination, to see the NFL HOF. But pro wrestling? It's already a niche product, so the audience is far less than "legit" sports. To put it in a non-destination city like Stamford would be a death knell. If you put it in NYC, or attach it to an established tourist destination like a theme park, it'll stand a better chance. But again, you have to find a location willing to harbor it, and you have to have a steady stream of people willing to go there. Easier said than done.

Okay, let's try to lighten the mood … we have Connor Watson. Whatcha got for me, Connor?

Whatever happened to Bad News Brown and why did he leave the wwf? guy was a nasty bastard and a tough loner, he was stone cold before stone cold

Sigh. Is this a rib, Sforcina?

Well, Bad News would claim later on in life that Vince McMahon had promised to make him the first black world champion. After waiting two years for that to happen, Bad News finally had enough and quit the company after Summerslam 1990. Obviously, we only have his word to go on, so take that for what you will. After that, he did indie work in the States and Japan. After he retired in 1999, he did some teaching at a wrestling school and worked as a mall security guard.

Sadly, he passed away in 2007 from a heart attack. So, yeah, the story ends there. And I have no segue. Awkward.

Maybe this next question from Tom R will break the streak.

What was the deal with the WCW International title (big gold belt) when there was already a WCW World title? I believe Masa Chono won the International title in Japan but it was eventually defended and lost in America. Was WCW planning on having two separate titles or having a brand extension (pre WWE days)? WVW had so many titles during that time period.

Well, at least we've moved from dead people to a dead promotion. Still, the general theme is starting to creep me out.

Okay, I'm warning you now: this gets convoluted, as WCW matters are wont to do. Remember, none of what I'm about to tell you is made up. Not a word.

Up to 1993, WCW was still associated with the NWA. Now, back in '91, when Ric Flair bolted for the WWF with the championship, WCW stripped him of said championship right away. But the NWA didn't, until Flair actually appeared on TV with it. This minor gap in reaction time caused a schism in the title lineage. WCW would fill the vacancy at the universally reviled Great American Bash '91 with Lex Luger, while the NWA would wait until '92 (for … reasons?) and allow New Japan to use their G1 Climax tournament to crown the new NWA World Champion, which Masahiro Chono won. Both titles would be defended on WCW television and treated as separate but equal until 1993. With me so far?

Then the infamous WCW Disney tapings happened, and things got complicated. Err, more complicated than previous.

The WCW Disney tapings are notorious for the damage they did to the promotion's sanctity and sanity, mainly because they taped months in advance. This meant that they would sometimes tape new people holding championship belts, defending belts and even losing belts that hadn't been won (or lost) on live TV yet. So, in the course of the tapings, Rick Rude was scheduled to win the NWA World Championship from Ric Flair, but word of the tapings got back to the NWA, and they flipped their shit. The breaking of kayfabe by the reveals from these tapings was a step too far in their minds, not to mention that WCW was refusing to allow the NWA Champion to defend the belt in other NWA promotions. The NWA confronted WCW, and WCW's rational response to the NWA's logical objections was … to withdraw from the NWA. And since they still owned the Big Gold Belt, they could do what they wanted with it.

Except, obviously, call it the NWA World Championship.

So, after an awkward period of calling it the "World Heavyweight Championship" (a generic name it would use twice more in the Big Gold Belt's rather bizarre lineage), the WCW braintrust decided to invent "WCW International", with its own board of directors, and its own representative championship, to justify the second world championship's existence. Because the "World" in World Championship Wrestling didn't get the point of being a worldwide company over properly.



There were no plans for a brand extension. It was created out of a Wrestlecrap-ish chain of events, sputtered along for another year, and then got unified with the proper WCW World Championship at Clash Of The Champions XXVII, where the reigning champion at the time (Sting) lost, but the winner of the match (Ric Flair) used the loser's belt as to symbolize the unified titles. Why? Because WCW.

Adam Wright has questions. LOTS AND LOTS OF QUESTIONS. And they're all about tape libraries of dead promotions. I'm feeling set up here.

Hi i have several questions about the WWE network and the footage shown on it, i've tried to make it eaiser for you by splitting it into two sections, for fact and opinion questions,.

