Did CM Punk’s Injury Cause His Media Scrum Meltdown?

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

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TaylorMade couldn’t manage a Target, but he runs a really sweet Joann Fabrics:

With CM Punk getting injured in his match at All Out, and being the only one at the time knowing that he would have to drop the title again and be off for almost a year, do you think he just decided: F**k It! I might as well get everything off my chest now since it’s my last chance to do it before surgery, and probable retirement?

At this point, nobody’s talking and probably will not be talking at least until AEW’s internal investigation concludes. However, what you have proposed is not outside the realm of possibility.

I will say, though, that there is another way that the injury could have played into Punk’s scrum rant that I consider a bit more likely. I don’t know how many other people are like this, but, when I’m injured or otherwise in significant pain, I get angry. I’m not sure exactly what the psychological or physiological reason for it is, but significant pain causes me to raise my voice, increase the frequency of my swearing, and just generally be more salty. I assume it is an evolutionary vestige of the classic “fight or flight” response, in which my hackles get up because I feel more vulnerable and in need of defense.

Though that response to pain is not universal, I’m sure that there are others who experience it, and, if Punk is one of those people, it could help explain some of his demeanor after All Out.

Also, even if that sort of reaction did not play a role in his comments to the assembled rasslin’ media, it may very well still have played a role in his physical encounter with the Elite. If Punk knew he was hurt, it was far more reasonable that he would have felt physically threatened by Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks entering his locker room (to say nothing of the also-injured Mrs. Ace Steel being with him), which could have been a factor in his decision to throw the first punch.

Of course, this is all just speculation. Hopefully, in due time, light will be shed on these issues, and we will no longer need to speculate.

It’s time for the first of 99 more Tyler from Winnipeg questions! Nah, just kidding, it’s only the one this time:

I’d like for Dustin Runnels to have the longevity of a Jerry Lawler, is that possible?

First, let’s define the longevity that Tyler is talking about. Jerry Lawler is currently 72 years old. He had his first match in 1970 at the age of 21, and, 52 years later, he still wrestles once per month on average. Meanwhile, Dustin Rhodes is currently 53 years old. He had his first match in 1988 at the age of 19 and wrestled once or twice a month in 2021 but has slowed down to about once every other month in 2022, 34 years after his debut.

Would it be possible for Rhodes to keep going for another 19 years, albeit on a somewhat limited basis?

Yes, it’s possible. One of the main reasons that Lawler is capable of doing what he does is that his style of in-ring performance is not very physical or athletic. He gets over based on how he manipulates a crowd and tells a story as opposed to his fancy moves. Dustin does bump and fire off high impact moves more than somebody like Lawler does, but he is also a very smart in-ring performer and has been around long enough to know many of the same tricks that the King uses. So, even as his body slows down and he is no longer capable of firing off snap body slams and Final Cuts, he should still be capable of hooking fans in for a dramatic bout.

However, Dustin has one unfortunate limiting factor that Lawler does not. It’s been well-documented that, throughout his career, the former Goldust has had substance abuse issues. Though he has impressively managed to clean himself up and have a late career renaissance, but you have to wonder to what degree his past demons have taken a toll on his body. Meanwhile, Lawler is one of the most notoriously “clean” wrestlers in history, not even drinking alcohol. That has no doubt given him an advantage in the longevity department.

Luis is jerking the curtain:

Who are the King and the Queen of Kickoff PPV matches? You can define that as the ones who fought most matches or the one who won the most matches, up to you.

I decided to go with the individuals who have appeared on the most PPV kickoff show matches. Also, just so we are clear on our terminology, I decided to count only matches that were pure PPV kickoff show matches and not matches that were part of another established show that just happened to be on before the PPV. For example, there was an era during which the WWF/WWE ran Sunday Night Heat right before pay per view events, and I am not counting those matches, nor am I counting matches for episodes of WCW Saturday Night that aired immediately before Saturday PPVs, even when the Saturday Night ep was broadcast from the same venue as the big show.

That really just left us to examine kickoffs from WWE, TNA, and AEW, because other promotions during the PPV era really have not had kickoff shows in the same way those three companies have.

Combing through all the data, I was a bit surprised by the man who has the most kickoff matches. It’s none other than:

Lance Archer, also known as Dallas, also known as Lance Hoyt, also known as Lance Rock, also known as Vance Archer.

All-in-all, he has wrestled on PPV pre-shows a whopping 11 times throughout his career, and, even more surprisingly, almost all of those matches were for TNA, as he’s only wrestled once on an AEW pre-show and, during his WWE tenure, he wasn’t even pushed enough to make the PPV kickoff. Meanwhile, TNA seemingly liked the guy enough to consistently book him, just never in anything particularly meaningful.

Archer has a decent-sized lead on his competition, too, as the male wrestlers who have the next highest number of kickoff matches have only eight. There are three individuals who have hit that mark, with two of them being another regular TNA act, the tag team of Chase Stevens and Andy Douglas, a.k.a. The Naturals. Tying them is none other than Billy Gunn, who has assembled pre-show appearances in WWF, TNA, and AEW in order to come up with his eight.

