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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Wrestlemania Match Times, Scaffolds, and Race in Wrestling!
Posted by Ryan Byers on 08.22.2014

Good afternoon, professional wrestling fans!

My name is Ryan Byers, and I am filling in for your good friend and mine Mathew Sforcina as he and Iron Jay travel to London to put on a Super Wrestling Heroes birthday party for Prince Harry of Wales.

I am not only here this week, but I am also filling in for Mat next week as well, so, if you've got some question that you would like me specifically answer as opposed to our favorite Aussie, feel free to shoot them over to ryanonrasslin@hotmail.com.

That said, it's time to make like Bruce and hit the BANNER~!

And what's a good banner without a good Twitter?



I'm running up on my deadline, so let's just head straight into the questions . . .

Questions, Questions, Who's Got the Questions?

I'm not a big fan of video games, but one of my three or four all-time favorites wrote in with this question. Yes, it's Katamari Damacy:

What the average time spent on in-ring action per Wrestlemania?

Non-in-ring action would be things like pointless skits, elaborate entrances, celebrity cameos, video packages, and other things that aren't in-ring action.

If you could also separate the time spent on elaborate entrances and video packages, then we'd be able to filter how much actual non-wrestling related BS occurs at Wrestlemania.

Would it be possible to do WM 1-10, then WM 11-20, then WM 21-30? I would like to know if time spent on in-ring action has increased or decreased over the years or if the averages change through the eras.

I went into this question really not knowing what the data would be, but it turns out that, with a few anomalies, the amount of wrestling on Wrestlemania has been surprisingly consistent over the years.

The total amount of in-ring time on every show is listed below. First, though, a couple of notes regarding how I compiled these times: First, I did not go back and time every Wrestlemania match myself. I relied on match times provided by third parties. Second, I included only matches on the Wrestlemania card proper, no dark matches, Free for All Matches, Sunday Night Heat matches, or other pre-show show matches. Finally, before adding them up, I rounded all match times up or down to the nearest minute.

With all of that said, the times are:

Wrestlemania - 62 minutes
Wrestlemania II - 84 minutes
Wrestlemania III - 85 minutes
Wrestlemania IV - 115 minutes
Wrestlemania V - 110 minutes
Wrestlemania VI - 100 minutes
Wrestlemania VII - 117 minutes
Wrestlemania VIII - 85 minutes
Wrestlemania IX - 90 minutes
Wrestlemania X - 92 minutes
Wrestlemania XI - 81 minutes
Wrestlemania XII - 116 minutes
Wrestlemania XIII - 105 minutes
Wrestlemania XIV - 86 minutes
Wrestlemania XV - 81 minutes
Wrestlemania XVI - 124 minutes
Wrestlemania XVII - 126 minutes
Wrestlemania XVIII - 117 minutes
Wrestlemania XIX - 134 minutes
Wrestlemania XX - 143 minutes
Wrestlemania XXI - 107 minutes
Wrestlemania XXII - 119 minutes
Wrestlemania XXIII - 102 minutes
Wrestlemania XXIV - 106 minutes
Wrestlemania XXV - 114 minutes
Wrestlemania XXVI - 113 minutes
Wrestlemania XXVII - 106 minutes
Wrestlemania XXVIII - 118 minutes
Wrestlemania XIX - 114 minutes
Wrestlemania XXX - 119 minutes

The first Wresltemania is clearly the outlier in terms of featuring the least bell-to-bell wrestling, but that is likely because the company hadn't come up with any sort of "formula" for the show yet. Wrestlemania II saw an uptick to between 80 and 85 minutes of wrestling, which has been the minimum for Wrestlemania ever since.

The way the numbers are distributed, it is difficult to come up with patterns or rationale for why the amount of wrestling on a card has changed from year-to-year. However, it does appear that, ever since Wrestlemania XXV, the company has come to the conclusion that right about two hours of proper wrestling on a four hour show is what the fans will accept. Prior to that, in my opinion, it seems that the amount of man-on-man action on the show correlates at least somewhat with the strength of the roster at the time and/or the overall booking philosophy at the time.

For example, the first three Wrestlemanias are among the three that feature the least amount of wrestling. This makes sense to me, because wrestling on PPV (or actually closed circuit television as was the case with most Mania I and II viewers) was still a relatively new concept and house shows/live gates were still the way the company made most of its money. Therefore, just seeing a wrestling show in this manner was the real "attraction" to fans, and you didn't have to give away a lot of the action that you were hoping people would buy tickets for when the promotion came to their city.

After that, as pay per view became more established and turned into a larger revenue stream for the WWF, the amount of wrestling went up over ninety minutes for the most part and it dipped down to around 80 minutes for Wrestlemania XI when the promotion's roster was perhaps at its all-time weakest. Wrestlemania XII's number probably would have looked similar if not for the Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels Iron Man match, which at sixty minutes plus a brief overtime literally provided over half of the wrestling action on the card. Wrestlemanias XIV and XV were also low in the grand scheme of things and, even though there was a better roster than the time of Mania XI, this was during the height of the Attitude Era and Vince Russo's "Crash TV" booking, when in-ring action was deemphasized across the board, on both television and pay per view. Meanwhile, the Manias with the most wrestling, XIX and XX, occurred during periods when the roster in terms of in-ring talent was absolutely STACKED due to the recent acquisition of WCW and to a lesser degree ECW.

