Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 1997
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- After a week of negotiations, Paul Heyman is said to be "cautiously optimistic" that ECW will be able to work out a deal with Request TV to air their planned first ever PPV in April. The deal fell apart after Request TV president Hugh Panero learned of the Mass Transit incident from back in November. Panero said he initially thought ECW was just another wrestling promotion like WWF and WCW, but after learning they were a more violent, adult oriented company, he had some concerns. "As the new kid on the block they have to demonstrate they (ECW) are up to the same level of professionalism as WWF and WCW," Panero said. "My people thought they were like WWF and WCW and when we found out differently, we started to do more research. I have no intention of banning them." Viewers Choice has still decided against carrying the show because of the angle with Sandman's son and they aren't budging on that. Losing Viewers Choice probably cuts a good 30% of pure profit from the potential money the show would likely make. If they do good numbers on Request TV, then Viewers Choice may be influenced to carry a 2nd PPV in the future, but it depends on how well the first one does.

- Prior to these discussions, Request TV had released a statement on the cancellation. Here's the full statement:

Quote:"Request TV has been in on-going discussions with Extreme Championship Wrestling to carry one of its events in 1997. During these discussions we learned about specific incidents involving an underage ECW wrestler who appeared to be seriously injured during an event in Massachusetts. We were surprised that the ECW never mentioned that these public relations problems existed, and contrary to the claims made by the ECW, no tape of the incident was sent to anyone at Request TV.

"Whenever we work with a new PPV event provider we like to be thorough in investigating their ability to stage a quality event. Therefore, my staff was instructed to research these alleged incidents and discovered that they were true, and also learned that generally the ECW was theatrically more violent than other wrestling events. Based on this new information and the fact that an ECW event would be a step up from being a local event to a national PPV event, we decided it would be prudent to temporarily cancel the event while we did additional research to better understand how the ECW operates.

"We are still considering carrying the event and, as we would with any national PPV event, we are taking great precautions to ensure that when an event does air it meets all of our standards to create longevity for that particular event."

- ECW is having to make some compromises in order to get Request to air the PPV. Request is concerned about any scandals like the Mass Transit incident or a repeat of the famous fire incident and they want ECW to put safeguards in place to make sure nothing else like that happens. Blood will be allowed, as long as they don't overdo it and if they air a warning at the beginning of the show. No stabbing motions with sharp objects will be allowed (for example, no one will be allowed to do an Abdullah The Butcher gimmick and stab someone with a fork). Request also wants paperwork on all the participants on the show to make sure they're of legal age (remember, Mass Transit was only 17) and if Heyman has any last minute surprise participants on the show, Request has to be notified in advance. They also want a medical team on hand, which ECW already does anyway.

- The story of ECW possibly getting their PPV cancelled has blown up in the last week, with many hardcore ECW fans placing the blame on Wade Keller of the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter. Keller interviewed Panero, asking about the PPV and about his thoughts on the Mass Transit video, which Keller believed Panero had already seen (because Paul Heyman had said they had sent the tape to Panero). Turned out, Panero had never heard about it and learned of the incident from Keller. When he investigated the issue, that eventually led to them cancelling the PPV. In the end, Dave says Wade Keller isn't responsible and the blame for almost losing their PPV rests on ECW alone. They have let the company often times get out of control and have ignored warning signs and let these problems go unchecked for too long and in the end, it finally came back to bite them. For a long time, ECW has been a powder keg, ready to blow and it could have ended a lot worse. Hopefully this is a wake-up call to the company that they have to make changes before something even worse happens.

- Speaking of the Mass Transit tape, Dave finally saw it and says nothing he heard before could do it justice. He calls it "perhaps most revolting thing I've ever seen in wrestling." In fact, when it first happened back in November, when Dave reported on it, he reported at the time that some were claiming it wasn't that big a deal. Now, Dave flat out says, "The initial reports in this publication almost down playing the incident as being a big deal were an embarrassment to the Observer." Even before the botched blade job, it was bad because New Jack was beating the shit out of the kid, hitting him as hard as he could in the face with a toaster and breaking a crutch over him. After the bladejob, you could hear Eric Kulas' father run to ringside screaming that he's only 17 and to stop the match but the beating continued while Kulas continued to gush blood from his head. Dave said he felt like he was witnessing child abuse by watching it. People in ECW claim that Kulas lied and said he was 19, but the blame is still on ECW for not verifying his age and for simply taking his word for it. And it was made even worse by how desensitized to the violence everyone was. No one stopped the match. All the wrestlers stayed in character. And the fans chanted "You fat fuck!" at Kulas as he lay in the ring bleeding to death. Dave thinks it's sad that him writing this very description of it will probably help sell hundreds of copies of this "banned" tape on the tape trading scene.

- WCW Starrcade is in the books and was a pretty good show, aside from too many run-in finishes. But as usual, the undercard was fantastic. Ultimo Dragon won the WCW cruiserweight title from Dean Malenko in a great match, to go along with the other 8 belts he won in the J-Crown tournament. The plan is for Dragon to eventually lose all 8 of the original belts to Jushin Liger at the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show, and then he will only have the WCW cruiserweight belt. Akira Hokuto became the first WCW women's champion by beating Madusa. Roddy Piper cut a promo that made no sense. Jushin Liger and Rey Myserio Jr. faced off for the first time ever. Eddie Guerrero beat DDP to win the U.S. title tournament. And the Piper/Hogan match had huge heat, with Roddy Piper being so over that Dave compares it to Antonio Inoki in Japan. At one point a fan ran into the ring and got stomped by Hogan and the referee and was then dragged out by police and arrested.

- It's been awhile since we've had one, but Dave gives 5 stars to Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama from the AJPW World Tag League tournament finals.

- A newer promotion in Puerto Rico called WWA has got a working agreement with WWF and many WWF stars have been working their shows lately, guys like Sid, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Jake Roberts, and Savio Vega among others. The promotion announced that in 1997, they will have shows featuring Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and Undertaker. Savio Vega is one of the people running the company, which explains the connection.

- There's rumors that AAA is in danger of losing its television deal in Mexico. Televisa is reportedly unhappy with the AAA product now that they have lost most of their young stars to Promo Azteca and are now pushing old washed up guys as the top stars. Televisa was upset that all these young stars who had been built up in AAA for so long were now in another company, on a rival TV network.

- Chris Jericho is rumored to be the mystery opponent for Koji Kanemoto at the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show. It would be Jericho's NJPW debut.

- Antonio Inoki is still working on putting together a show in Cuba sometime this year and actually has a meeting scheduled with Fidel Castro later this week ("No, I'm not making this up," Dave says).

- Some interesting statistics about the recently defunct UWFI. During its 6-year history, they ran 64 shows, drawing a total of 585,724 fans which averages out to a little over 9,000 per show. Dave doesn't think there's ever been a promotion in wrestling history to average that many fans per show over a 6-year period. But despite all that, they were running in deep debt for the past 2 years which led to them going out of business.

- Dave has confirmed that Jerry Jarrett did indeed sell his 50% of USWA to Jerry Lawler and is out of the wrestling business. Lawler is running the company alongside his business partner Larry Burton and a sports agent named Elliot Pollock. Jerry Jarrett has been devoting almost all of his time to other business interests outside of wrestling, so his selling wasn't a big surprise but it's interesting because Jarrett was basically the last of his era. He was the last remaining promoter from that golden era of the 70s & 80s to finally be put out of the business (by the end of 1997, this becomes a pretty big deal. TL;DR - after buying out Jarrett, Lawler and Burton end up immediately selling 55% of USWA to an Ohio businessman, which in turn leads to USWA going out of business and nasty lawsuits claiming Lawler defrauded people and a bunch of other shit. But we'll get there).

- The reason Taz is currently doing a gimmick where he's refusing to wrestle unless he can get Sabu is because he's nursing a shoulder injury.

- Ian Rotten has recently started a new promotion called IWA in Louisville, KY.

- Dave says of all the foreign people WCW have brought in, Ultimo Dragon picked up the American style faster than anyone and says Dragon may be the best worker in the U.S. right now.

- Nitro ended with the NWO turning on The Giant and kicking him out of the group, leading to The Giant turning face, only 4 months or so after turning heel to join the group. (Rapid fire Big Show heel/face turns? "IT BEGINS!" I guess.)

- WWF Raw's rating this week was a 1.5, which is the worst rating in the show's history and in fact was the lowest rating for any Monday night wrestling show dating back to the early 80s days of Prime Time Wrestling (fun fact: Raw ratings occasionally dip that low now in 2017). The Nitro rating this week was more than double the Raw rating. Even the later replay of Nitro did a higher rating. Nitro is beating Raw in 3 of the 4 major demographics of viewers (men, women, and teenagers). The only one Raw is winning is young children and even that is neck-and-neck.

- The Associated Press balloting for Athlete of the Year was won by Michael Jordan, but it turns out Ric Flair received 2 votes. This made news in Canada because Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey, who won a gold medal in last year's Olympic games and is something of a national hero in Canada, didn't get any votes. So there were a lot of news stories about how Bailey got 0 votes while a pro wrestler got 2.

- Former ECW wrestler 911 debuted in WCW under the name Tombstone. The name is a rib aimed at Paul Heyman because when Heyman first broke into the business years ago as a manager, he managed a guy named Tombstone.

- The hatred you see on TV between Debra McMichael and Woman isn't just for TV. Apparently the heat between them backstage is legit and they won't even dress in the same dressing room together.

- Bam Bam Bigelow reportedly turned down a deal to go to WCW because they wanted him to join the NWO. One of the main reasons Bigelow left WWF in the first place awhile back was because he was upset about all the control and power Kevin Nash had so he has no interest in going to WCW and working under Nash and being his lackey on TV.

- There's been talk of bringing in Kimona from ECW as Chris Benoit's new love interest.

- Most people think Randy Savage will inevitably return to WCW, but he hasn't signed a new contract and the two sides haven't agreed on money yet.

- Mr. Fuji was backstage at a recent Nitro because he lives in the area.

- Raw this week in Albany, NY was filled with ECW and BWO signs in the crowd, and Dave admits he may have spoken too soon a few weeks ago when he said the ECW-loving crowds at WWF shows had died down.

- On WWF Superstars taping, Jim Ross made a couple of interesting comments. He first criticized Barry Windham's "Stalker" character, calling the gimmick another lame marketing idea. And he said the headgear that Faarooq wore when he first debuted will go into the WWF marketing hall of fame next to Gobbledy Gooker.

- Steve Austin had to get stitches above his eye after taking hit to the face this weekend.

- Mankind, Goldust, and Undertaker filmed a scene for a pilot episode of a sports/comedy show put together by the same people who created Second City TV. The skit was that the 3 wrestlers were in their full character gimmicks, sitting at a bar discussing high-brow topics like philosophy (I guess maybe this show never aired or something? I can't find video. But somewhere out there, it's gotta exist. I'd love to see this).

- As of Dec. 31st, WWF had sold around 13,500 tickets for the Royal Rumble, which would be a great advance number for a normal show, but they're still a long way from the 71,000 needed to sellout the Alamodome.

- In the letters, someone writes in to say Stevie Richards has more charisma in his little finger than Shawn Michaels has in his entire body. He predicts Richards will end up in WWF or WCW soon but they probably won't use him right.

- A wrestler (who's name is withheld by request) writes in with a 3 paragraph tangent about how hypocritical wrestling fans are. They cry about the Austin/Pillman gun angle then act like everything ECW does is the best thing ever. They complain about the unbelievablility of WWF's storylines and then cheer when tiny Rey Mysterio Jr. is doing frankensteiners to guys twice his size. They bitch about Hulk Hogan not being a good worker while he's doing the best work of his career. And he's really upset about how the fans have turned on Shawn Michaels. He says Shawn is the best wrestler in the world right now, but he's getting booed out of the arena in every city. "Perhaps people would like him to pout like Bret Hart" instead of having great matches every night. He ends the letter by saying, "I'm not saying people have to like him, I just want people to realize they are witnessing the greatest worker of their lifetime and should think about it before they cheer Sid to the point where Vince McMahon decides to go back to big, lumbering guys who can't work and whose matches are as exciting as watching golf."

- Finally, someone writes in with a David Letterman-esque list of the top 10 reasons why Sid shouldn't be the champion:

10. While they might have the same skills, at least Backlund can talk

9. Raising his fist in the air is going to confuse the audience into thinking he's part of the Nation of Domination

8. Poor Bret Hart is going to have to be able to work like Manami Toyota to carry him to a DUD

7. No longer has a squeegee to clean his belt with

6. Pillman is liable to shoot on him

5. Arkansas already has one idiot on top

4. Jim Hellwig is at least more reliable to show up

3. Valu-Jet will take you higher than his choke slam

2. Might shoot if an opponent calls a leg scissors spot

1. The Karate Fighters have a better work rate
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[+] 1 user Likes Peezy's post
Karate Fighters dig was unnecessary. The Karate Fighters tournament is the greatest WWF tournament of all time.
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- Awards issue. Here are the results for all the bests and worsts of 1996, as voted on by readers of the Observer.

- WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: Kenta Kobashi (barely beating out Shawn Michaels)


- BEST BABYFACE: Shawn Michaels

- BEST HEEL: Steve Austin


- TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR: Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama

- MOST IMPROVED: Diamond Dallas Page (by a long shot)



- MOST CHARISMATIC: Shawn Michaels (2nd year in a row)


- BRUISER BRODY MEMORIAL AWARD (BEST BRAWLER): Mankind (6th year in a row)



- MOST UNDERRATED: Leif Cassidy (aka Al Snow)

- BEST PROMOTION: New Japan Pro Wrestling

- BEST WEEKLY TV SHOW: ECW (3rd year in a row)

- MATCH OF THE YEAR: Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama vs. Steve Williams & Johnny Ace


- MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Jim Cornette (5th year in a row and 11th time out of 12 years)

- BEST TELEVISION ANNOUNCER: Joey Styles (3rd year in a row)




- BEST WRESTLING MANEUVER: Ultimo Dragon's Running Liger Bomb




- READER'S LEAST FAVORITE WRESTLER: Hulk Hogan (3rd year in a row)


- WORST TAG TEAM: The Godwinns

- WORST TELEVISION SHOW: AWF Warriors of Wrestling

- WORST MANAGER: Sonny Onno (finally ending Mr. Fuji's 9-year streak)

- WORST MATCH OF THE YEAR: Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage vs. Dungeon of Doom (Doomsday Cage Match) - WCW Uncensored '96

- WORST FEUD OF THE YEAR: Big Bubba vs. John Tenta



- BEST BOOKER: Paul Heyman (3rd year in a row)



- WORST GIMMICK: Fake Razor & Diesel


- There's a bunch of other stuff where Dave runs down all the major shows from 1996, recaps notable events, calculates who had the most great matches during the year by calculating and averaging out all his star ratings (Kobashi was #1, for anyone curious), and other stuff. Beyond that, not much other news in this issue.

- WCW Nitro beat Raw by two full ratings points this week, with Nitro doing a 3.6 rating to Raw's 1.6 rating. It was the second lowest rating for wrestling on Monday nights dating back to the Prime Time Wrestling days in the early 80s (the lowest ever rating was last week's episode). Apparently, there are some in WWF who are pretty shaken by the 2 straight weeks of record low ratings.

- The Starrcade buyrate is looking to be somewhere between 0.9 and 1.0 which would make it the biggest WCW buyrate since the Hogan/Flair retirement match in 1994. And because of the higher price of the show, it is believed to be the biggest money making non-WWF PPV in wrestling history.

- The debut of Shotgun Saturday Night was reportedly a flop. Dave hasn't seen it but all the reports and calls he's gotten about it have been 100% negative. It was said to be "like watching a poorly-lit minor league promotional cross between Incredibly Strange Wrestling and "Grunt: The Wrestling movie" but with bigger name stars." The Headbangers debuted as a tag team called The Flying Nuns managed by Brother Love and using a loaded Bible to get the win. During a Goldust/Sultan match, Marlena pulled down her top to flash Sultan to distract him (it was filmed from behind and she actually had pasties over her nipples). Ahmed Johnson and Savio Vega brawled into the street and Ahmed did his finisher on the roof of a car, which was said to be the highlight of the show.

Full episode, with all the vintage 1997 commercials included

- Pro wrestling has been deregulated in New Jersey. This should lead to a lot more indie shows in the state because it will be a lot cheaper for promoters to run shows there now. It is believed ECW is already making plans to run shows there, as the regulation rules are what kept them from running shows in the past. About 7 years ago, it was due to issues with the New Jersey legislature that led to WWF admitting that pro wrestling was a work, which became a big story for awhile. WWF has been pushing for years to get wrestling deregulated there and finally succeeded last week.

