Editor Q&A Is Back (Thursday 2/15/01 9pm)

Welcome once again to the world famous "Editor Q&A" section of Wrestlingtribune.com. This is where visitors to Wrestlingtribune.com can submit questions to me, Eric Chmiel, the editor of the Wrestling Tribune Newsletter, which I then answer. Questions can be sent to editor@wrestlingtribune.com. Hope you enjoy. Without further delay, it's on to our queries.

Can you please tell me what 3:16 means in relationship to Steve Austin? Also, what was the big double cross that involved Bret Hart when he was in the WWF? -- Diane Stizza

Editor: The biggest breakthrough interview of Steve Austin's career was at the 1996 King of the Ring PPV. Austin had just won the King of the Ring tournament by beating Jake Roberts in the finals. At the time, Roberts, a renown drug addict and reprobate, had just converted to Christianity. Some feel the conversion was more for show than anything else, but that's another subject for another day. Anyway, before the final match, Roberts was doing an interview where he quoted Biblical verse talking about John 3:16. After Austin beat Roberts, Austin did an interview saying something to the effect of, "You talk about John 3:16. But Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass." Back in 1996, hearing the word "ass" on a wrestling program was a novelty, hard to believe since it's said about 100 times a show nowadays (or so it seems sometimes). The line stuck, and it became the initial rallying cry of Austin's first rise to superstardom.

Bret Hart in 1996 took time off from the wrestling business and was contemplating contract offers from both the WWF and WCW. The WWF, having lost a lot of talent to WCW already, was losing the wrestling war and couldn't afford to lose Bret. To make sure he wouldn't jump, Vince McMahon offered Bret a 20-year contract worth tons of money. Bret accepted the deal out of loyalty and stayed with the WWF. Months down the road, with the WWF losing money, Vince felt Bret wasn't worth the money he was being paid and tried to get him to take a pay cut. Bret refused. Eventually, Vince pretty much told Bret to exercise an "out" in his 20-year deal that allowed him to leave after the first year, if he wanted to. So, Bret, feeling the WWF didn't want him, signed with WCW. One problem though. Bret was still the WWF champion at the time. Vince wanted Bret to drop the WWF belt to Shawn Michaels at the 1997 Survivor Series in Montreal, but Bret refused on the grounds that he didn't want to lose in front of the fans of his home country of Canada. Instead, Bret wanted to drop the title the next night on RAW or else just surrender the title on that show. So Vince set up a finish in the Michaels vs. Bret match where Bret's "Hart Foundation" heel group would interfere, causing a DQ, and the title would stay in Bret's hands going into the following night's RAW. But Vince allegedly was afraid that either Bret would leave after the PPV and embarrass the WWF by showing up on Nitro the next night with the belt, or else he'd show up on the live RAW the next night and do an interview plugging WCW (although some would say Vince had more insidious motivations). So Vince concocted a plan to take the belt from Bret at the Survivor Series without Bret's knowledge. In that match, Shawn put Bret in the sharpshooter, which was not the planned finish, but Vince had the timekeeper ring the bell and the referee signaled that Bret had submitted to the move, when in fact he had not. In other words, Vince tricked or "double crossed" Bret into losing the belt in Canada, which Bret has never forgiven Vince for. Bret struck Vince in the face in the locker room after the match and never worked for the WWF again. The incident spiked the WWF's TV ratings since so many regular Nitro viewers were curious about the incident, and when they tuned in to RAW over the next few weeks, they found they liked the WWF product better than WCW's. Led by the famous Austin vs. McMahon feud, the WWF eventually built up enough momentum to overcome WCW and become #1 again. The two companies have gone in completely opposite directions ever since. The Montreal incident was one of the few examples of a true in-ring double cross in the past 40 years or so and has gone down as perhaps the most legendary match in decades.

My question is about the old Global Wrestling Federation, a promotion that started out with a lot of promise but faded quickly. What happened to the GWF? Was Joe Pedicino the original owner of the group or was the GWF really a "global" promotion headed by some international money man when it started? Do you have any behind the scenes information on the GWF? -- Mark Maziarz