So, there you have it. In selecting a Wrestlemania to watch, I would personally focus on the quality of the in-ring action over the quantity, but those are the numbers for whoever may want them.

Eric has an opinion question, but I'll allow it up here in this section because he packaged it with two more factual questions:

1) Do wrestlers have a scheduled time to do a quick run through in the ring in the arena before a PPV or big show, or is it first come first serve? I've noticed in a few documentaries wrestlers appear to be running through a few spots in the ring when the arena is still empty. Are these walk throughs scheduled throughout the day or is it up to the wrestlers?

I have never heard of wrestlers having scheduled pre-show times to work through spots. I am aware of wrestlers working out in the ring generally before the shows begin, but, even when I've heard that discussed in interviews by wrestlers, I've heard it discussed much more in terms of general "working out" than I have in terms of guys who are wrestling later in the evening working on specific spots for their specific matches.

There *are* some historic examples of big-time matches, particularly when they involve non-wrestlers or part-time wrestlers making a comeback, being "rehearsed" almost completely in full at scheduled times before the proper card. However, those are very rare, and they're typically occurring days and weeks before the show in offsite locations as opposed to in the ring immediately before the card begins.

2) How often has a hot crowd (like Chicago, Toronto, Boston or Philly) determined a wrestler's push, only to be de-pushed as a result due to a shitty live crowd? Dolph's title win over ADR on RAW was just amazing as the crowd absolutely erupted. I can see how quickly Vince and co. may have lost faith in being influenced by the dead crowds in the weeks that followed. The WWE has to understand that not every part of the WWE universe is going to be as active as Boston right? How often do these dead fish crowds influence a wrestler dropping down a few spots?

My personal opinion is that one or two hot or cold crowd reactions almost never determine a wrestler's push. It would be stupid, knee-jerk booking to do so, because: 1) in order for a guy to truly be considered over, the reactions should be sustained across many cities and 2) crowd reaction is really only one of many metrics that should be used in terms of determining who to push, with others including skill, reliability/professionalism, television ratings, and merchandise sales.

However, that's not to say that crowd reactions aren't occasionally used to justify pushing or not pushing a particular wrestler or concept. In most cases, though, it appears that they are used to support conclusions that people wanted to reach anyway as opposed to providing objective support for a rational decision. Perhaps the biggest and best example of this is the Seattle audience that sat on its hands for the Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell match for the WCW Title that main evented Monday Night Raw, which, according to the popular story, caused Vince McMahon to completely pull the plug on establishing WCW as a separate entity and instead kick-starting the Invasion storyline.

Yes, the reaction was a remarkably flat one, and the story about Vince basing his decision to shut down WCW on it is one that has been repeated so often by credible sources that it has to be at least partially true. I have a hard time believing, though, that the decision to pull the plug wasn't one that wasn't already being contemplated on some level.

3) When I see Dean Ambrose, I am immediately reminded of Brian Pillman, but with the IT factor of Stone Cold. With scripts and creative and such pretty much determining just *how* over they *let* a wrestler get, what do you believe the chances of Ambrose are as a top guy main eventing in the company?

I don't see nearly as much in Ambrose as you do. Yes, he's very good, but comparing him to Steve Austin, who was one of the biggest stars, most charismatic performers, and best promos in literally the entire 150 or so years of professional wrestling history, is a bit of a stretch.

I also think that the idea that a promotion only "letting" a guy get so over being a recent development is a fallacy. There are some examples of guys who overcome a bad push to become legitimate superstars or even cult favorites, but the fact of the matter is that the promoter has always been the ultimate gatekeeper in terms of who is going to be a major name. The success of Bruno Sammartino, Steve Austin, or Hulk Hogan was every bit as "manufactured" by the promotion as the success of John Cena, because the company got behind those guys and they wouldn't have been nearly as important to the history of the business without that corporate push.

With all of that said, what do I think the chances are of Dean Ambrose being a main eventer? I think that he's got a shot given his charisma and in-ring talent, but I think that he will be held back somewhat by his look and potentially also by the material he's given. In terms of his look, his physique is good and athletic but inherently lacks some of the mass that WWE likes to see in its top guys, and having a thinning head of hair at age 28 won't help him out unless he changes that aspect of his look or magically transforms into Hulk Hogan. Also, he is walking a fine line with the "crazy man" gimmick, and, depending on how he plays it and how the writers write it, he could be transformed into too much of a comedy figure to be in a tippy-top slot.

I guess if I had to put a number on it, I'd say his odds of becoming a main eventer are, at this point, greater than 50% but somewhere less than 80%. He definitely has more potential than I ever would have attributed to other internet darlings like Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston, but he's also fairly well removed from being a sure shot.

Brillo (I'm a big fan of his pads) also has two fact-based questions followed up by asking for my damn opinion:

What was the deal with the series of Tim White attempted suicide videos that ran on the E's website a few years ago? Think it was about 2006. I recall they were quite entertaining but what was the point? Was there supposed to be a follow up angle or something?

