Pulse Wrestling Answers #039

Last time we had a question about matches that surpassed expectations, which has generated a fair few responses. Keep the suggestions coming in and we’ll do a l’il special on them for #040. Oh, and more questions too. We like those crazy things. Address is here and off we go…

”Hey Iain,

I got a lot of laughs out of the Mark Henry/Mae Young romance. I
thought it was a good use of his talents. I even thought the
pregnancy was funny. But I was left shaking my head in horror,
disgust and confusion when Mae gave birth to a hand. It felt like
this was meant to be the punchline to an old joke that everyone in
the world had heard but me. Or this was some inside joke that I was
on the outside of.

But when the WWE instantly dropped the whole thing and it was
never, ever referred to again, I had to wonder what the real story
was. What’s the story?

– The Mutt

Like I wrote in a recent edition, it’s absurd seeing Mark Henry getting pushed as an unstoppable monster when he’s been around for so long and booked so poorly for most of that time. The Mae Young thing was an obvious low point but don’t forget he also made out with a transvestite and admitted to sharing his first sexual experience with his sister. Even worse, Jeff Jarrett once gave him the European Title. I mean, come on, some things are just plain cruel. As far as the pregnancy angle goes, such extreme Wrestlecrap would tend to implicate Vince Russo but he had left the WWF around four months before it happened. There’s a chance that they could have based the angle on notes that he left but considering how pissed off they were with him at the time, that’s unlikely. Brian Gerwitz would appear to be the one responsible for booking it and there is no sane reason for why he had Mae ‘give birth’ to a prosthetic hand, let alone do the pregnancy angle in the first place. I guess they thought it was funny to see a huge guy like Henry dating an old lady like Mae, then they thought that a pregnancy would get some more heat on it, and then they realised they had no real way of ending it so they just tried to bury it in nonsense. Somebody suggested that the hand was meant to be a sex toy that got ‘misplaced’. I don’t really want to know why someone was thinking that way. Which is weird, since one time I concocted this thing about the true way to eat chow mein.

Here are our boundary-breaking lovers getting to know one another in the honeymoon suite:

It’s true, you know. After seeing that there’s no way Mark Henry could be scared of The Undertaker. Bloke’s seen shit that’ll turn you white.

”Hey Iain,

So, a work colleague has recently turned down a promotion for a job which
everyone knows he could do blindfolded, which he’d get paid more for, but
which’d mean more responsibilities and a couple of lifestyle changes for him
that he’s not willing to make. He’s happy where he is now, he doesn’t need the
money or more responsibility and is determined he won’t take the job. While
it’s an odd attitude, I can kinda understand where he’s coming from.

I was wondering whether you knew of any similar occurrences in the wrestling
world- pushes or storylines which would’ve given someone the chance to become
a bigger name than they were, but which they turned down for whatever reason.
The assumption is that everyone dreams of being a main event player, but I
guess it’s just as plausible that some are perfectly happy staying in the
lower or mid-card, who aren’t interested in becoming the top dog. Any examples spring to mind?

All the best”
– Law Martin

Well, Sting could quite easily be making even more than his $500,000 from TNA if he went to WWE. They could do a huge feud with The Undertaker, sign him up to a Legends deal and peddle a DVD set and autobiography that would get him millions on top of his basic salary, yet seemingly for moral reasons he won’t do it. Yet. Still, anybody that ‘only’ makes half-a-million a year can’t complain.

Similarly, Christian Cage could be making more money as a mid-carder in WWE than he gets as a main-eventer in TNA but the lesser schedule has convinced him otherwise.

Another TNA main event fixture, or perhaps now the sole TNA main event fixture, Kurt Angle, was first offered a WWF contract in 1996 just after winning his Olympic gold medal. He turned it down as he was not entirely convinced that professional wrestling was the way forward for him. The irrepressible Paul Heyman persuaded him to come check out an ECW show and almost impressed him enough to land a deal, only for the Raven ‘crucifixion’ segment to put Angle off. By October 1998 he had signed a five-year WWF deal instead and the rest is history.

Then there’s A.J. Styles, who had been working some WCW shows in their dying days and was subsequently brought in for some low-key appearances in the WWF following the buy-out. He was then offered a developmental deal working in the old Heartland Wrestling Association territory but he turned it down, since the $500 per week salary was below what he could make on the indie circuit and moving from Georgia to Ohio would not suit his wife’s career plans. Two years later he was a world champion with a far better and more widespread reputation than WWE would likely have given him.

Kenny Omega was signed to a WWE developmental deal at the end of 2005 and worked steadily in the now-defunct Deep South Wrestling territory until September 2006, when he requested and received his release. He then returned to Premier Championship Wrestling, based in Winnipeg, where he had been working since basically the start of his career. When asked about why he turned his back on a spot most young wrestlers dream of getting, he said “It was a great learning experience but for me to explain why I left, people just wouldn’t understand unless they were in the same position.” Reading between the lines, it sounds as though the difficulties with the Deep South trainers, which eventually got so bad they convinced WWE to abandon the territory in favour of a new one in Florida, had more to do with Omega’s departure than his lack of ambition. Nonetheless, he still put personal happiness before far-fetched ambition, which takes some real conviction.

