Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 1997
And then the 1998 issues will be every Mon, Wed, and Fri.

And I think this is page 6....
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- The WWF is facing more controversy this week due to the risque product. The first is an upcoming Los Angeles Times newspaper story that will likely be talking about WWF's new, more risque direction while they still have a large 12-and-under following and sponsors aimed at products for children. Phil Mushnick (of course) is also expected to have an article in the NY Post this week about it. On Raw last week, Shawn Michaels, stripped down to his underwear, grabbed his dick and shook it at the camera and also cut a promo going into descriptive detail about Owen Hart being a "big smelly turd" and trying to flush a nugget. That, plus the Goldust/Luna Vachon S&M angle, are expected to be the big parts of the stories. WWF pre-emptively responded to the criticism on Raw this week by airing a taped segment with Vince McMahon where he talked about entertaining fans in a "more contemporary manner" and talked about taking the WWF in a more adult direction while clarifying that the Saturday morning shows will remain kid-friendly (this famous video is pretty much widely seen as the *official* start of the Attitude Era).

- Dave talks about how next week's taped Raw features Shawn and HHH in thongs with "Merry Christmas" written on their buttcheeks and how they seem to find ways every week to get Sable into as little clothing as possible, and at house shows, she's getting bigger pops than Undertaker now. Dave's opinion is that, obviously, WWF has pretty low standards when it comes to decency. But they've been slowly going in this direction for about a year now. It's not a new thing, so if parents have a problem with their kids watching it, they should handle it themselves. WWF isn't being secretive about what they are anymore and it's obviously not meant for children, and thus, it's now the parents responsibility.

- Steve Austin was scheduled to lose his IC title to Rocky Maivia at the PPV a couple of weeks ago but he refused to do the job, so they came up with the angle where Austin gave up the belt and then threw it in the river to get over his character. Right now, the plan is for Austin to win the WWF title from Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania and he didn't think it would be good for him to do a high profile job to Maivia, who isn't an established name yet. Everyone pretty much agreed and understood so there's no heat on Austin for it. Plus, Austin is still really unable to work a real match due to his neck, and at most, he's only been doing 2-3 minute matches on house shows or doing run-ins, so Austin couldn't have had a real title match with Rocky anyway. Which begs the question, why did they leave the IC title on him in the first place, rather than just strip him while he's hurt, but whatever.

- Shawn Michaels also dropped the European title to HHH in a farce of a "match" on Raw. Dave thinks the whole thing is stupid. For starters, why even have Shawn win the belt since he hadn't defended it for 2 months (answer: he only won it to be a prick to Bulldog). Secondly, even though it's a secondary title, someone else could have beaten Shawn for it and gotten a pretty good rub out of beating the WWF champion for the European belt. But getting Shawn to agree to do a job to anyone is like pulling teeth these days. Dave notes that of the 9 times Shawn has held a title in his WWF career, he's only lost them twice by actually doing jobs. The rest were injuries (faked or otherwise), walking out on the company, etc. Basically, he's the most unprofessional guy in the business right now and if he wasn't also one of the best wrestlers on earth, he wouldn't keep getting chance after chance.


- Speaking of trouble with Michaels, there were 2 house shows this week, in Memphis and Little Rock, that both almost ended in riots. At the first show in Memphis, Shawn came out for the main event and was pelted by so much garbage that he refused to wrestle and the main event didn't take place. In fairness to Shawn, the crowd was said to be unruly and after both Shawn and HHH were hit with drinks and HHH hit in the face with a cup of tobacco juice, Shawn got on the mic and said, "Well that just cost you your main event" and walked out. When the crowd realized what happened, they got even crazier. Jerry Lawler got on the mic to try to calm them and they even pelted Lawler with garbage. Then the arena refused to offer refunds when people asked for them and it led to many fans vowing to never come to a WWF show in Memphis again. WWF officials have come to Shawn's defense, saying they chose to end the show early due to safety concerns (I wasn't at this show. I'm not sure why since I usually tried to go anytime WWF or WCW was in town).

