Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 1997
I'm gonna read all these one day and it'll be great
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- After the longest absence of his career, Ric Flair returned to the ring at Slamboree 8 months after surgery on a torn rotator cuff. Flair teamed with Piper and Kevin Greene against Hall, Nash, and Syxx in a match that was more interesting for all the behind-the-scenes drama in recent weeks than the match itself. Flair and Piper didn't want Syxx in the match and it eventually led to a bunch of quasi-shoot comments from both sides during TV promos. At one point, Roddy Piper wanted to pull out of the match and since he has creative control, there was nothing WCW could do to stop him. In order to convince him to do the match, the NWO members all agreed to do a triple-job (all 3 of them were pinned at once) which made the Charlotte crowd go insane but, as you can imagine, the NWO guys weren't super thrilled about it. Flair's arm and shoulder still clearly weren't at 100%. Overall it was a fine match and the crowd loved it, but by the typical Flair standard, it wasn't great. Turned out Kevin Nash was right: Syxx was the only one who made the match watchable from an in-ring standpoint so it's good they had him there. Flair is 48 years old and coming off an 8 month layoff. Dave says regardless, in the Carolina area, Flair will still be the biggest drawing star even 10 years from now. Sinatra still draws money and in wrestling, especially in the Carolinas, Ric Flair is Sinatra.

Other Slamboree notes: the show drew a sellout crowd and the second largest gate in Charlotte wrestling history. Merch sales for the show were also one of the highest in WCW history. Steve McMichael vs. Reggie White was by far the worst match of the year, with White putting on arguably the worst performance on a wrestling PPV ever. And for whatever reason, it went 15 looooong minutes. At one point, someone backstage called an audible and tried to get them to wrap the match up early, but they had carefully planned every spot and couldn't improvise so they didn't listen and kept going as planned. Dave gives it negative 2 stars. The women's match was billed as a #1 contender match for Akira Hokuto's title, because WCW is now reversing course on the phantom title change and saying Hokuto is still champion because apparently no one in the company has a clue what's going on. Ernest Miller debuted helping Glacier fight off Mortis and Wrath. Chris Benoit was insanely over with the live crowd but ended up jobbing to Meng and there's a lot of concern about Benoit's future now that Kevin Sullivan is out of the picture. Benoit has been Sullivan's opponent for so long and Sullivan protected Benoit and worked hard to get him over in order to keep their feud going, but now he's out of the picture and Benoit is back to doing jobs to Meng (I sometimes feel bad for Kevin Sullivan while reading these. He was the booker and he handpicked Benoit to work with, and he built a fantastic year-long feud that helped catapult Benoit out of the lower-card swamp of WCW and into a legitimate upper-card draw. Benoit repaid him by stealing his wife and killing her).

- In the occasional MMA news that I cover, Dave has been reporting about all the PPV carriers that keep pulling out of carrying MMA. At this point, almost all of them are now refusing to carry the sport and Dave says "it is nearly impossible to see any kind of bright future for the UFC." It's expected that UFC will probably try to implement some rule changes to hopefully get the PPV companies to change their minds. The way the dominoes keep falling, pretty much everyone in the industry is all but certain that UFC is basically done for. Dave isn't writing them off just yet but it doesn't look good.

- In Puerto Rico, Carlos Colon announced that he is vacating the WWC Universal title because he wants to spend more time with his family and being champion forces him to travel all over the world. Dave basically calls bullshit on this since Colon pretty much never leaves Puerto Rico anymore. Anyway, he said he's not retiring and is just vacating the title to allow others to have a chance to fight for it. He also said he had won the title 15 times in his career, which is false. As of the day he vacated it, he had actually won it 22 times. And of course, this only lasts a year. He eventually wins it again in 1998....and then again and again and again. He was a 26 time champion when he finally retired in 2014.

- Hector Garza has jumped from AAA to Promo Azteca and also was backstage at the latest WCW Nitro. Just a few months ago, Garza had jumped from EMLL to AAA because AAA had promised to get him work in WWF. With that relationship pretty much dead, Garza decided to jump again to the company that can get him into WCW.

- Brian Christopher was temporarily fired from USWA last week after an incident with USWA general manager Larry Burton. Apparently Burton said something to Christopher's girlfriend, which he didn't like and got into Burton's face and was fired. But they worked it all out and he's back now, but will apparently be doing jobs on TV for a bit as punishment.

- USWA is no longer running shows at the Big Expo Flea Market in Memphis and they have no shows being advertised in the city for now. In fact, the Big Expo contacted ECW and asked if they'd like to run regular shows at the building, but it's so far away from Philadelphia that it doesn't make economic sense for them to do so (shit! ECW running regular shows in Memphis was a possibility?! That would have been awesome!)

- Stevie Richards suffered a stinger when Terry Funk threw a guardrail on him and it hit Richards in the back of the head and neck. He was knocked out and couldn't move and had no feeling in his extremities for several minutes. He was taken to the hospital but recovered enough that he was able to do a run-in at an indie show the next day (this ends up being quite a bit more serious. Richards briefly retired from it and had surgery. The multiple surgeries even changed his voice. Here he is talking about it).

- Tammy Sytch's 16-year-old niece passed away in a car accident this week, which is why Sunny wasn't at Raw and Chris Candido missed the recent ECW shows.

- Mikey Whipwreck still needs knee surgery but he's still wrestling. He's got some sort of insurance issue keeping him from getting the surgery. He can still work brief matches before it starts to really hurt him, so he's doing that until he can get the surgery. When he can, ECW is expected to film a big angle to write him off for a few months.

- Paul Heyman is still trying to work out a deal to get Jerry Lawler to shoot an angle at the ECW Arena. The idea being that Lawler would undoubtedly be the biggest heel ever in ECW. They want to work him into an angle with Rob Van Dam, who they're pushing as the top heel. Speaking of RVD, everyone in WWF was surprised at how well he got over during his match on Raw last week. He's also had offers from WCW, and at one point was planning to go, but he's taking off as one of ECW's top stars right now so he's chosen to stay with them because he knows WCW would never see him as a top star.

- Paul Heyman is also trying to book PG-13 as a credible tag team in ECW, but after so long of getting bounced around like jobbers in WWF, he's not pushing them hard and hopes to slowly rebuild their credibility. He's also doing the same thing with Tracy Smothers, who was also jobbed out on WWF TV. Speaking of PG-13, they're gone from WWF completely now, and they reportedly blame Jerry Lawler and claim he got them fired because they've been working indie shows for a promotion that competes with USWA in Tennessee, but Lawler denies it. The team, specifically J.C. Ice, reportedly had a lot of heat during their time in WWF but Dave doesn't say why.

- Tod Gordon got some unwanted media attention this week. Outside of ECW, Gordon also owns a jewelry store called Carver W. Reed Jewelers. Well, turns out a murder suspect named Craig Rabinowitz allegedly killed his wife and then took her engagement ring and sold it to Gordon at his jewelry store. Several local TV networks, Good Morning America and even People Magazine were all trying to hunt down Gordon to talk to him about it. Some of them even showed up to a recent ECW show looking for him (here's an old Washington Post article about the case. It doesn't mention Gordon but it's interesting).


- Dave saw the 2-part news piece that ran on WJAR in Providence, RI about ECW and the Mass Transit incident. He recaps it and since I can't find the video, I will too. Basically, they showed some of the footage but not the most graphic parts. They also showed a clip from an RF shoot interview where New Jack was shown watching the footage and laughing about it. Paul Heyman was asked about it and refused to answer questions and referred the newspeople to the lawyers. They also talked about the crowd at the show and how they reacted to the violence and interviewed a sociologist who basically compared it to human cockfighting and was disgusted at the crowd reaction. Heyman was quoted as saying that ECW is for adults and kids shouldn't come to the shows, but then they showed footage of kids buying ECW tickets and entering the building. Overall, Dave doesn't think much will come of this, but Paul Heyman is definitely walking a fine line. Considering the political climate, one false move could doom ECW. With all the PPV providers pulling out of MMA and likely killing off companies like UFC (lol), all it would take is for one big enough publicity hit and they could start getting banned from TV stations, PPV, arenas, etc. and if that happened, it would be the end of ECW. Dave says they wouldn't be able to survive a political attack like UFC has faced. Because of this, Heyman has reportedly been carefully editing every ECW TV show and video that goes out, to make sure nothing that could get them in serious trouble is ever seen or aired.

- There's belief that Kevin Sullivan no longer booking WCW isn't as temporary as people have been led to believe and that he might be gone for good. Though according to Sullivan, he fully expects to still be the booker when he returns. Terry Taylor and J.J. Dillon are now doing the bulk of the work, but word is Kevin Nash has a strong influence in the booking decisions right now also. And Nash was a strong critic of Sullivan's.

- The latest on WCW's proposed Thursday night TBS show is that Eric Bischoff doesn't want to do it unless TBS will guarantee him that they won't be pre-empted by other sporting events. But given all the baseball coverage TBS does of the Atlanta Braves, they couldn't make that guarantee.

- Kevin Greene did an interview and said that when he retires from football, he doesn't plan to go into wrestling and will be retiring from all physical sports.

- AAA president Antonio Pena lost his lawsuit where he claimed he had the rights to several of the Mexican wrestlers who now work for WCW. Pena claimed he had them under contract first and their WCW contracts weren't valid but the judge disagreed.

- Curt Hennig will likely be debuting on the June 30th episode of Nitro.

- Dave says WWF's Raw has pretty much turned into a complete copy of Nitro. Rapid fire angles, all the matches are basically 4 minutes or less now, they have similar openings with all the exploding pyro, and they've even starting adding another announcer at the beginning of the second hour like WCW.

- Vader was legit beat up from the PPV match with Ken Shamrock. His legs were beaten black and blue from all the leg kicks to the point that he couldn't even walk and needed fluid drained from his knee. He also caught a knee to the nose during the match which broke his nose in 4 places and gave him a broken septum. He'll likely need surgery to repair it and will be out for a little while.

- On Raw this week, they aired part 1 of "an absolutely fantastic" interview segment with Mankind, revealing his real name as Mick Foley and showing videos and pictures of him from high school and talking about his Cactus Jack days. They're planning to show clips from his death match tournaments next week.

- Shawn Michaels got a lot of heat from a promo he cut on Raw this week, where he made a reference to Bret enjoying a lot of "Sunny days" lately, which is obviously some sort of inside reference to Sunny. Dave also said there seemed to be something wrong with Shawn and his delivery in the promo (Dave doesn't outright say it but it's pretty obvious that Shawn was pilled out of his mind here. Talking slow, slurring his words a little, cadence just seems off. It becomes a pretty common theme with Shawn promos in the next few months).

- Goldust got a great reaction this week from the live crowd after the recent interview segments that have aired with him. The pop he got shocked pretty much everyone in the back. They also brought his 3-year-old daughter out and gave her the mic and tried to get her to say "Goldust" but instead she took the mic and ran away with it, which led Jim Ross to comment that she's just like her grandfather, hogging the mic.

- They announced Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels are being forced to team up on Raw next week, which was originally planned for the next PPV but they're rushing it and doing it on TV next week instead because they're hoping to pop a big rating. Short-term thinking.

- On Shotgun Saturday Night, Brian Pillman was doing commentary. During one bit, Sunny was teasing Mankind and told him, "I won't bite." Brian Pillman then said, "She won't bite but she certainly will swallow!" Jim Ross quickly added, "Her pride" to try and salvage it from being too graphic.

- Expect several Michinoku Pro wrestlers to be brought in as part of WWF's new light heavyweight division.

- There have been 2 recent WWF matches with blood (Vader at the In Your House PPV and Austin at Wrestlemania). This was brought up in a recent Baltimore Sun newspaper article and Vince McMahon responded to it by saying the blood was accidental in both cases. Dave calls bullshit and says in the Vader case, they replayed his bloody face repeatedly on TV and that it fit perfectly with the match. And in the Austin/Wrestlemania case, Dave says no matter what McMahon says, he knows for a fact that Austin bladed. Whether he had Vince's approval or not is still unknown, but it definitely wasn't a hardway cut.
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- Tensions between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels reached a boiling point this week and has led to plans for the long awaited Hart/Michaels rematch at King of the Ring being cancelled. The initial plan was for it to be a short match because Bret's knee injury still isn't fully healed and it was really going to be more of an angle than a match anyway. But that's been scrapped now after incidents this past week. It's no secret that Bret and Shawn genuinely don't like each other but these days, it's hard to know where the line between shoot and work is. Dave recaps some of the history, noting that the initial plan was to build the company around Shawn and when Bret returned last year, WWF wanted him to put over Shawn in a ladder match. But Bret felt that the ladder match was his gimmick (he's the first one who brought it to WWF, even before the famous WM10 match) and refused. He also talks about how Bret still holds a lot of bitterness (and rightfully so) at Hulk Hogan for refusing to put him over in 1993 and leaving the company instead or doing the job and says Bret feels much the same towards Shawn. It's widely believed that Shawn's knee injury that forced him to pull out of Wrestlemania a few months ago was more of a personal meltdown and a way to avoid doing the job to Hart than an actual injury.

- On the May 12th Raw, Bret was cutting a promo and babbled on and on, to the point that the show ran out of time and ended before Shawn could get his superkick in so he was left standing there looking like an idiot as the show went off the air and the televised audience didn't see the superkick until it aired the week after. Shawn believes it was intentional but of course, Bret just claims he missed his time cue. On May 19th, Shawn showed up at Raw "in no condition to perform" but was still sent out on TV to cut a promo, where he slurred his words a lot and made a reference to Bret having some "Sunny days" which naturally got tons of rumors flying and is especially unfortunate for Hart since he's married and has young children. Bret has reportedly been telling people that, when his knee is well enough, he's planning to fuck Shawn up for real as soon as he gets the chance due to the "Sunny days" comment. From here, Dave recaps all of Shawn's immature bullshit, from complaining about having to do an interview putting Ken Shamrock over, making not-so-subtle shout outs on TV to Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in WCW, and of course, likely faking a knee injury and walking out before Wrestlemania, thus screwing up a year-long awaited match with Hart that he was going to have to lose, which was arguably the biggest factor in WM13 drawing such a poor buyrate and literally costing WWF millions in revenue from the biggest show of the year.

- In recent weeks, Shawn Michaels has been at odds with Vince McMahon, demanding a new contract that would put him at the same level as Bret Hart (who has the most lucrative guaranteed contract in WWF history). When Vince turned him down, Shawn told Vince he quits and that he wanted to go be with his friends in WCW, but Shawn still has 4 years remaining on his contract. But they still didn't know if Shawn was going to show up to TVs and PPVs, so they began coming up with backup plans in case he no-showed. If Shawn quits the company, WWF will almost certainly do everything in their power to make Michaels sit out for 4 years rather than allow him to go to WCW. At the time Michaels signed his WWF deal, believed to be for a minimum $750,000 per year, he was openly bragging about it and saying WCW couldn't afford him but, of course, things change. Michaels was actually a pretty decent success as champion, drawing big house show numbers, but TV ratings plummeted and he lost his temper at minor things like crowd heckling or missed time cues and began to melt down personally. From here, Dave talks about how WCW has been able to offer top stars more money and reduced schedules, plus WCW has a non-existent drug policy, which is also enticing to some of the guys, though he points out that WWF has pretty much abandoned their own drug policy these days also.

- In the upcoming UFC PPV, Tony Halme (formerly Ludvig Borga in WWF) was scheduled to face Jason Fairn. But Fairn pulled out of the show, and Dave basically says it was because he's scared of Halme. He will be replaced by 1997 Greco-roman wrestling champion Randy Couture. It will be Couture's first UFC fight.

- In NJPW, the announcers have been referring to Shinya Hashimoto as "Mr. Strong Style." (why be a Mr. when you can be a King?). Anyway, Hashimoto defeated Naoya Ogawa to retain the IWGP title with a stiff kick to the face that led to Ogawa's side throwing in the towel to stop the match. Dave says people will be talking for years about the brutal finish.

- In Puerto Rico, the Bushwhackers have been working, doing the same goofy WWF gimmick as always. But this week, they turned heel and beat down some people in brutal fashion and announced that they were going back to being The Sheepherders, which is the team name they went by during the 70s and 80s when they were a team that did lots of hardcore bloodbath wrestling.

- El Dandy abruptly quit EMLL and has jumped ship to Promo Azteca. Thought he was a jam-up guy. Guess not.

- Dave says a newcomer in EMLL named Mr. Aguila is the best rookie he's seen this year and says he reminds him of Juventud Guerrera (he would later spend a little time in WWF, best known as Essa Rios and was managed by Lita during her pre-Hardy days).

- In Mexico, Antonio Pena is trying to register a trademark on the terms "cage match" and "lumberjack match" so that no one else can advertise matches using those terms.

- Pancrase is reportedly filing a breach of contract lawsuit against Ken Shamrock. They believe he's still under contract to them and thus shouldn't have been able to sign with WWF.

- USWA pretty much only really operates in 3 markets anymore: Memphis, Nashville, and Louisville. They haven't run any shows in Memphis for the last few weeks and when they do resume Memphis shows, they may move to a new location because they have only been drawing 200-300 people at most for their big shows at the Flea Market building. In Louisville, they're moving to a new TV station because they can't afford the $1000 per week fee to stay on the one they're currently on.

- Dave mentions Ron Garvin worked a recent indie show but it's mostly notable just because of what Dave says. He calls Garvin a former NWA champ and then adds, "And boy was that an embarrassment at the time."

- At a recent ECW house show in a small town that only drew 200 people, Raven decided to break character and worked a match with Stevie Richards using his old Johnny Polo gimmick.

- Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff had discussions this week regarding the Raven situation. Dave doesn't know all the details but he believes Raven will be in WCW within the next few weeks. Heyman is trying to make a deal for Raven to return to ECW for the PPV in August to put over Tommy Dreamer. Speaking of ECW's next PPV, there's a lot of concern over whether or not the PPV providers will carry it. They've all been dropping UFC and there's talk that Time Warner and Viewer's Choice may also refuse to carry another ECW show. Basically, Dave says the political atmosphere has all but killed UFC on PPV and it's looking like ECW may be the next target. Then again, it's hard to make a logical argument for dropping ECW while still continuing to carry WWF and WCW, especially considering how much more adult-oriented WWF has gotten in recent months. But if logical arguments worked, they wouldn't be banning UFC in the first place. So who knows.

- On Nitro, there was a Mexicans trios match with Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo, and Hector Garza vs. La Parka, Damian, and Ciclope. Dave gives it 4 stars and says it was off-the-charts awesome and had the crowd going insane by the end, including a spot with Super Calo jumping through the ropes and landing in the 3rd row on top of the fans. Mike Tenay did a great job of getting everything on commentary, while Larry Zybysko seemingly went out of his way to undermine everything and did the best he could to try to bury the match. Several people in WCW have been trying to make trios matches with the Mexican wrestlers a regular thing on Nitro, but when Kevin Sullivan was booking, he didn't want to do it. But with Terry Taylor now handling most of the booking, he gave it a chance and the guys knocked it out of the park. So you can probably expect more of those types of matches in the future.

- Spring Stampede and Slamboree both had relatively low buyrates which proves that, heel or face, when Hogan isn't on a PPV, the buyrate drops significantly. He's still the top money PPV draw for WCW.

- Darius Rucker, the lead singer of Hootie & The Blowfish was in attendance at a recent WCW house show.

- Dave says WWF's Raw episode on May 26th was one of the best episodes of Raw ever. They aired Part 2 of the Mankind story which was just as good, if not better than the first part and showed footage of him at ringside during the famous Jimmy Snuka cage dive in 1983 and home video footage of him jumping off the roof of a house and talked about how he wanted to be a guy named Dude Love. They also showed footage from the 1995 death match tournament in Japan. Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin also won the tag titles in a great match.

- Jerry Lawler cut a promo on Raw towards Goldust, and said that the reason his father (Dusty, who Lawler referred to as Oldust) doesn't talk to his son is because he dresses "like a flaming fag" and because he married Marlena, who is like a Target store because everyone shops there. The comment got a huge pop and Goldust (the face) was booed out of the building. 1997 was a different time.

- Davey Boy Smith showed up on Raw with stitches and cuts and bruises on his head and cut a promo saying he was attacked by Austin and needed 16 stitches. The real story is that Smith actually slipped in the shower and cracked his head open with a cut so deep you could see his skull. He was hospitalized and really did need 16 stitches, but he didn't miss any shows.

- Brian Pillman is still in tremendous pain from his bad ankle after working recent matches, even though he hasn't been doing much in the ring (poor guy never really recovered). Steve Austin also suffered a neck injury on the show but no word how bad it is (he didn't miss any time).

