Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 1998
There we go.
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- In a panic over falling ratings, WCW has seemingly lost sight of what the wrestling business is all about. And now they're paying the price for a year of bad television and their failure to create new stars back when they were winning the war and instead relying on old faces. Also, the total disorganization of the company. Just 5 days before the World War III PPV this weekend, there are only 2 matches announced for the show and no Nitro episodes left to promote it. And even those 2 matches have barely been built up. The last 3 WCW PPVs have had disappointing buyrates and this one is likely going to be just as bad or worse. And the ironic part of it is, this past week's Nitro was one of the best episodes of the year, and they still got massacred by Raw in the ratings by the largest margin ever.

- WCW losing momentum like this comes at a bad time because a lot of guys in the company have contracts coming due. The Giant, the Steiners, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, and Juventud Guerrera all have contracts expiring in 1999. In particular, most people believe The Giant is already as good as gone when his contract expires in February. Giant is claiming he has a $1 million-per-year offer from WWF, but WWF has denied that since, yanno, if they had actually made that offer, it would be contract tampering. But Dave also says he'll have to get in better shape if he wants to make it in WWF because his weight is getting out of control and he's a legit 505 pounds right now and it's taking a toll on his health and ability. As for The Steiners, WWF is interested in Scott in particular, but they're also wary of him since he's basically a flashing neon sign for steroid use and he also doesn't have the best reputation. Dave doesn't think WWF will make a big play for Mysterio since McMahon doesn't exactly have a great history with pushing small guys as top stars and if he went to WWF, he'd likely be no better off than he is in WCW and at least WCW will probably pay him more. Same for Dean Malenko, who's pushing 40 and just isn't what WWF looks for in wrestlers. Eddie Guerrero is sort of in the same boat, because even "small" guys like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart are several inches taller than Eddie. He's incredibly talented when he's motivated, but that seems to be less and less often these days. That leaves Jericho and Benoit. In most people's eyes, Jericho is the most entertaining person in WCW right now and while he's small by WWF standards, he's got the charisma and mic skills to succeed in WWF far beyond the glass ceiling he's at in WCW. Dave thinks that unless WCW really gets behind Jericho as a main eventer (which they really need to do), he's probably WWF-bound next year. And finally, Chris Benoit is the best wrestler in the country when he's healthy (he's been dealing with elbow problems the last few months) and Dave thinks his bad ass, tough-as-nails persona would probably get over in WWF, despite his smaller size. Unless WCW turns him into a main eventer ASAP, Dave thinks he should definitely make the jump to WWF. Paul Heyman has made no secret of how much he desperately wants Benoit in ECW to build the company around him, but Dave doesn't think ECW can afford to be competitive with what WWF or WCW would offer him.

- WWF has a few guys with contracts ending soon too. Ken Shamrock's contract expires in 1999 but WWF does have an option to renew it (with a significant raise built in) if they so choose, so he's likely not going anywhere. Shamrock has talked about returning to the UFC for a fight or two if McMahon will allow it. Jeff Jarrett's contract expires in '99 also but Dave says his value has never been lower and he doubts WCW would even be interested in him (Dave underestimated just how desperate WCW will be in a year). And finally, there's Triple H. There's a lot of concern that WCW will make him a big guaranteed offer to get him to jump ship. WCW is also a better place to work when you're injured, because you can still sit out and get the big guaranteed money and Triple H has suffered a lot of injuries in the last year or so. Some in WWF think he may have gotten as far up the ladder as he can go and they don't see him as a top star like Undertaker and Austin. Especially since many felt that if Austin had the same knee injury Triple H has, he still would have found a way to return in time for Survivor Series, which Triple H missed. But Dave doesn't think Triple H is going anywhere because money doesn't mean everything. And even Triple H's close friends Hall and Nash, who are among the highest paid guys in the company, have been openly talking about being miserable and wanting to go back to WWF.

- WWF Survivor Series is in the books and was a great show if you like story and soap opera. If you like actual wrestling, it was bad. Dave once again talks about 4 hours being too long for a PPV. He thinks the angle of Rock turning heel was good and sets up a lot of storylines, which will obviously lead to Rock vs. Austin at Wrestlemania. He also thinks the show was built around Vince McMahon too much and in fact, the whole product has been lately, "and don't think the wrestlers aren't noticing." He compares it to how Eric Bischoff booked himself when he first became a heel, and how he put himself in seemingly every segment of the show, while lower card guys were fighting just to get a little TV time and felt Bischoff was hogging all the TV time for himself rather than helping his wrestlers get over. Seems to be a bit of morale issues in the WWF locker room with people who feel the same about Vince.

- Other notes from Survivor Series: during Sunday Night Heat, they did an angle where Owen Hart, as Blue Blazer, descended from the ceiling but got stuck a few feet above the ground and couldn't unhook his harness. The whole thing was basically making fun of WCW and Sting. Anyway, the show was built around the WWF title tournament. Duane Gill was brought in as Mankind's mystery opponent in the first round to give him an easy win, which the crowd booed the hell out of. X-Pac vs. Steven Regal was "so illogical it should have been booked in WCW" and Regal has been terrible since debuting. Undertaker desperately needs time off to heal. He's been working with a number of injuries and is basically immobile. Some people in the crowd had a GIGANTIC sign with the entire New Age Outlaws entrance speech printed on it in big bold letters, which Dave thinks was pretty great. And of course, the show ended with them doing an exact re-creation of the Montreal Screwjob from a year before, with Rock putting the sharpshooter on Mankind and Vince ordering the timekeeper to ring the bell.

- Vader going to AJPW seems to have already turned around the fortunes of the company. They brought Vader in and had him dominate in a tag match alongside Stan Hansen. Vader pinned Triple Crown champion Mitsuharu Misawa in only 7 minutes after running through him like a buzz saw. With Vader on the tour, every show is already sold out well in advance, which hasn't happened in AJPW in years. Having him come in and decimate the company's top star on his first night is an interesting booking decision but there's no denying that Vader has already made a huge difference in the company's bottom line. Dave thinks Vader's inevitable singles matches against AJPW's top stars will do huge business, but Vader is 42 years old and pretty broken down so there's a lot of concern about how long he can hold up under the grueling AJPW schedule and style.

- Once again this week, wrestling is all over the mainstream world, due mostly to Jesse Ventura's election win. Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, and The Sporting News all had articles on Ventura, Phil Mushnick in the New York Post wrote one of his usual articles trashing Ventura and talking about how he was a willing participant in all the bad stuff WWF did back in the 80s, saying "Ventura would have no celebrity status--certainly not enough to see him elected governor of Minnesota--without his admitted steroid use." He then used the article to once again rail against the WWF for everything they've ever done. A&E is also working on a documentary about Ventura. The Learning Channel ran a "Secret World of Pro Wrestling" show (head to head with Survivor Series, which was dumb) that was similar to the NBC special. Dave was interviewed for it...back in February. He says a lot of the stuff he said then is outdated and different now, 10 months later. Dave thinks it was actually a really good and accurate show. Los Angeles Times ran a big article about McMahon vs. Bischoff and was, as always, full of Vince McMahon's usual lies and revisionist history which Dave delights in pointing out all the bullshit. And the list keeps going. Newsweek article about Austin, ESPN magazine about Lucha Libre, this magazine, that newspaper, this TV show, etc. etc.


- In an apparent publicity stunt gone wrong, Japanese women's wrestler Kyoko Inoue took a horrific beating in a shootfight against a male kickboxer. The match took place in front of 4,000 fans at Budokan Hall. Inoue, weighing 202 pounds, has no shootfight experience whatsoever and faced an 18 year old 147-pound male kickboxer (who reportedly looks very feminine). She lasted the full 3 minute first round but the ref wouldn't allow her to continue into the 2nd round after she got her face pounded in. Inoue reportedly knew she had no chance of winning and took the fight in order to generate publicity for the Neo Ladies wrestling promotion that she runs. Dave says athletic commissions in the U.S. are often corrupt and bad, but thankfully they would never allow something like this to happen here. For what it's worth, 2 days later, Inoue was already back wrestling so she's fine. (Here's the video. Warning: it's a woman getting the shit beaten out of her by a man).

- When reviewing this week's NJPW shows, Dave talks about Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima. He says WCW missed the boat on Nagata ("but what else is new") and believe Nagata and Kojima will be the next generation of superstars in NJPW, the same way The Rock is becoming the new breakout star in WWF (sorta, yeah. Nagata stuck around and helped carry the company through the dark ages, but Kojima jumped ship to AJPW in 2002. But both of them ultimately became 2-time IWGP champions).

- CMLL in Mexico is in a unique situation because several of their wrestlers are signed to WWF for their Latino show, but they also have recently made an agreement with WCW to do an inter-promotional feud with them, featuring WCW wrestlers coming to Mexico to work there. None of the WCW wrestlers will be paired up against the CMLL wrestlers who are working for WWF. And none of them can appear on the same shows because the WWF's Mexican show is on Univision and the CMLL show with WCW guys airs on their competitor Galavision. So it's all a confusing mess.

- Bart Gunn is also on loan to AJPW and has been getting over pretty well because Japanese fans are all about legit toughness and everyone there knows about him destroying former AJPW star Steve Williams in the Brawl For All tournament, so he was pretty much a star as soon as he walked in the door.

- The NJPW vs. UFO inter-promotional matches will be taking place at the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show. Dave thinks it's desperation on both sides, since the idea of running UFO as a separate promotion is already failing miserably so they're hot-shotting the angle against NJPW. And in NJPW's case, they're going along with it because they're barely a month away from the biggest show of the year and they don't really have any better ideas and nothing good built up otherwise. So....NJPW vs. UFO is what we're gonna get.

- There's serious belief that Masahiro Chono may have to retire because his neck injury isn't responding well to treatment (nah, he'd be back by February but his neck was pretty well fucked forever after).

- Bull Nakano wanted to leave professional wrestling to become a pro golfer. But she failed miserably in her attempt to get on the pro tour, shooting a 94-92-186 in the 36-hole tryout. I'm sure someone here knows what that means. That person is not me.