- In Little Rock, it was a similar situation that got even worse. Shawn and HHH came out and began riling up the crowd, basically encouraging them to throw stuff. When they did, Shawn got hit with something and once again told the crowd that they had just lost their main event and they left. At first the crowd thought it was part of the show until the announcer informed the fans the show was over, at which point a full blown riot broke out, with chairs and bottles being thrown and police plowing through the crowd to try to calm them down. Eventually, tear gas was sprayed to get fans outside. There were some arrests and one fan taken to the hospital and the story made the local news. Dave says on one hand, this is obviously fans being out of control and they need to behave better. But on the other hand, both WWF and WCW have essentially encouraged this sort of behavior in the past, so it's not a surprise when it happens. In the past, Shawn has directly encouraged it ("I hear fans in ______ have bad aim!"). In WCW, they had 6 different people at different points during the recent Nitro jump the rail and try to get in the ring and at least 3 of them made it. Dave hopes all this is a wake up call because one of these days, the drunk fan who hops the barricade or the fan throwing a bottle is going to seriously hurt somebody.

- The planned Ken Shamrock vs. Nobuhiko Takada fight at the UFC show in Japan has fallen apart and Shamrock won't be working the show at all. UFC felt they needed Takada's drawing power to have a chance on selling out the Yokohama Arena and there was word that Takada would only do the show if he could fight Ken Shamrock. So UFC got with WWF and made an agreement to sign Shamrock for the fight for an estimated $300,000. But there must have been something lost in translation with the UFC people and the Japanese promoters, because Takada was telling people he had no intention of fighting on the show due to injuries and he wouldn't even be able to start training for another fight until next year. Takada says he never agreed to do the show, which makes the situation all the more confusing. To make things even weirder, Shamrock's contract guaranteed that he would still receive the money even if the fight was cancelled, plus WWF got a significant booking fee on their end. But it looks like the Japanese promoters have to pay that money, not UFC, but the Japanese promoters are trying to get out of paying. UFC is planning to do another Japan show in May and if possible, they may try to do Shamrock/Takada on that show (didn't happen).

- There was an incident at a hotel bar in Amherst, NY last week between several WCW wrestlers and a couple of wrestling fans that led to Rick Rude being arrested. Dave doesn't know many details yet. But apparently Scott Norton, Rick Rude, Marcus Bagwell, Lex Luger, and Arn Anderson were drinking at the bar when a fan accidentally bumped into Norton. The situation got confrontational and the fan and his friend eventually tried to hit Norton with a beer bottle and all hell broke loose. One of the fans got the shit beaten out of him and suffered a broken nose, among other things. Lex Luger ended up with a black eye. Police showed up and Rude was really confrontational with the police, which led to him being hit with a nightstick and maced by the cops and then arrested. He spent the night in jail, and both of the fans were arrested also. The story made local news.

- The situation with Davey Boy Smith in WWF is still uncertain. Smith wants out of his contract and his lawyer has said that WWF breached their contract with him by providing an unsafe work environment (Smith claims he was injured while breaking up the backstage fight with Vince and Bret). WWF is willing to give him a 30-day window to negotiate with WCW but if they let him out of his contract, they want him to buy out the remainder of it for $150,000 in order to let him go. They pretty much buried him on commentary and don't seem to expect him to return. As for Jim Neidhart, he was basically buried on Raw a couple of weeks ago, but in return, WWF offered him a contract (he had been wrestling without one). But they gave him an ultimatum to sign the contract immediately or no deal. He refused so WWF cut him loose.

- Remember several weeks ago when Dave broke down ratings by segment and it turned out Disco Inferno was somehow the biggest TV ratings draw? He does it again, with the last month or so of ratings included. The list has changed. Disco Inferno has fallen to 9th place. The top 3 now are Austin, Flair, and DDP. That makes a lot more sense. As for the worst, the top 3 are Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, and Scott Steiner. Those 3 guys are routinely in the lowest rated segments of the show. Reminder, there are a lot of factors involved in this, not just how much of a draw they are. It also depends on what segment they're in, what it's going up against on other channels, what happened in the segment before that maybe caused fans to change channels, etc. All of those things can affect quarter-hour ratings.