Then there’s the ever-loveable Yoshihiro Tajiri, who left WWE in 2005 despite having signed a new three-year deal shortly before. He cited burnout due to the hectic work schedule but he also wanted to move his family back to Japan and pursue a career in journalism. He left on amicable terms, which led to his one-night-only return at One Night Stand in 2006, and has since been working for All Japan and HUSTLE back in his homeland. Presumably the journalism career didn’t pan out, but I can’t say for certain. In any event, he could get rehired by WWE tomorrow if he wanted and make plenty money but it’s just not what he wants to do.

Basically, there are three different types of people in wrestling that fit this answer. There are those like Sting that have already been huge stars and have plenty money and can afford to be a bit more picky about how much work they do and where they do it. There are those like Tajiri that never made it big but did get a glimpse of the big time, only to realise that it was not their main priority after all. Then there are those that simply don’t want to bother playing the career game, they just want to stay in their local area and wrestle for the sheer fun of it. I suppose Kenny Omega would be the nearest fit for that type out of the ones I’ve listed. It’s rather tricky finding examples of them because, well, they are and they remain unknowns. However, these days it seems to be more and more common for the second type of wrestler to take a sabbatical or simply move into a different career after a while. The more that WWE pushes their product as an entertainment vehicle, the more options become available for people who can bill themselves as entertainers rather than sports stars. Think of Chris Jericho, Trish Stratus, Lita, The Rock, Christian Cage, etc. Even Ken Kennedy, he of the recent ‘wrestling doesn’t kill people’ diatribes, has said he wants to leave the business in ten years time. When you consider this growing phenomenon alongside the current furore about wellness and preventitive measures, it starts to seem inevitable that the WWE schedule will be lessened somehow in the near future.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s A.J. Styles vs The Hurricane from WWF Jakked in 2002:

” word ian.
I’m SURE this has been asked before, but I was in a drunken argument at my local watering hole last night about how many times Hogan has been pinned CLEANLY. I’m not even figuring Japan into the equation, but is there ANYONE who is even close to him, USA or worldwide, in the number of times he has been pinned?

– Gerry Lawrence Stumbaugh

Roddy Piper was never pinned in the WWF until Bret Hart won the Intercontinental Title from him at WrestleMania VIII. Since then, he’s barely had many matches and has hardly lost any of them, which probably puts him ahead of Hogan in the World League of Avoiding Clean Jobs.

The last time Hogan was defeated cleanly was when Brock Lesnar made him pass out in a bearhug on the 8th August 2002 episode of Smackdown. The last time he submitted cleanly was to Kurt Angle at the King of the Ring on the 23rd June 2002. The last time he was pinned cleanly, by my reckoning, was at Halloween Havoc on the 24th October 1999, when he just lay down in the ring and let Sting pin him for the WCW title in one of Russo’s most asinine decisions. Prior to that not very many at all. Ultimate Warrior, Goldberg, Jacques Rougeau, Roddy Piper, Andre, Lex Luger by submission that’s all that I can think of.

Roddy Piper might actually have him beat on the belligerently avoiding clean jobs front, since his first pinfall loss in the WWF was not until 1992, when Bret Hart took the Intercontinental Title from him at WrestleMania VIII. I think the last time he was pinned cleanly was on the 26th June 2003 on Smackdown, when he and Sean O’Haire went down to Eddie Guerrero & Tajiri over the tag team titles. If he did any clean jobs in between those two then I must have missed them.

The only other person who could compare to those two would be Andre the Giant. Back in the day his opponents would be lucky if they were allowed to knock the guy off his feet, let alone pin him. Hogan did it at WrestleMania III of course, and WOYAH did it at various house shows in 1989. There was also a loss to then UWF champion El Canek at a show in Mexico in 1984, plus a submission loss to Antonion Inoki in 1986. I think Mad Dog Vachon and The Sheik hold victories over him from the ’70s, though there were shenanigans involved so they were not clean losses. Despite what you might have heard on Smackdown recently, Ric Flair never pinned Andre.

It’s rather fitting that those three very different individuals have very different reasons for their lack of clean losses. Hogan’s were all down to politics, or at least after the ’80s ended they were since before then it was just good business. Andre’s go without saying, although as we have seen with Big Show and Gary and Gigante and the like, if he was starting out nowadays then he’d have been beaten many more times. Piper’s were simply out and out belligerence, in character if not in real life, since most of the time he just wound up getting disqualified.

More importantly than pinfalls though, here’s Andre spanking Sherri:

Before this edition gets wrapped up, here’s a little more info on the One Man Gang getting changed into Akeem, straight from the fat African biker’s mouth:

“Vince came over to me and casually asked me do I know how to dance. I thought he was just joking around. I go, ‘No. I don’t know. I’m not a good dancer.’ He goes, ‘Well, you need to learn.’ And he walked off. I didn’t understand it. I called Slick over and asked Slick, ‘What’s going on? He asked if I know how to dance or something.’ He goes, ‘Oh man, we got this great idea that I went to Africa and I found your roots and we’re gonna turn you into a black man and you’re gonna be Akeem. You know, the African Dream and all that. You’re gonna be dancing and talking jive with me and everything.’ I thought he was just ribbing me. I thought it was a big joke. Sure enough, three weeks later, they were calling me up to get fitted for the Akeem outfit or whatever and it went on from there.”

As odd as it seems to have Vince going around and randomly bestowing new nationalities upon people, it still makes more sense than when WCW had Jim Duggan join Team Canada.

Till next time, that’s this time.

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