The original skit aired during the 2005 Armageddon pay per view, which was headlined by a Hell in a Cell match between Randy Orton and the Undertaker as part of their lengthy feud. The purpose of the skit was, in addition to providing some dark comedy, to put over how the Cell match could ruin people's lives and careers. In storyline, White was suicidal because he was no longer able to act as a WWE referee due to an injury that he suffered during one of the matches.

Believe it or not, that storyline had a basis in reality. When White refed HIAC between Chris Jericho and Triple H in 2002, he legitimately and severely injured his shoulder. He was on the shelf for almost two years and quickly reinjured himself upon returning, at which point it was decided that his in-ring career needed to come to an end.

From there, the company decided to turn the storyline into comedic fodder for a series of skits. A couple of them ran on TV, but they very quickly became exclusive to WWE.com. There was not supposed to be any follow-up that I am aware of. It was just something that somebody thought was a joke worth telling time and time again.

How many referee-turned-wrestler characters have there been in the mainstream/large promotions? Who are they and did any of them enjoy much success?

There have been several, though none of them have really lit the world on fire when they've begun their in-ring careers.

Perhaps the most noteworthy of fans for my generation is "Dangerous" Danny Davis, who played a crooked referee in the WWF for several months during 1986 before being suspended from refereeing in January of 1987. He continued as an on-air character through Wrestlemania III, where he officially turned into a wrestler for the six man tag against the British Bulldogs and Tito Santana in which Davis teamed up with the Hart Foundation. He wrestled for approximately two years, mostly as opening-match and lower card fodder, before returning to a referee's role and continuing to serve in that position through the early 1990s.

Interestingly, Davis is one of the few referees turned wrestler who almost legitimately WAS a referee turned wrestler. He began his career in professional wrestling as part of the ring crew and worked his way into refereeing, then learning how to wrestle a bit while on the road with the company. He portrayed the masked jobber Mr. X while also refereeing for a couple of years.

The WWF/WWE has only done this gimmick one other time that I'm aware of, and it's one that the majority of the current readership of this site is probably well aware of: Brad Maddox. Maddox had been wrestling in WWE's developmental leagues for quite some time before debuting on the main roster as a referee, and, ultimately, he became a more prominent part of the show in October 2012 when he low blowed Ryback as the Big Guy was going for the WWE Championship in a match against CM Punk. Originally Maddox was portrayed as a hungry young kid trying to create an opportunity for himself, and he was given a series of matches in which he could supposedly earn a contract if he won. He was destroyed in all of them, and ultimately it was revealed his turn on Ryback was a plan orchestrated by Paul Heyman as opposed to Maddox acting on his own.

Eventually, he was made Raw general manager and never really became a full-time wrestler on the main roster. Currently, he's trapped in a cave or something.

Based on research that I did to answer this question, TNA seems to be in love with this sort of angle for whatever reason, having done it three times in the span of roughly four years. The first of those was with Canadian wrestler Shane Sewell, who had been a top heel for almost ten years in Puerto Rican promotions IWC and WWA. He was brought into TNA as a referee in 2008, and it seemed to be the plan from the beginning to transition him to a wrestler, but it didn't have legs and he fizzled out after a couple of feuds with Daivari and Booker T. Then, in late 2010, Eric Bischoff's son Garrett debuted as referee Jackson James, with his real name being revealed and a new role as a wrestling being given to him about a year later. He was out of the company by the end of 2013 without making any real impression on anybody. In 2012 headed into 2013, Taryn Terrell, better known to WWE fans as former ECW on Sci-Fi general manager Tiffany, was a referee for the company's women's division who ultimately became a wrestler due to a beef with Gail Kim.

Interestingly, even Japanese wrestling has seen the occasional referee transitioning into a role as wrestler. Big Japan Wrestling's Atsushi Ohashi attempted to train to be a wrestler but was told he was too small. He refereed for a while and kept training, ultimately becoming a lower card wrestler for the promotion. Here he is working a comedy match against Japanese indy stalwart GENTARO in which there are seven referees assigned to the match because . . . reasons.

And something for the opinion section while I'm at it if you don't mind... I've recently become a daddy for the first time. What's a good age to introduce my kid to wrestling?

First off, congratulations!

Second off, a disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form a parent, nor do I even really have all that much experience interacting with children. As such, I am probably one of the single least qualified people that you could ask about this subject (though I'm still answering the question, because I don't know that Sforcina would be any better with it).

Ultimately, I think the decision depends on your specific child. You're going to watch him/her grow and develop and are likely to have a better sense than anybody of what he/she will be able to handle and at what age. However, if we're going to speak in generalities, I think that you can introduce a child into wrestling fairly early on if you're introducing them to the right product. For example, CHIKARA has superhero-esque characters that are tailor-made for children and intentionally stays away from extreme elements in its storylines, so I could see introducing a kid to a product like that as young as six or seven.