- As far as the secret about Undertaker that Paul Bearer keeps threatening to reveal, it's apparently got something to do with bringing back Papa Shango. Bearer said that when Undertaker's parents died, there were actually 3 graves. The 3rd grave is expected to be Undertaker's and the story will be that Papa Shango did some sort of voodoo to bring Undertaker back from the dead. Shango has reportedly signed a new 4 year contract with WWF and is expected to get a major push. They also considered Brian Lee (former fake Undertaker) for the role but they've decided to go with Shango instead (obviously, this all got changed. What a different world it would be if it hadn't).

- On Shotgun Saturday Night, Brian Pillman cut a promo calling WCW the bush leagues and then started talking about religion somehow, which got him a ton of backstage heat.

- Steve Austin's "3:16" shirt is apparently selling like crazy and in fact, WWF is selling more Austin 3:16 shirts than any other shirt in history, including Hogan and Warrior shirts in their primes. Merchandise records are being set every night. Less people are attending shows now than they did during the 80s, but with higher ticket prices and merch sales, people are spending more money now than ever before. It's the same in all 3 companies: WWF, WCW, and ECW are all doing massive merch numbers these days.

- At a house show in Lexington, Sunny got on the mic and talked about her 16-year-old neice who died in a car accident last week. Sunny talked about holding her hand as the girl was brain dead and being there when she died and urged the fans to always wear their seatbelts. This led to fans booing her and backstage, Sunny was really upset about it. She was also yelled at by road agent Jack Lanza for cutting the promo because no one knew she was planning to say that and I guess talking about brain dead teenagers is kind of a buzzkill for live shows.

- Sid was supposed to return last week but now he's claiming he has the flu and won't be back until late June. "I know what you're thinking and so is everyone else. Guess the softball team must have made the playoffs or something," Dave says. Anyway, Dave is curious to see how big Sid is when he returns (aka steroids) and how WWF will treat him. Dave suspects they'll give him another big push like they always do and then history will repeat itself and Sid will flake on them again. And he says don't feel sorry for WWF when it happens because they should have learned by now that Sid isn't dependable.

- They did an angle where the Hart Foundation attacked Bob Holly and during the angle, Brian Pillman used a squeegee as a weapon, which is an inside rib on the Sid/Pillman incident from a few years ago where Sid tried to use a squeegee as a weapon in a fight with Pillman.

- There has been rumors of Raw moving to Fox when their USA contract expires next year but Dave says there's nothing to it. USA has considered moving Raw to another night but WWF doesn't want to. But in the end, it's USA's decision.

- Ken Shamrock has been training with Bret Hart, to incorporate more wrestling moves into his repertoire without compromising his usual shoot-style.

- WWF hasn't finalized any deals with FMW yet but chances are they will soon. Dave suspects all the Mankind videos they've been doing, including his death match footage, is probably going to lead to WWF doing one of those exploding ring barbed wire matches that Onita has been wanting them to do (nah).

- Leif Cassidy tried to get out of his WWF contract but he's locked in for another year so he can't leave until next year. They're doing a gimmick with him where he loses match after match until he finally snaps (and thus, the seeds of the J.O.B. Squad were planted).

- WWF is copying WCW by breaking Raw into 2 shows. WCW breaks down Nitro into two separate 1 hour shows, and thus in the Neilsen ratings, they get credit for 2 highly rated shows instead of 1, which makes it look artificially more impressive for advertising dollars. WWF is now starting to do the same, which is why they have new opening graphics at the start of the 2nd hour.

- WWF has re-opened negotiations with Steve Williams now that all the publicity from his recent drug arrest has gone away. They want to do a Williams/Shamrock feud.
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if shawn super kicking bret after raw went off was really unintentional, wwf did a very good job of milking it as "what you missed when raw went off air" for weeks/months after
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A Williams/Shamrock feud could have been crazy!
I was so excited when Williams debuted in wwf but then I realized that he just didn't fit in with what was going on. It just wasn't his era anymore and any chance of him getting over was destroyed by the Brawl for All. It sucks because some programs against Vader, Foley, and Shamrock could have been some really good stuff.

Imagine if when Regal came in later in 98 he had been clean and got matched up with Dr Death. Casual fans might have hated it but man it could have been awesome

- WCW and WWF both have house shows scheduled in the Los Angeles area on the same night later this month. WCW is treating it like all-out war, with a card loaded more than any PPV they've had in months and are billing it as "Saturday Nitro." Hogan and Sting are even expected to work the show and they sent Flair, Sting, Bischoff, and others to Los Angeles this week to promote ticket sales. Meanwhile, WWF isn't really treating it like anything different. They've added a bikini contest with Sunny, Sable, Marlena, and Chyna but otherwise, they're just running the same house show card they've been doing. If he's healthy by then, Bret Hart may be returning that night, but otherwise, same ol' shit for WWF.

- ECW and USWA have agreed to start doing a short inter-promotional angle, with the idea that some of the footage will also be shown on WWF TV as well. On USWA TV, Jerry Lawler challenged anyone from ECW to come face him, which will likely lead to Lawler vs. Tommy Dreamer. In turn, Lawler is expected to appear in ECW at the June 7th Wrestlepalooza show.

- Dave gives a big recap of the recent UFC PPV. Tank Abbott and his gang of hangers-on were again the talk of the weekend, with them spray painting graffiti all over town, punching holes in hotel walls, and getting into a 2:30am brawl with another group of people in the hotel. It didn't matter though, because Tank Abbott got annihlated in 52 seconds by Victor Belfort in the main event. Dave also recaps all the government efforts to get the show shut down at the last minute, the court battles, etc. Also of note, former WWF wrestler Tony Halme (Ludvig Borga) got murdered by Randy Couture in 57 seconds, and Couture ended up going on to win the whole tournament.

- Great Sasuke signed a 6-month contract with WWF and is expected to become the focal point of WWF's new light heavyweight division. Sasuke was offered a 1-year contract but would only agree to do 6 months because he still runs Michinoku Pro in Japan and didn't want to be away from it for too long. He'll be debuting later this month and will face Taka Michinoku in a match that will probably be the kick-off for the new division. It's believed Sasuke will probably win the title initially and then defend it against Michinoku Pro wrestlers, along with possibly some FMW and EMLL wrestlers, and probably a few WWF guys as well. The fact that Sasuke has signed with WWF has other political ramifications. Due to pressure from WCW, New Japan had informed Michinoku Pro that if any of their wrestlers worked for WWF, NJPW would cut ties with the company. NJPW basically hit them with an ultimatum and Sasuke pretty much told them to get fucked and did it anyway. No word on whether or not NJPW is planning to hold them to that ultimatum and cut ties with Michinoku Pro.

- For the last month, WCW Nitro has been moved around due to the NBA playoffs so WWF Raw was airing unopposed. This gave WWF a month to build up angles and try to generate interest. But this week, they were back head-to-head again and despite the heavily-hyped Undertaker's secret angle and Shawn Michaels returning to the ring, once again, WCW spanked them. But Raw did see ratings increase greatly during the 2nd hour, which isn't normal and they actually beat WCW in the final 15 minute segment. So it's a small victory for WWF.

- Speaking of ratings, Dave talks about a recent newspaper article about the Monday night wars that said both WWF and WCW are still losing money on the Monday night shows, which is true. This leads Dave into a rant about how it's weird that both companies are so busy pushing their Monday night shows so hard when the real money is still in PPV and house shows. He says big angles like the return to the ring of Shawn Michaels would be better saved for PPVs where it can generate money, rather than given away on free TV just to get a small ratings bump that doesn't amount to anything. Each side is so concerned with trying to outdo the other in ratings points that they're leaving money on the table when it comes to PPV.

- Former USWA announcer Dave Brown suffered a tragic loss this weekend when his pregnant daughter Stefanie and his 9-month-old granddaughter were struck by a drunk driver and killed (I know I've talked about it before but Dave Brown is sort of a legend in this city. He's also a meteorologist and up until 2 years ago, he had been the most trusted weatherman in the city for decades. Also, I've met Dave Brown and he's just the nicest dude ever. Anyway, to this day, Brown still works to prevent drunk driving. He works with MAAD and other organizations, gives speeches at high schools, and all that stuff).

- Promo Azteca is beating both EMLL and AAA in TV ratings right now. Speaking of EMLL, Dave says that there are some huge things going on politically behind the scenes that could explode within the next week or so and totally change the face of Mexican wrestling. As of the time I'm writing this (June 22, 2017 at 4:39pm), I have no idea what it could be but maybe we'll find out (update: Sept. 8, 2017 at 10:37am.....still no idea wtf he was talking about. Never explained).

- AJPW is giving The Patriot a big push on the current tour so it looks like he might not be leaving for WWF after all (nah, he's leaving).

- UFC fighter Don Frye has signed on to work 4 big shows for NJPW and is hopeful that he can turn it into a WCW job. He's been photographed in Japanese magazines wearing an NWO shirt and is trying to transition to professional wrestling.

- WWF's Ken Shamrock is expected to make an appearance at an upcoming FMW stadium show in September and do a worked shoot fight against someone (it ends up being Vader, but we'll get there).

- Fake Diesel and Fake Razor are still working indies and Mexico and recently, they've been feuding against each other in USWA. The storyline is that Fake Razor has admitted that he's not the real Razor Ramon and says Vince McMahon made him do it and now he's anti-WWF. Meanwhile, Fake Diesel is trying to get him to come back to the WWF side. Also, whenever USWA does shows in Louisville, Fake Diesel has been going by the name Unabom which was the name he (Glen Jacobs) used to wrestle under when he was in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Since SMW had a big presence in Louisville, he's using that name when he works there (only a few months left of this).

- 64-year old Gypsy Joe also debuted in USWA this week, in an angle with Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee (that dude continued to wrestle until 2011, when he was 79).

- ECW is being forced to make lots of booking changes due to injuries. Stevie Richards is expected to be out 6-8 weeks with a neck injury, which first occurred in a match with Terry Funk and was aggravated a few nights later in a match with the Eliminators (yeah, Richards didn't wrestle again until 3 months later, in WCW). Perry Saturn tore his ACL in a match the next day and will likely have major surgery later this week. Saturn is still expected to show up at Wrestlepalooza and probably drop the titles and then will likely be out for around 6 months (ended up not being that long, but he also didn't wrestle again until WCW a few months later).

- Raven's final ECW match is expected to be on the Wrestlepalooza show to finally put over Tommy Dreamer, and then the plan is for him to debut 2 nights later on Nitro. He won't be returning for the August PPV. Meanwhile, Raven has been getting a lot of criticism from people who say he's been sandbagging his matches lately and not putting in much effort because he knows he's leaving.

- Speaking of the next ECW PPV, it will be called Hardcore Heaven '97 and right now it's looking like it will take place in either Cincinnati, OH (nope) or Asbury Park, NJ (nope). Heyman is negotiating with all the PPV carriers to try and make sure this one gets carried by more providers than the last one.

- Taz is now being billed as "the toughest SOB in wrestling" which Dave thought was Steve Austin's gimmick. Tsk tsk, Paul...

- Mikey Whipwreck doesn't plan to get the knee surgery that he needs because he can't afford the surgery and also can't afford to be out of work for that long. So he's going to keep working hurt.

- On Nitro, Ric Flair faced Scott Hall and Dave says that Flair worked his ass off and the crowd got into it, but the truth is, Flair has never looked older in the ring. Admittedly, he's still recovering from a long layoff due to injury, but he both looked and moved like an old man. Dave says Flair still has a lot to offer and he still draws big ratings and gets great crowd reactions, but he's at the point where they need to use him sparingly, not have him wrestle every Monday night. The match was scheduled to go 20 minutes, but Flair ran out of gas quickly and called for the finish about 12 minutes early. It screwed up the timing of the show and left Gene Okerlund and Randy Savage to improvise and stall during their interview segment, but Okerlund and Savage are experienced veterans and they pulled it off well.

- Preston Manning, an ultra-right wing conservative politician in Canada was at a rally last week when someone in the crowd gave him the NWO hang signal and said "Too sweet!" Manning returned the gesture but it was clear he had no idea what he was doing.

- WCW has a company rule now that Hogan, Piper, and Flair can't be referred to as "old" in interviews. People can still use "dinosaurs" and "fossils" when referring to Piper and Flair. But not Hogan.

- Bobby Heenan was on a radio show in San Diego last week and was asked a few interesting questions. When asked about the Wrestling Observer newsletter, Heenan responded that he'd never heard of it or read it which, I mean, c'mon. And when asked about ECW, he simply had the radio host hang up on the caller and never acknowledged the question.

- At a house show, a heckling fan got under Booker T's skin so much that he left the ring and hopped the rail but was eventually kept away from the fan and the match resumed.

- Kevin Sullivan is still out for now but he's expected to resume as booker when he returns. But others in the company like the job Terry Taylor is doing now and want to keep him as booker.

- No word on Ted Dibiase's WCW status. He missed a few weeks with the company to travel to Tel Aviv in Israel with the 700 Club but ever since he came back, he hasn't been used on TV. There's talk of maybe turning him babyface eventually. His role was initially to be the manager of the NWO but now that Eric Bischoff has taken that role for himself, no one really knows what to do with Dibiase anymore.

- Booker T is in a new 1-800-COLLECT commercial, playing a boxer.

- Nasty Boys are still with WCW but Jerry Sags has a serious neck injury and he hasn't been cleared and it's unsure if he ever will be (they never wrestled together in WCW again and in fact, Sags was basically retired for the next few years. Knobbs continued to wrestle solo, but they didn't wrestle again as a team until 2001 and since then, they have only had occasional matches).

- WWF aired another segment of the ongoing Mankind/Mick Foley interviews, acknowledging his past as Cactus Jack and even showed clips of him in ECW and his death match footage. Dave says Mankind should be an actor instead of a wrestler, given how good he is at delivering these lines and says it was a great segment.

- Sid returned and immediately jobbed to the Undertaker. Sid reportedly threw a fit about doing the job but was basically told he'd be fired if he didn't, so he begrudgingly did it.

- During the Shotgun Saturday Night tapings, Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart got the crowd so pissed off that they began throwing debris at them. The ring announcer got on the intercom and told the fans they would have to stop the show if they kept throwing stuff, which only got the fans to throw even more garbage at them. Even Vince McMahon got on the mic to plead with them to stop. After the show was held up for about 10 minutes, they finally got everyone under control and resumed the taping.

- The plan for the Undertaker angle with Paul Bearer revealing a secret has been changed and Papa Shango won't be part of it anymore. No word on what the new plan is.

- WWF is negotiating with Dan Severn to come in and hopefully work an angle with Ken Shamrock.

- A photo of Shawn Michaels wearing a WCW Outsiders t-shirt appeared in Wrestling All-Stars magazine, which is sure to please WWF. Shawn has made no secret lately about wanting to leave and go to WCW.

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- Steve Austin was told by a doctor this week that his recent neck injury could be the start of a serious issue and recommended that he retire. Austin is getting a second opinion.

- Vader had nasal surgery this week from the shattered nose he got in the Ken Shamrock match.

- Diana Smith (Davey Boy Smith's wife/Bret Hart's sister) will be competing in the Mrs. Calgary beauty pageant next week.
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- Backstage fights took place in both WWF and WCW on Monday. Starting with WWF: Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart got into a backstage fight that led to both men being pulled from that night's Raw less than an hour before the show went on the air, and both men were scheduled to play a big role in the show. Hart and Michaels have had a long ongoing feud based in professional jealousy with both men vying to be the top star of the company (which Dave says is ironic since both Steve Austin and Undertaker have pretty much become bigger stars than both Hart and Shawn in recent weeks) and it escalated a few weeks ago when Shawn believed Hart intentionally went long on his promo in order to make Shawn look stupid before the Raw went off the air. Shawn retaliated the next week with the "Sunny days" comment, which naturally caused Hart a lot of personal trouble at home, as you would expect, to the point that Bret has made it clear that he was going to attack Shawn when he got the chance, although most people didn't believe it since Bret has such a reputation as being a professional and because he's still got a hurt knee, so getting in a real fight wouldn't be wise. Prior to Raw this week, both Shawn and Bret had long meetings with Vince McMahon. At some point before the show, Hart went into Shawn's dressing room and yelled at Shawn about how his "Sunny days" comment had affected his personal life. The argument then got physical but was broken up quickly, but it seems Shawn came out the worse for wear. A few punches were thrown and a large clump of Shawn's hair was pulled out, to the point where he was apparently given a major bald spot and Michaels' face was puffed up from the punches. Hart also apparently aggravated his knee injury during the scuffle as well. Bret was on top of Michaels, punching him, when Jerry Brisco and Pat Patterson and a few other wrestlers broke up the fight. Soon after, Hart and Brisco were loudly arguing in another room for awhile until Hart left the arena at about 8:30 without ever appearing on Raw.

- Michaels was roughed up but still could have worked the show (he was scheduled to face Brian Pillman in the main event, replacing Austin who legit injured his knee the night before). But Michaels was going crazy after the fight backstage, saying he wouldn't work with anyone in the Hart Foundation group because he couldn't trust them. He eventually stormed out of the arena just before the show went on the air. As he was leaving, he was loudly telling people that he was quitting and said if he could make it to Boston in time (where Nitro was that night), he would just go there. At this point, they had to scrap the entire script for the show and put a new show together just minutes before they went on air. Mankind ended up filling in to work the match with Pillman, but he's not fully over as a babyface yet and Pillman is still working in tremendous pain and is limited, so the match fell flat. Plus, they had spent a week hyping Austin vs. Pillman, so the crowd was upset at not getting that. If Shawn won't work with the Hart Foundation members, it really screws up house show plans, since that's basically the advertised main event of everything for the next several weeks.

- On Raw, Vince McMahon acknowledged the incident, saying both Hart and Shawn had been sent home for unprofessional conduct to explain why they weren't on the show. Jim Ross acknowledged the fight on the WWF hotline and emphasized that it wasn't an angle and said Shawn had walked out of the WWF. The next day, McMahon sent out an internal memo to execs saying, "Last night in Hartford, Shawn Michaels breached his contract by refusing to perform. We are hopeful Shawn will reconsider his position and return to work. Shawn has four years to go on his five-year contract. The door is open for Shawn to return under the terms of his contract." If Shawn doesn't come back, he will likely be suspended without pay. The big question is whether or not WWF can suspend him for 4 entire years without pay, or would they continue to pay his downside guarantee to keep him away from WCW. Or could Shawn use the Bret fight and other incidents (like the time the Harris Brothers threatened him) to claim WWF is an unsafe work environment and try to get out of his contract through legal means?

- Shawn Michaels and his father (bwah?) had a meeting with Vince McMahon several weeks ago, where Shawn asked to be released from his contract but McMahon refused. Michaels also claims he had a verbal agreement with McMahon that he would be the highest paid wrestler in the company, but then Bret signed a far more lucrative 20-year deal with WWF which upset Shawn. He's also upset because he claims McMahon once told him that if he was ever unhappy in WWF, that he would let Shawn leave. But now Shawn is unhappy, and Vince won't let him leave. McMahon did make a similar promise to Ric Flair several years ago and he did indeed keep his word and let Flair leave in 1993 to return to WCW, but times have obviously changed.

Shawn talking about the fight from a shoot interview in 1999

- WCW's fight took place after Nitro went off the air, following the Nitro main event which was Hall and Nash vs. Piper and Flair which was arguably one of the worst matches of the year. Piper reportedly didn't go along with what they had planned, and in turn, Nash stopped selling for him. Piper looked horrible in the match and he also called for the finish 6 minutes earlier than planned, which meant the post-match brawl to end the show "lasted literally forever." After the show, Kevin Nash went into Roddy Piper's dressing room and blamed him for their match being so terrible. He banged hard on the door and when Piper opened, they argued for a second and then Nash pie-faced him and shoved him back into the wall. In turn, Piper tried to kick Nash in his bad knee, before Ric Flair and Piper's bodyguard (yes, he has a bodyguard) separated them. Then Nash and the bodyguard almost went at it, but the bodyguard (who is much smaller) backed down. Most of the heat has fallen on Piper for not going along with the agreed plan in the match and for calling for the finish early. WCW is hoping the 4 men can be professional for just another week until the next PPV and after that, they'll be booking them in different directions and keeping everyone apart.

- Overall, Dave says a lot of this is a consequence of the Monday night wars. It's a star-driven business and now the stars have more power than they ever have before. Neither WWF or WCW wants to really punish or release their top stars because they don't want them going to the competition. It's no secret that the situation has created a cancer in both locker rooms because the biggest stars seem to be above the rules and they know it, so they break rules, go off-script on live TV, fight each other backstage, ignore the drug policies, etc. And neither promotion wants to offend their stars by punishing them because they don't want anyone to jump ship.