- Correction from a couple of weeks ago about former SMW wrestler Bruiser Bedlam (aka Johnny K-9). He wasn't arrested in that major weapons/drug bust. Members of the motorcycle gang that he hangs around with were arrested, but he wasn't (give him a few more weeks...).

- Scott Hall missed this week's Nitro because he got some of his teeth knocked out by Jerry Sags in a house show match over the weekend and had to go get oral surgery. Presumably it was an accident, but there has been heat between Sags and Hall for awhile because last year, Hall apparently stiffed Sags with a chairshot to the heat and gave him a concussion and they ended up in a nasty argument backstage at the time. There was also an incident at another house show where the Nasty Boys were working with Hall and Nash (who were supposed to be the heels) but Hall and Nash kept doing all the babyface spots to get themselves over, which got them cheered and made the Nastys look like fools, and they weren't happy about that.

- Dave was at a recent WWF house show and of note, during a promo, Shawn Michaels pulled his trunks down to his knees and mooned half the crowd. Unfortunately, Dave was on the other side of the crowd and instead of seeing Shawn's ass, he apparently saw Shawn hanging dong. "It was the first time I've ever seen a wrestler expose himself (at least as part of the show) in more than 25 years of going to live wrestling."

- Ken Shamrock was in attendance at the WWF house show in Stockton and was mobbed by people wanting autographs.

- The Grimm Twins (Harris Brothers) have been released by WWF. I never knew they were back.

- On the WWF Livewire show, hosted by Jim Ross and Vic Venom (Vince Russo), they said they were no longer screening calls and it was apparently the truth because most of the calls were about WCW. Jim Ross was very negative towards WCW, saying that he fell asleep during the Hogan/Piper PPV match and said Hall and Nash should attend a WWF PPV because they haven't been near a good PPV since they left WWF. When asked about WWF signing Randy Savage, Jim Ross said he WWF was interested in younger athletes and had no interest in "looking for people my age" to be wrestlers.

- SuperBrawl was originally supposed to be the climax of the Sting/NWO storyline but now that they have turned Giant babyface, they plan to run with him for awhile and delay the Sting payoff for a little while longer (or, yanno, for the rest of the year).

- Televisa has been pushing AAA and EMLL to work together for awhile but both sides have resisted. But it seems Televisa finally succeeded, as there's expected to be some kind of joint show held in February.

- In ECW, the BWO are over huge and BWO merch is selling like crazy.

- ECW held their first show in Revere, MA since the Mass Transit incident (same city and building where it happened). The show was really subdued and there was no brawling in the crowd and no blood, which led to a small group of fans chanting "ECW sucks!" and complaining about how toned down the show was. The Gangstas weren't booked on the show. Killer Kowalski made an appearance, in the corner of The Eliminators and got a huge pop. And finally, after the main event, as they were leaving the ring, a fan reached over and grabbed Francine's breast, which led to Shane Douglas going nuts and having to be restrained from attacking the fan.

- Hiroshi Hase debuted in All Japan, working opening matches. The gimmick is that Hase (NJPW legend, current Japanese politician) doesn't want any special treatment and wants to work his way up the card and is starting out as a prelim match wrestler. There was so much hype around Hase's debut that scalpers were selling tickets for $500 a pop.

- On Nitro, Eric Bischoff did some commentary and made reference to Randy Savage coming back and acted as if he wouldn't allow Savage to return and told him to go join some other inferior promotion. In reality, the Savage/WCW negotiations are pretty much a done deal and Savage should be returning soon. Bischoff also teased a new major star joining the NWO, which is expected to be Curt Hennig when he's contractually able.

- At an All Japan Women's show, Aja Kong beat Yoshiko Tamura with such a stiff punch that Tamura had to be hospitalized.
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Ah fuck the video got removed
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Here it is, minus commercials.
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- With a few days left before Royal Rumble, WWF is expecting close to 50,000 to be in attendance. As of a few days ago, almost 29,000 tickets had been sold. They've been heavily papering the city (giving away free tickets) and are hoping for a big walk-up crowd the day of the show. This show has seen some of the heaviest local promotion ever, with tons of radio and TV ads, "literally millions" of coupon discount codes on cans of Dr. Pepper and at Taco Bell locations throughout southern Texas, and custom commentary on WWF TV shows airing in the area where they are heavily pushing ticket sales. The PPV will be blacked out throughout southeastern Texas so if you live in the area, the only way to see it is to be there live. That being said, WWF has pretty much quietly admitted that the show won't be a sellout. But they've been hyping the 71,000-seat capacity on TV so much that they may still claim there are 71,000 people there even if it's nowhere close. As for the show itself, Dave predicts Shawn Michaels to win the title and Bret Hart to win the Rumble match, although they may try to throw a swerve, with some sort of disputed ending, and have someone else win the Rumble. But with that being said, Shawn vs. Bret is still the plan for WM13.

- Rick Rude made a surprise appearance in ECW last week. Rude wore a mask backstage the entire time to try to disguise who he was but of course everyone figured it out, and when he came to the ring, the fans had figured it out also. Rude never ended up taking the mask off. It ended up leading to the return of Pit Bull #1, who had been out of action for several months after legitimately suffering a broken neck from a Shane Douglas DDT. Rick Rude has been rumored to be heading to WWF when his Lloyd's of London disability insurance policy runs out, with many saying he'd be heading there in late-spring. But WWF officials have denied the rumors and those close to Rude insist he will never wrestle again after suffering a back injury in a 1994 match with Sting in Japan. Rude claimed his injuries were career-ending in a lawsuit he filed against WCW. Paul Heyman has said that the masked wrestler won't ever wrestle in ECW but will continue to make appearances leading up to the first ECW PPV in April. (Here's a video below. I don't think it's Rude's first appearance but it's the only one I can find where he's there under the mask):

- Weekly Pro Wrestling reported that during 1996, there were 1,423 wrestling shows in Japan, for a total attendance of 3,081,288. But those numbers have to be taken with a huge grain of salt because all the promotions, especially the smaller ones, often greatly over-exaggerate their attendance numbers.

- Dave recaps NJPW's Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show (or at least the 2-hour edited version that aired on TV). Overall, it seemed like a good show, but nowhere near as good as the usual Dome shows. Antonio Inoki had his match with Willie Williams that was mentioned a few weeks ago and Dave gives it -1 stars. Ultimo Dragon vs. Jushin Liger was good but not up to either man's usual standards. Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu was the match everyone came to see and it delivered although it wasn't as good as their match last year.

- Antonio Inoki plans to do another World Wrestling Peace Festival inter-promotional show this year. He was in Mexico City over the weekend meeting with EMLL to set it up. The plan is for it to take place later in the spring, either in Mexico City or possibly in Cuba.

- Box y Lucha magazine in Mexico talked about 1996 being a down year for business and listed off a bunch of suggestions about how both EMLL and AAA could improve business. Stop the constant no-shows, stop cheapening mask-vs-mask matches by having the loser just put on a new mask with a new gimmick a few months later, said there's too many championships and cheap finishes, and too many guys jumping back and forth between promotions while burying their former company, among other things.

- Vampiro turned down a major soap opera role in Mexico because they wanted him to play the role of an American border patrol officer and he thought it would get him heat.

- All Japan and FMW seem to be building up to an inter-promotional angle. It's playing out in the wrestling media between Giant Baba and Atsushi Onita and will likely lead to a match between Hayabusa vs. Kenta Kobashi (doesn't look like that 1-on-1 match ever happened, but Hayabusa worked a handful of tag matches in AJPW later in the year).

- At the NJPW Tokyo Dome show, Chris Jericho worked as Super Liger, but the match was so poorly received that the gimmick has already been dropped after the 1 match. Jericho is expected to continue to work in NJPW for awhile, as himself instead of the Super Liger gimmick (Jericho later said the match was bad because the mask obstructed his vision and he couldn't work in it).

- Samauri TV, the new 24-hour wrestling channel in Japan, has been airing a bunch of legendary Japanese matches from the 1970s, many of which even the most dedicated tape traders have probably never seen.

- Jerry Lawler seems to be taking a more serious interest in turning around the USWA promotion now that he's the 100% owner of it. Right now, Bill Dundee, Randy Hales, and Brian Christopher are handling the booking.

- USWA is doing a Nation of Domination angle with guys like Mo and Mabel (formerly Men on a Mission) among others, using names like Sir Mohammad, Shaquille Ali, Queen Moisha, and others (this was the original NOD, with some guys bouncing back and forth between USWA and WWF. But it was mostly started in USWA before turning into a major WWF faction).

- ECW is scrambling to get all the legal and insurance red tape done for their PPV to air on Apr. 13th. There's a 90-day deadline before the show where the promotion is required to have all the necessary insurance and legal stuff done to absolve Request TV in case anything unexpected happens. They have to get the paperwork done in time in order to guarantee the Apr. 13th date. If ECW can't get it done in time, the PPV would likely be pushed back to June because Request doesn't want to add another PPV in May because they already have several major events scheduled that month (boxing, WWF, WCW, and UFC).

- They're doing an angle with Terry Funk in ECW where he's back saying that it's his last chance at being a world champion. The angle is expected to be one of the top matches at the ECW PPV.

- BWO merch now accounts for over 40% of total ECW merchandise sales and ECW already does huge merch sales to begin with.

- The indie promotion called Continental Wrestling Alliance that had been running shows at the Dallas Sportatorium every week went out of business last month. Apparently the money guy simply walked out during the last show because he couldn't pay everyone. Former Dallas wrestling manager Gary Hart has already stepped in and started a new promotion called World Class: The Next Generation (I guess if it worked for Star Trek...).

- Yet again, WCW Nitro set records this week. The episode from New Orleans was the first Nitro episode to draw more than 10,000 people and the first show to do more than a $100,000 gate in New Orleans since Bill Watts' Mid South Wrestling in the 80s. And next week's show in Chicago has already topped both of those numbers in advance sales. The biggest pop of the show came when Hall and Nash tried to welcome Diamond Dallas Page to the NWO, only for Page to hit Hall with a diamond cutter and throw Nash out of the ring.


- Also on Nitro, they tried a weird gimmick at the end of the show where the main event (Hogan vs. The Giant) started with only 1 minute left in the show. The reason was because they were trying to build up the ratings for the new Robin Hood show that was airing after. They promised to come back and show the match during commercial breaks of Robin Hood and that's pretty much what they did, airing about 30 seconds of the match during each commercial break, for the entire hour of the show. Problem is, the match only lasted about 4 minutes total, but as they stretched it out during the commercials, they acted like it was going on live and that everyone watching was missing a classic 45-minute Hogan/Giant match that had been going on all through the show. Anyway, there were a lot of complaints about the sleazy attempt to spike ratings for Robin Hood at the expense of wrestling fans (this one even has its own Wrestlecrap page).


- Scott Hall had a tooth knocked out, 2 teeth loosened, a black eye, and possibly a broken ear drum from the incident where Jerry Sags of the Nasty Boys stiffed him during a match. Some in the company say Hall had it coming and the Nastys are good friends with Hogan so they're safe. Others say Sags should be fired. After the match backstage, Kevin Nash confronted the Nastys with a baseball bat, but it ended up just being a bunch of words being thrown. Bischoff reportedly wanted to fire Sags, but Scott Hall felt Hogan would retaliate against he and Nash if they got his friend fired. So yeah, not all good among the NWO in real life at the moment.

- Rey Mysterio Jr. blew out his knee last week and it's said to be serious. He had an MRI done and, no surprise, he has pretty significant damage in both knees. He has an appointment this week to see if he'll need surgery.

- Harlem Heat and Public Enemy are both currently working without contracts and there have been a ton of rumors about Harlem Heat going to WWF. But word is WWF has already committed so much money to long term guaranteed contracts that they're now second-guessing spending all that money ("does the name Mark Henry come to mind?" Dave asks. Remember, Henry had signed a 10-year multi-million dollar contract at this point and had shown nothing for it so far). So they're hesitant to commit more money to signing anyone new unless it's for a major name and Harlem Heat probably won't make the cut (still interesting that it even got this close. Imagine Booker T in WWF during the Attitude Era).

- At the WCW Saturday Night tapings, Jim Duggan faced The Gambler and Dave hasn't seen it but was told its one of the worst matches of all-time (I mean, it wasn't Okada/Omega or anything, but this was a perfectly fine squash match. No idea what Dave's source is talking about).

- Chris Kanyon is being given a martial arts gimmick and will feud with Glacier. On the recent German tour, Kanyon worked under the name Mortis so that will probably be his gimmick.

- Funny story about WCW dropping the ball on a great possible promotional opportunity. A tight end for the University of Oregon football team named Josh Wilcox is a huge wrestling fan (and Observer subscriber) and he sent WCW a letter saying that he would be playing in several major all-star games this season and said he wanted to wear an NWO sticker on his helmet and in his interviews, he would pledge his loyalty to the NWO. Well, he never heard back from WCW for several months but just before he was set to play in the Blue Gray Football Classic all-star game, WCW sent him a generic "Dear Wrestling fan, thank you for your interest" letter back. Anyway, as luck would have it, Wilcox ended up scoring the winning touchdown and was the MVP of that game and was the focus of all the post-game interviews and got tons of ESPN coverage. But since he got blown off by WCW, he didn't mention them or NWO at all (fun fact: Wilcox later went on to play in the XFL and was on the Los Angeles Xtreme team that won the championship. He also did some indie wrestling).

- In a radio interview, Ric Flair praised Steve McMichael's in-ring work as a wrestler. "Since it was radio, we couldn't see how much larger his nose grew after that one," Savage Dave says.

- WWF is handling the PPV responsibilities for the upcoming Sugar Ray Leonard/Hector Camacho boxing match. The previous company, TVKO, backed out of the fight after the promoter was investigated for links to organized crime. So WWF jumped in to save the day. Several years ago, WWF handled promotional responsibilities for another Sugar Ray Leonard fight and that show lost a ton of money, which is why WWF hasn't promoted a boxing PPV since then. So anyway, expect a lot of promotion for this fight on WWF TV in the coming weeks.

- Dave finally saw the Shotgun Saturday Night debut episode and said it looked like a public access wrestling show, which probably wasn't the look they were going for. Bob Backlund was hilarious but that was the only good thing on the show.

- Expect Bradshaw and Barry Windham to be put together as a heel tag team as a 90s version of the Blackjacks.

- Tiger Jeet Singh and his son Tiger Ali Singh Jr. have some sort of deal with WWF with both of them scheduled to come in. Singh Sr. will likely just be a manger of some sort, since he's 52 years old and has been washed up for years. WWF has big plans for Singh Jr., with plans to make him an ethnic star to tour Middle east countries, as well as parts of Canada that have large Indian populations (20 years later and Vince is still chasing that elusive "ethnic star" dream).

- WWF has dropped the Flying Nuns gimmick because of complaints from their debut last week, so those 2 guys are back to using their Headbangers gimmick on this week's Shotgun Saturday Night. Also on the show, there were lots of chants of "Rocky sucks!" at Rocky Maivia. For the second week in a row, reviews of this show were universally negative.

- Former SMW wrestler Punisher (Bull Buchanan) is being brought in to WWF to train with Tom Prichard. WWF also has interest in ECW's Mike Awesome but they want him to get more wrestling experience first, because he's pretty much only worked garbage matches in FMW for most of his career.
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- The issue opens with a big story about UFC and the regulation issues they're facing in New York with the upcoming UFC 12 PPV in Buffalo. It's full of ignorant politicians who don't know anything about the sport trying to get it banned, words like "barbarism" and "human cockfighting" and "bloody public spectacle" with "no skill involved" and all the usual nonsense. NY governor George Pataki is pushing to pass a bill that will ban the sport in the state (which, of course, he succeeded in doing and the ban lasted 19 years). But that's not wrestling news, so.....

- WWF Royal Rumble drew the second largest paid attendance in U.S. wrestling history last week. The total attendance was 60,525 fans, with over 48,000 of them paid. The only larger paid attendance was for Wrestlemania 3, which drew 78,000 fans (and oh how that pisses off the 93,173 crowd), of which nearly 76,000 was paid. Wrestlemania 8 had more people in the building than this Rumble event, but WM8 was heavily papered and not nearly as many of those fans paid. WWF sold 20,000 Rumble tickets in the last few days, due mostly to $5 & $7 discount coupons from local Taco Bells. Because of these cheap tickets, the show didn't break many gate records. Plus, when you factor in the massive amount of money spent on advertising, the show wasn't as big of a money maker as one might expect. It was still profitable, but not hugely so. As for the show itself, it wasn't as great as many hoped. There was concern that too many people knew of the planned finish of the Rumble match which was Bret Hart winning (due partly in part to Vince Russo "predicting" Bret would win on the Livewire show, which many felt gave it away and got Russo some heat), so a late decision was made to change it to Steve Austin. Hometown hero Shawn Michaels had his worst PPV match in years because he was suffering from the flu and Sid was banged up from a car accident a few days before.