As far as mainstream wrestling is concerned, it's difficult because mainstream American wrestling almost universally teaches violence as a means of conflict resolution, which can send the wrong message to impressionable children. Make sure your child is at an age or maturity level where he/she can draw clear lines between fantasy and reality before you head in that direction.

Of course, children of all ages love Super Wrestling Heroes birthday parties. You should introduce your child to that form of wrestling early and often.

I wish Night Wolf the Wise had some double letters in his name so that I could make the obvious joke:

Why does Jeff Jarett believe that he can still compete with WWE? I mean TNA was his creation and turned into a has been company like WCW did towards its end. So why try again?

I can't be entirely certain because of the age that some of these questions have on them due to the mailbag filling up, but I assume this question has to do with the Global Force Wrestling organization that Jarrett is reportedly starting up.

Honestly, I have never heard Jeff Jarrett say that it is his intention to compete with WWE or his belief that he can compete with WWE. Not everybody who makes a movie is trying to compete with the numbers of Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, and not everybody who makes a television show does so with the impression that they're going to match the viewership of The Walking Dead. Some people just want to make a living in their genre of the entertainment industry, and you don't necessarily have to be number one in order to do that.

I'm not Jeff Jarrett, and I can't get into his head, but that's what any rational businessperson would be thinking about finding a spot in the professional wrestling industry these days.

Stephen has two tangentially related questions about Hulk Hogan.

I was thinking the other day about the old WCW/NWO angle. Obviously the Starrcade main event was built up when Sting came back in '97, maybe even really started the build at War Games in '96. Obviously in this long build, Sting was protected by not wrestling at all. Hulk Hogan, though, who was in his mid to late 40s if I remember right, was competing regularly, risking injury, which obviously didn't happen and ruin the whole angle (they waited for the match to do that). My question on this is twofold. First, did WCW have any sort of contingency plan if either guy had gotten hurt? Second, this one is specifically about Hogan. Obviously he'd take time off for his "stellar" movie and TV career, but I can't recall him ever having a layoff due to a legit injury. Did Hulk Hogan somehow wrestle almost 30 years without ever getting legit hurt and needing a layoff?

There was no contingency plan for Hogan/Sting that I'm aware of. Really, there didn't have to be much of a contingency plan, if you think about it. The match was super-hot, and it was only made hotter by dragging the build out further and further. In fact, the plan wasn't Hogan vs. Sting at Starcade '97 when the angle started. The original plan was to bring Sting back much earlier, but his brooding in the rafters got so over with fans that they decided to extend it out until Starcade. So, if you really had a problem where Hogan was hurt and couldn't compete, you could just find a way to stretch things out by a few more months.

I also think that you're overstating it when you say that Hogan was "competing regularly." In records that I was able to find online, in the period between Fall Brawl 1996 and Starcade 1997, Hogan wrestled a whopping eighteen times, only slightly more than once per month. So, Hogan was hardly working anything close to a full schedule, and he probably wouldn't even be missed if he took a couple of months off to nurse an injury.

Speaking of Hogan nursing injuries, we move on to question two . . . has Hulk Hogan ever needed to take time off to heal during his career?

Well, there was that one time that Earthquake broke his ribs in 1990 and forced him to take a sabbatical . . .

Hm, I guess Mat isn't the only one taking a vacation.

You're right, Hogan has missed only a limited amount of time strictly due to injury. However, you have to keep in mind that wrestling was very different when the Hulkster was on the top of the game and you have to keep in mind that he was not your average professional wrestler in terms of scheduling.

In the 1980s when Hogan was on top of the WWF and working a full schedule as a wrestler, the mentality was that you worked through just about every injury imaginable unless you were dead. So, there were certain bumps, bruises, and perhaps even muscle tears that would keep a wrestler off for at least a couple of weeks nowadays that Hogan just worked through. Also, Hulk was in a position where he could get away with doing less for a greater reaction because of his positioning as the biggest star in the business. So, if he was having a rough night and scheduled to work, he could get by with just an axe bomber and lifting his leg up for a big boot, and people would still be thrilled so long as they got to see him flex at the end of the night.

Also, due to his celebrity outside of wrestling, the Hulkster got some hiatuses for reasons other than "injuries" that would have the side benefit of allowing him to heal. Any time he filmed a major role in a motion picture, he would be out of competition for at least a few weeks if not months, and, if he was recovering from injuries during that time, he got to hide it by publicly saying that he was off the road for the picture.

Perhaps the best example of Hogan actually being taken down by an injury and unable to compete came in 1999, where he took time off to have knee surgery after a four-way title match at Spring Stampede against Ric Flair, Sting, and Diamond Dallas Page with Randy Savage as special guest referee. Sometimes this gets reported as resulting from an injury that occurred during the match, but the fact of the matter is that Hogan being hurt and having to walk out due to a spot in the match was a work, though he did have legitimate knee problems that needed to be addressed.

However, the very small number of times throughout his lengthy career that the Hulkster was legitimately sidelined is still impressive.

Jeremiah is running rings around me:

Odd question, but I'm curious about it. Am I correct in assuming that in Vince's purchases of WCW and ECW that he got their rings, too? Because I noticed that the first One Night Stand used the smaller 18x18 ring with cable ropes that those two companies utilized, while the '06 version and WWECW relaunch always used the standard 20x20 real-rope WWE ring. I'm just wondering if they had the smaller ring readily available for the show or if they would have had to go and rent one from a local indy fed.

