Ask 411 Wrestling: Why Was There No Batista vs. Brock Lesnar Match in WWE? - 411MANIA

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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Bryan is wondering what could have been:

Brock Lesnar and Batista faced each other in OVW, but why did WWE never have them wrestle on the main roster? Did they dislike each other and refuse to work? Do you think it could have drawn money? It’s just weird considering they were in the same OVW class, had huge careers, and never crossed paths. What’s your opinion?

Even though they might be considered classmates in OVW, when it came to the main roster, they were never at the same level and on the same brand at the same time until it was just too late.

Lensar was established as a main eventer very quickly after he debuted, making his first appearance on the main roster in March 2002 and winning the WWE Championship for the first time in August of the same year. Then, he was out of the company following Wrestlemania XX in March 2004. Batista, meanwhile, took a little bit longer to blossom. Though he also technically made his main roster debut in 2002, he didn’t truly get into a main event slot until 2005, when he split with Evolution and defeated Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania XXI. Plus, when their WWE careers did overlap, the Animal and the Next Big Thing were for the most part on separate sides of the brand split, which, though it has always had its loopholes, actually did keep some performers apart.

By the time Lensar returned to WWE in 2012, Batista was already gone as a full-time performer, and, when Batista was back in 2014, it was for a very specific purpose that did not involve the Mayor of Suplex City.

I will say that, when it was reported that Batista was coming back for his retirement match at Wrestlemania XXXV, I was really hoping that the opponent would be Lesnar, because it was a fresh match that in my opinion had a lot of potential to deliver in-ring. However, Batista/Triple H is what we wound up getting, because that is who Batista wanted to go out against given their history.

I’m sure you were hoping for some dramatic reason the two men haven’t faced each other outside of OVW, but it’s simply not there. It’s just a matter of wrong place, wrong time.

Tyler from Winnipeg will probably kick himself when he realizes he didn’t come up with one of these answers:

Where there any “doctors” in wrestling which were actual practicing doctors?

Yes. The first that I thought of and probably most noteworthy is Dr. Sam Sheppard, who was a neurosurgeon. Sheppard originally gained notoriety not as a wrestler but rather as part of a high profile murder case in 1954 in which he was tried and originally convicted of killing his wife but later had the conviction overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, which lead to an acquittal in a retrial. It is widely believed that Sheppard’s case was the basis for the 1963 television series The Fugitive as well as the 1990s movie remake that starred Harrison Ford.

After Sheppard’s murder conviction was overturned, he looked for new ways to make a living. His girlfriend (later wife)’s father was a wrestler named George Strickland, and Strickland trained Sheppard on how to step into the squared circle. His career was fairly short, as he started wrestling very late in life – age 45 to be precise – and died less than a year later from complications of severe alcohol abuse.

The good doctor’s most enduring legacy is his invention of the “mandibular nerve pinch” submission hold, which he allegedly came up with because his medical training clued him into the fact that there is a large cranial nerve which runs underneath the tongue. Eventually, Jim Cornette’s encyclopedic knowledge of wrestling history lead to him teaching Mick Foley about the nerve pinch, with Foley ultimately adopting it as the mandible claw when he wrestled as Mankind in the WWF.

Of course, Dr. Britt Baker, DMD, now uses the mandible claw as one half of her finishing move, the Lockjaw, with the other half being the Rings of Saturn.

And that brings us to another legitimate doctor in professional wrestling: Britt Baker. Baker is a 2018 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh’s dental school and, though I’m not aware of its current status given how her AEW career has blown up, at least for a period of time she did have a legitimate dental practice at the same time she was wrestling.

Baker is not the first wrestling dentist, though, and I’m not talking about Isaac Yankem. Most reading this are probably familiar with Los Villanos, a set of five brothers from Mexico who were luchadors with a gimmick based on the character that their pro wrestler father played in an old El Santo movie. Howver, what you might not know is that papa Villano (Ray Mendoza) actually had a rule for his sons that each one of them needed to pursue higher education and obtain a degree before they could become wrestlers. This lead to Villano V becoming a dentist. Because dental school took longer than his other brothers’ studies, he was the last brother to debut and the one assigned the Villano V designation, even though he is actually older than the brother who became Villano IV.

And that’s my list of legitimate doctors in wrestling. If you’re aware of more, feel free to drop them in the comments.

Ben has thrown his hands in the air as though he does just not care:

Do crowd “pops” really matter to WWE? And, if so, in what ways? With Vince? The wrestlers?

To an extent, yes. There is always going to be a place in a wrestling promotion for somebody who can get a large crowd reaction. Those reactions make a show more exciting and are part of an overall package that can help a promotion feel hot. However, I do think that fans sometimes overemphasize the importance of the “pop.” There are some wrestlers who might get a loud reaction from an audience that has already put down their money to see a show, but just because an audience that has already bought a ticket will react well, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the audience will tune in or pay money to see that person. Wrestlers who will get audience members to watch a show or get their wallets out to pay for merchandise are more valuable than wrestlers who can get people to scream and do nothing else.

