Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 1998

- Now that the NBA playoffs are over, WCW is expected to announce Hogan & Dennis Rodman vs. DDP & Karl Malone at the upcoming Bash at the Beach PPV. Within the business, it's been known for weeks that this was the plan, but the story finally broke mainstream and got major coverage throughout the sports world. During the last game of the NBA Finals, between the Bulls and Jazz, there was a moment when Rodman and Malone went after a loose ball on the floor and were throwing elbows at each other, which led to NBC announcer Bob Costas telling them to save it for their bogus wrestling match and saying he didn't understand why Malone would lower himself to participate in wrestling. Dave thinks it's funny since Costas used to be a wrestling fan back in the day and attended many shows in Sam Muchnick's St. Louis territory and has even done announcing for wrestling shows in the past. Anyway, Karl Malone is an avid wrestling fan and is friends with DDP and even Malone's mom is a hardcore wrestling fan, so he's reportedly excited to participate. As for whether this is a good idea or not, Dave talks about the last PPV Rodman wrestled on and says the buyrate was one of the biggest ever for WCW, but financially it was a wash because all the extra profits basically went to paying Rodman to appear. But it did help get WCW a ton of mainstream publicity and that's invaluable. (Rodman and Malone were kicking each other's asses during that game, here's a whole highlight reel of it. 5:20ish is when Costas trashes wrestling).

- Lots of different stories on Rodman missing basketball practice to appear at Nitro. The New York Times reported that WCW paid Rodman $250,000 for skipping practice and doing the show. Considering the NBA fined him $10,000 and the Bulls fined him $5,000, that would seem like a smart business decision. Others say Rodman had already decided to skip practice because he had been out partying the night before and others are disputing the idea that WCW paid Rodman to skip practice because TNT has a contract with the NBA and it's believed Turner execs never would have signed off on something like that. Dave doesn't know the full story, but says Rodman's WCW contract calls for him to wrestle on 2 PPVs and also to make TV appearances leading up to those events. Dave suspects the Nitro appearance was one of his contractually obligated dates. Rodman probably did make $250,000 for appearing on Nitro, but that was part of the already agreed upon contract, not extra money that WCW threw at him.

- Great American Bash is in the books and was a typical WCW PPV: Strong undercard, Benoit doing a job, and shitty main events. The Benoit thing in particular was egregious because he gets stronger reactions than almost everybody other than Goldberg lately and most expected this to be the show where he'd finally get his due. But when he lost the final match in the best of 7 series to Booker T, the crowd totally turned on the show and spent the rest of the night chanting "Boring!" and worse at everything that came after except, of course, for Goldberg. With WCW stalling out and WWF flying past them recently, Dave says the company needs to make obvious changes that they don't want to make: the old guard needs to pass the torch to the young stars. Pushing young talent and creating new stars is what has pushed WWF past WCW, while they continue to rely on the same Hogan/Piper/Savage guys to carry the company. It's time for WCW to start preparing for life after those guys and elevate the Benoits and Guerreros and Jerichos of the company.

- Other notes from the show: the announcing was terrible. Goldberg won his "100th" match (really more like 103). Juventud Guerrera vs. Ron Reis was billed as the largest size discrepancy ever in a wrestling match. Dave says it was also the largest talent discrepancy in one. They did angles during the show and the next night on Nitro to write Randy Savage off TV because he needs knee surgery and will be out for probably the rest of the year. The Benoit stuff notwithstanding, the best of 7 series has done wonders for turning Booker T into a respected top worker. The post-match brawl with Jericho and Dean Malenko ended up outside with Jericho legit running into traffic trying to escape Malenko, causing cars to have to stop and then ran into another building across the street. Goldberg was, of course, over bigger than anyone this side of Antonio Inoki in Japan and has become a legit megastar. Curt Hennig was in Konnan's corner of the match and there had been a plan for Hennig to help Konnan screw Goldberg out of his "100th" win, but that got changed. Hennig was pissed about it being changed and had a heated argument with Bischoff about it before the show. And The Giant came to the ring smoking a cigarette, playing off a comment Sting made about Giant smoking all day and being out of shape.

- With Mitsuharu Misawa still out injured, AJPW's current tour has been doing record low numbers. As a result, AJPW abruptly had Kenta Kobashi win the Triple Crown title from Kawada. With business down, the company didn't believe Kawada was a strong enough draw to carry the promotion and Kobashi is seen as a bigger draw, so the decision was made to change the title unexpectedly.

- Raw beat Nitro in the ratings again this week, but more interestingly, both shows featured angles with a steel cage with a roof. WWF, of course, had their Hell In A Cell cage, while Nitro brought out their own version for the main event match. WCW made the decision after getting advance word earlier in the week from someone at the arena where Raw was hosted that they would have their roofed cage, so Dusty Rhodes (who is handling a lot of the booking lately) made the call to bring in the cage for Nitro and it was kept secret from most everyone in the company until the production crew learned that they would have to put it together the day of the show. But long story short, it was basically WCW copying what they knew Raw would be doing the same night.

- Dave talks about the planned card for ECW's upcoming Heat Wave PPV in August and says Heyman is working on bringing in Hayabusa for the show. ECW hasn't really had a good PPV since their first one, with most of the other shows being marred by poor lighting, bad crowds, bad matches, etc.

- Goldberg defeated Sting in about 3 minutes at a recent WCW house show. The match was a last minute plan after Sting's original opponent The Giant wasn't able to make the show after his flight was cancelled. There was a lot of heat on The Giant for missing the show since it was only 3 hours away and, after the flight was cancelled, he had plenty of time to rent a car and drive to the show, but he evidently decided not to. So Sting volunteered to go out there and be Goldberg's next victim to give the crowd a big moment.

- Steve Williams worked his final show for AJPW and won the match. Dave says it shows how much respect Baba has for Williams that he didn't even job him out on his way out the door. After the match, Williams began motioning a belt around his waist, indicating that he plans to go to WWF and win the world title which got a big pop. Then they had a big ceremony essentially transitioning Johnny Ace into the new top foreign star, which Dave says shows how far AJPW has fallen, because Ace isn't anywhere near Williams' level as a top star.

- The recent soccer game between Argentina vs. Japan in the World Cup did a monster 67.3 rating which made it the 2nd largest rating for any show in history in Japan. If you're wondering why this is related to wrestling, it's because the rating has bumped the famous Rikidozan vs. Destroyer match from 1963 down to 4th place all-time. At the time, the Rikidozan/Destroyer match was the most watched television event in Japanese history, doing a 64.0 rating and was the single most watched wrestling match in history until the Ali vs. Inoki match (and considering that wasn't technically a wrestling match, you could argue that it doesn't count).

- Occasional WWF jobber Jeff Hardy made his Japanese debut using the name Willow the Whisp, winning the vacant UWA middleweight title while wrestling for some indie promotion there (that's the old UWA promotion from Mexico that was long out of business at this point. The title had been vacant for a year when Jeff won it and was vacated again soon after and wouldn't be resurrected again until 2002).

- Superstar Billy Graham tried to put together a wrestling show/religious revival event in TX headlined by Terry Funk vs. Cactus Jack in a death match but it was cancelled due to low advance ticket sales. Praise the lord! (also, I somehow doubt WWF would have left their wrestlers work a show for Billy Graham, given the bad blood at the time).

- RF Video will be opening up a pro wrestling merchandise store in the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, selling WWF, WCW, ECW, and Japanese wrestling merch.

- Music City Wrestling out of Nashville held a show in Georgia but less than 100 fans showed up and the ring decided not to show up either. So they laid down gym mats and had 4 matches. The show ended early when wrestler Reno Riggins apparently broke his ankle.

- The Charlotte Observer newspaper ran a story on the Ric Flair/WCW issues. The current argument seems to be over whether Flair can be held to the letter of intent he signed in 1997 where he agreed to stay with the company for 3 years. This wasn't an actual contract, just an outline of terms that the two sides were discussing. WCW is still trying to settle with Flair and bring him back, especially now that they're losing to WWF in the ratings, which is good for Flair's bargaining position. Dave thinks bringing Flair back might help in the short term but WCW has bigger issues to deal with and pushing another guy in his late 40s as a top star isn't the answer. Assuming Flair doesn't return, they still intend to create a new Four Horsemen group, with Benoit, Malenko, Finlay, and McMichael. Dave thinks that's a pretty terrible idea and apparently Benoit and Malenko agree and both are strongly against it.

- There had been rumors of the Jericho vs. Malenko match at the PPV being a Loser Leaves Town match but it didn't happen and was never mentioned on TV as that being the case. But the rumors were so big that whoever updates the WCW website actually listed it as a Loser Leaves Town match, which is what happens when there's a lack of internal communication. Something WCW has had a huge problem with for awhile. The left hand never knows what the right hand is doing anymore since things change so often. There had also been discussions of bringing in Jericho's dad Ted Irvine (a former NHL hockey player) to interfere on his son's behalf to help him win the match, but that was scrapped too.

- Jimmy Snuka was backstage at Nitro. Dave thinks they missed an opportunity by not using him, since Piper was there also and they were in New York.

- The Nitro Girls didn't get the raises they were asking for. Bischoff apparently told them that he could get any hot girls to fill their spot so if they weren't happy with the money they were making, they were replaceable and could leave. So they ended up taking a much smaller raise.

- A Chattanooga newspaper did a story about Kevin Nash, talking mostly about his years as a college basketball player. His former coach described Nash as somewhat talented but didn't have a good work ethic and was smart but immature. Apparently, some sort of confrontation with the coach led to Nash not returning to the team for his senior season.

- Dave talks about how Goldberg hasn't yet been an actual draw for tickets or ratings, despite getting the biggest reaction of any wrestler in the last decade. He's main evented a couple of house shows but ticket sales were weak (people rightly assuming that they didn't want to pay to see a 2-minute main event with Goldberg squashing someone). He does huge merch numbers though.

- Michael Cole was in a car accident this week which totaled his car, but he was fine.

- Steve Regal, Steve Williams, and Edge should all be debuting in WWF sometime in the next 2 weeks.

- WWF is still looking to sign Mexican wrestlers for it's Lucha Libre show they're planning to start later this year. They want an unmasked pretty boy babyface to build around, and they liked Hector Garza but he's under contract to WCW, so they're looking at Latin Lover or Tarzan Boy.

- Matt and Jeff Hardy have signed WWF contracts. They have been working as unsigned jobbers for awhile.

- Someone writes in and suggests that Dave should compile all the obituaries he's ever written and publish them as a book and it would be the greatest collection of essays in wrestling history. Sure enough, Dave did that soon after this. Twice actually. Books called Tributes and Tributes II.
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Those books are pretty great.

It's nuts how late that Matt and Jeff were signed and how long they worked for the wwe as jobbers, but yeah i guess we are still a long way away from the new brood.
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So I just finished writing up the issue after Owen died. Yowza.
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- Steve Austin and Undertaker are both out this week with injuries, just a week before King of the Ring. Austin was hospitalized with a staph infection in his elbow, resulting in a 104 fever and was still hospitalized as of press time several days later. As for Undertaker, he suffered an ankle injury while filming an off-site angle that was supposed to be at Paul Bearer's house. Ironically enough, Bearer also injured his ankle during the segment somehow. Both Austin and Undertaker worked the Friday night house show in Houston in great pain. After deciding neither man could work, WWF decided to just postpone the upcoming house shows in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Boston later in the week. Both men are expected to work the King of the Ring PPV (Austin has a first blood match with Kane and Undertaker has a Hell In A Cell match against Mankind) even though neither of them is expected to be anywhere near 100% (in case you ever wondered why Undertaker was limping through that match or why Austin's elbow is taped up in his). It's expected Mankind will have to mostly carry their HIAC match (boy, I'll say). It was a pretty big surprise that WWF would simply cancel house shows due to the main eventers being injured, especially shows that were already close or completely sold out. But they didn't want to run the risk of killing the towns by having advertised top stars not appear and plan to make it up by having "loaded" shows.

- NJPW announced the creation of the IWGP junior heavyweight tag team championships at a press conference. A tournament will be held with the finals taking place in August at the Osaka Dome. They also announced plans for this year's G-1 Climax tournament, which will be a 16-man single elimination tournament as opposed to the usual round robin brackets. The tournament has become an August tradition for NJPW and often has many of the most exciting matches of the year.

- Time Magazine is publishing a story about pro wrestling this week and though Dave hasn't read it yet, he's heard some advance details. Reportedly it claims wrestling in the U.S. is a $1 billion-per-year business which is massively inflated bullshit, but since it's coming from a respected publication, people will buy it. This leads to Dave deciding to try to get an accurate figure, or at least somewhere in the ballpark. He uses the month of May since those are the most recent statistics. Basically, take all the numbers, add them up, and then multiply by 12. It's a very rough estimate and of course there are variables but yanno. He crunches all the numbers from PPV, live event gates, merch, magazines, 900 lines, VHS sales, etc. for WWF, WCW, and ECW. Long story short, even with the most liberal estimates, wrestling in the U.S. is about a $325 million per year industry. If you add in the cut that the cable companies, PPV providers, and other middlemen make, you could probably bump it up to around $440 million. Which, hey....not bad. But still not even half of $1 billion that Time Magazine is claiming.

- WCW once again got a ton of media publicity from the Dennis Rodman/Karl Malone involvement on Nitro, but yet again, WWF won the ratings battle for the 4th straight week. Despite the mainstream publicity, Rodman and Malone haven't moved the ratings needle at all.

- Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis ran their first major show at the Mid-South Coliseum and drew around 3,500 fans and it was considered a major success. They had a lot of help from WWF though, as Kane, Jeff Jarrett, Jesse James, Rock & Roll Express and Midnight Express all worked the show with WWF's blessing. It's expected Power Pro will likely become a developmental territory for WWF and they will continue sending newer wrestlers to work shows for them.

- Mitsuharu Misawa is expected to return to the ring for AJPW in late-August.

- Former WCW wrestler Bobby Walker filed a $5 million racial discrimination lawsuit against WCW, claiming he was told WCW hired him as a "token black guy" and that he would always be booked to lose and he would be fired if he complained about it. He also claimed he earned much less than white performers, (comparing his salary to Ric Flair's) and that he was passed over for pushes in favor of white wrestlers. A lot of people in WCW are concerned about how Teddy Long might react to this lawsuit. Even though he hasn't been on TV in ages, Long is still signed to WCW until August and if his contract isn't renewed, there's concern that he may side with Walker. Long has a lot of knowledge of the inner workings of the company and could possibly strengthen Walker's case.

- Still not much new on the Ric Flair situation. He's wanting changes to his contract or out of it completely, based on parts of the deal that Flair claims WCW didn't honor. WCW still wants him to come back, but there's a lot of bad blood after the backstage speech Bischoff gave where he buried Flair and threatened to sue him into bankruptcy. Flair's attorney recently gave an interview strongly hinting that Flair is trying to get out of his contract so he can go to WWF and said that Bischoff has become so consumed with his TV character that he treats people backstage the same way he does on TV. There's a hearing scheduled in August where the judge will decide the validity of the agreement Flair signed. Interestingly enough, part of Flair's counter-suit against WCW claims that Eric Bischoff downgraded Flair's role in the company in order to satisfy the wishes of other wrestlers, including one Terry Bollea.