I don't know about ECW, but I know from hearing various interviews that WWE did in fact receive WCW's rings when they bought out that company. If I'm not mistaken, several of them were sold off or given away. I'm not 100% and can't find the original source, but I'm fairly confident that I remember hearing Les Thatcher stating at one point that he procured at least one WCW ring for his wrestling school, which at one point tied into the Heartland Wrestling Association, an indy promotion and former WWE developmental territory.

Whether the 18x18 ring used at the first One Night Stand was an original ECW ring or an 18x18 picked up somewhere else is anybody's guess, but WWE does have large warehouses at which various items it has acquired throughout its history are stored, sometimes for years, so it is theoretically possible.

Brad M. is getting high:

Who came up with the scaffold match? How many were there? Was the scaffold match where Cornette destroyed his knee the last one?

I have heard Jerry Jarrett (Jeff Jarrett's father) being credited as the inventor of the scaffold match, and he participated in what is commonly referred to as the very first scaffold match, which took place in 1971 in promoter Nick Gulas' wrestling territory in Tennessee. For the record, Jarrett's opponent was Don Greene, one of the area's biggest and baddest legendary heels.

When I hear that the wrestler who participated in a particular type of match is also the guy who "invented" it, I question whether that is actually the case or whether history is confusing reality with kayfabe, since the babyface will oftentimes come up with a unique stipulation as a means of getting revenge against a heel. In this particular case, though, I can't find a good source on the answer as to whether Jerry really came up with the scaffold match or whether that was part of the story building it up.

There have been several scaffold matches over the years. The one that Brad references in his question is probably the most noteworthy one, occurring at Starcade 1986 and pitting the Roadwarriors against the Midnight Express of Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton. After the match came to an end, the Roadies chased MXE's manager, Jim Cornette, up on to the scaffold and ultimately caused him to bump off of it. Cornette's storyline bodyguard, Big Bubba Rogers (the Big Bossman) was supposed to catch him so that he didn't hit the mat, but Rogers misjudged the distance between himself and Corny, causing the manager to plummet the mat and legitimately blow out both of his knees.

However, that was not the last scaffold match. In fact, the match returned the very next year at Starcade, with the Rock n' Roll Express beating the Midnight Express (now with Stan Lane replacing Condrey) at the 1987 version of the show.

Other noteworthy example matches of scaffold matches include:

1. Several in the Tennessee area where the match originated. Some claim that Jarrett and Green actually had more than one scaffold match as part of their early 70s feud, essentially doing one in every major city on the circuit. Bill Dundee also participated in a pair of scaffold matches in Memphis in the 1980s, beating Koko B. Ware in 1983 and Dutch Mantell (now Zeb Colter) in 1984.

2. Also in 1984, the Midnight Express and Rock n' Roll Express had their first scaffold match experience, this one taking place at the New Orleans Superdome for Bill Watts' Mid-South promotion.

3. WCW brought back the scaffold match in 1991, for a seemingly random match of Bobby Eaton and PN News taking on Terry Taylor and Steve Austin at the Great American Bash. The rules were changed for this version, as you no longer had to knock your opponents off the scaffold to win but instead had to capture the opposing team's flag from their side of the scaffold. If you listen to Steve Austin's current podcasts, he has made several references to this match being the worst match of his career.

4. ECW did a relatively famous scaffold match in 1996, pitting Tommy Dreamer against "Prime Time" Brian Lee at a show they called "High Incident." This grew out of a feud in which Lee had previously chokeslammed Dreamer off of a balcony and through a pile of three tables.

5. Speaking of ECW, there were two rather infamous scaffold matches between wrestlers New Jack and Vic Grimes. The first was on ECW's Living Dangerously 2000 event, in which Jack defeated Grimes. This grew out of a 1999 spot in a match that was not a scaffold match proper but involved a bump off of a scaffold. The 1999 bump went very badly, and Jack claims that it was due to Grimes' hesitance to go through it when the time finally came. Jack was on the shelf for a few months and (again according to Jack), Grimes legitimately started bragging about injuring him. As a result of this - again ACCORDING TO NEW JACK - when the two met up again in a scaffold match for the indy promotion XPW in 2001, Jack legitimately tried to kill Grimes by throwing him into a bad landing at the end of the match. If that was what he tried, eh failed.

6. In the last example of a major promotion putting on a scaffold match, WCW brought the gimmick back during Vince Russo's time as booker. At Fall Brawl 2000, in perhaps the world's first and only mixed tag scaffold match, Shane Douglas and Torrie Wilson defeated Billy Kidman and Madusa.

7. TNA has also done a pair of what are essentially scaffold matches that they have billed as "Elevation X." The first such match was Rhyno vs. AJ Styles at Destination X 2007, and the second was Rhyno against James Storm at Destination X 2008.

