Ask 411 Wrestling: Are Bret Hart and Kurt Angle Equals?

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Tyler from Winnipeg is reigniting that U.S. vs. Canada feud:

Are Bret Hart & Kurt Angle equals? If not, who has the edge?

Of course, the first thing that I think when I see a question like this is, “Equals in what respect?”

There are two questions that could be getting asked here, either “Who is the better in-ring performer?” or “Who is the bigger star?”

As to the first question, a lot of this will boil down to personal preference, though I would rank Hart over Angle. I feel like, over their respective careers, I saw the Hitman have more different types of wrestling match than our Olympic Hero. Though Angle was great, there is a valid criticism of him in that several of his classic matches get their buzz off his running wild and spamming a bunch of trademark or finishing holds, whereas Bret (despite his “five moves of doom”) managed to vary things more and build drama in his bouts through a variety of different techniques as opposed to just relying on the big move/kick out/big move/kick out formula that has dominated the WWE main event scene over the course of the past twenty years.

However, if you’re asking me who the bigger star of the two wrestlers is, I think that I have to give the nod to Kurt Angle. In addition to having mainstream exposure in the United States from his time as part of the Olympic wrestling team, Angle broke into professional wrestling while the sport was at the height of a boom period, and, though WWE’s popularity dropped off significantly the early 2000s while Angle was on top of the company, there were many, many more people watching Raw and Smackdown during that era than there were watching Superstars and Prime Time Wrestling when Bret Hart was WWF Champion.

Thus, we have ourselves a split decision.

Ticking Time Bomb Taz is prepared for the perfect explosion:

Was Mr. Perfect supposed to step in the ring for the WWF in 1996? It seemed that was the direction they were headed, but then the plug was pulled. Any light you can shed on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

It was definitely a possibility. As those who were watching at the time no doubt recall, in the final months of his 1996 WWF run, Mr. Perfect was seemingly building up a match with Hunter Hearst-Helmsley until revealing that the friction between the two men was all a ruse designed to goad HHH’s rival Marc Mero into an Intercontinental Title match. Perfect became Triple H’s manager for a time after that. The turn on Mero occurred on the October 21, 1996 Raw, and Perfect was aligned with Helmsley up until his final appearance on WWF television on November 5 of the same year.

According to the December 2, 1996 edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Hennig was considering an in-ring return. For those who don’t know, he had been out of action since 1993, when persistent back injuries sidelined him and he began collecting regular payments under a disability insurance policy issued by Lloyd’s of London. The Observer reported that, in late ’96, Hennig was considering signing a deal with Lloyd’s that would result in a large lump-sum payout of his insurance benefits, which could have been as much as $300,000.00, though it would be conditioned on Hennig never wrestling again.

Apparently, there was communication between the WWF and Lloyd’s of London which somehow gave Lloyd’s the impression that Perfect would be returning to the ring. This caused them to balk at paying the settlement, which in turn caused Perfect to balk on working for Vince McMahon, as he felt double-crossed and immediately started to talk to Eric Bischoff about jumping to WCW. McMahon countered with a high-dollar figure to get Hennig back in the company as a wrestler (since Lloyd’s of London was no longer going to pay him to sit on the sidelines), but Bischoff beat even that offer, which resulted in Hennig walking and no-showing several commitments on his way out the door, including the 1996 Survivor Series. He didn’t appear in WCW until the following summer, when his WWF contract fully expired.

Perhaps most tragically, though, there was a Mr. Perfect match in the 1996 Karate Fighters Holiday Tournament that never saw the light of day because of his departure from the WWF.

It’s come crashing down and it hurts inside for Eric:

Do you think Hulk Hogan would have ever accepted a “lesser” role in a stable, ala Ric Flair in Evolution to help prolong his career a little bit more?

Before getting in trouble with the slur, has Hulk ever been considered for that, or being a manager or authority figure? Hell, even part of the commentary team? It just seems like they could have done so much more with Hulk besides just wasting away as a company ambassador.

This was Hogan’s entire TNA run. He was with the company for roughly four years, and in that time he had only two televised matches. For the rest of the time, he was essentially an authority figure and/or host of the television show, serving to set up matches between others as opposed to furthering his own in-ring career.