Editor: The Global Wrestling Federation was seen on ESPN daily about a decade ago and featured such stars as Raven (when he was known as Scotty the Body), Bastion Booger (when he was called Makhan Singh), X-Pac (known as Lightning Kid), the Patriot, Eddie Gilbert, Terry Gordy, Stan Lane and numerous others. Joe Pedicino was indeed the owner of the group along with his wife Bonnie Blackstone. Pedicino did have financial backers in the venture, but all the talk about "going global" and having foreign oil magnates financing the promotion was all just an angle. The GWF started out with a strong wind at its back with a lot of second-tier name stars and good wrestlers, but like most such ventures, the amount of money it takes to use all that name talent and produce a regular TV show just drained the GWF of its cash and eventually Pedicino started feeling the financial strain. He eventually stopped taping TV and lost his ESPN spot, after a period where all of his name stars had left and had given way to local indie wrestlers in Dallas (where the company was based). Eventually, Pedicino sold the company, of which there wasn't much left other than the lease to run matches at the legendary Sportatorium in Dallas. Grey Pierson owned the GWF for awhile, and even Jim Crockett of 80's TBS NWA fame had it for a spell, but in reality Dallas was a burned out wrestling town at the time and it was impossible to draw there without name stars from WCW or the WWF. ESPN lost interest in the GWF before Pedicino even sold it and the company simply went out of business after several failed owners.

A few weeks ago on the Discovery Channel they did a program on the UPW indie group out of California. In it they showed a wrestler who went by the gimmick of "Prototype." He seemed to have a good look and good interview skills. They didn't show enough in ring action to make a judgment on his work skills. Anyway, at the end they said he was signed by the WWF. Do you know who this person is and what they are doing right now? Also, what are his chances of making it to the WWF and getting TV time? -- Travis

Editor: Prototype is west coast independent wrestler John Sena and he's still working for Rick Bassman's UPW group out of California. Bassman, who trained both Sting and Ultimate Warrior for the ring in the 80's, operates UPW as a farm league for WWF developmental trainees, including Sena. It's pretty clear that Prototype has a major league look and lots of charisma, and he can already do interviews pretty well. He was questionable in the ring at one time but is said to have improved a lot since the Discovery Channel special was filmed. On a side note, that Discovery Channel show was the basis for the concept of "Reality Wrestling TV" upon which ECW owner Paul Heyman unsuccessfully tried to sell his company to several cable TV networks last year, including USA. It's also the inspiration for the WWF's upcoming MTV series "Tough Enough," which will follow young trainees being worked out by Tazz, David Taylor and Jacqueline in the classic MTV "Real World" style where the cameras will follow the trainees around 24 hours a day as they train to be wrestlers. The voyeur-type look at training for the ring from the Discovery Channel show will be co-opted for Tough Enough. By the way, we're already hearing that the WWF is trying to find "ringers" for Tough Enough in the form of established independent wrestlers, since they've been disappointed with the quality of the entries they've gotten from fans so far (as shown recently on those embarrassing videotaped interviews on RAW and Smackdown). The WWF figured they were going to find a few diamonds in the rough, but what they got instead was a bunch of pale, unathletic guys with no size and no look playing bad guy wrestler in their living rooms, so it was time to look somewhere else for trainees with a good look and decent charisma. The only problem is, using ringers kind of makes the whole show a sham.

There was an incident at the Clash of Champions in February 1990 where Sting injured his knee climbing the cage to go after Ric Flair for turning on him earlier in the evening. He was scheduled to face Flair at the "Wrestle War" pay per-view a couple of weeks later for the World title but was replaced by Lex Luger. My questions are, first was Sting really injured, and second was he supposed to win the title at that event? -- Bernie B.

Editor: Yes, that was a real injury to Sting. He tore the patella tendon in his knee while climbing the cage to chase Flair. He had to have surgery and was out for several months. And yes, he was supposed to win the title from Flair at WrestleWar but it didn't happen because of the injury. The incident was just about par for the course for WCW's rotten luck at the time. They were trying to build around Sting but the knee injury forced them to postpone that plan. Sting eventually came back and won the belt, but he was more or less a bust as champion. He got several more opportunities to be the top star in WCW over the years and it never worked, so the company would always turn back to Flair. It's funny how the 90's was basically a decade where everyone tried to phase Flair down because he was "too old," but every time they tried to replace him with someone else, the replacement failed and they would end up putting Flair right back on top anyway, a desperation strategy that worked more often than not. Actually, Sting's greatest run probably was way after everyone had given up on him as a #1 babyface caliber wrestler, when he switched to the white face paint and began coming down out of the rafters in 1997. In fairness to Sting, the position WCW was in during the early 90's, being so far behind the WWF and management not really having any real plan to catch up until Bischoff came along, made it impossible for Sting to have a real chance to succeed as a Hogan-level superstar, in part through no fault of his own.