- There was an incident with The Giant and a large fan after Nitro. Apparently the fan was around 6'6, big dude and was talking shit to Kevin Nash who ignored it, so the fan turned his attentions to The Giant and got him so riled up that Giant threw a punch at the guy, who then ran away.

- There's a story that made some national news outlets about an 8th grade student in Indiana who got in trouble for trying to start a satanic cult he called Raven's Flock. He recruited other students and had them sign contracts saying they agreed to join "4 life" and allegedly threatened to kill any students that tried to leave the cult.

- Someone played a sick practical joke on Bret Hart recently. Backstage at the Great American Bash PPV, as Hart was going over his match with Hogan, Piper, and Savage, he was pulled aside by Eric Bischoff, who told Bret that his father Stu had passed away. Bischoff told him he didn't have to do the match and he would charter a flight back home for him immediately. Apparently, someone claiming to be Bruce Hart called the unlisted number at the arena and gave very specific details that most people wouldn't know, which is why they believed the story and passed the word on to Bret. After some phone calls were made and they found out it was a hoax, Bischoff felt horrible and apologized repeatedly to Bret and offered to still let him skip the show since he had obviously been upset by the news. There were some (Randy Savage in particular) who were angry at Bischoff, feeling he should have confirmed the news before telling Bret about it, only to find out later that it wasn't true. But word is Hart didn't blame Bischoff and understood that he had been fooled too.

- Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman working with WCW has produced the usual negative publicity among cranky sports reporters. One in particular wrote, "Professional wrestling just gives kooks like Rodman an outlet and excuse for stupid behavior and is a vehicle for the promotion and creation of violence. Professional wrestling has absolutely no redeeming qualities--it's loud, obnoxious, annoying and has zero intellectual value."

- On Raw, Sable showed up and seems to have gotten yet another breast enlargement, leading Dave to write, "Seriously, are there any two more screwed up characters in this business than the Giant, who is 500 pounds and wants to get bigger, and Sable, whose breasts make her look like a human oddity and she should be managed by Jackyl (manager of the Oddities group) but for whatever reason will probably get them enlarged a few more times by the end of this year?"

- Edge (Adam Copeland) debuted on Raw, facing Jose Estrada Jr. but the match was cut short after only a minute or so when Estrada was injured after Edge did a flip over the top and landed on his neck. They called an audible and ended the match via count out. Estrada was hospitalized overnight but is expected to be okay but the injury definitely caused some people to think about what happened to Bagwell not too long ago.

- Shawn Michaels was backstage at the WWF show in San Antonio recently. It was the first time he'd been at a WWF show since Wrestlemania. They said he appeared to be in a better place mentally and he's also cut his hair shorter. He was able to sit down and stand upright for periods of time without excruciating pain, which is an improvement over where he was a few months ago. Shawn is hoping rest and rehab will fix the issue and doesn't want to get the surgery that a lot of people think he needs. The plan is for him to take off another 3 months to rehab it and then they will give him a full examination and try to get a better idea of when/if he can return. WWF is hopeful they can have him back by Royal Rumble, but there's been real talk that he might never wrestle again. Shawn left the show before the TV taping started and since there's no plans to bring him back anytime soon, WWF decided not to put him on television.

- Sunny missed another scheduled event, this time an autograph signing, telling WWF she couldn't make it because she was in a car accident.

- There's been a lot of pressure on various wrestlers to lose weight, with Vader, Jose Estrada, Faarooq, Goldust, Mark Henry, and Steve Williams being the main ones.

- There has been some legit talk among people in the sports world that WWF is interested in buying the Minnesota Vikings. At a company meeting recently, Vince McMahon did tell some people he was interested. Given that it would cost several hundred million, it's way out of McMahon's league but he could possibly be part of a group of investors if he wanted to put it together (or, yanno, he could just start his own football league...).

- Someone writes in implying that Benoit is being basically buried by WCW because he's dating Nancy Sullivan (since Kevin Sullivan is still a high profile backstage employee) and Dave responds and doesn't exactly deny it.
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- Dave opens the issue by saying that despite anything Mick Foley has ever done or ever will do in this industry, he will always be remembered for June 28, 1998 and the match that will never be forgotten against Undertaker in Hell in a Cell. Dave recaps the match and Mankind's injuries: three knocked out teeth and dislocated jaw from the first bump, with one of the teeth ending up in his nose. He was also banged up from the second bump (Foley later wrote that going through the cage was the way worse bump) and reportedly has little memory of the actual match. Dave says in one night, Foley catapulted himself into an all-time legend with this match and the footage of it will likely live on forever, but he wonders where does the business go from there? As is always the case, someone will try to emulate it and one-up it, but that can only end badly. Wrestlers are always putting their bodies at risk in the ring, but Mankind literally risked his life for that match. The way Shawn Michaels is forever linked with ladder matches and Bret Hart is forever linked with the screwjob, Mick Foley will forever be linked to Hell in a Cell. Dave says that, for better or worse, he will never forget that performance as long as he lives but he wishes he had never seen it. He says Mick Foley has given his body to the business more than anyone and fears that when he's 70, he'll be living with so much pain that it wasn't worth it. Thankfully, Foley didn't suffer any truly serious injuries, but Dave says the match makes him sad because much like Foley was inspired by Jimmy Snuka's famous cage dive and wanted to one-up it, there was probably some kid that no one has ever heard of yet who was watching this match. And 5 or 10 or even 15 years from now, he will try to one-up that moment and he won't end up as lucky as Mick Foley.

- Other notes from King of the Ring: the show was sold out a week in advance. Early in the show, Sable walked out to the ring "without tipping over" and introduced Vince McMahon, which led to an angle where Pat Patterson grabbed her ass and she slapped him, leading to the inevitable subtle gay joke about Patterson from Jim Ross. Rocky Maivia beat Dan Severn in what Dave thinks may be Severn's first pinfall loss he's ever had as a pro wrestler, even in his indie and Japanese days. Too Much vs. Al Snow & Head was an abysmal comedy match, negative stars territory, and even Jim Ross basically buried it on commentary. Ken Shamrock won the King of the Ring tournament. Steve Austin was nowhere near 100% after spending much of the week in the hospital with a staph infection but he worked hard and looked okay. It was a first blood match, and Austin had an accidental legit cut on his back early in the match, but they didn't count it. Kane ended up winning the title, only to lose it back the next night on Raw.

- The ratings battle this week was a total massacre of WCW. Raw drew its 3rd highest rating ever with a 5.36 rating. And while Nitro also did a strong rating of 4.05, WWF's dominance just eclipsed it. The quality gap was just as wide, with Raw being a fantastic top-to-bottom show while Nitro was simply awful. Both shows tried new experiments. For WCW, it was a segment called NWO Late Night, which was basically a parody of a late night show hosted by Bischoff, complete with a house band and lengthy interview segment. It bombed royally and was among the worst segments in the history of Nitro. As for WWF...

- WWF attempted to do matches without a predetermined finish for the first time ever, which is something Dave never expected to see in WWF and he wonders what that will mean if they run shows in states where that sort of thing is regulated. The plan is to do a Tough Man-style tournament with shoot matches, three 1-minute rounds, and 20-ounce gloves, legal takedowns, a points system, etc. In the first fight, Steve Blackman basically ate Marc Mero alive, which was surprising given his legit boxing skills. And Bradshaw beat Mark Canterbury (formerly Henry Godwinn) by decision in the second fight. Dave says the idea is to take a lot of the lowercard guys who aren't being used much and hope they can get over this way. None of the top stars are allowed to participate because they don't want to risk exposing them. The wrestlers were offered extra money for doing the shoot fights. Neither Dan Severn or Ken Shamrock were allowed to enter either, since given the rules, Severn in particular would probably destroy everybody. The fights held their own in the TV ratings, but went over like a church fart with the live crowd (and thus Brawl For All begins).

- Atsushi Onita debuted in ECW this past week in a match and it's likely building to one of Onita's beloved exploding ring matches taking place in the U.S. They filmed a press conference after with Onita proclaiming himself the King of the Death Match and challenging Sandman. It's expected the match will take place later this summer and won't be on PPV but will probably be released on video.

- In NJPW, Scott Norton has shaved his head and is being pushed as a complete copy of Goldberg. They have him coming out in every match and dominating his opponents in quick fashion and winning with power moves.

- Koji Kitao is expected to announce his retirement from pro wrestling this week. Dave says Kitao is arguably the most undeserving sumo grand champion ever and was kicked out of the sport for throwing the mother of his coach through a window. He then ended up in pro wrestling and was briefly a huge draw when he debuted but never amounted to much and developed a reputation for being impossible to work with, refusing to do jobs and shooting on opponents. Dave talks about a match where Kitao refused to job to Nobuhiko Takada so they agreed to a draw and then, in the middle of the match, Takada knocked him out with one kick to teach him a lesson. Kitao was also famous for an incident with John Tenta which turned into a shoot and led to Kitao getting fired from SWS.

- Tod Gordon returned to wrestling by appearing at a show put together by Dennis Coraluzzo. They did an angle where 5 masked guys ran into the ring and attacked Coraluzzo. The first 4 took their masks off to reveal themselves as Stevie Richards, 911, and the Pit Bulls. Then the 5th put his foot on Coraluzzo's chest and unmasked to reveal Tod Gordon. Considering all the past bad blood between Coraluzzo and ECW (particularly Heyman and Gordon), it surprised people that he would show up. Gordon has been out of the wrestling business since last year when he got caught trying to help WCW raid ECW talent and Heyman fired him. Coraluzzo appears to be working an ECW vs. NWA angle, without the cooperation of anyone who is actually signed to ECW.

- ECW TV started this week with this message on the screen: "No Viagra jokes, no cross-dressing basketball players, and best of all, no Hulk Hogan."

- ECW recently ran a show in Philadelphia in the Woodhaven Center. It looked better on TV and had a hotter crowd than most ECW Arena shows. There's talk of running more shows there, but Heyman doesn't want to stop doing shows in the ECW Arena because that's where the company began and it has become almost a mythical cult-like location among ECW fans. The reality is, it's a small dump of a building and ECW can make more money running shows in Philadelphia at the other building. With ECW continuing to grow and gain popularity, it's unlikely they will continue doing ECW Arena shows every 3 weeks like they have been because the company has to focus on making bigger profits. With their TV expansion into places like Chicago, Detroit, and Atlana, they're going to have to start running shows in those cities and it just doesn't make business sense to keep running regular shows in a building that doesn't generate as much money as they could do elsewhere.

- More backstage tension in WCW, reportedly involving heat between Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan. Nash was pulled from Thunder last week and then called on Monday saying he was injured and refused to show up for Nitro. Scott Hall was backstage at Nitro but also walked out without appearing on TV for reasons unknown, although it's rumored he was asked to do a job to someone. Dave doesn't seem to know many more details as of yet.

- On Nitro, Chavo Guerrero came out pretending to ride a little horse on a broomstick. Dave says Chavo has been great lately, but this was stupid and overkill (one of my favorite stories about how much WCW was a disorganized mess is Chavo talking about the horse thing. I can't remember where I heard it, maybe a podcast or something. But he basically said the horse idea wasn't approved by anybody. He and Eddie thought it would be funny, so he simply took a stick-horse out to the ring and rode it around. Expected to get in trouble when he got backstage afterward since he never cleared it with anyone. But turns out nobody cared because nobody, least of all Bischoff, had even been paying attention. Can you imagine that in WWE? Imagine if a lower card guy like Bo Dallas decided to just start riding a horsey to the ring without clearing it through Vince or the writers. He'd be fired before he even got back to the locker room).

- Vampiro debuted on Nitro against Brad Armstrong, to no reaction at all. He was decently impressive though (this wasn't really a true debut. He didn't wrestle in WCW again until almost a year later, at which point he started full-time. This was just a one-off).

- When recapping Nitro, Dave vents again about how bad the NWO Tonight Show segment was, saying it's got to rank near the top of the list of all-time bad ideas in wrestling. He also notes Scott Steiner was the guest and says his biceps get freakier by the day. Anyway, despite how bad it was, they spent $70,000 on the set so we'll probably be seeing it again next week.

- WCW Thunder notes: the show drew a 2.65 rating which is the lowest in the history of the show. Dave says they really should just kill off Thunder at this point because it's obvious that everyone from the bookers to the workers are overworked and it's killing them. He says they're killing a promotion that was on fire 3 months ago but won't be much longer if things don't change. There was also a segment on the show with Benoit talking to Arn Anderson about reforming the Four Horsemen, which leads Dave to say, "You know what I like about that idea? Everyone, and I mean everyone that I know, whether they are in WWF or WCW, knows that reforming the Horsemen without Flair is total death, yet WCW is going to do it anyway. Boy, that'll show Flair who's boss."

- Bret Hart and Chris Benoit are both wanting to work an angle together and word is it will probably happen soon. Hart has suggested having a 2/3 falls match and an Ironman match with Benoit.

- Police are investigating to try to find out who did the prank call before the last PPV that resulted in Bret Hart thinking his father had died.

- This year's WCW Road Wild PPV will feature a 30 minute concert by country music star Travis Tritt, "as if the Road Wild PPV wasn't an annual disaster to begin with." Dave says WCW has tried this in the past back in 1989 with a concert by the Oakridge Boys. Dave was there live and says he's a big fan of the Oakridge Boys and even that sucked and was out of place and nobody cared.

- There are rumors that Karl Malone is being paid $1 million to work the WCW PPV but Dave says it's not true. He doesn't know the exact amount but he knows Malone is making less than Dennis Rodman, who is getting $750,000.

- A lot of execs in the PPV industry are expecting Bash at the Beach to do an equal buyrate as Wrestlemania, due to the involvement of Malone and Rodman. In fact, their hopes for it are so high that they believe they might be able to make up the money they lost on a recent Evander Holyfield fight that was cancelled at the last minute. Dave thinks they shouldn't hold their breath (Dave was correct). There are still 2,000 tickets available for the PPV so it's not sold out yet.

- Goldberg vs. Hulk Hogan at the Georgia Dome Nitro next week is still expected to be a non-title dark match, with Goldberg going over clean. Locally, they're advertising the match by saying you can only see it in Atlanta. They were hoping announcing the match would lead to a boost in ticket sales but so far, it hasn't.

- Time Waner management are doing a major internal audit of WCW. Only time will tell if this becomes a major news story or not, but you gotta figure it's probably not good news if Turner execs are sniffing around trying to figure out where all their money is being spent and if it's being spent wisely.

- A local wrestler named Rhino Richards worked a dark match tryout before Raw this week (that would indeed be the one and only Rhyno).

- Pat Patterson missed this past week's Raw because his long-time "friend" Lou Dondero passed away. Dondero was very well known within the business and had been around since the old San Francisco territory days in the 70s (Patterson has talked about this guy extensively in interviews and in his book. It was basically his life-long partner, they had been together since the 70s. Obviously gay marriage wasn't legal during any of this time, but this was essentially Patterson's husband passing away).