So, not only has this been considered . . . it has actually happened.

Back in October, I broke down the life and times of former Raven’s flock member Ron Reis, and I commented that I could write about WCW undercard wrestlers all day. This lead to the following comment from The Saint(ess?):

If you find 90s WCW undercard wrestlers fascinating, let’s try and make this a semi-regular thing. I’d like a career retrospective on either Ron Reis’ Flock mate and former American Male Scotty Riggs or Dave Taylor please!

We’ll get to Scott Riggs in a bit, but this week let’s talk about “Squire” David Taylor.

Taylor comes from a family of professional and amateur wrestlers. His grandfather, Joe Taylor, and his father, Eric Taylor, were both wrestlers, and Dave’s brother Steve also got into the ring and teamed with him occasionally. Even Dave’s daughter, Donna, became an amateur wrestler and was rumored to be receiving a WWE developmental deal for a time according to the May 15, 2006 edition of the Figure Four Weekly newsletter.

Going back to Dave himself, there is some ambiguity as to when and where exactly his in-ring career began. CageMatch lists his rookie year as being 1974, though they don’t have any Dave Taylor matches in their database until January 7, 1977, when he faced Kantaro Hoshino on a New Japan Pro Wrestling show in Saitama. Another source has the earliest recorded Taylor match as occurring on June 25, 1975 in England against Paul Mitchell.

Though he didn’t give any specific dates or even years, according to Taylor himself in an interview with John Lister of Fighting Spirit Magazine, he began his career under a mask, using the names “Exorcist” and “La Masque Argent.” During this phase, Taylor claimed that he was touring with his father across Europe and wrestling him every night for two years. In a 2009 shoot interview with the now-defunct website World Wrestling Insanity, Taylor claimed that he had been an amateur wrestler for five or six years before turning pro and that his father and grandfather only lead him through two training sessions in pro wrestling before taking him on tour with them.

Even though the dates are a bit ambiguous, the consensus seems to be that Taylor was a regular on the European professional wrestling scene by the mid-1970s.

It was not long before Taylor, who used the nickname “Rocky” also started to gain international experience. As noted above, in 1977 he did a tour with NJPW and wrestled not just Kantaro Hoshino but also Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Osamu Kido, and Haurka Eigen. In 1982, he headed to North America for the first time, wrestling in Stampede Pro Wrestling under the name Tim Shea. Shea’s notable opponents during his Stampede run included Mike Shaw (Makhan Singh/Bastion Booger), Leo Burke, and the Cuban Assassin. Taylor also got another New Japan tour in 1985, where he teamed with Portland wrestler Mike Miller and had notable singles opponents in the form of Shinya Hashimoto and Keiichi Yamada, the name that Jushin Thunder Liger used before putting on his mask.

In 1987, when Britain’s All Star Wrestling was allowed on to terrestrial television in the country, Taylor got some of his biggest exposure to date in his home country. He was involved in the kickoff of a major feud between Kendo Nagasaki and Mark “Rollerball” Rocco, as those two men were teaming against Taylor and Clive Myers on January 5, 1988 on an ASW show in Surrey, England. Taylor was attempting to unmask Nagasaki and Rocco intervened, though in the scuffle Taylor hit Rocco in such a way that it caused Nagasaki’s mask to come off in Rocco’s hands. For some reason, Nagasaki didn’t accept that there were extenuating circumstances, and this sparked a feud between the two former partners.

Taylor was not really involved in this major rivalry further, and, when ASW left British television in the late 1980s, Taylor left the promotion. At this point, Taylor began primarily working for the Catch Wrestling Association, which was based in Germany and also ran regularly in Austria. According to his interview on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, Taylor could have continued to work in the U.K. but preferred working in Germany because the money was better.