Jeff is in middle management:

I've been thinking about managers lately, particularly those from the 80s and pre-Attitude 90s. It seems like there were a few who'd always be managing winners and champions, e.g., Jimmy Hart, Bobby Heenan, Sherri. But there were a few who managed wrestler after wrestler who never seemed to win everything. I think of people like Harvey Wippleman, who managed mid- to low level guys, most of whom amounted to little more than jobbers, and Ted Dibiase, who at least during his Million Dollar Corporation phase never managed a champion. My question is, who from any of the major companies could be considered the losingest/worst manager, taking into account things like how often their protégés won or whether they ever held a title?

It would take literally days to come up with an answer to this question based on hard numbers, because, unfortunately, there aren't a lot of sources out there (at least that I'm aware of) that have tracked, for example, managers' win-loss records when managing particular wrestlers or even sources that have recorded which managers managed which wrestlers to champions. The fact that this latter statistic hasn't been tracked surprises me a bit, because it was used from time-to-time on wrestling television shows as a measure of a manager's success.

However, we can take fairly reasonable, educated guesses as to who the most successful managers in history are. Topping the list is a name that many people reading might not think of at first: Arnold Skaaland. Though he wasn't as colourful as the late-1980s and 1990s heel managers that would follow him, Skaaland from the early 1960s through the early 1980s managed both Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund, and he managed them to what WWE acknowledges as the two longest title reigns in company history. (I use the "WWE acknowledges" disclaimer, because Backlund's reign technically should be broken by a loss to Antonio Inoki.) With Skaaland managing these two champions for reigns of roughly six and eight years, it is difficult if not impossible to find a more "winning" manager.

In terms of number of championship victories, the most likely winner is Captain Louis Albano, who managed an impressive fifteen sets of WWF Tag Team Champions, in addition to managing four other wrestlers to singles titles.

My best guess as to losing-est manager might actually be Teddy Long during his Monday Night War era run in WCW. He had essentially what was an entire stable of jobbers, consisting of luminaries such as "Jumping" Joey Maggs, Jim Powers, "Hardwork" Bobby Walker, and the Ice Train.

Connor has two questions about supposedly underutilized talent from the same era:

I love Tito Santana and the workrate, effort and loyalty he brought to the WWF. Did he really need a character change (El Matador)? He became a glorified jobber, why didn't he just stay the same normal character? I don't get it.

During the period where Tito Santana became El Matador, the entire WWF was becoming more cartoonish and over-the-top gimmicks were the order of the day. Santana had already had a fairly substantial run as an upper-midcard character in the Federation in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, so his shelf-life had largely expired and it was time for him to cycle down the card into a less important role. When you're going to be transitioned into a role such as that, you may as well adopt a strong gimmick so that the fans have something to remember you by and get into, because they certainly won't be able to get into you based on your win-loss record.

Besides, the repackaging of Tito Santana worked so well in the early 1990s that, now twenty years later, we've got ourselves . . .

Do you think guys like Hercules, Warlord, Dino Bravo and Barbarian were underutilized? all had great bodies and could put on average to decent power matches.

I think they wound up exactly where they needed to be. The Warlord and Barbarian were legitimately part of a main event level act in Jim Crockett Promotions and other places when they took on the Roadwarriors as their heel equivalent, the Powers of Pain. I realize that some fans looking back now don't see being part of a tag team as "making it" in wrestling, but the Roadies legitimately were stars as big as anybody else in the territories, and being their regular opponents was hardly a role to sneeze at.

As far as Hercules is concerned, he was decent but was never as good as other guys on the roster who filled a similar role. As a face, he was never going to be as good as Hulk Hogan or even the Ultimate Warrior. As a heel, he was never going to be as good as John Studd or King Kong Bundy. Had he come along during a different era, maybe he would have had more opportunities, but, in my opinion, he was used at the right level for the time period during which he was active.

Regarding Dino Bravo, again, he legitimately did get a main event level run when he was in the corner of Earthquake when 'Quake debuted in the WWF and went after Hulk Hogan. If a guy gets an opportunity to work as a foil for the Hulkster during the prime of his career, I have a hard time saying that he could have been used better.

Looking for some indy-sent exposure is Rahil:

How many MLW PPVs and events have there been and is there a link to see all of them. I believe GENESIS (6/15/02) is the first

There were ten MLW events that I could find a record of, many of which were chopped up to air as episodes of the company's short-lived television show, which ran primarily on the Sunshine Network in Florida.

The events were:

MLW Genesis on June 15, 2002, featuring a single elimination tournament to crown the first MLW Heavyweight Champion, which included such competitors as La Parka (original), Shane Douglas, Steve Corino, and Christopher Daniels.

MLW Reloaded on September 26, 2002, including Jerry Lynn facing Satoshi Kojima for the vacant MLW Title and Taiyo Kea against Sabu.

MLW King of Kings on December 20, 2002, with Kojima defending the MLW Title against Vamprio and Sabu against La Parka.

MLW Revolutions on May 9, 2003, including CW Anderson & Simon Diamond against PJ Friedman & "Dr. Death" Steve Williams to crown the first MLW Tag Team Champions, Terry Funk facing Steve Corino, and Raven against CM Punk as part of the feud that first put Punk on the map.

