Features

TJR Q&A #44: Best Rivalry in WWE This Year, Booking Sami Zayn Better, Brian Pillman & More! (40+ Questions!)

It’s time for another Q&A session here on TJRWrestling. The last Q&A I did was two months ago in mid-July, so it’s time to bring it back. For most of the year I had done them every other week, but August was crazy with SummerSlam reviews and other stuff going on in my life. I think I’ll be able to make them an every other week kind of thing again.

The questions come from the loyal readers on my Facebook page and the answers come from me. Let’s see what we’ve got this time.

1. Rik Shaw
What do you think has been the best rivalry this year across all three WWE brands?

I think Strowman vs. Reigns is probably the leader. Also really liked New Day vs. Usos although too many title changes has hurt a bit. Sadly, no great AJ Styles feud and Nakamura hasn’t had one either.

Brock Lesnar’s feud with Strowman has also been outstanding. Let’s see how things go at No Mercy.

2. Will Russell
If you where create a new ‘nwo’ style stable, who would you have in it and why?

I don’t think I would, but stables can work if pushed strongly like Evolution and The Shield. They can also fail miserably like The Nexus. The Wyatt Family could have done way more damage and ended too soon.

A stable with Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Gallows & Anderson would be great just because I know KO is close with Finn. A heel stable. I like having a tag team involved so they can go for the tag titles. It doesn’t have to be like the NWO because that concept would be difficult to do on the main roster today. The trio of Cole, O’Reilly and Fish are kind of doing an “invasion” in NXT these days at least.

3. Kevin C Staed
Which WWF tag team champions were the most overrated and which team should’ve been champions?

I don’t love the term overrated, but Demolition was the kind of team that got by with their look and when the bell rang I found their matches to be really boring for the most part. Only good Demos match I remember is against Hart Foundation at SummerSlam 1990 and that’s because Bret Hart carried them.

I think the Rockers should have had a significant title reign. I know they got a win, then it was taken away because it was taped, but if they had a proper title win it would have been a big deal.

4. Joe Sondag
Do you think how they are booking Dolph or this “new” gimmick is a long term strategy to help Ziggler or to help someone else?

I think he’s just insulting spectacular ring entrances because he is going to have a feud with Bobby Roode and Roode will win the feud. Doubt it leads to any kind of push for Ziggler.

5. Daniel Hill
Greatest idea ever or not? Randy Orton as legend killer wins Money in the Bank when it used to open Wrestlemania! Taker wins title/defends title in main event! Randy cashed in to be champion and take the greatest legend of all, Taker’s WM streak. Hindsight is wonderful as Taker finally did lose it (never thought he would) and Orton went on to be main eventer but could it have worked??

It would have drawn massive heat and probably been a big moment. I always thought nobody was going to beat the streak, but having somebody like Orton do it when he was early in his career would have been wise. Sounds like a good idea to me.

6. Frank Shattuck
If you HAD to choose, who would you have preferred end Undertaker’s WM streak? Did you think they made the right choice?

A younger guy than Lesnar would have been a better choice. I thought it was never going to happen and I was there when it did, so I was as shocked as anybody.

Just to add to that, to specify a younger guy maybe Randy Orton in mid-2000s, but that was when the Streak was building momentum. A guy like Reigns as a heel would have been a good choice. If Strowman was around a few years ago he would have been perfect.

Another name is John Cena as well.

7. John C Hoddy
What current indy star not named Kenny Omega would you like to see signed by WWE?

Ricochet. I don’t think he’s a spot monkey or aerialist only like some people. He’s developing into an all around talent. He’ll be under WWE deal in first half of 2018 when he’s legally able.

Also Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay, who are two outstanding British wrestlers.

8. Ed Luis Valentin
Do you think they should have made Hulk Hogan a WM opponent for the Undertaker at some point? Maybe in 2006. He probably would have been better than Mark Henry.

Doing Hogan vs. Taker at WM in 2006 sounds better than what they actually did. I’m not sure how his health was even though he did wrestle few times in the mid-2000s. Knowing Hogan he probably would have complained about losing.

9. Shay Smithers
Let’s say if Shawn Michaels was still in his prime and still wrestling today, what 3 stars in WWE or outside, whichever you prefer, would you want to see him in a match against?