- At a show in Puerto Rico, a fan jumped the barricade and managed to get a nightstick away from one of the security guards. He got in the ring and attacked a wrestler named Victor the Bodyguard and got in several hits before he was subdued. The wrestler had to be rushed to the hospital and got 17 stitches to close a cut on his head.

- Giant Baba officially announced an AJPW show for the Tokyo Dome taking place in May. It'll be the biggest show in AJPW history. Dave expects WWF wrestlers to probably work the show as well.

- Great Sasuke is officially off the card for NJPW's Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show. Due to Sasuke working with ECW and Taka Michinoku signing with WWF, there were complaints from WCW about NJPW working with Sasuke. So they dropped him from the show to appease WCW and Ultimo Dragon will wrestle in his place.

- NJPW wasn't happy about Yuji Nagata losing clean to Disco Inferno on Nitro last week. Nitro results are published in the media in Japan and Nagata is scheduled to return to NJPW at the Jan. 4th show for a match. And now, 2 weeks before his big return to Japan, the media shows Nagata losing clean to a guy who just lost to a woman (Jacquelyn) on PPV last month.

- RINGS fighter Kiyoshi Tamura has released a book recently where he had nothing nice to say about the Pancrase promotion. In the book, he also blamed several fighters, specifically Minoru Suzuki, for an incident many years ago where a student died in the old UWF dojo during training (I can't find any other info on this).

- XL Sports (the company owned by Mark Selker) has filed an individual lawsuit against Jerry Lawler for $1.4 million, claiming he conspired to con the group out of money by misrepresenting the value of USWA. In late-1996, Lawler paid approx. $250,000 to Jerry Jarrett to acquire his 50% stake in the company and then turned around and sold 55% of the company to Selker for $1.1 million after he and Larry Burton allegedly doctored the books to make the company look more profitable than it was. It's rumored that Selker is planning to file a lawsuit and criminal fraud charges against Larry Burton as well.

- Stevie Richards' future in ECW is in question after he missed the weekend shows. Word is Richards had a visit with his doctor who told him his neck hasn't improved at all while he's been out (he only worked a handful of matches during his brief WCW tenure) and the doctor recommended he stop wrestling. There's also reportedly heat on Richards from other ECW wrestlers, but no word why.

- Al Snow continues to get over huge with his new head gimmick in ECW, cutting crazed interviews where he talks to a mannequin head.

- Erin O'Grady (later known as Crash Holly) is already gone from ECW after working a couple of shows. He was planning to live at the ECW school but they kicked him out because he wouldn't help set up the ring at an indie show Bam Bam Bigelow was putting together, which got him some heat with the rest of the locker room so eventually they just booted him out.

- At an ECW house show, they did an angle where Pit Bull #2 faced Chris Chetti and vowed that if he lost, the Pit Bulls would never wrestle in ECW again. He lost and it looks like they may really be gone (yup, the Pit Bulls never wrestled in ECW again).

- Ric Flair is out with an ankle injury. He was scheduled to face Curt Hennig at Starrcade but WCW apparently knew all along that he wasn't going to be ready. But they had him come back and then did another angle where the NWO beat him down and injured him, which is, like, the 3rd or 4th time they've done that to Flair. Dave thinks it just makes Flair look like a weak old man who keeps getting put on the shelf by the NWO and says if they knew Flair wasn't going to be ready to return by Starrcade, they never should have announced the match, only to take him out of it. DDP will be working with Hennig instead.

- The plan now is for Nitro to stay as it is and be the WCW show and the new Thursday show will be the NWO show, but that could still change and considering how much things in WCW seem to change at the last minute these days, it probably will.

- There's also no guarantee that Sting will win the title from Hogan at Starrcade. Hogan has the creative control in his contract to refuse to do the job and he's also negotiating a new contract right now as well, so he could use that as leverage if he wants to. But if Hogan doesn't put Sting over at Starrcade, it will pretty much kill the angle that they've spent a year building. So Hogan kinda has WCW over a barrel right now.

- Arn Anderson returned on Nitro since they were in Charlotte to cut a promo and talked about missing being in the ring. Dave says he doesn't understand why WCW can't seem to find a place for Anderson. He says you can count on one hand the number of guys in the business who have the presence and skills on the mic that Anderson does and it's ridiculous that they haven't found another on-camera role for someone as valuable as he can still be, whether as a manager or commentator or authority figure.

