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Biggest Name To Never Work WWE


BomberPat
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This has probably been done time and time again, but I find it's usually a worthwhile discussion.

It was always received wisdom that the biggest name to never work for the WWE was Sting - now that he's been and gone, who fits that title now?

I've been having this discussion Twitter and made the caveat that I was only counting the WWF from when Vince McMahon Jr. took over, but that's a fairly arbitrary distinction - with that rule in place, we can count Bruiser Brody, Abdullah The Butcher and Keivn Sullivan as not having worked there, without it in place, they're out of the running. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether that distinction matters.

The other caveat is whether we're counting matches or just appearances - does Abdullah The Butcher going into the Hall of Fame count as a WWE appearance, or would he have to have wrestled there? (for example)

I'd also say we can rule out those who were big stars in another country, but made no concerted effort to break into the US market - so Big Daddy and Mick McManus having never worked the US would rule them out of the running, for example.

And, finally, do we count crossover shows? Again with Abdullah as my example, he worked a couple of WWF/Rougeaus cross-promotions, and there'll be people who worked SWS/WWF or USWA/WWF crossovers, or who were on WWE developmental deals (so, for example, would Kenny Omega working DSW count as a WWE appearance?).

 

 

With all those "yes, but..." exceptions out of the way, I'd make a case for The Great Muta. Huge star in Japan, credible top level talent in the NWA/WCW at various points through the late '80s and '90s, WCW midcard act in 2000, special attraction for TNA and various US indies through the 2000s, but never had even a single appearance for the WWF/WWE. 

Follow-up question - when would have been the best time for them to have worked there? In Muta's case, do you go with him as an early '90s evil foreign monster foil for Hogan, a mid-90s more cartoonish take on the character but with the opportunity to work with the likes of Bret, Shawn and Hakushi, or an early '00s run as he adopted the shaven headed bad-ass Keiji Mutoh look, with the opportunity to bring in the Muta gimmick to work with The Undertaker when he reverted to the "Dead Man" gimmick?

Edited by BomberPat
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I reckon The Great Muta is probably the best shout. 

I looked up Inoki, because I remember there being something about him having a "phantom" WWF championship reign, but his Wiki didn't say if it was a WWF or NJPW event.

HOWEVER: I just found out that he converted to Shia Islam, when he was negotiating the release of Saddam Hussein's Japanese hostages, and that he officially changed his name from Kanji Inoki to Muhammad Hussain Inoki!

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Nikita Koloff for me. The fact he never had a run against Hogan as the Russia vs America thing is crazy, even if it was because he rejected the chance out of loyalty. I'd guess you could throw Magnum T.A in. If it hadn't been for his injury would he have ever made the jump to WWF or would he have been a perennial WCW guy?

 

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10 minutes ago, PSF said:

Mitsuharu Misawa maybe in the Tiger Mask gimmick. But then anyone of the guys wrestling in the gimmick could be included. Not sure who the Original Tiger Mask was.

Didn't Misawa work that WWF in Japan event as Tiger Mask II, wrestling Bret Hart?

EDIT: Hmmmm, guess it would depend on one's idea of what constitutes a WWF show. It was a WWF/NJPW/AJPW supershow.

Edited by Carbomb
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22 minutes ago, Shy Dad said:

If it hadn't been for his injury would he have ever made the jump to WWF or would he have been a perennial WCW guy?

The guy had bucketloads of charisma and a great look, I find it impossible to think the WWF at their peak wouldn't have made him an offer.

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22 minutes ago, mim731 said:

Satoru Sayama, and he did work WWF against Dynamite Kid on an MSG show, but I think that was about it. 

Off on a tangent, but one of my favourite bits of wrestling trivia is something @JNLister pointed out: until 5, all the Tiger Masks have had alliterative names.

1: Satoru Sayama

2. Mitsuharu Misawa

3. Koji Kanemoto

4. Yoshihiro Yamazaki

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56 minutes ago, Carbomb said:

I looked up Inoki, because I remember there being something about him having a "phantom" WWF championship reign, but his Wiki didn't say if it was a WWFÔĽŅ or NJPW event.

As well as having his vanity WWF Martial Arts Championship, and the phantom title reign from an NJPW show, Inoki did work a handful of Madison Square Garden shows in the mid-80s. He worked the Brawl To End It All show that was headlined by the Wendi Richter/Moolah match broadcast on MTV.

52 minutes ago, air_raid said:

Onita drew some monster gates in his day, I'd assume he's up there.

Very good shout, and I'd say that his early '80s US run means he can't be counted as someone who never tried to make it in the US. On paper he doesn't seem like a feasible choice, but at the height of Attitude it wouldn't have been unthinkable for them to try and bring him in to work a watered down "deathmatch" programme with Foley.

35 minutes ago, Shy Dad said:

Nikita Koloff for me. The fact he never had a run against Hogan as the Russia vs America thing is crazy, even if it was because he rejected the chance out of loyalty. I'd guess you could throw Magnum T.A in. If it hadn't been for his injury would he have ever made the jump to WWF or would he have been a perennial WCW guy?

 

Both great choices - I suppose with Koloff the Vince McMahon logic is likely that the draw was "Russia", so they were just as well off creating their own evil Russians as they were paying over the odds for Nikita. His loyalty and relatively short career both play into it too, of course.

It's obviously impossible to say whether Magnum would have made the jump, had the opportunity presented itself. The narrative around him is always that he could have been the NWA's answer to Hogan, but it's rarely asked whether he'd have stuck with them in the first place - based on almost everyone else, you'd think he'd have gone to the WWF if Vince came calling.

 

34 minutes ago, PSF said:

Mitsuharu Misawa maybe in the Tiger Mask gimmick. But then anyone of the guys wrestling in the gimmick could be included.

As @Carbomb said, Misawa faced Bret on the AJPW/WWF/NJPW Wrestling Summit - while technically an AJPW show, it's got the WWF branding on it, and a significant WWF presence, so falls into the "do we count cross-promoted shows?" grey area.

 

 

19 minutes ago, mim731 said:

Satoru Sayama, and he did work WWF against Dynamite Kid on an MSG show, but I think that was about it. 

 

Sayama worked a bunch of WWF shows in '82 - not just against Dynamite Kid, but against Curt Hennig, and such luminaries as Johnny Rodz, Eddie Gilbert, Buddy Rose and Mr Fuji

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1 minute ago, BomberPat said:

Sayama worked a bunch of WWF shows in '82 - not just against Dynamite Kid, but against Curt Hennig, and such luminaries as Johnny Rodz, Eddie Gilbert, Buddy Rose and Mr Fuji

Ooh I did not realise he had a match with Hennig, might have to try track that down!

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Long story short on the Inoki/WWF title deal:

WWF and New Japan agreed a title run for Inoki with him winning the title and then losing it back a few days later, both in Japan. The idea was for Tiger Jeet Singh to distract him and cost him the title when he lost it and set up a feud.

New Japan then tried a double-cross by claiming the second match was a no contest or an Inoki win because of the interference and didn't let Backlund take the belt back. That led to some very heated telegram exchanges.

The two promotions then worked out a deal where WWF would ignore the whole thing (which is why they never recognised the Inoki reign till years later) while New Japan's public story was that Inoki had voluntarily given up the title because of the controversial finish.

At the next MSG show they had Backlund come out without the belt and not announced as champion, and the belt was with Hisashi Shinma who worked for New Japan and was figurehead WWF President (a forerunner to Jack Tunney.) To the fans in the building, it was just a normal title defense which he won against Bobby Duncum Jr. For the Japanese media, it was Backlund vs Duncum for the vacant title.

 

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