- Other notes from the Rumble: despite a heavily Hispanic crowd, no one seemed to care about the AAA guys on the show, even though many said that 2 of the AAA dark matches before the show went live on PPV were the best matches of the night. Mr. Hughes debuted as Hunter Hearst Helmsley's bodyguard (that lasted for one show before he was replaced by Chyna). Funny note from Dave: "Helmsley has potential, but at this point, he's being pushed only on potential and politics, and because he's got a good head of hair. His work is only slightly better than average and his interviews and persona are below average." Steve Austin spent 45 minutes in the Rumble and eliminated 11 people, which Dave thinks may be a record (I think it was at the time). Mil Mascaras jumped over the top rope eliminating himself and they tried to explain it as if he didn't know the rules. Dave says Mascaras was probably in the first battle royal ever held and would likely claim he invented them if you asked. Austin was eliminated but the ref didn't see it and he came back in to eventually dump everyone else out and win. And as expected, Shawn Michaels was greeted to a huge babyface reaction.

- Dave notes that, after several years of trying, they finally got Jim Ross to wear the black cowboy hat as a full time gimmick. A few years ago, when Ross was fired by WWF, he was fired for numerous reasons. But one of them was his refusal to go along with WWF wanting to portray him as "Good ol' J.R." and wear a cowboy hat.

- Just one day after the Rumble, WCW set their own all-time attendance record, drawing over 17,000 paid fans to Chicago for this week's Nitro. They also set a record for all-time merch sales at a single show. Overall, Dave says the wrestling industry as a whole seems to finally be on an upswing. WCW is doing strong TV ratings, setting attendance records, and doing great PPV numbers. Meanwhile, WWF's TV ratings aren't great but house show business is the best that it's been in years.

- WCW also held a Clash of the Champions show last week. Dean Malenko won the cruiserweight title back from Ultimo Dragon in a fantastic match but the interesting note is that Dragon kicked Malenko in the back early in the match. Malenko's lower body basically went numb but he still finished the match and collapsed backstage as soon as he got behind the curtain. Benoit hit Kevin Sullivan with a chair, which is against TBS guidelines and Sullivan also bled, which is against the rules but it looked like it may have been hardway because he had bladed the previous night and it looks like the cut just opened up again. Scott Steiner, who had been out with a back injury since September, worked his first match and didn't do much of anything and took no bumps. Dave says Scott is probably pushing 300 pounds these days and just looks monstrous.

- Request TV has confirmed that ECW will air their first PPV on April 13th from the ECW Arena. The contracts were finalized this week and Dave runs down the expected card.

- Dave lists a couple of American wrestlers who are working upcoming WWC shows in Puerto Rico. Among them are Skull Von Crush (later Vito in WCW and WWF) and Sean Morley (later Val Venis).

- The reason Vampiro turned down the soap opera role that was mentioned recently is because they wanted him to play an immigration officer who rapes and murders illegal immigrants entering the United States. Needless to say, Vampiro turned it down because he ain't trying to get that kind of heat in Mexico.

- Giant Baba (AJPW) and Atsushi Onita (FMW) met this week and agreed for their 2 promotions to work together, although there are no details on how. Onita is pushing for a Hayabusa vs. Kobashi match. When asked about it by the media, Baba pretended not to know what they were talking about. Kobashi had no comment. Other AJPW wrestlers were quoted in the media, with Misawa saying that he had no interest in working in FMW because he doesn't feel the wrestlers there are as the same calibre workers as AJPW guys. And Toshiaki Kawada referred to Onita as "Mr. Tell A Lie" because of how he retired only to come back a year or so later.

- There were talks about former UWFI star Nobuhiko Takada coming to AJPW, but those fell through. Takada wanted a big money deal and it just didn't work. Also, Dave basically calls him stupid: "Takada then signed a six-month exclusive contract with Fuji TV to appear as a network sportscaster and appear regularly on talk shows and do some anchor work so he probably won't do any wrestling until the summer. The idea is because Takada has the look and the name to try and make him into a commentator, but Takada in real life didn't even finish up high school and in his heyday as a wrestler was always protected by the promotion when it came to doing interviews with the press because his gimmick was as a thinking man's wrestler but the reality is he's not very intelligent and they were always afraid he's say something stupid and blow his wrestling gimmick."

- Lots of drama in USWA revolving around Jerry Lawler's business partner Larry Burton, who is running a lot of the business since Lawler took over full ownership of the promotion. A lot of the wrestlers see Burton as a "Hollywood mark outsider" who is trying to tell them how to run a Tennessee wrestling promotion and they don't care for it. It's gotten so bad that a lot of the wrestlers are talking about quitting.

- The plan for Rick Rude in ECW has changed. Initially, they planned to keep him masked and keep his identity a secret, with Rude going so far as to wear the mask backstage to try to keep the other wrestlers from finding out also. But since the fans immediately figured out who it was, they're no longer trying to pretend. For now, he's still wearing the mask but it's openly acknowledged now that it's him. Rude even got involved at the latest show, delivering a Rude Awakening to Mike Awesome and did the hip swivel (wtf was Paul Heyman thinking here? How did he think he could keep something like that secret from the ECW fanbase?).

- ECW is talking about doing a 2nd PPV later this year in Scranton, PA (ended up being Florida).

- As expected, Randy Savage returned to WCW at last week's Nitro and did the gimmick where he refuses to leave the ring. No word on what his new contract deal is.

- At the same Nitro, La Parka was scheduled to face William Regal, but evidently the airline lost his luggage, so he didn't have his gear. Psicosis was scheduled to face Chris Jericho, but Psicosis simply never showed up so that match didn't happen either.

- Rey Mysterio Jr. will not need surgery on his knee and will be back in action in a few weeks. He and The Giant appeared on Regis & Kathy Lee's show and did a fake tag match with Mysterio and Regis vs. Giant and Kathy Lee. Mysterio was noticeably limping during the bit but he still did a couple of spots. A week later, the NWO was on the show and Hogan told Regis he wouldn't be his friend anymore if he lets Giant be on the show (somehow I can't find video of any of this. Bummer).

- Kevin Sullivan and Chris Benoit are seemingly taking their angle to the extreme. After Nitro, at a bar in New Orleans called Hightoppers, Sullivan and Benoit got into a brawl and had to be separated because Benoit was making out with Woman (Nancy Sullivan). Dave says this is similar to the Brian Pillman loose cannon angle, where only Sullivan, Benoit, Nancy, and Bischoff are in on it and they're trying to pass it off as legit to everyone even within the company. Pretty much everyone at the bar works for WCW and because they've been fooled before by Pillman, most of them weren't buying it, but at least a few people thought it was real (umm....about that...)

- There's talk of doing a Nasty Boys vs. Outsiders angle, playing off the real-life incident a couple of weeks ago between Jerry Sags and Scott Hall.

- The Chicago-Sun Times newspaper did an article about Steve McMichael, saying he earns a mid-six figures salary. Dave says McMichael was making $350,000 as an announcer but he doesn't know how much he makes now to wrestle "or whatever it is they call what he does." Ouch. Dave then goes on to bury McMichael's mic work, saying his wife Debra is carrying him in promos and says that McMichael is still occasionally training and is still barely able to do the basics.

- Both Juventud Guerrera and Jushin Liger have missed WCW events lately because they're having visa issues that have kept them out of the country.

- Between the Rumble and Raw, the last couple have nights have been the Steve Austin show and Dave says at this point, Austin is arguably the premier all-around top performer in the country right now.

- Brian Pillman is expected back in action in about 3 months. Meanwhile, Marc Mero will be out of action for several weeks for a personal situation but Dave doesn't know the details (we never find out what his "personal situation" is, but a few weeks later, he tore his ACL and ended up being out for 6 months and was never the same again).

- WWF has a house show in Knoxville next month and are treating it like somewhat of a Smoky Mountain Wrestling reunion show. Buddy Landel is scheduled to come in for a match and T.L. Hopper and Freddie Joe Floyd will use their old ring names for that night only (Dirty White Boy and Tracy Smothers respectively) and will face former SMW tag team The Headbangers. Tom Prichard will also work the show, using his real name instead of one of his many WWF gimmick names.

- WWF will be holding a press conference in Toronto to announce the signing of Tiger Jeet Singh, who will be helping to book WWF tours in India, Pakistan, and other Middle East countries. His son Tiger Ali Singh is expected to join the company also.

- This week's Shotgun Saturday Night (filmed in a bar in San Antonio this time instead of New York since they were there for Rumble) was a much better show than the previous episodes, with Funk cutting a crazy promo and then getting into a brawl with Steve Austin. (There's an HD quality version of this on WWE.com but all the good parts are edited out. Here's the full version, with Funk calling Todd Pettingill's mother a whore and calling Austin an asshole, among other things, while Vince apologizes because they're on live TV).

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Doesn't matter anyways, I've found truth & Brotherly Love from someone who didn't have "moles" in the office holding up a glass to closed door meetings trying to hear the "dirt". My guy was actually in the meetings, but you boys go ahead and take everything this assclown says as troof, I'll be over here in reality.

#pipebomb #fDm #rumorandinnuendo

No worries tho fam, still gonna read this propaganda!!!!!!!
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[+] 2 users Like Fro's post
can we please keep this 78k heresy out of future rewinds
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- Legendary 1950s and 60s wrestler Jerry Graham passed away this week at age 68 and Dave gives us the usual lengthy obituary, starting with how Graham and his brother Eddie often sold out Madison Square Garden during the Capital Wrestling days when Vince McMahon Sr. was just getting started. Graham is most famous for being part of the match that led to the famous 1957 riot at MSG, that nearly killed the wrestling business in New York and led to MSG banning children under 14 for the next 20 years. Graham was also legendary for his wild out-of-the-ring behavior, with endless drunk and disorderly arrests (so much so that he had an alias--Richard Hertz, get it?--and had multiple arrests under that name as well as his real name). Throughout the 60s and 70s and even into the 80s, his alcohol addictions cost him jobs and he burned bridges everywhere. In 1969, when Graham's mother had heart problems, Graham called the doctor and threatened him that she had better recover. She didn't, and after she died, Graham and 12-year-old son went to the hospital armed with a knife and shotgun and attempted to steal her body. He literally carried her corpse out on his shoulders until police intervened and after a brief standoff, he was arrested and later institutionalized. Graham hated the police and even lost wrestling gigs because he would talk shit about cops on commentary or in promos. Graham had a stroke in December and had been comatose ever since. Friends and nurses tried for 2 months to locate his children, but never did and eventually Graham died last week, penniless and alone.

- After more than 30-years as the voice of Memphis wrestling, USWA announcer Dave Brown abruptly quit the promotion after an argument with current USWA general manager Larry Burton. Dave Brown was the longest running pro wrestling announcer in the biz, along with his partner Lance Russell. (Dave also adds that "Brown is even more famous locally for being the most popular television weatherman and perhaps the most famous local news personality in the Memphis market for the past two decades." which, yup, entirely true. And would continue to be true for another 18 years after this was written.) Larry Burton has heat with pretty much everyone in the company except for his friend Jerry Lawler and apparently Burton made some sort of remark to Brown that was finally the last straw for him and he quit. During the next taping, Lawler and Corey Maclin handled commentary duties and no reference to Dave Brown was made at all. Word is several other wrestlers have either already quit or threatened to.

- The NWO-branded PPV Souled Out took place this week and Dave calls it the single worst PPV show in the history of pro wrestling. Matches, commentary, skits, atmosphere, you name it. All of it was godawful. I really wish I could just copy and paste all the various burns Dave throws at this show when reviewing it. Basically, they couldn't have put on a worse show if they tried. Endless screwjobs, bad comedy, etc. Eddie Guerrero vs. Syxx in a ladder match was the only saving grace of the show, although the commentary during it was the worst. "By this time the show was about as much fun to watch as three hours of somebody masturbating. In fact, I'm not sure that isn't what we were watching." And we're not even at the main event yet! Speaking of, Dave gives the Hogan/Giant match negative stars and it ended with them exposing Giant's ass and spray painting NWO on it. Hey, this PPV has a WrestleCrap entry!


- Michinoku Pro wrestlers Tajiri and Taka Michinoku are going to be working some shows for EMLL in Mexico soon. Several of them are also booked for upcoming ECW shows.

- WWF is sending fake-Razor, fake-Diesel, and Jake Roberts to work an AAA show in Mexico, as part of the working agreement between the 2 companies.

- AAA president Antonio Pena and Konnan are at it again, having a war of words in the media. Pena returned from the Royal Rumble talking about how well the AAA guys got over in the United States (not even close to true) and that WWF was very pleased with them. Konnan, naturally, responded in an interview shitting on how much the AAA guys flopped at the Rumble. Pena responded by saying that all of Konnan's wrestlers in WCW don't ever get pushed and only get to wrestle each other because WCW doesn't take them seriously.

- Dave off-handedly mentions all the attributes that various promoters over the years seem to like. Verne Gagne pushed amateur wrestlers and college football players. Vince McMahon likes muscular bodybuilders. Bill Watts liked big football players. And Giant Baba likes tall guys.

- Miss Texas (later to become WWE Hall of Famer Jacqueline) quit USWA this week, although it wasn't due to Larry Burton. She has accepted an offer with WCW and debuted this week on Nitro, getting involved in the Benoit/Sullivan/Woman storyline.

- Lance Storm should be debuting in ECW soon.

- Tito Santana and his wife Leah have opened up a beauty salon in New Jersey. Santana is also working on becoming a full-time teacher and currently works as a substitute PE teacher.

- A Pittsburgh newspaper reported that 2 houses and a car were vandalized with spray paint. You guessed it: someone spray painted "NWO" on them.

- Tony Halme (formerly Ludvig Borga) is reportedly trying to get WWF to bring him back in.

- Ken Shamrock's UFC contract has expired and he's currently a free agent. UFC offered him $250,000 to re-sign for a year but Shamrock hasn't accepted (spoiler: he ends up somewhere else...)

- Randy Savage's new WCW contract is for $1 million per year, for a limited number of dates. WCW justified the huge deal because without Savage, they would have also lost the Slim Jim sponsorship, which brings in $500,000 per year to WCW. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall both have clauses in their contract that no one can be paid more than them, so when Savage signed his new deal, both Hall and Nash were given raises to $1 million per year (both men started out at $780,000 per year less than a year ago).

- WCW will be raising the price of the NWO t-shirts because they're such a hot-selling item.

- WCW had huge first day advance sales for the SuperBrawl PPV, with people actually camping out the night before to be the first to buy tickets. Dave says that's never happened before, even when WWF was at its hottest.

- When WCW was in Green Bay recently, they put out a photo to the media of Lex Luger in a Green Bay Packers uniform from back in 1982. Luger was in Packers training camp during the pre-season back then but was never on the active roster.

- WCW will be holding a show in Montreal in April, and the top 2 matches are going to be Hulk Hogan vs. Jacques Rougeau and The Giant vs. Pierre Ouellet. There's also rumors that Jack Tunney will be helping WCW to promote the show.

- WWF is considering making some changes to Monday Night Raw after 2 weeks of record low ratings. As of now, there are no plans to move the show to a different night but they have talked about going live more often and possibly increasing the show to 2 hours. Dave says the costs of doing a live 2 hour show every week would cost the company in the 6-figures weekly so if that happens, it'll be interesting to see how WWF and the USA Network would split the bill. When WCW started running live every week, WWF publicly said WCW was wasting money by doing it, but it ended up being the reason TNT beat out USA as the top prime time network last year and USA is desperate to do anything to reverse that trend.

- As usual, the Royal Rumble buyrate is the source of some lies, as WWF is claiming it did an 0.8 buyrate while other sources say it was 0.6. Either number would be a big drop from last year's Rumble buyrate. For what it's worth, every 0.1 is worth about $325,000 in pure profit for WWF, so even that difference amounts to over half a million in profit.

- Spin magazine published an article about WWF, mentioning that Vince McMahon, "barely escaped conviction in a 1994 federal drug-trafficking trial." WWF was upset by it and has requested a retraction from Spin.

- On WWF Superstars, they did an angle where Undertaker choke-slammed Sable to write her off TV for a bit. Sable is expected to return with a "more aggressive" personality (don't waste your time looking for this, we find out later that it never aired).

- WWF has been negotiating with CFL football player Glenn Kulka to become a wrestler. Kulka did an angle a few years back where he was in Bret Hart's corner for a match (yeah this guy eventually becomes a wrestler and holds a victory in a WWF dark match against the legendary Sexton Hardcastle).