I have a question about Andy Kaufman. I recently watched a show on Comedy Central about the Kaufman-Lawler feud. My question is this: why did Kaufman choose Memphis for his angle? Memphis seemed to have very limited exposure to do this, compared to maybe the WWF, Georgia with the WTBS exposure, or even Jim Crockett's Mid-Atlantic promotion. -- Mark Isley

Editor: That documentary was called "I'm From Hollywood." It's good in that it shows you a lot of Kaufman's famous (and actually not-so-famous as well) skits, matches and angles from Memphis. But the stuff with his co-stars from "Taxi" questioning his sanity and Robin Williams saying Kaufman used to wear a championship belt under his clothes, well, it's all made up. Now, there were plenty of reasons to question Kaufman's sanity, as you probably know if you've ever seen the movie about him called "Man on the Moon" with Jim Carrey. But pro wrestling wasn't one of them, and everyone in Hollywood pretty much knew his wrestling exploits were all faked. Kaufman was a New Yorker who was a huge WWF fan in the 70's. He had grown up idolizing wrestlers as the ultimate actors, since they were out in public doing a sort of play acting that even carried over to their everyday non-wrestling lives since it was always considered "taboo" in those days for wrestlers to let on to anyone that wrestling is "fake," even though everyone realizes it is today. Kaufman attended WWF matches at Madison Square Garden on numerous occasions and approached both Vince McMahon Jr. and Sr. about doing his wrestling angle in the WWF. They both thought it would "expose" the wrestling business as being fake to have a skinny actor in there working with the top pros, so they refused his suggestion. I know this all sounds ridiculous today, when actors seem to do wrestling angles every other week, but back then it was a different world and a different wrestling business. Anyway, someone in the WWF (I can't remember offhand who it was) referred Kaufman to Memphis, which was known for doing outrageous angles at the time, and the connection was made. Lawler and his co-owner of the Memphis territory Jerry Jarrett (Jeff's father) loved Kaufman's idea, and the rest is history.

Time Once Again For Editor Q&A (Thursday 1/18/01 7pm)

Yes folks, it's time once again for Wrestlingtribune.com's favorite feature, Editor Q&A. This is where visitors to Wrestlingtribune.com can submit questions to me, Eric Chmiel, the editor of the Wrestling Tribune Newsletter, which I then answer. Questions can be sent to editor@wrestlingtribune.com. Hope you enjoy. On to the questions.

Do you know of any wrestlers who wear hair pieces? Sid's hair, for example, looks awfully thin in the front but thick on top. You can't ever see his scalp, even when he sweats. It seems like the risk of it coming off during a match would be pretty high unless the opponent totally avoided it. -- Dan

Editor: This is actually a great question, because there are some humdinger stories regarding hair in wrestling. I don't think Sid wears a hair piece. I suppose there's always the chance he does, but I don't think so. More likely is that he has a hair weave. He's not the only one. Shawn Stasiak definitely has a hair weave. He took off for awhile when he was a WWF trainee to have it done, because he was losing his hair and bald was not the look he was going for. There was once a jobber who worked for Georgia Championship Wrestling who, if memory serves, was named Joe Turner. He wasn't around very long. One time, this was probably in 1979, Turner had a TV match against Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie, aka Demolition Ax) on TBS. In the middle of the match, Turner's hair piece came off in the front but stayed taped on in the back, so that it kept flopping all over the place like he had been scalped halfway. It was just so funny, because Gordon Solie on commentary completely ignored it even though everyone else was laughing hysterically and it killed the match. Then there was the time Chris Adams, intoxicated and for some reason really mad at Rod Price (who worked in ECW for a spell in 1999), had a TV match against Price for the old Global Wrestling Federation on ESPN. This was maybe 1993. I don't know what set off Adams, but he started grabbing Price's hair weave and ripping it out. It was horrible. Adams was pulling out bloody clumps of hair that had been surgically implanted into Price's head. Pretty disgusting. Not coincidentally, I think Price just wrestled bald when he worked for ECW. It's a lot safer that way, I guess.

Can you give me in depth details on the deaths of Rikidozan, Bruiser Brody and and Dino Bravo? -- Brian Hamilton