- Dave talks about an episode of the Jenny Jones show that featured 2 indie wrestlers who claimed they knew each other in high school and one of them had bullied the other and this was the first time they'd seen each other in 16 years and the victim was confronting his bully. Anyway, it was a total work because the 2 guys actually work wrestling shows together all the time. Dave isn't sure if the 2 guys worked the producers of the show or if they were in on it. This leads Dave into a funny bit where he talks about all those daytime talk shows and how most of them are total works but other ones, like Oprah, are a shoot. Just hearing wrestling lingo used in connection with Oprah is hilarious to me for some reason.

- Billy Jack Haynes is back in the news again in Portland, with a newspaper actually writing about his troubles, talking about how Haynes has serious drug and gambling issues. Apparently he loves gambling on dog races. It also talked about how Haynes recently convinced a member of the St. Helens Chamber of Commerce that he could bring a wrestling show to the town and got a bunch of investors to chip in thousands of dollars towards putting it together, and then he disappeared with the money. A criminal complaint was filed but for now, no one knows where Haynes is.

- ECW Injury Report: One Man Gang has an injured ankle, Jack Victory just had the first of many surgeries on his broken leg, Tommy Dreamer's back is hurt, and Balls Mahoney broke his nose twice in the span of 2 weeks.

- WCW Nitro notes: Juventud Guerrera vs. Billy Kidman was one of the best U.S. matches of the year. Dave doesn't give it a star-rating but says there hasn't been a better series of matches in America this year than the ones between Juvi and Kidman and this was the best so far. Of course, neither guy gets any mic time and have no real storyline or anything, so they're basically out there performing their asses off for a company that doesn't give a shit about them and isn't rewarding them for stealing the show every night. Of course, that was the first match and the show was all downhill from there. Hogan continued his dumb bit about running for president, complete with a Monica Lewinsky lookalike showing up and pulling a cigar out of her bra. Dave hopes Hogan really does get on the ballot so that he'll stop being on WCW TV all the time. Speaking of, Hogan's president publicity stunt is actually getting more media coverage than Dave expected, which he just seems exasperated by. Anyway, Warrior was also backstage at Nitro, but they didn't have anything for him, so they didn't use him. "Must be nice to pay a guy that much money and have nothing for him to do." (And remember, this was the Nitro that Dave said was the best they've had all year.)

- WCW has still been wanting to do a Goldberg vs. Jericho match at the World War III PPV but Goldberg doesn't want to sell for Jericho or really have a match with him at all. He's willing to do his normal quick squash-type match, but Jericho is refusing to go along with that, so it looks like they're at a stalemate and it probably won't happen.

- Expect Randy Savage to return soon, with a new valet (2 of them, in fact).

- Wrestling With Shadows had its big premiere in Canada and was sold out with over 1,200 people showing up to see it. There was also a Q&A afterwards with Bret Hart and the director. Someone asked if the screwjob was a work. Dave says he knows a lot of people believe it was a work but says he knows for a fact that it wasn't and that he's never wasted space in the Observer even debating it because it's not worth the discussion. But there seems to be a growing number of people who believe that it was, including a lot of wrestlers who should know better. Bottom line: it wasn't a work.

- WCW Thunder was a good show this week because it was pre-taped. And since everything in WCW changes by the minute and there's no continuity, they decided not to really try any storyline advancement, so they just sent guys out there to wrestle long matches and it led to a pretty great in-ring show.

- Bam Bam Bigelow has started with WCW and there's already talk of having him win the World War III battle royal and to have him challenge Goldberg for the title at Starrcade, but that will probably change because Bam Bam's debut on Nitro did abysmal ratings.

- Dennis Rodman got married over the weekend but he's already trying to get it annulled, saying he was totally wasted when it happened. "If that's the case, WCW should use the same logic to say his wrestling contract was invalid." (remember, Rodman is suing WCW for money he thinks they owe him). Anyway, that would be the Carmen Electra marriage. They stuck it out for a minute but got divorced in 1999.

- WWF Raw notes: they did an angle where Hawk climbed up the Titan Tron and acted like he was going to commit suicide, with everyone stopping their match and trying to talk him out of it. Droz climbed up to get him and accidentally pushed him off. Dave says it was the dumbest angle on either show and the crowd wasn't buying it and even the announcers ignored it after the commercial. Godfather gave his hoes to Steven Regal and then said, "England ain't nothing but a place full of fags" because 1998 was pretty terrible in retrospect. On the Raw taped for next week, they introduced Shawn Michaels as the new commissioner which led to him making a bunch of matches and now he's the new authority figure.

- Speaking of Shawn Michaels, he has been talking about opening a wrestling school in San Antonio. He also talked about getting married soon (to Nitro Girl Whisper, although Dave doesn't seem to know that yet) and said that his soon-to-be wife doesn't want him to go back to wrestling full-time because of his injuries. He has 3 messed up discs in his back and both of his knees are a wreck.

- Former WCW announcer Chris Cruise writes in to the Observer this week with a long ass letter complaining that the direction of the wrestling industry, especially of WWF, is going to do long term damage to the business and that it's sick and depraved and parents who let their kids watch it should be ashamed and yada yada. The letter is long as shit and just goes on and on about how horrible it has become and how it will destroy the industry. Turns out it's still doing okay.
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- The future of Hulk Hogan and WCW looks to be in jeopardy. The story going around is that Eric Bischoff and Hogan reportedly had a falling out over Bischoff's decision to go with Kevin Nash as the new head booker of WCW. Bischoff reportedly realizes that WCW has dropped the ball by not creating new stars and told Hogan that they will no longer be building the company and every major angle around him anymore. The plans with Goldberg are a sore sport. Hogan put over Goldberg in July but only agreed to do so if he would later be the one to end Goldberg's streak. But now it's been decided to have Kevin Nash end the streak at Starrcade. At one point, there was talk of having Nash win the title from Goldberg and then rejoin the black and white NWO "and possibly even hand the belt to Hogan" (the Fingerpoke of Doom, in discussions 2 months before it happens). That led to word that Hogan had quit WCW and was going to announce his retirement on the Jay Leno show this week. So that's the official story and the company is trying to play it as a shoot, even to the rest of the locker room...........but most everyone in the company thinks this whole thing is a work. Obviously, the quitting WCW and retirement announcement is a work since they plugged the Leno appearance on Nitro. But low morale in the company is real and Bischoff does realize changes have to be made and it's believed he has really decided to focus less on Hogan going forward and that Hogan's not thrilled about it. There's no one single head person in charge of booking right now, but Kevin Nash does seem to have the most power over what happens, with DDP, Dusty Rhodes, Terry Talor and Kevin Sullivan pitching in ideas also. (Just keep this in mind whenever you watch those shoot interviews and Nash says he wasn't the one booking when he beat Goldberg and then staunchly defends the decision anyway. He was.)

- There's also belief that much of this is possibly Hogan playing the political game. With WCW clearly on a decline, it makes perfect sense for him to get out of the spotlight now and then hope the company falls further without him. On the surface, to the casual observer, it will look like WCW needs Hogan and they'll be begging him to come back, at which point he has all the leverage. Hogan will probably try to keep his name in the spotlight with this silly gimmick about claiming to run for President. In the wake of Ventura's win, if he acts like he's seriously pursuing it, he would probably stay in the public eye while WCW flails about without him. Fact is, 1998 was a great year for Hogan's mainstream fame. He had big angles with Rodman, Malone, and Leno and for most of the year, he was still the biggest TV ratings draw until WWF overtook WCW with Austin. He managed to latch on to Jesse Ventura's moment in the spotlight also and is still milking that. So stepping away while you're seemingly on top is a pretty smart idea.

- Morale in WCW is at an all-time low, with no one trusting Bischoff and everyone grumbling about wanting to go to WWF. The Giant is said to be as good as gone. WCW offered him a huge deal to re-sign and he turned it down and WCW has all but given up on keeping him and are just jobbing him out until he goes. Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit have steadfastly refused to sign new deals even with huge raises. Benoit went on a WCW online show and made it clear he wants out. WWF would clearly love to have them both. Scott Steiner's contract expires next week but WWF reportedly isn't offering him as good a deal as WCW, plus they're worried about his physical condition (both with injuries and because he looks like a walking steroid).

- Shawn Michaels was told last week that his career is over by a back specialist. Michaels reportedly wants to return to wrestling in a limited role and is looking for 2nd and 3rd opinions. In the meantime, WWF brought him back to TV this week as the new heel commissioner. WWF wanted to bring him back and have him feud with Triple H and DX but now it looks like that won't be possible, so they're trying to get some return on investment since they're paying him $750,000 a year. He'd been kept off TV until recently for a number of reasons, mostly his behavior and how it affects the locker room morale. Things are going good and they're hesitant to bring in someone who's known to rock the boat. But they're paying him too much money to not do something with him, so commissioner it is.

- Masahiro Chono went to Germany to rehab his neck and it seems to have been unsuccessful and it's looking like his career may be over. He injured it in 1992 when he was the victim of a botched tombstone by Steve Austin (same exact move Owen Hart did to Austin in 1997). Chono never let his neck heal properly and kept wrestling and it's slowly gotten worse to the point that he had no choice but to take time off. Word is he may need major neck surgery that would make it impossible to ever wrestle again.

- WCW World War 3 is in the books and will likely be the last 3-ring battle royal. They actually talked about dropping the concept a few weeks ago because it's always a failure on PPV but there was already so much advertising out for this event that they felt they had to still do it. Almost none of the card was in place up until the week of the show, but they finally managed to advertise some matches on the Saturday Night show the day before. But then 3 of those didn't end up happening either. Rick vs. Scott Steiner ended up only being an angle because Rick had shoulder surgery 2 weeks ago. They knew he wouldn't be able to wrestle at least 2 weeks ago but advertised it anyway. Scott Hall vs. Kevin Nash also didn't happen, which is for the best because they never wanted to feud against each other in the first place and the fans have never had interest in the feud (which was hampered by Scott repeatedly going to rehab). They also advertised Scott Norton vs. Booker T and that didn't happen either. So with no real angles or storylines for anything and almost the entire card being unknown to fans until the day of the show, it didn't exactly set the world on fire. Dave runs down the results. As expected, Nash won the battle royal to get himself a title shot at Starrcade.

