MAILBAG: Should Benoit Have Made WWE’s Top 50 Greatest List?

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SEScoops Mailbag for January 7th

(submit YOUR questions to [email protected])

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Q: Despite all the controversy surrounding his last run, do you think there may be a possibility of bringing Mark Magnus (Muhammad Hassan) back to the WWE? – David Foster

A: If Mark Copani wanted to return to WWE, he’d have to work his way through developmental to get another shot. He made the most of his controversial character before UPN (the former home of Smackdown) ratcheted up the heat and forced his demise. He then chose to leave wrestling, move to Los Angeles and pursue a career in acting. As far as I know, he has no desire to return to wrestling at this time.

Q: When ECW started up again, it was full of big power players like RVD, Big Show, Kurt Angle and Chris Beniot. They later added Test, Kevin Thorn and Hardcore Holly, all of whom were getting big pushes. 1) What was the reason for Kurt leaving WWE? 2) What happened to Big Show after losing the title to Bobby Lashley at December to Dismember 2006? 3) If the Benoit tragedy didn’t occur, along with the releases of Van Dam, Sabu, Kurt and Show, would ECW have lasted a little longer? – Shane

A: Angle had failed at least one drug test and, physically and mentally, was an absolute mess at this point. Some of his WWE colleagues at that time would often speak of bewildering text messages they’d receive from Kurt, not unlike Chris Benoit in his final days. WWE thought he might die on their watch and granted his release, which he had asked for. In hindsight, it was the best thing that could of happened for the man. As for Big Show, his back was in really bad shape at the time and he was simply burned out and needed a break. When he returned in 2008, he had lost well over 100 pounds and was much healthier, in large part due to the boxing training he had been doing in preparation for a career that didn’t pan out. Lastly, the ECW experiment was doomed to fail the way it was executed by WWE. Perhaps if Benoit had not killed himself and ECW originals like RVD and Sabu were kept around it would have survived longer, but ultimately, SyFy didn’t like the ratings it was pulling and would have ended it anyway.

Q: I understand that during the invasion angle, WWE kept all WCW titles and afterwards the WCW Title became the World Heavyweight Title, but why did they only change the title name and not the design? Also, where is Gangrel these days? – Michael

A: Why would you want to change the design of the belt? It’s such a beautiful prop, as Vince Russo might say. In reality, I think it had more to do with what that design represented to many people (Ric Flair’s Big Gold Belt), which believe it or not, was still something of value and class. As for Gangrel, he still wrestles on the independent scene and, in 2007, he signed on to direct 12 films for New Porn Order. That’s a lot of porn.

Q: How long does AJ Styles have left on TNA contract? Do you ever see AJ Styles coming to WWE? – John Corona

A: I don’t know how much time Styles has left on his TNA deal, but I would be shocked if were to bolt for WWE. He was offered a developmental deal there many years ago and actually turned it down because he didn’t think his style would have meshed well with what they expected out of talent. I’d have to agree that he made the right move at the time. He’d likely make more money and would gain greater notoriety working on WWE television, but he seems happy in TNA and has been the backbone of that company from day one. As sad as this sounds, WWE probably wouldn’t know what to do with him.

Q: There is a rumor about the reason Randy Savage is never mentioned for the WWE Hall of Fame is because of alleged reports of him wanting to sleep with or having slept with a young Stephanie McMahon. Do you think this is true and what is your opinion about this situation? – Brianne In Lafayette, Louisiana

A: This story is so old, I’m starting to think the Egyptians started the rumor while they were building the pyramids, just to amuse themselves and kill time. No, I don’t believe this to be true. If I were Vince and believed this to be true, you would have found a Macho skull and various appendages floating in a river by now. Though he may not (yet) be in the Hall of Fame, it’s not as though Savage has been erased from history like Chris Benoit. His name is often mentioned on TV, he was recently included in the company’s list of top 50 all-time great performers and they even released a DVD of his matches this past year. Let’s put this shit to bed now, shall we?

Q: With John Cena injured, is his storyline with CM Punk compromised??? Will he be able to wrestle in time for WrestleMania??? Also, WWE show sales (PPVs) have decreased a lot since 2009. What might be the cause of this??? – Dashing Flint

A: John Cena will be fine for WrestleMania. In fact, he’ll be fine for the Royal Rumble, too. As for the reason for the decrease in PPV buys, take your pick. The rise of UFC, too many PPV shows, not enough time in between PPV shows to adequately promote them, turning your top play-by-play voice into a heel character when he is responsible for selling you on the shows, giving away the same matches for free the next night on Raw, charging too much money, the creation of gimmick PPV’s, too much comedy, etc. As you can see, there’s no one, singular reason.

Q: Why did WWE erase everything about Chris Benoit? He wasn’t mentioned in the Top 50 Superstars of All Time DVD, he wasn’t even mentioned in WWE.com’s top 10 submission specialists countdown and I can’t even click on his name to see which date he won a title. Just because he had issues in his life and murdered his family and himself doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great perfomer. He gave 5 star matches many times and should be considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. – Kreten Skrete

A: If you can’t click on his name on their title history pages, then I admit that’s rather ridiculous. Aside from that, I’m fine with WWE’s decision to exclude him from any lists or countdowns. You really thought they would include a man who murdered his WIFE and SON in their own countdown of the top 50 GREATEST wrestlers in history? A man who, from a public relations perspective, caused as much anguish and embarrassment for that company as he did? The man was great, no doubt, perhaps the best, but he’s poison now. He went and flushed his own legacy down the toilet. Vince McMahon did not do that. He did. It’s the same reason he’s never going into the Hall of Fame, nor should he. There are just some things in life you simply cannot ignore when it comes to separating the person from the performer. Karma is a bitch.

Q: Do you think that the Vince McMahon wants TNA to succeed to some extent? I mean he’s openly admitted that he LOVES competition. But do you think he’d give TNA a little bit of chance to succeed and actually compete with his product? – Fabian Robullozo

A: I really don’t think he does. Most times, when a TNA performer attains some level of success and jumps (or jumps back) to WWE, the manner in which they are then booked makes it almost seem like they are being punished for doing well there. So it’s not as though Vince wants guys to get over in TNA so he can bring them over and have a ready-made star to thrust into the main event. Plus, if he wanted TNA to succeed so much, he wouldn’t be so strict with those 90-day clauses he puts in everyone’s contract. If he could buy them tomorrow, raid some talent and retain rights to their copyrights and video library, he would do it without hesitation.

Q: How come in the 1990’s WWE said Chris Jericho was from Canada, but in the 2000’s they said he was from New York? – Brian

A: It was a Vince McMahon call. They were doing the same thing with Benoit around this time where they stopped billing him from Edmonton, Alberta and instead started billing him from his current hometown of Atlanta, GA. He didn’t want them billed from Canada because he thought it might affect their heat. Basically, it’s proof that Vince started losing his mind over a decade ago. These days, he just bans the use of the word “belt” and apparently hates the city of Wilkes Barre (on Raw last Monday, the wrestlers were instructed to say the name of the state – Pennsylvania – and not the city where John Cena suffered his injury against Wade Barrett).

Q: I’m watching TNA and wandering if Jeff Jarrett is so good at MMA, why does he not join UFC?? He would have a distinct advantage if he utilized his pro wrestling moves, like the Stroke, piledriver and suplex. – Eric Fuchs

A: Cocaine’s a hell of a drug.

Keep those questions coming to [email protected] and remember to include your name!