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Does Heel Or Babyface Matter Anymore?, Working Stiff, My Take On TNA HoF, Wrestling Schools, Biggest Accomplishment

The following is today's edition of Ask WNW. Ask WNW is the most popular feature on the website where Richard Gray answers four questions daily, Monday through Friday. To submit your question for the next installment of Ask WNW, click here
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The Rock

During the 80s, or Hulk Hogan days, everyone rooted for the good guys and hated the bad guys. It seems like these days everyone picks their guy and sticks with them whether he's a heel or a face. For example, I've always liked CM Punk. Does it really matter nowadays whether a worker is a heel or face?

By large, the smarter fans (smart marks or smarks) do not care if a worker is a heel or a babyface, they care more about whether or not a worker is entertaining. That was one of the things WWE talked about when they originally turned CM Punk heel after a run as a babyface that saw him become an established main event talent. The thinking was that Punk's fans were going to be Punk's fans, regardless of the role he played on-screen. This is due to the fact that Punk has a large portion of the smarter audience and people like yourself, that are going to root for Punk no matter what. However, this does not include the mainstream WWE audience that is made up of a much larger demographic. While you or I enjoy workers for who they are as a performer, a large segment of WWE's audience cares very much about what happens on-screen and it determines everything from who they root for to whose merchandise they buy. You wouldn't believe some of the emails we get here about people demanding that Vince McMahon remove Triple H and Stephanie McMahon for what's "been done" to Daniel Bryan. The roles of characters on-screen absolutely still matter and kayfabe is much more alive than many realize. I'll also argue the smarter audience turned on Hulk Hogan much earlier than you might remember and a lot of people don't realize the business hasn't so much changed as much as they've evolved as they've gotten older. For example, when I was 11 years old kayfabe meant a heck of a lot more than than it does at 28. I've known pro wrestling was scripted for as long as I can remember but try explaining that to an 11-year-old.

When guys that have legitimate beef with each other do things ever get a little rough in the ring as a result?

Pro wrestling is just like any other work place. There are people that get along and there are people that can't stand one another. However, just because two people do not get along doesn't mean they do not understand they have a job to do. Are there situations where a match may get a little "chippy" or "stiff"? Yes and depending on who it is, depends how much someone can get away with. However, it's imperative that workers are able to overcome personal differences to do their job and someone doesn't want to get a bad reputation that they cannot be trusted in the ring. Getting the "unsafe to work with" label is extremely hard to overcome and there are actually people in WWE that people don't want to work with because of in-ring sloppiness. So to answer your question, yes things can get rough but most workers understand their job is more important than personal differences.

What's your take on the TNA Hall of Fame?

Let me start by saying I didn't like the Kurt Angle swerve at Bound for Glory. They're going to induct him, yet he doesn't feel he's worthy of the induction. What about the banquet the night before? I understand it's part of a storyline but in typical TNA fashion, they're invalidating an honor that not many people see as a viable honor in the first place. While you would think TNA would want to "play it up" to counter the push back, they're helping taking away from it. Regardless, and I mean no disrespect to Sting, the TNA Hall of Fame means nothing to me. It's just too soon for the company to be passing out "Hall of Fame" type honors. I realize they see what WWE does with their ceremony to coincide with Wrestlemania and are trying to recreate it with Bound for Glory weekend, but the WWE Hall of Fame wasn't created until 1993. WWE was originally founded in the 1950s so there was a good bit of history there before any such enshrinement took place. If TNA is going to do a Hall of Fame this early in their existence, how they can do it and not have Jeff Jarrett as the inaugural inductee is a travesty. Jarrett is the reason there is a TNA. End of story. If it weren't for Jeff and his father, none of these guys would have anywhere to work outside of the indies.

What wrestling training school would you recommend to someone that wants to become a pro wrestler?

I penned an entire article about this subject here at The bottom-line is you need to get trained by someone with a credible reputation. I give some names of schools in that article but the best advice I can give is where not to go. Do not pay anyone that never made it in the pro wrestling business. Only give your money to credible schools with credible pro wrestlers behind them. I don't care how much cheaper other schools are, you must go to a school with credible names backing them. While training is a big part of this business, a bigger part is who you know. You need to make sure you get into a school where there are connections to WWE and TNA Wrestling. There are actually schools that both major companies scout. This is where you want to be. You do not want to go somewhere that's off the radar because it's only going to set you back in trying to get booked on the indies. If I wanted to become a pro wrestler, I'd be checking with the Team 3D Academy, Lance Storm's Storm Wrestling Academy or Booker T's Reality of Wrestling Training Center. Do your own research but I can tell you success stories out of all three of those schools.

I know you said the Chris Benoit tragedy was your first major story. But what would you consider being your greatest accomplishment since entering the business?

My proudest moments as a pro wrestling journalist both involve The Rock. The biggest exclusive story we have had to date, and there have been several, is exclusively breaking the news of The Rock's return to WWE in 2011 (MAJOR, MAJOR, MAJOR (DID WE SAY MAJOR?) NAME PLANNED TO BE REVEALED AS THE WRESTLEMANIA XXVII GUEST HOST ON MONDAY’S WWE RAW FROM ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA (SPOILER)). This story was almost 4 years into my full-time career as a pro wrestling journalist but really shook up the business that we were for real. The next moment came this year when The Rock himself Tweeted a message at us that you can read here. To see someone of The Rock's magnitude not only show himself as a reader but compliment my work was a huge honor. It's a blessing to do what I do for a living but I couldn't do it without my amazing staff and the loyal readership of the website. It's you all that make it possible for us to be able to do what we do. It's an uphill battle getting established because of writers that have been doing this before I was even born, however, I work day in and day out to provide better information than anywhere on the Internet.

From the Ask WNW vault…

April 2009 - The MSG Incident: The incident happened at a WWE house show in 1996 at Madison Square Garden where Scott Hall and Shawn Michaels were working as babyfaces and Triple H and Diesel (Kevin Nash) were working as heels. At the end of the show, all four embraced as Nash and Hall were leaving WWE to go to World Championship Wrestling. All four were (and still are) very close friends and were known as the Kliq backstage in WWE. They are infamously known for their political stroke to be able to get in Vince McMahon's ear.

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The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Wednesday, October 23, 2013. Remember questions that are legible stand the best chance of getting answered. Check out the Ask WNW archive at this link.

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