- In possibly the biggest angle in ECW history, Jerry Lawler debuted at the ECW Arena to thunderous heel heat, getting one of the loudest responses in company history. The angle started that morning on USWA TV, where they announced Tommy Dreamer would be coming in to face Lawler next week. They aired a taped interview where Tommy Dreamer basically cut a shoot promo, talking about the sad state of USWA these days. Then, that night, at the ECW Arena, the lights went out and when they came back on, Lawler was in the ring and helped Rob Van Dam and Sabu destroy Tommy Dreamer and several other ECW faces, including Paul Heyman himself. Many are calling it the best angle in ECW history. Lawler is scheduled to face Dreamer at the August PPV. WWF is involved in the angle as well. Two nights later, Heyman and Dreamer appeared on Raw to a huge crowd response. Van Dam also worked a match on the show and eventually, Heyman and Dreamer got into a brawl with Van Dam and Lawler. The plan for this angle is likely for it to culminate in a match at Summerslam With Van Dam & Lawler vs. Dreamer and Sandman but that might change. If the match doesn't happen at Summerslam, it may happen at the next In Your House PPV in September.


- WCW Nitro this week broke all company attendance records. The show was sold out with over 18,000 people. It also broke the company gate record, with over $240,000. They also had a show the night before in Buffalo that drew over 13,000. Including merch sales, it was the biggest money making weekend in WCW history. They have another show in Chicago next week that may break those records, and another show in August that has a good chance of doing it also. So yeah...good times for WCW right now.

- Speaking of Nitro, other news from the show: Lex Luger beat Hogan with the torture rack, which is Hogan's first submission job since 1981 in a match with Antonio Inoki in Japan. And as previously mentioned, Hall/Nash vs. Piper/Flair was one of the worst matches of the year, in the negative star territory.

- King of the Ring is in the books and featured an interesting little bit of irony. Last year, Hunter Hearst Helmsley was booked to win the King of the Ring tournament, but due to the curtain call incident, Helmsley was punished by not even being put on the PPV and spent the next few months as a glorified jobber. This year, Helmsley was eliminated from the tournament in a prelim match a few weeks ago on Raw, but due to Vader's injury, they booked an angle to put Helmsley back into the tournament and then they ended up making the decision to have Helmsley win the whole thing. Shawn Michaels faced Steve Austin and surprisingly, Shawn got louder cheers than Austin, although both men were super over with the crowd. Both men busted their ass and it was a great match with a bad double-DQ finish that the crowd chanted "Bullshit!" at.

- NJPW and AJPW held shows at Budokan Hall on consecutive nights. AJPW won the battle, drawing slightly more people to their show. They also won the best match, with the Misawa vs. Kawada main event being called by many as the best match of the year.

- The Patriot has signed a multi-year deal with WWF and is expected to debut soon, but he still got a monster push on the latest AJPW tour, which surprises Dave. Patriot also suffered a torn tricep on this tour (he works through it for a few months in WWF but he ended up aggravating it again later in the year and it ends up causing him to retire in 1998).

- Sabu and Rob Van Dam have both quit AJPW. Sabu's reason for quitting was because he was upset at being booked as a lower-card guy who was only there to put over people and finally said fuck it and abruptly quit after being told to put over Giant Kimala II in a match. Van Dam had been considering quitting for awhile anyway for the same reasons (tired of being a lower-card nobody), so he chose to just leave with Sabu. They worked the Budokan Hall show because AJPW refused to pay them in advance for it because of fear they would take the money and no-show. During their match, other AJPW wrestlers were stationed around the ring just in case Sabu and Van Dam went off-script but they didn't. This is the 5th promotion in Japan that Sabu has quit on.

- WCW is trying to negotiate a deal with EMLL, for 2 reasons. For one, they don't want WWF to have access to any of the Mexican wrestlers. WCW already has a deal with Konnan's Promo Azteca company and if they can lock up a deal with EMLL, that would only leave AAA. And everyone in the wrestling biz believes AAA is too much of a disorganized mess for anyone to really have any kind of working relationship with, which is why WWF has already severed their old deal with AAA. And secondly, WCW wants a deal with EMLL because they want to take away some of Konnan's political power. Right now, Konnan is the only outlet WCW has for Mexican wrestlers, and he can change things at any time. If WCW can get access to the Mexicans from both promotions, Konnan won't have as much leverage over WCW anymore.

- Vince McMahon filmed a taped promo for USWA TV this week, talking about how he made Fake Razor Ramon and how the guy was a nobody before Vince created him. Remember, Fake Razor and Fake Diesel are feuding in USWA over each man's WWF loyalty or some such shit.

- Bruno Sammartino was in a car accident this week that did over $15,000 worth of damage to his Mercedes. Sammartino was side-swiped by another car and suffered injuries to his back, neck, and shoulders. His doctor said if he had been in a smaller car, he'd be lucky to be alive.

- Perry Saturn's knee injury is far worse than originally though. Not only did he tear his ACL and meniscus, but he also broke the kneecap and tibia. He's scheduled to undergo major surgery this week and is expected to be out of action for a year, although Paul Heyman thinks he'll be back way sooner. Regardless, Saturn has continued working matches, although doing limited stuff. Even still, in one match, he even climbed the top rope and dropped an elbow (landing on the side of the good leg). And The Eliminators still didn't drop the tag titles this week as expected. And ending this note on the biggest burying of the lede I've ever seen, Dave casually mentions that Saturn's son died a couple of weeks ago also and then breezes right on to the next story. So yeah, he's had a rough few weeks.

- ECW has gotten their Sunshine Network TV deal in Florida back, so expect them to start running house shows there again soon.

- Other notes from last week's ECW Wrestlepalooza show: Tommy Dreamer ended up getting 20 stitches in the back of his head from a chair shot from Rob Van Dam. Terry Funk was in bad physical shape and had a pretty bad match, with a lot of people saying it was sad to watch. Stevie Richards cut a promo talking about his neck injury and how his career might be over. New Jack ran out into the crowd at one point after a heckling fan but nothing happened. But it's yet again another example of ECW having issues with wrestlers and fans getting into conflict. Taz did the job to Sabu which was Taz's first loss since Sept. of 1995, but then right after the loss, he had another impromptu match with Shane Douglas and won the TV title. Stevie Richards was originally supposed to face Douglas and win the title, but with him out due to injury, Heyman switched it to Taz.

- Madusa is putting her career on the line in a match with Akira Hokuto at the next WCW PPV and it's possible she might actually lose. There's been talk of transitioning her to a heel valet role.

- Barbarian threw a little bit of a fit last week about doing a submission job to Chris Benoit but Terry Taylor insisted because they're trying to get "tapping out" over as a thing for fans (reminder for younger fans: tapping out to signify submission hasn't always been a thing). Speaking of Taylor, everyone has been complimentary about the job he's doing as WCW booker.

- Kimberly Page will be in a PPV special called Best Built Babes Swimsuit Spectacular II. She basically just frolics around in bathing suits with other girls for awhile (couldn't find it, sorry).

- Ted Dibiase has been telling people he will be returning to WCW soon as a babyface announcer. He's been out for months now, travelling the world doing religious work.

- Turner Broadcasting has told WCW that they can't use any more words like "damn" or "ass." (Meanwhile, WWF is about to go waaaaay in the other direction).

- Notes from Raw: Hunter Hearst Helmsley cut a promo saying he should have won King of the Ring last year but said Vince McMahon's games and politics held him down. Dave says less than 1% of the viewing audience probably has a clue what he's even referencing so why do they waste time and get off track on promos like that? The average fan doesn't know about that one little thing that happened at a house show over a year ago so promos like that just confuse most fans. They started an angle where Marc Mero is upset/jealous at how Sable has been strutting around in sexy attire (that was the beginning of the angle that started Sable's launch into superstar). And they aired the final part of the Mankind interviews, which ended in Mankind attacking Jim Ross.

- Diana Smith won that beauty pageant that was mentioned last week.

- Steve Austin's neck injury has been diagnosed as severe erosion of the vertebrae. He got a second opinion from a doctor who told him he could continue to wrestle and won't need surgery but he's probably going to be in a lot of pain.

- Any plans for WWF doing an exploding ring match with Atsushi Onita have been scrapped and never really existed to begin with. It was discussed but never got past that.

- Vader's court date for the Kuwait incident is this week, but he doesn't have to go. His lawyer will be able to go and plead his case for him.

- WWF has signed a few new guys who are training with WWF trainers. One of them is a former pro football player named Darren Drozdov and they'll likely send him to USWA for a few months.

- Musician John Tesh has an interesting clause in his rider. Usually, artists have a "rider" which is a list of things the artist requests in order to do the show. Sometimes it's that the artist requests certain food or drinks in the dressing room and stuff like that. Anyway, John Tesh has a request in his rider that there always needs to be a WWF action figure in his dressing room. Tesh says he isn't a wrestling fan at all, but he put that strange request in there just to make sure that the venue is actually reading every line of the contract.
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- Sycho Sid, Doug Furnas, Phil LaFon, and Flash Funk were involved in a car accident this week that left all 4 hospitalized. They were on the way to Ottawa, with Sid behind the wheel. He was going around 100MPH and went to adjust the sun roof and lost control of the car, hit the shoulder, and rolled 4 times. The car was destroyed and all 4 men were taken in an ambulance to the hospital. Sid suffered cuts on his face and a concussion and aggravated his already injured back. Furnas was the most seriously injured, suffering a separated and broken shoulder that required surgery. LaFon suffered a concussion and tons of cuts and bruises and they had to shave most of his hair to get glass out of his head. Flash Funk was the luckiest, as he was just shaken up but not seriously injured. Obviously, all 4 men are probably lucky to be alive.

- It appears Shawn Michaels will be returning to WWF after all. Last week, after a fight with Bret Hart, Michaels stormed out of the arena, yelling, "I'll never work for your fucking ass again!" at Vince McMahon on the way out. The latest on the fight is that Bret confronted Shawn about the "Sunny days" comment, to which Shawn taunted him by saying "What are you gonna do about it?", to which Hart responded by punching Shawn's face in and snatching a clump of hair out of his head. Shawn was furious and said he would sit out the next 4 years of his contract if he had to before coming back to work for WWF. Dave mentions the inheritance that Shawn received from a fan last year (which Shawn still denies to this day) and says Shawn could definitely afford to sit out 4 years if he wanted to. After going home, Shawn also disconnected his phone so WWF officials couldn't get hold of him. WWF claimed Shawn had breached his contract and wouldn't be paying him his $15,000 per week downside guarantee until he returned. Michaels then had his lawyers send WWF paperwork saying he wasn't breaching his contract and that he does plan to return, but he had suffered knee and neck injuries in the fight with Bret and would be unable to wrestle for 4-6 weeks. On this week's Raw, Bret Hart was ready to return and he also wanted to cut a semi-shoot promo to explain the situation and try to use the backstage fight to further their angle. But WWF didn't want Bret to do anything to antagonize Michaels and were afraid of what he might say on live TV if they let him cut a promo, so they kept him off Raw entirely. It's also worth noting that Shawn Michaels is still tag champions with Steve Austin. On Raw, they announced a tag tournament with the winners facing Austin and "a partner of his choosing" for the titles. If Shawn is back by then, he'll probably resume being Austin's partner. If not, they'll have to throw someone else in there as Austin's partner.

- WCW's Great American Bash is in the books and was mostly uneventful. Several of the matches ended in tap outs, because WCW is still trying to get that over to fans. Konnan messed his knee up during his match and after it was over, he had to be helped out of the ring. Madusa lost her retirement match. Dave says it's even bigger than that because it pretty much spells the end of women's wrestling in the United States. WWF gave up on it in '95 and this pretty much amounts to WCW giving up as well. Dave recaps a little bit of Madusa's career, talks about how WCW pretty much only signed her because they wanted her to do the garbage can thing with the WWF women's title and says WCW had no idea what to do with her after that. These days, it seems the male fans want half naked valets rather than women's wrestling and predicts it'll be many years before women's wrestling makes a return in WWF or WCW. And of course, anything involving the women in ECW is just catfights. Nancy Sullivan didn't come to the ring with Chris Benoit and was never mentioned, so apparently their association on TV is over now that Kevin Sullivan isn't booking anymore. They may put Nancy with someone else. Dave says NFL player Kevin Green showed more natural wrestling ability in only his 3rd match ever than pretty much anyone Dave has ever seen that early in their career. Given Greene's age, he'll probably never be a full-time wrestler, but Dave says he's amazing for someone who's only had a few weeks of training.

- AAA's annual Triplemania shows took place. It pretty much fell apart from the beginning due to the usual AAA disorganization. It's beginning to look like the company is falling apart. The dates of the shows kept changing and then the first scheduled show was cancelled due to AAA not having permits. When they finally had the first show, it was basically the same as any house show and wasn't even being taped. Overall, it's the worst show in Triplemania history.

- Dave gives 5+ stars to a Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada match from All Japan. So for everyone whining about how Dave broke the scale for Okada/Omega, there ya go. But for years afterward (and in this issue), Dave says this is perhaps the best match he's ever seen. Says it's slow paced but every move meant something and tells a great story in their rivalry. Anyway, behold one of Dave's older 6 star matches. He doesn't say 6 here, but he adds a + sign to the end of the 5 stars, so, yanno.

- Antonio Pena's nephew, who wrestled in AAA as Espectro, has left the company to go join some no-name indie group. Dave says you know things in AAA must be going bad when the owner's nephew leaves the company to go work for an indie fed. Expect others to start jumping ship soon also.

- It looks like Ken Shamrock will face Vader at FMW's big stadium show in September. Onita is trying to bring in more WWF and ECW wrestlers for a show in December and hopes to run Japanese style angles with them. Onita is also considering doing a major heel turn, ala Hogan in WCW.

- The Tommy Dreamer/Jerry Lawler feud continued in USWA this week, with Dreamer appearing live on USWA's Saturday TV show and then the 2 faced each other that night. On the TV show, Dreamer was an out of control madman, destroying much of the set and attacking everyone he saw. USWA officials were actually a little butt-hurt because Dreamer was hugely popular and there were a lot of ECW shirts in the crowd and ECW chants. Basically, the ECW guy showed up to USWA and was supposed to be the heel, invading the local promotion, but the crowd liked him more than everyone else in USWA. Anyway, Paul Heyman is expected to appear here at one of the next shows as well. Backstage, some people were laughing at Dreamer and calling him a mark because he wanted to get his picture taken with Lance Russell and Dutch Mantel, because he's a lifelong wrestling fan. (Here's some video. Behold Stacy "The Kat" Carter doing the interview before she was in WWF).

- Steve Dunn, Mabel, Spellbinder, and Downtown Bruno (Harvey Wippleman in WWF) were all fired by USWA this week for various reasons. No word on why Mabel was fired. Spellbinder was fired because of a locker room argument with someone else. Downtown Bruno was fired after getting into an argument with USWA manager Larry Burton over a $50 payoff, which resulted in Bruno actually slapping Burton. As for Steve Dunn....USWA held a late night bar show in Memphis that drew about 80 people. For whatever reason, they passed out squirt guns to everybody at ringside and Larry Burton had one. Everyone was having fun with them, but Burton in particular kept squirting water at Dunn during his match. After the match, Dunn was furious at Burton, saying he has a surgically repaired knee and squirting water in the ring was making it unsafe for him to wrestle. It turned into a big argument that apparently got heated enough that Dunn was fired.

- Ultimate Warrior appeared at a comic convention this weekend, promoting his Warrior comic books. He told people that, under no circumstances would he ever return to pro wrestling.

- At an MMA show in Brazil, a former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler named Dan Henderson had his first fight and won (I don't know a lot about MMA, but even I know Henderson eventually became one of the best ever).

- Tommy Dreamer missed an ECW house show because he didn't get back from Memphis in time after doing the USWA angle.

- Perry Saturn had successful knee surgery this week and is expected to be out for 8-12 months. He still showed up to the ECW shows and did some spots outside of the ring. Kronus has been defending the ECW titles in handicap matches and so despite the injury, The Eliminators are still tag team champions.

- On Nitro, Dennis Rodman repeatedly called Lex Luger "Lex Luthor" which is, of course, the Superman villain.

- La Parka hit Super Calo with a brutal chairshot with a plastic chair on Nitro that left him knocked loopy for a long time backstage. He got a concussion and also needed stitches in his head and nose. La Parka reportedly felt super guilty and terrible about it afterward.

- Raven's debut has been pushed back because he hasn't yet signed his WCW contract, though he likely will this week. He was originally supposed to debut on this past week's Nitro.

- Rey Mysterio Jr. got a second opinion from a doctor who told him he doesn't need knee surgery but he needs to sit out for a couple of months and rehab it. The plan is for him to take July and August off.

- The audio of WCW's upcoming Saturday night house show in Los Angeles will be aired live on the internet on WCW's website. The show is going head-to-head with a local WWF house show in the same area that night, so WCW is pulling out all the stops for this one.

- CNN's show American Edge aired a segment on WCW's Power Plant facility.

- WCW is renaming their Hog Wild PPV and changing it to Road Wild because Harley Davidson owns the trademark on HOG (Harley Owners Group) and it was causing legal headaches for WCW.

- Kevin Greene was doing a ton of publicity and press appearances for WCW this week and there's a lot of talk about how it's affecting his football career. This is likely going to be Greene's final year in the NFL and training camp is currently going on. A lot of people said he should have been at camp but instead, he was busy doing wrestling stuff. Greene has reportedly told people that he's burned out on football.

- Dennis Rodman has also been doing the media rounds to promote the upcoming PPV he's wrestling on. Rodman was also in the news for making some comments about Mormons while in Utah for the Bulls vs. Jazz series, which got him fined $50,000 by the NBA.

- Chris Jericho is expected to win the cruiserweight title from Syxx sometime in the next couple of weeks.

- Chris Candido sorta made his return to WWF, in an ECW vs. USWA match that took place on Raw. Candido faced Brian Christopher. The crowd didn't care and Christopher didn't get over at all. With someone his size, fans these days expect high flying excitement and Christopher wrestles like an 80s Memphis heel, and it just doesn't work for someone that small in the 90s on the big stage. Paul Heyman was at ringside during the match and he publicly outed Christopher as Jerry Lawler's son, which led to Lawler slapping Heyman. Heyman also said Brian Christopher's mom is only 38 years old, which would mean she was 12 when she got pregnant, which was a shot at Lawler's legal troubles a few years back. Word is the angle was Lawler's idea, so he okay'd all of it.

- They also had the first light heavyweight division matches on Raw, with Tommy Rogers vs. Bobby Fulton. You can imagine how well that got over. Dave says WCW's cruiserweight division didn't take off until they brought in guys who wrestled a totally new style that Americans hadn't seen before. Sticking smaller faceless nobodies out there and having them wrestle a regular American-style match isn't going to get over in WWF.

- Charles Wright, now billed as Kama Mustafa, re-debuted as part of the Nation of Domination and pinned Undertaker clean in a tag team match which basically stunned the crowd. Before that, the match was totally dead and the crowd didn't give a shit about the returning Kama, so they were flabbergasted when they saw a guy that they view as basically a jobber go over on Undertaker. After the match, Ahmed Johnson turned heel and joined the NOD, but word is he didn't want to do the heel turn and pushed hard to remain a babyface, so they may work some sort of angle to explain why he's working with the NOD in order to not fully turn him heel.

- WWF has hired a new announcer named Michael Cole. He did commentary on Shotgun Saturday Night last week with Jim Cornette and word is Cornette carried him and it was obvious that Cole didn't know much about wrestling.

- The reason the first hour of Raw is called "Raw" and the second hour is called "The War Zone" is because WWF is presenting the 2 hours as 2 different TV shows, in order to try to have two highly rated shows instead of one in the syndicated ratings.
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LOL @ the second to last paragraph

- NJPW star Riki Choshu announced his retirement at a press conference in Tokyo this week. Choshu said he will only wrestle 8 more matches before retiring at the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show. Choshu said the main reason for the retirement is a lingering injury to his right shoulder. Choshu is 45 and has hinted at retirement for awhile now and insists this is a legit retirement. Although when asked if he would ever make a comeback, Choshu jokingly said, "Never, unless New Japan business hits the skids." Choshu will focus all his energies on being the booker for NJPW. From here, Dave writes a long but really great recap of Choshu's legendary career, not just in the ring, but outside of it as well. Given NJPW's success in the last decade, Dave says Choshu has to be considered near the top of the list when it comes to the greatest bookers in the history of wrestling. Under his watch, NJPW has had 16 shows that drew over 50,000 people and the company has been arguably the top wrestling promotion in the world for most of the last decade (Choshu's retirement lasted all of about 2 years and then he resumed a full schedule in 2001 and continued wrestling ever since. At 65 years old, he still occasionally wrestles for various indie companies in Japan to this day).