- The PPV industry released numbers for 1998 and it looks like the revenue from pro wrestling is estimated to be $178 million (driven by WWF, WCW, and ECW). The numbers for PPV as a whole are down from last year, mostly due to the lack of big boxing fights since Tyson is suspended, but they estimate it'll rebound next year when he is allowed to fight again. Tyson still proved to be a draw in wrestling, leading Wrestlemania to become the biggest revenue PPV in wrestling history. Dave talks about other events like a Spice Girls PPV and a KISS concert which did some small money and says wrestling and boxing are the things that drive the PPV business.

- Raw won the ratings this week but WCW closed the gap a little, mostly due to the terrible Undertaker/Austin angle with him trying to stab and embalm Austin at a funeral home. Viewers dropped out of Raw in droves during the show because of it.

- Christine Jarrett, the mother of Jerry Jarrett and grandmother of Jeff Jarrett passed away after complications from a heart attack a few weeks ago. Jarrett worked in the business since the 1940s as a ticket seller and later promoting shows in the Nashville area. For her whole career, she worked the box office at the shows in the Nashville/Louisville-area territory and later even up to the USWA era. Aside from the actual booking, she handled pretty much every business aspect of the shows. She's also responsible for getting Jim Cornette into the business, so we have her to thank for that.

- WWF's Superastros show on Univision debuted and the ratings ended up being below what the channel used to get in that time slot. So not great news. Dave reviews it and seemed generally uninspired by it.

- Dave has a 2-word review for the latest Minoru Suzuki match in Pancrase, which he lost in 45 seconds: "Just sad."

- NJPW has worked out a deal with Atsushi Onita to come in and work the Tokyo Dome show on Jan. 4th and called out the retired Riki Choshu. It led to a bunch of other NJPW guys challenging him on Choshu's behalf and Dave expects it will end up being Onita vs. Kensuke Sasaki (yup) and that it will probably be the first step in an angle that eventually leads to Choshu coming out of retirement to face Onita.

- This week's mainstream wrestling news: ESPN Magazine doing a story on Jesse Ventura, New York Daily News doing a story on Superstar Billy Graham. San Antonio newspaper doing a story on wrestling focusing on Shawn Michaels and Jose Lothario, and rumors of a Gorgeous George movie in the works.

- Missy Hyatt is trying out to be an interviewer on TNN's new Roller Jam show. She also recently quit her bar tending job and resumed taking indie bookings on the weekends.

- Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch are officially on a "leave of absence" from ECW for personal issues. They were supposed to fly to Japan this week to work a major FMW show and the deal had been worked out in advance through ECW. But they cancelled multiple flights, with Candido claiming his grandmother was dying, and realizing that they were going to no-show the event, Heyman made a deal and sent Sabu instead. Whatever the real story, ECW has pulled all their merch and is not advertising them for any future shows.

- No word on the future of Public Enemy. They were released a few weeks ago by WCW and there's been rumors of them coming back to ECW to feud with the Dudleys. Paul Heyman has said he'd be open to bringing them in for a short program but isn't interested in using them long term. Meanwhile, they're hoping to get hired by WWF but Dave doesn't see it happening.

- Notes from Nitro: "Ralphus is getting over huge."

- Randy Savage is expected to return to WCW soon with a new look and a new valet, which is his current real-life 22-year old girlfriend who is said to be a Pamela Anderson lookalike. "Three guesses on her previous occupation and the first two don't count," Dave says. (Stripper is the answer, in case you're bad at guessing games).

- Goldberg has opened a 27,000 square foot gym in Atlanta and is also training in MMA with Tim Catalfo.

- Warrior hasn't been brought in to the last Nitros or Thunders or the most recent PPV and it looks like WCW is just going to eat his contract and let him sit it out at home. Probably for the best.

- The WWF has purchased a 30-second ad spot for the Super Bowl in January for $1.6 million dollars. No word on what it will be about yet but Dave thinks it will have something to do with Wrestlemania (I'll wait and post it until after the Super Bowl issue).

- The Rock filmed his first acting role with a guest appearance on the USA Network show "The Net." (Rock later filmed a guest spot on That 70s Show and that ended up airing first, so technically The Net was the 2nd acting gig that aired but the first he ever filmed).

- Steven Regal was sent home from the latest WWF tour because he showed up "in no condition to perform." Dave says Regal has been a huge disappointment since signing with WWF (when they initially planned to bring him in to feud with Austin). He's got the goofy Man's Man gimmick, he's been injured, sick with pneumonia, had trouble losing weight they wanted him to lose, and now this.

- WWF is planning to release a Best of Jesse Ventura video next month, for obvious reasons.

- Dave talks about upcoming WWF merch. There will be WWF Beanie Babies and WWF cologne, in case you want to smell like a wrestler. They also made a deal to have their merch sold at amusement parks worldwide.

- Someone writes in saying that Dave is being a little bit of a hypocrite because he praises guys like Sabu and the WCW luchadors for risking their bodies for our entertainment, but then turns around and criticizes wrestlers for using steroids (thus also risking their health) for the same reasons. Why is one different than the other, he asks? They're both taking unnecessary and dangerous risks to get ahead in the business and the guy feels the risks of serious injury from the high flying style is arguably worse than the risks of steroids. Dave responds by saying...great letter, actually. He then goes on to give a long response with his opinion. Dave actually kind of agrees with the guy and admits that he's got a point and talks about how he was actually far more sad than entertained by the risks Mick Foley took jumping off Hell in a Cell. But he argues that a lot of those luchadors still have incredibly long careers (many of the top draws in Mexico are in their 40s and 50s and have been doing it for decades) but he admits that there has to be a line somewhere between entertainment and unnecessarily risky but he doesn't know where that line is. But Dave still thinks steroids are worse. Aside from maybe Plum Mariko, there hasn't been any wrestler in the last 20 years or so to die due to an in-ring injury. But plenty have died in part due to their steroid use. On the flip side, there's also wrestlers who do a risky style and because of it, they abuse pills and alcohol and that has led to deaths also. Dave really seems kinda torn on the whole issue. In the end, it's like all contact sports: there are risks if you perform it at a high level and you have to be willing to accept that possibility. "Mick Foley's hip probably isn't going to last as long as the majority of the roid freaks of the 80s and he is going to pay for his fame in his old age but he also most likely will have an old age." Also, one final interesting note: he also says he's more concerned than anything about the long-term effects of unprotected chairshots on the brain. 20 years ago and Dave was already banging the drum on this issue.
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- WCW held an unannounced tribute show for referee Mark Curtis (real name Brian Hildebrand) at a house show in Knoxville this week and Dave just heaps praise on WCW for how well they handled it. Hildebrand is suffering from inoperable stomach cancer and has been given about a year to live. All the negativity in the business was put aside as the whole company came together to honor a man that most fans might not even deem that significant since he's just a referee, but to the guys backstage, he's one of the most beloved guys there. Ric Flair made a surprise appearance (he wasn't booked or advertised) and presented Hildebrand with a replica of the WCW title. The main event of the show was Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho & Eddie Guerrero, because it was the match Hildebrand wanted to see headline the show. Most wrestlers take it easy on house shows, but all 4 men worked harder than they usually would on a PPV in this case. The match ended with the original referee getting bumped, leading to Hildebrand jumping out of his ringside chair and calling the finish. The show opened with Mike Tenay giving a speech for Hildebrand and bringing in several people he has worked with over the years, including several backstage guys from Hildebrand's days in Jim Cornette's old Smoky Mountain Wrestling and even former SMW wrestler Dirty White Boy. All of them gave speeches, along with Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, and Bobby Heenan. He was also presented with a 1998 WCW Referee of the Year award and a Man of the Year award from Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Near the end of the show, Terry Taylor brought Hildebrand and his new wife (they were just recently married) into the ring and presented them tickets for a honeymoon vacation in Las Vegas when he's physically up to it. There were more speeches by Benoit, Arn Anderson, and Dean Malenko. All in all, in a business that can be so toxic, Dave was blown away by how great WCW handled this whole thing.


Shitty quality footage of the main event. Jericho's heel promo at the beginning trash talking Hildebrand is glorious:

- WWF and WCW wrestlers are both on the cover of TV Guide this week, with the magazine having 4 different covers, each one featuring Austin, Undertaker, Goldberg, or Hogan. TV Guide is the most widely read magazine in America so this is a pretty huge deal. To show how both companies are when it comes to the marketing side of things, WWF heavily promoted the Austin and Undertaker covers on TV, while WCW didn't mention the Goldberg/Hogan covers at all. It's sort of an example of how well-organized the WWF structure is. They're always on the ball when it comes to promoting and marketing things, while in WCW, it always seems like one department never knows what the other one is doing and always leads to messed up advertising or dropping the ball on things that could help the company.

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- As for the article, it was interesting although like most articles about wrestling written by mainstream journalists, was full of inaccuracies. It listed WWF as a $500 million dollar company, which is the same lie that WWF told Forbes Magazine and they also printed it, with Dave once again explaining how WWF is really only a $200 million company and that's only if you're really stretching. It also featured an interesting line from Austin about the direction of the WWF, with him saying, "I can't say that I agree with every storyline we have. Every time you hear some racism or a bunch of the sexual stuff, that's a complete turnoff for me." It talked about steroids, which McMahon seemed to brush off and talked about how Bischoff claims WCW has a testing policy but he's deliberately sketchy on explaining how it's enforced (answer: it's not). Dave thinks McMahon's dismissiveness of the issue could come back to bite him. They've obviously had troubles with that before and with wrestling being so popular right now, they're only one high-profile tragedy away from the story being back in the media again like it was 4 years ago. And besides, even if it doesn't hurt the business at all, Dave thinks it's pretty heartless for him to seemingly not care about the health of these guys at all and to not take preventative measures to try to stop it from happening again. The Undertaker refused to break character for the interview, "refusing to acknowledge the existence of Mark Callaway." In the interview, when asked who would win between Undertaker and Mean Mark Callous, he seemed offended and said "Mean Mark Callous is dead." The article also claimed Austin makes $2 million a year. Dave says if that's true, he's the most underpaid person in the history of wrestling. If Austin is making anything less than $10 million this year, he needs to have a long talk with Vince and Dave estimates the real number is probably around $16 million this year. Dave suspects $2 million might be his downside guarantee on his contract but with merch numbers and other stuff, he's gotta be making far more.