The FIRST section are all about WWE buying other tape libraries mainly for use on the Network.

a) What do you feel is the biggest omission to the tape library collection currently held by WWE? (ignoring currently running promotions like TNA/ROH)


Well, here's the thing; once WWE started on their "we must own history" mission, they went about it in a thorough manner. Aside from their own library stretching back to the Capitol Wrestling Corporation days, they have the AWA, Georgia Championship, ECW (both Eastern and Extreme), Memphis Championship (2000-2001), OVW from 1998-2008, Deep South from 05-07, Florida Championship from 2007-2012, Smoky Mountain, Stampede, UPW from 98-07, the Global Wrestling Federation (91-94), WCW, Jim Crockett Promotions and all the promotions it had swallowed up, WCCW and Maple Leaf Wrestling in their vaults. That, really, is every prominent American and Canadian promotion over the past 70 years. There's some some pre-70's NWA stuff missing here and there, but they have the biggest members. Besides, is there really a clamor for, say, Don Owen's Pacific Northwest Wrestling? The only other notable promotion I don't see on the list is the USWA, which last I knew, was tangled up in a Gordian knot of legal issues. So, I guess that'd be the "biggest" omission, but only by default.

Unless IWA Mid-South goes out of business again. Then maybe that too.



b) Do you see WWE ever buying up tape libraries of hardcore garbage wrestling promotions for use on the Network? I'm thinking particularly of XPW and similar promotions.

c) Recently there has been spate of ECW tribute shows such as Hardcore Homecoming & Extreme Rising which seem to have all gone bust around the same time, can you see WWE buying up the rights to their shows for the network?


I combined these, because the answer is the same for both: if (big if) it suits their purpose, yes. Say CZW goes out of business tomorrow. They have footage of Charlie Haas, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Dean Ambrose and whatever name Sami Callahan is going by these days. That could be useful. But to buy it for the sake of doing so? No. And as for the recent ECW stepchildren promotions, I wouldn't count on it. Not like they're rushing to make a Stevie Richards DVD set, or have a week-long tribute to Rhino on the Network. It's ECW guys past their prime, and some indie lifers with minimal-at-best name value.

d) In the 80s/90s there were a lot of short lived women only wrestling companies such as WOW, GLOW, WXW, etc. Can you see WWE ever buying the tape library for these kind of promotions to use on the network.

No. All of, what, one, maybe two women ever got out of there and into a real promotion? Nobody's looking for that Best Of Ivory series on the Network. GLOW is to WWE Divas what Silent Night Deadly Night 2 is to Psycho; a distant third step-cousin twice removed that you try to pretend doesn't exist.

e) Do WWE own any of the OVW tape library from the period that their wrestlers were more than half the roster or is it all owned by Danny Davis?

Answered that above. Just putting this here so nobody says "where's question E?".

f) Who owns the rights for No Holds Barred? If it was WWE i would have expected to see it on the Network long before now.

WWE. It was released on DVD two years ago.

g) After WCW folded, there were a number of short lived wrestling promotions that ran for a few months to a couple of years, such as XWF & WWA, can you see WWE buying the rights to these shows for use on the network? I think Jerry Lawler & Jimmy Hart own the rights to XWF so it shouldn't be too hard to negotiate.

WWE actually did license a match from the XWF for their Hulk Still Rules DVD set. But by and large, I don't think there's a market for either one. You never hear any matches held under those banners heralded as lost classics. And the WWA sort of has ties to the NWA through TNA, in that their world championship was unified with the NWA World Championship while under TNA's banner, as well as their cruiserweight belt being unified with the X Division Championship. That may or may not be a sticking point (hell, I may be the only person who remembers that), but the promotion was in the same boat as XWF; nothing offensive, but nothing special either.

The Second section is about possible shows that could appear on the Network using the footage/people they already have access to, i was hoping for your opinion on these.

1) Hall Of Famer Profiles: Each member of the Hall Of fame gets a hour long documentary, with match footage and talking heads discussing their careers and impact on the business. My interest (and i'm assuming most other fans) isn't for the episodes covering Flair/Hogan/etc but on the other guys who despite being a major part of wrestling history don't have nearly as much written about them, Tito Santana, Sgt Slaughter, James Dudley, and so on.