- Stan Stasiak passed away this week from heart failure at age 60. Stasiak was a main event heel everywhere he wrestled in the 60s and 70s but is mostly remembered for his 9-day reign as a transitional champion in WWF (or WWWF at the time). He'd been in poor health for awhile and had a pacemaker put in this year and was awaiting a heart transplant when he died. As usual, Dave writes a long but great obituary detailing Stasiak's life and career. Dave tells the story of Stasiak winning the title from Pedro Morales and how they were so afraid of a riot from the Puerto Ricans in the crowd that they did what looked like a double-pin, but Stasiak got his shoulder up to win the title. But they didn't announce the winner to the live crowd and most people in the building didn't even realize a title change had taken place until they saw it in the newspaper the next day. And then, of course, 9 days later, Bruno Sammartino defeated Stasiak to win the title, kicking off a 3+ year long reign. Dave mentions that his son Shawn Stasiak was a great collegiate wrestler and has done some indie stuff. I'm sure we'll Meat him eventually...

- Ahmed Johnson has suffered a knee injury, just 2 weeks before he's scheduled to face Undertaker for the WWF title at the Canadian Stampede PPV. The injury happened on Raw during a brawl with the debuting Disciples of Apocalypse. They ended up changing the main event of Raw that night and substituting D-Lo Brown in his place. It's believed he'll need arthroscopic knee surgery and will be pulled from the PPV but as of now, Dave doesn't know all the details. Meanwhile, Sycho Sid was also hospitalized this week with back problems stemming from the car accident last week. This basically puts 2 of the PPV matches in jeopardy since Sid was supposed to face Vader. But with both Sid and Ahmed out, it's likely that WWF will change the matches and do an Undertaker vs. Vader match (yup).

- Other WWF injury notes: Phil LaFon is expected to be out for about a month due to his injuries from the car accident. Doug Furnas was the most banged up in the accident and it was thought he would need shoulder surgery but turns out he doesn't. But an x-ray later in the week showed a broken vertebrae in his back, so...that's not good. Steve Austin missed several house shows due to a whole list of injuries. He already has a bad back, a bad neck, and 2 bad knees, and now the most recent is torn rib cartilage. So they're all out, along with the aforementioned Ahmed and Sid, plus Bret Hart's still out with the knee injury and Shawn Michaels is still out nursing his ego. Speaking of...

- Shawn and McMahon were supposed to have a meeting, with Michaels' lawyer present, but it was cancelled for some reason. They still plan to meet up later this week. Michaels is claiming unsafe working conditions due to the backstage fight with Bret Hart and claims to have suffered neck and knee injuries during it and still wants out of his contract.

- WWF and WCW both have shows in Los Angeles this week on the same night. WCW is treating it like an internet PPV and will be doing live audio commentary on their website (no video because, well, it's 1997. Think of how much of a pain in the ass live video streaming still is now sometimes, then subtract 20 years). They're also promising a confrontation (but not a match) between Hogan and Sting. As for WWF, their show will feature Bret Hart's return to the ring and a bikini contest with Sunny, Sable, Marlena, and Chyna. According to WWF officials, ticket sales are neck and neck, while WCW claims to be several thousand tickets ahead of WWF. Both sides are claiming that the other is heavily papering the shows. For what it's worth, Dave says that despite the perception that WWF is the #2 company, the truth is that they still consistently outdraw WCW on house shows. And the advance ticket sales for Summerslam, which is still over a month away, has already made more ticket money than WCW has ever made for any show in its history.

- EMLL star Mr. Aguila is only 17 years old but has already been compared to Rey Mysterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera in terms of how amazing he is in the ring. Dave says barring an injury, he'll almost certainly land in WWF or WCW in the next few years (yup, and when he does, Dave will continually bash him for being a shitty wrestler. Basically says the guy can do cool flips but when it comes to actually working a match, he's apparently pretty shit at it for a couple of years).

- Eric Bischoff has discussed the possibility of doing monthly Lucha Libre PPVs with all of the Mexican wrestlers on the roster, which is why he's negotiating with EMLL to bring in more talent (and to keep WWF from having them and also to take away some of Konnan's leverage). Bischoff wants EMLL and Promo Azteca to work together and do promotion vs. promotion angles but naturally, neither side wants to because they basically hate each other.

- On USWA TV, they did an angle playing off the Raw match where Paul Heyman outed Brian Christopher as Jerry Lawler's son. On TV, Lance Russell asked Lawler about it and Lawler beat around the bush and said he'd answer the question later in the show. But then later in the show, Lawler came out to talk about it as the show was ending and he said they were out of time and he'd answer the question next week. It was a sleazy soap opera-like cliffhanger and the crowd seemed to be embarrassed by the whole thing.

- Also in USWA, Fake Diesel has challenged Fake Razor Ramon to a loser leaves town match (as I'm writing this, I don't know who wins yet but I'd assume Diesel loses since he'll be returning to WWF as Kane here in a few months).

- The reason Mabel was fired from USWA was for repeated no-shows.

- There's a new guy in USWA named Nick Dinsmore, who was trained by Danny Davis (Dinsmore, of course, would go on to become Eugene in WWE).

- Jesse Ventura attended a fund-raiser in Minneapolis and hinted that he plans to run for governor of Minnesota, although he hasn't made an official announcement yet. Speaking of Ventura, he and indie wrestler Jeep Swenson both have roles in the recently released movie Batman & Robin. Dave says Swenson plays "a larger than life person although he doesn't have a speaking role but looks freakishly large." (That would be Bane.) Ventura has a role as a prison guard who gets killed by Poison Ivy.

- George "The Animal" Steele also has another movie role in the film Blowfish where he's one of the lead stars.

- An indie company in Canada has a few shows coming up, mostly with Badnews Allen and Rick Martel as the only noteworthy names. They also have a rookie there, some kid named Adam Copeland who has wrestled in a few other indie promotions under the name Sexton Hardcastle.

- The Eliminators finally lost the tag titles to the Dudleys this week, in what amounted to a handicap match since Saturn is injured. The did a gimmick where he was banned from ringside, so Kronus defended the titles himself and lost.

- Sabu got married a couple of weeks ago, on June 12th.

- Diamond Dallas Page's mystery partner at the Bash at the Beach PPV will almost certainly be Curt Hennig, although there's talk that he may turn on DDP and join the NWO when he debuts. WCW has kinda booked themselves into a corner with this because they've been hinting that Sting will be the mystery partner. And WCW fans have been waiting for 8 months to see Sting in a match again, so even though Curt Hennig would be a pretty big surprise under normal circumstances, fans are likely to be letdown when they find out the partner isn't Sting.

- WCW is trying to get Mike Tyson to appear on an upcoming Nitro in Las Vegas but he has a fight 2 days earlier, so it's iffy that it will happen (yeah, plus I'm not sure if you've heard, but this fight gets Tyson in a little bit of trouble...)

- At this point, the belief is that Arn Anderson will likely never wrestle again due to his injuries and the surgery he had a few months back. There was talk of having Anderson come out and form a new Four Horsemen, but they nixed those plans.

- Ric Flair is filming a Dr. Pepper commercial (I can't find any video of this).

- The recently "retired" Madusa worked matches against Luna Vachon on last week's WCW tour of Germany.

- Crush, Brian Lee, and the Harris Brothers debuted on Raw as a group called the Disciples of Apocalypse and came out on motorcycles. They seem to be working a racial angle between the white motorcycle gang and the all black Nation of Domination. The brawl that took place during their debut is where Ahmed suffered his knee injury.


- Tap outs seem to be the new rage in wrestling. WCW has been trying to get it over and Ken Shamrock won a match on Raw this week with a tap out also. Even in EMLL in Mexico, they've started doing it.

- Dan Severn appeared on Raw, doing commentary on a Ken Shamrock match and during commentary, Vince McMahon really put UFC over huge. He talked about how it's misunderstood and he and Severn talked about how there's never been a death in MMA, which Vince then said was something neither pro wrestling or boxing could say. They really put over the athleticism and safety of the sport and pushed back against the "it's human cockfighting" narrative. Dave is surprised at just how much McMahon was willing to put over UFC. Severn was at the show to negotiate a possible deal with WWF and since he was already there, they asked him to do commentary on the match. No word on if the two sides reached a deal, but it doesn't appear that they have yet.

- Sabu worked a match on Raw against Flash Funk. Sabu got over pretty well and the crowd chanted his name. Paul Heyman did commentary and said something along the lines of "Eric Bischoff wants you to believe Public Enemy invented breaking tables, but they stole it from Sabu." Dave thinks it's the first time Bischoff's name has ever been mentioned on Raw. Speaking of, when Sabu tried repeatedly to put Flash Funk through a table, the table wouldn't break and afterwards, Sabu was going nuts backstage, furious about the table not breaking. Also, Dave offhandedly mentions that Flash Funk has been in the dog house for the last few months over some sort of incident that happened at a hotel during Wrestlemania weekend, but doesn't specify.


- There was a triple threat match on Raw and Dave says the match had "those stupid WCW rules where the first guy to score the pin wins, which means you can lose the title when someone else is pinned" and in a later sentence adds that the triple threat match rules are "lame." (It's been 20 years and those are still the established rules for triple threat matches. Wonder how Dave feels about it now).

- Pro boxer "Hitman" Tommy Hearns did an angle on Raw with Bret Hart, which was mostly WWF's way to try to get some mainstream ESPN-style publicity, the same way WCW has gotten a lot of mainstream coverage by using Dennis Rodman. It wasn't bad. "Hey, two years ago they were doing these same angles with Captain Kirk," Dave says.

- Both Sabu and Rob Van Dam were apparently causing major problems backstage at Raw. Sabu complained about having to do a double-count out finish with Funk. Van Dam was supposed to have a match with Jesse James on the Shotgun Saturday Night taping, where Lawler would interfere and cost him the match. Van Dam complained that him losing to James would be like Bret Hart coming to ECW and losing to one of their jobbers. As you can imagine, this pissed off a lot of WWF officials to no end and it nearly caused them to pull the plug on the whole WWF/ECW angle, but Paul Heyman managed to smooth things over with all the right people. Needless to say though, there's a lot of heat on RVD right now in the WWF locker room.

- Injury update: Brian Pillman suffered a broken nose in his recent Raw match with Austin. And Rocky Maivia is out with a strained MCL but should be back in a few weeks. And one more injury, which brings us to...

- Howard Finkel is injured. Poor Finkel has always been the butt of jokes in the company for some reason (this was before Jim Ross became the constant target of Vince's bullying). Anyway, at house shows recently, they've been having referees pretending to attack him and doing pull apart brawls, apparently unbeknownst to Finkel when they first started doing it. Anyway, this time, referee Jack Doan bodyslammed Finkel and he landed on his shoulder and suffered a pretty serious shoulder injury. "You know things are bad when even the ring announcer is out of action due to injuries."

- Van Hammer got a WWF tryout, as a favor to Marc Mero. No word on how he did (evidently not great since he didn't get hired).
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- WWF vs. WCW in the "Battle of Los Angeles" as Dave calls it took place this week (Dave already shouting out PWG years before they even existed). Both WWF and WCW held house shows in the city on the same night. WCW claimed a total attendance of 10,948 which is by far the best WCW has ever drawn in California. But there's a question if the show was even profitable. WCW spent tons of money on advertising, they threw in all the production bells and whistles of a regular Nitro, with pyro and stage setup and everything, and Hogan worked the show (which of course costs extra money). Plus the venue they ran in (Great Western Forum) is one of the most expensive arenas in the U.S. to run in. Merchandise sales may be the only thing that make this a profitable show for WCW. Billed as WCW Saturday Nitro, the show was good but nothing special and audio commentary was broadcast live on WCW's website. Chris Jericho won the cruiserweight title from Syxx and was booed out of the building for it by the pro-heel crowd. Hogan didn't work a match at the show but he came out with the rest of the NWO to cut a promo. The crowd gave Hogan and the rest of the NWO a huge babyface reaction. To end the show, Sting came down from the ceiling and beat up all the NWO and eventually put Hogan in the scorpion deathlock.

- WWF drew 9,469 fans to their show and despite drawing slightly less than WCW, without all the added production and promotion costs, WWF is the clear money winner here. They had a bikini contest that apparently went on for over 20 minutes, with all the women stripping. The crowd began throwing money "which Sunny was glad to collect." Sable wore the least and got the biggest pop to win. Bret Hart made his in-ring return during the main event but his knee was still obviously hurting and not nearly 100% recovered yet. Anyway, it's worth noting that these 2 shows were also competing with something else going on that same night, which leads us to....

- Mike Tyson faced Evander Holyfield in one of the strangest boxing matches of all time that ended when Tyson bit Holyfield's ear. This isn't wrestling related but Dave covers it and, I mean, c'mon, we gotta. Actually Dave does tie this whole thing in to wrestling by talking about an old wrestling incident from 1931 called the Battle of the Bite. It's a really long, convoluted story and involves Ed "Strangler" Lewis and a guy who intentionally bit himself on the arm and drew blood (and made it look like Lewis had done it) in order to get Lewis DQ'd so he could win the title, which was a shoot double-cross (he wasn't scheduled to win the belt, but when the referee calls it a title change in front of the crowd, the promoters had to go with it). From that point on, it became policy in American wrestling that world titles didn't change hands by DQ anymore. So if you ever wanted to know why that's a rule, now you know. Anyway, back to boxing, Dave says the sport will survive and Tyson will eventually return to the ring and still draw big money and thinks people are overreacting when they say this will kill the sport.

- Jim Cornette debuted in ECW in an angle similar to the Lawler angle. The lights went out and when they came back on, Cornette was in the ring and he began hitting people with his tennis racket. Word is this angle got over just as big, if not more so, than the Lawler angle and had massive heat. Chris Candido reportedly acted as the middleman between Paul Heyman and Cornette to negotiate the deal to bring him in. Heyman figured Cornette was the last person anyone would expect to show up in ECW, given that the 2 of them have legitimately always hated each other. Cornette originally wasn't going to do it, but he loved the idea of the angle (it's an old southern-style angle, the kinda shit Cornette loves) and after Heyman agreed to meet several stipulations, Cornette agreed to do it. The main stipulation was that Paul Heyman agreed to apologize to Cornette's longtime friend Dennis Coraluzzo for double-crossing him during the NWA title tournament in 1994. Heyman met with Coraluzzo and the two sides buried the hatchet and even discussed allowing ECW wrestlers to work shows for Coraluzzo and in exchange, Coraluzzo would drop his longstanding war against ECW, where he has tried repeatedly to use legal means to get the company shut down. Heyman also agreed to send a limo to pick up Cornette and Coraluzzo and bring them to the ECW Arena. Cornette also wanted Heyman to apologize to Coraluzzo in front of all the ECW wrestlers, but that didn't happen. Coraluzzo never left the limo and had his meeting with Heyman there. Cornette was only in the ECW locker room for a brief time before leaving after the angle. It's expected Cornette will be Lawler's manager for any upcoming shows that Lawler works, including the ECW PPV in August. (No video of Cornette's debut on YouTube but it's on the Network on the June 30th, 1997 episode of Hardcore TV).

- Also during the Cornette angle, Jerry Lawler hit Tommy Dreamer in the balls with a kendo stick and legit hit him in the balls. Dreamer was legitimately injured and couldn't work the next night's show and is said to still be in a lot of pain (yeah, Dreamer has talked about this. Lawler almost ruptured his balls for real. Let's hear Tommy talk about it. The video of it happening is also in that episode of Hardcore TV, during the Cornette angle. Dreamer's high-pitched scream when it happens will haunt your nightmares).

- EMLL president Paco Alonso held a meeting with his wrestlers and told them he's going to get 15 of them jobs with WCW. Bischoff is still discussing the idea of doing a Lucha Libre PPV and wants an EMLL vs. Promo Azteca storyline, but neither side (especially Promo Azteca) wants to do it and Konnan is upset that Bischoff is even dealing with EMLL at all since he feels like he's responsible for the rise of Lucha Libre in the U.S. and now feels Bischoff is shoving them aside in favor of EMLL.

- It's almost a lock that the main event of NJPW's Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show will be Riki Choshu vs. Kensuke Sasaki (nope). Sasaki is a protege of Choshu and has never beaten him. And Choshu will be wrestling his final match at the show before retiring, so expect Sasaki to finally defeat Choshu there (didn't happen. Choshu ended up wrestling 5 matches that night and none of them were against Sasaki).

- Tom Prichard is moving to Memphis and word is USWA will end up becoming a satellite company to the WWF and will be used as a developmental territory and training location. Dave also mentions offhandedly that USWA is currently being funded by a guy from Cleveland who runs a chain of massage parlors.

- Jerry Jarrett's mother Christine Jarrett was fired by USWA. She has worked the ticket office in Louisville "literally since the beginning of time" but USWA finally cut ties with her.

- Glenn Jacobs is no longer doing the Diesel gimmick in USWA and has been working as a gimmick named Doomsday, but wearing the old Lord Humongous mask.

- Curt Hennig debuted on Nitro in just about the weakest way possible, simply walking out during the NWO beatdown at the end of the show. Raven also debuted on Nitro in the crowd and at the end, when Hennig walked out, Raven jumped the barricade as well and they both sorta just stared down the NWO as the show went off the air. The original plan was for both Hennig and Raven to join the NWO but that may be too much at once and plans will probably change, because everything changes on a dime in WCW nowadays.

- Mike Tyson was backstage at Nitro, which was in Las Vegas and WCW had planned to bring him out as a big surprise to end the show. But given what happened with Tyson 2 nights earlier in Vegas (biting Holyfield's ear), they decided not to use him. The decision was mostly made by the MGM Grand Garden Arena and by TNT, who pretty much forbid WCW from using him or from even referencing boxing. In fact, boxer Michael Moorer was in the front row for the show, and WCW was told not to show him on camera or acknowledge him because the sport of boxing has such negative publicity right now after what Tyson did (man, I gotta disagree with them here. Bischoff bringing Mike Tyson out on TV on Nitro 2 nights after the ear thing would have made MAJOR news).

- WCW also tried to bring in Jose Lothario for the show, not for any real reason, just to get people talking and to stick it to WWF, but it didn't happen.

- WCW has released several wrestlers, including Michael Wallstreet, Craig Pittman, the Nasty Boys, Jim Duggan, Joe Gomez, Ice Train, and Nancy Sullivan.

- Speaking of Nancy Sullivan, word is she and Kevin Sullivan are splitting up in real life, "although this has nothing to do with the storyline." I think we can safely say Dave had that one wrong.

- Buff Bagwell will be starring in a movie called Return To Savage Beach, which I guess is a sequel to that other low-budget movie he did (here's the full movie. There's literally tits in the first 2 seconds, so, yanno...NSFW warning).

- Buddy Landel was given a tryout match at the latest WCW tapings and lost to Bill Goldberg in 90 seconds.

- On Raw, they finally had Paul Bearer reveal Undertaker's big secret. Bearer accused Undertaker of burning down his parents' home and killing his parents and his younger brother "Cain" and called Undertaker a murderer. Undertaker claimed Cain burned down the home by accident and said he blamed himself for letting it happen. So now they have to introduce a character that is Undertaker's brother. Dave thinks there could have been a lot of storyline potential if they revealed Mankind was his brother, but the recent Mick Foley interviews revealing his childhood, they kinda killed that possibility. Most people don't remember but when Undertaker first debuted in the WWF, his name was Cain The Undertaker, but they dropped the Cain part after a few matches.

- Sable came out on Raw in a low-cut top, "revealing yet another boob job" while Marc Mero acted jealous and tried to block her from the camera. "Sable needed another boob job like Yokozuna needs more cake and ice cream so go figure what goes through people's minds," Dave says.

- The Headhunters debuted in WWF on Raw and were managed by Jim Cornette. They had a hard time doing their big top rope moves because the WWF ropes are looser than they're used to and they're both big guys. Since WWF already has a team called the Head Bangers, they may change the Headhunters names to The Arabian Butchers (indeed they did, but they didn't last very long in the company).


- At the Shotgun tapings and in dark matches, The Patriot from AJPW made his debut, losing to Rockabilly (Billy Gunn). He didn't really get over. Shawn Morley who's been wrestling in Puerto Rico and EMLL had a tryout match (he'd later become Val Venis).

- WWF Injury Report: Ahmed Johnson is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. Sid was hospitalized with back problems and no word on when he'll be back. Doug Furnas is waiting to hear if he'll need back surgery to repair a broken vertebrae. Rocky Maivia is out with a knee injury until next month. Leif Cassidy has a leg injury and is out for an unknown amount of time.