AJ Styles is the first choice. Would be an incredible match similar to the Angle/Michaels matches and AJ is more of a flier than Kurt, so he could do some aerial stuff with Shawn.

I think HBK as the sympathetic face against Lesnar when he was good Lesnar that actually sold stuff would have been incredible.

Also HBK vs. Okada or Omega would be fantastic. I think they would have incredible chemistry.

10. Jared Robertson
How would you have booked Wade Barrett? Would he have been a world champ in your eyes?

He would have been a World Champion yeah. I thought he was going to win Money in the Bank a few times. I can’t recall but years like 2011, 2012, 2013 I would have picked him if he was healthy. I wouldn’t have done it in 2010 when he was still new on the main roster, but if they really got behind him in the next few years he would have done well as a credible champion.

He would have been the kind of champion that has backup whether it’s one guy or a stable of three or four guys behind him. Talk shit, get heat, cheat to win. That kind of thing.

11. Kenny Brophy
“Fight Forever” probably gets used too much these days what are some of your top rivalries you can see fight forever?

Owens vs. Zayn is the ultimate one especially if they told the story properly with Zayn becoming a WWE/Universal Champion by beating Owens. And I would have that match in Montreal. Imagine the crowd reactions, the false finishes and the reaction to the win. If they ever believed in Zayn as much as they should then if he gets to that level he has to win the big one against Owens.

I hope WWE can build up Styles vs. Rollins as a rivalry because they would have great chemistry. I saw them in a three way with Ambrose at a house show last year (before the brand split) and it looked so easy for them.

12. Michael Reichmuth
If booked right and if he lived is Brian Pillman the biggest what if of the attitude era? I mean to me, besides Austin, no one fit the Attitude Era better.

If he didn’t have that ankle injury that he suffered in April 1996 during a car accident then he would have taken off as a huge star in WWE. Problem is that severely limited in the ring, so he couldn’t do most of the great stuff he was doing in WCW in the early 1990s. The foot injuries led to him abusing drugs too much and ultimately his death in 1997 when he was just 35.

I’m with you saying he fit the Attitude Era as much as anybody and would have been incredible. Great mind for the business too.

On a side note, his son is training with Lance Storm in Calgary now. Or at least he’s going there soon. He’s been at OVW this year.

13. Lee Johnson
Just finished watching every episode of Legends of Wrestling on the network (with your tweet shown on screen in the last episode). Absolutely loved the insight into the industry. Why do you think they stopped producing more episodes?

I don’t know why they stopped other than maybe they felt like they ran out of topics or the viewership numbers were low. They could have done a lot more, though. It’s weird to me that they have this WWE Network and they produce so little new content. Budget cuts can be called a reason for it, but a show like that is four people sitting on a desk and talking, so it’s not like the expense would be high.

My guess is they stopped producing it because not a lot of people watched it.

14. Robert Lee Thomas
In your opinion, who was the most important piece to the Attitude Era Puzzle?

Steve Austin of course. He drove the bus, so to speak. Without him it doesn’t take off like it did. Also Vince McMahon as a heel boss was incredible and was the top heel.

With that said, the depth of the roster and particularly the tag division really helped it out. If they didn’t have those amazing teams then a lot of those shows would have sucked. We all remember times when tag matches come on and fans tune out because it’s boring, but those were some of the best teams ever. They kept our attention.

15. Van Wilhoite
Would you like to see the WWE champ go back to being on both shows again?

Nope. It’s better this way and the travel schedule would suck for that person while the ability to do major feuds would be hurt.

16. Bob Stephen
If you could do a storyline with Sami Zayn (really using him well unlike WWE) what would you do?

Long build 6-7 months where he slowly racks up wins by beating everybody and shows an incredible ability to keep coming back even after getting his ass kicked repeatedly. The most important part of wrestling is selling and Zayn is among the best at that. His offensive moves are certainly good enough. The problem with him is he looks like a regular dude and doesn’t have the catchphrases or the appeal to really catch fire.

What Zayn needs is a hook – something for people to rally behind. With Daniel Bryan he stole the Diego Sanchez thing of saying “yes” which is something he did as a heel, but it caught fire and got him over huge. Yes, Bryan was an amazing in-ring talent, but without the “YES” I doubt he gets that monster push.

So anyway, the story would ultimately end with Zayn doing something incredible like winning the Royal Rumble, Kevin Owens is a WWE or Universal Champion and they have that main event match with Zayn finally reaching that level.