From December 17, 1988 through October 24, 1995, the vast majority of Dave Taylor’s recorded matches were with the CWA. Regular opponents for Taylor in the CWA included Fit Finlay, Steve Regal (now William Regal), Steve Wright (father of “Das Wunderkind” Alex Wright), and Cannonball Grizzly (a.k.a. P.N. News in WCW). The CWA was also a popular location for foreign promotions to send young wrestlers to gain some experience and seasoning, and this resulted in Taylor wrestling Owen Hart in 1990, New Japan’s Takashi Iizuka in 1991, Hiroyoshi Tenzan (then known as Hiro Yamamoto) in 1993, John Bradshaw Layfield (then known as Texas Hawk) in 1995. Taylor also had a handful of tag team matches in CWA with a young Lance Storm as his partner in 1993, and he held the CWA Tag Team Titles on two occasions, once with Chris Benoit from December 1991 to June 1992 and once with Croatian wrestler Mile Zrno from July to October 1993.

It’s worth noting that, while he was wrestling with the CWA, Taylor had some of his first brushes with U.S. wrestling promotions. When the WWF toured the U.K. in April and May 1991, they used some local talent in six man tag matches to open the shows. Most of those matches were Taylor, Danny Collins, and Tony St. Clair defeating a team consisting of some combination of Chic Cullen, Drew McDonald, Johnny Smith, Johnny South, and Skull Murphy. In the first match of the series, Danny Collins wasn’t available for some reason, so Steve Regal was Taylor and St. Clair’s partner.

Taylor was also given a tryout with WCW in a dark match before their April 28, 1993 television tapings. Interestingly, his opponent was a member of WCW’s junior heavyweight division, Robbie V, who would later go on to greater fame as Rob Van Dam. That sounds like a styles clash to end all styles clashes. In any event, Taylor was not brought in after the tryout. The May 10, 1993 edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that the word on Taylor after those tapings was that he was a good worker but lacked charisma.

Though Taylor wasn’t brought in to WCW in 1993, he did get a spot with the company a couple of years later. According to the previously referenced Fighting Spirit Magazine article, in the fall of 1995, the company was looking for wrestlers to fill out its three-ring, sixty-man battle royale known as World War 3, and Steve Regal suggested Taylor’s name. WW3 was, in fact, his first match as a regular with the company. After that, he was dubbed “Squire” David Taylor and added to the existing Blue Bloods team of Steve Regal and Bobby Eaton (as Earl Robert Eaton) with the January 15, 1996 Wrestling Observer Newsletter noting that part of the reason for the addition was to keep the team going while Regal took time off for knee surgery.

The first WCW television taping with the Eaton/Taylor version of the Blue Bloods occurred on January 18, 1996, and that was the exclusive version of the team until Regal returned from his surgery, at which point they began working in a variety of combinations, though interestingly they never did a six man tag match with Regal, Eaton, and Taylor all together. One notable match that the team had occurred on a July 21, 1996 house show in Greenville, South Carolina, with Eaton and Taylor losing to the makeshift team of Eddie Guerrero and Robert Gibson. The latter team was formed at the last minute because Ricky Morton, Gibson’s regular partner in the Rock n’ Roll Express, was taken off the show due to his father suffering a heart attack. According to the July 29, 1996 Wrestling Observer, Guerrero did Ricky Morton’s act to a tee, and that, combined with the presence of Gibson and Eaton, allowed the match to be wrestled like an old Rock n’ Roll Express/Midnight Express match, much to the delight of the South Carolina crowd.

However, not all was well in Blue Blood-land, as a breakup angle started to be teased on the May 11, 1996 episode of WCW Saturday Night, with tension between Eaton and Taylor while Regal played peacemaker. Things totally fell apart on the August 26, 1996 Nitro, as the Brits turned on their American partner who returned to being Beautiful Bobby Eaton. Several Eaton/Taylor singles matches were taped for WCW’s b-shows to air in the fall of that year, but the rivalry never made it on to pay per view or even Nitro.

In October 1996, as part of the working relationship between WCW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Regal and Taylor were were sent to NJPW to participate in the Super Grade Tag League tournament. They only had three of their scheduled seven tournament matches before Regal was injured, though Taylor stuck around and worked the rest of the tour in meaningless undercard bouts, mostly tag matches with Osamu Kido or Hiro Saito as his partners.

Coincidentally, Taylor made his return to wrestling for WCW in the 1996 version of the World War 3 battle royale, where he had debuted a year earlier.