- They did an angle on Shotgun Saturday Night "firing" Brian Pillman as host of the show. The plan was to bring in Paul Heyman to host the show and WWF even sent him a plane ticket to fly to the next taping to do it. Problem is, no one told Heyman and he has no interest in hosting the show, so he didn't go.

- Speaking of Heyman, there seems to be a lot of heat on him for various things within WWF. For starers, Vince McMahon was reportedly furious that Heyman mentioned Nitro and Eric Bischoff's name on Raw. There's also still heat over the incident with Rob Van Dam and McMahon because of the incident last week with Van Dam not wanting to put over Jesse James. Heyman had a meeting with McMahon this week to discuss all these various things and it seems like the WWF/ECW relationship is on the rocks a bit. A lot of WWF wrestlers aren't happy about the relationship either because they feel that the ECW guys are being allowed to get over in ways they can't. WWF stars aren't allowed to break tables or jump off the guard rails and stuff like that, so they're a little peeved that ECW guys are being brought in to Raw and being allowed to do those things, which is getting them over while others in WWF are struggling to connect.

- Still nothing new on the Shawn Michaels front. He's scheduled to meet with McMahon sometime this week but that's all anyone knows. No word on if/when he might be back.

- Some guy writes in and talks about the lack of depth in the WWF roster and specifically talks about knowing it's time to change the channel when he sees guys like Rocky Maivia or Hunter Hearst Helmsley come on the TV. "Even if they weren't shitty workers, I could deal with them if they had a decent personality." Yeah, who wants to see those un-charismatic dweebs? Lots of ridiculousness in the letters this week actually. Someone else writes in defending Ric Flair and says that 20 years from now, people will still be talking about how great Flair is while Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Syxx, and Eric Bischoff while be barely remembered footnotes in wrestling history.
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The craziest thing reading all of these is how wwe was never in that bad of shape and were making good money, just not getting the tv ratings.

Crazy how different history is from reality
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A little less than a year and the HBK story is kinda the same.
Yeah, WWE's version of the history is that they were damn near put out of business by WCW and had to scratch and claw their way back against a bully billionaire who wanted to hurt Vince.

Reality is, Bischoff was just more in touch with the culture in the 90s and knew how to make a wrestling product people wanted. And meanwhile, WWE was never really close to being out of business and, in reality, were actually doing good business.
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I don't about that. Lol. Watch some 97 Raws and 97 Nitros and see what holds up better, lol

Also, man it's kinda crazy seeing how involved wwe was in ecw. Like I was heavy into ecw at the time and like if most had known how cozy Paul e. And Vince were then I don't know if it would have been the same.
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- Both members of ECW tag team The Pitbulls, Gary Wolfe and Anthony Durante, were arrested by federal authorities last week on 3 counts of steroid and marijuana trafficking. Both were arrested at their homes and later released on bail until their trial. It's unlikely ECW will use them until all of the legal troubles are cleared up.

- This leads Dave to go off on a rant about wrestlers in the last 6 months who have been arrested, mostly on drug charges, some on other charges. Doug Gilbert, Tommy Rich, Steve Williams, Gary Wolf, Anthony Durante, Big Dick Dudley, Vader, and Billy Travis. Plus Scott Hall checking himself into rehab and Jesse James being suspended for failing a drug test. And that's not counting all the incidents of guys showing up in no condition to work or being so drugged out that they can barely cut a promo (cough*Shawn*cough). Dave talks about how drugs in wrestling are nothing new, but it's still a big problem. In the 80s it was cocaine, downers, and steroids. Nowadays, it's painkillers, plus the gradual return of steroids. Dave basically says the entire industry needs to look at all this as warning signs of a pattern that seems to be getting worse and nip it in the bud before it's too late.

- WWF's latest In Your House PPV Canadian Stampede is in the books. Going in, it seemed like one of the least anticipated PPVs ever, but it ended up being one of the best shows in WWF history, made even better by the "bizarro world" crowd atmosphere. It's Canada. They boo who they like MAGGLE! The Hart Foundation got one of the biggest babyface responses in history and they worked the match and angles like babyfaces as well, which was surreal to see for everyone who isn't from Calgary. Basically, it was just completely strange to see these dastardly evil villains work like good guys and get a heroes welcome while Steve Austin and his team were booed out of the building. The show only had 4 matches, because WWF's roster is currently riddled with injuries but they all delivered. None of the matches got less than 3 stars. (If you've never seen this, you owe it to yourself to at least watch the main event. The sustained roar as the members of the Hart Foundation are introduced one-by-one is insane and pretty much never lets up for the whole match. It's like the Punk/Cena Chicago crowd).

- The WWF/ECW relationship seems to be falling apart and the planned ECW match has been pulled from Summerslam. It was supposed to be Jerry Lawler & Rob Van Dam vs. Sandman & Tommy Dreamer. But it all fell apart over various issues. For starters, WWF claims that Paul Heyman had agreed to co-host Shotgun Saturday Night and that's why they filmed an angle "firing" Brian Pillman from the show. Heyman said he was never asked to do the show. WWF sent him a ticket to Des Moines where the show was and when Heyman didn't show up, WWF spent the whole day trying to get ahold of him and afterwards for the rest of the week, with no success. Chris Candido was there (he still travels with Sunny a lot despite not being in the WWF anymore) and they reportedly tried to get Candido to reach Heyman also, but he couldn't either.

- Heyman's reason for not wanting to do the Shotgun hosting job were basically because of his ECW responsibilities. He doesn't want ECW to be seen as a minor league promotion that's beholden to WWF, the way USWA and SMW have done in the past. WWF was also upset over the behavior of Sabu and Rob Van Dam, where both men didn't want to put over their WWF opponents in the way it was booked. WWF sources claim Heyman was apologetic and embarrassed by their behavior when he met with Vince, but Heyman denies that and claims he had Sabu and Van Dam's backs and he didn't think his ECW main eventers should be doing jobs to WWF prelim guys either.

- To further muddy the waters, ECW announcer Joey Styles has been openly talking about suing WWF because a video they've been using shows him. WWF made a video hyping Steve Austin and showed an ECW clip where Joey Styles is interviewing Austin. WWF had ECW's permission to use the footage but Heyman claims WWF only asked permission for a certain segment of footage and they used something else instead. Given the Jesse Ventura verdict where he successfully sued WWF for a lot of money over unpaid use of his likeness, Dave thinks WWF is probably really careful about stuff like this now. He assumes they probably wouldn't be stupid enough to use footage they didn't have permission for in writing.

- 1970s Australian wrestler and promoter Larry O'Day passed away from liver cancer. We get the usual obituary, this one's a little brief, but good. He was one of the top Australian wrestlers of the era, and had a brief run in the U.S. in Florida in the early 70s.

- The WWA promotion in Puerto Rico that was run by Savio Vega has folded. Many wrestlers had jumped ship from Carlos Colon's WWC promotion and were hoping to go back after the promotion failed, but it looks like WWC won't be bringing them back. WWC is having its own financial issues at the moment.

- The Patriot has been fired by AJPW. Patroit has a torn tricep and told AJPW that he would be out of action for several months. He then went to the U.S., signed a contract with WWF, and wrestled a dark match against Rockabilly. So needless to say, AJPW fired him. There are rumors that Johnny Ace may be jumping ship from AJPW to WWF soon also (well, eventually, but in a totally different capacity).

- In similar news, Vampiro had been working for Michinoku Pro but was fired this week because he had claimed he was injured, but then they found out he was still working regularly in Mexico.

- A photo with NJPW wrestler Masa Chono and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo was on the cover of magazines throughout Japan this week, because Nomo is basically a god in Japan right now.

- USWA wrestler Billy Travis was shown being arrested on TV last week and turns out it wasn't exactly an angle. Travis' ex-wife saw him on the live TV show and called the police because he owes a lot of back child support money and they'd been trying to find him. So police showed up to arrest him. Lawler asked the cops to wait until the show was over, but they said they had a job to do and couldn't do it. So Lawler then tried to work it into an angle and asked the police to let them film the arrest and have Travis pretend to be resisting (as long as they wouldn't add a resisting arrest charge since he was faking for the cameras) so that's what they ended up doing. They did an angle claiming Brian Christopher had filed charges against him, but the arrest you saw on TV was actually a real arrest, albeit played up for the cameras. Furthermore, Dave adds that Travis' daughter was watching the TV show and saw it happen and was so hysterical at seeing her dad being arrested that they had to take her to the hospital. Well then. We gotta see this. Doesn't really look like he was resisting but whatever.

- There was a ton of media publicity this week about Disney's record label Hollywood Records dropping a band called Insane Clown Posse due to concerns over the musical content. The album is called The Great Milenko and one of the songs mentions Cactus Jack. They've already been signed by another label. Word is the Insane Clown Posse incorporates a lot of wrestling-related gimmicks in their look and music.

- UFC has banned the term "no holds barred" and will no longer use it in advertising and the announcers can no longer say it. The company is facing attempts on all sides to shut them down and "no holds barred" doesn't sound good when you're trying to get athletic commissions to allow your show or PPV carriers to carry it. Instead, the plan is for the events to be referred to as "mixed martial arts" from here on out.

- Since we're talking MMA, at a Vale Tudo show in Brazil, a guy named Gary Goodridge defeated a Brazilian named Pedro Otavio by squeezing his balls in the fight. At one point, he even stuck his hand down Otavio's short and grabbed his balls that way to squeeze and eventually got Otavio to submit. Well, that's one way to do it I suppose. The Brazilian crowd nearly rioted and wanted to kill Goodridge for it.

- Paul Heyman has given his side of the story about the agreement he made with Jim Cornette. First off, there's no truth to the rumor that Heyman gave Cornette creative control over the angle he's working. Heyman said he'd welcome any input, but he has the final say-so. As for agreeing to apologize to Dennis Coraluzzo, Heyman says the deal was that he would allow ECW wrestlers to work for Coraluzzo as long as the deal was made through Heyman. Heyman never agreed to apologize in front of the locker room and says he was going to bring Coraluzzo to the locker room to say that it was okay to work for him but he didn't because so many in the ECW locker room still hate Coraluzzo.

- WCW Nitro in Memphis drew a a near sellout for $114,705 which is the largest gate ever for pro wrestling in Memphis. Other notes from this Nitro: Diamond Dallas Page did a match with Randy Savage dressed as La Parka and then revealed himself when he took the mask off. Dave says you can usually spot angles like this a mile away but DDP did such a good job portraying La Parka that most people had no clue until the reveal. Dave also refers to Glacier, Wrath, and Mortis as "the arcade game wrestlers gimmick" which is at least a little closer to him finally figuring out that it's a Mortal Kombat gimmick. Stevie Richards from ECW debuted as Raven's flunky and cut a promo before Raven punched him. It was well done, but if you're an ECW fan, you've already seen this exact angle. During Randy Savage's match, there was a big "Lawler" chant. And finally, Dave Brown and Corey Maclin (USWA announcers) were backstage.

- Eric Bischoff met with EMLL president Paco Alonso in Mexico last week and reportedly offered him $750,000 in exchange for letting WCW bring in 15 of their wrestlers. Alonso then went to WWF to see what they would offer but Vince McMahon told him to sign with Bischoff because he had no intention of matching that offer.

- Nancy Sullivan is definitely gone from WCW and she and Kevin Sullivan have definitely split up so the rumors were true. Kevin Sullivan is expected to return soon but he might not get all his power back since everyone has been thrilled with the job Terry Taylor has been doing as booker while Sullivan's been out.

- More WCW releases: Renegade, Lanny Poffo, Col. Rob Parker, Jerry Lynn, David Taylor, Pat Tanaka and the French Canadians. Some of these guys might still be used on a per-appearance deal or may get their contracts restructured but they have been released from their actual contracts.

- Lex Luger was on Regis & Kathy Lee last week, talking about how to get great abs. Dave suggests liposuction.

- Icon Magazine has an 8-page profile of Vince McMahon in this month's issue, written by Phillip Zabriskie. It's a sympathetic piece, with Vince talking about his life, from childhood through today and features quotes from others in the business, including some WCW names and even Dave himself. It's well-written but in typical McMahon fashion, he's full of shit about several of the things he talks about and lies throughout the interview (I looked and can't find this one online anywhere).

- On Raw, Paul Bearer continued the angle talking about Undertaker's badly disfigured brother "Cain." The crowd seemed completely disinterested and Dave says it was a lemon of a promo to go along with a real lemon of an angle.

- Shawn Michaels is expected to appear on Raw next week after meeting with Vince McMahon recently. Dave doesn't really elaborate any more.

- EMLL wrestler Sean Morley got a WWF tryout last week and showed potential but they decided he's not ready yet and didn't sign him.

- Sid has a problem with his sciatic nerve stemming from the car accident a few weeks ago. They want to do Sid vs. Vader at Summerslam but they haven't announced the match yet because they aren't sure he'll be ready by then (nope. Sid made a brief appearance on Raw that week and then never set foot in WWF again until 2012).
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So I decided starting with 1998, I'm going to post these on a M-W-F schedule. It's just a fuckin' lot to keep far enough ahead to do it 5 days a week. Don't wanna burn out on writing.
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[+] 1 user Likes Peezy's post

- WCW's Bash At The Beach PPV took place, featuring the in-ring debut of Dennis Rodman and he surprisingly wasn't that bad given it was his first match. Dave talks about Rodman doing an armdrag on Lex Luger and then jokes that Luger probably had to be taught the move also. Rodman's ring work was limited but decent and of course he's naturally athletic so that helped. And he worked the crowd like a natural, which shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with Dennis Rodman. Dave says he was better in his first match than guys like Sid or Ultimate Warrior have ever been. Rodman's debut made all the big news outlets and generated tons of mainstream publicity for WCW. Rodman's deal with WCW is for 2 matches plus the Nitro appearances, reportedly in the $1.5 to $2 million range. It's expected Rodman's next match will be before the next NBA season starts but no word exactly when. Dave then breaks down all the numbers on how many more PPV buys WCW would have to get to make the deal worth it financially.


- Other Bash At The Beach notes: Curt Hennig made his in-ring return as DDP's mystery partner, looking heavier and more out of shape than he's ever looked and was unimpressive in the ring. The crowd wanted Sting and were let down when it wasn't him. As usual, the undercard matches were all pretty great. Chris Jericho vs. Ultimo Dragon was Jericho's best match since debuting in WCW. Benoit beat Kevin Sullivan in a stiff loser-must-retire match. Debra McMichael turned on Steve McMichael and joined up with Jeff Jarrett. Flair vs. Piper was actually a surprisingly good match, the best Piper has had in WCW.

- WWF television is expected to undergo major changes later in the fall. It's believed Raw may go back to doing the live/taped schedule because going live every week has quadrupled the expenses of the show and hasn't really improved ratings at all. They may also move the time slot around. Last week, WWF aired a Summerslam special in the 10-11pm hour after Raw, showing highlights from past Summerslam events, and it did a pretty huge rating. The special featured highlights and matches of several of WWF's top names who are now in WCW, like Hogan, Savage, Piper, Hennig, Hall and Nash, etc. Of course, no one really knows if the big rating is due to the time slot or if it was the footage of all the WCW wrestlers that drew the number. Between Raw, Nitro, and the Summerslam special, the total combined audience of people watching wrestling that night is easily the most for any Monday night in history.

- Aja Kong held a press conference to announce that she is leaving All Japan Women, the promotion she has been a staple of for 11 years. Word is she wants to continue wrestling but not the grueling 250+ day per year schedule that AJW runs and she wants to stay independent and wrestle in other promotions. In the past, AJW has usually pushed their stars to retire at age 26 because they want the roster to stay young. But they have relaxed that rule in recent years because they've been unable to produce new stars that are as good as the ones who would be retiring. Kong, who is 26, clarified that she's not retiring, just leaving AJW.

- Dave gives 5-stars to the final match of NJPW's Best of the Super Juniors tournament between El Samurai vs. Koji Kanemoto and says this pretty much elevates Kanemoto to being among the best workers in the business today.

- In WWC in Puerto Rico, the wives of 2 wrestlers (Rico Suave and Huracan Castillo) have been banned from attending any more shows because they got into a fight backstage. It's led to heat between Suave and Castillo as well. Castillo is heading to WWF soon, but is expected to continue working for both companies (he was a member of Los Boricuas in WWF for a little while).

- A guy named Sheldon Goldberg (no relation) is suing Great Sasuke and Michinoku Pro. He was the intermediary who set up the deal for Michinoku Pro wrestlers to work for ECW and also set up the first meeting they had with WWF. He claims he was promised $5,000 but was only paid $1,000.

- Lots of changes in USWA on the ownership front. No one seems to really know who owns the promotion anymore, but the new president of USWA is a guy named Michael Selnick from Cleveland, OH. A meeting was held last week and the wrestlers were told Jerry Lawler is no longer running things and that the new owners plan to invest more money into the company and expand operations. Lawler's new title is VP of Public Relations and while he is no longer running the day-to-day business, he is still involved in decisions. The plan seems to be to try and get USWA syndicated in other markets, such as New Orleans and St. Louis. Also, Dutch Mantell is booking the promotion (this all gets really messy pretty soon).

- The latest USWA show drew one of the biggest crowds they've drawn in a long time for the USWA vs. ECW feud. The crowd was actually split 50/50 cheering for each side and they were so intense about it that the atmosphere was described as being dangerous. Sandman, Dreamer, Heyman, Bill Alfonso, Sabu, and RVD were all there. The crowd began to get out of control after the main event, with Christopher getting punched and Lawler and another fan spitting at each other. USWA fans were also going after ECW guys, with Sabu whipping fans with a belt and one of the fans got hit with a garbage can. Christopher was hurt badly from the punch he got from the fan, because it nearly knocked him out and split his lip open so badly that he may need plastic surgery to fix it. If the ECW feud continues to draw well, USWA is considering running some shows in the Mid-South Coliseum again (nah).

- In September, Terry Funk is planning to hold a show billed as his final match ever, which will lead to Funk's retirement. The plan is for Funk to face Bret Hart (this is the Funk "retirement" match that is featured in Beyond The Mat).

- ECW announced that their next PPV will take place on Aug. 17th from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, at the 1,700-seat War Memorial Auditorium. ECW once drew 1,000 to that building a few years ago and they're way more popular now, so they should have no problem selling it out. The show was originally supposed to take place at a college in the Cincinnati area, but a local ~~snitch~~ indie promoter sent the college a tape of the Mass Transit incident, and that killed the deal. So now it's in Ft. Lauderdale.

- Here's the latest on all the Paul Heyman/ECW/WWF drama. Last week it was mentioned that Joey Styles was considering filing a lawsuit against WWF over his likeness being used in a video clip WWF aired on Raw. WWF sources say they had permission to use the clip and in fact, it was Paul Heyman who personally brought them the tape to use. WWF sources also claim Heyman had agreed to host Shotgun Saturday Night but he wanted to wait and tell it to the ECW wrestlers first before it became public knowledge. They also say Heyman specifically talked to WWF in regards to getting his airline ticket to Des Moines to do the show and trying to make it work with his schedule, but then they sent him the ticket and Heyman never showed up, claiming he never agreed to any of it. Heyman's response to all this is basically saying that WWF is lying to try and save face.

- Speaking of possible Heyman lies, last week Paul Heyman says he never agreed to apologize to Dennis Coraluzzo in front of the ECW wrestlers, but Coraluzzo says that Heyman and Chris Candido both promised him that Heyman would apologize and that Heyman's version of the story is a total lie. The whole thing was because Paul Heyman wanted Jim Cornette to work an ECW angle. Cornette's take on the whole situation is that he never trusted Heyman to begin with, but he got a limo ride, a free meal, a good payoff, and some good publicity for doing the angle, so he's happy with it all. But he says he has no plans of ever going back to ECW to finish off the angle.

- The WWF/ECW relationship is all but dead at this point, although no one has come right out and said it. The planned ECW match at Summerslam is off the table but Heyman is hopeful to get it back on the card, but that seems unlikely now.

- At an ECW show in Allentown, PA there was an incident with some wrestlers and fans. Dave's heard multiple versions of the story but it seemed to have started with a fan taking a swing at Shane Douglas, who then went after the fan but was jumped on by another fan. At this point, a backstage ECW employee named Gabe Sapolsky yelled for help and the whole ECW locker room came running out. Perry Saturn (still with the knee injury) tackled one of the guys who was attacking Douglas while Tommy Dreamer and Bubba Ray Dudley tried to keep everyone apart. Shane Douglas has talked about pressing charges against the fans who attacked him and Paul Heyman has threatened to stop running shows in Allentown if the venue won't let him use his own security instead of having to use the security provided by the venue.

