What Does the Closure of WWE NXT UK Mean?

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.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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Bryan is . . . well . . . yeah:

In 2007 when the WWE was going through negative publicity of the Benoit incident, would putting CM Punk on media outlets do any kind of damage control. Like if he went on CNN he could say “Drug problem? Not me,” like would making him their poster boy do anything for bad publicity?

Yes, because CM Punk has an impeccable reputation for keeping his cool in high pressure media situations.

Night Wolf the Wise is dousing himself with Axe Body Spray:

1. What are your thoughts on WWE shutting down NXT UK and the 2023 launch of NXT Europe?

I don’t think it really matters. With no disrespect meant to the individuals who were involved in it, NXT UK was a deep d-brand behind any other WWE production, and it seemed very few fans were paying attention to it. I’ve read more people writing about WWE Main Event than I’ve read people writing about NXT UK. After that approach to NXT UK, I have a hard time believing that they are going to treat NXT Europe any differently, though perhaps I will be somewhat pleasantly surprised.

2. With WWE launching NXT Europe and including all European countries, would this be a good time to bring back the European Title?

No. The European Title has no positive legacy associated with it. It was a near-meaningless championship, and by bringing it back and assigning it to NXT Europe, you would be sending the message that NXT Europe is meaningless, too.

I will say, though, that there is part of me that would be perversely entertained if the company brought in Dennis “Naked Mideon” Knight for a ceremony to crown a new European Champion and tried to sell it like he was some legend of the ring who represented the proud legacy of a prestigious championship.

Donny from Allentown executes excellently:

Why Did Bret Hart not wrestle at 1992 Royal Rumble? The kayfabe reason given was he had a 104 degree fever. What was really going on?

According to the January 27, 1992 Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the real reason is that the WWF wanted to transition the Intercontinental Title from the Hitman to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper without having Piper beat Hart. The 104-degree fever story was invented to give Bret an excuse for why he dropped the championship to the Mountie at a house show in Springfield, Massachusetts on January 17. The Mountie was then used as the transitional champion to get the belt over to the Hot Rod at the Royal Rumble.

Interestingly, according to the same issue of the Observer, Bret actually was negotiating with WCW around this time and was very close to jumping ship, but the plan for him to drop the title to Piper was more about setting up a Wrestlemania match between the two and was developed before there was any notion that Hart might be headed out of the promotion.

Keeping up our theme of “Guy from City” names, it’s Ross from Indianapolis:

With Mike the Miz challenging Bobby Lashley to a steel cage match for the US Title on Raw, it got me wondering: how often has Mike the Miz subjected himself to a cage-type match? With his well-documented “safe” wrestling style, it feels like he hasn’t been inside a cage much in his career. I remember him and R-Truth doing a run-in in a Hell in the Cell with Punk, Cena, and Del Rio, but other than that, I am drawing a blank. For purposes of this question, how often has Mike the Miz participated in a cage, Hell in a Cell, or Elimination Chamber type match?

Twenty-five times, though you can’t see most of them.

First off, despite the run-in that Ross mentions, Mike the Miz has never been involved as a participant in a Hell in a Cell match, not even a Heck on a Deck match.

He has, however, stepped into the Elimination Chamber on four separate occasions, namely on the premium live event of the same name in 2012, 2017, 2018, and 2020. That first year, he was one of five men who CM Punk defeated to retain the WWE Championship. In 2017, he was collateral damage when Bray Wyatt walked out of the Chamber as WWE Champion, unseating John Cena. In 2018, he was steamrolled by Roman Reigns en route to Reigns becoming the number one contender to the Universal Championship. Finally, in 2020, Mike got his first Elimination Chamber victory, as he and partner Johnny Nitro successfully defended the Smackdown Tag Team Championship against the Dirty Dogs, Heavy Machinery, The New Day, The Lucha House Party, and The Usos.

As far as traditional cage matches are concerned, he has been involved in three televised affairs, the first coming at Extreme Rules 2011, when he lost the WWE Championship to John Cena in a steel cage triple threat that also involved Johnny Nitro. Eight years later, he stepped back into the cage at Money in the Bank 2019, where he lost to Shane McMahon. The third and final match is the recent Raw U.S. Title bout with Bobby Lashley, as referenced by Ross.

And then there is a whole slew of house show cage matches. The first was a successful WWE Championship defense against Randall Keith Orton on March 20, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. Then, the day after Christmas in 2011, he lost a WWE Championship match to CM Punk, which was a dark match held after a Monday Night Raw in Rosemont, Illinois. Punk and Miz would have the exact same match against each other on house shows between December 27 and January 21, 2012.