- Steve Regal debuted in WWF in the most unceremonious way, beating Droz in an unannounced match to no fanfare at all. Jim Ross tried like hell to get him over on commentary, but the whole match was basically a backdrop for a Sable angle. Dave says it's almost like someone wanted to make sure Regal didn't have a chance to get over in his debut and it worked. He didn't.

- They did an angle on Raw with Val Venis attempting to seduce Yamaguchi-san's wife. Dave says Yamaguchi's real wife is actually a pro wrestler that nobody should ever mess with. It led to Kaientai attacking Venis (this is the beginning of the "choppy choppy pee pee" angle).

- Paul Ellering returned as the new manager of LOD. The real reason he was brought back was to replace Sunny. Due to recent no-shows and erratic behavior, Sunny was given an ultimatum to go to some sort of rehab or counseling, or else she would be fired. Sunny chose counseling and won't be back until she completes whatever it is they're making her go to. Dave also mentions that Sunny has been upset about Sable bypassing her as the top female star in the company (this was it for Sunny. Turns out she actually refused the rehab after all and they fired her but I'm sure we'll hear about it).

- Don Frye has challenged Ken Shamrock to a fight in UFC. It almost certainly won't happen, but if it somehow did, it would be interesting since it would be a NJPW star vs. a WWF star in a UFC cage.

- At the latest Raw taping that will air next week, DX did a skit where they all dressed up and imitated the Nation members. Just in case you thought WWF never copied WCW (referring to the NWO impersonating the Horsemen a few months back).

- Phil LaFon was released from his contract. Doug Furnas is still technically employed but they're working on terms for his release also, so that team is gone.

- Shawn Michaels' friends are saying that his health is better than he's letting on and he'll be back in the ring sooner than people think.

- In an internet chat, Dan Severn was asked about his feelings on Ken Shamrock and basically flat out said that Shamrock is on steroids and that most bigger guys in wrestling are. Severn has always been outspoken against steroids and accused Shamrock of using them in their 1995 fight. Speaking of Shamrock, he still has an outstanding contract with UFC for the fight with Takada that never took place, so he is still contracted to fight again for UFC at some point, assuming WWF allows it.

- WWF developmental wrestler Andrew Martin missed a show recently because he was detained at the Canadian border over some past criminal issues still on his record.

- In the letters, among a bunch of other stuff, some guy mentions that all wrestling fans need to go out and get a Nintendo 64 because this WCW vs. NWO World Tour game is amazing. True dat.
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Quote:- Time Waner management are doing a major internal audit of WCW. Only time will tell if this becomes a major news story or not, but you gotta figure it's probably not good news if Turner execs are sniffing around trying to figure out where all their money is being spent and if it's being spent wisely.

Jim Cornette talked about this on his podcast(not this one specifically obviously), but he said these happened from time to time because other branches of Turner were constantly trying to argue that portions of WCW's income belonged to them. Like Turner home video tried to take PPV profits from them arguing that PPV is home entertainment and thus belongs to Turner home video.
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- Less than 10 months after making his professional wrestling debut, Bill Goldberg won the WCW title from Hulk Hogan in front of the largest crowd in WCW history and the 4th largest crowd for pro wrestling ever in the United States. It's been debated whether putting the title on Goldberg was a premature, panicked reaction to Raw kicking their ass in the ratings last week, and that will probably be debated until the end of time, but what can't be denied is that the win garnered one of the biggest crowd pops in the history of the business. The entire episode was built around Goldberg, with him first defeating the returning Scott Hall (fresh out of rehab) and then facing Hogan in the main event. The original plan was for it to be a dark match but that changed last week and Hogan reportedly had no problem putting Goldberg over clean. But in return, he was promised to be the person to end Goldberg's streak when the time is right. But that probably won't happen for awhile. WCW smartly realizes that Goldberg has potential to be the top star in the business and they don't want to screw things up like they did after the big Sting title win (although Dave says a lot of that is on Sting, since he had pretty much no fire once he actually returned to the ring).

- WCW is expected to win the ratings battle this week, but at what cost? Hogan vs. Goldberg was a potential $7 million grossing match on PPV and they gave it away for free on TV. They also had potential big money matches with Hogan defending the title against Kevin Nash and Bret Hart and now those storylines are thrown out the window. If WCW doesn't win the ratings war this week, it would be a huge blow since they just gave away their biggest money match for free. They had over 41,000 fans in the building, for a gate of $906,000+ and did massive merch numbers. All of these broke every WCW record in history, but all that money is still only a small fraction of what they could have made if the match was on PPV (Starrcade with Hogan vs. Sting did $7 million and with the right build up, Hogan/Goldberg likely would have done more). That being said, just judging the show by itself, it couldn't have gone better and established Goldberg as without a doubt the top star of WCW and the atmosphere and excitement of the show couldn't have been better. So where does it leave Goldberg? He's a green worker and unproven on the mic, but none of that has stopped him from getting the most incredible crowd reactions of any wrestler in modern history in recent months. But since putting the title on him was a spur of the moment decision, what next? They haven't planned any future angles or challengers for him. Dave ends this whole thing by saying, "When the story is written years from now, people will be shocked that Goldberg's first world title win wasn't something planned in advance and came simply because a company was desperate after losing the television ratings the week before. But that wasn't all that different from how Lou Thesz ended up with the title the first time either. July 6, 1998 could be a historical night for pro wrestling ushering in the first big match of one of the most charismatic figures the game has ever seen. Or it could have been one humongous pop for a moment, a moment that means nothing in the long run."

- Other notes from this huge Nitro: Dennis Rodman was scheduled to appear at the Georgia Dome show to further the angle with Karl Malone but he no-showed. WCW tried all day to get hold of him but Rodman wasn't returning calls. The night before, Rodman was at a Pearl Jam concert in Dallas, guzzling wine from the bottle and getting onstage with the band, leading to Eddie Vedder to call him out for being drunk. This obviously doesn't bode well for the Bash at the Beach PPV, since Rodman clearly isn't taking his commitments seriously. There was also a spot during the show where DDP took out Ed Leslie (whatever his gimmick is this week) with a stiff chairshot that legit busted open Leslie and required stitches. It led to the 2 men having words backstage but didn't amount to anything. Buff Bagwell returned to TV at the Georgia Dome Nitro, appearing in a wheelchair pushed by his mom and cut a promo. He got a thunderous ovation and gave a great speech that wasn't a wrestling promo talking about his injury and the road to recovery and promised to return. And finally, even though they spent $70,000 on the fake Tonight Show set, WCW has already dropped the idea of Bischoff hosting his own talk show segment after it killed last week's show dead in its tracks. (Here's Rodman wearing out his welcome onstage with Pearl Jam that night, just for shits and giggles).

- The recent merger of AT&T and TCI will likely have major ramifications on the wrestling industry. Within the industry, it's believed that due to the merger, within a few years, nearly every home in the U.S. will have PPV capabilities. Currently, around 35 million homes have access to PPV but it's thought that in a few years, it will be around 100 million. In theory, that should triple the revenue brought in by WWF, WCW, ECW, and other things like UFC and boxing and would be hugely profitable for everyone involved. A lot of this is theoretical of course. PPV has not been the huge success everyone predicted it would be 15 years ago. They expected it to put video rental stores out of business, but they're still thriving. It was supposed to make major sports like football and basketball zillions of dollars but it didn't. Concerts and entertainment specials have been a flop. Even UFC and boxing are declining and, in reality, the entire business of PPV is really only kept alive at this point due to WWF and WCW. Dave starts crunching numbers here and it gets pretty boring but in short, Dave doesn't think the expanding PPV universe is really going to make that much of a difference. He also talks about the possibility of another promotion forming since ECW has proven that you can be fairly profitable on PPV as long as you stay small and within your means. But Dave points out all the problems with trying to start a new promotion these days: basically every halfway marketable star is already signed to either WWF or WCW and there's not really anybody in Japan or Mexico that could be brought to America and get over the way they used to in the past.

- WWF's experimental Brawl For All shoot fights have become a major topic of conversation in the business lately. The tournament appears to be a way to get Steve Williams over as a legit tough guy so he can challenge Steve Austin later this year. The plan is for it to continue on every Raw until Summerslam, but crowd reactions have been mixed and if ratings don't do well, it may very well get cut short. Dave seems entertained by the idea but points out how it completely exposes some of these guys. Savio Vega and Steve Blackman are the only 2 guys who haven't been completely gassed after only 3 minutes of fighting. Someone like Marc Mero, with a legit Golden Gloves background, was outclassed and beaten in the first round. Brakkus finally made his WWF debut and was destroyed, which does his his career no favors. It's all fascinating television but it's destroying the allure of some of these guys (which is why none of the real stars were allowed to enter) but then again, most of these guys were going nowhere anyway. Nobody was forced to enter and supposedly each man is getting paid an extra $5,000 for winning and $2,500 extra to the losers. Plus a $75,000 bonus going to the tournament winner. In the end, Dave thinks the only person who actually has something to lose is Steve Williams because the whole thing is predicated on the idea that he will win and become a top star and challenger for Steve Austin. So if Williams was to get exposed or beaten, it'll kill him dead because his only marketable trait is that he can be promoted as a legit tough guy (spoiler alert: that's exactly what happens).

- WWF will be having a house show next month called Footbrawl and being held at Foxboro Stadium and will be co-promoted by the New England Patriots. They kicked off the local promotion for the event by having Vince McMahon vs. Steve Austin in an arm wrestling match in front of a crowd of around 3,000 people, leading to Austin throwing Vince into a river. He also threw Dok Hendrix in after him for good measure. But despite all the promotion, ticket sales are slow so far (can't find video of this arm wrestling thing, but here's a picture of it. As for the show...it ends up getting cancelled but we'll get there).

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- Dave gives 4.75 stars to Koji Kanemoto vs. Dr. Wagner Jr. in NJPW in the finals of the Super Juniors tournament. I only mention this because this is as close to 5 stars as NJPW is going to get for the next 14 years. The last 5 star match was in 1997 and they don't have another one until 2012.

- Stan Hansen, arguably the most popular foreign star to ever work in Japan, hasn't been booked on the last 2 AJPW tours. Hansen turns 49 next month and despite being one of their top stars since the late-1970s, it's clear that the company has been phasing him out. Reportedly, Hansen tried to negotiate with NJPW awhile back but they weren't interested because of his age and because they didn't think he'd be a good fit for NJPW. Giant Baba learned of the negotiations and basically hasn't booked Hansen on an AJPW tour ever since (nah, nothing much to this. Hansen returns a month later and stays with AJPW for the rest of his career, retiring in 2000).

- In Japan, Akira Maeda is retiring from wrestling and it looks as though his final match will be against Nobohiko Takada. Just a couple of years ago, that match would have easily sold out the Tokyo Dome. But Takada's popularity took a huge hit after his first loss at Pride 1 against Rickson Gracie and he has a rematch with Gracie in October that will probably end with Takada getting destroyed again. If the match happens after the next Gracie fight, Dave doesn't think Takada will have the box office drawing power to pull the kind of crowd it could have done a few years ago.

- In Memphis Power Pro, they held a big outdoors show in Memphis and brought in Giant Silva from WWF and tried to crown him as the new King which of course led to Jerry Lawler showing up to defend his crown. It also led to Lawler's girlfriend Stacy Carter running in and of course she was wearing a short skirt and took a few bumps to make sure everyone got to see everything. (I think I may have been at this show. I can't remember for sure. It seems familiar but I've been to a lot of wrestling shows).

- Sid Vicious no-showed another indie booking and Dave says that at this point, it would only be news if Sid actually did appear at something he was booked for.

- Sandman missed a few recent ECW shows because his wife went into premature labor a month early, giving birth to a 5 pound 14 ounce son named Austin.

- An Atlanta newspaper ran a story on the Ric Flair/WCW situation, quoting Flair as saying, "If you don't have to take it, you shouldn't, and I just drew the line. I had been vented on one too many times." Backstage, people were openly talking about it and everyone seems to be under the belief that Flair will probably never return, although Flair has admitted that he would be open to it under the right terms.

- Bischoff is already pressuring some of the guys who's contracts expire in late-99 to sign extensions. It's been strongly hinted that if they don't sign the extensions, he'll stop pushing them and basically job them out for the next year, which would obviously hurt their drawing power a year later if they wanted to go to WWF.

- WWF Injury Report: Steve Austin's staph infection in his elbow seemed to be getting better but then started worsening again so he's on a bunch of meds to fight that off and isn't wrestling on any upcoming shows, although he's still appearing. Mankind is also out right now due to injuries suffered in the Hell in a Cell match with Undertaker. He didn't suffer any broken bones but has bruised ribs and his mouth is a mess from losing 3 of his teeth and will require dental surgery. He hasn't been able to eat solid food since the match. He also suffered a concussion and dislocated jaw. Undertaker's ankle is still a wreck and he probably needs surgery but he doesn't want to get it. He had a similar injury a few years ago (floating bone chips) and said the pain from the surgery was worse than the pain of the injury so he'd rather just work through it.

- HHH missed some shows last week while he was out filming an episode of Pacific Blue. WWF is also trying to get USA to use Edge in one of its TV shows.

- WWF still has boxer Butterbean signed to a contract for one more match. It's expected he will team with Sable at Summerslam against Marc Mero and Jacquelyn (nope).

- Speaking of Summerslam, it will be subtitled "Highway to Hell" and they have gotten the rights to use the AC/DC song of the same name and will use it in all the promotion.

- Raw (taped last week) aired and Dave finally saw the DX imitating The Nation skit and thought it was funny. The line about Mark Henry eating shit was actually a reference to something that happened a few years ago. When Henry first signed, a lot of people resented his big 10-year contract and he had an attitude of not wanting to learn. So someone pulled a rib on him by putting a real turd in his sandwich, and Henry ended up taking a bite of it.

- Backstage, people are already admitting that they screwed up in the way they debuted Steve Regal. (In retrospect, Regal was a pilled out mess at this time and it's probably better that they didn't do anything with him back then. If they would have made a big deal of his debut and pushed him into a feud with Austin, it probably would have exploded in their face way bigger than it did.)

- A lawsuit was filed against WWF and against LOD member Hawk and Dennis Knight (formerly Phineas Godwinn) over an incident at a house show awhile back where they brawled into the crowd and two teenage girls were injured when the guardrail collapsed on them (we never hear anything else about this, so let's just assume it was settled out of court and the girls walked away with a lot of money).
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So this week's Observer back issue has an interesting bit, Dave's first look at John Cena, at a UPW show.

Quote:Prototype (John Sena) has the most promise. He's got an exceptional physique and look. He actually has superstar charisma and good athletic ability but he is not ready in the ring. Hopefully he won't be rushed to the big time because if he's brought up too soon, people will see him before he's ready and he'll get a rep as a worker that he'll have to overcome. But he's got something that most of the 6-5 muscle guys don't have and something that a lot of guys who by looks people think should have it (Chuck Palumbo is a perfect example of a guy who when you look at him, you think he should have it, but people don't react to him like he's anything special, whereas Kerry Von Erich, from another era, had it and Sena is reminiscent of that). Because of the similarity in look, people are comparing him to Sting from 15 years ago.