- Dave takes a look at the future of several of WCW's stars. First he explains all the differences between WCW and WWF contracts. WCW almost always offers more money and less dates to work and it's a guaranteed deal so if you get hurt, you still get paid. WWF offers downside guarantees, which aren't as much. But if business is up and you're doing good, there's all sorts of bonuses and gate percentages and whatnot tied in, so if you're successful in WWF, you stand to make a lot more money than in WCW. But if you're injured, you only collect the downside guarantee. Rick and Scott Steiner both signed new deals with WCW this week, just days before their previous deals expired. They are estimated to be making between $500K-$700K each, which is almost double their previous salary. Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero have both yet to re-sign and Bischoff has made it clear that if they don't, they will no longer be pushed on TV, which is why Jericho lost the TV title and hasn't been given interview time in the last couple of weeks despite being the best talker in WCW right now. Rey Mysterio is a unique situation. WCW is offering him a substantial raise over his current deal but they're still offering him less than guys like Jericho and Benoit. The reason is they believe WWF probably wouldn't be that interested in Mysterio due to his size, so they figure he doesn't have as much leverage. Mysterio has also been told that if he doesn't sign soon, they will pull the offer from the table. Benoit's contract expires at the end of 1999 and he went on WCW's website during a radio show and said he plans to leave when it's up, which infuriated Bischoff. Jericho, Benoit, and Guerrero have all been offered around $500K to stay. Mysterio was offered substantially less. And The Giant was offered substantially more, but he's repeatedly turned down offers to re-sign and WCW has all but given up on keeping him. A lot of these guys say they feel bullied by Bischoff, who is counting on them to accept the guaranteed money rather than take their chances in WWF and is using threats of burial and pulling offers off the table in order to coerce them into signing.

- All Japan Women held their 30th anniversary show, their biggest show of the year, and....it didn't go well. The show only drew 5,000 people to an arena that holds 17,000+. The company has been in financial peril for awhile and has somehow been surviving on a day-to-day basis with money made from spot shows and has lost most of its top stars to other promotions. Many of those women were brought back for this show but concessions had to be made. In order to get other promotions to allow AJW to use their stars, almost all of the AJW wrestlers lost their matches to women from other promotions, including AJW's top star Manami Toyota losing in the main event. Basically, they had to let their competition walk all over them in order to even have enough big name stars to draw anybody to the show.

- Giant Haystacks, one of the top stars in British wrestling in the 70s and 80s passed away after a battle with stomach cancer. Dave recaps his career, saying he spent most of it in England but did have a brief run in WCW in 1996 as Loch Ness. At his peak, he legitimately weighed near 700 pounds but near the end of his life, due to the cancer, he had gotten down to around 350.

- CMLL women's wrestler Tania La Guerrillera has quit the promotion after an incident where she lost a hair vs. hair match to Lady Apache. Tania was supposed to get her head shaved but they only ended up cutting a little bit off before she got out of the ring and went backstage. The agents went nuts on her, telling her to go back out and finish getting her hair cut and she said she was just getting heat by coming backstage and would go back out later to finish but instead she left the building. When she showed up to the office the next day to get her paycheck (still with most of her hair), she saw that the bonus she was promised for losing her hair wasn't on the check. She was furious and stormed out and went home and shaved her own head, then came back to get her bonus, but they told her it was too little too late and she wasn't getting it. So she quit the company and now she's also bald.

- Giant Baba is expected to attend WWF's upcoming February PPV (hey that was in Memphis!) so he can take a look at WWF's wrestlers in person and see if there's anyone he can try to bring in to AJPW next year, since both Vader and Bart Gunn have gotten over so big (Baba ends up dying in January so this obviously doesn't happen).

- With only a month until NJPW's Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome show, tickets aren't selling very well and they've only announced 1 match. There's still plans for several of Antonio Inoki's UFO fighters to work the show against NJPW wrestlers in alleged shoot fights but nothing is finalized yet and pretty much everyone agrees that they're pushing this UFO vs. NJPW angle too soon.

- The New York Daily News ran a big story on Superstar Billy Graham. He talked about his various health problems and was also complimentary of Jesse Ventura. He talked about steroids, saying that Hogan did a ton of them. He criticized the current direction of the wrestling business and also said he had recently sent a letter to Vince McMahon apologizing for causing them so much trouble back in the early 90s.

- TNN is still interested in having a wrestling show air on Friday nights to lead into their new RollerJam show. ECW has had negotiations with the network, and so has Music City Wrestling out of Nashville. Speaking of RollerJam, several wrestling personalities tried out for the announcing job on the show, including Missy Hyatt and Rick Rude. Neither were hired.

- Yokozuna, weighing around 600 pounds, showed up at an indie show in California. They wanted him to do a run-in and do the Banzai drop on someone, but he said his back was hurting so he just did a few clotheslines instead.

- Former pro wrestler Abe Stanklin died this week at age 96. He was nicknamed Pig Grease Stanklin because he used to wrestle greased pigs at old carnival shows many decades ago.

- ECW Injury Report: Axl Rotten needs gallbladder surgery. Shane Douglas broke his wrist and "it was bleeding like crazy and needed stitches." Holy shit, did it break the skin? Dave doesn't say. Anyway, he was put in a cast and actually wrestled the next night, albeit only briefly. Mike Awesome is still recovering from knee surgery and is off crutches now. Jack Victory's broken leg suffered at the last PPV is a mess even after surgery and it will be a long time before he can return, possibly never.

- AVN (Adult Video News) did a story about porn star Rob Black trying to get into ECW. Black told them he met with ECW but nothing has come of it yet. Black said he's willing to work for free just to get his name over and wants to sell his porn videos at the merch booth (this, of course, eventually turns into him starting his own XPW promotion in a few more months).

- Hulk Hogan announced his retirement on the Tonight Show and talked about running for President. Jay Leno threw a few questions at him regarding politics that obviously stumped Hulk though, so, ya know. If Jay Leno is throwing you off your game, you're probably not going to be able to stand up to the debates. He also talked about Jesse Ventura and buried him a little. Regardless, Hogan's retirement announcement got a good bit of mainstream coverage, including CNN and ESPN and treated it as if it was real. Dave is calling bullshit on the idea that Hogan is actually retiring.

- Scott Hall fell asleep at the wheel of a rented car and rolled it over 3 times. Luckily he was wearing his seat belt and wasn't seriously injured. He took a breathalyzer and passed and didn't show any signs of impairment so it looks like he was actually sober (or at least not drunk on alcohol) for this one and really did just fall asleep. Regardless, this is only one of, like, 5 rental cars that he wrecks during a few month period here.

- Scott Steiner was apparently arrested awhile back for an incident that happened in April. He was accused of yelling at a guy conducting traffic and the guy wouldn't let Steiner drive into a closed lane. Steiner got out and threatened him, then got back in the car and lightly hit the guy with his car. He then told him to move again or he'd run him over. The guy didn't move and Steiner nudged him with the car a second time. So they popped him for aggravated assault and terroristic threats. Anyway, Steiner went to court this week and tried to accept a plea bargain for 5 years of probation and a fine, but when the judge heard the story, he apparently didn't feel it was that serious and dismissed the plea bargain and apparently dropped the case. So Scotty is off the hook (nope, Dave is mistaken. We find out more later, but Scott ends up on probation for it).

- Bret Hart has a legit groin injury and when the fans were booing him when he talked about it during a promo, Bret responded with a hilarious line, saying none of them even have groins. I only include this because I genuinely snort-laughed when I read it.

- Nitro on Jan. 4 will be at the Georgia Dome and ticket sales are actually slightly below what they expected. It's believed that Hogan will be appearing on the show to do some sort of farewell or possibly an angle leading to his return (boy, do they ever...)

- The Ric Flair/WCW legal issues are all pretty much cleared up finally. It hasn't been officially closed and signed off on yet, but it will be soon.

- Van Hammer appeared as an honorary cheerleader during the Cowboys/Vikings Thanksgiving game. Announcer John Madden even pointed him out by name.

- Raw notes: the Mark Henry/Chyna date angle was really well done and Dave says it's the first good thing Mark Henry has done in the wrestling business so far. WWF brought in Blue Meanie to be part of Al Snow's J.O.B. Squad group. He's on loan from ECW and isn't signed to a WWF deal. They're openly acknowledging that these guys are from ECW. They also tried to bring in Stevie Richards, but Paul Heyman didn't want them to because Stevie Richards isn't in ECW anymore and he didn't want them portraying Richards as an ECW guy. Plus, WWF is still concerned about Richards' ability due to his recent neck issues, so they decided against it. And finally, "Between the three ho's, Jacqueline and Runnels, they had enough silicon at ringside to create normal sized implants for every women in the province of Newfoundland." Dave's war on fake tits continues!

- At the Raw tapings that will air next week, they did an angle where Undertaker tied Steve Austin to a cross and they raised it up, basically crucifying him. Dave talks about how ECW got kicked off the air in some markets for doing a similar angle a few years ago, but times change. Plus, WWF was careful to call it "a symbol" and not a cross.

- Sable was scheduled to make an appearance at a department store in California last week but the store cancelled her appearance claiming they didn't want to be associated with the WWF's product. Dave thinks it's the first sign of what could become bigger problems if the company keeps getting more risque.

- The producers of the show Nash Bridges are wanting to get Steve Austin to do an episode (it happened, but we'll get there).

- The Winnipeg Sun newspaper ran a recent story on the Jackyl (Don Callis). Callis said he wants to someday be mayor of Winnipeg. (There's still time Don!)

- Some guy writes into the letters section with a great 2 sentence letter: "The 11/16 Raw was brilliant. It's about time they gave Hawk a push."

- Someone else writes a really interesting letter regarding the Tributes book that Dave recently released. It's basically a collection of obituaries Dave has written over the years for different wrestlers. Here's the letter:

Quote:I enjoyed the Tributes book to the extent it was hard to put down, despite the fact that I had already read the vast majority of the stories upon initial release. I noted that, for obvious reasons, you predict that each premature death won't be the last and, without a doubt, another follows shortly thereafter. I'll bet that like me, many readers have the feeling that Scott Hall will be included in Volume 2.