The Squire spent most of 1997 as a singles wrestler without much direction. In January and February, he went back to feuding with Bobby Eaton on b-shows and was also a regular opponent of Jim Duggan in addition to getting two Nitro matches with Masahiro Chono on January 20 and May 19. At that point, Taylor apparently came close to losing his job, as the July 14, 1997 Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that he was on a list of lower card wrestlers who were set to be cut, alongside names like the Renegade, Pat Tanaka, Jerry Lynn, and the Quebecers. However, just one week later, the July 21 Observer stated that the company had reversed course on Taylor and decided to keep him around with a renewed push.

That push . . . never really happened. Regal and Taylor were put back together as a team and did get a tag title shot against the Steiner Brothers at the ’97 World War 3 pay per view, but they were defeated and Taylor didn’t fare any better in that year’s sixty man battle royale. Taylor was also a regular house show opponent for Ray Traylor in the last couple of months of the year.

In early 1998, Taylor started to face Fit Finaly regularly, renewing a rivalry that they had several years earlier in the CWA. The Squire also got a series of bouts against Booker T. for the World Television Title on house shows, and then . . . he disappeared. The March 16, 1998 Observer stated that he was being let go from his contract, but then he started appearing again in January 1999 with no mention in any insider publications of where he had gone or what he was doing. It’s possible that he was let go and brought back, but, given how WCW operated in the late 1990s, it’s just as likely that he was under contract and getting paid while not working.

In any event, when he did return in January of ’99, he was mainly in a tag team with Fit Finlay, including participation in a tournament for the vacant World Tag Team Titles, which was a double elimination tournament where they were first beaten by the Faces of Fear and then beaten by Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko in the losers’ bracket. Taylor also had some singles matches with Benoit around this time. In the spring and summer, he meandered through more meaningless b-show matches, both as a single and with Finlay as his partner. Eventually, those two were joined by Steve Regal, who was returning from his failed first WWF run, and they lost a match to the No Limit Soldiers on the July 8, 1999 episode of Thunder. As if that wasn’t bad enough, things got worse three days later, when Taylor was one of the participants in the all-time terrible Junkyard Battle Royale match at the 1999 Bash at the Beach pay per view.

Fortunately, Taylor was not injured in the junkyard as many of the other competitors were. His partner Fit Finlay did win that match, though, which resulted in Finlay’s push going in a different direction than Taylor and Regal’s. Because of this, WCW attempted to put “Gentleman” Chris Adams into the unit with Regal and Taylor, though that didn’t work out in large part because Regal and Taylor hated Adams’ guts. According to Taylor in his appearance on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, this was in part because Adams had an ego and felt he was a bigger star than he actually was and also in part because, when Taylor and Adams had worked against each other in earlier WCW matches, Adams had stiffed Taylor and knocked him out on three separate occasions.

The Squire continued to team with Regal and occasionally Adams throughout the rest of 1999, with the December 12 Observer reporting that Taylor had been let go. Despite prior questionable reporting of Taylor’s employment status in that publication, this one appears to be accurate, as Taylor’s last WCW match occurred on January 5, 2000, with David Flair and Crowbar retaining the WCW Tag Team Titles over Regal and Taylor in a match taped for Saturday Night.

At this point, Taylor appears to have taken some time off from wrestling. There is no record of him wrestling after leaving WCW in 2000, but he started to develop a relationship with the WWF the next year. In February 2001, Jim Ross’s “Ross Report” column on WWF.com reported that Dave Taylor was going to be one of the trainers on the first season of the company’s new reality television show Tough Enough, with the idea being that Taylor would serve as the “shooter” who could take care of any problems if one of the contestants on the show decided that they were going to make a name for themselves by legitimately going after a trainer or another cast member.

Of course, those who watched Tough Enough can tell you that Taylor’s role as a trainer never materialized. The March 26, 2001 Wrestling Observer noted that he had been pulled from the show but didn’t say why. It did, however, state that there was consideration being given to a role for Taylor on the main roster.

Much like the slot as a Tough Enough trainer, this main roster spot didn’t happen. Taylor did get one dark match at a WWF television taping on Long Island on May 7, 2001, in which he defeated Scott “Sick Boy” Vick, formerly of Raven’s Flock. Rather than using him on the main roster, the WWF sent Taylor to Les Thatcher’s Heartland Wrestling Alliance, which was a developmental territory at the time. While there, Taylor was used in a “player/coach” role, both wrestling on HWA cards and acting as a trainer for young talent.