2) Reclaimed From the Vaults: a series collecting segments and matches that were never aired on tv at all. Stuff like the Blond Bitch Saga & Missy Hyatt's interview segments which were filmed but pulled before showing and the various matches that were filmed for taped shows such as Smackdown however they never saw air either due to the show running long or being a terrible match

3) International Oddities: Over the years the major companies have put on a number of big events in other countries, and the footage was barely broadcast if at all to the rest of the world. Shows like Tribute To The Troops, Battle Royal At The Albert Hall (UK), Global Warning (Aus), Mayhem In Manchester (UK), Xperience (Canada), Millenium Final (Germany) the Kuwaiti Cup Tournaments, Collision in Korea etc.

4) Coliseum Series: All the old Coliseum videos from the 80s, they are already produced and edited so should be easy to load on the Network and they probably have a better nostalgic value than the SNMEs from around the same time.


I think the HOF'er profiles would be best served if done at the time of induction. If you do it on a weekly basis, you're gonna run out of Hall Of Famers in a couple years, three tops. Otherwise, a decent idea.

The Reclaims From The Vaults ideas … eh, not really feeling it. I'm of the opinion there's a reason stuff hits the cutting room floor. Put it this way; you buy a DVD of a movie you really like. It has a second DVD with a bunch of extra or extended scenes that got cut. Unless you are a psychotic film fanatic, do you watch the cut scenes more than once, twice tops? No, of course not. Same principle applies here.

The international shows, I'm going to bet there's very little in the way of fresh matches. Probably a lot of the same matches one might see during the stateside houseshow circuit of the timeframe. I'm sure there's some neurotic completionists out there who simply must see every Dudleys vs. Hardys match out there, but for the most part, the Network's use of older footage is done so people can relive the memories of matches and superstars they love. It's like going to see The Who in concert now; are you there to hear something off their last album, or do you just "Baba O'Riley" and "Pinball Wizard"?

The Coliseum idea, I could see that working. There's a certain, weird nostalgic value to those videos, as cheesy as they were.

Skip has a question, and it's not about dead people or dead promotions! Holy cow, what a revelation!

Hello. I have a question regarding the usage of salt in pro wrestling. We've seen the likes of Mr. Fuji and many others use it effectively in the 80s and 90s and likely in the decades prior. My question- why don't we see it anymore? To me, it's the perfect device in pro wresting. It 1) doesn't really hurt the guy. They use baby powder or something? And 2) it creates a great visual for the audience. Even the guy in the last row can see the huge cloud and know the tide of the match had turned.

So is there a reason we just aren't seeing it anymore? Or has it just phased out over time?


…

I think I'd have rather dealt with another death question.

Two words: politically incorrect. Two more: latent racism.

You can't do the salt gimmick without having the racial context to make it make sense, and in the modern era, said racial gimmick is a stereotype. Fuji, God love him and his commitment to the gimmick, was not a rich, nuanced character. Try that now, and, well … Donald Sterling says hello.

And before anybody jumps to argue with Rusev (severe Russian stereotype) or Santino (sort of an Italian stereotype, mixed with weird developmental deficiencies), allow me to counter with this: they're white. Caucasians are acceptable target in modern society. Hell, we may be the only acceptable target. And R-Truth's cliché black guy who raps gimmick is counteracted by Big E Langston, who doesn't.

Okay, dammit, can we get a question that doesn't involve dead people, extinct promotions or inflammatory topics? No, you know what? That's it. You forced my hand. This column has broken me. I'm injecting a lethal dose of poison into this column!



No, not that kind of poison. That just makes people laugh. No, I have something more sinister in mind. Something far more insidious. Something that will flush this dark, evil toxin out of this column.



You made me do it, column. You made me do it, Sforcina. You brought it on.

Okay, Sulaiman Daud, do me a solid here. Get us back on track.

I'm not sure if you can give a complete answer to this question but I'm gonna try my luck anyway. We all know that Triple H and Shawn Michaels had their clique of friends, looking out for each other backstage and because Shawn was such a valuable champion, Vince went along with their power plays.

Well when business changed and Stone Cold and then The Rock became bigger stars and drew more money than Shawn Michaels ever did, why didn't they use some of their influence to counteract the Kliq's? Maybe they just didn't want to get caught up in backstage politics, but having suffered at the hands of the Kliq (especially The Rock), I find it unlikely they never 'got back' at them as it were.