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Ha that's awesome
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- WCW's Bash at the Beach is in the books and, well....Dennis Rodman. Dave talks about the danger of using celebrities, especially flaky ones like Rodman. WWF learned that lesson earlier this year with Mike Tyson, who was scheduled to make several more Raw appearances than he actually did and often left WWF hanging at the last minute, with them not sure if he would be there. Rodman is even less reliable and at one point, WCW (who still had Rodman contracted for 1 match) considered selling the booking to NJPW and letting them use Rodman for a Tokyo Dome show. But NJPW couldn't justify spending the $750,000 for it so they weren't interested. So WCW used him for the match with Karl Malone and it was a disaster. Rodman reportedly showed up "in no condition to perform" and was a mess in the ring, with DDP noticeably irritated trying to keep it together and Hogan trying to call shots off-camera while Rodman seemed to almost fall asleep in the corner at one point. And for some reason they allotted 45 minutes for this trainwreck, which led to several earlier matches being cut short (Jericho vs. Mysterio was cut from 18 minutes to 6 minutes, for example). But the match was so bad that it ended up getting cut a good 10 minutes short on the fly, leading to the announcers killing time after the match and then going off the air 7 minutes early. As expected, the mainstream media coverage was pretty much all negative, with sports reporters griping about "real" athletes demeaning themselves by doing professional wrestling. But yeah....god awful main event, decent undercard. Typical WCW (in a few issues, we find out even more Rodman drama from this show).

- Other notes from Bash at the Beach: Billy Kidman had his first singles match on PPV and they're beginning to slowly phase him away from Raven's Flock because they want to push him on his own as a serious cruiserweight since he's so talented. Kevin Nash was "dressed up like the only 40-year-old who is still in high school." They did an angle where Bret Hart destroyed Booker T's knee with a chair, to write Booker off TV so he can get minor knee surgery that'll keep him out for 4-6 weeks. The main event was so bad that the crowd pretty much turned on it and began booing everything other than DDP winning. Chris Kanyon, Billy Kidman, and DDP worked with Karl Malone to train him for the match. And finally, both Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were playing in a nearby golf tournament and had requested tickets, but even though WCW held tickets for them, they never showed up so WCW never acknowledged it.

- The Hogan/Goldberg match on Nitro last week managed to break WWF's 5-week winning streak in the ratings but the victory party only lasted a week. Despite giving away their biggest money match on free TV and the media hype around Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone, WWF was back on top again this week. The Goldberg/Hogan match last week became the most watched wrestling match in cable TV history, with over 5 million people watching but it's hard to dispute that WCW left a LOT of money on the table in pursuit of that 1-week TV ratings win.

- WWF quietly cancelled its "Footbrawl" house show scheduled for Foxboro Stadium due to low ticket sales. The event was supposed to be co-promoted by the New England Patriots but despite WWF being on an unprecedented hot streak, for some reason, only 2,000 tickets had been sold after the first week. Seeing the writing on the wall, WWF just scrapped it.

- WWF's Brawl For All continued this week and it's been a mixed bag. The ratings have been steady for the most part and last week they got a decent crowd reaction. But this week on Raw, the crowd shat all over it (chanting "We want wrestling!") and the matches continue to expose these supposedly top class wrestlers as being totally out of their element in a real fight. In order to build interest, WWF changed their mind and decided to ask Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock to participate. Shamrock declined, but Severn accepted immediately. Severn replaced Shawn Stasiak in his match against Kama and it was a mess because he seemed to not understand the rules (repeatedly trying to pin Kama after takedowns) and the nonsensical scoring and confusing commentary made it seem like he was losing. Kama was legitimately upset after the match (remember, there's real bonus money on the line for the winners) because he felt Severn wasn't acting within the rules, but then again, nobody involved seems to understand the rules. Anyway, Kama legitimately refused to shake Severn's hand after the match. Dave thinks the Bart Gunn vs. Bob Holly fight was at least partially a work and led to a post-match angle that definitely was.

- Dave is in the midst of trying to put together a book compiling all of the obituaries he has written over the past 10 years for the Observer. He suspects it will be around 170 pages and feature lengthy obits for Bruiser Brody, Paul Boesch, Buddy Rogers, Andre the Giant, Steve Schumann, Kerry Von Erich, Dino Bravo, Oro, Boris Malenko, Art Barr, Eddie Gilbert, John Studd, Ray Stevens, Dick Murdoch, Fritz Von Erich, Dr. Jerry Graham, Brian Pillman, Louie Spicolli and Junkyard Dog. It will be called Tributes and cost $20 and will be available from a website called Powerbomb.com (these days, you can just get it from Amazon).

- Kenta Kobashi is working on 2 bad knees, both of which need surgery. But with Misawa out of action for at least another month, the company can't afford for him to take time off. AJPW's current tour is already the worst drawing tour in the history of the company. And to think, just 2 months ago, they drew 58,000+ fans to the Tokyo Dome.

- Giant Baba wrestled his 5,700th match last week. Baba has had a 38-year career and he's been full-time since day one. He also has a reputation of being something of the Cal Ripkin Jr. of wrestling as he's been known to almost never miss shows. In 1984, he missed a show due to injury and it was the first show he had missed in over 2,000 matches. Which, when you think about it, is more impressive for wrestling than it is for baseball, considering how much more physically demanding wrestling is. With the exception of maybe Lou Thesz, Dave says there's probably never been another wrestler who has wrestled more matches than Giant Baba.

- Dave runs down the card for ECW's upcoming PPV next month and says over 2,800 tickets have already been sold so it's pretty much guaranteed to break the record for largest crowd and gate in ECW history.

- Atsushi Onita did a press conference in Japan saying he's expecting his exploding ring barbed wire match to take place in ECW in September. Dave says it will most likely be at an outdoor arena likely in Atlantic City or Philadelphia (never happened).

- Chris Candido nearly lost his ear due to an errant dive by Sabu, who landed on Candido's ear with his knee somehow. It was said to be one of the scariest situations ever backstage in ECW, with Candido bleeding profusely and even going into convulsions and fearing that he would lose his ear, but he didn't. Ended up needing a bunch of stitches but he'll be fine. Dave says Sabu has been so bad lately that he's becoming too dangerous for other guys to work with.

- Chris Benoit suffered some sort of elbow injury that's expected to keep him out of action for a month or two (actually ended up being closer to 4 months). Benoit was scheduled to work the upcoming NJPW tour and was said to be excited about it since he was scheduled for big singles matches, but that won't be happening now.

- Money-wise, this was the biggest week in the history of WCW. Over the course of an 8-day period, they had the Georgia Dome Nitro when drew the biggest crowd and gate ever for WCW, followed by 6 house shows that brought in over $2 million at the gate, plus another $780,000+ in merch sales. Furthermore, Bash at the Beach looks to be the 2nd highest buyrate PPV ever for WCW, which nets them another $6.5 million. All told, if you add it up, WCW brought in about $9 million in the span of a week.

- Dave reviews this week's Nitro and just shits all over it. Goldberg is clearly the new face of the company but every bit of the show was built around repairing Hogan's fragile ego after he dropped the belt. He recaps the angle with Hogan pushing Buff Bagwell out of his wheelchair and says that this is the moment he realized that WCW is going to keep losing the ratings war on Monday nights. Bagwell isn't going to come back and feud with Hogan, so why did Hogan have to get the heel heat of pushing Bagwell out of the wheelchair? Shouldn't that have gone to Jericho or Raven to get them some heat and give Bagwell an angle when he's actually ready to return? Instead, Hogan used it to get heat for himself and it's obviously not going to lead anywhere between them. Beyond that...Bret Hart vs. Fit Finlay got 4 minutes and Mistero vs. Malenko got 5 minutes. Meanwhile, a Stevie Ray/Rick Martel match was given 9 minutes, and why anyone would book Stevie Ray to go that long in a match is beyond Dave. DDP beat The Disciple (Ed Leslie's gimmick this week) with a roll-up because Hogan stepped in and had the finish changed so Disciple wouldn't have to job to the diamond cutter. The main event of Hogan vs. Scott Hall was somehow worse than the PPV match with Rodman. "Ungodly bad, and that's on a show that had a Duggan match." Dave says if they continue booking the show around Hogan rather than Goldberg, it's not going to be good for WCW long-term. TL;DR - WCW is awful right now (oh man, we haven't even scratched the surface yet. If you think Dave trashing on WCW is bad now, just wait until we get to 1999).

- Speaking of Goldberg, he was given a raise just before winning the title and is reportedly signed for 4 years for $4 million which has to be a record for someone only 10 months into their career.

- Erik Watts is expected to be brought back to WCW soon.

- Sports radio host Jim Rome trashed pro wrestling after the Dennis Rodman/Karl Malone match. He talked about how bad the match was (fair point) and then claimed wrestlers never get hurt, all they do is tan and take steroids. When one caller called in to the show and complained that Rodman and Malone were taking the spots of full-time wrestlers who had worked hard in the business, Rome responded that nobody works hard in wrestling and that it's all fake.

- WCW is planning to open a Nitro-themed restaurant in Las Vegas at the Excalibur Hotel. Here's an album with pics of the menu. Some solid puns in here:


- All of the luchadors under contract to WCW (except Ultimo Dragon) have been officially banned from working any shows in Mexico unless WCW books them to work for EMLL at Arena Mexico. Dragon's deal is different because he only signed away his U.S. rights but he still keeps the right to book himself anywhere else in the world (this is obviously bad news for Promo Azteca).

- Time Magazine is still doing their online voting for Man of the Century. Ric Flair is still in the lead in 1st place. In 2nd place is Adolf Hitler. Not sure who 3rd place is, but Jesus Christ is in 4th place (despite not being from this century) and close behind him in 5th place is Raven. Oh, the internet.

- Steve Austin had a photoshoot last week for a TV Guide cover, which is huge considering how big that magazine is with so much visibility (it's at the registers of basically every store in America). No other wrestler has ever gotten the cover of it, not even Hogan.

- Shawn Michaels returned to WWF as the new color commentator on Raw, playing a total babyface. He's been making $15,000 a week sitting at home, so Dave understands why they want him back on TV, but it seemed like a desperation move after WCW won the ratings last week. Michaels' return should have been a big shock to lead to an angle with the new DX. But now he's going to be on TV every week so when he finally returns to the ring, it won't be as big a deal. Dave also says that Shawn has suffered a lot of concussions in his career and while he can get away with being a little loopy during promos, hearing him for 2 hours on commentary was kind of a scary reminder of what concussions can do (and, you know...drugs).


- Other Raw notes: Steve Corino worked a dark match. Dave is certain the Bart Gunn vs. Bob Holly Brawl For All match was a work. On commentary, Shawn took a shot at Bret Hart, calling him a midcarder, which is pretty much true for him in WCW now. They furthered the angle with Val Venis allegedly stealing Yamaguchi-san's wife. Dave notes that the girl playing the wife is actually 17, so showing her in bed with Val Venis is a little messed up (I googled this and got conflicting date of birth info. She was either 17 or 22 at this time, depending on which sources you believe. For the next few weeks, Dave repeatedly mentions that she's 17 and sticks with that, so who knows).

- At a few recent shows, women in the crowd have been lifting their shirts and flashing DX. For the record, these are paid plants and not actual fans.

- WWF will be starting a new show on Sunday nights starting in August. No word on anything else about the show yet (ends up being Sunday Night Heat).

- Bret and Owen Hart's 17-year-old nephew Ted Annis will be attending WWF's next training camp session. He's worked some indies and has been training for a few years (that would be Teddy Hart and, in typical Teddy Hart fashion, his shitty attitude and behavior puts an end to that pretty quickly, but we'll get there).

- A correction from last week: when talking about WWF using the song "Highway To Hell" for Summerslam, Dave referred to it as an 80s song. Turns out it was actually released on Dec. 13, 1979. Just in case you thought Dave wasn't thorough.

- X-Pac did an interview with the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter and said that in the 18 months he was in WCW, he was never drug tested once, despite having a history of major drug problems (which is why WWF released him in the first place before WCW hired him).

- Someone writes in trashing Goldberg and saying his gimmick is a total rip-off of Steve Austin. Dave responds, pointing out that aside from the shaved head and black tights, there's no similarity between the two at all. He points out that WWF messed up because Goldberg's gimmick should have been what Ken Shamrock debuted as. But they dropped the ball on Shamrock. Luckily, he turned out to be a much better wrestler than expected, so he's done okay. But he had the credibility to be brought in as a killer. WCW took a guy who just has a good look and booked him the way Shamrock should have been booked and it turned the guy into a megastar. WWF had that potential in Shamrock and fumbled it.
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- Tonight Show host Jay Leno has signed on to wrestle at WCW's Road Wild PPV next month. The negotiations have been going on for weeks and that was the reason Eric Bischoff spent $70,000 on a Tonight Show-like set, with the plan being that he would host a weekly talk show segment every week on Nitro, spoofing Leno and taunting him. But the first and only time they did it was horrible and the ratings dropped like a rock, so they scrapped the idea.....until this week, when it was brought back and was just as unwatchable the 2nd time around. They plan to do more of the angle on episodes of the Tonight Show leading up to the PPV. So will it lead to PPV buys? Dave is skeptical. Considering how bad the last PPV main event with Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone was (and those guys were real athletes), it's entirely possible that fans won't risk getting burned again. It's also taking place at the Road Wild PPV in Sturgis, which has been a disaster every year WCW has attempted it. The buyrate is always lower than their average, the show always sucks, the crowd is always full of racist drunk bikers who aren't wrestling fans, etc. Plus the show is free for the live crowd, which means WCW is missing out on a good $400,000 or so gate that they could usually draw with an arena show. But Leno is a biker and one of the big reasons he agreed to do the show was because it is taking place at the rally in Sturgis.

- Dave lists other expected matches and one of them is Kevin Nash vs. Scott Hall, but both of them are trying to get that match nixed because they both believe that it's too soon for them to really start that feud, and they also don't want it to be in front of that crowd. Dave agrees with them (they got their way. The match doesn't end up happening). Country music star Travis Tritt is also scheduled to perform a 30-minute concert during the PPV, which Dave thinks is a bad idea.

- The RINGS promotion in Japan set their all-time record by drawing almost 18,000 fans for Akira Maeda's retirement match. The whole show overall was bad and Maeda was heavily booed after the match. Despite being billed as his retirement, there's still hope that they can one day put together a Maeda vs. Nobuhiko Takada match at some point. Dave recaps Maeda's career, which is a long interesting story covering his early years, his run in NJPW, jumping to the original UWF, working in WWF during 1984, back to NJPW, the infamous shoot-attack on Riki Choshu during a match that led to the formation of UWF in 1987 which led to the hard hitting "strong style" and worked-shoot matches that other Japanese promotions soon began imitating and in some ways birthed modern-day MMA. Dave thinks Maeda's retirement isn't great news for RINGS because a lot of the promotion's popularity is due to him. Without Maeda on the cards, Dave doesn't have high hopes for RINGS (yup, they slowly died before folding in 2002).