In December 2001, Taylor and the WWF/HWA parted ways. According to Issue #336 of the Figure Four Weekly newsletter, this happened because Taylor was still living in the Atlanta area from his WCW days, and the WWF did not want the expense of flying him back and forth to Cincinnati for HWA shows. The company did attempt to convince Taylor to relocate to Cincinnati, but he refused, reportedly because his wife had an executive position in Atlanta working for Taco Bell and brought in significantly more money than Taylor did working for the WWF.

At this point, Taylor really slowed down his wrestling career. In 2001, he worked indy shows in Georgia and Atlantic City, and in July 2002 he popped back to his native England for a pair of shots, one of which was against indy stalwart Doug Williams. Also in 2002, Taylor opened his own wrestling school in the Atlanta area, referred to as the Blue Bloods Wrestling Academy. William Regal and Fit Finlay were also involved, though I’m not aware of any noteworthy students that the camp produced, aside from the fact that CM Punk traveled down for a few lessons before he had much of a reputation.

2003 was a fairly quiet year for the former Squire, though in 2004 he worked more matches than any year since his exit from WCW as in October and early November he went on tour for a German indy called EWP, which featured fellow WCW alums Big Vito and Lash LeRoux in addition to Japanese star Kendo Kashin. In between EWP shows, Taylor also showed up in England for two matches with Premier Promotions, one against Paul Burchill and one against Robbie Brookside. 2004 also saw a cameo appearance by Dave Taylor in TNA, as he was on their April 7 weekly pay per view as the coach of Team U.K., which had a series of matches against Team Mexico for the TNA Americas Cup.

Though there was no TNA appearance, 2005 for Taylor was much the same as 2004. In February, he did a week-long tour in the U.K. for All Star Wrestling, where one of his opponents was T.J. Wilson, better known these days as Tyson Kidd. He also worked for EWP in Germany again in both April and October, with an eclectic lineup of talent that included Tracy Smothers (RIP), Headshrinker Samu and his brother Lloyd, Toru Yano, and Just Joe.

In the January 16, 2006 Figure Four Weekly newsletter, it was reported that Taylor was being brought in by WWE as a trainer for their new developmental territory Deep South Wrestling, which was in Taylor’s backyard in the Atlanta metro area. He also stepped into the ring for a BLUE BLOODS REUNION~! In DSW, as he and William Regal faced the team of Damien Steele and Ray Gordy (later Jesse of Jesse & Festus fame) on the eighth episode of DSW television on March 23, 2006. This was announced as a first round match in the tournament to crown Tag Team Champions for the territory, but it was retroactively taken out of the tournament brackets, as Regal and Taylor did not advance even though they won.

Ultimately, Taylor’s role in WWE changed, as he went from developmental trainer to main roster talent at the October 15, 2006 Smackdown tapings, as he once again became William Regal’s tag team partner. They were no longer called the Blue Bloods, but they were thrown immediately into a feud with Tag Champs Brian Kendrick and Paul London. There are two noteworthy things about the Regal & Taylor versus Kenrick & London feud. The first is that Taylor apparently worked a good portion of it injured, as the November 6, 2006 Figure Four Weekly reported that the Squire tore his meniscus, but the December 4 issue of the same publication stated that he was no-selling it backstage and telling officials he was totally fine. The second noteworthy moment in the feud is that the two teams were booked into a four-way ladder match for the belts at the 2006 Armageddon pay per view alongside MNM and the Hardy Boys. This means that Dave Taylor was one of the people in the ring for the infamous ladder spot in which Joey Mercury’s face was made to explode.

The London & Kendrick feud continued on house shows through February 2007, at which point the former Blue Bloods switched to working against a team that never made television, the aforementioned Ray “Jesse” Gordy and Henry O. Godwinn, who was brought back to the company for a totally forgotten mid-2000s run. During this period, Taylor and Regal also got to team with their old pal Fit Finlay on a DSW card held at Six Flags Over Georgia on March 17, 2007, defeating the trio of Brad Armstrong and the Major Brothers (a.k.a. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins).