There are also four men who have seven appearances on pre-shows, those being John Bradshaw Layfield (mostly in his days as Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Blackjack Bradshaw), Bob Holly, Stevie Richards, and Chavo Guerrero Jr.

The question also asked who the Queen of Kickoff Matches would be, and the answer is . . . there really isn’t one. Given that robust women’s divisions in major promotions have only really begun to crop up in the last few years, there have not been a ton of opportunities for the ladies to work on PPV kickoffs. As a result, there is currently a four-way tie for title of Kickoff Queen, and those four women only have three matches each.

Those four women are Britt Baker, Madison Ryane, Riho, and Liv Morgan.

Night Wolf the Wise asks about wrestlers who don’t have to go home but can’t stay here:

I was looking at an old WWE magazine that they had published for their Raw 15th anniversary back in 2008. In the magazine, there is an article titled: Superstars who overstayed their welcome. The list included the following wrestlers.

1. Scott Steiner
2. The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher)
3. Christy Hemme
4. Tiger Ali Singh
5. Debra
6. Maven
7. Test
8. New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg)
9. Joey Mercury
10. Joey Abs
11. Clarence Mason
12. Muhammad Hassan
13. Terri Runnels
14. The Patriot
15. Too Cool (Scotty Too Hotty and ‘Grand Master Sexay’ Brian Christopher).

What are your thoughts on this list? Do you think that this was a fair assessment? Obviously we can discount #1 because Scott Steiner is in the Hall of fame. Others I can understand why.

Piggybacking off of the first question, why do the Headbangers get so much hate? This list isn’t the first time that Vince’s WWE had bashed them. The year before, WWE had published an article calling them unworthy of winning the tag team titles.

I guess the question is whether these individuals actually overstayed their welcome in WWE, i.e. whether they hung around in the company for longer than was really necessary. Specifically, in order to determine whether the WWE Magazine article was fair, we have to answer the question of whether they had overstayed their welcome as of 2008, even though Night Wolf appears to have taken their later WWE appearances into account given his comments about Scott Steiner.

That said, let’s take a look at the list in reverse order, because why not?

Too Cool: Coming right out of the gate, I think the column gets it wrong with this one. The Scotty/Sexay version of Too Cool wasn’t really around for that long, adopting that gimmick in the fall of 1999 and splitting up in spring 2001 when Scott Taylor was sidelined by a neck injury. Granted, there were other variations on the team, including Scotty II Hotty & Rikishi and Scotty II Hotty & “Hip Hop Hippo” Albert, as well as Scotty using the gimmick for quite some time as a single, but he seemingly remained quite popular the whole time and never felt overexposed because he was not used in a high profile position. I suspect that the team made the list because Sexay left the company under less than favorable conditions, having substance abuse issues and attempting to bring illicit substances with him across the Canadian border while on tour, creating bad press for the then-WWF.

The Patriot: Though he had a brief run in the WWF under the name “The Trooper” in 1991 and 1992, I suspect that what the magazine was referring to is Del Wilkes’ role in the USA versus Canada angle in 1997. Similar to Too Cool, I have a hard time saying that the Patriot overstayed his welcome because he wasn’t with the company for long at all. It was less than four months between his debut on Monday Night Raw and his last appearance on WWF television. I agree that his gimmick did not exactly fit with the tone the WWF was shifting to at the time, but saying that he “overstayed” is the wrong verb when, had you blinked, you would have missed him.

Terri Runnels: This is the first entry on the list where I will say that the article gets it right to a degree. Because she was lower profile, I don’t think that Terri ever had true “go away” heat, but she did start to feel like a product of a bygone era after a while. What do I mean by that? When Terri first debuted with the WWF in 1996, she was a pure valet in a time when the promotion had once again given up on women’s wrestling and female performers were largely around for sex appeal. However, that started to change circa 2001 and 2002, when women in the WWF (soon to be changed to WWE) were expected to be able to have brief, competent matches. Despite this, she hung on through 2004, though she felt out of place those last several years.

Muhammad Hassan: This is an easy choice for the list because just about everybody agreed that, by the time Hassan was written off of WWE television, it was time for him to go. However, as I’ve said in the past in this column, that was in no way the fault of the performer. WWE took what could have been a unique, nuanced (by wrestling standards) character and just turned it into another generic “foreign” heel and ran an angle that was a simulated terrorist attack on a day they most certainly should have known better. So, yeah, he had to go, but the company was 100% to blame.

Clarence Mason: As with several other entries on the list, I don’t know how you can say this guy overstayed his welcome in the WWF when his entire tenure there was roughly two years long. Even though I wouldn’t say that he was in the WWF for too long, I would say that he overstayed his welcome in professional wrestling as a whole, thanks to his run as a manager in WCW, first appearing with Chris Kanyon and later with Harlem Heat 2000. Though that stint was brief as well, the company bringing him in when Vince Russo was booker just felt like a lame attempt to cash in on whatever cache former WWF stars who Russo previously worked with may have, ESPECIALLY when he was standing there next to a barely mobile Ahmed Johnson.