Will WWE ever do it? I don’t know, but I would.

It’s easy to book any wrestler on a win streak. They turned Jinder from a loser to champ. Mark Henry lost most of his matches for 15 years and then got a monster push in 2011 to win a World Title. I just wish they did it with a face and a better performer like Sami.

17. Guy Handscombe
Will Bray Wyatt ever hold the Top title again?

Probably. He’s only 30 years old (young in the wrestling business) and likely going to be a part of WWE for the next decade as long as he’s healthy, so they will likely push him again. I don’t know when.

18. JD Robert
Besides who has already been signed by WWE from the Mae Young classic who else should they sign ?

Santana Garrett is amazingly talented and beautiful. I’d sign her for sure. I wish they signed Serena Deeb again, but I don’t think they have. Candace LaRae isn’t officially signed, but likely will be soon.

Can’t really sign 15-20 women there’s nowhere to put them all.

19. Darrius Gaddy
You’ve probably been asked this plenty of times but what are some of your favorite celebrity involvements in wrestling? I always loved drew Carey at Royal Rumble 2001.

Bob Barker as guest host in 2009 was great! Loved Shaq as a guest host too. William Shatner singing entrance songs is outstanding also. Hugh Jackman also did well and seemd to give a shit unlike some celebs.

20. Luke T.J. Seaford
What’s your opinion of the Lion’s Den Match concept? After watching some old SummerSlam’s this year, I wondered if it’d work as a unique match type for Brock Lesnar to play on his UFC background.

I don’t think it’s something they should do again. It was good when Shamrock vs. Owen did it (I think it gave it ***1/2 out of five), but it lost some appeal the next year with Blackman. Wrestling isn’t that complicated. Keep it in the ring, I say.

21. Emory Cantstopmyswagg White III
Can you see James Storm coming back to the WWE?

Never say never, but he’s already 40 and I don’t think there’s a huge need for him.

22. John Finnie
Who do you think is going to be the first to pin Askua??? Because most folk think she’s to good for the Raw brand hell even the SD brand…… or do you see a NXT debut like Ember or Kairi???

I would have her win every match on the main roster for like a year. It adds value to the storylines and makes her look incredible. So whoever you pick to do it, that person would get over huge. What I’d like to see is Ember Moon gets called up to the main roster after WM or SummerSlam next year and she is finally able to beat Asuka when they have their first match on the main roster. Kairi vs. Asuka would be awesome too.

23. Brian Coats
Who was the best European champion of all time?

There weren’t any that stood out, but I liked D’Lo Brown’s gimmick of being announced from a different European city. I’d go with Owen Hart.

24. Kris Doss
Which wrestler, can be with WWE or not as of now, could be the next superstar of a generation for WWE seen similar to a Hogan, Austin, or Cena?

I don’t know who that is. If they knew they’d probably push him. I don’t think it’s Reigns. Maybe somebody that comes along in the next five years. I think Patrick Clark, who is currently the Velveteen Dream in NXT, has so much potential, but that’s a limited gimmick. Just saying he could be a breakout star.

Chances are the next big star is a guy that isn’t even in wrestling right now, but he could be in five years. You never really know.

25. Cory Andrew Bacon
How do you feel about WWE’s overall use of Ron Simmons? If utilized differently, would he have been a bigger star, or do you think his career was as successful as it could’ve been?

I think he was doomed from the start as Farooq with the stupid blue helmet on his head. Having Sunny as his manager was fine, but say he is Ron Simmons. He was a WCW World Champion and a great college football player. Why the fuck are you covering his face or giving him some new name? It felt like a stupid idea from the start.

The other thing with Simmons is that he didn’t stand out as a character at a time when WWE had some tremendous performers. If he couldn’t cut it on the microphone then it’s tough to get over. Not like his matches were ever that great either. Plus, I think he was older and that was part of it too.

26. Dangelino Ochoa
Is there anything to KO constantly interacting with Sami Zayn? Or are they just random run ins because they have a storied past? Personally, I’d like to see him involved in the KO/Shane story.

I think it’s something they don’t want people to forget because at some point they will have another rivalry. Having a guy as a rival like that will benefit both of them. They are legit very close and I think Sami is Godfather to KO’s son. Utilizing Sami in that story would be fine with me.