Editor: Rikidozan was, without a doubt, the biggest star in Japanese wrestling history for years and years, and was still regarded as such deep into the 90's when Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba finally started to surpass him in the eyes of the fans. In some ways, the rise of Baba and Inoki to Rikidozan's former status as the top stars of all-time was inevitable since there were so many young fans coming up in Japan who didn't personally remember Rikidozan but grew up with Baba and Inoki, although almost everyone in Japan has seen Rikidozan on videotape. Rikidozan was a major force behind the scenes in Japanese pro wrestling at a time when Japanese fans didn't actually realize the matches were fixed. The Japanese went nuts for the sight of this tough little Japanese guy beating the crap out of these big, mean foreigners, especially Americans. This was in the 50's when Japan was still suffering the ill effects of losing World War II, so it was a huge deal for the national psyche that a native son could defeat all these foreigners in hand to hand combat. Rikidozan, as a result of his big wins over Americans, became a legitimate national hero. But Rikidozan had extensive ties to the Yakuza, the Japanese mob, and was involved in numerous shady business dealings. Somewhere along the line, he messed with the wrong person in the mob and he paid for it. One night in 1963, he was singing at a nightclub he owned in Tokyo and someone from the Yakuza basically performed a contract hit on him, stabbing him in the stomach with a huge knife. Rikidozan, bleeding to death, actually tried to laugh it off and he kept singing. He collapsed and eventually died, a story covered in every newspaper in the country as major news. The revelation that the mob had such close ties to Rikidozan almost destroyed the wrestling business in Japan, since it came out that the matches were all fixed. This would be sort of like Marshall Faulk being stabbed to death in the U.S and the revelation coming out that the 2000 Super Bowl was fixed. Anyway, the business stayed in a deep slump in Japan until Baba and Inoki came of age and slowly but surely brought it back from the depths into a period of huge popularity.

Bruiser Brody? Well, probably no one is ever going to know why he was stabbed to death by Juan Gonzalez, the man known in Puerto Rican wrestling circles as Invader #1. According to those who saw it, prior to the matches one night Brody was showing when Gonzalez, who had just had a private discussion with Brody, went into the shower room. This was while Brody was on a tour of Puerto Rico with the World Wrestling Council, of which Gonzalez was and still is a financial partner. Gonzalez went into the shower room with something in his hand wrapped in a bag or a newspaper. Turns out, it was a knife. Gonzalez stabbed Brody fatally, with Tony Atlas standing a few feet away, although Atlas claims he didn't actually see the stabbing. Some say the stabbing was because Brody had refused Gonzalez's instructions to lose a match that night. But Brody used to refuse to lose matches all the time (he was a lot like Hulk Hogan in that respect) and anyway that seems like a real flimsy reason to murder someone. Some say Brody and Gonzalez had a money dispute. But again, that happens all the time in wrestling, and is that any reason to stab someone to death? Gonzalez was acquitted of the murder in a Puerto Rican court, even though everyone knew he did it. Eventually, a lot of people, mainly Americans who were in the locker room the night of the murder, started coming out claiming that they got their subpoenas to testify in the case after the trial had ended, or that they had received death threats telling them if they ever came back to Puerto Rico, they'd end up like Brody. Dutch Mantell came out in a Japanese magazine a few months ago charging that the World Wrestling Council paid off Puerto Rican authorities to lose evidence in the case or to ignore key details, to ensure that Gonzalez would never be found guilty. It must have worked, because he wasn't. This is one case where there are always going to be a lot more questions than answers, and I doubt that we'll ever know much more than this.

Dino Bravo was shot to death at his home in Montreal, I believe in 1994. He was long alleged to have been involved with the mob in that city. He was out of the wrestling business by then and living with his wife and daughter, who had gone out for the evening. When they came home, they found Bravo sitting in his easy chair with the TV on, about a dozen or more bullet holes riddling his body. Apparently, someone had come over during the course of the evening, probably someone he knew since there was no no sign of forced entry and Bravo was relaxing in a chair when he was shot. Whoever it was, they shot him a whole bunch of times. Bravo was under investigation at the time for illegally importing American cigarettes into Canada, which is big business north of the border because the Canadian government has extremely high tariffs on U.S. cigarette brands and if you can smuggle them into the country illegally and then sell them cheap, you can make a fortune. His wife allegedly told police Bravo had a very large amount of cash in the house at the time, and she didn't know where it came from because he wouldn't tell her, but it was gone when Bravo's body was found. Police deduced that Bravo was skimming money off the top of a mob-related cigarette smuggling ring and paid for it with his life.

Is it true that Brent Bozell and Phil Mushnick are such harsh critics of wrestling because they actually used to be the men under the masks as the ill fated WCW team The Ding Dongs? -- Buzzsaw01

Editor: Now that's really funny. The Ding Dongs actually were two Georgia indie wrestlers who were never heard from again. For those who don't recall, in the early 90's, when WCW was trying to copy the WWF's gimmick-oriented style, they had a short-lived tag team called The Ding Dongs who wore blue bodysuits with bells all over their bodies, so that the bells would ring every time they executed a move. If that sounds silly, it's because it was. Then again, if I was one of the Ding Dongs, and they made me wear that funny suit, I'd probably be bitter toward the wrestling business too.

