Should Orange Cassidy be a Champion?

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IMissMarkingOut was an ant who woke up to find himself in the body of a man. It’s the rare reverse Kafka:

With Orange Cassidy defeating PAC for the All Atlantic Championship on Dynamite, there has been some expected blow back to a “comedy” act holding a title. The detractors argue is cheapens the prestige of a title if held by a comedy act, but what’s your opinion if that act can actually work a match and is over with a crowd? Notable examples would be The Hurricane, who won multiple titles and even had an upset win over The Rock. Also, Santino Marella had the crowd fully behind him at Elimination Chamber 2012 when he nearly defeated Daniel Bryan with the Cobra.

This is ultimately dependent on what you consider the role of a championship to be.

If you go back to the old school philosophy behind a championship, they existed to draw money. A champion wasn’t just another wrestler on the card. He was the best of the best, or, at the very least, the best in his division. Because he was the best, you wanted to buy a ticket (or later a pay per view) to see him wrestle, and you REALLY wanted to buy a ticket if you thought a championship might change hands, in part because it represented the crowning of a new best of the best and in part because they were so rare that you felt as though you were seeing an historic event.

That’s where the attitude about bout comedy wrestlers not holding titles comes from. Because of the way they are portrayed, people like Santino Marella and the Hurricane, though entertaining, are obviously not the best of the best in a kayfabe since. They’re likable goofballs but not anybody you could see as a credible star in a serious pro wrestling match. Placing a comedy wrestler in a main event championship match on a territorial card in the 1970s or the 1980s would be like casting Weird Al Yankovic as as the lead in Rambo. It doesn’t fit, and most people don’t want to see it, aside from a subset of fans who would watch as a one-time oddity.

. . . however, that’s the old school philosophy.

Once you get past the 1990s and into the 2000s, championships just aren’t used to draw money in the same way that they were in earlier years. Instead of signifying the best of the best and only being used as focal points of shows, every promotion has about a dozen of them, almost every wrestler on a company’s roster is a multi-time champion, and promotions don’t care about drawing money in the same way they used to, because they profit primarily off of TV rights fees and selling shows to authoritarian middle eastern governments instead of selling their shows directly to consumers.

Because championships are now just fodder for storylines that mean nothing as opposed to being true drawing cards, it doesn’t really matter who holds them. Nobody is going to decide to attend a show or not attend a show because Orange Cassidy is the All Atlantic Champion as opposed to Pac. Ditto with the Hurricane and whoever he beat for the European Title.

Wrestling has evolved into something completely different than what it once was, and, though I might not personally like it as much as I did what I grew up on, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that the old rules still apply. They don’t. It’s a completely different business model.

busylines is confused:

There are only two genders.

You’re wrong. Also, do you have a question about professional wrestling?

Tyler from Winnipeg is large and in charge:

Which was your favorite Nelson Frazier Jr persona: Mabel, King Mabel, Viscera, or Big Daddy V?

None of the above. It’s the World’s Largest Love Machine, especially his little-remembered tag team with Charlie Haas, which resulted from them both getting simultaneously friend-zoned by Lillian Garcia.

Now there’s a weird sentence.

Bryan wants to get connected for free with Education Connection:

Do wrestling schools actually give “degrees”? I mean if you attend someplace – the Dungeon or the Monster Factory (I realize they aren’t around, I’m using them as examples) and make it, do you get an actual diploma you can take to promoters? Like college and trade school and even seminary will give you a certificate that you passed you can take to job interviews, do you get the same accreditation from wrestling trainers?

I’m not aware of anything like that, though it’s certainly possible. After all, anybody can load up their copy of Print Shop Pro and slap together a fancy certificate suitable for framing. However, for a degree to mean anything, it has to be bestowed by an institution that is accredited by an independent agency. There is, to my knowledge, only one pro wrestling school that has taken a step to become a legitimate program of an accredited institution of higher education.

That is the Al Snow Wrestling Academy, which is part of the Ohio Valley Wrestling system and based in Louisville, KY. Back in 2019, the OVW academy sought and achieved accreditation through the Kentucky Department of Education as a legitimate trade school. This means that, if you complete 60 credit hours through their system, you can receive an actual, no foolin’ degree in professional wrestling and sports entertainment.

Clyde‘s theme song is “Friends Forever” by Zack Attack:

This may sound silly, but has any wrestler ever shot down ‘turning on’ his partner or friend because they were good friends in real life? Was there and repercussions?