27. Adam Gronvold
Retro stuff… What’s your favorite wrestling game from the snes/genesis era?

Royal Rumble. I forget the year, but 1992 or 1993. I just remember one of my best friends having it when we were in 7th or 8th grade and he lived right beside the school, so something like ten of us would go to his house and play on four controllers on some 27 inch TV (big at the time). I played that game so much.

28. Roderick Walker
What are some of your favorite underrated women’s finishers?

I don’t know if it’s underrated, but Victoria’s Widow’s Peak was awesome. Glam Slam by Beth was great too. I love Trish, but hated Stratusfaction because it looked too fake with the woman taking the move having to lift Trish.

29. John L Henegar
I think Hurricane Helms or Gregory for that matter would be good in a program with the Miz. What do you think?

Helms had a major foot injury after an accident a few years ago and doesn’t wrestle much anymore. Lots of metal in his foot. Helms worked backstage in TNA for a few years. It wouldn’t shock me if he ends up back in WWE one day as a backstage agent.

30. Daniel Mount
What would you do with Gallows and Anderson? They’re wasting away.

Put them with Balor as a heel group. If they aren’t going to push Finn hard as a face then just do that. Raw has enough faces already.

31. Sudarshan Udyavar
Everyone speaks of greatest world champion. Who according to you is the greatest wrestler not to have won the world title?

I think Ted Dibiase is probably the best not to win the big one in WWE or WCW. Mr. Perfect is right after him. Roddy Piper is another one although he said many times he didn’t want it. Razor Ramon and Owen Hart are some other names too.

32. Josh Lyon
What’s the deal with Mike and Maria Kanellis? So much hype, and they’ve done nothing since they debuted.

Mike had some pain killer and drinking issue, but he recently got help with it, so I think they are keeping him off TV until they find something for them to do. I think he should have started in NXT personally. He’s fine as a performer, but doesn’t stand out.

33. Chris Rowlands
With Corey Graves being involved in both the Angle/Jordan storyline and the Enzo/Cass break up a few weeks back, do you think there were plans for his character before he ended up pulling double duty on the Raw and Smackdown commentary tables?

I don’t think so. It was just a way to involve somebody other than just wrestlers in two stories, but I don’t think there’s going to be more to it.

34. Oscar Omar Fernandez
I’m watching Raws from the beginning and I’m up to early 96. Shane Douglas seemed to be a big deal but he really didn’t go anywhere. What happened? Also, what was his beef with Ric Flair in the days of the NWA-ECW?

Shane was a talented guy that also whined a lot and blamed others for his problems. He blamed Flair for not booking him well in WCW when Flair was booking and then he blamed Shawn Michaels and The Kliq for fucking him over around that period you mentioned. Shane had a big ego that rubbed people the wrong way, so other than his success in ECW he was unable to really reach the top in other promotions.

Shane has done plenty of shoot interviews, so just search his name and he’ll go into his issues with those guys as well. There was a brief Shane vs. Flair feud in WCW in 2000, at least.

35. Matthew Sheehan
Hogan recently tweeted that some of his fellow Floridans that still have no power, water, etc. are crybabies. He seems to have backtracked and visited Orlando thanking those who are working to get stuff back up and running. Thoughts? Is this detrimental to him getting back into the good graces of WWE?

It was a dumb thing for him to say, but that’s Hogan. He should have kept it to himself or spend some of his millions on somebody to help him tweet things that show compassion.

Hogan is in his mid-60s and wouldn’t offer much to WWE at this point anyway. I don’t care if he’s back or not, really. Waving to the crowd and being an ambassador to the company is all he would do, but his name is tarnished.

36. Jahmir Moore
Hmm retro questions… who was your favorite Owen Hart tag partner? I preferred British Bulldog over KoKo or Yoko…

I think Bulldog was his best partner. Natural chemistry. Yokozuna is probably next best because Owen was able to be a cheesy heel hiding behind his big guy partner.

37. Ruffin Harris
Is there any chance women like Aliyah, Liv Morgan, Peyton Royce, and Mandy Rose see the main roster within the next 12 months?

Of those names, probably Royce is most ready for main roster, but there’s no rush.

38. Shay Smithers
I remember reading once that Sting was originally supposed to have been the one to have turned heel and joined up with Hall and Nash in forming the NWO. Did you ever hear that too; and if so how different would the NWO storyline had gone if that’s how history had played out?