What is especially interesting to me is the affect the book has the potential to create among people who read it. Personally, I'm a 33-year-old male, professionally employed making a pretty nice living with a pretty steady habit of booze and recreational drugs, although likely nowhere near the level of the majority of those profiled. My pastimes include coke, marijuana, hash, etc. Despite repeated attempts, I've never been successful in stopping or really been that interested in slowing down. I know this isn't practical if I want to live to a ripe old age but, despite the sound advice of many friends and family members, I've maintained this lifestyle for several years now.

What moved me is that, after reading the Kerry Von Erich, Brian Pillman and Louie Spicolli stories consecutively the other night, I actually found myself not lighting up that second joint or snorting that extra line. I've also noticed a greater consciousness about the volume of hard drugs like cocaine which I may ingest, and especially about mixing them with alcohol. While all this may seem like common sense, I can't recall anything else in a long time having this kid of an effect on my thought process. Frankly, the articles had an eerie feeling to them, especially when read consecutively, and I got scared. The effect seems to be a positive one and although maybe not permanent, it surely is a step in the right direction. I really don't want to go Cold Turkey right now, as I do enjoy this lifestyle and to date, have been pretty successful, but thank you for making me open my eyes. After reading this book from cover-to-cover, I know it really can happen to me.

Name withheld by request

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- Another week, more mainstream news coverage for wrestling. ABC and NBC are both planning TV biography specials on Jesse Ventura. Dave was interviewed for the ABC one, along with Hogan, Greg Gagne, and others. WWF isn't cooperating with either so any wrestling footage will have to come from elsewhere. Ventura also got himself a $500K book deal. The book will be titled "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up" and should be out early next year.


- Rolling Stone did an article on Steve Austin that Dave says is must-read and was probably the best mainstream article he's read about wrestling recently and Austin really came off as a normal guy, talking about his childhood, his biological father leaving their family, his college football years, his time in USWA, WCW, ECW, and WWF. Austin noted that he still hasn't forgiven Owen Hart for injuring him at Summerslam last year which is why they never did an angle together when he got healthy. He said that he and Vince McMahon have a great relationship off camera. And on the flip side, People Magazine did a feature on Goldberg that was pretty much just a puff piece, but it did make Goldberg come off as a very humble guy who appreciates what he has been given and works really hard to be a role model to kids off-screen. Yet again, Dave points out how WWF heavily promoted the Austin/Rolling Stone piece, while WCW never once mentioned the Goldberg story and says it's just another example of WCW being asleep at the wheel when they could be capitalizing on mainstream exposure.

- NJPW announced most of the card for their Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome show but some of the top matches still aren't finalized and things are still being changed because they just don't have any good ideas or matchups. They had hoped to have Goldberg make his Japan debut at the show but that ended up not happening. They're still going with the NJPW vs. UFO storyline which everyone acknowledges is way too soon and no one is going to care since UFO barely exists as its own promotion but they don't have anything better, so, yanno.

- Just to show how well WWF is doing right now, they're finally starting to get some buzz in Japan. Vader, fresh off leaving WWF, has been a huge draw for AJPW on the most recent tour, as has Bart Gunn, who is being booked through WWF. FMW has been talking to WWF about hopefully using some of their stars and even NJPW is reportedly having some back channel negotiations with WWF. Of course, NJPW has to keep it quiet since they have a deal with WCW, but that relationship has always been somewhat fragile and WCW only sends them jobbers, never any big stars. WWF and WCW are only available through satellite dishes, so only a small segment of Japanese fans can even watch them, but WWF in particular has become somewhat of the hot new underground thing among hardcore wrestling fans there.

- For the last 6 weeks in a row, WWF's Raw has totally obliterated Nitro in the ratings and the momentum doesn't seem to be slowing. While WCW seems to be on a downward spiral, don't get too worried yet. Nitro drew over 30,000 fans to the Astrodome this week, the 3rd largest crowd all-time gate record in Texas wrestling history. Dave says he doesn't understand how a promotion can draw this big of a live crowd and still put on such a terrible show. In 2 weeks, they'll be doing another stadium Nitro that will draw 30,000+ and next month they'll be in the Georgia Dome and will likely do similar numbers again. However, while WCW is still drawing huge crowds, those fans are leaving the shows often disgusted and pissed due to no-shows and advertised matches not happening. Nitro ended this week with fans pelting the ring with trash in anger after the last 4 heavily advertised matches never happened. Good way to kill off a town. Dave basically points out that while WCW business is strong now, they're still coasting on past momentum and the signs for the future aren't good.

- There's been a big story going on with CMLL which is kind of caught in the middle between WWF and WCW. I haven't been really covering it too much because it's confusing and mostly boring. But in short, WCW and CMLL have made a deal for an inter-promotional storyline with WCW wrestlers going to Mexico and challenging CMLL guys. But on the flip side, several of CMLL's wrestlers have also signed WWF contracts to work for WWF's Superastros luchador show. So there's all this back and forth about who is allowed to wrestle who, since WCW and WWF don't want their guys facing each other, and what matches can air on which networks and all that shit. As a result, WWF is pretty pissed at CMLL for continuing to work with WCW and Vince McMahon has reportedly made the decision to "raid" CMLL and to try and sign away all of their top stars to WWF-exclusive contracts but it hasn't happened yet. Vince has also decided that he doesn't want any of the luchadors wearing masks which is obviously beyond stupid for a Lucha Libre show, on a Spanish-speaking TV network that is produced entirely to appeal to Latino audiences. But Vince gonna Vince.

- WWF held their 2nd ever UK-only PPV last week called Capital Carnage and...not much to say about it. Dave hasn't seen it but was told it was basically just a house show-quality event. Sable teamed with Christian against Jacquelyn and Marc Mero. It was supposed to be a singles match but they didn't want Sable doing too much physical activity because she has a Playboy photo shoot coming up soon and they didn't want her getting bruised or banged up. During the match, she pulled Jacquelyn's top off, exposing her breasts. Steven Regal was supposed to face X-Pac but last week, Regal showed up to a show "in no condition to perform" and has been removed from all bookings and is reportedly in rehab.

Video is technically NSFW at the end, although its so blurry, it's not like it matters

- Giant Baba reportedly missed the 2 recent AJPW shows due to suffering from a bad cold. It's an interesting story because Baba is basically known as the Cal Ripkin Jr. of wrestling. From his debut in 1960 through 1984, he never missed a show, a record of 3,711 matches. After returning from an injury in 84, he didn't miss a show for another 6 years until suffering a broken leg in 1990 and then missed 1 show in 1992....and that's it. Dave talks about how wrestling is such a dangerous industry, with so many injuries and says Baba's 3,711 consecutive shows without missing a single one will almost certainly never be equaled. When Baba missed the 2 recent shows this week, it started rumors that he's dying or retiring, but Dave says not true, he just had a bad case of the flu and was actually back wrestling the next day. (Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Baba is in late-stages of bowel cancer and would be dead a month later. And was still wrestling!)

- An indie promotion in Philadelphia did a match where the loser had to eat dog shit. Dave gives it 6 months before WWF steals the idea.

- Insane Clown Posse is opening their own promotion called Hellfire Wrestling with the first show taking place in Detroit this month. They will wrestle under the names Hector Hatchet and Sewer Dweller rather than their rap names.

- Dave reveals that he was asked to be a judge for the upcoming UFC 18 PPV (yup, he was one of the 3 ringside judges for that PPV).

- WCW appears to be attempting another raid of ECW. Mikey Whipwreck has reportedly accepted a two-year $100,000-per-year deal and word is many other ECW stars have received similar offers. Even valet Chastity was given an offer and word is she's gone too.

- ECW's relationship with FMW is up in the air right now. There was a lot of heat from FMW last month when Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, and Bam Bam Bigelow all no-showed a major FMW show they were booked to appear on through ECW. Bigelow's no-show was because he was basically out the door and headed to WCW at that time. Candido and Sytch missed the show because, well, that's pretty much the sort of shit Candido and Sytch do now I guess. Either way, the show had to be restructured at the last minute and FMW wanted to be reimbursed for a bunch of non-refundable money they spent (plane tickets and whatnot) to bring them in. Heyman ended up sending Sabu to try to make up for it and a few other ECW guys are headed over next week for a few shows, but there's still tension between the 2 sides.

- They did an angle at an ECW house show in Pittsburgh featuring members of the Steelers team in the crowd. Bubba Ray Dudley called out Steelers player Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, who hopped the rail and speared Bubba to a big pop.

- Rob Van Dam recently moved from Florida to Los Angeles so he can try his luck in Hollywood.

- The Giant was arrested in Memphis after a Thunder taping on charges of sexual battery after an incident that allegedly took place at the hotel. The charges were dropped the next day when other wrestlers came forward claiming they were with him at the time. The Giant was accused by a hotel clerk of saying "Do you know why they call me The Giant?" and then pulling out his dick and rubbing against her. They sent 24 cops to come pick him up because they were worried about what would happen if he resisted. (I remember this story at the time actually, it was in the newspapers and stuff here). A lot of WCW wrestlers came to the jail in support of Giant and reportedly DDP is pushing hard to convince him to stay with WCW.

- An added note on Scott Hall's car wreck last week. It was actually his 5th in the last year. At one point, he wrecked 3 cars in a month, and 2 of them were within 24 hours. A recent newspaper article had an interview with Hall's ex-wife who talked about his multi-million dollar contract with WCW but she said she believes the only thing that will save his life is if he leaves the wrestling business behind completely.

- There's still discussion of having Nash win the title from Goldberg, only to turn around and hand it to Hogan, and reforming the NWO with Hogan, Nash, Hall, and Luger. Surely they wouldn't, right....?

- The reason the Stevie Ray vs. Konnan match at World War 3 ended in a DQ is because Stevie Ray refused to do the job for Konnan. No explanation given.

- The reason Chris Jericho dropped the TV title on Nitro 2 weeks ago is because Eric Bischoff wanted him to sign a new contract right there on the spot. Jericho refused and so Bischoff decided to job him out and take the TV title off of him that same night.

- Sting has recently signed a new deal estimated at around $6.5 million over 4 years. It makes Sting the 4th highest paid guy in the business behind Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and Bret Hart.

- On Thunder, a huge fan jumped the rail and got past security and tried to get in the ring to go after Eddie Guerrero, but he tripped over the ropes getting in the ring. Guerrero kicked him in the face as hard as he could and the rest of the LWO members in the ring swarmed him until security took him away. Since the show was taped, it was edited off.