Probably the most noteworthy example of this that I can think of is the Steiner Brothers. Back in 1992, they were working for WCW, and Rick was sidelined with an injury, which lead to a singles run and teased heel turn for Scott (including a TV Title victory). It looked like the company was going to split them up, and that became even more a certainty when tensions arose between Scott Steiner and WCW Executive Vice President Bill Watts over Watts’ pushing of his son Erik. Specifically, Scott took issue with the fact that a not-yet-ready-for-prime-time Erik Watts had hurt Arn Anderson in the ring, and he gave Cowboy Bill a piece of his mind over the situation. This lead the elder Watts to conclude that he was not going to renew Scott Steiner’s contract, though he fully intended to keep Rick around, as he had loyalty to him going back to Mid-South Wrestling.

According to both Rick in an interview with Hannibal.TV and Jim Ross on the episode of his Grilling JR podcast covering Rick Steiner’s career, this lead to the Dog Faced Gremlin bailing on WCW along with his brother rather than breaking up the team. This is what resulted in their run with the World Wrestling Federation.

HBK’s Smile wants to ask about one of HBK’s belts:

Many WWF/E champions have also held the Intercontinental Title, including Randy Savage, Steve Austin and The Rock. Many other champions that never held the IC Title did challenge for it at some point. Hulk Hogan technically fought for it at WM VI, Brock challenged RVD for it at Vengeance 2022, even Bruno challenged the Honky Tonk Man for it at a house show I was at. But which, if any, WWF/E champions never so much as fought for the IC Title even once?

There are only five individuals who have held the historic WWWF/WWF/WWE Championship without ever challenging for the Intercontinental Title.

The first of them should come as no real surprise. It’s the first WWWF Champion, “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. Rogers couldn’t receive a match for the Intercontinental Title, because his last match for the WWWF was in 1963, and the IC strap didn’t make its debut until 1979.

Ivan Koloff is in a similar position, though not exactly the same. His first run with the Fed wrapped up in June 1979, and the Intercontinental Title wasn’t a thing until September of that year. Koloff did come back a few years later and wrestled for the WWF for almost all of 1983. However, Don Muraco was a heel IC Champ during that year, and you weren’t going to get heel/heel title matches in that era, nor were there triple threats or other match types that put more than two competitors in the ring at the same time for a singles title match.

The third man on our list also just missed the Intercontinental Title. Stan “The Man” Stasiak departed the WWWF in March 1979, and, again, the title we’re talking about wasn’t around until the early fall.

You could argue that entry number four shouldn’t be here at all. It’s Antonio Inoki. Inoki did technically win the WWF Championship in Japan from Bob Backlund, but WWE hasn’t acknowledged his title reign for most of the company’s history. However, Corey Graves recently referenced the championship victory when paying tribute to Inoki after his passing, so I’m counting it for today’s purposes. Of course, Inoki did not receive an Intercontinental Title match because he was not a full-time member of the WWF roster.

Number five should also not come as a surprise. It’s Vince McMahon. McMahon had 57 matches as a professional wrestler, and none of them were for the Intercontinental Championship, though throughout his career he did have matches for the WWF Championship, the original WWF Tag Team Championship, and the WWE version of the ECW Championship.

Also, even though the question only pertained to the WWE Championship, I went ahead and also looked at the WWE Universal Championship and the 2002-2013 version of the World Heavyweight Title. Throughout the histories of those two belts, there is only one person who held them but never received a crack at Intercontinental gold. That person is Bill Goldberg, whose original run in the company was very brief and focused on the World Heavyweight Title and whose subsequent runs have mainly focused on one or two matches here and there.

Michael is rockin’ like Dokken:

Why did Vince McMahon change Michael Hayes’ name to Dok Hendrix for a while in WWF/E? I mean, it’s one thing to change lesser known guys names as they enter WWF/E, but Hayes was still a pretty big name. Did Vince not think people would know who he was just because he got a haircut? I mean, even Stan Lane kept his name in WWE.

Bruce Prichard did an episode of his podcast in which he chronicled the life and times of Michael Hayes, and of course that touched on Hayes’ 1995 jump to the WWF. Based on Prichard’s comments, it was abundantly clear that Vince McMahon was not a fan of the former Freebird’s look for a commentator, claiming that he appeared too “dirty.” This meant that a shave and a haircut were necessary for Hayes to be hired on with the Fed. There wasn’t much discussed regarding the name change, aside from the fact that Vince said that “something needed to be done” with the name, and Hayes/Hendrix acquiesced. Based on the context, one can assume that McMahon was just not a fan of the character overall and wanted the entire presentation changed.