Joey Abs: Again, it’s another guy with a very brief run. Joey Abs (under that gimmick, anyway) first had a match on WWF television in the summer of 2000 and was off TV by the spring of 2001. Granted, he was in the company longer than that because he was sent down to developmental after his main roster run and because he wrestled for years as an enhancement talent under his real name of Jason Arhndt prior to becoming part of the Mean Street Posse. However, I doubt they’re counting that.

Joey Mercury: Given the timing of this article compared to certain events in Mercury’s career, his inclusion on the list just feels mean spirited. Everybody remembers the gruesome ladder match injury that he suffered at the 2006 December to Dismember pay per view, and it is fairly well-documented that said injury exacerbated a history of substance issues and lead to an addiction to painkillers, which in turn lead to him being released from his contract in March 2007. In light of all that, I don’t know why anybody would write anything this negative about him roughly a year later. Of course, Mercury did eventually get another seven-year run with the company later on, working both as a wrestler again and then as an agent, so amends were eventually made.

New Age Outlaws: Since their original run as a team came to an end in 2000, the Road Dogg and Billy Gunn have had on-and-off relationships with WWE. I suspect that they were included on this list because, during 2008 when the article was published, that relationship was most definitely off again. In ’08, they were part of the TNA roster, but they weren’t just any part of the TNA roster. They were coming off a run in which they were actively cutting “shoot” promos on Vince McMahon and Triple H in addition to changing their team name to the “Voodoo Kin Mafia,” a nonsensical combination of words selected solely because the initials are VKM.

Test: I actually just wrote about my thoughts on Test two weeks ago. The short version is that he had some potential but it never panned out, and I have no idea why WWE brought him back for a second run in 2006.

Maven: Running a reality show as a means of creating a new professional wrestling star was a great idea, particularly in the early 2000s, when that genre was at the peak of its popularity. However, the career of Maven is a perfect example of why Tough Enough was not the right format for a reality show designed to create a new professional wrestling star. With only a small handful of weeks of training, the wrestler produced was not going to be able to perform at a high level immediately after winning the show, which is when they would be at the height of their popularity. Aaaand that’s exactly what happened with Maven. When he was first put on to television, he was not up to snuff, and, even though he eventually improved with time, fans never fully accepted him. Thus, much like Muhammad Hassan further up the list, he probably did spend time in the company beyond the point of his utility, but it wasn’t his fault.

Debra: The former Debra McMichael essentially got into wrestling by chance, first becoming a valet because her husband was a wrestler. Then, after they separated, she signed with the WWF, who probably picked her up primarily because it would be a “shocking” jump from WCW. Then, after her character had largely run its course, she likely continued with the company because she was romantically linked and ultimately married to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Though I’ve never really heard anybody say a negative word about her, she also seems to be somebody whose career was created and then extended purely through circumstance. There’s no shame in that as far as I’m concerned, but I can see how it could create a certain degree of resentment among some.

Tiger Ali Singh: This is one of the few entries on the list that I 100% agree with. I cannot think of one person who worked with Tiger Ali Singh who has had a single good thing to say about him. Also, watching him as a fan, there’s not much he brought to the table. He was a good enough promo, but there was nothing exceptional about him on the mic, and it certainly didn’t make up for the fact that he was no great shakes in the ring. I am genuinely surprised that he managed to last over five years with the promotion.

Christy Hemme: Again, like many of the people who were written up in this article, Hemme’s time with WWE was really quite short, as she was only there in 2004 and 2005. That being said, many people would argue that even a brief time with her was too much, given that she was a product of the remarkably unpopular Diva Search. I never really had a problem with her as a personality so long as she didn’t spend much time in the ring, and fortunately that is where she landed, as in her 12-year career in professional wrestling, most of it was spent either as a valet or a ring announcer.

The Headbangers: I’ll just go ahead and roll my answer to Night Wolf’s second question into this paragraph and say that I have no idea why the Headbangers are seemingly disliked by some forces within WWE, but apparently they are, because the article referenced in his question is not the only time that they’ve been slammed in an official company publication. In fact, there’s an entire “Criticism by WWE” section of their entry on Wikipedia. Yet, despite that, the company did bring them back for a brief non-contracted run in 2016 when they needed bodies to fill out a tag team tournament. All-in-all, I thought that they were a perfectly acceptable undercard tag team, and I liked some of their double-team offense, such as their Stage Dive finish.

Scott Steiner: This seems like yet another entry that is on the list mainly for political reasons. Like Hemme and the New Age Outlaws, Scott Steiner was part of the TNA roster when this story was written, so he becomes an easy guy to take a shot at. Combine that with the fact that his run as a WWE main eventer in 2003 was considered a flop when his matches with Triple H under-performed, and it’s no wonder that he was listed here. (For what it’s worth, HHH probably deserves some criticism for those matches as well, because he insisted on having his style of match instead of playing to Steiner’s strengths.) Regardless of who was at fault, I tend to agree that there are other portions of Steiner’s career that I would much rather reflect on.

We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.

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