- WWF has dropped the live aspect of WWF Livewire and they won't be doing live phone calls and all that stuff anymore. Between Shotgun Saturday night and Livewire on Saturday morning both being filmed live, they were overworking the production staff.

- Shotgun Saturday Night has been moved back an hour and will now air at midnight in New York. The station that carried it was concerned over the language Terry Funk used on the show last week, and that's why they decided to air the show later. There's talk of taping a future episode of the show at Penn Station.

- Lots of sickness going around in WWF right now. Vader has bronchial pneumonia, British Bulldog has the flu, and Shawn Michaels is still recovering from the flu as well.

- Goldust is beginning to get more of a mixed reaction, with some crowds starting to cheer him, but most still boo him.

- Sunny is reportedly the most downloaded celebrity on America On-line, having recently surpassed Teri Hatcher and Elle MacPherson.

- Letters section has some people comparing Bret to Shawn and arguing over who's better and who's overrated and yada yada. Also, some notes about the Mass Transit incident. One guy who was there says it was sickening and he was disgusted at how the crowd seemed to enjoy it so much. Someone else who was there says Tommy Dreamer came out to try to help the EMTs and calm the crowd and overall, everyone seems to agree that ECW fucked up big time on that one.
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- WWF and USA Network have been heavily discussing expanding Raws to 2 hours and running live every Monday night. Both sides want it, but the hold-up is negotiations over what percentage each side is going to pay for the weekly $100,000+ costs of doing the show live each week. USA is especially pushing for the 2 hour change because their new show Le Femme Nikita has been struggling against TNT's new Robin Hood series, probably because of the extra hour of wrestling lead-in that TNT has. February is sweeps month, so it's especially important for USA to have high ratings so they can demand more money for advertising. USA wanted to air the entire Royal Rumble match during last week's Raw episode, figuring that would do a huge rating. They ran commercials for several days advertising it, but then Request TV and Viewers Choice stepped in and threw a fit, claiming they had an exclusive deal to air the Rumble and prevented USA from airing it.

- Dave mentions that a lot of the wrestlers have been upset about the weekly Shotgun Saturday Night shows because the payoffs for working the show are so small (usually only a few hundred bucks) and that money is eaten up by the guys having to travel there for the show, stay overnight in expensive NYC, weird locations without proper locker rooms, and often screwing up their sleep schedules because the shows run until after midnight. The fact that the shows have been getting piss-poor reviews doesn't help. If Raw goes live weekly, it may negate the need for another live weekly show. There is talk of taping several weeks of the Shotgun show in advance but no word on any of that yet.

- WCW Nitro drew the first real sellout of the Mid South Coliseum in Memphis since a Lawler/Mantell vs. Dundee/Landel match in 1986. WCW ended up turning away several hundred fans at the door. It was the 4th largest gate in Memphis wrestling history.

- There's another long story about New York trying to shut down the upcoming UFC PPV in the state, demanding a bunch of rule changes (some of which were ridiculous, but many of which would later become what we see now in modern day UFC such as weight classes, 5 minute rounds, athletic commission judges, 10 point systems, certain banned strikes, etc.) Once again, it's all pretty interesting since we know it leads to MMA being banned in New York for the next 2 decades, but it's not wrestling soooo...

- Dark match at the latest Raw taping was a triangle match between Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and Sid. I only mention this because in the past, WWF triangle match rules were weird 5-minute time periods where guys would alternate in and out of the ring. But this time, the way they did the match was having all 3 men in the ring at the same time and whoever scored the pin became champion, which Dave calls "the same totally illogical and lame rules as WCW." And of course, to this very day, those are the rules of three-way matches and I'm not sure why Dave shits on it. Makes perfect sense to me.

- Time for some number crunching, as Dave looks at both WWF and WCW and compares TV ratings and house show attendance numbers fror the last 5 years in great detail. There's a lot of numbers and stuff here but I'll try to sum it up easily. When it comes to WCW, they're obviously in the midst of their hottest run ever. But there's a misconception that WCW winning the cable ratings war is some new thing, when in reality, WCW has pretty much always beaten WWF in cable ratings, with the Saturday Night show beating early Raw and Prime Time ratings all the time, but they weren't in prime time. And no one really paid attention until the companies began going head-to-head on Monday nights. The truth is, yes, WCW is winning the war but the alleged "decline of WWF" is overrated. 1996 was WWF's strongest house show year since 1991, even though their TV ratings have hit new lows. But overall, WWF is still doing strong business everywhere else and TV ratings haven't shown to have that much effect on ticket sales. In fact, WWF's house show business grew at a faster rate than WCW's did last year and with increased ticket prices, their house show business became even more profitable. There's a perception from people who believe the Monday night ratings are the entire business and believe WWF is in trouble because they're losing the ratings war, but overall, they're still pretty strong (I find stuff like this interesting, because the revisionist version of history is that WCW damn near put WWF out of business until Vince heroically fought back and conquered his enemy. Reality is, they were never even remotely in danger of it and aside from TV ratings, they were doing their best business in years on every other front. Sure, they were a distant second in TV ratings but in all other aspects of the business, WCW was only barely winning).

- EMLL ran their first ever tour of Japan (only the 2nd foreign promotion to tour Japan on their own, the other being WWF) and they sold out Korakuen Hall with what was said to be a great show with a hot crowd.

- Fake Diesel, fake Razor, and Jake Roberts worked an AAA show this week in Mexico. They all worked in the main event against 3 AAA stars in a match that was said to have sucked. Fake Razor in particular nearly killed Pierroth Jr. with a botched Razor's Edge finisher.

- Speaking of, there's a lot of people (Dave included) who think AAA is making a mistake with this WWF partnership. AAA is heavily promoting the WWF stars on TV as if they are major stars but when they come in, it's obvious they aren't that good and can't hang with AAA's main eventers. Furthermore, most Mexican fans don't have a clue who guys like Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels are, much less Fake Razor and Fake Diesel. For AAA to bring these guys in and have them win matches over their own homegrown top stars makes AAA look bad. Furthermore, AAA is making the same mistake that other promotions have made, where they heavily promote the shows featuring WWF stars and thus make their own shows seem less important. In the past, when that happened, it's led to fans seeing the local promotion as less special and they would only draw big crowds if there were WWF wrestlers there and it ends up hurting the smaller promotion (SMW and USWA are good examples of where this happened) who are then unable to draw on their own unless they have a big WWF star on the card.

- AAA President Antonio Pena has also been named the President of WWF Latino, which I guess will be WWF's new show airing in Mexico. In an interview about it, Pena took the time to insult Eric Bischoff as well as Kevin and Nancy Sullivan. He said Bischoff was a second-rate TV announcer who uses Ted Turner's money to buy talent but doesn't know how to use them. He called Kevin Sullivan an old man who has no business wrestling and is only on TV because he's the booker. And finally, he said Nancy Sullivan had no talent and was only in the biz because she's married to the booker.

- Dave hasn't yet seen the recent Kobashi vs. Misawa match in AJPW but he's been told by people that it's the best match of Kobashi's career, which is saying a lot (I checked and it looks like Dave ended up giving it 4.75 which is barely watchable by mid-90s Kobashi-standards).

- Former USWA general manager Randy Hales and announcer Corey Maclin are the lastest names to leave the company over issues with new general manager Larry Burton. After Dave Brown left last week, Corey Maclin wanted a raise since he was to become the new lead announcer. He didn't get the raise, so he left. So now, with both announcers gone, they brought in a couple of local sports talk radio hosts to handle the announcing duties. Word is they were terrible. As for Hales, he was apparently just sick of it all. There's a lot of people in the company who are bitter at Jerry Lawler because of all this and feel like he turned their back on them by putting Burton (who is universally disliked) in charge of the day-to-day operations of the company.

- At the beginning of the most recent ECW Arena show, Paul Heyman and all the wrestlers came out (heels on the stage, faces in the ring) and Heyman gave a speech and thanked every wrestler, one-by-one, and formally announced ECW's first PPV taking place April 13th, which will be called Barely Legal (part of this is shown on the Network on ECW Hardcore TV ep. 198 and it's so great). Dave notes that the end of the PPV is scheduled to be some sort of finish with Terry Funk in the ring standing tall with all the fans, almost as the father figure of the promotion since he helped build them since the very beginning.

- Also of note from the ECW show, Bubba Ray Dudley turned heel and joined up with D-Von Dudley. It will lead to those 2 Dudleys feuding with The Gangstas (and thus, the Dudley Boyz we know and love today were finally born. And they hit their first ever 3-D during this bit too).

- Other random ECW notes: Lance Storm debuted, beating Balls Mahoney in his first match and looked great. Roadkill didn't tuck his chin on a powerbomb from Bubba Dudley and hit his head hard and got a concussion and had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Mikey Whipwreck blew out his knee and will be out for about a month and is on crutches.

- Indie promoter Dennis Coraluzzo is promoting an Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show right across the river from Philadelphia the night before ECW's PPV, which Dave says isn't a coincidence. Man, this Coraluzzo guy would look for any opportunity to try to fuck over ECW.

- An unnamed Hollywood movie studio is working on a documentary about pro wrestling along the lines with the movies Hoop Dreams and Pumping Iron, where they will follow the stories of a couple of aspiring pro wrestlers. Ron Howard is an executive producer on the project. If you're interested, Dave gives an address to send your videos and resume (if you're curious, the concept obviously changed and this would be the movie that eventually became Beyond The Mat).

- An indie promotion called Soul City Wrestling ran a show last week called Beat The Whiteys night. It was all black babyface wrestlers against all white heels.

- A group in Japan is trying to put together a big show for the Tokyo Dome and the hope is to have former UWFI star Nobuhiko Takada face Rickson Gracie in the main event. The promotion offered Gracie $1 million to do a worked match with Takada, but he turned it down. Then they made a second offer, where the match would consist of 3 ten-minute rounds, with the first round being worked and the other 2 rounds being shoot. But Gracie turned it down again and said he wouldn't do the match unless it was a 100% shoot. Word is Takada wants to retire anyway, so he may be willing to do the fight since he'll get a big payday out of it, even though he'll almost certainly get destroyed by Gracie (the fight eventually happened at the first ever PRIDE show and yeah, Takada got roasted).

- The Debra McMichael/Woman angle where they've been bad-mouthing each other has been dropped (Dave doesn't say why but I assume because of the real-life heat between them that was mentioned a few weeks ago). It's a shame because the Debra/Woman feud was actually getting over pretty well. Instead, Debra is now bad-mouthing Jacquelyn (formerly Miss Texas in USWA). Dave says the Jacquelyn storyline is going to flop hard. "She has the look for Memphis wrestling but not for national television. She can't talk and she has no chemistry with Kevin Sullivan." Jacquelyn was also involved in the botched finish of a Konnan/Benoit match on Nitro, where she was supposed to get a chair from under the ring, but some WCW production idiot had taken the chair and was sitting on it, leaving Jacquelyn frantically looking for a chair under the ring that wasn't there, while the finish of the match totally fell apart.

- Curt Hennig is expected to start with WCW in May.

- NBA player Dennis Rodman was offered $500,000 by WWF to be in Goldust's corner at Wrestlemania and eventually set up a tag team match at Summerslam with Goldust and Rodman against some other team. Rodman then turned around and went to WCW and gave them a chance to beat WWF's offer. No word on whether or not WCW will bite or not and it's also unsure if Rodman's NBA deal will allow him to be involved in wrestling.

- Arn Anderson is out with a hand injury. No word on what it is exactly, but word is it's serious and he's expected to be out for awhile (wasn't exactly his hand. It ended up being the neck injury causing numbness in his arms and hands and it eventually led to his retirement soon after but of course, we'll get to that).

- Rey Mysterio Jr. has been told that he needs major knee surgery which would keep him out of action for around 6 months. Instead of getting the surgery, Mysterio has continued working while wearing a heavy knee brace, "because he's 22 and that's how 22-year-olds think," Dave says. In the past, guys struggling to make a living in wrestling might have had no choice but to work injured. But in this case, Mysterio is lucky enough to work for a company that would pay for the surgery and pay him his guaranteed contract amount while he recovers, so Dave thinks he's kinda foolish for not getting the surgery. Dave says the long-term effects of working on bad knees like this are inevitable (sure enough, 20 years later and Mysterio's knees are basically held together by duct tape and wishes at this point).

- WCW referee Randy Anderson was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year. He underwent 25 chemo treatments and it is believed the cancer is gone now and doctors gave him a good recovery prognosis (sadly, not for too long. The cancer eventually returned and Anderson died in 2002).

- Last week at the WWF Superstars taping, they filmed an angle where Undertaker chokeslammed Sable after a match with Marc Mero. But when the show aired this week, the chokeslam angle was edited out and never aired. Dave doesn't say why, but I assume WWF wasn't quite ready to risk airing the man-on-woman violence yet that would eventually become a staple of the Attitude Era.

- In his Calgary Sun newspaper column this week, Bret Hart once again took some shots at one of his favorite targets, Hulk Hogan. In the article, Hart wrote, "WCW has something far worse than bad referees, they have Hulk Hogan. Hogan lost his flair so long ago that it boggles my mind why people would want to tune into that. Watching myself plod along like Hogan, an old, pathetic embarrassment would be too much for me to take. When I walk out, whether it is three months from now or three years from now, I will hold my head high. Perhaps the strongest reason I didn't go to WCW is because I pictured myself getting lost in the shuffle in a deck of cards filled with Hulk Hogan. One thing about the WWF in contrast to WCW is that we almost always take their previous stars and make them brighter and they take our stars and make them dimmer. I'm sure Diesel and Razor are quickly finding out what it's like to be on the Hulk Hogan show. They smile when they go to the bank but they cry themselves to sleep." Dave says he doubts either Hall or Nash is crying over their career choice.
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- WWF and USA Network officially confirmed this week that Monday Night Raw will be expanding to 2-hours and going live each week. After Raw, they will tape a 1-hour Superstars show to air the following Sunday. This will also affect Shotgun Saturday Night, which is rumored to be undergoing a format change, possibly becoming more of a recap show interspersed with pre-taped skits. The live shows in NYC nightclubs has been a huge flop so far. Last week's episode, taped at Penn Station, had crowd chants of "boring!" that were so loud that even Vince McMahon had to acknowledge it on commentary. As for the Monday night wars, Dave thinks in the short term, it will make both companies more competitive, but he says the long-term costs and stresses on everyone's sanity have to be considered, and talks about how the 2/10 episode of Nitro was an aimless mess and no one seemed to have a clue what they were doing. He also cryptically says, "Some people have some nasty habits that they better get in check or far bigger problems than losing in the ratings are ahead." He doesn't specify who he's talking about, but if I was a betting man, I'd guess Shawn.

- Dave goes into a loooong recap of UFC 12, from the ridiculous court battle in New York that forced them to move the show at the last minute, how it almost all fell apart, the middle of the night flight from NY to Alabama to get everyone to the show on time, the fights themselves, and Mark Coleman's breakout performance. As always, really interesting and insightful stuff if you're an MMA fan.

- AAA president Antonio Pena filed a lawsuit against La Parka, with Pena claiming he owns the rights to the La Parka name and gimmick (this of course turns into a huge legal mess in the coming years).

- In New Japan, they're doing an NWO angle there as well, with lower level NWO guys like Scott Norton and Marcus Bagwell trying to recruit Japanese wrestlers for the group. They've started an angle where Masa Chono is trying to decide whether to sign with the NWO or with NJPW. They're also doing an angle similar to the Sting thing, where Keiji Muto (Great Muta) is basically playing the lone wolf and no one knows who's side he's on. NJPW is also interested in bringing in Hall and Nash for some shows.

- Lance Russell returned to USWA to handle announcing duties in the wake of both Dave Brown and Corey Maclin leaving. Russell has agreed to do the show for the rest of the month and would be willing to continue to do it periodically afterward, but he refused to commit to doing the show on a weekly basis because he's mostly retired and spends a lot of time vacationing. He acknowledged Dave Brown having left the promotion and spoke as if they were trying to convince Brown to change his mind and return.

- Brian Pillman also made an appearance in USWA this week, cutting a total heel promo, saying Lance Russell has Alzheimer's and saying his "close personal friend" Dr. Jack Kevorkian could fix Russell's problems. Sunny is expected to appear on the show next week (this Pillman promo is absolutely tremendous and he's on commentary for the next match too).

- ECW is planning to add more bleachers to the ECW Arena for the PPV in April and claim they will be able to put 2,300 people into the building. Dave finds that hard to believe since the building is usually already packed to the gills as it is, and with the PPV, they'll need more equipment running inside than ever before and that will take up room also. For now, the plan is to run a 2nd PPV in August and perhaps a 3rd in November (yup).

