Ask 411 Wrestling: Jake Roberts Says Honky Tonk Man Nearly Killed Him – Is It True?

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

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Night Wolf the Wise is cool, cocky, and bad:

Leading up to to Wrestlemania III, they had Honky Tonk Man appear on the Snake Pit in order to further the storyline with Jake Roberts. During the segment, Honky Tonk Man broke his guitar over Jake Roberts’ head. Now the story goes it was a real guitar instead on a gimmicked guitar. According to an interview with Jake Roberts, he claims Honky Tonk Man nearly killed him with that shot. Honky Tonk Man says other wise. What are your thoughts on what happened?

As with many issues like this, I suspect that the answer lays somewhere in the middle. When Bruce Prichard was asked about this matter on his Something to Wrestle podcast, he explained that he was not yet with the WWF at this time but later heard the story and what happened was that a high quality guitar was purchased for the angle. It was gimmicked in the sense that it was pre-cut so that it would break more easily over Roberts’ head, but there was an additional support rod (I believe what is referred to as a truss rod) in the guitar that was not removed, which made the shot all the more stiff. Prichard went on to explain that, when he was taught how to gimmick a guitar after that angle, he was told to always purchase a cheaper guitar that did not include the rod or, at the very least, remove the rod.

Roberts has claimed that this guitar shot broke his neck and that his broken neck was his introduction to pain pills, which in turn lead to many of his personal issues later on down the road. I think that is likely a bit of an exaggeration, because the Snake took no appreciable time off in the immediate wake of the incident and had no apparent ill will towards Honky until he needed things to talk about shoot interviews, as the two men worked against each other repeatedly in the WWF and on numerous occasions on indy shows afterwards, as recently as 2003. If I truly blamed somebody for causing my downfall to that extent, I don’t know that I would want anything to do with them that much later on.

Tyler from Winnipeg wants to talk about American tough guys overseas:

Can you tell us a little bit about Dr. Death’s and Dan Severn’s careers in Japan as individuals?

Dan Severn’s career in Japan is actually pretty limited, particularly when it comes to what most fans these days consider the historical major promotions. He made his Japanese debut on November 25, 1992 for the UWF-I, defeating Yuko Miyata. He was brought in once a month for the company between then and May 1993, with the first five matches being wins so that, on the sixth show, he could main event against Nobuhiko Takada, the promotion’s top star.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wosfdCMXw5M

Severn lost that match, but he came back in August of the same year and formed a tag team with Gary Albright, feuding with Takada and a couple of different partners in late 1993 and early 1994. In ’94, the Beast continued to come back in to UWF-I about once a month, usually working second or third from the top underneath Takada’s main events and facing opponents like Kiyoshi Tamura (who he split two matches with) and a young Yoshihiro Takayama.

Severn left the UWF after a November 1994 match, and he had his first-ever MMA fights in December 1994 at UFC 4. In the professional wrestling world, he won the NWA World Heavyweight Title at a Smoky Mountain Wrestling show in in February 1995. Severn was done with UWF-I at this point, as the NWA Title and UFC became the focal points of his career.

The man’s first run with the NWA Title lasted four years, and during that time his appearances in Japan were fairly sporadic. Most of them, oddly enough, were for IWA Japan, which was mostly known as a deathmatch promotion. (If you’ve ever seen the Cactus Jack vs. Terry Funk explosion match, that was IWA Japan.) Severn did not participate in that tomfoolery, though, instead wrestling in straight matches on the same cards. Perhaps the most noteworthy of them came in August 1995 when he successfully defended the NWA Title against garbage wrestler Tarzan Goto. The match is noteworthy because it occurred on the IWA’s “Kawasaki Dream” card, which is more commonly referred to as the “King of the Deathmatch,” headlined by the aforementioned Cactus/Funk encounter.

In the middle of these IWA matches, Severn had his first and to date only match for New Japan Pro Wrestling, popping up seemingly at random during the 1996 G1 Climax tour and defeating Yoshiaki Fujiwara, who by that point was 46 years old.

Severn had his last match for the IWA on Halloween 1997, where, appropriately enough, he wrestled in a tag team match in which his opponents were Leatherface and Freddy Krueger. After that, Severn did not return to the Land of the Rising Sun until March 14, 1999, when he was booked to wrestle for the Universal Fighting Arts Organization (a.k.a. UFO), a new shoot-style wrestling promotion founded by Antonio Inoki and Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask. Inoki and Sayama were building UFO around Olympic judo star Naoya Ogawa, and on that card Ogawa defeated Severn to end his four-year NWA Title run.