It’s a flashback from Jack:

I was watching a random YouTube video a couple of weeks ago and it mentioned that around the year 2000 it was considered for Hulk Hogan to have an anti-authority gimmick change, potentially using his real name as well. It sounds strange, but around that time of WCW nothing would be surprising. Do you know of or have any information on this?

I actually just covered this in the October 4 edition of the column. Essentially, this was going to be Hogan’s role in the first Vince Russo-booked version of WCW, but Russo was sacked before it could come to fruition. The information originates in the November 1, 1999 Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Brad must have a reminder set on his Outlook calendar to ask these questions:

As another year draws to a close, could you update your research from late last year regarding former WCW wrestlers that are still regularly active in at least a mid-sized company? For example, I no longer consider Big Show a regular performer despite his recent match in AEW. And maybe referee Charles Robinson should be added to the list, since Paul Heyman already was listed.

In case you’re looking for more context, Brad is asking me to update an answer to a question he asked me last year, which itself was an update to an answer to a question he asked me two years ago.

Much as we did last year, let’s take this promotion by promotion.

WWE

In 2020, the WCW alumni I listed as being active in WWE were: AJ Styles, Big Show, Edge, Goldberg, Paul Heyman, and Rey Misterio Jr.

I agree with Brad’s assessment that Big Show should be dropped, and I further agree that adding Charles Robinson makes sense. (To be fair, somebody in the comment section last year also mentioned Robinson.) If we’re going as far as counting mangers and referees, you should probably pop William Regal up in the list as well, given that he’s still the authority figure for whatever weird paint-splattered monster NXT has turned into.

While Robinson and Regal aren’t true additions to the list because they would have been on last year had I thought of them, there is one WCW alumnus who truly has made their WWE debut since the last time that I answered this question:

Meiko Satomura

Satomura was one of several Japanese women brought in to WCW to bolster its women’s division as part of a relationship with GAEA, one of the more prominent joshi promotions of the era. She worked three matches that were taped for various episodes of WCW Worldwide on November 10, 1996, and then she competed in both the tournament to crown the first ever WCW Women’s Champion AND the tournament to crown the first ever WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Champion. She lost in the first round of the Women’s Championship tournament to eventual winner Akira Hokuto, though she did better in the Cruiserweight Tournament, advancing to the semi-finals before being eliminated by eventual winner Toshie Uematsu. (Though most American sources list the tournament as only having two rounds and thus the semi-finals also being the first round, Meiko did actually win a match in Japan to advance to the U.S. tournament brackets, beating Sugar Sato on February 16, 1997 in Korakuen Hall.)

That makes our full list: AJ Styles, Charles Robinson, Edge, Goldberg, Meiko Satomura, Paul Heyman, Rey Misterio Jr., and William Regal

AEW

Last year’s AEW list was: Chris Jericho, Christopher Daniels, Dustin Rhodes, Luther, and CIMA

We can now add to that list one Chavo Guerrero Jr. Though he has yet to step foot in to the ring in AEW, if we’re counting Paul Heyman, Charles Robinson, and William Regal in WWE, then Chavo counts for AEW too. (Yes, he’s temporarily off camera because of his commitments to Young Rock, but word is he’ll be back.) Also, for reasons I don’t fully understand, Chavo is listed as a wrestler on the AEW website, albeit one with a 0-0 record.

Chavo Guerrero was a pretty significant debut for AEW, there’s one guy who might just have been a little bit bigger, and he’s a WCW alum too. Of course, I’m talking about Sting, who I will include on the list because I consider him to be a fair amount more active than Paul Wight.

We’ve also got a couple of managers who should be on this list if Paul Heyman is on the WWE list. Those guys are Arn Anderson, Jake Roberts, Tully Blanchard, and, believe it or not, Taz. Yes, Taz, under his old name of the Tazmaniac, had at least one match in WCW, defeating Joey Maggs at a Saturday Night taping on February 8, 1993.

As far as cuts are concerned, I’m leaving Christopher Daniels on the list here because my understanding is that, even though he is wrestling primarily on TNA shows now, he is still under contract to AEW and essentially “on loan” to the other company.

I did not cut CIMA last year because I assumed his lack of AEW appearances throughout 2020 was due only to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now it’s been another year and he no longer appears on the company’s roster, so I think it’s time to close that not-so-forbidden door.

That gives us a final AEW list of Arn Anderson, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Chris Jericho, Christopher Daniels, Dustin Rhodes, Jake Roberts, Luther, Sting, Taz, and Tully Blanchard

ROH

In 2019 and 2020, the only WCW alumnus active in Ring of Honor was PCO, who appeared in WCW as one half of the Amazing French Canadians with Jacques Rougeau. I believe I recently read a news story which indicates that PCO does not intend to renew his contract with the company once it expires on November 30, but he wrestled there as recently as October and is still tied down to Ring of Honor, so I will continue to count him . . . until next year.

TNA

Last year’s TNA list wound up being: Disco Inferno, James Storm, Johnny Swinger, and Rhyno.

We’ve lost 50% of those names now, with Disco Inferno and James Storm falling by the wayside.