- ICP has left the WWF. They were upset because they were apparently promised a commercial for their Great Milenko album would be played during Raw but it never was. They also reportedly put up a fuss about having to take stunners from Steve Austin (I think Violent J has denied that in the years since and said they were actually super stoked about it but that it went wrong because Austin stunned the wrong one first and they weren't in position for it or something so it didn't look great). Word is nobody in the locker room was exactly sad to see them go.

- Jim Ross' mother passed away last week while he was in England for the PPV. He went ahead and did the show but that same day, he began suffering severe headaches and had another Bells Palsy attack. By the next day, the right side of his face was paralyzed. He didn't do Raw and won't be on TV for at least a couple of weeks. Michael Cole filled in for him on Raw and he tried hard, but the difference was extremely noticeable, as Cole just isn't in the same league as Ross.

- It's expected that Kurt Angle will be debuting in March or April, possibly as a heel, and will get a big push (not quite that soon).

- On the Nov. 30th Raw, when Steve Austin was walking around backstage with a shovel looking for Undertaker, the woman he stopped and briefly talked to was actually Vince McMahon's daughter Stephanie (the first appearance of Stephanie on TV. Well, as an adult. Not counting the episode of SNME she appeared on when she was 9 back in the 80s).

Around the 1 minute mark

- Butterbean, the boxer, was on TSN's Off The Record and talked about doing a potential match against Bart Gunn. WWF has been considering doing something like that with Gunn since he won the Brawl For All tournament, either against Butterbean or perhaps a UFC fighter, but nothing has been finalized yet.

- On the 11/16 Raw, Vince McMahon apparently wanted The Rock to actually bend over and kiss his ass for an angle, but Rock refused to do it (nearly 3 years before the Kiss My Ass Club was actually a thing, Vince was trying to get it to happen in 1998. Crazy).
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Monday will be the end of 1998. Then I'm taking a month off and will resume with 1999 after Wrestlemania.


- Oh god. More than a year after it happened, this is yet another ABSURDLY long issue about the Montreal Screwjob. Strap the fuck in folks, here we go. Wrestling With Shadows is finally set to air in America this week on A&E and Dave is hopeful that it will finally put a rest to all the he-said-she-said bullshit surrounding what happened. All the mainstream reviews have been unanimously positive. Dave says he'll save his thoughts for next week's issue, and then proceeds to write two dozen more paragraphs about it anyway. There's been a lot of talk about what WWF's public response to the movie will be. It unquestionably paints Vince McMahon as a liar (since, well, he clearly lied) and there's portions of Bret's conversations with Vince that were recorded without Vince's knowledge. There's also footage of a dazed McMahon limping out of Hart's locker room after getting punched into the stratosphere.

- Dave goes into detail recapping all the different conversations Hart and Vince had (a lot of which didn't make it into the movie) discussing different plans and theories as to why Vince backed out of them. Bret Hart says that in hindsight, he now thinks Vince never intended to honor the 20-year contract and was planning to find a way out of it from the very beginning and only made the deal to keep Bret from leaving for WCW. Vince had decided to go with Austin and Michaels as his top 2 stars and didn't want to be beholden to paying his #3 star significantly more money than anyone else in the company. There's also the theory that McMahon promised Shawn Michaels that he would get rid of Hart after their backstage fight and Dave doesn't dismiss that theory either. Anyway, most of this is just recapping the post-Screwjob issue again, with some additional Dave thoughts on everything. It does add a lot of context to some of the meetings leading up to it and is absolutely worth reading in full. It also features a full transcript of the Bret/Vince conversation. I think this transcript is actually more than you hear in the movie. Some of the unimportant stuff was edited out for context in the movie, but Dave has the full unedited transcript in case you just really want to be privy to Bret and Vince's entire conversation, even the un-Screwjob related parts. Finally, Dave ends it on an interesting note: despite now having the biggest wrestling draw in Canadian history on their roster and coming off the most controversial incident in wrestling history that made Bret an even bigger hero there...WCW still didn't run a single show in Canada in 1998. Way to drop the ball.

- WWF's latest In Your House PPV called Rock Bottom took place last week and was a pretty bad show. Bad matches, bad finishes, dead crowd, 4 hours being too long for a PPV, Austin and Undertaker having a shitty match...you name it, it sucked. Random notes from the show: Mark Henry is now being referred to as "Sexual Chocolate." Tiger Ali Singh and his manager Babu were scheduled to be part of an 8-man tag match, but Babu got deported back to his native Ecuador last week because apparently he was due to stand trial for a crime there and he also didn't have his green card to be in the U.S. So he's gone. Owen Hart got the biggest pop of the show (it was in Canada) but then they booked Owen to be the chickenshit heel so it killed the crowd for the rest of the show and Dave feels like the whole point of the match was to use Owen to humiliate Bret (they referenced the screwjob throughout the match, even doing a spot with Owen in the sharpshooter). They had the stipulation where Debra was supposed to strip naked in the ring but of course, they covered her up before it got that far and Dave says there was no chance it was going to actually happen. Undertaker can still barely work on his injured ankle that he's never gotten fixed. Austin had a stomach virus and barely ate the week before the show. To make it worse, Austin took a bump in the match and tore an abdominal muscle and said every move afterwards felt like he was being stabbed in the side. He went to the hospital after the match and then missed the following TV tapings. So their match fell apart.

- There's been a lot of talk about the Austin/Undertaker crucifixion angle recently and how far is too far. Dave has the answer: too far is when it negatively affects business or when ratings begin to drop or when USA Network threatens to drop them. That hasn't happened, so no, it wasn't too far. Dave understands some religious people may have been offended by it but there was no real big public backlash over it. If anything, Dave thinks the angle with Austin pointing a gun at Vince's head while thousands of people cheered for him to commit murder was worse. The Hawk and Scott Hall drug angles were worse. All in all, Dave doesn't expect WWF to tone things down because for now, it's still working.

- WWF's Superastros show on Univision has been doing strong ratings, and now the competing network Telemundo is having discussions with WCW about doing their own Lucha Libre show. It had been discussed in the past, but Telemundo didn't want to do a show based around all of WCW's luchadors as the top stars and then have those same wrestlers be seen as jobbers on Nitro and Thunder every week. But the ratings for the WWF show changed their mind. If it happens, it's expected that the WCW show will be more like traditional Lucha Libre, with the masked wrestlers, trios matches, and using Konnan as the booker. WWF's show is basically just smaller Mexican guys in front of the same WWF crowds pre-taped before Raw. Aside from the Spanish commentary, there's nothing that differentiates it from any other WWF show. If WCW does the show, they want to cater it specifically to the Latino crowd and try to do their own tapings in front of Latino audiences.

- WCW trotted out a fake heart attack angle for Ric Flair on Nitro this week, because portraying the only enduring star they have as too old to wrestle is a great idea. Didn't matter. Raw still slaughtered them in the ratings and nobody bought the Flair angle. In fact, the heart attack angle wasn't planned until the day of the show, just in case you were wondering how much WCW is thinking ahead in these long-term angles.

- Giant Baba canceled a planned trip to Vancouver where he was going to attend the recent WWF PPV because he was hospitalized with the flu again. This comes just a few days after he missed 2 recent house shows.

- An FMW show in Japan featured a retirement ceremony for The Sheik. At the show, Sheik ran out, along with his nephew Sabu, and ran around the building throwing furniture, threw some fireballs, and chased some photographers with a big sword. You know, as one does at their retirement ceremony. Sheik was presented with several awards and was given a bunch of speeches, including by Atsushi Onita. Backstage, Sheik could barely move due to his knees and hips, but when he was in front of the crowd, he managed to get some spring in his step.

- Sid Vicious no-showed a couple of events put together by Dennis Coraluzzo, along with some other indie shows the previous weekend. Due to the no-shows, the New York State Athletic Commission have said they will no longer allow any promoters in the state to advertise Sid for a show because more often than not, he won't show up. When the promoters contacted Sid, he claimed his sister had been hurt in a car accident. But everyone else who talked to Sid reported that he just spent the last 2 weekends hunting rather than showing up for his bookings, and then he stopped returning phone calls.

- Indie wrestler Corporal Robinson reportedly suffered a brain aneurysm at an IWA show after getting hit with some kind of weapon in the head by Ian Rotten. It apparently cut an artery inside his head or something and he had to be rushed to the hospital and had emergency surgery to fix it.

- ECW wrestler Mikey Whipwreck and valet Chastity are both confirmed heading to WCW. Word is Raven convinced DDP to bring them in and DDP has enough stroke in WCW to make it happen. Chastity is expected to debut as Raven's sister in his Flock.

- There's also rumors about Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch heading to WCW. Right now, they're suspended from ECW due to no-showing the FMW show that was talked about last week. On their own website, Candido and Tammy claimed to be on a tropical vacation. Dave thinks WCW would probably take Tammy, despite her bad rep, and they'd probably take Candido also just to make sure they get her. On ECW's website, Joey Styles said that anyone who believes Candido and Sytch are actually on vacation is naive, basically confirming that they're suspended. Candido was reportedly furious and swore to never work for ECW again. But Tammy still has a 5-year contract with them, although Heyman is said to be willing to let them both out of their deal if they want to go. Dave seems to have given up hope on Sunny but says he hopes Candido can get his life together because not too long ago, he was one of the brightest young stars in the business and he's still young. It's not too late for him to become a big star, as long as he doesn't let Sunny drag him down with her.

- Big Dick Dudley was released by ECW although they may bring him back occasionally to work some short angles. But they're no longer going to use him full-time. Word is WWF is interested in bringing him in for some new gimmick that Vince Russo came up with but no word if it's going to happen.

- High Times magazine is working on a story about Rob Van Dam.


- Paul Heyman is looking for new talent. Among the names expected to get tryouts in ECW soon are Reckless Youth, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Antifaz del Norte, and Super Crazy. There looks to be some business changes in ECW coming up soon also. Paul Heyman will remain the owner of the company but is reportedly looking to delegate business decisions to a handful of other people so he can focus more on booking and producing.

- There's an ECW magazine in the works. If it happens, it'll be 6 issues per year.