Severn had another UFO match in June 1999, but after that he was absent from Japan until March 9, 2002, when it was time for him to regain the NWA World Heavyweight Title. The championship had changed hands several times in the three years since Ogawa took it off of Severn, and it was around the waist of former New Japan star and bona fide legend Shinya Hashimoto. Severn defeated Hashimoto for the belt on a ZERO-ONE show, a promotion that was initially built around Hashimoto. However, that reign lasted only a matter of weeks, as NWA: TNA formed and Severn was stripped when he could not make the company’s first pay per view.

Since then, Severn’s appearances in Japan have been sporadic. In 2011, he took a trip over to appear on the 20th anniversary show of pro wrestler and RINGS/PRIDE star Hiromitsu Kanehara. He didn’t go back to Japan after that until 2019, when he wrestled on two different shows for a fairly small indy group called Tokyo Championship Wrestling. (When I say small, neither of these 2019 shows drew over 500 fans.) He also popped up on one more TCW show in February 2020, but I doubt he’ll be going back anytime soon.

That was actually quite a bit of ink spilled on the Japanese career of Dan Severn, and Dr. Death’s time there was much more substantial. I don’t want to give it the short shrift, so we’ll come back and cover that in a future edition of this column.

Don is taking us to the cold, barren tundra of the AWA:

Was there some backstage reason as to why Curt Henning and Scott Hall dropped the AWA tag team titles to Buddy Rose and Doug Somers via a countout instead of doing a job in the middle of the ring?

Rose and Somers were heels, and, even though they weren’t as famous as they would eventually become, Hennig and Hall were bigger stars and needed an “out” to lose the championships to the lower card bad guy team without suffering a real loss. That’s just not a situation in which you put the bad guys over clean, as it’s more important to protect the babyfaces. Hence we got the finish that we got, which featured Colonel DeBeers – who just the week prior had piledriven Hall on the floor – interfering to allow Rose to throw Hall into the ring post, setting up the count out victory.

Ben is doing a lot of talking about Crackle, leaving me to wonder where Snap and Pop are:

After binging all of Season 1 of Crackle’s “Heroes of Lucha Libre” over Thanksgiving weekend, I was left with mixed feelings regarding the overall product. I like the comic book feel of the show’s graphics, the top-notch roster filled with lucha’s luckiest luminaries and the ever-so-slight attempt at trying to couch the whole affair in a fantastical MCU-esque Mesoamerican universe.

Now for the bad parts: The matches themselves were mostly lackluster but generally end in loads of outside interference, ref bumps, and, on at least two occasions, illegal audience ring-storming playing a direct role in the outcome. The in-universe “Terrabuck” system for bringing back “fallen warriors” isn’t explained too well at the start and takes some suspense away from later episodes’ developments; I could’ve done just as well without it and concentrated purely on the main conceit of technico/rudo factions swapping elemental rings back and forth. With only three live events from late 2017 to pull footage from, there’s a bit of over-reliance on replays and somewhat aimless “world-building” B-rolls, almost as bad as ROH’s weekly program can get.

Despite these problems, I am interested in seeing what else this group could offer. Sam Adonis gave an interview for WrestleZone a couple of weeks ago in which he mentioned they’d shot more TV tapings sometime in 2018-19, and the company’s website has a load of teasers for related shows, comics, games, etc. which would, in theory, flesh out the HOLL universe, so I assume a second season and beyond could come in 2021. For now, though, the proof-of-concept first season has established some seriously shaky ground for this whole enterprise to sit on. It is a tad more than Lucha Underground has been able to do, that’s for sure, but does this show have much of a future, let alone a good one?

I’m a guy who writes a column about professional wrestling on the internet and has in some form for the last sixteen years, so one would think that I’m pretty plugged in to what is going on in the professional wrestling world. However, for the life of me, I had never heard of Heroes of Lucha Libre (or Crackle for that matter) until Ben submitted this question to me. If that’s not an indication of how far under the radar this whole thing is, I don’t know what would be.

After getting the question is, I did a little bit of research, and it strikes me that, all Sam Adonis interviews aside, you shouldn’t be holding your breath for a second season. Apparently the matches for Season 1 were all taped in 2017 and 2018, and footage shot for a pro wrestling television show doesn’t sit around on a shelf for two to three years if somebody is actually excited about airing it. Given the delay from taping to air, it strikes me as though this is something that the producers of the show put together thinking it would be a great idea and then tried to shop it around forever, only to find that nobody was really interested. Then, after years of trying, they found a low level streaming service willing to snap it up for what I am going to guess was a rock bottom price just to have more content to pad out their offerings.

Combining all of those factors does not bode well for the prospect of a second season. Given how little hype it has managed to generate, I can’t imagine many people are actually tuning in, and they don’t tend to renew shows with poor viewership.