- Billy Jack Haynes and Matt Borne both have radio shows in Portland and seem to have developed a problem with each other. On his show, Haynes talks about how wrestling is a work and seems to be trying to goad Borne into admitting it also. Haynes challenged Borne to a $10,000 winner-take-all shoot-fight and at one point, Haynes accused Borne of being on cocaine and Borne responded by saying something about Haynes "being propositioned by homosexuals when he was in the WWF." Haynes then responded by saying Borne got fired by WWF for failing piss tests or something. So far, that's all it has amounted to, just a bunch of weird shit-talking at each other on the radio.

- Don Harris, of the Harris Brothers team, recently sued a plastic surgeon in Nashville for malpractice regarding scars on his chest that the surgeon apparently botched or something. The case went to a hung jury.

- Sylvester Stallone's son Sage Stallone did a run-in at a recent Incredibly Strange Wrestling show. Fun fact, as a child, Sage Stallone also made an appearance in GLOW because his grandmother was the promoter.

- On Nitro this week, Kevin Sullivan "delivered one of the nuttiest interviews in pro wrestling history." It was mostly a shoot, with Sullivan talking about having conversations with "one of he and Nancy's best friends, Paul E." and a whole bunch of other nonsense. Basically the whole thing made no sense and Dave says Kevin and Nancy are going to extreme lengths to convince everyone that they're separated, even backstage. Dave seems annoyed that Sullivan seems to find it so important to work the wrestlers along with the fans (Dave was so far out of the loop on this one).

- On the same show, Roddy Piper cut a promo, saying Hulk Hogan should move to San Francisco (implying that he's gay) and also made a crack about NBA player Dennis Rodman being gay, which was probably ill advised since WCW is battling WWF in negotiations with Rodman to get him to come in and work an angle.

- There had previously been discussions about Harlem Heat going to WWF but that seems to be a dead issue now and they're staying with WCW.

- Jacques Rougeau held a press conference in Montreal to promote WCW's show there in April and it featured appearances by Hogan and The Giant as well. The press conference got more media coverage than any wrestling show in the history of Montreal, with every TV outlet, radio, and newspaper all giving it heavy coverage, much of it making front page news. They're hoping to sell-out the 24,000 seat Molson Center, which if it happens, would break the all-time indoor attendance record in Montreal.

- Dave says to expect both Randy Savage and Sting to be back in the ring soon (Savage, yes. Sting, not until December).

- NWO Souled Out did a 0.47 buyrate which was pretty much only half of what Starrcade did, so not only was it a terrible show, it was also a flop by that standard also. Dave thinks this shows that the NWO is definitely over big time with casual fans but when it comes to paying customers who buy PPVs, not so much.

- On a radio show in Chicago this week, Vince McMahon and Jim Ross were the guests, there to promote the upcoming Wrestlemania 13. A caller asked them about the Road Warriors and apparently Vince talked about them as if they might be bringing them in soon (yup, literally the very next week).

- Yokozuna is said to have lost 310 pounds, which Dave says would have to be due to some sort of surgery if it's true (wasn't true. Yoko pretty much continued to gain weight until he died).

- Steve Austin appeared on MTV's Idiot Savants show this week (I can't find video but apparently he read the following poem):

I've traveled the world the last few years
Sometimes I think of home
and even Stone Cold has to fight the tears
Another car, bus, or plane takes me to far away places
But what I remember most is all the smiling faces
Short people, tall people, people with glasses
The bottom line is I'll whip all your asses.

- On the most recent (and last) live Shotgun Saturday Night show filmed at Penn Station, Undertaker tombstoned Hunter Hearst Helmsley on an escalator and the Godwinns slopped Pat Patterson who then tried to kiss Sunny. Speaking of Sunny, Entertainment Tonight was there filming something with her before the show.

- Al Snow is expected to get a new gimmick soon where he'll be in a mask and feud with the AAA wrestlers (never happened, since the AAA partnership didn't last much longer and Al Snow was back in ECW soon after).

- Letters section is just an interesting mish-mash of people's thoughts on the Monday night wars. Some say WCW's success seems to have gone to Eric Bischoff's head and he seems too arrogant and cocky and needs to wake up if he thinks WWF is dead. Others say WWF is quietly coming back, with guys like Austin, Bret, Michaels, and Undertaker doing great work. Another guy says NWO is getting worse and worse by the week and the angle is getting stale. So on and so forth. Point being, WCW is still winning the war, but people are beginning to see tiny cracks in the ship.
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1997 is the WWF's best year IMO. Everyone was doing amazing shit and it hadn't derailed into the absurd mess it would become during the heights of the AE.
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- This week marked one of the strangest weeks in WWF history, with multiple big stories all happening over the course of the last 5 days, starting with Shawn Michaels vacating the WWF title due to a knee injury on Thursday that is said to be so bad it could be career ending. Michaels appeared on a special Thursday night episode of Raw and cut a teary-eyed promo before vacating the belt 3 days before the PPV. Dave says Shawn's problem clearly isn't a knee injury and basically said it seems like Shawn simply emotionally needs a break (I think Shawn has indeed said he was pretty much nearing a mental breakdown at this point). To their credit, WWF isn't pressuring Shawn to suck it up and keep working. Dr. James Andrews later said Michaels wouldn't require surgery at all and 4-6 weeks of rehab and he should be fine. But Shawn is now out of Wrestlemania and the plan is for him to maybe appear as an announcer before returning to the ring full-time in the fall. But needless to say, this has thrown Wrestlemania plans into chaos just 1 month before the show. With the title being vacated, the belt was held up at In Your House, and Bret Hart won the title, only to lose it a day later to Sid on Raw. And now, the plan is for Sid vs. Undertaker to headline Wrestlemania, and some say Bret Hart may be second-guessing his decision to re-sign with WWF at this point.

- In his promo vacating the title, Shawn talked about the knee injury as potentially career ending and said he needed to go home and find his smile because he lost it. Shawn reportedly told WWF only the day before that he was taking time off and said his doctor in San Antonio told him his knee injury could be a career ender. WWF considered doing an angle with someone attacking his knee to write him off TV but instead chose to just do a promo and have him vacate the belt because they were concerned that if his knee really was hurt that badly, they could damage it further by filming the angle. After Brian Pillman spent a few weeks hobbling around the ring and getting involved in matches, only to re-aggravate his ankle injury, WWF was wary of the same thing happening to Shawn. That being said, nobody is really buying the knee injury as the real story. It's believed Shawn really does have a knee injury but as stated, it's not that bad and the real story seems to be an emotional breakdown. Dave says that just because someone looks like they live a charmed life, with money and good looks and fancy cars and all that doesn't mean they're any less immune to the same problems that everyone faces. In fact, for someone in his position, as the person carrying the company, the stresses are probably worse. Shawn is living his dream and has achieved everything he's ever worked for, but with all the focus being on TV ratings now days, people see him as a failure as champion (despite the fact that business is better than it has been in years aside from the TV ratings). Dave says Shawn is known to be a bit immature, especially when things don't go his way, and it was reportedly made worse when his buddies (Hall, Nash, 1-2-3 Kid) left. No one knows the full story, other than Shawn seems to have something personal going on and needs time away, and so be it. Dave mentions that this is the third time Shawn has lost a championship without losing it in the ring (stripped of the IC title in 1993 after walking out on the company, vacated the IC belt again in 1995 after the Syracuse beating, and now this).

- Rocky Maivia, after being a pro wrestler for less than a year, was given the IC title last week and it backfired big time. There has been concern since he debuted that WWF was pushing him too fast and that the crowd would reject him and sure enough, even before he won the title, during the match, the crowd was chanting "Rocky sucks!" at him. Dave worries that this will become a Erik Watts/Van Hammer situation where the crowd totally rejects someone who is over-pushed too fast (I suppose it worked out okay in the end).

- The ECW/WWF working relationship is back on. Well, it never really stopped, as the two sides have been working together behind the scenes for awhile now (Heyman helped in the development of Shotgun Saturday Night, for instance). This time, the plan is for ECW wrestlers to invade Raw next week, although they may not be coming in as heels this time and instead, it may be more of a relationship like the AAA deal, where they simply work alongside WWF and have their talent work WWF shows. All of this is to help promote ECW's first PPV in April, which will surely help them do a good enough buyrate for the show to be a success. This week, Jerry Lawler cut an anti-ECW promo on the show during a phone call with Paul Heyman, which basically was done to set up ECW's invasion as an ECW vs. Lawler deal. It's actually fortunate that all the ECW talent will be on Raw next week because most of the WWF crew will be on a tour of Europe so they're running with a skeleton crew and need as many warm bodies as they can to fill a 2 hour show (Heyman with the "neighborhood watch" line about Lawler is hilarious).

- WCW and TBS have decided to begin airing another live, 2-hour prime time wrestling show sometime in the near future. All the decisions haven't been finalized yet, but it will likely be a Thursday night show. TBS would largely fund the show so it would guarantee a massive influx of new money into WCW without them having to fund it out of their own budget. Of course, this brings up the question of over-saturation. Many people, Dave included, thought WCW starting Nitro and both companies increasing to monthly PPVs would over-saturate the market, but it turned out to be the opposite and business has been revitalized. The competition between WWF and WCW has changed the entire face of pro wrestling. The idea of long-term booking gave way to surprises, shock factor booking, and constantly changing plans to stay ahead of the enemy. After losing the ratings war for the last 30+ consecutive weeks, WWF expanded Raw to 2 hours and began going live every week. And now WCW is apparently responding by adding a new 2-hour show. Dave admits he was wrong before, but in every entertainment industry, there is a saturation point and he worries that this may be approaching that line. As for reaction within the company, when they learned about the new 2 hour show, the general response from most people was "How the hell are we going to pull this off?" (of course, this ended up being WCW Thunder but it didn't end up happening until early 98. Still nearly a year away but discussions are already happening).

- New Japan has been in serious negotiations with Ken Shamrock for the last week to set up a match with Shamrock challenging Shinya Hashimoto for the IWGP title at the Tokyo Dome. Shamrock is still under contract to Pancrase for 4 more fights but it's thought NJPW may have offered to buy out his contract. Shamrock hasn't fought for Pancrase in over a year due to some disputes over his contract. Before gaining fame as a shoot fighter in UFC and Pancrase, Shamrock actually worked as a pro wrestler and even did a tour with All Japan at one point (spoiler: this whole story changes dramatically in the next issue).

- Vince McMahon took himself off commentary this week on Raw to focus on running the show from backstage. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler became the main duo announcing the show (this isn't quite a permanent change yet but it will be soon and of course, they became one of the most legendary commentary duos ever).

- As mentioned, the latest In Your House PPV took place and was mostly uneventful aside from the title change forced by Shawn's forfeiting the belt before the show. Random notes: Sable has a new look, which is basically a carbon copy of Pamela Anderson from the movie Barb Wire. Hunter Hearst Helmsley carried Rocky Maivia through their match and Maivia's lack of experience was evident as he missed some spots. He's got potential, but they're really rushing his push too fast. After the match, Helmsley and Goldust looked ready to go at it, when a female "fan" began choking Marlena at ringside. The "fan" was actually female wrestler and bodybuilder Joanie Lee (Chyna) who has wrestled for and was trained by Killer Kowalski. It's believed she'll go under the ring name Joan and will be paired with Helmsley. As for Helmsley's previous bodyguard Mr. Hughes, he's already gone. Word is he was dealing with some health problems which started with high blood pressure and led to him being hospitalized in ICU last week with heart and kidney problems that were thought to be life-threatening. The 4-way main event was turned into an over-the-top rope elimination style match at the last minute in order to satisfy everyone's egos because none of them wanted to do a real job and be pinned.

- More notes from WWF's Thursday night Raw special. The atmosphere was basically an ECW-type crowd, with them chanting for Sid during Shawn's big lost smile speech and also chanting "You both suck!" at the dark match indie guys.Sid ended up winning the title from Bret after interference from Austin, which sets up Sid/Undertaker and Austin/Hart for Wrestlemania. There are also plans for Ahmed Johnson to face Faarooq in a Chicago Street Fight at Wrestlemania.

- AAA is running their first major show of 1997 and the plan is for Vince McMahon and Bruce Prichard to attend in order to set up the future plans for WWF/AAA shows. In particular, AAA wants top WWF stars (specifically Bret Hart) to work the Triplemania shows this year and actually plan to try to run a WWF vs. AAA angle at the event (the working agreement falls apart before then and no WWF guys ended up worked Triplemania).

- Dave finally got around to seeing the match with Misawa winning the Triple Crown title from Kobashi from AJPW which he had heard was one of their best matches ever. I guess he doesn't agree, because he *only* gives it 4.75 stars but he does say it's easily the best match of the year so far for 1997. But we're only a month and a half in, so, yanno...

- Puerto Rico company WWA recently ran their latest TV taping in a gym with less than 50 fans. They did previously have some kind of working relationship with WWF and Savio Vega is their champion. The promotion claims Shawn Michaels and Undertaker will be working shows for them soon but Dave is skeptical (never happened).

- The NWO angle in NJPW seems to be getting over pretty well, with every show for the last week sold out with Scott Norton, Marcus Bagwell, and Masahiro Chono headlining. NWO merchandise is also selling like crazy in NJPW, even more than they do in WCW. This week, Chono cut a promo promising the NWO would win all the titles in New Japan, saying Hall and Nash would come in and win the tag titles and that Syxx would win the J-Crown.

- A lot of newspapers in Japan are reporting that Olympic judo star Naoya Ogawa will become a pro wrestler and sign with NJPW. Neither side has confirmed it yet but it's getting a ton of press (Ogawa indeed became a wrestler and became a multiple time NWA champion and had a pretty famous feud with Shinya Hashimoto).

- WWF sent in several talents to work the latest USWA show. Sunny did commentary with Lance Russell. And a newly signed group called The Truth Commission was sent to the promotion to test out the gimmick. The team consists of Barry Buchanan (formerly The Punisher in SMW), Mike Hallick (formerly Mantaur), and a manager. Anyway, they eventually added a couple more people to the group and turned it into a faction and they were in WWF for a little while in 97.

- The talk of the most recent ECW house shows have been the 6-man tag matches featuring Michinoku Pro wrestlers Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada & Gran Naniwa vs. Taka Michinoku, Dick Togo & Terry Boy. The matches have been stealing the show and earning the participants long standing ovations afterwards. The heel team (Michinoku, Togo, Terry Boy) also joined the BWO as BWO Japan. Several other new guys debuted in ECW this week also. Bobby Duncam Jr., Lenny Lane, and Beef Wellington all worked the shows.

- Shane Douglas blew out his knee and had surgery this week. He came out on crutches at the ECW show and said he had torn his groin "working out" (wink wink) with Francince. No word on when he'll be back in the ring.

- Indie wrestler Scott Taylor (later known as Scotty 2 Hotty) has offers on the table from WWF, WCW, and ECW. He's worked off and on for WWF through the years as a jobber but now all 3 companies are interested in actually signing him. He worked the 2 recent ECW shows, putting over Taz both nights.

- There was some controversy over an ECW show that took place in Webster, NY because a local priest confused ECW with shoot-fighting promotion EFC (Extreme Fighting Championship) and made a big public stink, saying that ECW was banned in New York and tried to get the show stopped. Dave says that isn't the first and probably won't be the last time that happens.

- PPV channel Viewers Choice was quoted in a news story saying they would be willing to carry future ECW PPVs as long as ECW fixes the issues they had problems with before. Viewers Choice declined to carry the upcoming Barely Legal show because they had concerns over the angle with Raven and Sandman's son. But that angle has pretty much been dropped so if Barely Legal does a good buyrate on Request TV, then Viewers Choice will likely be carrying future shows.

- At a recent Clemson vs. Wake Forest game, Ric Flair was the honorary coach for Wake Forest. The game got a ton of mainstream attention and Wake Forest star (and top college player in the country) Tim Duncan attended Nitro and hung out with Flair and other stars. Flair also filmed a skit for the game with Dick Vitale. Dave thinks it's funny that Flair gets more mainstream press and is treated like a legit celebrity more now (at 48 years old) than he ever did during his heyday as the top wrestler in the world.

- A new guy named Ernest Miller debuted for WCW at the latest Saturday night tapings. Dave says he's a former New England Patriots football player (he went to the training camp but never made the team) and will be doing something with Glacier. Speaking of Glacier, everyone in the company pretty much agrees that the gimmick is a flop, but they spent a lot of money on it and it's Bischoff's brain child, so the character isn't going away any time soon.

- Word is Arn Anderson will probably need surgery for the hand injury he's dealing with.