I'm also thinking of a comment made by someone (whose name escapes me) that there's two mountains in the WWE, Triple H is on one of them trying to push you down and retain his spot, while The Undertaker is on the other reaching down and trying to pull you up to his level. Basically why is it that we never heard of any other group formed in opposition to the Kliq, with Taker's and later Stone Cold/Rock's influence on their side?


They didn't band together because they couldn't; you have the timelines mixed up. Austin didn't have that kind of clout until he ascended to the top of Mt. Untouchable in 1998, during the Austin/McMahon feud, which began in earnest after Shawn Michaels left. Likewise, The Rock didn't get to the summit until later that year, longer still after the Kliq had been broken. The heyday of the Kliq was 94-96, when WWF had all four primary members. Once Nash and Hall left, Shawn was an island unto himself, and his world title run and backstage attitude didn't exactly bolster his political clout. Even if we're talking 1997, Trips had no power except being in Shawn's ear (he was like Toad in the early X-Men comics), and Shawn was in and out of the promotion that year, going on hiatus early, then quitting for a short period in the late spring/early summer. By then, WWF had financial issues on one side, strangely offset with a roster filled with hot talents like The Hart Foundation, Austin, Mankind, Undertaker, The Nation Of Domination, and towards the end of the year, D-X. There was just no room for Shawn to work his arcane magic at the time. Add all that up, and you get a situation where the talent you mentioned didn't spring an uprising because they either didn't have the clout when it was needed, and didn't need to when they did have the clout.

As for Taker, he doesn't really have the history of getting involved in backstage politics. He ran Wrestler's Court and scared the hell out of people by looking at them, and that was the extent of it.

Nightwolfofthewise has a trio of questions about unsigned stars, stars who've walked away, and prodigal sons.

1. With the whole CM Punk situation, why do you think Triple H won't bury the hatchet and try to get him back? I mean He got Bruno Sammartino, Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts, and Hulk Hogan to come back. These were 4 guys who swore up and down they wanted nothing to do with WWE again!

Can't say I ever heard of Jake Roberts not wanting anything to do with the Fed. He just had some problems due to … life choices. But as for Triple H getting CM Punk to talk, it takes two to tango. If you think Trips hasn't picked up the phone at least once a month or shot out an email, I have some oceanside property in Oklahoma to offer you. Punk's made it abundantly clear he doesn't want to talk. Trips can't hold him at gunpoint and make him listen.

2. Recently the WWE passed up an opportunity to sign the Wolves ( Edwards and Richards). How many times has the WWE passed up great talent that they end up regretting later.

Honest, realistic, straight-up answer?

Not once. Not ever.

WWE's still around, right? Are they hurting for main eventers? Okay, I know a bunch of you just cried out "yes", but they CAN make more if they want to, and that's my point. If they're lacking, they can buy them or make them at a moment's notice. If they can't sign this guy, they'll sign that guy, and the wheels will keep on turning. Didn't sign Sting? They got Ultimate Warrior. Didn't get Samoa Joe? Hello, CM Punk. Couldn't keep Goldberg? Batista is the new Goldberg. For every wrestler that the E didn't get, you can find an analogue at the time that's just as good, and more often became a bigger star anyway.

3. Why do you suppose that no matter what happens, everyone comes full circle and ends up back home in the WWE: Bruno Sammartino, Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan, New Age Outlaws, Batista, Jake Roberts, Ultimate Warrior, etc?

There's a line from a very awful movie that sums it up: money talks, and bullshit runs a marathon. For all their posturing and resentment, in the end, they wanna get paid. Nobody puts as many zeroes on a check as Vinnie Mac.

Chris … no frills … just Chris. And he has an idea about a new job position.

This is for the total opinion section, but, if they do not do so already, what are your thoughts about WWE having qualified behaviour analysts on the writing team. these are the sort of people who would KNOW how to manipulate (and I mean that in the good sense) an audience, their reactions, and use that to keep us on the edge of our seats using scenarios that actually make sense on a more base level.

We have heard a lot about "Ring psychology.. but what about a "Booking psychologist"?

Do you see there being benefits to this? or would it take "Sports Entertainment" TOO FAR toward the soap opera side of things?


Those people already exist. They're called "writers".

(Is there an anti-Chandler? If so, imagine it here.)