- Bret Hart made his WCW debut and was announced as the special referee for the Bischoff/Zbyszko match. Bret got a big pop and an even bigger pop when he said he would be impartial because he knows what it's like to be screwed by a ref. Dave thinks they probably should have delayed Hart's debut until Starrcade but WWF has been getting decent ratings each week by basically milking the Bret Hart saga so they wanted to get him on TV immediately so casual fans would stop thinking that Bret may be coming back to WWF.

- Nitro went off the air with a total blown angle this week. It was supposed to end with Sting running down to the ring and basically taking out the entire NWO, except Hogan. But a bunch of fans began jumping the barricade as the angle was going on, which caused some delays as security kept trying to drag them away off-camera. By the time they got to the point where Sting was approaching the ring, the show ran out of time. Realizing the angle was blown, Bischoff audibly swore and then freaked out when he realized/remembered that the camera mics picked it up and basically had his head in his hands frustrated as the show went off the air.

- Speaking of people jumping the rail, at a house show in Buffalo during a Randy Savage/Hugh Morrus match, some fans jumped the rail to attack Savage. Turns out the "fans" were Buffalo Bills players Jim Kelly and Bruce Smith. Word is Savage apparently planned the angle with the 2 guys as a "rib" on the security guards, who then had to jump up and drag both players out of the ring. Reportedly the football players might have gotten a little more out of control than planned though. During the same show, another fan (a real one this time) ran in the ring and went after Scott Hall but got stomped out by referee Randy Anderson (who was actually a great amateur wrestler in high school). Dave says the WCW referees are basically getting UFC training at every show these days, dealing with fans trying to get in the ring.

- Roddy Piper will be in an episode of Walker: Texas Ranger playing, what else, a pro wrestler nearing retirement. The part was originally written for Hogan but Piper ended up in the role. (Here's all the Piper scenes. There's multiple videos, so when the first one ends, it'll go to the next one).

- Jacquelyn is gone from WCW. Her contract expired and they chose not to renew it. She's telling people she's going to WWF to feud with Chyna which may or may not be true, Dave doesn't know for sure (took her about 6 months but yeah she landed in WWF. Nothing to do with Chyna though).

- There's been a lot of complaints within WCW of Eric Bischoff's ego being out of control. He's a good performer and he's good in his role, but with him having 4-5 segments per show, there are a lot of guys in the back who don't get any TV time who are understandably a little bitter about the boss using up so much of it for himself.

- After Brian Pillman's death, WCW drug tested about a dozen of the undercard wrestlers. About 30% of them failed, but weren't suspended and instead were sent to a one-day counseling session. You would assume if that many guys failed the tests just out of a small sampling, WCW should probably do company-wide testing, but Dave says the bottom line is that the top guys simply aren't going to be tested. But this is still a dozen more people than WWF has tested since Pillman's death, so at least it's something.

- Shawn Michaels is scheduled to face Undertaker in a casket match at Royal Rumble. I'm sure that will work out fine.

- Billy Gunn and Road Dogg Jesse James will now be going by the team name New Age Outlaws. They may soon be added to the DX group.

- After Raw, a woman in the crowd held up a sign saying "Shawn, let's put the X in sex." Shawn saw the sign and told her to lift her shirt, which she did to a big pop from the crowd. Obviously this didn't air on TV.

- Undertaker missed a show last week because he had high blood pressure, plus he's been dealing with a bad hip (crazy that he was having hip troubles all the way back then and only recently got the hip replacement surgery). Plus, his father is in bad health so Undertaker's been dealing with a lot of stuff.

- WWF is putting together a wrestling camp in Stamford next month that will last for a week. It will be used to help teach some of the green younger wrestlers some new tricks. Dory Funk, Pat Patterson, and Tom Prichard will teach the classes. Expected to participate will be Marc Mero, Ahmed Johnson, Kurrgan, Mark Henry, Brakkus, Darren Drosdoff (Droz), Steve Blackman, and Adam Copeland.