Did the Dudley Boyz end up getting the gimmick that Public Enemy was supposed to have in the WWF? How come PE bombed there so badly? Back in the late 80's or early 90's, the WWF was pushing a young wrestler with a country gimmick. It seems like he fell off the earth. Do you recall who that was? -- Joe Ferrari

Editor: The Dudleys turned out to be everything the WWF thought Public Enemy would be, and more. It does seem as if they were both intended to have similar gimmicks, with some differences of course due to the individual personalities of the guys involved, but both were to be the "hardcore" tag team of the company. Public Enemy was built up in ECW like major stars, and actually with tremendous success in that role, because of Paul Heyman's incredible ability to map out matches which accentuate wrestlers' strengths and bury their weaknesses. PE had so many weaknesses, especially that Johnny Grunge actually was a bad worker in the ring, that when they left ECW for WCW, they started having trouble because they couldn't do all the crazy stuff with wild violence and blood and tables that used to cover up their inadequacies in ECW. Eventually, WCW just let them do the tables gimmick because that was the only way they could get over. Heyman built up PE so well that the Big two actually got into a bidding war over them, with WCW initially winning out. When they finished up with WCW, Terry Taylor had some big idea he wanted try out with them (the hardcore gimmick), so the WWF hired them (Taylor was with the WWF at the time). The WWF's people were quickly disappointed because the team was a cut beneath most of the WWF's talent as far as their ringwork went, and PE actually complained a couple times in the back after being asked to lose matches. Once, right before PE were let go by the WWF, the Acolytes were sent into the ring with them on RAW for the express purpose of beating the crap out them to "teach them a lesson" about complaining over the booking. That's a trick you don't see much in wrestling these days, but back in the territory days in the 70's, every promotion had its own "policeman" who was a legitimate tough man and a trained fighter. When one of the wrestlers would do something the promoter didn't like, the promoter would match him up against the policeman, who would beat the hell out of the offending wrestler in the ring for real to send the guy the message that he's misbehaving. It's a brutal reality, but that's the way it used to be.

That country guy you're referring to from the WWF is, I believe, Lance Cassidy. It was Steve Armstrong of the Armstrong family doing a singing cowboy gimmick. Actually, he couldn't sing or play guitar so the singing part was dropped pretty quickly, which led to Vince McMahon losing interest in the whole idea. That was death for Lance Cassidy, who found himself out of the WWF a few months later. The WWF never tried the gimmick again, and aren't likely to anytime soon since gimmicks like that are way out of vogue these days. Armstrong went on to form The Young Pistols in WCW along with Tracy Smothers, and they were a great tag team for awhile.

Wasn't Goldberg part of the group of people that Roddy Piper was trying to pick for a team in that terrible angle where he needed members to assist him against another team? It was never mentioned in Goldberg's book. -- Randy Gajewski

Editor: Goldberg, with hair, was indeed the first guy Roddy Piper "auditioned" as part of that awful Nitro skit in 1997. Piper was picking guys for a 12-man, 3 team match at the Uncensored PPV that year. The idea was, Piper would bring out guys and fight them to see if they were tough enough to be on his team. Piper talked Eric Bischoff into allowing the skit because Piper, due to the big stars back then treating WCW as a joke as they still do today (well, at least until Bischoff took over again), wanted his chauffer to be on his team. To make that possible, Piper wanted to field a team of unknowns, so his unknown chauffer wouldn't look out of place. They tapped a few guys from the Power Plant to do the skit, one of which was Goldberg. He looked so good and had so much charisma in the skit, the WWF immediately started trying to sign him, which forced WCW to give him a contract (he didn't have one while he was working at the Power Plant). Since he now had a contract, a few months later WCW put him on TV and it was immediately clear to everyone that the guy had "superstar" written all over him. They pushed him to the moon and the rest is history. I don't know why it's not in Goldberg's book. Maybe he's trying to keep the whole incident under wraps. It makes sense, because it was one of the worst segments--if not the worst segment--in the history of either Monday night wrestling program.

A New Editor Q&A (Wednesday 1/10/01 10:15pm)

Welcome to the latest edition of Editor Q&A. This is where visitors to Wrestlingtribune.com can submit questions to me, Eric Chmiel, the editor of the Wrestling Tribune Newsletter, which I then answer. Questions can be sent to editor@wrestlingtribune.com. Hope you enjoy this new feature here on the website. On to the questions.