Peter is on the hunt for origination credits:

Excluding NXT, or doing it separately if you want to be a completist, where did the current WWE’s roster members get their “real” start (establishing their name).
For example I’d put AJ Styles as being from either ROH or TNA/Impact (maybe you count both?) because that’s where he established himself, not WCW where he briefly first appeared.

Reigns would count as homegrown as another example.

Unfortunately, I don’t know that some of these answers are going to be as cut and dry as you would like them to be. Let’s look at one of the names you mentioned in your question as an illustratoin. Though you indicate that AJ Styles would have established his name in either ROH or TNA, I personally became familiar with Styles during his time with NWA Wildside, and truly that is where he first started to get buzz, even before showing up on WCW television.

However, a witch did curse me to answer the questions sent in to this column, so I will try to label everybody to the best of my ability . . . though I know full well that some of the classifactions may result in a bit of argument. Just keep in mind that, per the question, we’re not talking about where people fist wrestled. We’re talking about where people first started to make a name for themselves.

According to the ever-reliable “List of WWE Personnel” article on Wikipedia, there are, as of this writing, 96 in-ring performers on the company’s main roster. Of those, I’ve categorized a whopping 50 of them as having made their name for the first-time while signed with WWE.

Meanwhile, the other 46 wrestlers have first established themselves someplace else. Of those “other” places, Ring of Honor has started off the most current WWE stars with six, while, thanks in no small part to the Women’s Evolution, ROH’s female counterpart SHIMMER has started off five ladies who are now wrestling on Monday or Friday night. We also have six different Japanese promotions and two different Mexican promotions that hae sent their members along to the big time.

All in all, I would say that this speaks the strength of the WWE developmental system over the course of the past twenty years or so, as the promotion has now created an environment in which it produces roughly half of its own talent in house, though it does continue to rely on others for a significant share of the roster.

Should I give this same treatment to NXT at some point in the future, as Peter suggets? What about AEW? Should you think that’s a good idea, feel free to sound off in the comments.

WWE
1. Braun Strowman
2. Bray Wyatt
3. Jeff Hardy
4. Randy Orton
5. Dabba-Kato
6. Drew McIntyre
7. Bobby Lashley
8. R-Truth
9. Shelton Benjamin
10. Kofi Kingston
11. Elias Samson
12. Humberto Carrillo
13. Jinder Mahal
14. Mace
15. Omos
16. Riddick Moss
17. Sheamus
18. Titus O’Neil
19. Tucker Knight
20. Nia Jax
21. Alexa Bliss
22. Charlotte Flair
23. Dana Brooke
24. Lacey Evans
25. Lana
26. Mandy Rose
27. Naomi
28. Peyton Royce
29. Roman Reigns
30. Montez Ford
31. Angelo Dawkins
32. Big E
33. Bo Dallas
34. Chad Gable
35. Dolph Ziggler
36. Dominik Misterio
37. Jey Uso
38. Jimmy Uso
39. Baron Corbin
40. Lars Sullivan
41. Mojo Rawley
42. Buddy Murphy
43. Otis Dozovic
44. Steve Cutler
45. Wesley Blake
46. Bianca Belair
47. Carmella
48. Liv Morgan
49. Sasha Banks
50. Tamina Snuka

MTV
1. Mike the Miz
2. Johnny Nitro

WCW
1. Triple H
2. The Big Show

UFC
1. Matt Riddle
2. Shayna Baszler

New Japan Pro Wrestling
1. Shinsuke Nakamura

Pro Wrestling NOAH
1. Slapjack

Dragon Gate
1. Akira Tozawa
2. Apollo Crews

CMLL
1. Andrade Almas
2. Gran Metalik

AAA
1. Angel Garza
2. Kalisto
3. Rey Misterio Jr.

FMW
1. Daniel Bryan

TNA
1. Xavier Woods
2. Jaxson Ryker
3. Bobby Roode
4. Chelsea Green

AtoZ
1. Asuka

JWP
1. Nikki Cross

NEO
1. Natalya Neidhart

USWA
1. Kane

ROH
1. Cedric Alexader
2. Erik
3. Ivar
4. Keith Lee
5. T-Bar
6. Mickie James

CHIKARA
1. Lince Dorado
2. Antonio Cesaro

CZW
1. Drew Gulak
2. Sami Zayn
3. Kevin Owens

FIP
1. Montel Vontavious Porter

SHIMMER
1. Becky Lynch
2. Reckoning
3. Bayley
4. Billie Kay
5. Ruby Riott

IWA Mid-South
1. Mustafa Ali
2. Ricochet
3. Seth Rollins

wXw
1. Aleister Black

NWA Wildside
1. AJ Styles

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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