- Dan Severn is expected to sign with WWF soon. They have agreed on all the terms and Severn has the contract, but as of press time, he hasn't signed yet. The deal will also allow Severn to continue to do MMA fights as long as WWF approves the fight.

- Johnny Ace had a meeting with WWF about coming in. He doesn't want to leave AJPW but is interested in working dates with WWF between Japan tours.

- Sunny has gotten some heat because she publicly made some comments saying WWF was wrong in how they handled the Bret Hart situation. She also said she would improve WWF by getting rid of any wrestler that weighs more than 300 pounds.

- Other random notes from recent WWF shows: Rocky Maivia is doing great in his heel role. Mark Henry has lost about 40 pounds and improved a lot in the ring, although considering where he started, that's not saying much. He still has no charisma and fans aren't buying the strongest man in the world gimmick after he bombed out in the Olympics. His bearhug finisher is also zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz........But they invested millions of dollars in the guy, so they're going to keep trying. And finally, Owen Hart is great in his new role of enraged lunatic who keeps repeatedly attacking DX.

- The letters section has grown a lot in recent weeks since Dave expanded the issues from 12 pages to 16 pages. Lots of topics covered but of course, the main topic of discussion is still Bret/Vince, who was right, who was wrong, etc. Same as usual.
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There's also no guarantee that Sting will win the title from Hogan at Starrcade. Hogan has the creative control in his contract to refuse to do the job and he's also negotiating a new contract right now as well, so he could use that as leverage if he wants to. But if Hogan doesn't put Sting over at Starrcade, it will pretty much kill the angle that they've spent a year building. So Hogan kinda has WCW over a barrel right now

I've wondered if this was maybe the catalyst of getting Bret out of his WWF contract. Bruce Pritchard has maintained that Hogan negotiations with the WWF were very serious at this time, moreso than people understand, that Hogan resigned at the last possible moment with WCW. I wonder if the WWF was trying to free up cash for Hogan and then they shot themselves in the foot when Bret was forced out and Hogan basically used them to get the best possible WCW deal.
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Last issue for 1997. Hope y'all enjoyed.


- Dave has a lot more info on the near riots that took place at WWF house shows in Memphis and Little Rock, along with the fans ruining the angle at the end of last week's Nitro. He also talks about how this seems to be a growing trend that has been festering in WWF, WCW and of course, ECW for awhile now. The wrestling business right now is hotter than its been in years due to the new direction the industry has taken but it's attracting a more unruly fanbase instead of the average parent taking his kids to a show crowd. With top stars like Austin, Michaels, Hall and Nash getting over by defying authority, it seems to have carried over to crowds. Dave recognizes that crowds are out of control but he says there's things the promotions can do to stop it. Don't encourage fans jumping the barricade by making angles of it (which both WWF and WCW have done recently), go to commercial or cut away when fans throw things so as to not glorify it on TV, threaten to stop the show if fans start getting out of hand, don't have wrestlers encourage the behavior (looking at you, Shawn), and so on and so forth.

- At the Little Rock show, the problems started early. Legendary wrestler Danny Hodge was there to receive an award (no reason, WWF just felt like honoring him that night and he was available) and Shawn Michaels talked the agents into letting him present the award, despite being the most hated heel in the company. They went out to the ring and Shawn became target practice for the crowd (with Hodge standing next to him), and it was a total embarrassment for the company. Later in the show, when DX came out, they all got pelted with stuff to the point Chyna was hurt and HHH got hit in the eye with something, which led to Shawn calling off the match and DX going backstage and refusing to come back out. It eventually led to a riot inside and outside the building with police using tear gas to quell it. Fans also surrounded a car with Flash Funk and Kama in it and began pounding on the car. Funk and Kama got out, ready to fight but some other wrestlers broke it up and everybody got back in their cars and left. Shawn, HHH and Chyna needed a police escort to get out of the parking lot. All total, police arrested 13 people on various charges. As for Memphis, WWF blamed the incident on fans not being searched when entering the building, and a lot of people were able to sneak in alcohol in glass bottles, which they later threw at the ring.