- For the 7th time in 8 weeks, Raw beat Nitro in the ratings (the Goldberg/Hogan show is the one victory WCW managed to get). Raw didn't just win this week, but they were dominant, winning almost every segment of the both head-to-head hours in decisive fashion. And the 2 Steve Austin segments on the show spiked the ratings even higher, with one segment in particular being the highest they've done and solidifying Steve Austin as the biggest ratings draw in the history of the Monday Night Wars.

- ABC World News Tonight ran a feature on pro wrestling, mostly about the big TV ratings. Overall, it was a much better piece compared to most mainstream media stories about wrestling, although Dave is nit-picky enough to point out several statistics they got wrong. But at least it didn't talk down about wrestling fans and ridicule people for liking wrestling the way most of these stories do. The story talked about how, of the top 10 rated shows on cable that week, 5 of them were wrestling. But that's misleading because it counts 3 hours of Nitro and 2 hours of Raw all as five separate shows.

- La Parka reportedly tore his ACL in a match with Goldberg a few weeks ago and has been at home in Mexico recovering but, unbeknownst to WCW, has still been wrestling at small border town EMLL spot shows. Dave thinks this could get messy since he's under contract to WCW and isn't supposed to wrestle anywhere else without explicit permission from them. Especially since he's supposed to be injured.

- WWF's Raw show is getting really popular in Mexico, with a lot of the younger fans preferring it over the traditional Lucha Libre style of Mexican wrestling on TV. It's thought that WWF could probably draw well if they decided to start running shows in Mexico.

- Great Sasuke will be wrestling at an upcoming Osaka Dome show for NJPW. If you remember, Sasuke was scheduled to work the Tokyo Dome show in January, but WCW complained about it because Sasuke had been working with WWF and ECW at the time, so they pulled strings and got NJPW to cancel the booking for Sasuke. But he's no longer working with WWF or ECW, so NJPW has decided to book him again and this time, WCW isn't making a fuss about it. Speaking of Sasuke, he recently returned to action after being out for most of the year with a knee injury but he's still not 100%.

- Notes from a recent Power Pro Wrestling show at the Mid South Coliseum in Memphis: Jerry Lawler faced Giant Silva and at one point, Randy Hales got involved, leading to Lawler's girlfriend Stacy running in to give Hales a low blow and then sat on his face, leading Dave to say, "there are men who would pay a lot of money for that." There was also a Bill Dundee vs. Koko B. Ware dog collar match that is only notable because both men bladed and they stupidly shared the same blade to do so, which Dave says is insane. And finally, there was a crazy high flying match everyone raved about featuring Willow The Wisp (occasional WWF-jobber Jeff Hardy) against a guy named Kid Dynamo (real name Shannon Moore).

- Jake Roberts recently spent 3 nights in jail in Jacksonville, FL for failure to pay child support.

- Indie wrestler Mike Modest is expected to get a WWF tryout soon, mostly as a favor to filmmaker Barry Blaustein who is doing a wrestling documentary movie and will be there filming it (yup, that gets shown in Beyond The Mat).

- Another day, another incident at an ECW show. Lots of versions of the story going around, but the general consensus is that the Dudleyz were inciting the crowd and someone threw a drink at them, leading to Big Dick Dudley to go over the rail after the fan. Then Bubba Ray Dudley got on the mic and challenged anyone in the crowd to get in the ring, leading to a few brave souls trying to jump the rails and getting taken out by security and by the Dudleyz. Then fans started throwing chairs. It ended with Big Dick Dudley and a 13-year-old fan both being arrested. It could be especially bad for Big Dick since he's on parole.

- Louie Spicolli's official cause of death has been released and was basically a heart attack from drug overdose, as everyone already knew.

- WCW hasn't announced who the final member of the new Four Horsemen will be because they're still pushing hard to get Ric Flair to return and be involved. They promised Flair the Horsemen will get a big push and be heavily marketed, and they want to call them Four Horsemen 2000 (which did wonders for LOD, Dave says sarcastically).

- The tentative plan is for Ultimate Warrior to debut on Nitro on the Aug. 17th episode. Dave says they better promote it hard because Warrior is probably only going to be good for a 2-3 weeks rating boost before he goes back to meaning nothing. So they better get all they can out of him.

- Dave thinks Goldberg is quickly losing steam now that he won the WCW title. Since it was such a spur of the moment decision, they didn't have any storylines planned for him and the TV shows are still entirely built around Hogan. This is basically exactly what happened after Sting won the title, they still didn't make him the focus of the show and it killed all the momentum. He talks about how Giant Baba and even Inoki were smart enough to phase themselves out when they got old and although they still worked occasional shows, they weren't the main event and they allowed themselves to work midcard matches while younger stars were pushed to the main event. But they owned their companies and were smart enough to see the future. Hogan doesn't own WCW and doesn't care about its future as long as he's able to keep himself on top, so he uses WCW as a way to keep himself as the top star and it's hurting the company.

- They did a really good angle with Buff Bagwell getting out of his wheelchair and revealing that he is still with the NWO and had him attack Rick Steiner. Dave thinks it was fine as an angle, but thinks WCW pissed away a lot of money by doing it. Bagwell could have come back as a huge babyface given the reality of his injury and probably drawn a pretty big rating or buyrate with his first match back, and then they could have turned him heel at the height of his popularity and solidified him as a top heel. Instead, they just skipped right to the end of what could have been a good, money-drawing story.

- Dave attended a recent Thunder taping and was surprised by a couple of things. For starters, despite not really being pushed as a top star, Bret Hart is still insanely over as a heel and got bigger reactions than almost anyone. And also, the Goldberg-backlash seems to be starting. He still got big cheers, but not much more than DDP and there were a few of anti-Goldberg signs in the crowd like "Goldberg sucks," and "Goldberg can't wrestle" and stuff like that.

- Kevin Nash and Goldberg are both set to film guest spots on upcoming episodes of the show Love Boat: The Next Wave.

- Next month's WWF Fully Loaded PPV features a match with Owen Hart vs. Ken Shamrock that will be taped in the famous Hart Dungeon. It's obviously an interesting idea for a match but it's also interesting because it means Stu Hart is letting WWF tape a PPV match in his house even after everything that happened last year in Montreal with Bret. Even though Owen is also his son and surely WWF is paying him to use the house, it's still gotta be seen as a slap in the face to Bret.

- WWF will be running a 1-hour prime time show on Sunday nights starting next month on a trial basis. If it does well, it will likely lead to a second weekly show (and thus, Sunday Night Heat is born). Interestingly enough, the first episode will be airing at the same time as ECW's next PPV.

- At the last Raw tapings, Shawn Michaels (on commentary) was all buddy-buddy with DX member X-Pac. Dave bitched about it at the time, saying Shawn's eventual return could lead to a big angle with DX and it would be stupid to just have them squash the beef now while he's still injured and doing commentary. But when the show aired, they edited that out. So no harm no foul.

- The woman with the absurdly huge breasts who appeared on Shotgun Saturday Night this week in an angle with Jackyl is a stripper named Rachel Rockets, who has done some porn movies as well. She was there with some of the Howard Stern crew. She had a shirt that said "Smells like ratings" leading Jim Cornette to say it smells like tuna, not ratings (here ya go, around the 27 minute mark).

- Steve Austin's matches at house shows have been moved to the middle of the card (before intermission). The reason is that he's so damn popular that when he works main events, it's impossible to get him out of the arena after the show because fans are climbing all over his car as he drives out and shit like that. So they have him work the middle of the show and then he leaves while the fans are still in the arena watching the rest of the show.
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- Dave gives some more news on the upcoming Jay Leno match at WCW Road Wild. They plan is for Hogan/Bischoff/The Disciple vs. DDP/Jay Leno/Kevin Eubanks in a 6-man match as the main event of the show, which might just set a new standard for worst PPV main event ever. Dave talks about how using celebrities is usually hit or miss and the ones that usually get used are athletes like Rodman, Malone, Lawrence Taylor, etc. or at least in the case of Mr. T, someone with a tough guy reputation. Leno is none of those things, obviously. And word is Leno's schedule between now and the PPV is so tight that he won't have any free days to train or prepare for the match. Take Karl Malone for instance, who spent several days at the WCW Power Plant getting a crash course in wrestling so as not to embarrass himself and learn some moves and how to bump. Leno will be going into the PPV main event without a single day of wrestling training. On their respective shows (Nitro and The Tonight Show), Leno and Hogan/Bischoff have been tossing insults back and forth and it's expected to culminate with Hogan's team appearing on The Tonight Show this week.

- WWF's Fully Loaded PPV is in the books and was...a show. Nothing much to say about it. Some good, some bad. Vader jobbed to Mark Henry in a bad match and Dave says it's clearly time for Vader to move on but at this point in his career, there may not be anywhere he can really go and do any better. In fact, there seemed to be a theme with all the older legendary wrestlers (Vader, Terry Funk, Legion of Doom, etc.) doing clean jobs to prelim guys, as if WWF is trying to send a message that this ain't the company for stars who are past their primes. The Lion's Den match was good but awkward since it was pre-taped with no crowd and no ring. Rocky Maivia went to a 30-minute draw with Triple H and which was probably the longest match of either of their careers which is a real risk with today's short attention spans and with 2 unproven workers but they worked hard and it turned out pretty good. And the only real note from the main event was Undertaker coming out to an altered version of his theme. Dave says he wouldn't have messed with the original.

- Also at the PPV, there was a bikini contest between Sable and Jacquelyn. First it featured Jacquelyn's nipple slipping out which was supposed to seem like an accident but Dave is pretty sure it was intentional (this is blurred out on the "uncut and uncensored" WWE Network). Then Sable came out with body paint over her nipples and was topless otherwise. Dave says if you thought it was tasteless, you're right, but that's like taking kids to an R-rated movie and complaining after. At this point, everyone knows what WWF is and they aren't trying to pretend this is a show for kids anymore. So if you were offended, that's on you. Then Dave finishes it off with this hilariously weird bit: "And believe me, if I had kids there is no way I'd let them watch today's WWF--I only have a dog and the only time WWF was objectionable to my family was when DX was peeing on DOA's bikes because my dog's hero Sean Waltman--who became a heroic figure when he did that interview telling Hulk Hogan that he sucks--was setting a terrible example for impressionable puppies. It gets worse. My next door neighbor is a bonafide Hells Angel with several expensive bikes in his garage and wild parties every other weekend with a bunch of guys that look like rejects from Tank Abbott's gangs and we have enough problems because his favorite wrestler is still Hogan and the last thing I need is a dog who hates Hogan thinking it's cool to pee on his bikes--I swear almost every word of this is true."

- WWF won the ratings war again this week but just barely. WCW had advertised a replay of the Hogan/Rodman vs. DDP/Malone match from the last PPV would air on Nitro so that seems to have been what drew Nitro's viewers and the match ended up being the 2nd most watched wrestling match ever on cable (behind the Hogan/Goldberg match). But even that wasn't quite enough to beat Raw's overall rating. This week was also a perfect demonstration of the quality gap between the shows, as it was one of the worst Nitro episodes ever while Raw continued the streak of great shows they've been having all year.

- Dave does another business comparison from the first half of 1998 compared to the first halves of 97, 96, and 95. It's just crazy how much business has grown in the last year. Attendance, gate, TV ratings, buy rates, PPV revenue...1998 is light years ahead of every other year in this decade for both companies. As for comparing the 2 companies against each other, on paper, things look to be pretty much even. But it's undeniable that WWF has the momentum right now and WCW is still mostly surviving on the momentum they built last year and that won't last forever if they keep floundering (just on a personal note, I'd really love to know what Vince and Eric were both feeling around this time. Bischoff had spent the last 2 years arrogantly talking endless shit about how easy it was to beat WWF and how looking at the ratings on Tuesday wasn't even fun anymore because they were in the middle of their 84 week win streak. But now that WWF has won the last 8 out of 9 weeks and WCW is floundering while WWF is clearly rising like a rocket...I can only imagine how smug Vince was feeling while Eric was probably panicking himself to sleep every night trying to not lose control of everything).

- Legendary women's wrestler June Byers passed away at age 76 and Dave gives her the usual obituary, including recapping what he says is the most significant match in American women's wrestling history. In 1954, Byers won the women's title from Mildred Burke in a match that was a total shoot. The booker (Burke's ex-husband) wanted Burke to drop the title (to the woman he later married so you can imagine Burke didn't want to drop her title to her ex's new fling). Burke refused and the booker figured the only way to get the title off her would be to put her in the ring against the biggest and strongest woman he had and do it as a shoot. That was June Byers and Burke agreed to face her in a shoot. (Fun fact: Byers was married to the booker's son, from a previous marriage before he was married to Burke. And that son had previously had an affair with Burke in the 1940s. Y'all still following all this drama?) So the match happened, in a 2 out of 3 falls match. Burke injured her knee in the first fall and gave up so she could have her knee popped back into place. Then she worked the rest of the match on one leg and it was eventually stopped after 47 minutes by the local athletic commission because it had turned into a boring stalemate of ground grappling. Burke was initially declared still champ because she only lost 1 fall and the match was stopped after that. But the booker was tight with the local commission and got them to overturn their ruling, declaring Byers the winner. In the end, Byers was recognized as the new champion even though Burke was arguably never beaten and held her own against a much larger and stronger woman for an hour while grappling on 1 leg. Anyway, this all led to the lineage of women's world titles in the U.S. splitting up and going in different ways. Burke continued to claim herself as champion and that championship ended up in Japan and was held by all the top women's stars there. Byers' title is the one that Fabulous Moolah ended up holding for most of the next 30 years (and now in 2017, in that lineage, Jazz is the recognized champion).


- Dave gives 5 stars to a Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka match from RINGS. Keep in mind, RINGS is a mix of shoots and worked matches. This one was worked and Dave says the match wouldn't get over with most fans who aren't familiar with the style but it was the best worked-shoot match Dave has ever seen and it's his personal match of the year so far.

- In a recent magazine interview, Johnny Ace claims he taught DDP the diamond cutter (originally called the Ace Crusher) a few years ago when Ace was working in Atlanta and they were friends.

- Keiji Muto is still having knee trouble despite recently having surgery on both of them. Word is his knees are so bad that he's considering retirement (19 years later, he's still wrestling to this day).

- Jerry Lawler will be playing himself in the upcoming Andy Kaufman movie Man on the Moon starring Jim Carrey.

- Dennis Coraluzzo is promoting a show this week billed as NWA vs. ECW. He's trying to bring in a group of ex-ECW guys (like Stevie Richards and others) to feud with his guys. Former ECW owner Tod Gordon is involved and claims he still owns the rights to the ECW initials since he still owns the old Eastern Championship Wrestling trademark (even though that company hasn't existed under that name since 1994). Dave thinks it would probably make an interesting legal case if Paul Heyman wanted to actually fight it.

- Nobuhiko Takada has a rematch with Rickson Gracie scheduled in October in a shoot fight. Takada has been training in Los Angeles for the fight and his trainer recently gave an interview to a TV show about Takada and had this to say: "Pride's owner asked me so I'm training him, but he won't stand a chance against Rickson. He is not a true fighter. I could train him for ten years and it wouldn't help. As Master Carlson Gracie said, the guy is a wimp." Good for your trainers to have faith in you I guess.