MLW Hybrid Hell on June 20, 2003, headlined by Kojima defending the MLW Title against Mike Awesome and Funk rematching with Corino in a no ropes barbed wire match.

MLW Rise of the Renegades on July 26, 2003, with Corino defending the MLW Title against Awesome and Homicide against Jerry Lynn.

MLW Summer Apocalypse on August 22, 2003, featuring Jerry Lawler of all people coming in to do battle against his old rival Terry Funk, Sabu versus Christopher Daniels, and Jimmy Yang against Sonjay Dutt.

MLW War Games on September 19, 2003. Guess what the main event on that show was? Yup, a War Games match, with Corino's "Extreme Horsemen" against Funk's "Funkin' Army." The show also included a mini-tournament to crown the first MLW Jr. Heavyweight Champion, which included Dutt, Juventud Guerrera, and a pre-WWE Primo/Diego, at that time known as Eddie Colon.

MLW Reloaded Tour, Day 1 on January 9, 2004. This show featured matches of the "GTC Carnival," a tag team tournament that included Harry "D.H." Smith and T.J. "Tyson Kidd" Wilson, as well as the Havana Pitbulls and the Maximos. The main event is Homicide vs. Low Ki.

MLW Reloaded Tour, Day 2 on January 10, 2004, including Corino and Funk having another barbed wire match, the finals of the GTC Carnival, and CW Anderson & Simon Diamond defending the MLW Tag Team Titles against Samu & Mana.

As far as where you can watch them all is concerned, I'm not going to promote piracy, but I will say that you can go to Highspots and pop "MLW" into their search bar. That will show you how you can buy DVDs of most of the shows.

Also, in case you're curious, the man who originated MLW, Court Bauer (who later joined the WWE creative team for a period of time), currently uses the Major League Wrestling name for a website that hosts a series of podcasts, including MLW Radio with Bauer and his co-host Konnan and several shows from Jim Cornette. You can find those over at MLW.com.

My Damn Opinion

Brian decides to ask me a question that should get me into absolutely no trouble at all, especially after my column on the Dixie/Bubba table spot:

One question about a "hot button" issue going on.

Should race and diversity in a "scripted sport" such as WWE be a bigger issue than it should be in real competitive sports, because the characters and the outcomes are presented however the company and its writers and bookers see fit, so therefore at some point not having diversity in the top champion role is no longer random or an omission, but rather an act of commission that is at a minimum poorly thought out or perhaps even purposefully harmful; OR in fact are diversity and equality in such a genre actually LESS important than in competitive sports, because in reality, WWE is a fictional program, and therefore it means far more that people from a certain background were given opportunities to learn and participate and be successful in a certain competitive sport that perhaps did not historically include people similar to them, as opposed to someone deciding to simply WRITE that a person from a certain background or orientation was successful? I'm legitimately torn on this one, because I'm pretty sure you can view it both ways.

And as a megafan of "Friends", wasn't there once "controversy" that the show didn't have any black characters, similar to the issue SNL faced this year (except not exactly similar, b/c SNL's cast is meant to be a group of performers that could effectively portray the wide array of politicians and celebrities that will get skewered on the show, but Friends was a show specifically about a group of friends/family who just as realistically as having a diverse circle of friends could have had (and did have) a completely homogeneous circle of friends)?

Ultimately, professional wrestling is a business. In terms of putting certain people in certain spots on their roster, as long as they're not actively discriminating on the basis of race or some other improper criteria, WWE should do what makes money. Period.

At the end of the day, I honestly believe that they do that and race is not a factor. One of the four biggest stars in the entire history of the company, the Rock, was black. Mark Henry and Booker T. were both main eventers for many years, held a version of the World Heavyweight Title, and, more importantly, got to work in extended programs with names like the Rock, Steve Austin, John Cena, and the Undertaker. The company's current "chosen one," the man most likely to main event Wrestlemania XXXI for the WWE Title, is Roman Reigns, and he's Samoan. Going back in time, Pedro Morales, a Latino man, was a world champion in the 1970s, and the tag team titles (back when they meant something), were held by many teams consisting of racial minorities, including Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas, Afa & Sika, and Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito or Mr. Fuji & Toru Tanaka.

So, even though I have heard some argue that there aren't enough minority wrestlers generally or black wrestlers specifically in WWE main event positions, I have a hard time believing it, and I have an even harder time believing that any underrepresentation is a result of overt racism. That's not to say that there aren't currently or have never been racist people in wrestling, racist acts backstage, or racist angles (see above). Far from it. However, based on my observations as a fan, I cannot think of a situation in which a truly main event level talent has been prevented from becoming a main event player by the color of his skin.

Also, because I was curious, I decided to do some digging into hard numbers on the current WWE roster. Based on the WWE.com "Superstars" page, there are 91 performers, including male and female wrestlers, announcers, managers, and everything else. Of those, 60 are non-Latino Caucasians, 18 are black, 8 are Latino/Latina, and 5 are Asians or Pacific Islanders.

That means 66% of the roster is white, 20% is black, 8.7% is Latino, and 5.5% is Asian or Islander. (Yes, that's 100.2%, the effect of rounding the numbers.) Compare that, if you will, to the population of the United States.