Are Test and Stephanie still a couple? Why hasn't Test been pushed to a higher level in the WWF? -- Jamie Combs

Editor: I don't think Test and Stephanie ever were a couple in real life. There were some rumors about them being together back when they were doing the angle on TV where they were engaged, but I assume those rumors just stemmed from people thinking there was more behind the TV storyline than there really was. As far as Test never moving up goes, I'd say he's just going to be a career undercard guy, because that seems to be how he's seen by WWF management. But the thing is, he had such a golden opportunity to be moved to the next level after Steph left him form Triple H, because it was just such a perfect natural angle to have him feud with Triple H. But instead of that happening, he got passed over for a push and wound up floundering until he ended up in T&A with Albert and Trish. You'll notice that the WWF is moving Trish into her biggest push ever starting with Smackdown Thursday night (see the main News page for the complete Smackdown report), but Test isn't going with her so he's being passed over again. Test has the size and can wrestle well for a guy that tall, but he doesn't have the in-ring talent of the upper echelon guys like Rock, Austin, Triple H, etc. and we guess that's why he's not moving up. The sense I get is, no one really cares much about the current Test-Albert feud.

About Kurt Angle not being the first Olympian turned pro wrestler. Was Ken Patera an Olympic medlist? I remember when he was teamed up with the late John Studd, he was billed as a weightlifting medal winner. Any updates on Ken? -- Mike Cha

Editor: Angle is by no means the first Olympian to go into pro wrestling. There have literally been dozens of them in Japan and North America. Patera was a gold medal winner in the Pan-Am Games in (I believe it was) 1971. He was a big favorite as a member of the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team in 1972 but he didn't even come close to a medal. When he wrestled, he was always billed as having finished fourth in the Olympics, even though he never even placed. Promoters billed him that way since they figured that was the highest they could claim he placed because any higher and he would've won a medal, which could be easily looked up by fans and then they'd know the promoters were lying. Patera currently lives in Minnesota and sometimes promotes independent shows. He's got an artificial hip but he still wrestles once in awhile, although he doesn't take bumps. He was just honored at a Minnesota Timberwolves NBA game as part of an "AWA Night" about a week or so ago. Since 1948, there have been numerous Olympians who became pro wrestlers such as Mad Dog Vachon (believe it or not, he finished seventh in wrestling as a 148 pounder at the '48 Olympics), Danny Hodge, Dale Lewis, Mr. Saito, Riki Choshu, Jumbo Tsuruta, Wilhelm Ruska (who once wrestled briefly for the WWF in the late 70's and was thought to be a future World champion, but he bombed out big time), Frank Anderson (who worked for WCW in the mid-90's as a guy being groomed for tours in his native Sweden, but he was fired after being arrested for steroid possession), Brad Rheingans, Giant Silva (in basketball), El Gigante aka Giant Gonzalez (also in basketball), Mark Henry, and possibly Iron Sheik (the claim has been made that he wrestled on the Iranian Olympic team in 1968, but no one knows for sure because he appears to have not wrestled under his real name of Khosrow Viziri, which makes it pretty hard to find records of him).

My favorite masked wrestler was Dr. X in the Verne Gagne AWA. How do masked wrestlers blade without ripping their masks? It seemed Dr. X always ended up with a bloody mask, but I don't remember him sneaking under the ring or otherwise disappearing for long enough to pull up his mask and cut himself. -- John Moha

Editor: Dr. X was Dick Beyer, later known as the Destroyer, who was and is a legend in Japan. He once was a regular on a highly rated Japanese TV sitcom in the 70's (mask and all) which made him a mainstream star in Japan. He lives here in the Buffalo area (where the Tribune is based) and I've met him several times. He is hilarious to talk to. Anyway, masked wrestlers usually slip the blade through the eyehole of their mask to blade. It's somewhat dangerous because you could always mis-cut yourself due to the mask, but most masked wrestlers fared pretty well at blading.

Knowing what Steve Austin has gone through with his neck injury, how much danger is he putting himself in with all the things he does in the ring? Some of the bumps he takes seem pretty hard. -- Brttnydd

Editor: Actually, yes, he's in some danger. It's not so much the hard bumps, because as long as a bump doesn't directly affect his neck he should be okay. What's really dangerous is any move where he could possibly take a bump directly on his head or his neck. You'll notice whenever Undertaker goes for a powerbomb on Austin, he gets out of it before the move happens, since he won't take bumps where he could possibly come down on his head. He also won't take piledrivers. Actually though, Austin sometimes does things that really make us nervous. Like on RAW this past Monday, he was taking overhead belly-to-belly suplexes from Kurt Angle. He was clearing the move just fine, but if he ever didn't get his head tucked properly and took a hard bump on his neck, or tweaked his head on the mat, he could be paralyzed. That's pretty scary. Austin has weighed the risks however, and we guess he feels the level of risk is acceptable. Then again, when you feel the roar of the crowd and experience so much stardom at the top of the WWF like Austin has, sometimes your desire not to lose that stardom may overweigh your good sense.