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- WCW is working on a huge deal that hasn't been finalized as of press time but if it works out, it could have potentially huge positive repurcussions for WCW (more on this next week).

- Eric Bischoff held a meeting with the locker room backstage before the 12/14 Nitro and officially informed everyone that Kevin Nash and DDP are now part of the booking team (remember all the times Nash has claimed he wasn't booking when he beat Goldberg?). Bischoff also scolded the wrestlers about going over their allotted time during promos and matches, saying it screws up the timing of the show. He also talked about big changes starting for WCW in January and once again emphasized that WCW won't be lowering themselves to the level of WWF and using vulgarity to compete. He said he believes WCW has the better show and WWF is only winning right now due to the shock value but that it isn't sustainable (Dave disagrees and says even putting aside the vulgarity, Raw is just leaps and bounds a better show than Nitro these days).

- The plan for Starrcade has been for Bret Hart to face Scott Hall in a U.S. title match, but Hart still has a torn groin that hasn't healed and it looks like that match may not happen (indeed it didn't).

- Goldberg has cooled off considerably in recent months. His merchandise isn't selling nearly as well as it was and he's actually been picking up the nickname "Coldberg" backstage. But hey, that's what happens when you have the hottest star in the world, put the title on him on the spur of the moment without a plan in place of what to do next, and then make him play second fiddle behind Hogan and Nash for 5 months.

- Dave seems befuddled as to why WCW has apparently decided not to help promote Wrestling With Shadows. They sponsored one of its opening screenings a little while back, but that's it. The show portrays one of their top stars as a hero and exposes WWF for doing horrible things to him. It kinda seems like a no-brainer that WCW would be pushing the hell out of it, but they've never mentioned it (turns out there's a good reason for this that we'll eventually get to).

- Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage both had meetings with Bischoff to discuss plans for their return in 1999. There was an idea tossed around of having Hogan and Savage team up against Hall and Nash but Dave doubts that'll happen. Speaking of Savage, word is he is bigger and more muscular than anyone has ever seen him.

- Random WCW notes: Steve McMichael no-showed Nitro last week. Wrath has given his 90-day notice but doesn't plan to leave and he's angling for a raise. Sting is doing a TV movie called Shutterspeed.

- As mentioned last week, Steve Austin had some sort of gastrointestinal illness recently and was so sick he had to cancel all promotional appearances and couldn't eat for 4 days. He's still recovering but is said to be doing better now. As for the possible torn abdominal muscle he suffered at the PPV, no word on that yet.

- No word on Jim Ross's condition either following a second Bells Palsy attack last week. He's still suffering severe headaches and blurred vision and facial paralysis but it's said to not be as bad this time as it was 4 years ago.

- Notes from Raw: DX did a hilarious parody of the Corporation, with Billy Gunn as Shane, Road Dogg as Vince, X-Pac as Shamrock, and Triple H doing a tremendous Rock impression and Jason Sensation as "H-B-Gay." Vince McMahon announced that Austin will be #1 in the Rumble and that Vince himself will be #30 and put a $100,000 bounty out for whoever eliminates Austin. Rock worked a match and his gynocomastia "was looking really unsightly as he's almost becoming a man with breasts." (If you don't remember, Rock later had surgery to fix this and wrestled in a shirt for awhile after). And Andrew Martin debuted and is being given the name "Test" which is a rib because it's short for testosterone and Dave says they're basically naming wrestlers after steroids now.

- Sable is going to be off TV for a couple of weeks because she's taking time off to train and get into as good of shape possible for her Playboy photo shoot. The magazine will be out in April. No word yet on whether or not she will be on the cover, but Dave says if they know what's good for them and they want to sell magazines, they'd better.

- So the tag team of Too Much (Brian Christopher and Scott Taylor) are basically being given a gay gimmick and they plan to do a wedding angle with them at the February PPV in Memphis. Dave wonders if Jerry Lawler will be giving away Brian. Anyway, word is both Christopher and Lawler are heavily against the angle, feeling it could be a career killer (got scrapped and they later changed their name to Too Cool and the rest was history. Meanwhile, Vince finally got to do his gay angle a few years later with Billy and Chuck).

- Still no word on Shawn Michaels returning to the ring. If he's given the okay by his doctors, he's expected to probably face Triple H at Wrestlemania but that's far from confirmed.

- Bart Gunn is considering trying his hand at pro boxing. Speaking of, there's been talk of having Gunn face Tank Abbott in a Brawl For All match.

- Time Magazine had another internet poll for Man of the Year and at one point Mick Foley was ranking at #2 in the poll (Dave randomly mentions that Linda Tripp was #7, if you're curious). Anyway, then WWF mentioned it on Raw. By the next day, Foley was in first place and was tens of thousands of votes ahead of everyone else. Dave mentions how Ric Flair was in a similar poll earlier this year and WCW never mentioned it and says it's almost like WWF tries to get all their wrestlers over and promotes them in the mainstream any way they can, while WCW drops the ball on that every single time. Dave says he was talking to an unnamed WCW wrestler about how Goldberg's heat seems to have disappeared lately and the wrestler responded, "What do you expect when you have bookers in charge whose primary goal is to take his spot?"

- Lots of letters this week from people who are blown away by how great Wrestling With Shadows is. Yup.
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Last one for 1998. Enjoy!


- In the biggest wrestling business deal made in the U.S. in several years, WCW has put together a deal with NBC to begin airing 2-hour prime time specials on NBC. It's similar to the old Saturday Night's Main Event specials that WWF used to do. Also, the dates of the first 2 shows have been announced and "coincidentally" enough, the first one will be airing head-to-head against WWF's St. Valentine's Day Massacre PPV in February and the next one will be airing head-to-head against Wrestlemania, which is a pretty obvious attempt to fuck over the WWF and if they're successful, it's possible that WCW will begin airing NBC specials monthly, going head-to-head against every WWF PPV. NBC is also expected to heavily cross-promote the wrestling shows along with their other shows. "Friends" star Matthew Perry is expected to appear on the first special. FOX was also interested in getting in the wrestling business and actually talked about starting up their own new promotion. But with pretty much every marketable wrestler in the U.S. locked into contracts with WWF and WCW, it would have been doomed to failure. They have had talks with WWF, but it hasn't led anywhere. From here, Dave recaps the history of wrestling on NBC, starting with the SNME shows in 1985 and how they eventually went away because the ratings started dropping during the early-90s when the business collapsed. He goes back even further, talking about the history of wrestling on network TV, with Gorgeous George in the 1940s/50s being the biggest mainstream star the wrestling biz had ever produced until Hogan came along. He also talks about how in the 80s, both WWF and WCW used to air cable TV specials to go head-to-head against the opposition's PPV shows and eventually the cable/PPV industry people stepped in and told both of them to cut it out because it was costing them money. Anyway, Hulk Hogan played a big part in this NBC deal since he is still the most recognizable name in wrestling and NBC agreeing to the deal was almost certainly due to the promise of Hogan being involved. The plan is to bring Hogan back to WCW on the Jan. 4th episode of Nitro and advertise it as if it's his final appearance (since he "retired" and all) but it will actually be the start of a new angle (spoiler: this doesn't happen because WCW somehow WCW's it).

- It's not wrestling, but Dave talks at length about Royce Gracie losing a fight against a guy named Wallid Ismail in an MMA fight in Brazil. It was extra embarrassing for Gracie since he had dictated what the rules would be before the fight and even handpicked his own opponent, but still got choked out in 5 minutes. It was Gracie's first fight since his draw with Ken Shamrock in 1995 and Dave thinks age simply caught up to him and the sport has passed him by. Gracie hasn't fought in several years but spent those years doing interviews constantly talking shit about all the other successful MMA fighters, criticizing their skill and basically being an ornery asshole. Dave recaps the fight and word is Ismail was even surprised by how easy it was for him to beat Gracie. When he was in the choke, the referee waited too long to step in and after the fight, Gracie was still unconscious for about a minute and it was said to be a scary situation.

- WCW filed a $3 million dollar lawsuit against WWF for "restraint of trade" last week, claiming the WWF went out of its way to try to stop the producers of Wrestling With Shadows from releasing the movie and, in doing so, prevented Turner and WCW from being able to purchase the rights for it. Dave actually briefly covered this story a few months ago, but now there's more info. Back in 1996, WWF signed a deal with the producers allowing them to follow Hart around backstage at WWF shows and that WWF would supply the producers with any footage they requested and had all WWF wrestlers who appeared in it sign releases allowing the producers to use the footage. In return, WWF would get $30,000 and a percentage of the movie's profits. After the Screwjob, of course, things changed. WWF demanded the producers hand over all footage they filmed backstage in Montreal. The producers refused, rightfully pointing out that they had a contract that allowed them to film and use any footage they wanted. So then WWF refused to cooperate and wouldn't sign the release forms and refused to give the producers the in-ring footage they requested. After several months of back and forth, the producers took the issue to court and finally, WWF offered them a deal: WWF would give them all the footage they needed and sign all the release forms and even give up their percentage of profits, on one condition: that they not sell the movie rights to Turner or even advertise it on any Turner network channels. The producers agreed, fearing that if it went to court, it would hold up the release of the movie for years. Thus, WCW and Turner, weren't allowed to try to buy the rights to the movie, which they absolutely were interested in and so they're suing WWF for blocking the deal.

- Legally, WCW still could have hyped the movie on their own. They wouldn't have gotten anything out of it, since it wasn't released by Turner, but it would have likely helped them make Bret Hart an even bigger star. But Bischoff felt that Vince McMahon in the movie was too similar to his "Mr. McMahon" character on TV and felt that advertising the movie might end up helping WWF, so they chose to just never mention it. Funny enough, now that the movie has aired on A&E, the next step is a videotape release and so far only 1 company has made a bid to purchase the video rights to it: WWF. Obviously, the belief is WWF wants to buy the video rights to the movie and then likely just bury it in a vault so it never sees the light of day again. From here, Dave talks about the movie airing on A&E and talks about how it's still getting rave reviews everywhere.