- An appeals court in Revere, MA overturned a ruling that New Jack couldn't be charged for assault in the Mass Transit incident. They turned the case over a grand jury and New Jack will be arraigned this week. He's expected to be charged with assault with intent to commit bodily harm. The judge also wants Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer to appear since they were in charge of the show that night.

- Beulah is returning to college full-time and is reportedly done with ECW. It's possible she may return for a surprise appearance at some point in the future but for now there's no plans for her to return (nope, that was it for Beulah until WWE did the One Night Stand PPV in 2005).

- Paul Heyman is trying to sign Mike Awesome to a full time deal but it's tricky because he's the top foreign star in FMW and they have a good relationship with ECW. So Heyman doesn't want it to look like he's trying to steal one of their top stars but, well....he is.

- Dave recaps Nitro and talks about how absolutely terrible it was and even jokes that he wished for a sniper in the crowd to put us out of our misery during the fake Tonight Show segment. I should note he apologizes in advance for the poor taste of the comment and clarifies that it's a joke before he even writes it. But Nitro REALLY sucks right now, you guys.

- The midcard wrestlers (Benoit, Jericho, Malenko, Guerrero, Konnan, etc.) have all been offered substantial pay raises to stay with WCW when their contracts expire next year but on the flip side, Bischoff has also made it clear that if they don't re-sign, he will basically spend the next year burying them. Konnan has already re-signed. It's believed Jericho will be soon but he hasn't yet (and doesn't).

- Bruce Buffer, the younger brother of ring announcer Michael Buffer, is working as Tank Abbott's business manager and is pushing to get Tank to join WCW.

- The New York Daily News had a good story on the WCW Bash at the Beach PPV. After the recent remarks from Bob Costas about Karl Malone demeaning himself by doing wrestling, Karl Malone was quoted in the story saying, "Excuse my French, but fuck Bob Costas." The story also talked about how the night of the PPV, Dennis Rodman disappeared for several hours to "go get food" with some friends and there was legit concern that he wouldn't get back to the arena in time for his match. Fellow NBA player Antoine Carr was backstage and WCW even approached him and asked if he would want to do the match if Rodman failed to return. Luckily, he did but as you can see by the match, he came back drunk and was obviously in no real condition to perform, but WCW put him in the ring anyway. The story also talked about an incident at the PPV where CNN's Craig Sager tried to interview Goldberg backstage and Bischoff freaked out because they don't want Goldberg giving interviews and talking because they're trying to protect him and keep his silent bad ass gimmick.

- In a huge upset in the WWF Brawl For All tournament, Bart Gunn knocked out Steve Williams in the 3rd round. Dave says it's one of the biggest shocks in recent wrestling history. The plan was for Williams to win this whole tournament to set him up as a challenger for Steve Austin, but you can't predict shoots. Williams suffered a knee injury in the fight and the punch that beat him also dislocated his jaw. Basically, Bart Gunn just straight fucked him up.

- Other notes from Raw: Kama is now going by the name Godfather and doing a pimp gimmick and came to the ring with 3 hos. They also did a gimmick with Legion of Doom where Hawk was basically on drugs or something and Dave thinks it's kinda messed up that they have Hawk of all people doing a drug gimmick considering he's known to have real issues. Sable is in a storyline with Vince McMahon and he was bullying her around so she took off her dress and paraded around in her underwear to....get back at Vince somehow I guess. Dave thinks it must be nice to work at a place where, when the women get mad at the boss, they just take their clothes off.

- Ken Shamrock has reportedly agreed to face the winner of the Brawl For All tournament in a shoot fight under the BFA rules. Not a definite to happen yet but it's being discussed (sadly never happened).

- MTV Celebrity Death Match will be doing an Austin vs. McMahon fight episode.

- There's been a lot of gossip about Brian Pillman's former wife Melanie getting re-married a few months ago. Which obviously got a lot of people talking about how it was so soon after Brian's death. Dave says, "Let's just say real life isn't black and white and real life and wrestling don't mix well in the first place." (If I'm reading between the lines here, that sounds like Dave is implying that she was probably already dating this guy before Pillman died. Which would also backup the claims made later that the baby Melanie was carrying when he died wasn't Brian's).

- Undertaker was interviewed on a radio show recently and was asked about Ric Flair coming to WWF. Undertaker was very negative on the idea, saying there comes a time when everyone needs to hang it up and Flair's time was up years ago (just for shits and giggles, Ric Flair was 48 at this time. Undertaker will be 53 when Wrestlemania rolls around this year. Tsk tsk, Mark.)

- At every WWF show, DX has been getting women in the crowd to lift their tops and flash the crowd. On WWF's website, there is a note asking women who attend the live shows to be willing to take their tops off if they're asked (wow).

- Someone writes in asking Dave his top 5 favorite matches from WWF and WCW. Dave doesn't really give a list but kinda just writes a bunch of run-on sentences about great matches he's loved over the years. He says the Shawn/Razor ladder match at WM10 is the best WWF match he's ever seen and puts Austin/Hart at WM13 in 2nd place. As for WCW, he just rambles on about which Flair/Steamboat match he likes best.

- It's around the 10th anniversary of Bruiser Brody's death and someone writes in asking Dave what he thinks Brody would be doing in the biz if he was still alive. Dave says he'd be 52 and his body was already breaking down 10 years ago so he probably wouldn't be in the best condition anymore. But with so much money in the business today, he's sure Brody would still be trying to work. He figures Brody would go back to AJPW for a few years, probably go to FMW and eventually to ECW, where he'd probably become a cult hero with them. He says Brody probably would have also gotten a chance with WWF and WCW too since in this age of the Monday Night Wars, almost anyone with some name value gets signed at some point or another. But he also points out that Brody didn't have the best reputation so he'd probably end up getting pissed and quitting on all of those companies at some point and burning bridges. That was kinda Brody's thing.
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- Scott Hall was arrested for misdemeanor simple battery and drunk and disorderly conduct last week in Baton Rouge, LA. A 56-year-old woman told police that she was waiting in her car outside of her hotel when she spotted Hall and rolled down her window to speak with him. Hall allegedly reached into the car and grabbed the woman's breast and tried to pull her hand to his crotch. She reported it to police and Hall was arrested in his hotel room but was later released after being charged and is still working WCW events as of press time. Dave says it's yet another incident in a scary pattern of behavior for Scott Hall, who has been to rehab 3 times in the past year but it doesn't seem to be working. Dave talks about how the warning signs with Brian Pillman and Louie Spicolli were there all along and were ignored and now the warning signs are clearly there with Scott Hall. WCW hasn't commented on the situation and word is they plan to pretty much ignore it. This is extra bad news for Hall because he's in the middle of a nasty custody battle with his ex-wife and getting arrested for charges like that won't help his case any.

- Viewers Choice announced they will stop carrying all future UFC events, which could very possibly be the fatal blow for the company. This essentially leaves UFC without a major PPV distributor. UFC is still planning to forge ahead and aren't giving up and is hoping to hook up with smaller, regional PPV providers. Dave thinks the whole thing is ridiculous since WWF these days is far raunchier and more violent than UFC has ever been.

- This year's NJPW G-1 Climax tournament is in the books. It's pretty much always a great tournament and this year was no exception, with great matches and drawing sellouts every night. Shinya Hashimoto won. Dave recaps the highlights and talks about how Hashimoto has headlined more 7-figure gate shows than any wrestler in history and is a 3-time IWGP champion but had never won the G-1 tournament until now.

- The Disciple and Kevin Eubanks won't take part in the Hogan/Bischoff vs. DDP/Jay Leno match at Road Wild and it will simply be a 2-on-2 tag match. So far, there hasn't been as much mainstream publicity as the Rodman/Malone match got and it seems to be helping Leno's ratings more than WCW's. They filmed an angle on The Tonight Show that led to a big pull-apart brawl and led to Leno accepting the challenge (I guess NBC is strict about their stuff being on Youtube, I can't find video of this). Dave also takes a moment to give credit to DDP for managing to maneuver himself into this position of main eventing the last 2 PPVs alongside big mainstream celebrities and getting to be on the Tonight Show and all that stuff. It's true that he's good friends with Eric Bischoff and that certainly helps, but he says DDP has worked hard to get to where he is, both on-screen and backstage and even though it might not have been the smartest business decision to book him in these matches, he's earned it. In case you're wondering, Dave says Goldberg is the obvious choice since they should be booking the company around him right now instead of the Hogan/celebrity-of-the-month pattern they're in now.

- WCW may be losing in the ratings right now, but don't go calling them the #2 promotion yet. They just drew over $4 million last month on house shows/TV shows and sold out something like 14 out of 19 shows. This is pretty much an all-time record in the U.S. for non-PPV shows. WWF has never done it and, worldwide, only NJPW has done it in their country. So WCW is still very strong right now. That being said, Dave says the company is basically on a self-destructive path of terrible decision making and if things don't change, they will end up as the #2 company sooner rather than later.

- ECW's Heat Wave PPV is in the books and finally broke the streak of bad ECW PPVs. It was arguably the best PPV of the year from any company. While recapping the show, Dave mentions that Sunny ("looking like she hadn't slept in days") came out with Chris Candido and was introduced as Tammy Lynn Sytch. He off-handedly notes that she was fired by the WWF last week. She was apparently given an ultimatum to go to rehab or be fired. So she went to rehab but claimed she didn't have a problem and then refused treatment and stopped responding to WWF's attempts to reach her. So they fired her. WWF owns the name "Sunny" so she can't use that anymore. She's planning to work full-time for ECW right now. WCW has been very interested in her for a long time but never made an attempt to get her for fear of a contract tampering lawsuit.

- Other notes from Heat Wave: most of the matches were at least 3 stars. Masato Tanaka vs. Mike Awesome featured a scary spot with Tanaka power bombing Mike Awesome over the top rope out of the ring through a table which got a huge pop (this one would get replayed for years in ECW commercials). It also featured a spot with Taz DDTing Bam Bam Bigelow through the ramp (that one too). Dave says Mikey Whipwreck spent hours before the show working on getting the ramp gimmicked for that spot.

- Trying to judge WWF's Brawl For All as a success or failure is difficult. From a ratings standpoint, it's been a success as the fights have done strong ratings and at least among insider fans, the Bart Gunn/Steve Williams fight was the most talked about story since the Screwjob. But it's also been a dud live, with fans booing most of the fights. There's other negatives also. Steve Williams was brought in specifically for his tough man persona and to be built up as a challenger for Steve Austin. He was expected to win the tournament, so having him get knocked the fuck out by Bart Gunn could prove fatal to his chances of succeeding in WWF now. There's also the injuries that are piling up. Savio Vega suffered a neck injury, Hawk got a broken nose, Steve Blackman suffered a knee injury and, Steve Williams, on top of getting chin-checked by the Marty Jannetty of the Smoking Gunns, also suffered a torn hamstring, torn buttocks, and a dislocated jaw, all of which will keep him out for a couple of months. Finally, the whole thing was poorly planned. It was thrown together on no notice (the tournament was literally conceived the same week it began), so no one had time to train, the rules seem to be all over the place, the bracketing keeps changing for no reason, losers get to return as alternates for injured participants, etc. Dan Severn joined late and has already decided to quit the tournament because he doesn't like the rules. All in all, Dave thinks it's been interesting and if they decide to do it again next year, he has some suggested rule changes: never assume anything (like Steve Williams winning). Have alternates ready in case of injury so you don't have people who got destroyed in the first round somehow ending up in the final four (like Godfather). And come up with a better set of rules and stick to them. In this case, WWF is limited by athletic commission rules but hey, if you want to get into the shoot-fighting game, you gotta be willing to deal with that shit.

- WWF's new show Sunday Night Heat debuted and was hosted by Shane McMahon doing his first major commentary job ever. He wasn't great but wasn't terrible either. Anyway, it wasn't anything special but it was good and did a strong rating. Along with Raw beating Nitro yet again, USA Network has to be happy with WWF right now.

- Dave got a bunch of verified statistics of many of wrestling's most well-known weightlifters. He lists a bunch of famous records of guys like Ken Patera, Mark Henry, Doug Furnas, Scott Norton, etc. Ken Patera in particular had some insanely impressive stats, with several records that still hold today.

- Just some random observations of how broken down the old guard is in Japan. Dave saw Great Muta's first match back since knee surgery and he was still hobbling around the ring and clearly was hurting. Jushin Liger was in a tag match with 3 other guys and Dave mentions how crazy it is that the other 3 wrestlers are all light years faster and better than Liger nowadays. Genichiro Tenryu's age has caught up with him and he looked slow and old in his match. There was another match in AJPW and of course, everyone is hurt there and Dave says the match was so bad he can't believe it took place on an AJPW show, but then again, he says people have been predicting AJPW is going down in recent years and it seems to be.

- The much-hyped ECW vs. NWA show put on by Dennis Coraluzzo turned into a disappointment and only drew 325 fans. It featured a few ex-ECW guys like Stevie Richards, 911, Brian Lee, etc. Tod Gordon cut a promo saying no one really knows the true story of what happened with him and ECW and then tore into everyone including Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, and even insulted Dave (with "a silly gay reference").

- Sandman reportedly tried to quit ECW last week over his PPV payoff but it seemed to just be a negotiating tactic since his contract is up soon and he's trying to get a raise. It doesn't look like it's going to work though because there's not really any interest in him from either WWF or WCW. So ECW is really his only option. Dave expects him to sign a new contract soon probably without much of a raise.

- Still nothing very new to report on the Ric Flair situation. It's believed that the odds are better than ever now that he will eventually return and plans are being discussed for how to book him. But if it happens, it probably won't be until after the next court date.

- Dave recaps Nitro and again just talks about how much it sucked. When describing a Brian Adams vs. Jim Duggan match, he writes, "Picture the ten worst matches you've seen in your entire life all rolled into 3:08 and you have this match." And he points out a million plot holes in the main event booking and talks about how all these random things that happen are never explained, leaving fans confused.

- There's lots of heat between Kevin Nash and Hogan/Bischoff. Nash believes (probably correctly, Dave thinks) that the Wolfpac group is being booked to look as bad as possible, with them always getting beat down by the black & white NWO and looking dumb. Nash was scheduled to cut a promo on Nitro but when he found out the plans that night for the show and how it was going to be the Wolfpac members looking foolish again, he refused to go on the air. It's said to be serious enough that Nash's WCW future is in doubt and he's openly talked about wanting to quit, but he's locked into a contract for several more years and Bischoff has no intention of letting him go back to WWF until it's done.

- WCW will be running a show in Utica, NY (where Lance Catamaran once worked) for the first time ever later this year because the venue contacted WCW after being upset because WWF cancelled multiple shows they had booked there.

- The NWO gimmick has reportedly taken over the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. Apparently many of the players wear NWO shirts under their game uniforms and they have even split it up into black/white NWO and red/black Wolfpac groups and compete against each other during practice.

- The Giant appeared on Nickelodeon's show "Figure It Out" and of course ended up being covered in green slime (he wasn't the only one, a few other WCW guys on here also).