If you look at the 2010 United States census numbers on racial makeup, 72.4% of the country is white, 12.6% is black, and 4.8% is Asian. Latinos are not counted as a racial group by the US census but are instead listed as an ethnic group (meaning, for example, you could be either white or black racially and still report your ethnicity as Latino). In terms of ethnicity, 83.6% are non-Hispanic/Latino and 16.4% are Hispanic/Latino.

So, if you compare the current WWE roster, African and Asian Americans are actually over-represented compared to the percentage of the U.S. population that they comprise, though the Latino ethnic group is underrepresented.

Gruesome Sean, of all people, makes things a little bit more light-hearted:

I've been reading this column for quite a few years now, but this is my first question. I guess this would fall under the opinion section. Do you think that it is possible for WWE or TNA, but mostly WWE, to not over-expose their top talent? With 3 hours of RAW, 2 hours of Smackdown, 1 hour of Main Event, 1 hour of Superstars, Total Divas, Network stuff, as well as 3 hours of PPV every month; we see so many repeat matches, over and over. I'm of the opinion that the Monday night wars are over and that the titles don't need to be defended all the time. Hell, the World Champ doesn't even need to be on TV every week in my opinion. Anyway, what do you think? Can WWE scale back TV appearances of top talent in order to not over-expose them and try to make things special when these talents show up on TV?

I think that WWE could absolutely do a better job of not repeating matches and over-exposing stars. The problem is - even though it has been alleviated with the breakup of the Shield into three singles acts - they are coming off a period where, even though their roster overall might not have been shallow, there was an absolute dearth of people who the fans would buy as legitimate main eventers. Thus, you had to constantly go back to Cena and Orton and . . . well, not that many others, really.

Now that the promotion has more people who the fans legitimately buy into as headliners, they can and hopefully will take more of a look at cycling people in and out of key positions from show-to-show.

Of course, this question is now very timely given that they've got a part-time world champion, so we'll see how that goes.

Michael Klein is going to take us out on an extreme note:

Who do you find to be the worst wrestler between Sandman and Sabu? All Sandman did was take two hours to walk into the ring, bash a bunch of beer cans over his head, and then crack guys with a kendo stick. Usually his "matches" resulted in him getting his ass kicked, doing flips in the turnbuckle, and getting driven through tables. I can't recall him doing a wrestling move. What was his finisher anyhow?

As for Sabu, he would just throw chairs at guys, jump into the crowd, blade, and point to the sky. Again, I don't recall him doing any wrestling in his matches.

The Sandman is worse and it's not even close. Though he degenerated over the years, Sabu was at one point in time a legitimately good (though not great) junior heavyweight style wrestler, and, throughout the early 1990s, tape traders went absolutely nuts trying to get their hands on the revolutionary high flying matches that he was having, particularly against the likes of Jerry Lynn and Sean Waltman.

Heck, he even managed to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title over in New Japan:

I will say that I have always considered the Sandman to be a bit of a guilty pleasure, mainly because he had this really unique, wacky charisma and always seemed to be trying his absolute hardest even though he was supremely uncoordinated and unathletic. I honestly cannot think of more than one Sandman match that I would call legitimately "good," let alone great or excellent.

If ECW didn't exist, what do you feel these two guys would've done? Do you think they honestly ever would've made it to WCW or WWE without being in ECW? Same with New Jack. What would he have done without ECW?

I don't see any way that Sandman gets into the big leagues without ECW. I think that he essentially lucked out in that he was an east coast indy guy, and one of the east coast indies he happened to work for was Eastern Championship Wrestling, which just happened to morph into Extreme Championship Wrestling, which took him along for the ride to national fame when he happened to find a gimmick that worked in that environment. Had he been having the exact same career in California or Texas or somewhere else that Paul Heyman didn't come in to book, I don't think that he would have gone anywhere.

Regarding Sabu, I do think that he could have gotten in somewhere eventually. As noted, he was stable enough at one point in time to get a run in New Japan, and, in the early 1990s, NJPW was just as big and just as professional as the WWF or WCW, if not moreso. So, I think that there's a strong possibility he would've gotten his foot in the door somewhere, particularly if his old opponent Waltman went to bat for him. Granted, I don't know how long his run in the big two would have lasted, because he legitimately was in WCW for a spell and it didn't work out so well due to his attitude, but I think that he would have at least gotten a look.

New Jack is an interesting question and is probably the most borderline of the three guys. Needless to say, he's got a checkered past and some personality, um, "quirks" that would make it difficult for him to fit in with the WWF or WCW environments. However, you have to remember that the first guy to really give him a decent break in wrestling wasn't Paul Heyman in ECW - it was Jim Cornette in Smokey Mountain Wrestling. Cornette at the time had a pretty direct line with the WWF and did get a lot of his guys called up. I think it's just a question of whether the WWF would have not found out about Jack's past or would have been willing to look the other way.

Aaaaaand that's a wrap for this week. I'll see you all in seven.

That's it for this week's Ask 411. If you can't get enough of Ryan, follow him on Twitter here.


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