- UFC's Japan show took place, without the Ken Shamrock vs. Nobuhiko Takada match they had hoped for. Dave recaps the drama and controversy surrounding the show in exhaustive detail, allegations and suspicions of some of the fights being worked, and details all the issues UFC is facing as a company right now. Not Wrestling TL;DR: things look bad for UFC.

- The idea of the NWO getting their own show on either Monday or Thursday is now in danger. Last week on Nitro, the NWO "took over" Nitro, tearing down all the WCW set, putting up NWO banners and had new graphics, new lighting, etc. The result: ratings dropped like a rock and WWF came dangerously close to ending WCW's winning streak. Fans switched over to Raw in droves the moment Nitro became the NWO show and they never switched back. Between that and the utter failure of the NWO Souled Out PPV this year, it's causing a lot of second guessing about the idea of giving the NWO their own show.

- Dave gives 5 stars to the AJPW tag tournament finals between Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama and says it's the usual Match of the Year quality match that AJPW seems to have every December that misses the cut-off date for the 1997 voting and usually ends up forgotten by the time voting rolls around next year.

- ECW and FMW in Japan have formed somewhat of an alliance and will be sending each others' wrestlers to work shows. Paul Heyman was particularly impressed with Masato Tanaka, who Dave says is one of the most underrated wrestlers in the biz right now. Heyman and Onita are also discussing plans to get one of Onita's famous exploding ring barbed wire matches to happen in the U.S., but Heyman doesn't think he'll be able to do it on PPV given all the concerns the PPV providers have with ECW's content already. But he's hoping to try to put together an outdoor show in August to do it, but it won't air on PPV.

- Rap group Insane Clown Posse drew 1,000 people to a wrestling show called Stranglemania Live in Detroit, featuring ICP in the main event against a group called The Chicken Boys. There were also some death matches featuring tables, thumbtacks, glass, barbed wire, light bulbs, etc. featuring Ian Rotten and Mad Man Pondo, among others. (Here's Part 1, the other 3 parts should autoplay after you finish the previous one. It looks like it was filmed with a calculator but yanno).

- Stevie Richards is scheduled to have surgery this week to remove 2 damaged vertebrae in his neck. The surgery will likely leave him with limited mobility and its rumored that this may be a career-ending surgery.

- During Nitro, they did a segment where Eric Bischoff kept giving Hogan gifts. The show ended with Hogan getting a gift and Bischoff saying he didn't give him that one. Bret Hart then came out and Hogan opened the gift and it was a mold of Hogan's head, which he sold like hell while Hart laughed, implying that Bret had sent the gift. Yeah, this is a pretty classic LOLWCW clip.

- Marcus Bagwell's latest movie Return To Savage Beach "escaped from the producers" and was released this week and is said to be just as bad as the previous ones.

- Hulk Hogan attended an annual event with George Steinbrenner in Tampa, where they read "T'was The Night Before Christmas" to a crowd of around 3,000 children. At the event, Hogan also had this to say to the crowd: "When you see us on TV--I shouldn't admit this, but it's fake. Off TV, we're all really good guys. We treat other people the way we want to be treated. All year round, 24 hours a day, you have to be nice. If you're a bad guy like Hollywood Hogan, you always lose. If you're a good guy, you always win."

- WCW Injury Report: Steven Regal is out of action right now with fluid in his lungs and battling pneumonia. He'll be back sometime next month (I'm curious if that was the real reason. This is around the time Regal's drug addictions were at their peak and these recurring bouts of "pneumonia" end up following him for most of the next year). Alex Wright's future is questionable after a brain aneurysm a few weeks back, which would be a shame because he's still young and Dave thinks he has a ton of potential. Raven is out with an inflamed pancreas. Ric Flair should be back in January after being out with an ankle injury and will likely feud with Bret Hart when he returns. Speaking of Bret...

- Bret Hart got the nickname "Hitman" and the sunglasses and ring outfit looks trademarked back in 1992 so he's free to use all of that in WCW.

- Scott Hall and Kevin Nash have both signed new 4 year extensions, which will keep them in WCW until the beginning of 2003. I can't wait to see what WCW is up to then!