- Kevin Wacholz (formerly Nailz The Vince Strangler in WWF) has signed a $150,000 contract with WCW. John Nord (formerly Berzerker in WWF) has the same $150,000 deal. (Nord worked about a dozen matches in WCW, mostly house shows or Saturday shows. Nailz only worked 1 match after signing that deal. Clearly a sound investment of $300K by WCW.)

- Ric Flair appeared at a Republican fundraiser for NC senator Launch Faircloth last week, alongside former presidential candidate Bob Dole. Word is Dole is actually a big wrestling fan.

- The AP ran a story talking about how pro wrestling no longer has racial stereotypes and talks about how the Jewish Bill Goldberg is the top star and also quoted Ron Simmons saying he's never experienced any racism in the business. Dave's not buying it.

- Triple H is expected to face Rocky Maivia at Summerslam in a ladder match for the IC title. The original plan was for Shawn Michaels to be the special referee, but his back still isn't healed up enough for him to be running around the ring, even if he's not taking bumps.

- Ken Shamrock will face Owen Hart in a Lion's Den match at Summerslam, which will take place in a structure similar to the UFC octagon. In fact, WWF asked UFC to let them use the octagon cage for the show, but UFC turned them down, feeling it would compromise their product if the UFC octagon was used in a worked match. WWF was a little annoyed by UFC turning them down, considering the 2 companies have a good relationship and WWF has bent over backwards in the past to plug their PPVs on TV.

- In a dark match before Raw, Fallen Angel (Christopher Daniels) beat Minoru Tanaka in a good match. And Raw went off the air with an angle where Val Venis was strung up from the ceiling and Yamaguchi-san seemingly chopping off his dick with a sword.

- At the latest WWF training camp, the 3 most impressive guys were Christian Cage, Andrew Martin, and Ted Annis (Christian, Test, and Teddy Hart respectively). Word is Annis and Martin signed 3-year developmental deals, no word on Christian Cage.

- Steve Regal suffered a broken ankle while training and will be out for 2 months. Dave notes that he's had a rough year, dealing with several bouts of pneumonia, being fired from WCW, wasted debut in WWF, and now a broken ankle (also a crippling drug addiction, but Dave doesn't mention it).

- Brian Lee (Chainz from DOA) was fired by WWF last week, no reason given. Soon after being fired, he was arrested for something in Tennessee and the local media reported that The Undertaker had been arrested, seemingly confusing the two since Brian Lee portrayed the fake Undertaker back in 1994.

- Steve Austin recently taped a guest spot on the show VIP starring Pamela Anderson. There's been rumors of Austin hosting Saturday Night Live, but no truth to it (here's the VIP scene. Man, 90s TV shows were baaaaaad).

- A New York Daily News article talked about the recent bikini contest on PPV and criticized WWF for it, saying Sable was topless (not entirely true, if you count body paint as a top) and called Sable "the house slut" of the WWF.

- The real name of Yamaguchi-san's "wife" on Raw is Shian-Li Tsang and Dave still keeps repeating that she's 17 and under-aged and that this whole storyline with Val Venis is icky because of it. But once again, I've found different sources listing different birth years, some saying she was either born in 1975 or 1981. So she was either 17 or 23 at this time. Let's hope 23.

- No truth to the rumors of Madusa returning to WWF. She did have talks with them several months ago to come in as Marc Mero's valet but that spot eventually went to Jacquelyn (interesting that they were even considering it after the garbage can stunt).

- Wrestlemania next year will be in Philadelphia.

- Terry Funk finished up in WWF this week, putting over Mankind in a falls count anywhere match at a house show.
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[+] 1 user Likes Peezy's post
heatwave 98 is great. best ecw ppv ever
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Yes that was my favorite ecw pvp ever as well. Seeing Hayabusa in the states was surreal and that Tanaka/Awesome was one of the hardest hitting matches i had ever seen at that point
[+] 1 user Likes sanderz1's post
ECW really was the wild west. There can be elements of it seen in PWG, ROH, CZW, etc. but there will never be anything like it again.
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I wanna know more about Lance Catamaran. LEGEND
(01-24-2018, 10:25 PM)Chris Wrote: ECW really was the wild west. There can be elements of it seen in PWG, ROH, CZW, etc. but there will never be anything like it again.

It's hard to explain just what it was like. Sasuke and myself both went to a ton of ECW shows in its heyday, and it's a shame there isn't more footage of the whole events. The lines outside the shows were always crazy, buzzing with stupid tailgating and shit. The wrestlers were super accessible, the fucking tape trading everywhere. So many fucking weird gimmick tables selling wrestling shit, bootleg tapes, water pipes, all kinds of shit. It was incredible. My last show was in summer of 2000 and I lament I didn't make it to any of the others.

But Shian-Li Tsang's birthdate is 1975. Born: October 19, 1975 according to IMDBPro verified by her SAG membership in relation to some movie called mary and Joe. It's certainly possible that her birthday was fabricated when she immigrated, but with all the hate on the WWF at the time, someone would have fucking murdered them for using a minor in an angle with a "porn star" gimmick.
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I always hated that I never got to see an original ECW show. I never even really followed it when it was still alive. I didn't know I could get it on TV. Just recently, a friend of mine talked about watching ECW and I was like, how? And he said it used to be on one of those late night local channels here in Memphis. All those years and I had no idea I could have been watching ECW. They even came to Memphis once for a show and I just didn't know.

I knew ABOUT ECW. I read all the magazines (PWI and whatnot) and around 1997 or 98, I got the internet and got into the wrestling news circles, so I was familiar with it and a little bit with what was happening. But I just never got a chance to really be a fan of it at the time. I discovered it all later, after they were dead. Even when they got the TNN show, that sort of coincided with a little 2 year break that I sorta took from wrestling because I was head over heels with my first serious girlfriend. And I was having a lot more fun fucking her on Friday nights in the backseat of my car than I did staying home and watching wrestling. So I missed a lot of shit.
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I went to a TNN taping here in 99 or 2000. Main event was Tanaka vs Awesome. I remember Dreamer walking Whipwreck behind us on the floor and smashing a beer cup on his head. Super Crazy did a moonsault and almost impaled himself on a leg of a flipped over table. One of the most fun shows.

- WCW Road Wild is in the books, featuring the "wrestling" debut of Jay Leno. Well, really he did a hold, 2 punches, and a double-clothesline and that's about it. The finish was supposed to be Leno hitting the diamond cutter on Bischoff, but they didn't trust him to do it properly, so they ended up having Kevin Eubanks do it instead. DDP and Hogan worked the majority of the match and worked well together so it was better than the Rodman/Malone match, but that's a pretty low bar. Sure, they got a few weeks of mainstream publicity but it doesn't seem to have helped the ratings at all and Dave doesn't think it's going to do much for the PPV buyrate either. Leno was reportedly paid $1 million to participate, although that figure might not be accurate. But even still, there just doesn't look to be any way that this Leno experiment was a good business decision. Beyond that, this was the worst Road Wild PPV ever and that's saying something because that show is a disaster every year. If not for Jericho vs. Guerrera, it would have been the single worst PPV in history. Dave calls it part of "the speedy self-destruction" of a company that was arguably the hottest promotion on the planet just a few weeks ago. It's a free show for the Sturgis crowd, which means foregoing an easy $300,000 or more at the gate, plus another $100,000 in merch that they would do at a normal PPV. It's also a crowd of mostly non-wrestling fans, so the atmosphere sucks the life out of everything. As for this show in particular: horrible matches, horrible booking, etc.

- Other notes from Road Wild: Steve McMichael vs. Brian Adams was originally scheduled for 17 minutes but was thankfully cut down to 7, which probably saved it from being the worst match of all time. Dave gives it negative-2 stars anyway. Disco Inferno/Alex Wright vs. Public Enemy gets negative-1 star. Stevie Ray vs. Chavo Guerrero gets negative-1 star. There was a 9-man battle royal that Goldberg won and the only interesting note from that is that Kevin Nash was in it. The heat with him is so bad right now that WCW wasn't even sure if Nash was going to show up but fortunately he did. But in the battle royal, he simply stepped over the top rope and eliminated himself so he managed to be the only person not thrown out by Goldberg. And finally, after the main event was the 30-minute Travis Tritt concert which is interesting because at the show, Tritt's management held up WCW to make sure they got their money in advance, plus they wanted a Learjet ride home and 3 motorcycles, or else Tritt wouldn't perform. For some reason, a lot of PPV outlets didn't air the Tritt concert which has caused issues because now they're offering full refunds to anyone who wants them. That means a loss of money to WCW as well. WCW is arguing that the Tritt concert wasn't the draw of the show and telling the PPV providers not to give refunds for the show and are making noises about legal threats if they do.

- New Japan drew its smallest crowd ever for a Dome show, drawing 35,000 to the Osaka Dome this week. Last year, they sold it out (53,000) but this year, due to stale business and the weak Japanese economy, they didn't even come close. As expected, the show was capped off with Masahiro Chono winning the IWGP title from Fujinami.

- Rick Martel has quietly retired from wrestling due to recent knee and neck injuries. Dave recaps his career, from his early AWA days where he was one of their top stars, to the WWF as part of Can-Am Connection, his Model gimmick, and finally to WCW where he returned only to injure his knee twice and suffered a recent vertebrae injury. He ultimately decided he didn't want to end up crippled from wrestling and he has invested his money well, so he decided to retire while he still had most of his health.

- USA Today ran a story on WWF and WCW, featuring lots of choice quotes from both sides and enough incorrect facts to drive Dave to suicide. It said the companies combined do $650 million in merchandise yearly which is such exaggerated bullshit that it's laughable. It claimed WCW began Nitro to compete with WWF a year ago (it's been 3 years). Claimed WWF has been mostly winning the ratings battle since the beginning (obviously not true). So on and so forth. It also talked about the early history of both companies, basically describing it that Vince was the only wrestling promotion in the world until Ted Turner suddenly decided to open the checkbook and steal all his top stars and start his own company which is, of course, total bullshit.



- Goldberg had this to say about allegations of being a clone of Steve Austin: "I respect the guy for what he's done, but I don't respect him enough to copy him. Steve Austin is known as one of the best promo guys in the world. But Steve Austin doesn't do one thing that I can't do in the ring."

- In response, Austin had this to say about Goldberg: "Goldberg is squashing people with his power moves, and that's great. But he doesn't know the psychology yet. I'm able to go out there and take the fans on a 30-minute roller coaster ride."

- Vince McMahon had this to say about the Monday night wars: "It's the same old Hulk Hogan situation. Every time Hogan is on the air, we clobber them. It's a tired, old situation." (Dave points out that this is complete bullshit because Hogan is still one of the few people in WCW who actually does strong TV ratings, "but McMahon has never let the truth get in the way of a good quote.")

- Hogan had this to say about retiring: "My wife doesn't want me to quit, my kids don't want me to quit, the promoters don't want me to quit, the fans don't want me to quit and the IRS really doesn't want me to quit."


- The Monday night ratings trend went completely backwards this week. For once, Nitro was the much better show, Raw sucked, and in the end, Nitro actually won the ratings battle for the night. The news isn't all bad for WWF though. The 2nd episode of the new Sunday Night Heat did a monster rating almost on par with Raw. Furthermore, the episode of Pacific Blue that aired afterward (featuring Triple H) did double its normal rating, which makes USA Network plenty happy. So expect more WWF tie-ins on other USA shows. As for Sunday Night Heat, this show is being done on a 5-week trial basis right now, but given the ratings, you can almost certainly expect it to be added to the permanent Sunday schedule going forward.

- The International Wrestling Institute and Museum will open in Newton, IA next month. It will mostly focus on amateur wrestling but will also feature a section devoted to pro wrestling, but mostly focusing on guys like Lou Thesz, Danny Hodge, Verne Gagne, etc. (this museum was later named the Dan Gable Museum and was moved to Waterloo in 2006. In 2010, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame absorbed it).

- Speaking of Halls of Fame, the next round of the Observer Hall of Fame will be next week and Dave mentions that ballots have been sent to dozens of other major names within the business. Top wrestlers, promoters, wrestling historians, reporters, etc. All of those people will be voting on it so if you don't like who is and isn't inducted, don't bitch at Dave about it because he has no more say in it than everyone else (this is still how it operates to this day, and yet every year, people bitch Dave out as if he's personally choosing to spite their favorite wrestler by not inducting them).

- A big news story aired on TV in Puerto Rico building up the recent 25th anniversary show for WWC. The story paid tribute to all the wrestlers who were stars in WWC who have since passed away like Eddie Gilbert, Junkyard Dog, Andre The Giant, Dick Murdoch, etc. However, there was no mention of Bruiser Brody. Considering his death was the biggest story in the history of wrestling in that part of the world and Brody was the biggest foreign star there ever aside from Andre, it's a little conspicuous. But to this day, the reputation of WWC never fully recovered from Brody's murder and the man who killed him still works for the company, so no surprise that they've essentially wiped his name from their history.

- After a decade of rumors, it appears Stampede Wrestling will be starting back up again in September under Bruce Hart. They plan to produce a weekly TV show to air in Calgary and Edmonton. Dave assumes it will be mostly local talent.

- UFC is planning to run low budget shows for awhile until the PPV companies come to their senses. The way wrestling is these days, they figure the PPV companies can't keep singling out UFC for too much longer without it being obvious to everyone how unfair it is. Dave says that's the logical argument, but logic has never played a part in these decisions before so he isn't holding his breath.

- Sandman still hasn't signed a new deal with ECW. In the meantime, Paul Heyman has been having Sandman do 3-minute clean jobs to Justin Credible at every show. Heyman is openly telling people that if Sandman doesn't re-sign, he will use the money Sandman would have made and attempt to buy out Chris Benoit's contract from WCW. This has gotten a lot of people within ECW excited and now a lot of people don't really care if Sandman stays or goes if they can get Benoit in exchange. Dave says this has almost no chance of actually happening because he's pretty sure Bischoff wouldn't go for it and besides, that's not how money works in the wrestling business (which Dave goes into detail on, but I'm really sleepy right now and it's numbers so....no). But it's made Heyman the babyface among the locker room and doesn't really help Sandman's bargaining position.

- The New Jack/Eric Kulas (Mass Transit) case is still pending and has been continued until October. The D.A. is still deciding whether to prosecute or if this whole thing is more suited for civil court rather than criminal.

- Tammy Sytch didn't appear at the most recent ECW show because she recently had some surgery done. For the crowd, they announced that WWF wouldn't allow her to be there (in reality, she's already been fired from WWF). Lance Storm cut a promo saying that WWF may be able to keep her from being at ringside, but they couldn't stop her from coming to his hotel room later.

- Ultimate Warrior is still scheduled to debut on Nitro this week, but it's not like you'd know it. WCW hasn't even hinted that he will be showing up which is mind-boggling because he's only going to matter to the ratings for a couple of weeks. His biggest value to the ratings would be his debut, so why wouldn't they hype it up for weeks in advance? Surprises are good at times, but often the best bet is to give something the proper hype so you can get a ratings boost out of it. Also, he will only be known as The Warrior because there's still legal issues with WWF owning the name Ultimate Warrior.