- Ted Turner is expected to appear on the March 3rd episode of Nitro in an angle where he fires Eric Bischoff. The plan was supposed to be kept secret but pretty much everyone already knows. In fact, Mark Madden revealed it on the WCW hotline, which upset several people in WCW. When WWF found out, they managed to get a story planed in the New York Daily News saying that Turner is frustrated because he's been unable to overtake Vince McMahon in house show attendance and PPV buys and is getting desperate enough to start appearing on pro wrasslin' shows.

- Sting reportedly wants to return to the ring, but the plan is to keep him out for awhile longer (literally the rest of the damn year).

- The Giant got married on Valentine's Day last week (that one didn't last).

- Shawn Michaels reportedly asked Scott Hall about coming to WCW. Michaels is under a long-term contract with WWF so it's highly unlikely he's getting out of that deal easily so don't look for Shawn in WCW anytime soon.

- Ahmed Johnson is out with an infection in his arm. Awhile back, Faarooq hit Ahmed with a board in the match and the board splintered and the splinters got into Ahmed's arm, causing some kind of infection. It eventually got so painful that he went to the hospital and ended up being hooked up to an IV and was there for 5 days. No word on when he'll be back in action.

- On Raw, they had Goldust and Marlena cut a promo to emphasize that Goldust isn't gay and that is act is just mind games. The reason is that ever since he turned babyface, he hasn't been getting cheered because crowds still think he's gay and, well, yanno....the 90s. Afterwards, Helmsley and his new valet/bodyguard "Joan" came in and attacked Marlena.

- On the same Raw, the Headbangers beat a team called the Hardy Boys in a squash match but it was still the best match of the show and Jeff Hardy in particular took some great bumps.

- The Fake Razor and Fake Diesel gimmicks have been dropped in WWF, but they're still working shows for AAA in Mexico. Basically, the gimmicks sucked and didn't get over but you would think it wouldn't have taken them this long to figure it out.

- Brian Pillman is hoping to be back in the ring by April. His ankle recovery is finally making good progress.

- Vader was sent to the Duke weight loss clinic (same place Yokozuna was sent) and has reportedly lost close to 40 pounds.

- Former NFL player Darren Drozdov is being trained by WWF's Tom Prichard and will probably be brought in sometime in the future.
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- In a huge shocker, Ken Shamrock abruptly signed with WWF this week in a story that has implications throughout both wrestling and MMA. Shamrock signed a 3-year deal with a low 7-figure guarantee. It's an exclusive deal, which means Shamrock can no longer participate in UFC or any other shoot-fighting events or work for other wrestling promotions. Shamrock debuted on Raw and was interviewed in the crowd. They did a good job of portraying him as a former UFC fighter that they billed as "the world's most dangerous man." Given the size of the contract, Shamrock is going to have to be pushed as a major star and Dave says Vince is taking a huge risk on a guy who has never done American pro wrestling at this level before. He'll either pay off and end up a great investment, or end up a waste, just another more charismatic version of Mark Henry. Shamrock had been weighing offers from WWF, WCW, NJPW, and UFC before deciding on WWF. Coming in as a UFC outsider with little experience and making big money is sure to breed resentment against Shamrock in the locker room. It's expected Shamrock will officially debut at Wrestlemania, likely as a special referee for the Bret Hart/Steve Austin submission match.

- This whole thing really fucks over NJPW because they had just announced Ken Shamrock vs. IWGP champion Shinya Hashimoto for a Tokyo Dome show next month as well as plans for Shamrock to work a few other big events this year. It was predicted to be an easy sellout and would have likely ended up being the biggest money-making wrestling event in history before Shamrock pulled out. But that's what you get when you announce a match before having the guy signed to a contract I guess. NJPW were stunned when they found out Shamrock had appeared on Raw. It's not impossible that the match could still happen, but it's highly unlikely now because NJPW would have to renegotiate the deal through McMahon and with NJPW having a business relationship with WCW, it likely wouldn't go well. Plus, McMahon would almost surely insist that Shamrock win, meaning he'd have to win the title (no chance now that he's in WWF) or do a screw-job finish which is totally unacceptable for that type of match in Japan. Dave thinks McMahon would actually be smart to let Shamrock do it. WWF still wants to get a foothold in Japan and if they let Shamrock work a few huge shows there, even if he loses some of the matches, it will establish Shamrock as a huge wrestling star in Japan and WWF could then run their own shows there with Shamrock and probably do good business. But word is NJPW has no interest in negotiating with WWF and feel like they were double-crossed by Shamrock. So now they've got a huge Tokyo Dome show booked for next month and the big main event they were counting on to fill the stadium is dead. They're looking for a new opponent for Hashimoto. Dan Severn's name has been tossed around and they also have interest in Royce Gracie, but in the past, Gracie has been against the idea of doing worked matches so for now, it's still up in the air.

- When NJPW made their initial announcement about Shamrock, UFC counter-offered with a big money deal for 2 fights, one against Tank Abbott and another against UFC champion Mark Coleman (presuming Shamrock defeated Abbott). UFC's deal would have allowed Shamrock to work NJPW, but he couldn't do any jobs. WWF's deal offered more money than both NJPW and UFC but also requires much more travel and full time work and was an exclusive deal. Shamrock was scheduled to meet with Eric Bischoff for a meeting but WWF must have sweetened the pot because they convinced Shamrock to skip the meeting with Bischoff and fly straight to Connecticut to sign the deal. Shamrock had negotiations with WWF last year but he wanted $500,000 per year and WWF wasn't interested. But they're more desperate than ever now so negotiations reopened. Finally, Pancrase is still claiming to have Shamrock under contract and they have been tied up in legal battles over that, but they must not have too much of a case, since both NJPW and WWF were willing to sign him without concern.

- The latest on Shawn Michaels is that most people within the company are now acknowledging that Michaels is taking time off because he was burned out from the travel and pressure of carrying the company, plus he was unhappy about the plan to have him put over Bret Hart at Wrestlemania. Also, by forfeiting the title due to injury and giving the sympathetic interview, he put himself in a position to be even more of a babyface when he returns, without having to put over Hart. It's true that Shawn has a knee injury, but the belief now is that it isn't that bad and he could have continued working on it if he wanted to, but he didn't. As of now, there are no plans for Michaels to appear at Wrestlemania at all. Contrary to rumors, Shawn is not in any sort of drug rehab and friends have said that after being away from the company for the last 10 days or so, he's already found that lost smile he talked about. Shawn reportedly showed up backstage at a WCW show last month, apparently just to see his friends, but he has 5 years left on his WWF contract so the chances of him showing up in WCW are slim to none because it would require WWF to release him from the deal and that simply isn't happening. There reportedly wasn't any major heat on Shawn for being there.

- WCW and Turner Broadcasting reportedly attempted to purchase part of New Japan this week. NJPW has been the most successful company in the world for the last few years, with numerous Tokyo Dome sellouts bringing in millions of dollars per year. But the future of pro wrestling is PPV and television. NJPW and all the other promotions in Japan have TV deals in place, but the TV industry in Japan is vastly different than America. It's all complicated and I barely understand everything Dave is talking about. But the point is, the TV landscape is changing and Eric Bischoff's belief is that NJPW isn't ready for all the changes that are on the horizon. With Turner behind him, Bischoff wants to buy NJPW and set them up for bigger success in Japan by having them be the leaders when it comes to innovating their TV product. Bischoff openly admitted to interest in buying NJPW during an internet chat last week, saying that he believes much of the future talent in the next few years will come from Mexico and Japan. Bischoff will be in Japan later this month to discuss the possibility of buying a portion of the company and to become a major stockholder in it. If that doesn't work, there have also been discussions of WCW starting their own rival promotion in Japan to go against NJPW. Dave says buying NJPW will be nearly impossible because the promotion is already owned by numerous conglomerates rather than one person, and most of them don't have incentive to sell unless the money offer is just too good to ignore. The biggest chunk of the company is owned by TV-Asahi, which is one of Japan's 4 major TV networks and is backed by Rupert Murdoch. Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch are huge business rivals who basically hate each other, so they especially would likely have no interest in selling NJPW. There are also several wealthy businessmen, former wrestlers, and office employees who own portions of the company. It's very possible that Bischoff and WCW could buy a portion of NJPW and therefore have some say in how things are run, but near impossible that they could buy the whole thing outright unless Ted Turner is willing to dump an ungodly amount of money on something so unsure.

- EMLL president Paco Alonso was at WCW Superbrawl this week to put together a deal between WCW and EMLL. This now gives WCW access to wrestlers from 2 of the 3 major promotions in Mexico (EMLL and Promo Azteca). However, it's interesting because EMLL and Promo Azteca haven't always been on the best of terms either and it puts Konnan and Promo Azteca in a tough political situation. Before, Konnan always used his connections with WCW to get people to come to his promotion. But now EMLL has that connection also, so this could really hurt Konnan's promotion and might keep Konnan from being able to bring in new talent.

- WCW Superbrawl is in the books and like always, it had a great undercard capped off with a shitty main event (though not as shitty as usual!). Dave was there live and says the show was probably the most anticipated wrestling show in the area in the past 25 years. It was sold out 2 weeks in advance and if they had booked a larger building, it would have likely set an all-time gate record for WCW. As it is, it ended up being the 3rd highest ever. They also did their 2nd biggest night of merch sales ever.

- Notes from the show itself: during the 6-man lucha match early in the show, the referee botched the finish and counted 3 when he wasn't supposed to. The match was scheduled to go longer and there was a ton of heat on the ref backstage after. The crowd chanted "boring" during the Chris Jericho/Eddie Guerrero match and fans went to the concession stands in droves during it. During the Hall/Nash vs. Giant/Luger tag match, Syxx was interfering and ended up getting a legit separated shoulder and will be out for a few weeks. In the main event, Randy Savage turned heel and joined the NWO, which doesn't make storyline sense for at least a dozen different reasons, but whatever. That's WCW for you. Dave also mentions that Piper may have the most out of control ego in the company, even more than Hogan. He was no-selling moves during the match and during his promos in recent weeks, he's just been going totally off the rails and basically going into business for himself at every turn.

- As always, WWF lost the ratings battle to WCW this week, but there was a curious thing about the numbers. This was the Raw that featured the ECW invasion and interestingly enough, the ratings actually went up slightly during all the ECW segments, with the episode peaking during the BWO segment. It was obviously a huge win for ECW since they got to promote their own PPV during the show and expose their wrestlers to a much larger audience. In fact, there was more hype for ECW's Barely Legal on this show than there was for Wrestlemania in 4 weeks. Jerry Lawler was fantastic as playing the heel to Paul Heyman and ECW and Dave says it's interesting because Lawler legitimately does hate Heyman (more on that in a bit) but he's a pro and put his feelings aside and did a great job trashing ECW while still getting them over. And if Lawler ever goes to work an ECW show, he'll be the hottest heel they've ever had (damn right he was).


- Former UWFI champion Nobuhiko Takada has announced plans to form a new pro wrestling promotion and the idea is to build up to a Tokyo Dome show headlined by Takada vs. Rickson Gracie. Dave goes into all the details of the planned formation of the company, thoughts on the Takada/Gracie match and more, but I'm skipping it because it's actually not a wrestling promotion. It was MMA. And thus, PRIDE was born. I know that this is obstentsiably a wrestling newsletter, but if you have any interest in MMA, Dave covered it pretty much from day 1 with just as much detail and passion as he does wrestling, so for your MMA history buffs out there, you should really subscribe to it.

- Just a side note from the NJPW recaps of the last few weeks that I haven't been mentioning...Buff Bagwell and Scott Norton have been working over there as the NWO in Japan and for the last few weeks Dave has been talking about how well Bagwell is doing. He's getting over, he's having good matches and overall just seems to be kicking ass in Japan. Buff Bagwell. Yes, the same one.

- At a recent Promo Azteca show, Konnan got on the mic and talked about how "Razor Ramon" and "Diesel" are working shows for AAA. Konnan said those are imposters and that he's planning to bring in the real Kevin Nash and Scott Hall soon.

- WCW has created a women's cruiserweight championship and are holding a tournament to crown the first champion. You may have missed it because the title has only been mentioned once on WCW TV, during an episode of World Wide, which nobody watches. So expect them to crown a champion for that in a few weeks.

- USWA has moved their weekly Memphis shows to Saturday afternoons and attendance has gone up since the switch.

- During a Chris Candido vs. Sabu match in ECW, a fan in the crowd was really heckling Candido hard. Candido's girlfriend Sunny was backstage and poked her head out and began screaming back at the fan, which completely diverted attention from the match and had the crowd focusing on her.

- Sandman got into a big argument with Tod Gordon this week. Sandman was scheduled to appear at a Q&A fan thing and Gordon went to wake up Sandman (who had been out all night partying). Sandman apparently went nuts on Gordon because he was hungover and didn't want to do the event. Paul Heyman later said that if they weren't so close to the PPV, he would have suspended or fired Sandman for it. As it is, he is reportedly hitting Sandman with a big fine.

- Mikey Whipwreck needs reconstructive knee surgery and will be out of action for at least 6 months.

- Missy Hyatt was recently on a Ricki Lake show for an episode about plastic surgery (can't find video).

- In more news you may have missed, WCW created an NWO hotline but it was a total flop. In its entire first month, the NWO hotline did about the same amount of business as the normal WCW hotline usually does in 1 normal day.

- Ric Flair did an internet chat that was put together by KQRS radio station in Minneapolis, but it was so popular that it ended up blowing out the phone lines. Gather 'round children. You see, back in the olden days, internet used to run over phone lines and it was very, very slow and awful...

- Last week, WCW did an angle where the NWO ran the Steiners' car off the road. They got so many complaints over it that they won't air the angle on TV anymore and haven't even mentioned it since.

- A Pittsburgh newspaper ran a story about the WWF lawsuit against WCW, stemming from certain claims that Mark Madden made about WWF on the WCW hotline last year. During depositions in the lawsuit, Madden invoked a journalist's shield law in order to avoid having to reveal his sources. However, during the same deposition, Madden admitted that WCW has veto power over what he says on the hotline and that they could fire him if he didn't make script changes they requested. WWF's lawyers say that this makes Madden a shill for WCW and not a journalist and thus he should be forced to reveal his sources and say he deliberately passed false information to the public about WWF. Luckily, there were cameras in the courtroom to catch this whole debate.

- Marc Mero suffered a torn ACL and word is he will need reconstructive surgery and will be out for at least 6 months. And Steve Austin suffered a partial PCL tear in his knee and will be out of action until Wrestlemania and there's concern that he might not even be able to work Mania. But the belief is that it's such a big show and Austin is such an important part that, even if he's not 100%, he'll still work the match with Hart and take time off after (yup, that's exactly what happened). Because of those 2 injuries, they had to pull Billy Gunn back onto the road. He had been off doing an injury angle (he's not really hurt) but the roster is thin and they needed someone who could work, so Gunn is back doing matches on the road.

- Shotgun Saturday Night and Superstars are now basically the same show, just recaps and throwaway pre-taped matches.

- On Raw, there was real heat between Paul Heyman and Jerry Lawler, when Heyman made a reference to Lawler's legal problems from a few years ago (the alleged statuatory rape) and Lawler responded with a comment about breaking Paul Heyman's jaw, which is true. Lawler punched Heyman back in 1987 and legit broke his jaw.

- WWF's Knoxville house show was basically an SMW reunion with Freddy Joe Floyd and T.L. Hopper working under their old SMW names (Tracy Smothers and Dirty White Boy) and Sunny was over huge. She cut a heel promo saying she missed the building, but not the people. And of course, Jim Cornette got beat up to a huge pop.

- More on Yokozuna's alleged weight loss, he's apparently lost more than 200 pounds because he was retaining an absurd amount of fluid and when they got rid of that, it was an almost immediate 100 pound drop from that alone. They're also planning to do liposuction and hope to get him back down to a manageable weight soon (none of this ends up being true).

- Jim Ross' father recently passed away.

- The Road Warriors (using the Legion of Doom name) made a surprise return to WWF on Raw this week.

- Dan Severn had a meeting with WWF last month and it went well, but neither side wanted to do a full-time deal. It's expected Severn will probably end up working some shows for WWF but nothing full time.

- Davey Boy Smith is expected to win the European title tournament.
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- The final lineup for Wrestlemania 13 has been announced. The original plan of Ahmed Johnson vs. Faarooq singles match in a Chicago Street Fight match has been changed to a 6-man match with Johnson teaming up with the Legion of Doom going against the 3 main Nation of Domination members. And there has been talk of adding an AAA match to the show but if they do, it will likely end up on the pre-show (they didn't). The arena is almost sold out and it will probably be the biggest gate of the year but there's still a lack of momentum going into the show and Dave suspects the buyrate will probably be the lowest of any Wrestlemania ever. Shawn Michaels taking himself out of the picture at the worst time has really wrecked the momentum of the show and forced some plans to change.