- ECW is writing the Pitbulls off TV for now until their legal situation is sorted out. In the meantime, they'll be helping to train wrestlers at ECW's training school. Heyman wants to try and get better wrestling at ECW shows so he doesn't have to rely on gimmicks and bloodbaths to get over. Heyman's an expert at hiding people's weaknesses and the reality is most of the wrestlers in ECW flat out suck when it comes to actual wrestling.

- On WCW Nitro this week, they debuted "The Nitro Girls" which were led by Kimberly Page and some other local dancers. It got a mostly negative reaction from wrestling fans but Dave says it's no different than cheerleaders at football games, so he's fine with it. As long as they use them as bumpers coming back from commercial breaks. But if they give them full 3-minute segments each week like they did this week, it's going to be a bad idea.

- Also on Nitro, The Giant chokeslammed a bunch of guys in yellow shirts who were supposed to be security guards. They were actually mostly the Mexican wrestlers, so if you want to know what La Parka, Super Calo, Los Villanos, etc. look like without masks, there ya go.

- Sherri Martel has been released from WCW. The angle where Harlem Heat fired her ended up being legit because she really was fired afterward. No reason given, but WCW has been releasing a lot of lower-card people lately in cost-cutting measures. It's believed Jacqueline will replace her as Harlem Heat's manager now that Kevin Sullivan has retired. Word is Meng and Barbarian may be gone as well but Dave can't confirm it.

- WCW is advertising another Clash of the Champions for next month in Nashville. They're promoting it locally as the first time a Clash, a Nitro, and a PPV have all taken place in the same city in the span of 1 year, but that's actually not true. It happened in Las Vegas also, but evidently nobody in WCW remembered.

- Rob Van Dam was backstage at Nitro this week, pretty much just to get himself over. Earlier this year, when it was rumored that Van Dam was going to WCW, it turned him into ECW's top heel and he milked it and turned it into an angle. Then he continued it by becoming Mr. Monday Night and working matches on Raw. But with the ECW/WWF deal falling apart, Van Dam decided to go visit Nitro to get the rumor mill buzzing again. WCW had no knowledge that he was going to be there, but they let him come backstage anyway.

- The Giant and Buff Bagwell appeared on the MTV show Singled Out last week (I can't find video of this one).

- Elizabeth is getting married in December to an attorney in south Florida and she also runs a clothing store in the area called Vertigo.

- Stevie Richards won't be wrestling in WCW for a few months because he's letting all his various injuries (particularly his neck) heal up (he actually does work a handful of matches).

- Bill Goldberg worked a dark match against Hector Guerrero and beat him. Goldberg is really green but he's got a good look and people think he has potential.

- WCW is considering doing an angle to have Rey Mysterio Jr. lose his mask sometime before the end of the year.

- WWF has reportedly gone to a Hollywood studio and spent a ton of money to have a mask made for Undertaker's brother "Cain." It's supposed to make him look like a real-life burn victim and doesn't even look like a mask. Dave predicts Glenn Jacobs (formerly Fake Diesel) will end up playing the role of Cain.

- Shawn Michaels was back on TV this week. After claiming he suffered a knee injury during the backstage fight with Bret Hart, he appeared to have no knee problems at all and was doing cartwheels during the commercial break. No word on when he'll be back in the ring. Speaking of, WWF has sponsored a Wrestle Vessel cruise that's taking place this week and both Shawn and Bret will be on it, along with a lot of Bret's family members. Dave seems to be implying that Shawn should probably make sure he doesn't end up in the ocean.

- Mankind came out dressed as Dude Love on Raw, the character he talked about in those interviews a few weeks ago. Dave basically compares it to Austin Powers and says the gimmick doesn't have a ton of longevity to it but they may do a gimmick sorta like Keiji Mutoh/Great Muta, where he alternates between Dude Love and Mankind.

- Sid appeared on the show briefly, but then collapsed backstage due to his back problems and was rushed to the hospital. Sid was barely shown on TV because he's lost a lot of weight since he hasn't been able to train and his injuries are very legit. His planned match at Summerslam with Vader is almost surely off now (and that brief Raw appearance was Sid's final appearance in WWF until 15 years later).

- No truth to the rumors of Johnny Ace from AJPW jumping ship to WWF. They haven't had any negotiations.

- Great Sasuke actually hasn't signed a WWF deal and may not be sticking around for long. He still runs Michinoku Pro in Japan and that company is having a lot of business troubles, so he can't just up and leave to go work full-time in the U.S.
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- WWF has confirmed last week's Observer story that Raw will no longer be airing live every Monday night starting in September. The plan is to do a live Raw, followed by a taped Raw the next day on Tuesday which would then air on the following Monday. It's being done as a cost-cutting measure. Live tapings each week were killing them and they weren't seeing any significant ratings difference from the old taped Raws. In fact, WWF seems very concerned over the financial situation of the company lately and have been cutting costs in other ways, such as flying less people in to shows, booking cheaper flights on lower-cost days, and changing the house show schedule in ways to cut back on travel costs.

- WWF has also decided to drop the cheaper, shorter In Your House PPV concept effective immediately and all future PPVs will be monthly and all carry the same $29.95 price. This is also pretty much a money decision. WCW has been running PPVs in that price range and are still doing higher buyrates, so WWF finally realized that they could raise the price and people will still buy the shows (this trend continued for years. WWF incrementally raises the price, people keep buying. 10 years later, PPVs were $60 instead of $30 and we all just kept handing over our money like idiots). Meanwhile, Wrestlemania will still be a little bit more expensive to preserve the "specialness" of that event. In fact, throughout the business, it's beginning to look like price doesn't matter up to a certain point. Zane Bresloff who promotes house shows for WCW has gradually been increasing ticket prices across the board and in some cases, it's actually shown a significant increase in ticket buys. It's believed that fans see lower prices as something cheap and minor league, but higher prices make it seem more special and therefore attractive to buyers. Obviously, there's a ceiling where the price would be too high, but so far, wrestling hasn't reached it yet.

- WCW Nitro didn't air this week because TNT aired a Civil War mini-series. The show did way bigger ratings than WCW usually does in that time slot, so TNT is thrilled about it. As for Raw, without competition from Nitro, they did one of their highest ratings in years. Interestingly enough, the Raw rating drew about 70% of the usual combined audience for both shows, which means there's 30% of fans who would rather not watch wrestling at all on Monday night if Nitro isn't on. Nitro was bumped to Tuesday night this week but no word on how the ratings were yet. In the future, WCW plans to start airing monthly-ish 3-hour Nitros on a semi-regular schedule, but not every week. Basically, sometimes it'll be 2 hours, sometimes it'll be 3.

- ECW is expected to file a lawsuit against WCW this week regarding several things, specifcially Raven and Stevie Richards appearing at the Bash At The Beach PPV. Paul Heyman claims Raven's ECW contract had a non-compete clause which prevented him from appearing on any other company's PPV for 6 months but WCW put him on PPV anyway. Heyman also says that WCW attempted to use Raven as an intermediary to try to get Sandman to come to WCW, which Heyman claims is contract tampering. In the case of Stevie Richards, Heyman claims Richards signed a letter of intent to negotiate a new deal with ECW when he suddenly showed up in WCW. Richards admits signing the letter, but believes the time period on it had run out and that he was free to leave, but Heyman disputes that. Heyman claims he released Richards from the deal because Richards had informed him that he would no longer be able to wrestle due to his neck injury, and then Richards immediately went to WCW. The contract situation isn't the legal problem though. ECW is claiming they own the intellectual rights to the Raven and Stevie Richards characters and that WCW using their same ECW gimmicks violates ECW's copyright (basically the TNA/Matt Hardy situation). Dave talks about how WCW has run into this issue before, when Ray Traylor debuted in WCW doing the same look and gimmick of his Big Boss Man character and WWF threw a fit, so WCW changed it. Raven maintains that he created the Raven character and he has the rights to it.

- Nobuhiko Takada's dream shoot fight against Rickson Gracie is back on and scheduled for October. Dave breaks down the history of this on-again-off-again fight and basically says Takada is a great professional wrestler and has a lot of kickboxing training, but he's still a pro wrestler who's never been tested in a real fight and Dave thinks he doesn't really stand a chance against Gracie (he was correct). This ends up being the first ever Pride event.

- A quick look at WWF and WCW business for the first few months of 1997 compared to the same period in 96 and 95. PPV buyrates, live attendance, TV ratings, etc. TL;DR - WWF is doing the best live business they've done in years, but PPV buyrates and TV ratings are down. As for WCW, pretty much everything is up but you can't give all the credit to the NWO angle. In fact, WCW's PPV buyrates in 1997 so far are actually lower than the 1995 buyrates. And TV ratings are actually down slightly from the same time period in 1996 (which was before the NWO debuted) so once again, despite being a hot angle, the NWO hasn't really made any significant impact on TV or PPV numbers. They do seem to be responsible for the increased house show and merchandise numbers though.

- Masahiro Chono reportedly suffered a broken ankle in a match last week but he still plans to work the upcoming G-1 tournament.

- Dave offhandedly mentions how important the year 1993 was looking back on it in retrospect. ECW, UFC, K-1, Michinoku Pro, and Pancrase all debuted in that year and in their own way, they all changed the face of the wrestling/fighting industry.

- Speaking of Michinoku Pro, the promotion has really gone downhill recently due to so many top stars being gone. Super Delfin and Shiryu quit, Taka Michinoku headed to WWF, Jinsei Shinzaki jumping ship to AJPW, and top star Great Sasuke taking a leave of absence to work in WWF as well. Speaking of Sasuke, that WWF deal may be falling apart. Sasuke held a press conference in Japan this week and was upset about WWF flying him from Japan to the U.S. with an economy class ticket and said he felt like WWF doesn't respect how big a star he is. He was also upset because WWF flew Taka Michinoku in from Mexico on first class, when Taka is nowhere near his star power. So who knows.

- Glenn Jacobs is still working as Doomsday in USWA and it doesn't look like there are any plans to bring him up to WWF anytime soon so it doesn't look like Jacobs will end up playing the "Cain" role after all.

- Phil Mushnick of the NY Post wrote an article this week that took some info from the Observer. A few weeks ago, Dave listed all the wrestlers who have been arrested this year. Mushnick copied that list and said they had "all been arrested on drug charges, mostly steroids." Dave says that's actually not true. Three of the names were arrested for non-drug issues, and of the others, 2 of the arrests were for marijuana. Only 2 people on the entire list were actually arrested for steroids.

- Dave attended an indie show in California and talks about a wrestler named Vic Grimes who had a falls count anywhere match with someone named Erin O'Grady (later became Crash Holly). In the match, they wrestled out into the parking lot and at one point, O'Grady got in his car and was going at least 30MPH, if not faster, and drove towards Grimes and opened the car door and hit him with the door as he drove past. Dave says Grimes was uninjured but he worries what happens when other wrestlers inevitably try the same stunt or worse.

- Former WWF announcer Sean Mooney is now working as a news anchor for WBZ in Boston.

- 9 years ago this week, Bruiser Brody was murdered in Puerto Rico. Dave (with a hint of disgust) says WWC never went out of business and Brody's killer, Jose Gonzalez (Invader #1) was not only brought back to the company but has been pushed as the #2 babyface ever since.

- Ian Rotten's IWA promotion in Louisville held a sold out show and drew over 400 people. They announced IWA was joining the NWA and brought out Dennis Coraluzzo as the head of the NWA, who cut a heel promo. The NWA is basically just a name at this point, so it means pretty much nothing. Ricky Steamboat is reportedly being brought in to work as a special referee at the next IWA show.

- ECW packed the most fans ever into the ECW Arena, with literal busloads of fans who travelled from out of state being turned away at the door. The night before, they also packed a show in Queens and had to turn people away at the door. The show was highlighted by Rick Rude turning heel to join Shane Douglas' Triple Threat stable, followed by Taz choking out Jerry Lawler. The Gangstas also won the tag titles from the Dudleys. At the show in Queens, Paul Heyman got on the mic and cut a big "Fuck WWF" type of speech. So that relationship is apparently going well.

- There was a minor incident backstage where a wrestler (El Puerto Ricano) apparently didn't sell long enough for Kronus's finisher. So after the match, Perry Saturn hit Ricano with an incredibly brutal shot with his crutch, which Ricano also apparently didn't sell enough for Saturn's liking. Backstage, Saturn confronted him and shoved him, but Ricano simply apologized and the situation was diffused. Speaking of Saturn, he's actually already off crutches (except on TV) and is walking with a knee brace. He's way ahead of schedule on his knee rehab and ECW thinks he may be ready to return by November.

- ECW had a big angle where there was supposed to be a mystery partner for Tommy Dreamer and Sandman. ECW was strongly considering bringing in Dan Severn but Heyman feels that if they're going to bring in Severn, he wants to do a long build-up for it and have a Severn vs. Taz match on PPV and didn't want to waste Severn as a surprise 6-man tag match partner. They also considered making a deal with WCW in exchange for a settlement on the Raven deal but that fell through.

- Remember the ongoing situation with WWF using footage of Steve Austin in ECW? WWF claims Heyman gave them the tape and permission to use it, but Heyman flat out denies it and said you can tell by the low quality that it's a VHS dub and not a copy of the master footage that he would have given them if that was the case. Joey Styles is still said to be considering suing WWF for using the video (he's interviewing Austin in it) without his permission.

- ECW's August PPV was originally planned to take place at Northern Kentucky University near Cincinnati, but an anonymous source sent the college a video of the Mass Transit incident and the college pulled out of the deal. It's believed the source was a local promoter who didn't want ECW running a show in "his" territory. ECW denies it and says that the NKU location was considered but was never the official plan and that ECW themselves chose to move it to Florida. It's in ECW's best interest to at least pretend it was their decision because if they start having trouble booking buildings or start getting banned from cities, it makes them look like UFC, which has had so many problems booking locations. The "Extreme" name was a great marketing idea when Heyman came up with it, but now lots of media outlets and athletic commissions have lumped ECW in with the now-defunct Extreme Fighting promotion, which is a big red flag for the company in trying to book buildings or get TV and PPV deals. And of course, the Mass Transit tape is a potential time bomb that's always hanging over ECW's head and they were unhappy that this story got into the Observer (so they'll probably love this) because Request TV is still paranoid about bad publicity. ECW wants to sweep the Mass Transit tape under the rug and forget it ever happened, but there's always the concern that some major media outlet will pick up the story and air the footage and then it's game over. Speaking of, Eric Kulas (Mass Transit) still hasn't filed a lawsuit against ECW. Meanwhile, ECW has been trying to get medical reports from Kulas's family in order to find out the actual injuries but they haven't heard anything back.

- Louie Spicolli is on thin ice in ECW. They're already spending a lot of money to fly him in from California each week and Heyman wants him to be at the show early to work out in the ring, but Spicolli hasn't been doing it. He also threw a fit about doing a job to Tom Prichard last week and Heyman is pretty irritated at him overall.

- The rap group Insane Clown Posse has been in the news after Disney dropped them from their record label due to their album The Great Milenko. They appeared on Howard Stern's show this week and spent a lot of time talking about how they were big fans of ECW and that their favorite wrestler was Rob Van Dam. ICP said they'd be at the show in Queens the next night and they put over the show so big that Paul Heyman was crediting ICP for helping to draw such a big crowd that night.

- WCW will be meeting with George Steinbrenner this week, with the plan to do a Nitro taping from Yankee Stadium (didn't happen).

- Hogan is currently filming a movie in Montreal (Hogan had a few movies come out in 97/98 but it looks like The Ultimate Weapon is the only one that was filmed in Montreal so probably that one.)

- WCW recently paid $100,000 to the estate of Jimi Hendrix to allow Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman to use "Voodoo Child" as their ring music for the next 12 months.

- Raw this week was in Nova Scotia Canada and once again, the crowd heat was insane. The Hart Foundation were huge babyfaces, while Shawn Michaels got booed like you wouldn't believe. Shawn did a back flip off the ropes to show his knee is just fine and then gave the NWO/Kliq hand signal at the camera. During his promo, he seemed out of it and his voice was gone and was slurring his words (yeah, Shawn was basically drugged out of his mind on TV every week at this point and it's super obvious). Also, the crowd chanted "faggot!" at him.

- Other random notes from this Raw: The Patriot came out with the American flag and was booed out of the building. Shawn was made the special referee for the Undertaker/Bret Hart match at Summerslam which led to Bret and Vince McMahon getting into a fight at ringside. And the show ran 10 minutes longer than normal, with USA Network running a crawl on the bottom of the screen saying La Femme Nikita would start in 10 minutes. (And thus, the traditional 8-10 minute overrun on Raw was born. Also, we're in that early-Attitude era of Raw where literally every episode seems to have some historic moment looking back on it).


- The situation with Sid backstage last week is that he may have suffered an anxiety attack. Sid thought he was having a heart attack but he refused to go to the hospital and instead went back to his hotel. Sid has lost a lot of weight because his back injury has prevented him from working out, plus he's had the flu lately.

- Doug Furnas was told he'd need back surgery that would keep him out for at least 6 months, but he's opted against the surgery and is planning to rehab it as best he can and return in September.

- WWF is looking at producing a major show in the UK sometime in September (that would be the One Night Only PPV and ends up being one of the most egregious examples of just how much of a prick Shawn Michaels was in 1997. But we'll get there.)

- There's a rib on Ron Simmons going on in the WWF locker room where guys ask Simmons to kick them in the kidneys so they can put on 30 pounds of muscle like Ahmed Johnson did after his kidney injury.

- The plan for Undertaker's brother "Cain" is for him to debut in September or October.
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- ECW packed the most fans ever into the ECW Arena, with literal busloads of fans who travelled from out of state being turned away at the door. The night before, they also packed a show in Queens and had to turn people away at the door.

This was routine with ECW shows in Philly and NYC. If you wanted in, you needed to lineup early. Like we would usually get there at around 12 or 13 and be nowhere near the first ones there. I have fond memories of landline phone calls, chat rooms and ICQ chats arranging places to sleep the night before shows, lol.
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- Main story this week is the latest UFC PPV, highlighted by the biggest upset in UFC history when Maurice Smith beat Mark Coleman and all the problems the show is dealing with getting on PPV because they're losing a political war against them. Basically a lot of doom and gloom about the future of UFC.

- 66-year-old Fritz Von Erich has been diagnosed with lung cancer, which has spread to his brain and adrenal glands. His long-term prognosis is not good. The cancer was found after he was hospitalized for a stroke. Dave says Von Erich's life story has so many twists and turns that they could make a movie about it but nobody would believe it was true. Dave writes a medium-length...I dunno, "pre-obituary" I guess? His wrestling career, starting World Class, the deaths of his sons, and more.

- The biggest indie show of the year will take place next month, called Terry Funk's Wrestlefest taking place in Amarillo, TX. It's being promoted as Terry Funk's final match "in Amarillo." Which...is not quite the same thing as retirement. Beyond The Mat lied to me! Bret Hart will be Funk's opponent and there will be a Sabu vs. Mankind match as well. ECW and FMW stars will also work the show. Dave notes that this is the first indie show Bret has worked in years and says Bret's first match actually took place in Amarillo in 1973 when he was 16, three years before he started wrestling in his dad's Stampede promotion.

- EMLL sold one of its arenas (they own all the buildings they run). The Arena Coliseo in Acapulco had been running weekly Wednesday night shows for 40 years. They also sold another arena recently and between this and cutting back on shows, the wrestling economy sucks in Mexico right now. For everyone, not just EMLL.

- This is the slowest issue ever. How the hell am I already halfway through this and only have 4 short things?

- The most famous wrestling fan in the world died in Mexico this week. 97-year-old Virginia Aguilera passed away. She had been a regular in the front row for almost every show at Arena Mexico for the last 58 years. Numerous TV shows have done stories about her over the years and she was called the Grandmother of Lucha Libre. Several wrestlers, including Perro Aguayo, were pallbearers at her funeral.

- As mentioned last week, Masahiro Chono recently suffered a broken ankle. He spoke to reporters after getting off a plane on crutches and said he still plans to work the G-1 tournament but NJPW held a press conference saying that Chono will have to be cleared by a doctor first before he'll be allowed to work the tournament.

- Dave talks about how good a job NJPW has done in building former judo champion Naoya Ogawa as a special attraction and how he's seen as special even though he doesn't have 1/10th of the charisma that Ken Shamrock has. Then compare it to how WWF has already turned Shamrock into "just another guy" after only a few months in the company.

- After "retiring" last year, FMW star Mr. Pogo returned to the ring, using the name Great Pogo. In his match, he "used a gigantic knife and an electric drill" on his opponent's forehead. As Lou Thesz intended.