How come in the past, the WWF would take established tag teams and totally change their gimmicks (Sheepherders become Bushwhackers, Destruction Crew become Beverly Brothers)? Also, did Shawn Michaels and Marty Jennetty have a falling out? Did Shawn carry that team? And, tell me some information on The Missing Link. I remember him wrestling in the old Florida area in the 80's. -- Joe Ferrari

Editor: Actually, up until recently, the WWF would routinely change the name and gimmick of many wrestlers they hired, even established ones. The idea was, if the WWF gives a wrestler a new name and gimmick that they created and copyrighted, then the WWF gets to keep all the merchandising money when they market that wrestler's shirts, videos, hats, etc. If the wrestler uses his real name or a name the wrestler created himself, then the WWF only gets a portion of the merchandising. Today, WWF wrestlers are paid a percentage of the money made on merchandise sold which is related to their gimmick/image, no matter what name they use. If you're Steve Austin or Rock, that can net you millions of dollars a year. If you're Prince Albert and nobody really buys much of your merchandise, it doesn't amount to a whole lot. Also, in the past the WWF sometimes hired wrestlers specifically to play certain gimmicks they had already conceived, like the Bushwhackers, and they just hired the person/team and plugged him/them into the gimmick. Today, they usually hire a wrestler based on talent or size or charisma or whatever, and then figure out what gimmick to give him.

Shawn Michaels and Marty Jennetty actually did have a falling out. Well, it was more of a gradual thing than any one incident. They used to party constantly in the 80's with drinking and women, and it actually hurt their careers at times. I think at some point Michaels started to show more drive in his career and Jennetty just sort of wanted to keep partying until finally they just couldn't stand each other behind the scenes anymore. Michaels was definitely better than Jennetty at almost every facet of the business, but you can't really say he "carried" the team because Jennetty was damn good when he was clean and putting forth the effort. Missing Link was Dewey Robertson, a Canadian who had been wrestling since the 60's when he remade himself into the Link. He actually put about five extra years onto his career with the Link gimmick by changing his body type into more of a muscleman and doing the face painting deal that was en vogue in the early 80's. His last hurrah was actually getting a job with the WWF in 1985, but for whatever reason, he only made a few appearances before he was released. In his previous life as Dewey Robertson, he had good runs in the Crockett Mid-Atlantic (and its affiliated territory out of Toronto) and in the Central States/St. Louis area.

In the late 80's, there was a masked wrestler wearing a goalie mask in the WWF who was running in and attacking wrestlers after their matches. He did this for a few weeks and then just disappeared. What was up with that? -- Tommy Tong

Editor: That was Brutus Beefcake. He had been in a horrible parasailing accident where he literally had his face crushed. He spent weeks in the hospital and months in rehab. Beefcake had all kinds of reconstructive surgery and had metal plates put into his skull and face. When he came back to the WWF, there was fear that if he ever took an accidental blow to the face in the ring, it would injure his face and skull again, so the WWF devised the idea with the hard plastic mask designed to protect his face from accidental blows. Actually, if he wasn't Hogan's friend, the WWF probably would've just fired him after the injury. Anyway, it eventually turned out that his face wasn't as vulnerable as initially thought, so he dropped the mask and went on with his career as plain old Brutus Beefcake (at least until he jumped to WCW and worked under what seemed like about 50 different names there).

Editor Q&A (Wednesday 1/3/01 8pm)

Welcome to the first edition of Editor Q&A. This is where visitors to Wrestlingtribune.com can submit questions to me, Eric Chmiel, the editor of the Wrestling Tribune Newsletter, which I then answer. Questions can be sent to editor@wrestlingtribune.com. Hope you enjoy this new feature here on the website. On to the questions.