Hope that didn't sound flippant, but that's what writers are paid to do: manipulate you. Did you shed a tear at the finale of Toy Story 3? Or pump your fist and let out a "fuck yeah!" when John McClane shoots Hans Gruber? Congratulations, you got manipulated. All writing, from Dante and Robert Anton Wilson to Sharknado and Beavis & Butthead is designed to manipulate you into feeling what the writer(s) want you to feel. WWE don't need a "booking psychologist" for that. They just need people who understand the business. Wrestling audiences aren't the vast, complex organism the smartest-guy-in-the-room types want you to believe it is. Give us a logical good versus evil story with consistent characters and logical motivations and the crowd will get behind it. They already tried having a continuity editor once, and that lasted less than a couple months. Adding in somebody whose job it is to micromanage the writers with supposed crowd psychology would just make the creative process even muddier than it already is.

Not to mention, what if the crowd doesn't play along? What if they're the "we'd boo Jesus if he wore skinny jeans" type of crowd (also known as Philadelphia)? Or you get that post-Wrestlemania 29 crowd who got clever and cheered the weirdest stuff? Or you get a dead crowd you didn't expect? Then what? It's just too problematic an idea.

Okay, now for the one question that got sent to me directly. Well, two questions in one email. But you know what I mean. Oh, just forget it, take it away, Tyler Hope.

1. Has a wrestler ever forgot to kick out and the ref had no choice but to make the 3 count?

I'm not sure those kind of records are really kept. You find out about the occasional botched ending through the dirt sheets (showing my age with that phrase), but I've not heard a ref come out and say "[wrestler X] blew the ending when he forgot to kick out". The most notably botched match endings I can think of – the Hardcore Title Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 2000 and Mickie James' one-hour WWE Women's Championship reign – ending up being the ref's mistake (Mickie James) and poor clock management (WM2K). Can't say I've heard of one where it was solely on the wrestler. Besides, I'd assume the ref, knowing the ending, would find a way to stop the count, stall for time, and get everybody on the same page. That's their job: match coordinator. But if I'm wrong, somebody correct me in the comments.

2. Just got back from WNC's final show in Japan the other day. Do you think Tajiri has any shot at the WWE HOF?

The problem with answering this question is that WWE's Hall Of Fame doesn't operate like other Halls Of Fame. All of them – from the NFL to MLB to the Rock ‘n' Roll Hall Of Fame – govern their inductees partially on politics, but by and large, there are statistical achievements or milestone requirements one must clear first. League championships, records, consistent excellence in their given calling; all these can and are measured in the HOF consideration process.

But WWE's HOF doesn't operate like that. Having a championship resume doesn't guarantee admission (see Savage, Randy, or Stasiak, Stan), but it doesn't exclude you either (see Ware, Koko B.). Tommy Rich is a former NWA World Champion and his feud with Buzz Sawyer is considered one of the greatest feuds ever, but he's not in there. Meanwhile, Jake Roberts, who never once main-evented a pay-per-view under the WWF banner and never held a championship there, is in there. How does Sunny get in for jumping from one set of tag champs to another, but Elizabeth – manager of a WWF Champion and the centerpiece of main event angles for seemingly half the 80's and into the 90's too – doesn't? Politics. In large part, it's about who the Fed is good with, and who is willing to cash the modest appearance fee paycheck. Yes, we can point to certain people – your John Cenas, your Undertakers, your Triple Hs – and know that, barring some kind of Jeff Jarrett-esque meltdown, they're first-ballot inductees. But when you drill down to where the Dolph Zigglers and D'Lo Browns and One Man Gangs live, it gets a lot harder to separate wheat from chaff, because there's no established (or even unofficial but universally agreed upon) measuring stick.

So, having said all that, does Tajiri have what it takes? As much as I liked him (more for his ECW run), I don't see it. Yes, he held championships, which achievement-wise puts him ahead of "The Birdman" … but Koko was a family-friendly living cartoon character and a colorful keystone of the Rock & Wrestling era, even if his win-loss record is hardly the stuff legends are made of. The championship runs Tajiri had, he wasn't booked like a champion; he was booked like a guy who had a championship, if that makes sense. He was involved in some notable angles – the Regal/Tajiri pairing springs to mind – but the angles aren't memorable. They just have no resonance, either good or bad; they just happened. Tajiri exists in this weird middle ground where he had enough talent and cachet to keep his job and even make some hay out of it, but not enough to make him matter. Put it this way: take Jake Roberts out of WWF in the 80's, and there's a noticeable hole in the line-up, right? Take Tajiri out of the roster in his time period, and you can fill that hole with twenty other people on the roster without missing a beat.