- Still no real update on the Flair situation. Everybody expects him to return eventually but not until after the next court hearing regarding his contract. Bischoff himself has reportedly told Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko that Flair is coming back because they're part of the new 4 Horsemen plans and they weren't thrilled with the idea of doing that gimmick without Flair involved. Speaking of Benoit...

- Chris Benoit is reportedly extremely hesitant to sign a new contract with WCW. Right now, it seems that odds are he will be leaving when his contract expires next year. If he doesn't re-sign soon, WCW likely won't use him in the Horsemen angle.

- Rey Mysterio Jr. injured his knee in a three-way match on Nitro and rolled out of the ring off camera for a bit before getting back in to finish the match. But he's expected to miss some time, no word on how severe it is yet though. Dave thinks that knee seems to give him trouble every time he lands which is getting scary to watch.

- Lex Luger won the US title from Bret Hart on Nitro, but Dave suspects he'll be dropping it right back to Bret on Thunder in a couple of days (yup). Dave calls Bret a miracle worker for getting a pretty good 16-minute match out of Luger.

- On Thunder last week, Scott Hall came out holding a drink in his hand as a joke about his alcohol issues. Dave says at this stage, it's no longer funny since Hall clearly has a real problem and it's pretty classless of WCW to turn it into an angle.

- With WWF winning the ratings battle in recent weeks, there are a lot of people within WCW who want to push the product in a more risque direction to try to compete. They have talked of having the Nitro Girls in more revealing outfits since Sable has been such a big hit for WWF.

- The WWF is getting into real estate. WWF (well, technically Titan Sports) was part of a group that were the top bidders for the Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. There's still a lot of legal hoops to jump through but if it all goes through, the plan is for it to be turned into a WWF-themed hotel and casino (this almost happened, and they even started construction on it before abandoning the plan and selling it in 2000). WWF also has recently bid on a restaurant location in Times Square in New York City with the plan to open some sort of WWF-themed restaurant.

- So many random interesting notes from Raw: David Heath debuted doing some sort of vampire gimmick "called something like Gang Grill." LOD came out but Hawk was doing his drugged out gimmick again (and much like the Scott Hall drink gimmick, this is pretty shitty on WWF's part given Hawk's well-known real life issues) and then Droz came out. Dave thinks they may be doing an angle to put Animal and Droz together as a team and get rid of Hawk. Austin did an interview and threw Michael Cole in the shower. "It sucks being him," Dave adds. Val Venis came out with John Wayne Bobbitt (of getting-his-dick-chopped-off-fame) in a stupid segment with Venis revealing his dick never got chopped off last week because of cold shrinkage.

- There will be some sort of risque Sable video being released in November. Can't find it online, at least not while I'm at work. It might be available on....other....websites. But here's a WrestleCrap entry for it.


- It's only been 2 weeks but the commentary on Sunday Night Heat sucks because Shane McMahon is apparently just horrible at it and his whole rich kid gimmick is getting old fast.
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- The return of Ultimate Warrior (or in this case, just "Warrior") to pro wrestling was everything it was cracked up to be: incomprehensible, mind-numbing, and a short-term ratings win. Warrior debuted on Nitro and the segment destroyed Raw in the ratings. But the legal battle beforehand was the real story. Last week, Dave criticized WCW for not promoting Warrior's debut, but turns out they had a good reason. They never hyped Warrior's debut because of the issues regarding the trademark of his name and the gimmick (face paint, arm tassels, etc). WWF took the case before a judge a few weeks ago to try and stop Warrior from being able to use the name and gimmick and since the case wasn't going to be heard until 3 days before Nitro, WCW decided not to promote Warrior's return in case it didn't go well and they would end up having to scrap it. But the judge ultimately ruled in favor of Warrior and he debuted as planned.

- Of course, as you would expect, it was a shit-show. Warrior came out and cut an 18-minute long promo that dragged on so long that the crowd started to turn on him. He used the term "Ultimate" 3 times when referring to himself, which WCW explicitly ordered everyone not to say because the "Ultimate" part of the Warrior name is still tied up in court. But Warrior did it anyway. Also, it was only scheduled for 6 minutes, so the fact that he went 18 totally screwed up the timing of the rest of the show, including cancelling one match and shortening others. The promo was the usual indecipherable Warrior babble, but the crowd was so jacked to see him that Dave doubts it did any permanent damage and he'll probably help WCW get another big rating next week. The plan is for Warrior vs. Hogan at Halloween Havoc, which he suspects will do a big buyrate. But beyond that, he doesn't think Warrior is going to mean much for the ratings or buyrates going forward.

- WCW has been quiet lately when it comes to talking shit about WWF but they were back at it big time this week. On Nitro, Tony Sciavone repeatedly talked about Raw being a taped show and spoiled the main event of Austin vs. Undertaker by revealing that the match only went for 1 minute and wasn't even really a match, while saying WCW actually delivers on the matches they advertise. Is he watching the same WCW we all watched?

- It's Observer Hall of Fame time. As mentioned last week, ballots were sent out to dozens of past and current pro wrestlers, writers, historians, and other backstage figures (promoters, execs, etc.) to vote on Hall of Fame inductees. All of the ballots are kept confidential, except Dave who openly tells you who he voted for and why. This year, only one person received enough votes to be inducted: Dos Caras, who Dave does a brief career recap for. Keiji Muto, Cactus Jack, Masa Saito, Lioness Asuka, Wahoo McDaniel, and Dick Murdoch all received more than 50% of the votes but didn't quite hit the 60% needed to be inducted this year. Next year, the ballot will consist of people who got at least 10% of the vote this year, plus new people who will become eligible. For the record, Dave's personal choices were Dos Caras, Hiroshi Hase, Cactus Jack, Jimmy Snuka, and Undertaker. Dave was surprised that Jack and Undertaker didn't make it. He also says that Muto was only 1 vote away from being inducted and says he almost voted for Muto but he's confident he'll make the cut next year (yup, he did). Cactus Jack was also only 1 vote away from making the cut (he eventually got inducted in 2000). Anyway, Dave explains the reasoning behind each of his picks.

- Road Wild PPV numbers are in and it's not great. Depending on who you believe, the show did somewhere between 320,000 to 400,000 buys. WCW claims the high number, other independent sources claim the low number. These would probably be decent PPV numbers under normal circumstances, but considering how much money they paid Jay Leno, they needed to do at least 425,000 to be worth it. People have argued that the mainstream publicity they got from having Jay Leno involved was worth the trade-off. But the TV ratings and ticket sales didn't really show any kind of increase from getting the Leno-bump, so it's hard to say WCW really benefited all that much from it there either. In the end, the PPV wasn't a bust or anything, but WCW probably would have been better off without wasting 6-7 figures on bringing Jay Leno in to wrestle since it didn't seem to matter one way or another.

- Goldberg was forced to no-show a house show in Providence, RI that he was scheduled to main event against The Giant. He was doing an autograph session in Philadelphia and the flight WCW booked for him after it ended got delayed and he wasn't able to make the show. They even tried to charter a private jet or helicopter for him but they weren't able to do it in time. They stalled for time during the show, including doing a 45-minute intermission while they kept trying to figure out a way for Goldberg to make it in time. But finally, they gave up and ring announcer Dave Penzer had to go out to the ring and announce to the crowd that he wouldn't be there. Fearing there could be a riot if Goldberg didn't show up, WCW decided to allow fans to get a full refund up to 7 days after the show. So basically, everyone in Providence got a free house show.

- Nicole Bass, who has made some ECW appearances, had her wrestling debut in Japan, winning a 4-person women's tournament. She wasn't good in the matches, but her look led to a lot of publicity and landed her on the cover of the sports pages.

- A man in Florida was arrested for aggravated child abuse after he seriously injured the neck of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter by doing a piledriver on her. The child showed signs of other physical abuse as well. Fuck that guy. That girl would be 24-ish today. Hope she's okay. And for the record, I sometimes get bored and decide to look up things like this. Randomly internet-stalk strangers and shit. Don't judge me. Anyway, I did some research and found the guy. He ended up doing 11 years in prison for it. Sentenced in 2000, got out in 2011, and apparently violated parole or something and went back again in 2013 for two more years. As of 2015, he's out again.

- Assorted ECW notes: Tammy Sytch is still out recovering from various cosmetic surgeries she's having. Sandman still hasn't re-signed, so he's still jobbing to Justin Credible in short matches. New Jack is out of action allegedly due to injury but others are suspicious that it's something else. No word what. Big Dick Dudley can't wrestle in the state of New York right now after being arrested there a few weeks back at the ECW show that got out of hand.

- Latest on Flair/WCW: he's been trying to get a judge to rule that his WCW contract is void and the hearings keep getting delayed. WCW filed a motion to get the hearing moved from Charlotte to Atlanta. WCW is basically trying to stall the case in order to run up Flair's legal bills which are said to be nearing 6 figures at this point. WCW has a bottomless pit of money to keep the lawsuit going while Flair obviously doesn't, so they're basically trying to bleed him dry so he'll settle (aka exactly what WWE is doing to CM Punk in their lawsuit now).

- On Nitro, Eddie Guerrero came out and did a fake shoot promo, talking about being unappreciated in WCW and how he'd been held down and all that stuff. He said he wanted out of his contract and told Bischoff to take the job and shove it and all that. Then he poured a cup of coffee on himself as a reference to an incident a few months ago when Guerrero really did ask for his release and Bischoff got mad and threw a cup of coffee at the wall, some of which got on Guerrero. That story has blossomed into "Bischoff threw his coffee on Eddie" so it was a reference to that. Anyway, this promo died a slow death on TV and the live crowd had no clue what the fuck he was talking about and were dead for it also. Dave says this sort of stuff works in ECW, but not with this crowd. The idea seems to be to fool the newsletter/internet crowd similar to the Pillman angle a few years ago, but the announcers barely sold it and Bischoff came out later and didn't acknowledge it. Anyway, the plan is for Eddie to form a group of other wrestlers who have all been "held down" like Silver King, La Parka, Psicosis, etc. but Dave says they're still going to be the same midcard guys as always because there's no upward mobility in WCW (and thus, the seeds of the Latino World Order are planted).

- Remember a long time ago when WWF and WCW were in a lawsuit over some shit Mark Madden said on the hotline? It had to do with Madden talking about something related to WWF business that he shouldn't have been privy to, so WWF sued and wanted him to reveal his sources in a deposition. Madden argued that he was a journalist and was protected from having to reveal sources. WWF argued that he was a paid employee who's hotline reports were directed by WCW and thus not a real journalist. The original judge ruled that Madden was protected under the journalist law and didn't have to reveal the sources. WWF appealed and they won the appeal. So Madden was supposed to give up his sources. But now WCW has appealed that. So this shit is still dragging on in court.

- Funny note: the New York Daily News wrote an article trashing Jay Leno for lowering himself by participating in a pro wrestling match for WCW. When the newspaper contacted NBC for comment, they said they weren't involved in the decision and gave the reporter a number to call for more info. The number ended up being the offices of WWF, not WCW. Whoops.

- There's been talk of putting Chris Jericho in the black-and-white NWO group but he reportedly doesn't want any part of it.

- Assorted WCW notes: add Kanyon to the list of guys unhappy with his role in the company. Lex Luger renewed his contract for 3 years. On Nitro, whoever was doing the closed captioning apparently decided to play a prank. During a Hogan promo, every time he mentioned "NWO black & white", the closed captioning kept typing "Steve Blackman."

- The Giant is telling people he wants to train to be a heavyweight boxer. Dave thinks he needs to drop 150 pounds before considering it and even then, age 27 is pretty late to start out in a sport like that (like, 15 years later, he really did take time off and trained for it).

- In an advertising industry magazine, Eric Bischoff was quoted saying that WWF's current edgy direction "will have a devastating impact on the business and set wrestling back 20 years. Advertisers are not watching what WWF is doing, because if they did, they would run." Vince McMahon responded, saying, "What we do is aggressive, but not violent. Murder, rape, those are blatant acts of violence." Vince also said he wanted to extend its business into other forms of media like movies, TV shows, and comic books.

- The Marc Mero vs. Bradshaw match in the Brawl For All tournament ended with Bradshaw winning a match that Mero should have won, but the judges ruled in favor of Bradshaw on a take down that he shouldn't have gotten points for. Backstage, Mero was throwing a fit about being robbed because there's legit prize money for whoever wins this thing. If the finals had come down to Mero vs. Gunn, Mero might have had a really good chance of winning it all since he's got the Golden Gloves boxing experience and Gunn appears to be a stand-up fighter.

- Speaking of the Brawl For All, lots of interesting backstage notes behind it. When he was asked if he wanted to participate, Gunn initially declined because he has a background in Tough Man contests and he was afraid he might hurt someone. And he obviously didn't want to be responsible for hurting his coworkers. Eventually he agreed to be in it. And later, when he was told he would fight Steve Williams, he told people backstage that he was afraid of getting heat because he knew the company had big plans for Williams, but he was confident that he would knock him out, thus screwing up the company's big plans. Which, of course, is exactly what ended up happening.

- The current Goldust gimmick, where he's going by his real name (Dustin Runnels) and preaching against the edgy product is basically one big inside joke. He's claiming to be representing a group called "Evangelists Against Television, Movies, & Entertainment" which is an acronym for EAT ME. The character is also basically making fun of Jake Roberts from when he last worked there. Jake had a reputation during his last run of being super preachy and trying to convert everyone to Jesus during the day and then going out and fucking up his life with drugs and women in every way possible at night.

- Shane McMahon was recently named President of New Media, which basically means he's overseeing the WWF website.

- Vince's 22-year-old daughter Stephanie McMahon is in a management training program and will start officially working backstage for WWF soon.

- 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle will be at a WWF training camp this week. Angle had gotten a big money offer from WWF after the Olympics but he turned it down. He tried his hand at sports broadcasting but that didn't work out so he recently contacted WWF to see if they were still interested. They wanted him to train for a week under Dory Funk before they offer him another deal so that's what's happening. Now that the Olympics were over 2 years ago, his marketability as a major national star is way less than it would have been if he'd signed back then when they first made the offer. Matt and Jeff Hardy will also be at the training camp.

- Latest on Shawn Michaels is that he's still expected to return eventually, likely before the end of the year.

- After John Wayne Bobbitt appeared on Raw a couple of weeks ago, they discussed an idea to bring him back with the idea that he would re-marry his ex-wife Lorena live on Raw or a PPV, which would surely turn it into a huge media circus and would probably do a monster TV rating. But talks seem to have died on that for whatever reason and there's no plans to bring him back.

- Assorted WWF notes: Dave thinks Brian Christopher is the most underutilized guy in the company and says he carried Edge in their Sunday Night Heat match. Too Cold Scorpio's dad recently passed away. Steve Regal recently suffered a broken ankle and will be out for at least another month. Hawk has been pulled from all upcoming shows. Dave isn't sure if it's legit (due to his real personal issues) or part of the storyline (where they've been making fun of his real personal issues).
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[+] 1 user Likes Peezy's post
Ah the Nicole Bass video got deleted. And nothing of value was lost.
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Let's bump this along
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To page 4.
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Thread is starting to move slow
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Too many videos.
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Only 3...
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