That’s what Bischoff has said and others too, but then Hogan realized it was going to be big, so he threw himself into it.

The story wouldn’t have worked as well with Sting because the idea was these were WWE guys invading WCW and Hogan was the biggest WWE guy of them all (that had been in WCW for two years), so he made sense while with Sting it would have been just a heel turn and not a revolutionary angle.

39. Brett Beatty
I remember you saying you see AJ Styles winning the Royal Rumble and facing Nakamura at Wrestlemania 34, are you still leaning towards that? And who do you see Styles dropping the U.S. Title too?

It’s what I want them to do. Doesn’t mean Uncle Vince agrees with me! US Title reign has been okay, but nothing special. I want AJ to be main eventing again. I don’t care who he loses it to. Sami Zayn in a classic match? Sounds fine.

40. Rob Brown
Feels like with all the hype, Gallows and Anderson haven’t really made an impact. Who is primarily to blame? WWE? G&A? Fans? All of the above?

They should have had a significant run with AJ as a trio and I didn’t like that it was broken up even though AJ obviously had a great second half of 2016.

Don’t know if there’s anybody to blame. Maybe creative team, but reality is you can’t push everybody.

41. Ryan Winter Hawk Armstrong
Since Cena is a free agent, do you see Cena winning Royal Rumble Match and then facing Mahal for WWE Title at WM 34?

If Jinder holds the title that long it will be depressing, but might happen that way. It doesn’t excite me. Also I wouldn’t book Cena to win another Royal Rumble because it’s really not necessary especially a year after Orton won it.

42. Geoff Landtbom
Where do you strike a balance where you can give away big matches for free so to speak and yet not giving away so much that you don’t have much left for pay per views to the point where people say I’ve already seen this match for free, why would I want to see it again? I would use DDP vs Sting as examples, commercial free, pay per view quality bouts for the title. Yet for reasons only known to Eric Bischoff they never met on pay per view, same with Goldberg vs Hogan. And last week on Raw you had John Cena vs Braun Stroman which should have first taken place on pay per view but was given away for free with little in the way of promotion. I get why this sort of thing, giving away pay per view caliber matches happens, I just don’t think it should happen all the time. Nothing wrong with leaving fans wanting more you know?

WCW was horrible at building PPV matches and it’s why they died.

I think with Cena it’s because of his movie schedule. They did Cena vs. Nakamura and Cena vs. Strowman way too soon. I don’t agree with it, but that’s WWE thinking of late. They are costing themselves money.

43. Eric Hay
How different do you think WWE would have been had Shawn Michaels not gotten hurt in 1998 and never retired for those four years?

He would have made it better because he was the best wrestler in the world when he got hurt.

44. Jeremy Barnes
How long do you think Rollins/Ambrose reign last as tag champions?

Maybe the end of the year and it wouldn’t surprise me if Dean turns heel leading to a WM match between them.

45. Ben Dombek
Do you think HBK going to WCW like he kept threatening to do would have cemented WCW winning the MNW? Or would it have imploded under his and Hogans egos?

I don’t think he was ever really going to do and was just threatening it when things were bad with Bret, but I doubt it was ever that serious.

It would not have been good for him with Hogan have so much power.

46. Tim Gaughan
What are you thoughts on the Mr Perfect Shawn Michaels feud from 1993? I remember Shawn in his first book saying something along the lines of how it looked better on paper then the actual matches.

Yeah their matches just weren’t that good. I dunno why. You would think two awesome workers like that would be great in the ring together, but it didn’t happen. I think if Perfect was the heel and Shawn was the face it would have turned out better.

47. Ian Tomlinson
Pete Dunne? Future star or forgotten about in a year’s time?

Dunne is only 23 or so and he’s awesome. If he’s forgotten about then somebody messed up because he’s a great performer.

48. Denny Hart
Favorite match from these three guys?
-Mick Foley
-Bret Hart
-CM Punk

Mick Foley vs. Triple H @ Royal Rumble 2000. That’s how you really put over a guy to the main event like Mick did with Trips there.

Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin @ WM13. Probably my favorite match ever and the one I’ve seen more than any other.

CM Punk vs. John Cena @ Money in the Bank 2011. Such an incredible moment.

—-

That’s all for this Q&A. I’ll be back with another one likely in two weeks.