- This week, WWF contacted Glenn Jacobs and told him he was being brought back immediately and it's expected he will play the role of Undertaker's brother "Cain." Jacobs is still USWA champion (using the Doomsday gimmick) and wasn't given a chance to drop the USWA title before he left. USWA is discussing putting a different wrestler under the Doomsday mask and pretending as if nothing's different, but they haven't decided yet.

- Gordon Solie's wife Eileen passed away from cancer this week at age 70. It was expected and the night before her death, she wrote her own obituary before passing away in her sleep.

- Actor Billy Crystal is planning to make a movie about the life of Andre The Giant, starring NBA Washington Bullets basketball player Gheorghe Muresan. If it happens, New Line Cinema, which is owned by Turner/Time Warner, would be producing the movie. Within the business, it's led to jokes that Eric Bischoff will try to get himself hired to play Vince McMahon (obviously this one didn't quite happen like that but it gets explained later).

- Madusa has been at the Cincinnati Bengals training camp recently with 23-year-old starting lineman Ken Blackman (yeah, they later got married).

- Dave Boy Smith's 12-year-old son Harry Smith wrestled at an indie show in Canada against 15-year-old TJ Wilson.

- Sandman missed a few ECW shows with a pelvis injury. No word on exactly what caused it but he was bedridden for several days.

- In regards to the ECW/WCW legal situation, ECW hasn't filed a lawsuit yet as of press time. WCW claims Stevie Richards wasn't under contract to ECW and that he used the Stevie Richards name before he was in ECW, so they have no claim to him. As for Raven, WCW claims Scott Levy created the character (with the help of DDP). Raven does admit that he signed a non-compete contract with ECW that is supposed to prevent him from appearing on anyone else's PPV until October. But Raven doesn't have a copy of the contract and WCW's lawyers asked Paul Heyman to send a copy of the contract to them within 10 days or they were going to use Raven on PPV. Heyman never responded, and because WCW gave him a warning that they planned to do it within an allotted amount of time, WCW feels they were in the clear to use Raven on the PPV. Dave spoke with another lawyer who agreed that WCW was probably in the clear because they gave Heyman ample time to respond and he didn't. Up until the last minute, WCW expected Heyman to respond and they were ready to scrap the Raven angle on the PPV, but Heyman never did, so they went ahead and used him on the show.

- At an ECW show in Rochester, RVD threw a chair at Balls Mahoney outside the ring. Balls moved and the chair hit a teenage fan at ringside and knocked him silly and he was bleeding pretty badly and had to be treated by medical staff.

- Alex Wright won the WCW cruiserweight title from Chris Jericho on Nitro. There's been talk of doing an angle where Wright comes in just barely over the weight limit and will be forced to relinquish it back to Jericho, but no word if that will actually happen (it didn't but Wright eventually lost it back to Jericho a few weeks later anyway).

- WCW still won the ratings battle this week, but Raw ratings were the closest they've been in a long time (still 8 months away from WWF finally winning one again). Funny enough, last week's Nitro, which was moved to Tuesday, did a shockingly strong rating. It surprised everyone who thought most fans only watch because Monday night is the traditional wrestling night, but Nitro doing a strong rating on Tuesday means fans are actively seeking it out. This has shown TBS that a possible Thursday night show could probably do strong ratings also, so there are whispers of that idea coming back up. But Eric Bischoff is still against the idea because he doesn't want to overexpose the product and overwork the bookers and wrestlers so he's fighting against it.

- Eric Bischoff held a meeting with the wrestlers last week and specifically said he doesn't want any bad languange or vulgar gestures on the shows. Apparently he's gotten complaints from higher-ups at Turner about it. Bischoff told the wrestlers to leave that stuff to Vince McMahon, WCW won't be doing it.

- The Omni Arena in Atlanta, which for years had been considered the Madison Square Garden of WCW, was demolished last week. A new arena will be opening in 1999. (Dave doesn't go into details, but I looked it up. Basically the arena was a piece of shit and was falling apart. Ted Turner was trying to bring an NHL team to Atlanta and they deemed the arena not suitable even as a temporary arena. They only agreed to give Atlanta a team if a new stadium was built, so the Omni was demolished and the Phillips Arena was built on the same spot and Atlanta got the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999.)

- WCW Bash at the Beach early buyrate numbers look to be in the 0.78 range which under normal circumstances would be a decent enough buyrate. But considering how much WCW paid to have Dennis Rodman on the show, a 0.78 buyrate is basically considered a failure.

- Curt Hennig's matches at the Saturday TV tapings last week were said to be so bad that WCW won't even air them. The truth is, the matches were never planned to air because WCW knows he's still trying to work the ring-rust off. So they had him wrestling just so he can get back in the groove.

- Bill Goldberg may be debuting at next month's Clash of the Champions, using the name Bill Gold but that's not for sure (nah, not until Nitro in September). Raven is also expected to wrestle his first WCW match on the Clash show.

- Since Raw is moving back an hour, TNT has changed the Nitro replay to air immediately after Nitro goes off the air so Raw will still be going up against Nitro during the 2nd hour, even though it'll be a replay. This also allows the live airing of Nitro to go as long as they want now, since the only thing it'll be bumping into is its own replay. But this will only last until January, when TNT debuts new episodes of Babylon-Five.

- There have been rumors of Disco Inferno returning to WCW but it appears to be contingent on him agreeing to lose a match to Jacquelyn, which is why he was canned in the first place (refusing to put her over in a match).

- WCW is working to put together some sort of ceremony honoring Verne Gagne at an upcoming Minneapolis house show. Dave says Gagne has so much heat with so many people in the business that it's hard to get people to cooperate with putting this sort of thing together. (Dave adds that, in the mid-80s, Verne Gagne was the most hated person in the industry, "even more than myself or Vince McMahon.")

- Sid was officially fired by WWF this week. Dave thinks it's crazy that a star of his magnitude would be outright fired in the middle of this Monday night war, but WWF apparently felt they had no choice given that they couldn't get any straight answers from Sid about his medical condition or when he may be able to return. Normally, you'd expect WCW to hire him immediately, but Sid has a lot of heat with people in WCW and he has pretty much the worst track record in the biz as far as dependability so who knows.

- Okay, fine, this issue doesn't necessarily suck anymore.

- Jim Neidhart is gone for the moment as well. Apparently before returning to WWF, Neidhart signed an exclusive contract with an indie company called UCW in New York. WWF wasn't aware of it until UCW contacted them after Neidhart has been on TV for the last several months. WWF told Neidhart to go get the legal situation cleared up and get out of the contract and until he does, they're not using him.

- WWF announced they'll be bringing in a new TV commissioner next week. The belief is that it will end up being Sgt. Slaughter but other names mentioned included Pat Patterson, Ernie Ladd, Bill Watts and Jack Tunney (Slaughter indeed).

- Ahmed Johnson returned from his knee injury and was somehow even bigger than before. Dave is just making blatant steroid jokes about him at this point.

- Dave says, "The tension with Bret and Shawn together is tremendous because it seems like even they can't distinguish between working and shooting."

- Mankind is still doing the Dude Love gimmick and it's getting a decent response but Dave doesn't think the gimmick has legs.

- Shawn Michaels had a meeting last week with the producers of Baywatch and he's expected to film an episode or two of that show next season. Shawn is expected back in the ring by September and word is he's willing to do business with Bret.

- Marc Mero isn't expected back until September either. He's apparently been rehabbing his injured knee so hard that he damaged it worse rather than making it better. He'll have to wear a heavy brace when he returns.

- Chris Candido writes in to clear up a few misconceptions about the Jim Cornette/ECW situation from a few weeks back. Candido says he was the only one who was in contact with all parties so he wanted to tell the true story. I'll just copy and paste his letter:

As the only person who was in contact with all parties involved, I'd like to put to rest the Paul E., Jim Cornette, Dennis Coraluzzo story. Paul wanted a surprise for the Arena show. Who would be the last person our fans would expect to see working for Paul? The obvious answer was Jim Cornette. Figuring if they were to ever speak to each other the deal would fall apart, I became the middle man. Jim agreed to the angle only if Paul apologized to Dennis for the NWA title belt situation. Being equally as close outside business to all three, I thought it would only be fair if Dennis also apologized to Paul for attempting to get ECW shut out of buildings. Jim originally wanted Paul to apologize in front of the boys at the show, but it was decided that the Arena was way too hectic an environment for that. Once the limo that Paul had pick up Jim and Dennis got to the Arena, Paul and I got in. Paul apologized to Dennis and shook his hand. As agreed, Dennis went to apologize to Paul. Paul cut him off saying that they were even and to start with a clean slate. Paul invited Dennis to Asbury Park or Wildwood to let the boys know it was okay to work for Dennis. Dennis opted not to go because he didn't want the boys to second guess their boss when there is already way too many rumors involving the ECW/WWF deal. In Asbury Park, the crew was simply told that the hatchet has been buried between the two.

That night I told Dennis we had told the boys and if he wanted to book any of them, to call me and I would make the deal. Dennis wasn't to personally call the boys so he wouldn't put them in the middle. That is the entire Paul/Dennis situation.

The Paul/Cornette deal is even more cut and dried. I presented the angle to Jim. He named his price. Paul agreed. As far as Jim having creative control of the angle, that is way too general. Jim asked me how long he should stay in the ring and how much he should personally do to not take any of the heat off Rob (Van Dam) and Sabu. Paul's reply was that between Cornette and Lawler, they should do whatever felt right. Depending how it was going, he would send out more people. If it was going great, to just keep going. The final out would be when Taz' music was hit. It went great and that's how it went down. Everyone was happy.

Contrary to what was reported elsewhere, there were no locker room conflicts. Everyone was friendly and professional. I never left Jim's side so I didn't miss anything. Jim enjoyed himself and agreed to come back, but opted to wait out the Shotgun controversy. There is nothing else to the story. It may be boring for fans to read that people in the business acted like it was a business and that there wasn't any personal bullshit, but that's the way it happened.

As far as Tammy helping out behind the scenes, here is the boring truth. Paul has delegated responsibility to certain people. The Tom Prichard vs. Louie Spicolli was one of mine. It was originally to be on television but I thought Lou spent too much time on the mic. I had something to do and asked Tammy to tell him that when he got back. Boring, but true.

Chris Candito
Matawan, New Jersey
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- WWF's Summerslam is in the books and it was a newsworthy one. WWF's hottest star, Steve Austin, suffered an apparent serious neck injury in his match with Owen Hart. After taking a botched tombstone from Owen, Austin whispered to him that he couldn't move. Owen stalled long enough for Austin to roll over, using mostly his stomach muscles since he couldn't move from the waist down, and roll him up for a weak pin 8 minutes earlier than planned. After managing to make it backstage, Austin was rushed to the emergency room and released later that night, with them saying he suffered a stinger. Austin has already been dealing with neck problems for awhile. He appeared on Raw the next night but still wasn't moving well. Raw was supposed to end with Shawn Michaels fully turning heel by costing Austin and Dude Love the tag team titles, but with Austin unable to wrestle, Shawn simply cut a promo to turn heel instead. Austin's expected to be out for a few weeks at least but no one knows for sure yet.

- Other Summerslam notes: Ahmed Johnson also suffered yet another injury at Summerslam, re-aggravating his knee injury. On Raw the next night, the Nation of Domination turned on him to write him off TV again for a month or two until it heals. Bret Hart won his 5th WWF title, tying Hulk Hogan for the most all-time (remember when 5 world title reigns was considered a lot? Ah, the good ol' days). the show was legit sold out and did major gate and merchandise numbers. But the crowd was mostly dead for the matches. Word is there was a massive tailgate party before the show and so many fans had been out in the sun all day before the show drinking and by the time the show started, a lot of people were just tired, worn out, and in some cases legitimately falling asleep. In a cage match with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Chyna slammed the cage door on Mankind's head (Foley later wrote in his book that this hurt like a motherfucker) and Chyna also later blew the finish by getting into the ring too early to pull Hunter out and then had to leave and come back later to do it. The finish of Goldust/Pillman was completely botched. They did a bit where they were trying to give away $1 million to a lucky fan, but they got a disconnected caller and the second caller didn't answer and the last caller wasn't even watching the show. Dave also says, "How is it that Sable looks different every time you see her?" Anyway, Austin/Owen was by far the best match of the show until Austin's injury derailed it.

- The 100th episode of WCW Nitro was an experiment with 3-hour shows and it looks like we're in for a lot of them because it set an all-time ratings record for the show. It was also headlined by Lex Luger winning the WCW title from Hogan. In fact, with Nitro and Raw combined, over 5 million homes were watching wrestling that night, which is the first time the they've broken the 5 million mark in the history of cable TV (WWF's old NBC Saturday Night Main Event shows used to do way bigger numbers, but that was network TV, not cable). It goes to show just how mainstream pro wrestling has become these days.

- This year's NJPW G-1 Climax tournament ended with Kensuke Sasaki as the winner, Hiroyoshi Tenzan as the show-stealer, and Masahiro Chono in the hospital. Chono went into the tournament with a badly injured ankle from, of all things, a match with Dusty Wolfe at a WCW taping 2 weeks earlier. He had torn ligaments, dislocated ankle, and a broken heel bone. Rather than getting the surgery that doctors said he needed, he chose to work the tournament, only to injure it worse in his first match. He worked the 2nd match but it was short and he was eliminated from the tournament after that.

- Carlos Maynes, former promoter of UWA in Mexico, and Manny Guzman, former head of the most powerful pro wrestling union ever, were both kidnappened in Mexico this week after a show Maynes was promoting. As of press time, 10 days later, both men are still missing. Someone used Maynes ATM card and withdrew all the money they could the day after his kidnapping. There have been no ransom notes and no evidence that it's related to the ongoing wrestling wars in Mexico, but that hasn't stopped people from pointing fingers. Back in the 70s and into the 80s, UWA was the top promotion in Mexico and Maynes was the top promoter in the country before losing steam.

- For the first time in its history, ECW drew a crowd larger than 2,000 people to a show in Monaca, PA. At the show, Paul Heyman announced that ECW will hold its third PPV in November, entitled "November To Remember" and it will be at the same building in Monaca.

- The rap group Insane Clown Posse is scheduled to perform at the beginning of ECW's Hardcore Heaven PPV next week after hyping up ECW so much on Howard Stern's show last week.

- Paul Heyman had a meeting with Vince McMahon, Bruce Prichard, and Jim Ross this week in Stamford to try and fix the broken relationship between the two sides. Nothing solid was agreed upon but McMahon told Heyman that if he had any ideas for angles that would benefit both companies, let him know and they would consider it. They also discussed having ECW wrestlers appear on next month's Raw live in Madison Square Garden. There have been rumors that Paul Heyman is on WWF's payroll but he denies it. For now, all the back-and-forth about who's lying in regards to the issues the two sides had will stop, because they're both wanting to work together against WCW.

- 17-year-old EMLL star Aguila is reportedly trying to get a job in the WWF. He wanted to go to WCW, and he jumped ship from EMLL to Promo Azteca to make it happen (before WCW and EMLL started working together). But even though WCW currently uses several Promo Azteca wrestlers, they aren't taking any more and will only accept new wrestlers from EMLL. And, well, Aguila burned that bridge. So now he's looking at WWF.

- Dave mentions that there's some weird irony about Steve Austin getting injured by the botched Owen Hart tombstone. In 1992, Austin was wrestling Masahiro Chono in NJPW and Austin used the exact same move on Chono and injured him exactly the same way. Chono hasn't been the same since.

- In USWA, Fake Razor Ramon declared he was done with the WWF and wants to be referred to as Rick Titan. He threw the Razor Ramon outfit into a garbage can (and thus, the Fake Razor/Diesel gimmick finally comes to a merciful, whimpering end).

- Pit Bull #1 worked an indie show for Dennis Coraluzzo (since Paul Heyman isn't using the group right now due to their recent legal issues). During the match, PB#1 injured his patella and it looks like he's going to need major knee surgery.

- Steven Regal's WCW status is in question at the moment. He was allegedly involved in some sort of disturbance on an airplane returning from Japan last week, which caused the plane to make an emergency landing in Anchorage. It could lead to charges being filed, which could affect his work visa, which would in turn lead to him being deported back to the UK and obviously cost him his job in WCW. Even if he's not deported, there's a lot of talk that WCW may fire him anyway (as I'm writing this, I'm not sure if Dave ever mentions it, but turns out he got drunk and pissed on a flight attendant. In his book, he says he has no memory of it and just remembers waking up in a jail cell in Alaska).

- Ted Dibiase returned to WCW this week as the Steiners new manager.

- Rey Misterio Jr. also returned on Nitro in an angle where he faked like his knee was still injured but then revealed he was fine. In reality, he's not fine. He was supposed to have 2 months off to rehab his knee, but WCW rushed him back after barely a month, plus while he was out, he still had to go and film a lot of stuff for them, so he missed a lot of days in rehab. There's some controversy about it because a lot of people think WCW has rushed him back too soon and it's not good for his knee.

- The plan is for Sting to face Hogan at Starrcade. The gimmick right now is that JJ Dillon will keep offering Sting a contract for a match against different guys and each week, Sting rips up the contract and walks away. The keep going higher up the food chain until Dillon finally hands him a contract to face Hogan and Sting will sign it. Dave's not sure how they can stretch this out until December, but that's the plan.

- Expect Curt Hennig to end up as a member of the Four Horsemen. It's believed Arn Anderson will eventually return in a managerial role for the group. There's also talk of including Madusa.

- Ted Dibiase has a book coming out this month called Every Man Has A Price. It's got heavy religious overtones and talks about how the money and road life of being in the WWF nearly ruined his life.


- Sid will have surgery this week where they'll take a piece of bone from his hip to fuse his neck. If he hadn't been fired, it would have kept him out of action for about 3 months. Speaking of, Sid has hired a lawyer and is contesting his termination and is threatening to sue for breach of contract. Word is WCW is interested in Sid, but only on a per-show deal and not for a long-term deal because of his track record. And even then, they'll only bring him in if Arn Anderson approves of it (since, yanno, the whole stabbing thing).

- Shawn Michaels apparently does have a real knee injury this time. According to Dr. James Andrews, he has serious arthritis in the knee and is ACL is in bad shape. The belief now is that Michaels will never be able to work a full-time schedule again but he'll continue to work major shows (or, yanno, he'll retire for 4 years, then come back and basically have an entire second half to his career).

- Taka Michinoku was offered a WWF contract this week but hasn't signed yet. He's been used on Raw on a per-show basis for now.

- Rocky Maivia and Tom Prichard were on the Maury Povich show this week, talking about their dreams to become wrestlers. Maivia has been filming some segments that will air on WWF TV in the next few weeks, talking about his real life before wrestling (can't find video of it).

- The plan is for WWF to introduce "Cain" at the next big PPV.
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Between August and November Bret was offered a deal with WCW...nice should be interesting.

- WCW's Road Wild PPV is in the books and it was a bad show. But the reason why is important. It all comes down to backstage maneuvering from wrestlers with creative control and big egos. It started with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash complaining that there had been too many title changes lately, which may be true. But there were 3 title changes scheduled that night and months of booking had been planned in advance for storylines coming out of those title changes. All 3 title changes were scrapped and now months of booking plans are ruined because of it. Dave agrees that title changes are too frequent these days, but thinks it's awfully convenient that Hall and Nash made this complaint on the night that they were scheduled to drop the tag titles to the Steiners. So the finish was changed and Hall and Nash kept the titles, and the cruiserweight and TV titles didn't change hands as planned either. This caused them to scramble to come up with new finishes to all the matches at the last minute, most of which were bad. But they DID keep the plan to have Lex Luger drop the WCW title back to Hogan, only 5 days after winning it on Nitro and three guesses on who's decision that was. In the end, it left the Steiners, Chris Jericho, and others feeling lied to because they were told they were winning titles, only to have it snatched away at the last minute. And it completely neutered Terry Taylor as the booker because he had written weeks of TV and house show bookings based around these title changes, and Hall, Nash, and Hogan basically ripped it all up and threw it in his face.