Regarding Stan Lane, I’ve not heard anybody say this, but I think it is reasonable to assume that he he avoided any major alterations to his look because he already sported the sort of clean cut visage that the WWF liked to have on its announce team. Plus, though I’ve never heard anybody say this, I would guess that at least part of the reason he avoided a name change was that his joining the company occurred at right around the same time that Vince McMahon was indicted on federal steroid charges, so the big guy was probably a bit distracted.

John wants a listicle:

What are the top (or bottom) ten least believable finishing maneuvers in wrestling history? With the wrestlers who were most known for using them please.

We’ll keep these brief so that I don’t write fifty pages. We’ll also put them in no particular order:

The Worm: Scotty II Hotty’s big move was over, so I’d let it slide if he used it mid-match and never actually finished anyone with it. However, he did. It’s a chop across the chest, and the guy taking it has plenty of time to move out of the way. You’ve heard all the criticisms of those move before, and I don’t have anything particularly novel to add.

Wasteland: This one was used by Wade Barrett, as he got his opponent into a fireman’s carry and then tucked his head, dropping his opponent forward and down on to their back. I never really bought it because I first saw the move in lucha libre, where it was never a finish and only ever used to put an opponent into a position to hit a top rope maneuver.

Eat Defeat: I believe this one is most closely associated with Gail Kim, though Xavier Woods has used it as well. If you’ll notice one trend on this list, it’s that I hate finishes where the wrestler allegedly executing the move takes a back bump. It always looks phony, because people bump all the time and allegedly get hurt from it . . . so why would it not hurt when it’s part of your own move? Eat Defeat is particularly egregious, not just because of that factor but also because the setup is contrived and feels like it would be easily reversed.

Downward Spiral: Quite a few people have used this over the years, but the name comes from the time that it was Edge’s finish, and it’s seemingly become the default name of the move. Again, if your finisher involves you taking a standard bump, you should find something else.

Play of the Day/Overdrive: I first recall this move being used by Elix Skipper, though others seem to associate it more with Montel Vontavious Porter. You begin by putting your leg over the back of your doubled over opponent’s head, like you’re going to do a Rocker Dropper. However, from there you somehow flip your opponent over on to their back and this . . . hurts somehow? It’s not clear from looking at it why it’s supposed to be harmful, and, worse yet, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a wrestler or announcer explain why it’s supposed to be harmful.

Pumphandle Slam: There are two different versions of what has been called a pumphandle slam. What I’m NOT referring to is when a big guy like Bryan Clarke or Test starts you off in a pumphandle position and then quickly hercs you up over his shoulder for a powerslam. What I’m talking about is the version of the pumphandle slam used as a finish for a time by the Road Dogg, which had the same starting position but then lead to the attacker lifting his opponent up off the mat a couple of inches and falling forward. It never looked any more impactful than a million other moves that had occurred in the same match.

Battering Ram: The one and only tag team maneuver on our list, utilized by the Bushwackers. One member of the team gets the other in what is essentially a headlock and then runs forward, allegedly driving his partner’s head into the opponent’s torso. Every time I’ve seen it, it looks like a glorified shoulderblock, and nobody needs to be pinned by a shoulderblock.

Tree of Woe Foot Stomp: This was a regular finisher of Alberto Del Rio, in which he jumped off the top rope and drove his feet into his opponent’s chest as they hung in what is commonly known as the “tree of woe” position. Sounds painful, right? I’m sure it would be, but the problem is that Del Rio’s opponent had to pull himself up by the top rope in order to take the move, which always looked phony because there was no reason for a wrestler to do that unless he was assisting with the setup for the move. For what it’s worth, Low Ki also did this from time-to-time, though I’m mainly knocking Del Rio because he did it more often.

Big Ending: I guess this is supposed to be like an RKO targeting the abdomen instead of the neck, but man it looks bad. It breaks my earlier rule about not having a finisher in which you take a back bump but looks even worse than a Downward Spiral because your opponent is landing flat on top of you in what could easily become a pinning predicament.

Canadian Destroyer: Getting dumped on top of your head in a piledriver position is a believable finisher. One hundred percent. It’s the flippy doodle that goes before the move that strains credulity. When you see a man take a Canadian Destroyer from a blowup doll, you know everything you need to know about the move.

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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