On the manager/authority figure side of things, we can add in Father James Mitchell, who was James Vandenberg in WCW, and Scott D’Amore, who had quite a few matches as a WCW enhancement talent. He even got on to one episode of Nitro, being one of three men who lost a handicap match to the Giant on August 4, 1997.

So for TNA, we are now at: James Mitchell, Johnny Swinger, Rhyno, and Scott D’Amore.

MLW

I didn’t include MLW in this answer in 2019 or 2020, but, now that they are on Vice TV, their television distribution is at least as good as TNA’s, so I may as well bring them in to the mix.

As far as active wrestlers are concerned, L.A. Park, who was the original La Parka in WCW, is the only person who qualifies in this company. However, if we are factoring in managers, he would be joined by Konnan, who has been working with a version of LAX in the company.

NJPW

Last year’s list of WCW alums in New Japan was Gedo, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, and Yuji Nagata. All four of those men are still part of the company’s active roster, though Tenzan has slowed down as of late and has only wrestled once since August at the time of this writing.

There are also no additions, so this year’s list is identical to last year’s.

AJPW

Osamu Nishimura was the only person on last year’s list, and he was only marginally on the list because his “WCW” appearances were on co-promoted NJPW/WCW shows that took place in Japan in 1995. Nishimura has only had five matches for All Japan this year, and the last one was in July, so I think that we are going to take him off.

CIMA did have a run in AJPW earlier this year, but he’s not around anymore, so I wouldn’t include him on the list either, but he did pop on and off in between last year’s column and this year’s column.

And, with that, we can declare there are no WCW alumni in All Japan Pro Wrestling.

Dragon Gate

Last year we included Don Fuji, Dragon Kid, and Ultimo Dragon himself in this column.

They’re all still there, and nobody has joined them.

Pro Wrestling NOAH

After having no WCW alums in 2019, the trio of Keiji Muto, Kaz Hayashi, and Kendo Kashin were added here in 2020 after making their NOAH debuts.

Hayashi has not been in NOAH since December of last year, which means that we’re now down to just Muto and Kashin.

CMLL

Felino was our only entry last year, and he is our only entry this year. Stay strong, Felino.

AAA

Last year we listed LA Park here, but he has not had a match in AAA since the end of 2020, so we’ll take him off and leave him exclusively on the MLW list. That means there is no AAA list this time around.

And the rest . . .

Though Brad has historically only asked about wrestlers in significant promotions, in years past I’ve tracked down all active WCW alumni, no matter where they may be. In 2020, the list of WCW alums active outside of major promotions read like this:

Buff Bagwell, Lizmark Jr., Sabu, Lodi, Damian 666, Sandman, Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Rock n’ Roll Express, The Maestro, Shannon Moore, Halloween/Ciclope, Scott Steiner, Psicosis, Malia Hosaka, Meiko Satomura, Dave “Gangrel” Heath, Fidel Sierra, George South, Johnny Gunn (a.k.a. Tom Brandi), Koji Kanemoto, Mayumi Ozaki, Shane Douglas, Shinjiro Otani, Villano IV, and Chigusa Nagayo.

We’ve already taken Chavo Jr. and Meiko Satomura off of this list by virtue of the fact that they’re wrestling elsewhere.

I’ll also remove Buff Bagwell because he’s only had one match since March 2020, Tom Brandi and Scott Steiner, who have both only had one match since February 2020, Psicosis, who has wrestled twice since May 2020, Fidel Sierra, who has not wrestled since June 2020, and Villano IV who has had one match since December 2020.

I’m just glad that I didn’t have to remove anybody this year due to death.

We will be adding James Storm to this list, because he’s left TNA within the last year but remains active in other, smaller companies.

Ditto Kaz Hayashi, who is out of NOAH but still wrestling, mainly for a relatively new Japanese promotion called GLEAT.

There are four more individuals who we will add to this list not because they left other promotions but because they have legitimately made in-ring comebacks in the last year. Those individuals are:

Too Cold Scorpio, who has been back on the indies, most notably for Game Changer Wrestling.

Vampiro, who has had a handful of matches in Mexico this year in addition to one shot in the U.S. for the Insane Clown Posse’s Juggalo Championship Wrestling.

Devon “Crowbar” Storm, who started wrestling again in April and has appeared on AEW television within the last month, though he is not (yet) a bona fide member of the roster.

Mark Canterbury a.k.a. Shanghai Pierce a.k.a. Henry O. Godwinn in the WWF, who has been spotted wrestling in Pennsylvania.

All of those additions and deletions make our final list:

James Storm, Kaz Hayashi, Too Cold Scorpio, Vampiro, Crowbar, Shanghai Pierce, Lizmark Jr., Sabu, Lodi, Damian 666, Sandman, Juventud Guerrera, Rock n’ Roll Express, The Maestro, Shannon Moore, Halloween/Ciclope, Malia Hosaka, Dave “Gangrel” Heath, George South, Koji Kanemoto, Mayumi Ozaki, Shane Douglas, Shinjiro Otani, and Chigusa Nagayo.

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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