Now, all that being said, maybe there's a year where they have a thin HOF class, or they want some international representation. Off the top of my head, their Asian nominees amount to Inoki and Fuji (and Fuji was born in Hawai'i, so that's borderline). And it's not like they've had a lot of Chinese or Japanese workers in their company's history to begin with, let alone ones who've made an impact. So maybe Tajiri could get in based solely on racial diversity necessities and a thin history of Asian performers. Or they could just really like him and he takes the money. But if we're talking non-kayfabe, judging on merit alone, no. I don't see it.

Next, we have a guy with the all-too-common handle of Scrippity Dippity Canola Oil Catfish, asking about that most peaceful of souls, Jim Cornette.

I was just curious if there was any present day heat between the WWE and Jim Cornette. Let me rephrase that. Jim Cornette hates everybody. But was the WWE, namely Vince McMahon have any ill will towards Cornette? I would think that Cornette could be a HOF candidate in the near future, but he also seems like the kind of guy who would turn it down just to be spiteful. Do you see him being inducted any time soon? And if so, who would do the induction?

Corny should be in the Hall Of Fame, no doubt. But Cornette's biggest problem is himself. He has not only no filter, he has no desire to try to filter himself. This lack of social graces led to his firing from WWE. Back in 2005, Cornette was working down in OVW. During a live event, a student (who would go on to become Santino Marella) broke out in laughter while facing The Boogeyman. This grievous breaking of kayfabe (since he was supposed to be scared of Boogey, not amused) vexed Cornette, so he hauled off and pimp-slapped the future Santino as some kind of object lesson. He was, and as far as I know still is, unapologetic about the incident. WWE did not take too kindly to corporal punishment and he was suspended, and later fired, because of it. He's gone on record with less than positive things to say about the promotion in general and Vince McMahon in specific in the ensuing years.

Now, I did say previously something about money's verbal skills and the ambulatory ability of cow manure, and that holds true … 99.999999999999999999% of the time. In my opinion, Corny's that .00000000000000000001 exception. He never says anything less than what he believes, and he's a man of staunch, if quaint and outdated, principles. If he kisses and makes up, hey, I'm wrong. But I'd put a steak dinner on Corny turning into a purple grizzly bear that shits Ferraris before he mends fences with Vince.

If the impossible happens and he does get inducted, I'd think Dennis Condry and/or Bobby Eaton would do the honors. Or, if they wanna be ironic, Ricky Morton and/or Robert Gibson.

And with that, I think I've fulfilled my obligations. Just want to say again it's been a pleasure, hope I lived up to expectations (or at least didn't send your fingers scrambling for the back button) … who knows, maybe I'll get the chance to do it again, or maybe appear in a Fact or Fiction … well, until next ti--

Wait. What? There's one more question in the mailbag?

Okay, fine. What's one more gonna hurt? Let's see, jayzhoughton, you get the honor of closing up shop tonight. Make it good.

Chances of the Chris Benoit tribute show ever making the air/dvd sets (the raw after they found Benoit dead but before the details came out). I mean they've said they're not editing footage anymore and if they put a complete set of raw up it has to be there but at the same time I'm guessing they regret airing it and would guess that will never see the light of day.



Sforcina, if you ever have a son, I hope his dog gets run over while he waits for the ice cream truck.

The chances are somewhere between the square root of -1 and absolute zero.

I know, I'm mixing mathematical metaphors, but there's only so many ways to say "not a chance in hell" and be clever about it.

It's one thing to air Slamboree '98 or Royal Rumble '01 and not edit out Chris Benoit matches. It's another thing to air three uninterrupted hours of programming that amount to a eulogy for a man who would later be proven a murderer. No, that episode of Raw will never see the light of day. To paraphrase a line from a sitcom, they'll bury it with a shovel and then bury the shovel.

And that's precisely what I'm doing with this column now. Hope you enjoyed it. Sforcina will be back next week to bring this column back around. I hope he gets hit with nothing but long, statistical questions that take hours of research. Sick bastard … last time I do a favor for him …





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