- All Japan referee Joe Higuchi has announced his retirement at 68 years old. Dave says Higuchi is probably the most famous wrestling referee in the world, aside from Johnny "Red Shoes" Dugan, who was a legendary referee in the 60s-80s (in fact, current NJPW referee Red Shoes uses that gimmick in tribute to Johnny Dugan). Anyway, Joe Higuchi has been there from the start and even helped Giant Baba create AJPW in 1972 and his backstage duties went far beyond his referee job. Haguchi even worked as a wrestler in the 1950s for Rikidozan so he dates back pretty much to the earliest days of pro wrestling in Japan. When Higuchi announced his retirement, many in the crowd began to cry and even Giant Baba at ringside during the match was shedding tears.

- The biggest talk in wrestling and especially within UFC this week is about Ken Shamrock signing with WWF. While some have accused Shamrock of quitting MMA because he's ducking Mark Coleman or that he's injury prone, the fact is it's just an economic situation. Shamrock isn't getting any younger and had been eyeing a transition to pro wrestling in order to make as much money as he can while he still can. This is the same reason Shamrock chose WWF over NJPW. He has a much better chance of success in NJPW, but WWF simply offered more money. Dave talks about the challenges of getting Shamrock over to American audiences and says WWF will basically need to educate fans on submissions and treat Shamrock as the master of a more realistic, mat-based style of wrestling and that won't happen overnight. As for those within the business, a lot of people in WWF have told Dave that they think Shamrock should be pushed to the moon and made the champion immediately because of his legit credibility and think that his fame outside of wrestling will transition to stardom in wrestling. Dave disagrees, pointing out how NFL players like Lawrence Taylor and Steve McMichael have done pro wrestling (and who are much bigger mainstream stars than Shamrock) but it never really led to increased ratings or buyrates. And if NFL stars can't move the needle, a UFC guy isn't going to either. And in related news, NJPW is in a tough spot because everyone realizes they made a huge mistake by announcing the Shamrock vs. Hashimoto match before it was signed. Now they have a Tokyo Dome show scheduled next month without the advertised main event everyone wanted to see, and whatever they come up with to replace it will certainly seem second-rate by comparison.

- WCW Nitro sold out the Omni this week, the first time wrestling has actually sold out that building since the 70s. And it was capped off with a disaster of a promo by Roddy Piper, announcing his partners for Uncensored. The original plan was for Sting to form his own team for the show but with Piper being such a legit draw lately, they decided to delay Sting's return yet again and make it Piper's team. Piper, who has full creative control of his own angles, wanted to legit pick his own team to give his friends a chance in the company and for whatever reason, WCW agreed. He also brought out 6 random guys and fought them (several Power Plant guys) and wanted the fans to vote on whether they made his team or not. It was a confusing mess that fell apart and everyone booed and everyone in the back also realized it was a disaster that they couldn't stop once it started. Several of the guys Piper brought out were his legit no-name friends, but one of them was John Tenta. Everyone was blown up and doing the worst fighting you'll ever see while backstage, everyone was panicking at how bad the segment was. They even discussed plans to change the finish of Nitro on the fly in order to write Piper out of the upcoming PPV because they feared the damage was that bad, but they decided not to because no one wanted to break the news to Piper. So for now, WCW is hoping to convince Piper to dump his garbage teammates and instead team with the Horsemen for the PPV but it's dependent on Piper because he has the final say in who he wants to team with. But for now, Piper's team will be John Tenta, a Leprauchaun character named Craig and a kickboxer named Layton, all of whom are Piper's close real-life friends. And this, folks, is why you don't give people creative control. All that being said, WCW still won the ratings battle against Raw by the largest margin ever.

- Ted Turner was expected to appear on Nitro to fire Eric Bischoff but at the last minute he decided he didn't want to do a wrestling angle and so they got Harvey Schiller, who runs TBS Sports, to do the angle instead. But by the second hour of the show, they already pretty much ignored the angle and were proceeding as usual. Bischoff still hopes to get Turner to appear on the show soon.

- Meanwhile, Raw featured the best match on TV from either company since the Monday night wars began, with British Bulldog beating Owen Hart to win the near European title. Dave gives it 4.5 stars and calls it one of the best matches of the year so far and if it had been held on PPV with a better crowd atmosphere, it would have been even better. The plan for the European title is for it to be treated as another secondary belt similar to the IC title and it will be defended regularly in the U.S. and on PPVs. It's the first new title WWF has created since the IC title in 1979.

- The ECW angle is expected to continue on Raw this week, which surprised even Paul Heyman because you'd think WWF would be focusing on promoting Wrestlemania rather than ECW right now. Many in WWF thought the ECW angle last week was a waste and aren't happy about it. Backstage, everyone was professional and even Jim Cornette grudgingly shook hands with Heyman. Bret Hart, who has long hated ECW, ripped on them in his Calgary Sun newspaper column, saying, "...to call ECW second rate isn't accurate because to me, it doesn't even rate. It is interesting ECW wants to be on Raw. ECW cult guru, Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman) has brainwashed his followers into believing ECW is a rebel group that won't dilute the extreme nature of its style to conform to TV censors or arena administrators. While this philosophy has cultivated ECW's loyal following in their home area, it has kept them from expanding into other venues and limited them to poor TV time slots in only a few markets. It is not surprising Heyman is now trying to convince the cable companies his product is similar to WWF and WCW. What better way to show them that ECW has the WWF's stamp of approval than to be on Raw. The style of ECW matches on Raw was changed to make them acceptable to censors and fans. You'd think ECW followers would be outraged the ECW matches on Raw weren't hardcore. You'd think they'd turn on Paul E. for selling out everything he has been preaching to them. Instead, they all waved at the cameras."

- As for the rumors about WWF having a financial stake in ECW, Paul Heyman has flatly denied it. Many within the business don't believe it, but nobody has any proof. But with so much WWF airtime being devoted to the ECW PPV, it would be crazy if they didn't have some sort of financial interest in making sure it succeeds. Dave wonders what the end game is. Promotion vs. promotion angles almost always work but that doesn't seem to be the direction they're headed. An ECW vs. WWF feud would probably do big business for both of them in the short term. Long-term, who knows. ECW might not want to lay down for the WWF guys and fortunately for Paul Heyman, ECW is stable and strong enough right now that they don't need WWF so you'd probably run into a situation where neither company would want to come out on the losing end of an angle like that.

- Antonio Inoki is planning to hold another World Wrestling Peace Festival inter-promotional show in June in Mexico. The plan is for most of the matches to be made up of Japanese stars vs. Mexican stars so probably no WWF or WCW involvement.

- In AAA, they're doing an angle with the WWF wrestlers (fake-Razor, fake-Diesel, and Pierroth Jr.) where they're called the MWO (Mexican World Order). It's getting major heat because fake Razor and Diesel are pretending to be Mexican.

- Hayabusa is scheduled to work an upcoming All Japan show. Giant Baba announced that other FMW wrestlers may appear on AJPW shows in the future but no AJPW stars will be working FMW shows. Seems Baba thinks all that FMW-style garbage wrestling is beneath his guys.

- The most likely replacement for Ken Shamrock in the NJPW match against Shinya Hashimoto at the Tokyo Dome is Naoya Ogawa, who is a former 3-time judo world champion and just signed with NJPW this week. Ogawa was expected to debut at the Dome show but now it looks like he may debut in the main event (yup, that's what happened, and Ogawa/Hashimoto went on to become one of the most legendary feuds in NJPW history).

- Coincidentally, after just discussing all the various owners of NJPW last week, it came out this week that Rupert Murdoch has cut ties with TV- Asahi. So if WCW and Turner were interested in purchasing NJPW, that means the biggest roadblock (Murdoch's feud with Turner) is no longer in the way. But word is NJPW still doesn't have any interest in selling the company.

- USWA brought out a new female announcer named Stacy, who Dave says is kind of a ripoff of Sunny. Anyway, Stacy is actually Jerry Lawler's long-time girlfriend "and is young enough to be his daughter." She would, of course, later become The Kat in WWF.

- In ECW, the Dudleys (Bubba Ray and D-Von) are getting a major push in order to solidify them as a top tag team. The plan is for them to face The Eliminators for the tag titles at the ECW PPV.

- The latest on the Billy Jack Haynes/Matt Borne radio show drama from last week is that Haynes has pretty much disappeared and stopped showing up to do his radio show. Word is Haynes is desperate for money and that's why he challenged Borne to a $10,000 shoot fight, because he hoped Borne would accept and he could win some quick money. Haynes has also talked to doing a tell-all book about the wrestling business in order to get some cash (this comes up again later in a few months but basically, Haynes apparently had a lot of gambling debts and owed some money to some bad people. Sounds like he was trying to come up with money to avoid getting his kneecaps broken).

- Konnan was booked to work an indie show in California this week but was banged up in a car accident, so he sent Rey Mysterio to work the show instead. The problem was, the promoter wasn't sure if Mysterio was going to show up, so he booked some other local wrestlers to work the show instead. Mysterio ended up showing up late to the show, with only about 2 matches left, and the promoter decided not to use him. There was a bunch of drama over it backstage because they had the most spectacular wrestler in the world backstage ready to work their little podunk indie show and the promoter didn't want to use him. Someone also reportedly told Mysterio to pack his bags and go back to Mexico, which he took as a racist insult. In the end, Mysterio walked out and Konnan has said he will no longer let any of his Promo Azteca wrestlers work shows where that promoter is involved.

- Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player Hideo Nomo grew up as a wrestling fan in Japan. When asked his favorite American wrestlers he listed the Funks, Stan Hansen, Bruiser Brody, and Dusty Rhodes as his favorites, all of whom of course are big names in Japan, especially the Funks and Hansen.

- New York governor George Pataki signed the bill banning MMA in the state of New York this week.

- On Nitro, when Steve McMichael was hit in the head with a briefcase, he was legit busted open hardway. It was a wicked shot.

- It's expected that WCW will shoot some sort of angle with Dennis Rodman to get him involved in the Uncensored PPV.

- Chris Kanyon debuted at shows this week doing the Mortis gimmick, which is basically Glacier but weirder. He will be managed by former SMW manager Darryl Van Horn (aka Sinister Minister).

- NJPW star Yuji Nagata finally debuted in WCW this week, after being tied up in visa issues for the last few months. He's expected to work in WCW for a year. So of course, they had him do a job against Ernest Miller, who is one of WCW's Power Plant trainees who's only had about 3 matches ever.

- More heat between EMLL and Promo Azteca over both of their relationships with WCW. Konnan and the PA guys were pissed that Bischoff negotiated a working agreement with EMLL, who they see as their rival. The EMLL guys were pissed because Scott Hall and Syxx wore Promo Azteca t-shirts on TV at the PPV and felt it was done as a shot against them. But for now, WCW has working deals with both of them.

- The latest issue of Playboy Nude Celebrities has several pages featuring Kimberly Page in various stages of nudity and Diamond Dallas Page is in some of the photos also (I'm at work right now so, umm, google is your friend).

- Hulk Hogan has 2 upcoming movies, one called Hardball and another called Ultimate Weapon (I can't find anything on Hardball, no idea what that ended up being, but here's the trailer for Ultimate Weapon).

- Marc Mero had knee surgery this week and will be out for 6-8 months.

- Joanie Lee, the bodybuilder woman who is working as Hunter Hearst Helmsley's valet will likely be going by the name "China."

- Brian Pillman has been hitting the ropes and working out in a ring for the first time since his car accident almost a year ago and is close to being ready to return.

- Former bodybuilder-turned-WWF-wrestler Achim Albrecht was interviewed in a magazine recently and said he was tired of the bodybuilding scene and wanted to become a wrestler. He mentioned it to Ed Connors (the guy who runs the Gold's Gym chain) and Connors put Albrecht in touch with Shane McMahon, who arranged for him to meet Vince, who pretty much hired him on the spot (gee, wonder why). Albrecht said he has had 3 surprise drug tests since joining WWF.
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- In AAA, they're doing an angle with the WWF wrestlers (fake-Razor, fake-Diesel, and Pierroth Jr.) where they're called the MWO (Mexican World Order). It's getting major heat because fake Razor and Diesel are pretending to be Mexican.

I need footage of this right now. Kane pretending to be Kevin Nash pretending to be Mexican.
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[+] 1 user Likes Ceallach's post
Shamrock as it turns out wasn’t a bust, he was over for awhile.

- NBA star Dennis Rodman has become the latest mainstream celebrity to get involved with pro wrestling after signing a deal with WCW. Rodman, the often-suspended bad boy of the NBA, will join the NWO and debut at WCW's Uncensored PPV and they also plan for him to wrestle, with his first match tentatively scheduled for July's Bash at the Beach PPV. WWF had been negotiating with Rodman as well and reportedly offered him $1 million for 2 appearances. The first would have been Rodman in Goldust's corner at Wrestlemania in order to help Goldust try to get over as a bizarre mainstream figure (like Rodman himself) and the second would have had Rodman and Goldust form a tag team at Summerslam. Rodman's team then went to WCW to see if they could beat WWF's offer and evidently they did. WCW managed to get the story on the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. Aside from Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman is arguably the biggest sports star in Chicago these days, and the story stole much of WWF's local thunder just 2 weeks before Wrestlemania takes place in Chicago.

- During the NBA season, Rodman's contract will prevent him from actively participating in wrestling. He can be in the NWO's corner, but won't be able to get involved. But when the season ends, Rodman will be an unrestricted free agent and can wrestle as much as he wants. Hogan and Rodman made the media rounds to promote the signing this week, most notably on the Howard Stern show, where Stern apparently said something that upset Roddy Piper, since Piper went on Nitro later that night and tore into Stern (Dave hasn't heard the Stern episode yet I guess). The story also got major coverage in Japan because Rodman has appeared in a lot of TV commercials there and NJPW's president said he would be interested in having Rodman team up with Hall and Nash to work a show at the Tokyo Dome. All in all, this story has gotten a lot of good publicity for WCW.

- NJPW announced the signing this week of Olympic judo silver medalist Naoya Ogawa and announced he will replace Ken Shamrock as Shinya Hashimoto's opponent at next month's Tokyo Dome show. The match will take place under martial arts rules (no pins) and won't be for the IWGP title. The story made headlines in all the sports pages throughout Japan and became a bigger news story than the Shamrock match would have been. Ogawa isn't as big a name in pro wrestling circles as Shamrock, but he's a much bigger mainstream name and the belief is that this match should be able to sell out the Tokyo Dome. Word is when Ogawa decided to become a wrestler, he actually contacted AJPW first but Baba turned him down because Ogawa is unproven as a wrestler and AJPW is a promotion entirely focused on workrate and they don't really do flashy gimmicks or publicity stunt stuff.

- Dave looks at ECW's chances on PPV in a couple of weeks. He notes that other promotions have tried to run PPVs that all failed, but ECW is well-established and has a rabid cult fanbase. And pro wrestling right now is the hottest it has been in many years and the angle on Raw should help them get some curiosity buys. Dave then looks at all the other various promotions who have tried to run PPVs with varying degrees of mostly failure. Superclash III, the multiple Herb Abrams attempts, LPWA, etc. But the biggest comparison is 1994's AAA "When Worlds Collide" PPV. Dave does an in-depth comparison, noting that AAA also had very little national recognition and a loyal fanbase, and had backing from WCW much like ECW is getting from WWF. But AAA had a much bigger following than ECW does, drawing much bigger crowds to shows in California and Chicago than ECW has ever drawn anywhere. AAA also had bigger name stars and their PPV wasn't banned on one of the two major PPV carriers. On the flip side, no one is better than ECW at building angles and promoting their product, which AAA has never been good at. Some of the storylines leading into this ECW show have been building for a year. WWF has given ECW a lot more publicity than WCW ever gave AAA. Bottom line, Dave says ECW is the most unique promotion in the world and the eyes of the wrestling world are watching to see if ECW succeeds or fails on PPV, and to see if they're just a small promotion that makes a lot of noise or if they're legitimately capable of becoming a force in the industry.

- It's been awhile since we've had any 5 star matches, but Dave gives 4.75 stars to 2 different Jushin Liger matches this week, which is close enough. Two near-classics in a matter of days has to be a record, right? (Well, it was when I wrote this. But then Kenny Omega came along at the end of the G1...) Jushin Liger vs. Shinjiro Otani gets the nod as well as Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto.

- AAA plans to only run 1 Triplemania show this year instead of the usual 3 (nah, they ended up doing 2). They also plan to have several major WWF stars come in to work the show. In April, the idea is to do a Bret Hart vs. Latin Lover match, with the winner facing Pierroth Jr. at Triplemania (none of that happens).