Fast forward to 2016, and between December 26 and December 30, Miz lost four cage matches on four different house shows to Mr. Dolph Ziggler.

In a completely isolated one-off, Dean Ambrose retained the Intercontinental Championship over Parma’s least favorite son on January 15, 2017 in Jackson, Mississippi. Another one-off saw the Real World alum step into a cage in Rosemont again, this time being defeated by WWE Champion Daniel Bryan in a triple threat that also involved Mustafa Ali on December 26, 2018. There’s something about the Christmas holiday that just makes Miz want to step into a cage, ya know?

Falling right back into that pattern, Mike the Miz’s final series of four cage matches took place between December 12, 2019 and December 30, 2019 on house shows, beginning with a loss to Universal Champion The Fiend. The three other matches in this set are triple threats, with Daniel Bryan being added into the mix with the other two wrestlers.

There were no holiday cage matches for Mr. Mizanin in 2020 or 2021, most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we can only hope that he’ll be back behind the chain link for Christmas 2022.

Uzoma scratched:

Was it Vince McMahon’s idea for Kurt Angle to become bald?

It was Mother Nature’s idea. She did quite a bit of work on Kurt Angle becoming bald before it was even a thought in Vince McMahon’s head.

Clyde wants to audit WWE history:

I can’t get off Mania I for some reason. I saw Windham and Rotundo vs Sheik/Volkoff. I actually like the match, but got thinking: Why couldn’t they, years later when IRS came back, mention how he was a previous WWF Tag Champ with the Widowmaker? I’d think more people would check their past library to see things like that. Am I wrong?

First off, they actually did acknowledge that IRS had previously wrestled as Mike Rotunda. They did not do it frequently, and it’s not as though there was a vignette that explained exactly why Rotunda had changed his name and gone to work for the Internal Revenue Service, but his past was mentioned from time-to-time as a former WWF Tag Team Champion, even before he held those belts with Money, Incorporated.

And as far as “checking out the WWF’s past library” is concerned, there really wasn’t a way to do that back when IRS was wrestling. Yes, there was such a thing as WWF home video releases, but those weren’t near as widely accessible as past events are these days. Pay per view events were released on VHS a couple of months after the shows occurred, but, unless you happened to live next to a store that retained an unusually large amount of stock than most others, you probably weren’t going to be finding the original Wrestlemania for purchase more than a year after the show took place.

Granted, video rental stores were a thing, but by the time the store had a copy of the tape to lend out, the WWF already had its money and wasn’t trying to sell any more.

TaylorMade is concerned about unsafe working conditions:

With the growing list of recent injuries, every time i see an AEW star wrestling in another promotion, I always cringe reading the results waiting for notice of an injury. I understand in the beginning it was necessary to let them keep their independent bookings to get them to sign on and still make money, but now that AEW is larger and more main stream, do you think they should adopt a more “in house” only policy? At least for the main eventers?

It doesn’t seem to make any sense to risk losing months of future programming and your champion to injury during a throw away garbage style match (looking at you Mox) for . . . nothing.

No, not really.

Is AEW making enough money that its wrestlers, particularly its biggest stars, should be receiving sufficient pay that independent shots are unnecessary from a financial perspective? The answer to that one is absolutely yes.

However, the indy dates aren’t just about making money. All Elite Wrestling is running approximately five to six shows per month, and virtually none of its wrestlers are having matches on every show. In fact, even those members of the roster who wrestle most often are probably having only four matches per month at most.

Unless you’re an old pro with many years’ experience, professional wrestling isn’t something you can do at a high level if you’re only doing it a handful of times a month. Wrestling independent dates, particularly for AEW’s younger roster members, is significant not only because of the money but also because it allows them to gain experience and keep their skills sharp. The independent dates are, for that purpose, the equivalent of house show matches that most major American promotions of the last thirty years have run in between television tapings.

Redmond inquires about an epic triumvirate:

My questions are related to my Holy Trinity of faves – Macho Man, Hot Rod, and Bret. Throughout their time in both WWF/WCW, these men would occasionally compete both against and alongside each other. I’m mostly wondering about any occasions in which some combination of these men would team up, as there don’t seem to be many. As far as I know, the only time Savage and Piper teamed up in the WWF was as part of a 6-man at a taping at the end of ’91 or start of ’92 (Savage/Piper/Duggan vs Jake/Flair/Taker). The only time I’m aware of them teaming in WCW was at the Great American Bash ’98 where it was Savage/Piper vs Bret/Hogan. Any other team-ups there? Any chance of a heel Piper and heel Savage teaming sometime in ’85-’86? That would have been amazing. Then there’s Savage and Bret – I’m aware of them teaming against Flair and Shawn in the summer of ’92 – any other team-ups between them? And then Bret and Piper – the only time I recall them teaming was at Survivor Series ’91 – any others you could fill me in on? And then finally, is there any chance there was ever a 6-man featuring all 3 of these guys on the same team?