- Turns out there was more to Jacquelyn's WCW departure than letting her contract run out. She was apparently released because she refused to do an angle where she would be attacked from behind and knocked out backstage by Elizabeth. There was a lot of heat on her for refusing to do it.

- On Nitro commentary, Rick Rude went on and on about being mad at Sting for breaking his neck in Japan and that was mostly a shoot. After the injury, Rude sued WCW and blamed Sting for it, claiming he was negligent and careless. Sting had to give a deposition in the lawsuit that also upset Rude. The lawsuit has been settled, which is why Rude is back with WCW, but there's still a lot of bad blood between him and Sting.

- Ted Dibiase is reportedly considering making a comeback. He's been out of action for a few years since suffering a neck injury in Japan and he collected a big Lloyd's of London insuance policy after signing off saying he'd never be able to wrestle again. So if he returns to the ring, he'd be required to pay back $462,000 to the insurance company. But word is he's still considering it if WCW will pay him enough to make it worth it (never happened).

- WWF seems resigned to the fact that Davey Boy Smith is leaving for WCW but they're still trying to get him (or WCW) to buy his way out of the contract to release him. The belief is that he won't be happy if he stays with WWF so they don't want to stand in his way but they also don't want to give up a contract that still has 4 years left on it. They're trying to get $150,000 to let him out of the deal and either way it's expected to be settled this week (not sure why Owen was never given the same chance. I guess because he wasn't injured in the backstage fight and WWF didn't want to open themselves up to a lawsuit with Davey Boy).

- Fun trivia fact: wondering who came up with the name "Degeneration X?" That would be none other than Phil Mushnick, who has used it repeatedly in articles while shaking his fist at clouds. So WWF took the name and gave it to Shawn Michaels, who is now using it for his group. Mushnick is said to be none too pleased.

- WWF has signed a few new names: Mr. Aguila, Sean Morley, and Shawn Stasiak (better known later as Essa Rios, Val Venis, and....Shawn Stasiak. Or Meat, I guess). Sean Morley in particular is said to have a lot of potential and had been negotiating with both companies. At one point, Eric Bischoff told him that he would match or beat any offer WWF made to him, but for whatever reason, he chose to sign with WWF anyway.

- Crush has been released and is expected to head to WCW. Meanwhile, his fellow DOA members Skull and Eight Ball signed new contracts and will be sticking around in WWF.

- Shawn Michaels will be appearing on several episodes of the TV game show Pictionary in the next few months. (No video I can find, but here's a pic)

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- Rocky Maivia is now being called simply The Rock.

- Dave says Jim Cornette has been doing a great job on commentary when he's been on the air and says, "He's got the knack for being able to semi-shoot and talk inside without at the same time ignoring storylines that he needs to get over and he's not a mark for himself or thinks he's above the business which are all failings of other announcers." Do with that quote what you will.

- A Canadian magazine ran a story on the Vince McMahon/Bret Hart situation and had quotes from McMahon. Vince claimed he was still dealing with blurred vision from Bret's punch and said that it could be permanent. He also was quoted saying, "I feel hurt at a personal level. Bret and I were friends for a long time and I never thought he would do what he did. It seems like his Hitman character became the same as Bret Hart. But for God's sake, this is entertainment, not real life." He also claimed that he told Bret 3 weeks before Montreal that he was losing the belt to Shawn and that it was the agreed-upon plan all along. Dave says that's only half true. Yes, Vince did tell Bret he was losing in Montreal back in October. But between then and Survivor Series, the plan changed about a dozen times and Vince went back and forth, agreeing to all sorts of different scenarios at different times. And at no point did Bret actually agreed to lose the title to Shawn in Montreal, so for Vince to claim otherwise is disingenuous at best.

- Some guy writes in on his thoughts about ECW. He thinks Al Snow will be a major star and could be the next Steve Austin. Taz has no charisma and sucks on the mic and he will never draw money. Someone else writes in saying all this new edgy content WWF is doing is awful and he will no longer watch that second-rate promotion. He also says Jim Ross and Joey Styles should win 1st and 2nd place for Worst Announcer in the Observer awards. And of course, more of Bret Hart deserved it, Vince McMahon is the wost, etc.
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