- Perro Aguayo is expected to retire within the next few months, probably after the Triplemania show. Aguayo recently turned 51 years old (nope, he continued wrestling sporadically up until 2007).

- Blue Demon Jr. is out of action for a few weeks after suffering burns on his chest when his opponent blew a fireball at him that went awry.

- In the ongoing NWO angle in New Japan, they're doing the Sting-gimmick with Keiji Muto, where he's just quietly keeping to himself and no one knows who's side he's on and both sides are trying to recruit him.

- Several Michinoku Pro guys have been working ECW shows recently and, when they returned to Japan, they were still doing the BWO gimmick there. Dave says he's never seen a gimmick catch fire the way the NWO gimmick has, with variations of it showing up in WCW, NJPW, ECW, Michinoku Pro, WWF, and AAA. The NWO gimmick has essentially touched most major promotions throughout the entire world (much like Bullet Club has today).

- An entertainment newspaper in Boston called the Improper Bostonian had an amazing 6-page story about ECW that Dave says was one of the best stories about pro wrestling that he's ever seen in the media and said the author had a total understanding of the wrestling business, more so than 99.5% of "smart fans" and even other alleged wrestling experts. It wasn't a puff piece and while it was a fair article, it didn't shy away from covering both the positive and negative aspects of ECW and featured quotes from Paul Heyman and Eric Kulas, the 17-year-old from the Mass Transit incident. (Dave quotes a few lines from the article and it sounds awesome but I can't find it anywhere online. I even went so far as to contact the author on Twitter and she remembered it and responded back and told me to follow her so she could DM me. I followed her, but never heard back again. Wish I could find it).

- An ugly incident took place at an ECW show this ween when the crowd started shitting all over a Chris Chetti vs. Little Guido match. First they started chanting boring and then they began throwing things at the wrestlers. At this point, Little Guido started throwing stuff back at the fans, and one fan got a busted nose from it. Then fans started throwing chairs before security finally stepped in and everything got back to normal.

- Jerry Lawler is expected to come to ECW to work an angle with Tommy Dreamer soon.

- Former Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle apparently worked an indie show in Pittsburgh last month (I assume it was just an appearance and not his first match ever. I can't find anything about this anywhere).

- Last week on Raw, Jim Ross took several shots at WCW, saying they had a bunch of old washed up wrestlers in their 40s and made a comment about wrestlers with only 1 hip (a reference to Roddy Piper, who has had hip replacement surgery). On Nitro this week, Piper retaliated saying that he was in WWF last year and beat Goldust with only 1 hip. He also said WWF was right, there wasn't one hip wrestler in the company because all of the hip ones are in WCW. Sick dad burn. During the rest of the promo, Piper ripped on basically everyone, like the people who criticized him for bringing in his friends during last week's awful segment. In short, Piper's ego is pretty much out of control and he's just going on TV and blabbering about whatever pops into his head and no one seems to be able to stop him.

- Nitro this week took place in Panama City at Club LeVela, with the ring basically floating in a large swimming pool. The crowd was made up of mostly out-of-towner college kids who were there for spring break. WCW jobber Hardbody Harrison ended up being the one to inevitably get thrown in the water during the show (I only mention this because in 2007, Harrison was sentenced to life in prison for keeping 8 women as sex slaves and pimping them out against their will). As for ratings, once again Nitro dominated even though WWF once again had the better show. Dave basically says star power is beating out quality programming right now because Raw is often the better show, but it just can't seem to compete with all the big name star power in WCW these days.

- Disco Inferno was fired by WCW this week because he refused to work an angle with Jacquelyn where he would have had to put her over in a match. Most of the other wrestlers sided with Disco on this, saying losing to a woman would have been a career-killer and that he was right to refuse.

- Public Enemy signed new 2-year deals with WCW. Bryan Clark (formerly Adam Bomb) also signed with WCW this week.

- Update on the lawsuit from about a year ago between Hulk Hogan and a woman who claimed Hogan sexually assaulted her. The incident allegedly took place the night of the first Nitro taping at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. The woman claims she was helping Hogan to sell merchandise for his Pastamania restaurant and went to deliver the leftover merch to him at his hotel room after the show. She says while in the hotel room, Hogan forced her to perform oral sex. Hogan denies it of course and sued the woman and her lawyer for extortion. The woman has since filed a counter-suit against Hogan.

- Eric Bischoff and Randy Savage recently taped an appearance for the Jeff Foxworthy Show (can't find video online but if anyone is looking for it, it's season 2, episode 21 - "Wrestling Opera").

- Arn Anderson is expected to be out for about 4 months and may get surgery to fuse three vertebrae in his neck. The injury (which he actually originally suffered 7 years ago in a match with the Steiners) has flared up in recent months and caused his hand to go numb. (This was the end of the road for Arn.)

- Fun note from the ongoing WWF/WCW hotline lawsuit, Jerry McDevitt in court said that Mark Madden "is to journalism what Heidi Fleiss is to dating."

- Eric Bischoff did an online chat, mostly talking about the Dennis Rodman deal but also discussed the rumors of WCW buying NJPW. Bischoff surprisingly gave WWF credit, saying that the working relationship with ECW was the best thing they've done in the last year. As for Piper's promo where he picked his partners, Bischoff admitted that he hoped Piper would let them change the match and give him new partners, but due to Piper's creative control in his contract, it's up to Piper.

- Dave notes that Billy Gunn looks a lot more muscular and ominously adds, "and he's not the only one lately." Yeah this is about the time steroids began slowly creeping back into the company.

- During the Paul Heyman vs. Jerry Lawler debate segment on Raw, Heyman asked Lawler how the action was down by the see-saw in Louisville (a reference to the statuatory rape case from 1993). Lawler responded saying Heyman's father was funding ECW and it was the only reason they're still in business.

- Just an aside from Dave about the current hottest star in the company: "Can you believe that just 18 months ago, WCW had Steve Austin put Renegade over on television not once but twice?"

- Raw filmed a new opening theme, with all new music and footage that was filmed in a rundown area of Brooklyn. They're also dubbing the show "Raw Is War" now.

- People Magazine is expected to do a piece on Sunny soon. Dave wonders if they'll mention Chris Candido (no idea if this ever happened, I couldn't find it).

- Brian Pillman is hoping to be back in the ring in the next 6 weeks. In the meantime, he's doing commentary for Shotgun Saturday Night.

- WWF star Flash Funk (formerly Too Cold Scorpio) did a speaking appearance at an elementary school in New York, telling kids to stay off drugs and all that fun stuff. Dave finds it ironic, since Scorpio was fired from WCW because he failed several drug tests.
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Disco Inferno was fired by WCW this week because he refused to work an angle with Jacquelyn where he would have had to put her over in a match. Most of the other wrestlers sided with Disco on this, saying losing to a woman would have been a career-killer and that he was right to refuse.

A man most notable for being Vince Russo's BFF was too good to put over a future WWE Hall of Famer. Lmao.
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- The top story this week is that TCI Cable, the largest cable chain in the U.S., will no longer carry MMA shows. This will likely put the struggling EFC promotion out of business and severely hurts UFC as well. All interesting stuff, but not wrestling related. But what IS wrestling related is that Dave casually mentions that Cablevision is choosing not to air ECW's upcoming PPV due to content concerns. Cablevision is primarily the cable operator in the northeast of the U.S., aka, ECW's strongest base. Dave goes off on a tangent about how it's ridiculous because they regularly air R-rated movies with far more violence and adult content than wrestling or MMA. He also points out that this stuff isn't just freely available to children. It's PPV, it's content that adults have to seek out and specifically pay for. All in all, Dave just thinks it's bullshit censorship by the cable companies and it's not fair to either ECW or any of the various MMA groups that are affected.

- Steve Williams, the top American star in AJPW, was arrested this week at the Loredo, TX airport on drug possession charges. Williams has recently been in serious negotiations with WWF but this may put a stop to that. It's the 3rd time in his wrestling career that Williams has been busted with drugs at an airport. This time, they found undeclared pharmaceutical drugs in his luggage. 80 boxes of Neo-Percodan, 17 boxes of Valium, 16 boxes of Halcion, 15 boxes of Tamegesic, 26 boxes of Darvon and eight boxes of Ritrovil. All of which are pain killers which were likely purchased just across the border in Mexico. The story got major news coverage in Japan and made plenty of national papers in the U.S. also, so it likely kills his WWF deal and may also affect his AJPW position as well. In 1995, Williams was suspended by AJPW for a year after being busted with marijuana at the airport. In fact, Giant Baba showed how powerful he is in Japan because he pulled strings to get Williams allowed back after only a year. Many years ago, former Beatle Paul McCartney was banned from Japan for more than a decade for a similar drug charge. In 1988, Williams got caught at a Detroit airport with steroids and cocaine.

- WWF also recently signed Del Wilkes, better known as The Patriot, who has been one of AJPW's top foreign stars. In the past, working for AJPW was considered one of the best jobs in the biz because the pay is good, the travel is easy, there's almost no political bullshit, and there is job security. Steve Williams in the past has had no interest in leaving AJPW. But with WWF and WCW offering huge guaranteed contracts nowadays, that has changed as they have now taken Del Wilkes and were working on bringing in Williams before the arrest. Last year, WWF also managed to get Phil LaFon and Doug Furnas away from AJPW. Dave says if WWF steals Williams away, it will be a huge blow to AJPW.

- WCW Uncensored is in the books and was a typical WCW PPV: good undercard, terrible main event, and more plotholes in the booking than Swiss cheese. But the involvement of Dennis Rodman got WCW more mainstream publicity than they've ever had so it was a huge success on that front. Hulk Hogan "made sure to surgically bind himself" to Rodman so every time the newspapers took photos of Rodman in his NWO shirt, Hogan was always in the picture next to him. When the Chicago Bulls season ends, Rodman is expected to spend a few weeks training at the WCW Power Plant and then he will wrestle his first match at the July PPV. Rumors are Rodman got paid $2 million for the WCW deal but Dave thinks it's probably closer to $1 million in reality. The show ended with Sting finally attacking the NWO, which they have spent 6 months building up to and the crowd went insane for it. Dusty Rhodes continues to get worse as a commentator and was beyond unbearable and he brings down Tony Schiovane. Bobby Heenan has also gotten to be awful, and Dave says Schiovane is basically carrying 600 pounds of dead commentary weight every time the 3 of them call a show. "And people wonder why he has a bad neck."

- Other Uncensored PPV notes: Eddie Guerrero tore a pec muscle during his match with Dean Malenko, but he finished the match. No word on if he needs surgery yet but if so, it could sideline him for several months (he indeed missed about 3 months). Glacier and Mortis had a match that they literally spent months rehearsing at the Power Plant. It still sucked. Bryan Clark (formerly Adam Bomb in WWF) debuted during this match, but no word on what his new name will be (Wrath). The crowd spent most of the Prince Iaukea/Rey Mysterio Jr. match chanting "boring!" because Iaukea is seen as a jobber and WCW has pretty much killed Mysterio's heat by jobbing him out all the time, so the fans didn't give a shit about the match. And the main event (Team NWO vs. Team Piper vs. Team WCW) was a complete clusterfuck that didn't make sense with any of the booking for the weeks leading up to it, which Dave goes into in detail. Just nothing made sense, they randomly changed the rules without telling the crowd, the announcers didn't seem clued in on the eliminations, so everyone was confused, etc.

- Lots of rumors going around that Missy Hyatt is pregnant by her current boyfriend Scott Putski, and she recently missed some indie shows she was scheduled for because of it (not sure if true. Hyatt has admitted dating him but I've never seen anything saying she was pregnant).

- AAA president Antonio Pena filed lawsuits against Konnan, Rey Mysterio Jr., Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera for breach of contract this week. The lawsuit argues that they were under contract to AAA when they jumped ship to Promo Azteca. The lawsuit calls for those 4 men to sever ties with both Promo Azteca and with WCW. It's not known if WWF is helping to fund this lawsuit, but it wouldn't be surprising. If it was successful, it could lead to them all being forced to work for WWF and would be a pretty big blow to WCW. The 4 wrestlers responded to the lawsuit by filing a countersuit against Pena for money owed to them. Pena also has lawsuits pending against La Parka (over ownership of the character and gimmick) and against several former mini wrestlers who left the promotion last year.

- AAA officially announced that Vader, Mankind, Undertaker, and Paul Bearer will be appearing at Triplemania this year (this obviously fell through).

- NJPW's Tokyo Dome show scheduled for next month isn't selling well. The announcement of Naoya Ogawa replacing Ken Shamrock in the main event got a lot of mainstream attention but hasn't translated to ticket sales. They're hoping for a large crowd to walk up the day of the show to buy tickets.

- Dutch Mantel and Jerry Lawler's girlfriend Stacy handled the commentary duties for USWA this week with Lance Russell out on vacation. Speaking of USWA, there's a lot of talk about impending doom there, since business is down in every city they run. The most recent Memphis show only drew 250 people and it's beginning to look like the writing is on the wall for them.

- Another day, another New Jack incident. While getting ready for a spot where he would jump off the balcony, New Jack apparently got into an argument with another local wrestling promoter who was in the crowd and New Jack tried to throw the guy off the balcony. The guy managed to get away and flee down the stairs, so New Jack did his dive off the balcony and then chased the guy down (this time on ground level) and punched him a few times before the guy got away again. It's said Sabu pretty much saved the guy's life since he helped him get away and held New Jack back.

- Surprisingly, ECW's PPV show at the ECW Arena isn't sold out yet. Many of the regular ECW fans who attend all the shows are complaining about the higher ticket prices.

- Tony Halme (formerly Ludvig Borga in WWF) is in serious negotiations with UFC (he ended up getting wrecked by Randy Couture at UFC 13).

- Arn Anderson cut a promo on Nitro this week talking about his upcoming neck surgery and said he'd be back at some point, but reports are there's a very good chance he won't be able to return. WCW is considering making him a TV announcer and Dave thinks he'd be good at it. If not that, then maybe a manager.

- WCW has cancelled plans for another Clash of the Champions show in August because they hope to have their new 2-hour TBS Thursday night show on the air by then (turns out they didn't get Thunder started until 1998 and that Clash did end up happening after all. And it ended up being the final WCW Clash ever).

- The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue had an interview with famed sports photographer Walter Iooss and when asked who the worst person he ever dealt with on a photoshoot was, he said Hulk Hogan.

- Hogan and Bischoff attended the Bulls/Knicks game last week and wore NWO shirts. Bischoff was visible behind the Knicks bench for the entire game but the announcers never mentioned Rodman's wrestling adventures.

- Rob Van Dam was backstage at last week's Nitro, no reason given.

- Raw ended in controversial fashion, with a Bret Hart vs. Sid cage match that saw Bret go on an uncensored profanity-laced tirade after the match. Dave says USA Network must have approved it because WWF wouldn't risk doing it otherwise. But if it's anything like the Pillman gun angle, USA will run away from it and put the heat on WWF. The whole thing was part of a Bret Hart heel turn, with him getting increasingly bitter. After losing the match, Hart got on the mic and said, "This is bullshit!" and then he threw Vince McMahon to the ground. Vince was masterful in his acting during this segment. The words "goddamn" and "shit" were thrown around a couple of times, by both Hart and Sid. It's all part of an effort within WWF as a whole to get more of an edge to it. Dave isn't sure how well it will work out in the long-run (turns out, pretty decently).

- On Raw, Ken Shamrock put Billy Gunn in an ankle lock and Gunn tapped out. The crowd didn't react to Gunn "tapping out" as a submission because they're not familiar with it (and here, I believe, is the first instance of tapping out in the WWF. Nowadays, it's so commonplace that people forget before Shamrock, submissions were just the ref in a guy's face waiting for him to nod and say he submits). Vince McMahon on commentary sold this for all it was worth to try to get Shamrock over.

- Jesse James (Road Dogg) has been out for the last 6 weeks because he was suspended. No word why but you can probably guess.

- Jake Roberts was fired by WWF this week. Two weeks ago, he apparently got a rental car and disappeared for 2 days and no-showed a house show. Jake had been working in the office and was helping to write TV as well as occasionally still working matches.

- Mankind had an MRI done this week because he's got back issues. Dave has heard different stories on the results from 2 different sources. One says he has a herniated disc and that it's serious. The other source said it's a sciatic nerve problem and not that bad. Either way, for now he doesn't need surgery and will be taking time off after Wrestlemania.

- Bruce Prichard has been in contact with UFC to try to get the rights to use UFC footage of Ken Shamrock on WWF TV.
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This thread is starting to slow down
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Because no one ever comments on it
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So all the videos from 2 months worth of Observers
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Are all on the first page
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Which causes lag
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Does anyone still read these here?
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Or should I just post them on Reddit?
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Anyway, let's start a new page
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On to page 2 after these messages!
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