- Other notes from the show: the outdoor show, with the ring on a platform, pretty much killed the workrate of the show, plus they kept all the fun high flyers off the show, so the matches generally sucked. Luckily the crowd wasn't nearly as racist as they were the last time WCW was in Sturgis, which boded well for Harlem Heat. The Konnan/Rey Misterio Jr. match was planned to go longer but they cut it short because, once again, Misterio's knee is still not ready to be wrestling. Ric Flair vs. Syxx was awful and Dave says it's a sad day when Hulk Hogan is a better worker on the show than Ric Flair. And it's not because Hogan was good, but Flair was just that bad. Syxx worked hard to carry him but it just wasn't happening. Dave also mentions that there's a lot of heat on Diamond Dallas Page because other wrestlers feel like his success has gone to his head. During the main event, Hogan called Luger a piece of shit, so apparently the new no-vulgarity rule doesn't apply to him. After the match, Hogan was supposed to have a celebration in the ring and re-paint "NWO" on the belt. But the fans started throwing debris in the ring and Hogan caught a rock to the head, so they called an audible and rushed to the back, which forced the announcers to stall for time since they still had another 8 minutes or so left in the broadcast. Eventually they got a camera and went backstage and filmed the celebration back there. Dennis Rodman was there, but he wasn't booked to be. Rodman is in Sturgis because he's a motorcycle enthusiast, so he just decided to drop by. So his appearance was a freebie for WCW.

- NJPW held a record-setting show in the newly built Nagoya Dome this week. It was the biggest crowd NJPW has ever drawn in the city and and over $3 million at the gate. It's also the 9th time that IWGP champion Shinya Hashimoto has headlined a show of 40,000 or more fans, which has to put him on the list among some of the all-time biggest drawing names in wrestling history.

- In one of the most gruesome matches in the history of American wrestling, Sabu won the ECW title from Terry Funk in a barbed wire match at the ECW Arena. This sets up the main event for next week's Hardcore Heaven PPV as Sabu vs. Funk vs. Shane Douglas in a triple threat match, which is a rematch of one of the most famous matches in ECW history from several years ago. Sabu was scheduled to face Sandman at the PPV but Sandman's injured so they decided to insert Sabu into the title match, as champion. As for the barbed wire match, both wrestlers and Bill Alfonso were covered in blood by the finish. At one point, Sabu got caught in the barbed wire and ripped his arm up in sickening fashion that later required 75 stitches to close. Sabu screamed for Alfonso to get some tape and taped his arm up and continued the match. By the end of the match, both men were so tangled together in barbed wire that wire cutters were brought in to cut them loose (yeah, this match is gnarly).

- WWF plugged ECW's upcoming PPV on Raw this week. Speaking of, Viewer's Choice is still refusing to carry this ECW PPV, but it will be aired on all the other usual PPV outlets. ECW has also instituted a few other rule changes, like no fighting over the guardrails, no touching of fans, etc. These are pretty much done to keep any more potential issues from happening that could threaten a lawsuit or cause them to lose PPV providers.

- With all the time slot changes, this was the first week where Nitro aired from 8-10 and Raw aired from 9-11. That meant Nitro's first hour was unopposed while Raw's second hour was unopposed. Raw's second hour did a strong rating and now WCW is considering expanding Nitro to 3 hours permanently in response. Dave knows that sounds bad (who wants to watch a 3 hour wrestling show on Monday night, right?!) but the ratings don't lie and last week's 3-hour Nitro did monster numbers.

- Latest on the kidnapping of former UWA promoter Carlos Maynes and Mexican union leader Manny Guzman in Mexico. Authorities had feared both men were dead, but Guzman was released this week by the kidnappers. However, Maynes is still being held hostage somewhere and the kidnappers have demanded a $100,000 ransom to release him.

- A few weeks ago, EMLL sold one of the arenas it owned, and apparently they got rid of it just in time. The building collapsed this week, injuring around 20 construction workers who were working on it, with several of them injured seriously. It took hours to dig everyone out of the rubble. The new owner was working to remodel it and now he and the engineer face possible charges in the collapse.

- Great Sasuke has pretty much returned full-time to Michinoku Pro, which indicates his WWF deal has probably fallen through. He had been negotiating a contract with them but never actually signed and Michinoku Pro was suffering without Sasuke on the shows.

- Legendary wrestling announcer Lance Russell was rushed to the hospital in Memphis last week and had emergency quadruple bypass surgery. He had complained of what he thought was indigestion for weeks and an exam revealed 4 blocked arteries.

- USWA's Saturday morning TV show is being moved to a midnight time slot and also being cut from 90 minutes down to 60 minutes. The TV station wants to air more cartoons and other kids shows during that morning time slot. This is pretty likely to be the death nail for USWA.

- An event in California drew probably the biggest crowd of the year for an indie show. It mostly featured Mexican wrestlers but also featured Yokozuna's first match since he disappeared from WWF last year. He's lost a little bit of weight but not much and still appeared to be around 650 pounds.

- Jesse Ventura is still talking about running for governor of Minnesota.

- There has been an internet rumor going around that Matt Borne had died of a drug overdose. So at an indie show this week in Vancouver, they started the show by announcing Borne had died and started to do a 10-bell salute. Halfway through, Borne came out and grabbed the mic and said there aren't enough drugs in all of Vancouver to kill him and he would know because he's tried most of them (turns out there were enough in Texas to do the trick).

- Remember the Incredibly Strange Wrestling promotion? In the "Best of" section of a local weekly newspaper in San Francisco, they described the promotion as, "The best place to experience human gridlock while throwing tortillas at wrestlers."

- Correction on a story from a couple of weeks ago. It was reported that Billy Crystal was working on a movie about Andre The Giant starring NBA player Gheorge Murasen. The movie isn't actually about Andre, but it was reportedly inspired by Crystal's friendship with Andre (the two met during the filming of Princess Bride). But the movie doesn't have anything to do with Andre's life. (This ended up being My Giant, released in 1998).

- Al Snow is expected to debut with ECW at the Hardcore Heaven PPV also. He's still under contract to WWF but is being allowed to go work in ECW as part of the working agreement between the 2 companies. He has 11 months left on his WWF contract. He's expected to get a decent push and when he gets his release from WWF, he'll get an even bigger one.

- Paul Heyman had a meeting with Eric Bischoff this week at a steakhouse in Orlando and personally showed Bischoff a copy of Raven's ECW contract with the PPV non-compete clause. Heyman claims he never received the letter from WCW requesting a copy of Raven's contract and that even if he had, he was under no obligation to send a copy to WCW before Raven appeared at the Bash at the Beach PPV.

- Heyman is also denying rumors that he was ever on WWF's payroll. He says ECW as a company was paid for its wrestlers appearing on WWF TV and that Heyman used that money to pay the ECW wrestlers. He also says WWF paid ECW money when they brought in Too Cold Scorpio because they basically bought him out of his contract. But he says he himself has never gotten a regular paycheck from WWF (Heyman sticks by this to this day).

- Latest on the Steve Regal situation: the story is that Regal, Scott Norton, and Marcus Bagwell were flying back from Japan and Regal was apparently acting up on the plane so much that they made an unscheduled landing in Anchorage and all 3 wrestlers were kicked off the plane. Regal was apparently the worst of the 3 as he reportedly urinated somewhere in first class (not in the bathroom). Norton and Bagwell were evidently just guilty by association which is why they were kicked off the plane also. Regal was arrested when they landed. WCW hasn't yet decided on his future in the company.

- Eddie Guerrero missed Nitro because he wrecked his rental car earlier in the day but he's fine.

- Syxx was briefly fired by WCW this week and then brought back. Apparently it had something to do with Syxx using some language on TV he wasn't supposed to use, which the Turner company has been putting pressure on Bischoff to stop. And then on TV, when Syxx ran in to interfere in a Flair match, he pulled Flair's tights down, exposing his ass and that was the final straw and Bischoff fired him. In turn, Hall and Nash threatened to quit and an hour later, Syxx was un-fired and everything was smoothed over.

- Rey Misterio Jr. is being given more time off since they seem to realize that they brought him back too early from his knee injury. Looking like mid-September before he'll be back now.

- Steve Austin had an MRI on his neck and was told by one of the leading neck specialists in the country that he should retire immediately and that he's risking paralysis if he continues wrestling. The MRI showed trauma to the C-4 and C-5 vertebrae. Austin is going to get a second opinion from another doctor soon. Austin is telling people that he actually doesn't feel that bad. He has some neck pain, but nothing major and says he's ready to get back to work now. When the injury happened, he admits he was scared to death since he couldn't move for a few seconds and thought he was paralyzed but he feels back to normal now for the most part. For now, WWF is going under the assumption that he'll be back by the next PPV.

- The latest on Sid is that there is some sort of injury clause in his contract which WWF felt gave them the right to terminate him (probably because of his history of faking injuries for time off). He was then offered a new per-night deal that would pay him the same as his normal contract if he worked full time, but he turned it down because he feels his original contract shouldn't have been terminated. So at that point, WWF just fired him completely and now Sid is threatening legal action.

- Jim Ross has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Titan Sports, making him the highest ranking person in the company that isn't named McMahon. Ross will be in charge of things like contract negotiations and talent recruiting, as well as some booking. Of course, as always, the final decision on everything still comes down to Vince McMahon.

- The Vice President of Event Booking in WWF, Ed Cohen, was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago. It's the 4th time he's battled cancer (I did some research and as far as I can tell, this dude is still alive and kicking and up until a couple of years ago, he still worked for WWE).

- Rick Rude debuted on WWF Raw this week as Shawn Michaels' new bodyguard. The deal was made with Paul Heyman and in exchange, WWF plugged ECW's upcoming PPV several times during Raw and heavily hyped the Jerry Lawler/Tommy Dreamer match. The original deal was for it to be a one-time thing but now word is Rude will probably be sticking around WWF and also still work ECW some as well. But Rude has no contract with ECW so that's not guaranteed. WWF is trying to bring back more of the 80s stars since WCW has had so much success in the ratings with the adult demographic by using names like Hogan and Savage. This is why Rude and Sgt. Slaughter have been brought back.


- The two "groupies" at ringside for Dude Love on Raw this week were Mankind's wife (the taller one) and the other was one of Shawn Michaels' ex-girlfriends.

- Also on Raw, Rocky Maivia joined the Nation of Domination because evidently they're trying to put all the black guys in the roster in one group.

- It looks like they're forming a group with Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Chyna, and Rick Rude. Dave thinks it will likely be called the Kliq.

- WWF suggested some sort of angle that would culminate in Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 14, but Bret shot it down before it even got past the suggestion phase.
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- Japanese women's wrestler Plum Mariko died in the ring after a match last week. It's the first death stemming from an in-ring injury in the history of pro wrestling in Japan and the the first since Mexican wrestler Oro died in the ring in 1993. Mariko, 29, took a Liger bomb and was completely knocked out. The match was stopped and she never woke up. They rushed her to the ER and did emergency brain surgery but she died the next day from an abscess on the brain and fractured skull. It's believed she likely had those injuries before the match since she had been complaining of symptoms like severe headaches and tiredness lately. She had also suffered several concussions throughout her career and had trouble remembering complicated finishing sequences in her matches, which some said kept her from being a main eventer. This situation has turned into a major story in Japan, with calls for regulating the wrestling industry and requiring doctors to be at all shows (only NJPW has a doctor at its shows now). The police wanted to investigate her death but her parents asked them not to because she loved pro wrestling and it was her decision to continue wrestling despite her numerous head injuries.

- WCW is expected to soon announce a new 2-hour show on Thursday nights on TBS, with the planned debut set for January. The idea of a second show on TBS has been discussed for months. With the success Nitro has had on TNT, the Turner people want another wrestling show on TBS to help their ratings. WCW (Eric Bischoff in particular) has been fighting against the addition of a new show. There's the obvious concern about over-exposure, burning out the bookers and production staff, and of course, talent morale issues by adding another 52 days per year on the road to their schedule. But with the high ratings of Nitro, it was inevitable that WCW was going to be dragged, kicking and screaming if necessary, into adding another show by Turner. Eric Bischoff broke the news to the roster and told them he was going to resist it unless Ted Turner flat out orders it to happen. But for now, it's happening and the plan is for one of the shows to be more NWO-centric and the other one would be more WCW-focused, in order to try to portray the groups as totally separate promotions. Obviously this begs the question of overexposure, but that doesn't appear to be a problem. A couple of years ago, both Raw and Nitro were only 1 hour each. Then they expanded to 2 hours each. And now Nitro is toying with 3 hour shows. Plus both companies began doing monthly PPVs. And the result is that more people are watching wrestling than ever. It doesn't appear that the business is reaching an overexposure point yet but it's inevitable that it will eventually.

- ECW's 2nd PPV Hardcore Heaven is in the books and it ended up being what ECW feared most: the show looked minor league. The lighting, sound, and rest of the production came off looking like an old Herb Abrams PPV. The show got mixed reviews from most viewers and even Paul Heyman has admitted that it was decent for a house show but he felt it was terrible for a PPV. It also felt thrown together, with ECW officials frantically trying to find "surprises" during the week before the show, and got so desperate that they were even looking for Jim Duggan's phone number. They ended up getting Jake Roberts and Dory Funk, but neither really did anything important. They also tried to soften the show, with almost no vulgar language and even pulled the camera back for wide shots when there was blood, because Heyman is trying to walk on eggshells with the PPV providers. Early buyrate numbers look to show around a 13-20% drop from the first PPV, which isn't terrible and should still be profitable, but isn't great news either. The sold-out crowd of 1,800 came off as dead for most of the show, and aside from the main event, the other matches were pretty mediocre.

- Other Hardcore Heaven notes: Sunny also made an appearance on the PPV, with WWF's blessing, and ECW may try to book a Candido/Sunny vs. Dreamer/Beulah match, which would probably be a good draw for the novelty of WWF fans seeing Sunny in a match on PPV. Bringing in Sunny was a last minute decision because Heyman wasn't sure if Jake Roberts was going to no-show on them. He showed up late to the show and since Sunny was already there backstage with Candido, Heyman was frantically calling WWF trying to get permission to use her (which they eventually granted). Heyman said he may continue to use Jake Roberts periodically as a surprise but he won't advertise him in advance for shows due to his track record of no-showing. Before the show went on the air, they filmed an angle with the Insane Clown Posse, who came out talking about how RVD was their favorite wrestler but then RVD and Sabu came out and beat them down until Sandman made the save and then he was taken out also (fun fact: Violent J from ICP and RVD are actually old friends and knew each other back when RVD first started wrestling locally in Michigan. In his book, Violent J writes about how RVD got them on the show. He also says the kick from RVD ruptured his ear drum and it almost screwed up their tour plans). They also rented a helicopter for the angle and implied that Sandman was drunk while driving the ambulance, which really rubs Dave the wrong way that they would glorify drinking and driving. The whole helicopter/ambulance angle really was filmed live and Sandman really was driving. Porn star Jenna Jameson came to the ring with the Dudleys.

- Eric Bischoff has a meeting scheduled next week with Paco Alonso (EMLL) and Konnan (Promo Azteca). It's expected Bischoff is going to pressure them to make peace with each other and stop raiding each other's talent and to work together with WCW. Dave wants to take bets on how long a truce between them will actually last.

- The USWA/ECW angle seems to be falling apart because USWA is having trouble getting Paul Heyman to commit to sending his guys down to Memphis for the USWA shows. If the angle does continue, they plan to start selling "ECWHO?" shirts if Heyman gives his blessing. In fact, USWA is taking a lot of cues from ECW, by raising ticket prices to be more in line with what ECW charges and they're working on making more merch since ECW makes so much money from that.

- USWA has also been told they can keep using Glenn Jacobs for another 6 weeks (he's been doing the Doomsday gimmick and is the current USWA champion). But he's eventually being brought up to WWF to play Undertaker's brother "Cain."

- Brian Christopher got married over the weekend.

- For those wondering what USWA guys are paid, the undercard guys get around $40 per night while the established names are making a minimum of $100 per show.

- In the UFC section, Dave mentions this Joe Rogan guy who has done backstage interviews at the last 2 UFC PPVs and says he seems very knowledgeable about the sport.

- Scott Hall and Kevin Nash's complaints about too many title changes kept everyone from losing their titles on PPV, but a week later, both the cruiserweight and TV titles ended up changing hands as planned. So in the end, only Hall and Nash ended up not having to drop their titles. People in the locker room were "joking" that Disco Inferno got fired for refusing to do a job, so there's an obvious double standard.

- All of the Mexican wrestlers except La Parka no-showed Nitro this week, apparently due to travel issues. There's been problems sometimes getting these guys across the border. WCW has given them all raises and in turn has asked them to come over to the U.S. a day early in order to make sure they have plenty of time to clear up any border issues, but La Parka is apparently the only one who left early this time and thus, everyone else got held up and missed the show. It led to several planned Nitro matches being changed or scrapped altogether.

- Dave says the inevitable Hogan vs. Sting match is scheduled for Starrcade at the new MCI Center, which holds 22,000 people. They plan to scale ticket prices up and hope to make $600,000 on that show. Dave says the heat for Hogan vs. Sting is so hot that they should probably move it to a stadium because they could probably fill it up for that match.

- In a Chicago Tribue article, Hulk Hogan made some statements about Vince McMahon, without mentioning his name. "There was a wrestling promoter during the late-1980s (who he doesn't mention by name) who was on a negative vibe most of the time. He would say, 'Terry, wrestling will never be as big at it once (was). There will never be that media awareness. Your career will never be as great as it was during the 1980s.' I responded, 'Short-sighted, no vision, loser, see you later.' I'm proving now that wrestling is bigger and hotter than it's ever been."

- Still no real news on Steve Austin's neck injury. He saw a neck specialists this week but no word on what he said. He definitely won't be wrestling before next month's PPV but that might be too soon also. Regardless, Austin will likely have to modify his wrestling style and not take moves that could hurt his neck such as DDTs, piledrivers, etc.

- Rick Rude debuted on Raw as Shawn Michaels' new bodyguard. Interestingly enough, when Michaels found out about being paired with Rude, he threw a hissyfit because he wanted HHH in the role. So expect the Rude thing to not last very long before they move him on to a different storyline. Dave says that Rude actually hasn't signed a WWF contract yet so putting him on TV like this is kinda risky (boy, I'll say...)

- Rocky Maivia cut a promo explaining his decision to join the Nation of Domination, blaming the fans who chanted "Rocky sucks!" and "Die Rocky die!" at him. This was followed by a parking lot brawl with the Los Boricuas group and during the fight, Kama's head accidentally busted the windshield of a car they were fighting on. The car was Jim Cornette's.

- Brian Pillman and Goldust made a match for the PPV where if Goldust wins, Pillman leaves the WWF forever, but if Pillman wins, he gets Marlena for 30 days (this ends up being Pillman's final storyline).

- Raw ended with Undertaker doing a major blade job, which they showed multiple replays of. So much for WWF claiming they'd never allow their wrestlers to do such a "barbaric" practice. Desperate times...

- Jim Cornette almost certainly won't be going back to ECW after his one-off angle a couple months ago.

- WWF is apparently planning to bring back drug testing, mostly to nip some problems in the bud before they become real problems. There was an incident on an airplane a few weeks back when a wrestler passed out on the plane and couldn't be awakened. With the recent Phil Mushnick article about drugs in wrestling, WWF figured they'd just start testing again now before the media catches on that they ever stopped.

- Mark Henry is resuming his training after being sidelined for the last year with a broken leg. It was thought that he might not return at all due to the injury but he's coming back. A lot of people are skeptical that he will ever make it though because before the injury, he had developed a reputation of thinking he was already a star and not wanting to learn anything.

- Yokozuna is still under WWF contract. They want him to get down to 400 pounds, but that just ain't happening. He had a heart scare recently but recovered after changing medications.
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Fun addition for the Kanealos out there:

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[+] 1 user Likes Chris's post
Nice! This is the dying days of USWA. They're out of business within a month or so.
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Really? I used to read various wrestling magazines and catch blurbs about the USWA and it always seemed like THE indy promotion. As a kid it was WWF > WCW > ECW > USWA. It is a kick to be able to see footage of these shows now after only hearing about it/reading about it. Did you ever attend any of those shows or Power Pro Wrestling (I'm not sure what other feds were in your area back then)?
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We'll read all about it soon but yeah, the demise of USWA is meeeeeeeeeeeesssy as fuck. Lots of lawsuits and fraud allegations thrown around. But USWA goes out of business in Sept. or Oct. of 97 and then a couple of months later, Power Pro Wrestling starts. Which is basically the exact same thing as USWA, just a different name and logo. But pretty much all the same people, same studio set, same TV time slot, running the same buildings, etc.

I actually never went to any of those small studio shows like the Doomsday/Lawler match above. Those places only held about 75-100 fans and was filmed live on Saturday mornings.

But my dad occasionally took me to the Monday night Mid-South Coliseum shows. I remember one of them because I ended up writing about it in one of these earlier posts. It was, like, 1991 or 92 and it turns out Sabu worked the show against Brian Christopher. This is pre-ECW Sabu and everything, back when he was still calling himself Sabu The Elephant Boy. I had no idea I had seen Sabu live as a kid until I read the results 20+ years later.
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[+] 1 user Likes Peezy's post

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