At this point, Regal and Taylor started feuding with Kane of all people on Smackdown television, while on house shows they alternated between two regular matches, the first being a three-way with Kendrick & London and Deuce & Domino and the second being against the makeshift team of Jimmy Wang Yang & Nunzio. However, all good things must come to an end, and the WWE draft on June 17, 2007 sent William Regal to Raw, breaking up the team with Taylor.

Less than a week later, Dave Taylor had a small yet odd role in professional wrestling’s darkest chapter, the Chris Benoit murder-suicide. In journalist Irv Muchnick’s book, Chris & Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death Muchnick told the story of Holly Schepfer, the neighbor of the Benoits who found their bodies. According to Muchnick, as she was leaving the Benoit house, Schepfer ran across Dave Taylor and his wife, who also lived in the area, approaching the Benoits’ home carrying what appeared to be large catering trays of deli food. Muchnick strongly implies that Taylor was sent by WWE to do something at the Benoit property – perhaps checking in on why Chris had not made it to Vengeance: Night of Champions pay per view the night before. For what it’s worth, Muchnick reports that he spoke to Taylor twice about this situation, and Taylor claims that he was in Texas with the rest of the WWE crew for the PPV. However, Taylor didn’t wrestle on a single WWE show between June 10 in Delaware and July 7 in Mississippi, so this seems a bit suspect.

When he did start wrestling again, Taylor received only three more matches on Smackdown television, the first being the battle royale for the vacant World Heavyweight Title that was won by the Great Khali on July 17, the second being a singles match against Kane on July 24, and the third being a tag team battle royale on November 6. Though he was not doing much on television, Taylor remained active on the house show circuit, teaming with Paul Burchill against the Major Brothers on some shows and Jesse & Festus on others. He also briefly had a tag team with newcomer Drew McIntyre, including one notorious dark match against the Nasty Boys on on the November 20, 2007 in which the Nasties are alleged to have taken some liberties with the U.K. team. For what it’s worth, Taylor has downplayed this in subsequent shoot interviews.

Taylor’s last WWE match was on December 18, 2007, a dark encounter with Kofi Kingston (about a month away from his TV debut) prior to a Smackdown taping. WWE.com posted an article on April 28, 2008 letting the world know that they had parted ways with Taylor. In the aforementioned World Wrestling Insanity shoot, Taylor claimed that he was cut because, at a talent meeting in which the heels were told that they needed to work harder to get heat, he stood up and claimed that his tag team with Burchill was getting tons of heat on the house show circuit but was never let on television. Though he wasn’t let go right away, resentment lingered until he was cut several months later.

After his WWE run came to an end, Taylor made appearances on high profile independent shows, including the 2008 Ted Petty Invitational tournament for IWA Mid-South, the 2009 CHIKARA King of Trios tournament, and a one-off match against Colt Cabana for Ring of Honor in 2011. (However, he reportedly became more selective about his indy dates after the check that Ian Rotten gave him as payment for the TPI bounced.) Taylor would also go back to Europe from time-to-time, with notable opponents being Zack Sabre, Jr. for wXw on April 4, 2009, Jack Gallagher on September 9, 2011, and Ice Train (yes, the WCW Ice Train) in Germany on December 21, 2019, which is his last professional wrestling match to date. During this period, Taylor also tried to get another gig with TNA as an agent, showing up at their February 2010 pay per view and TV tapings and briefly appearing to break up a brawl, though nothing came of the tryout.

Taylor has also apparently fixed whatever strain on his relationship with the WWE may have existed, as he was scouting talent for them at a Harley Race wrestling camp in 2016 and served as a guest trainer at the Performance Center in 2019. Also, though I was not able to find a lot of details about the particulars of his involvement, he is included in the credits of the 2019 Rock-produced film Fighting With My Family, listed as a “coordinator” for the movie’s wrestling scenes.

And that is the Tale of Taylor, the second installment our series of Profiles in WCW Midcard Courage. It’s also the five hundredth installment in our series, “answers to questions that took ten times as long as Ryan originally thought they would.”

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].

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