I was able to find one and only one instance of Bret Hart and Roddy Piper teaming up, which makes sense given that the only time that they were at the same level of the card in the same promotion was in WCW, and at that point neither of them were really working what was considered a full-time schedule for the era. Their only time partnering came at the 1991 Survivor Series, when they were part of a four-man team that also included the British Bulldog and Virgil. They went down at the hands of Ric Flair, Ted DiBiase, The Mountie, and the Warlord. (And, man, now I want to go find more instances of Flair and DiBiase teaming.)

When it comes to Randy Savage and Piper, they teamed three times, but I’m only aware of one being recorded. I also was not able to find record of the six man tag that Redmond referenced in his question. The first of the three matches I was able to find took place on March 6, 1986, when Savage and Piper teamed up with “Ace” Bob Orton Jr. in a losing effort against Paul Orndorff, Ricky Steamboat, and Tito Santana in an elimination match. The two other Savage/Piper team-ups occurred over a decade later in WCW, the first being a dark match following Monday Nitro on May 18, 1998 in Providence, Rhode Island against Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan and the second being the ’98 Great American Bash match referenced in the question up above.

The most frequent pairing of the wrestlers referenced in this question is Bret Hart and Randy Savage, though the ability to view those matches is somewhat limited. The first time the two tagged was on July 13, 1992 at a house show in Niagara Falls, New York, when they defeated Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. The same match occurred a week later on July 20 in Worcester, Massachusetts at a WWF Superstars taping. Though the match did not air on Superstars, you can actually watch it, because it was taped for a Coliseum Home Video release called “Grudges, Gripes, & Grunts.”

Hart and Savage were reunited on August 14, 1992 in London, Ontario, where they scored another victory, this time against the highly unusual tandem of Ric Flair and the Ugandan Giant Kamala.

A year later, Hart and Savage wrestled a dark match at the September 13, 1993 taping for Monday Night Raw, picking up a disqualification victory over Yokozuna & Bam Bam Bigelow.

In 1994, the Hart/Savage team went international. On May 9 of that year, the WWF ran Japan’s Osaka-Jo Hall, where they were victorious over Owen Hart & Adam Bomb. In September, they would reunite regularly on the WWF’s tour of Germany for a series of matches against Owen and brother-in-law Jim Neidhart. Bret and Savage won all of those matches, which included bouts in September 8 in Hamburg, September 9 in Kassel, September 10 in Munchen, September 11 in Bayreuth, September 12 in Halle, and September 13 in Rostock.

And that’s it. Despite their careers there overlapping, the Macho Man & the Hitman never teamed in WCW, though they were opponents on a handful of occasions, including a singles bout at the 1999 Slamboree pay per view.

Here’s one from a questioner whose name has sadly been lost to time:

Do all or some wrestlers have an agent? If so, do these tend to be sports agents (e.g. Drew Rosenhaus) or entertainment agents? And do conflicts arise when multiple wrestlers in the company have the same agent? If not, do you think they would serve a real purpose for the wrestler or be more trouble than they’re worth?

Yes, there are professional wrestlers who have agents. It’s not universal, but they certainly exist, and there are a couple of major names who stick out in the industry.

The first one that comes to mind is Barry Bloom. He has represented wrestlers in negotiating talent contracts with many companies going back to the 1990s, with a client list that at various times has included people like Kevin Nash, Triple H, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Jim Ross, and, more recently, Kenny Omega. Bloom plays more in the entertainment world than he does the pro sports world, and he will obtain jobs in front of the camera for his clients whether it is in professional wrestling or other genres of entertainment, e.g. films or television.

The second is Bill Behrens. Behrens is a different type of agent in that, rather than negotiating deals between wrestlers and the WWEs and AEWs of the world, he is helping wrestlers manage their independent books and personal appearances such as autograph signings. Behrens is very much specialized in the professional wrestling industry and in fact, before doing this booking gig, was the promoter of the NWA Wildside promotion that produced talent like AJ Styles back in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

To my knowledge, there have not been any issues with these individuals representing multiple wrestlers simultaneously.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. 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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