Is the Ultimate Warrior dead? I've heard that the real Ultimate Warrior died when he was in the WWF years ago, and the one that's been around more recently is an impostor. -- Kevin Gold

Editor: I figured we might as well start with this question since I get asked this so often. No, Ultimate Warrior (Jim Hellwig) isn't dead, and there's never been an impostor Ultimate Warrior in either the WWF or WCW. But the rumor that he's dead and been replaced by an impostor has been around for years. I'm not sure where the rumor comes from, other than guessing that maybe it stems from the fact that Warrior used to change his wrestling gear and make-up (and also the WWF title belt when he held it) so many times in the WWF in the late 80's/early 90's that people thought the WWF was trying to pull something fishy and slip them a bogus Warrior. Oddly, the same rumor has also popped up regarding other wrestlers such as King Kong Bundy. They're all false. To our knowledge, there are no wrestlers who have died and been replaced by impostors in an attempt to fool the public.

How did Rick Rude die? Was it a suicide? I was told he was despondent over being fired by WCW. -- Keltonian

Editor: It wasn't a suicide, it was an accidental drug overdose. He was found at his home in Georgia, I believe in February 1999, and empty pill bottles were present near his body. Toxicology tests showed that the drugs had killed him. He hadn't been fired by WCW and was still on the company payroll. At that time, the company was wasting money left and right and there were lots of guys who were being paid while just sitting at home doing nothing because management didn't have any plans for them. There had been talk that Rude, who had retired from the ring due to a neck injury years earlier, was planning to attempt a comeback as a wrestler, although such rumors had been circulating for some time and nothing had ever come of them.

Whatever happened to Ahmed Johnson? -- Tony Cotter

Editor: Ahmed Johnson (Tony Norris) was a star in the WWF a few years ago. He got fired because he had an attitude problem and he was injury prone. He started getting injured on a regular basis and then didn't want to work as hard as he could have at rehabbing his injuries, nor did he work hard at improving his questionable skills in the ring. He was notorious for putting on bad matches, and for being clumsy and accidentally hurting people. One night, after he was already long since in the WWF dog house, he refused to lose a match at a RAW taping to Kurrgan (remember him?). That was the final straw and Vince McMahon fired him. After he was fired, Vince said publicly that Johnson started to have trouble telling the difference between Ahmed Johnson and Tony Norris, meaning that he was believing his own hype and thought he was such a big star that he didn't have to try anymore. He turned up in WCW in 1999-2000 as Big T teaming with Stevie Ray in the New Harlem Heat, but he was way out of shape and looked bad as ever in the ring. As a result, he's no longer with that company either. The chances of him catching on with the big leagues again seem slim, although you never know.

Who are regarded as the toughest wrestlers--legitimately speaking--in WWF, WCW and ECW? Who would win a real fight between the toughest wrestlers? -- bushmaster111

Editor: It's hard to say because pro wrestlers get into so few legitimate fights. Usually, you look to guys who have competed in real fighting tournaments or won real street fights. Recently in WCW, Dallas Page started a legitimate backstage fight with Scott Steiner and Steiner was basically en route to killing Page when other people jumped in to break it up. No one would dispute that Scott Steiner is one tough mother, and if you were making a list of legitimate tough guys in WCW, he'd be on it. He's got a championship background in amateur wrestling in college. He's also got the temperament of a caged animal, which doesn't make him any less formidable. Rick Steiner also is seen as a tough guy due to his college wrestling background. Goldberg is believed to be tough in real life, and Meng is respected by everyone as a guy who can do real damage in a fight. Of course, WCW keeps trying to push Meng on the idea that he's a legitimate tough guy, but because the general fan doesn't realize that, and because Meng severely lacks charisma, it never works. In the WWF, there was always Ken Shamrock, who has been hell on wheels in Ultimate Fighting, but Shamrock is no longer with the WWF. In that vein, Tank Abbott is another guy who everyone knows is not to be messed with because he's proven himself as a real fighter in the UFC. Kurt Angle is, as we're constantly reminded, an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling, so I wouldn't want to fight the guy. He's not the biggest man in the WWF, but you'd be surprised how fast a smaller man with world class wrestling skills can take out a bigger guy who's just a brawler. On the other hand, when you've got guys in the WWF who are 6 foot 7 and 360 pounds like Prince Albert, or almost 7 feet like Undertaker, these are guys you wouldn't want to mess with, legitimate fighting background or not. Of course, Tazz can kill people and he's only 5 foot 8. Bradshaw and Steve Blackman have reps as fighters as well. In fact, about a year ago, the two of them got into a brawl with each other at a baggage claim terminal, we believe at the airport in Dallas (we may be wrong about the city). Bradshaw got the better of Blackman. In ECW, there really aren't any notable tough guys, but again, there are plenty who could probably do a lot of damage. Just to be a pro wrestler and survive, you have to be tough as nails. Nobody repeatedly takes the kind of punishment wrestlers do night in and night out without being ultra-tough.