- Despite Ric Flair stealing the show on Nitro, Raw once again won the ratings battle against WCW. Dave says the WCW product is simply stale and WWF's new direction is just destroying them on a weekly basis now. Flair had a hell of a performance but it wasn't enough. Goldberg's star is fading fast right now because WCW basically dropped the ball on him after he won the title. Dave breaks down the demographics and it shows that teenage viewers are making all the difference. If you subtract them, WWF and WCW are still neck-and-neck. But when it comes to male teens, Raw is obliterating Nitro and that's making all the difference.

- Masa Chono has been out for several months with a neck injury but now NJPW has announced he'll be back in the ring in February. But Chono himself says his neck is still really messed up and he can't move that well and expressed doubt that he would be able to return by then. But NJPW is still advertising his return for that date (he indeed did return by then and kept up a full-time schedule afterwards, so I guess he was healed up enough after all).

- Ticket sales for NJPW's Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome show are selling much slower than usual. Usually the show sells out weeks in advance but not this time. Atsushi Onita appearing for NJPW has been the big selling point and it seems they overestimated just how much of a draw Onita is these days.

- In Jesse Ventura mainstream news, the latest count is that there are 3 books and 3 documentaries in the works about him. He's been interviewed everywhere lately, on all the national political shows. Ventura also threw a fit because he was made fun of in a Doonesbury comic strip a couple of weeks ago and was threatening to sue because he owns his name. This leads Dave on a whole bit about how "Jesse Ventura" isn't actually his real name (it's Jim Janos) and how he ran as governor under the Ventura name and how WWF started trademarking wrestler names and gimmicks several years ago and so on and so forth.

- Dave recaps this week's episode of Power Pro Wrestling, which was Christmas themed and featured several segments that took place at Jerry Lawler's actual house. Brian Christopher and Sean Stasiak end up showing up (Stasiak in a gift box) and then Lawler throws a fireball at Stasiak in his kitchen. Then back in the studio they had a local singer playing Christmas songs on a guitar and the heels ran out and attacked the faces and a huge brawl broke out, while the singer continued to just ignore the fighting and kept playing, which was said to be hilarious.

- Several new faces debuted at the latest ECW show, being given tryout matches. Steve Corino, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Antifaz del Norte, Robert Gibson, Rex King and Wolfie D and a new female valet who tried out a few months ago and apparently wowed everyone with her ability to take bumps (Dave doesn't know her name yet, but it's Jazz). Out of everyone in the group, Tajiri got over the best.

- Paul Heyman has had negotiations with Public Enemy about bringing them back in but they want a $1,500-each-per-week guaranteed deal for a year and Heyman only wants to use them for a few months. Heyman is also talking to WWF about bringing in Taka Michinoku since it's clear that Vince has no plans for him.

- A trial date in the New Jack vs. Eric Kulas case (the Mass Transit incident) has been set for April.

- The ECW and FMW relationship has pretty much fallen apart. After Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch no-showed an FMW show a few weeks ago that had been put together through ECW, the FMW people were pissed because they had spent a lot of money on non-refundable plane tickets for them. So even though ECW sent Sabu at the last minute to try to make up for it, FMW refused to reimburse ECW for his services and it turned into a big thing so that relationship is basically dead for now.

- Former wrestler Brady Boone was killed in a car accident last week. He wrestled in WWF as Battle Kat as well as his real name and also worked as a referee in WCW in recent years. Word is he fell asleep at the wheel after leaving a WCW taping.

- WCW Nitro was held at the TWA Dome in St. Louis and it should have done record numbers. But a snowstorm and 4-degree weather completely killed any last minute ticket buys, so the show didn't quite break the records it was expected to break. It broke the all-time non-WWF gate record in the U.S. but they were hoping to do $1mil at the gate but fell short. It also drew 29,000 paid which was also less than they hoped.

- Other notes from Nitro: Steve McMichael wasn't there yet again ("apparently in massive depression after seeing how good his ex-wife looked almost naked after only ten gazillion dollars worth of plastic surgery" Dave jokes). They did an angle where the Four Horsemen went into the locker room to beat up Scott Norton in a 4-on-1 attack, even using a lead pipe, but Norton refused to sell for them and was holding his own with all 4. "Save that crap for Japan where you're a star," Dave says and he also says Norton should have been fired for screwing up the angle that badly. They had Buff Bagwell come out dressed as baseball star Mark McGwire (remember they were in St. Louis) who just broke the home run record and Bagwell joked about how McGwire wouldn't have hit any of those home runs if not for steroids. It was great heel heat but considering McGwire gave WCW a bunch of publicity earlier this year by hanging out with Goldberg at a game, Dave thinks it's kind of low-class for WCW to pay him back like that, given how the steroid accusations around McGwire are a pretty touchy subject. And Flair ended up cutting one of the best promos of his career against Bischoff, complete with some curse words that the censors missed. Speaking of WCW not wanting to stoop to WWF-levels of adult content, Konnan cut a promo and for the 2nd or 3rd week in a row, he made a comment about tossing salads and Dave says sooner or later, someone in WCW is going to figure out what that means and won't be happy.

- Paramount movie officials were backstage at Nitro getting wrestlers to sign deals regarding plans for a potential wrestling movie they're working on (this eventually becomes Ready To Rumble).

- A lot of people were upset about the fake Ric Flair heart attack angle last week. Most people saw through it, but it was made worse because Bischoff and Flair and Anderson all tried to play it as real, even backstage, and a few people fell for it. Announcer Dave Penzer and referee Charles Robinson were said to be crying and security guy Doug Dillenger was especially upset since he's been friends with Flair for decades and when he found out it was fake, he was extremely pissed at WCW.

- The Giant's WCW contract expires on Feb. 9 and it's pretty much 99.9% guaranteed that he's heading to WWF immediately after.

- Remember the Mark Madden journalist lawsuit? Well, previously a judge ruled that Madden isn't a journalist and would have to reveal his sources. WCW appealed, but as of this week, the appeal was denied. Madden will be depositioned again soon by WWF lawyers and now he will be required to reveal his sources (this lawsuit has been going on so long that I don't even remember what it was about or what Madden was apparently hiding).

- Former WCW wrestler Bobby Walker had filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company but he recently dropped it after being unable to pay his lawyer's fees. Teddy Long was helping Walker with his case, but once it fell apart, WCW immediately fired Long (who was still on the payroll because they didn't want to be seen firing him in the middle of the lawsuit, but he wasn't being used). WWF has since hired Long and he's working as a referee and may become a manager at some point.

- USA Today ran an article on Scott Hall's ex-wife Dana talking about the drug use so prevalent in wrestling and with Scott Hall in particular. WCW gave a quote to the paper acknowledging his stay in rehab and saying, "Since Scott has returned, he's been professional and performed his job for WCW like he should. The man has a right to make a living. He's conducted himself well with us. We can't just ask him to leave. Believe me, if he came to one of our tapings and we felt like he was under the influence, then, yeah, we would have a problem." Dave's response: "HAHAHAHAHAHA. Sorry, my computer went berserk having to type that quote." Dave talks about the multiple arrests Hall has had since leaving rehab, along with wrecking 5 rental cars in the span of a few months, and says it's sad that the wrestling industry apparently learned nothing from the deaths of people like Brian Pillman and Louie Spicolli. Not to mention, Hall has shown up to countless WCW tapings in no state to wrestle. Anyway, Dana Hall said she's no longer going to speak out on the subject in the media because her goal was to try and wake Scott up to address his problems, but he doesn't care so she's not going to try anymore.

- Steve Austin still has a torn abdominal muscle and he's being kept out of the ring until the Rumble. The storyline is that he will enter the Rumble at #1 and he's likely going to be there at the end, so depending on how it's booked, he's going to need to be able to go for nearly an hour so they're trying to let him heal up.

- Jim Ross is slowly improving from his latest Bells Palsy attack but no timetable for his return yet.

- Shawn Michaels met with a back specialist in New York recently to get a prognosis on his back and if/when he can wrestle again. There's been talk of having him face Triple H at Wrestlemania but until he gets cleared, they aren't even teasing anything yet.

- WWF no longer wants to be referred to as "wrestling" and are promoting the company as an "ongoing action adventure series." The wrestlers are no longer called wrestlers and are instead only going to be referred to as "sports entertainers." Ugh.

- Dave talks about Bradshaw and Farooq's new tag team the Acolytes and talks about them having matching tattoos on their chests and says he thinks it's foolish to scar up their bodies for a gimmick that's doomed to go nowhere. Someone should tell Dave they weren't real tattoos...

- Sable did her Playboy shoot last week in Santa Monica. They spent all day doing photos and word is she's probably going to be on the cover and it should be out in March. She's expected to be totally nude in some of the photos and they will acknowledge her real name as Rena Mero and her marriage to Marc Mero.

- Time Magazine was still running an online vote for Man of the Year and last week on Raw, they acknowledged it and talked about how Mick Foley was winning the poll. As a result, this led to even more wrestling fans flooding it to vote for Foley, which eventually crashed the website. There was rumors that Time was going to eliminate Foley from the poll. A bunch of wrestling fans then gave the rest of us a bad name by leaving tons of homophobic gay-bashing messages and slurs against the guy in 2nd place: Matthew Shepard, the gay man who was tortured and murdered in a hate crime earlier this year. Dave suspects Time probably won't be running many polls like this in the future.

- Triple H, Chyna, Marc Mero, and Sable all signed 3-year contract renewals (Triple H would end up being the only one still there in 3 years).

- Because we're still not done talking about the Montreal Screwjob over a year later, someone writes in and asks Dave what "reasonable creative control" in Bret Hart's contract during the last 30 days actually meant and if Bret wasn't going along with plans, isn't that unreasonable? Dave responds and explains that when the contract was legally drawn up, it was explained that it essentially meant that all booking decisions during the final 30 days of Bret's contract had to be mutually agreed upon by both sides. Neither had the power to dictate to the other. Vince couldn't tell Bret what to do without Bret agreeing to it, but on the same hand, Bret couldn't decide he wanted to do something unless Vince agreed to it either. So, once again, for the thousandth time, Bret Hart was 100% legally and contractually within his rights to do the things he did and Vince is the one who unilaterally decided to violate that agreement.

- Someone else writes in and complains about all the coverage Phil Mushnick gets when he covers wrestling. Dave responds and says the problem wrestling fans (and those in the biz) have with Mushnick is that he actually understands the industry too well. While most mainstream journalists still treat wrestling as a laughingstock, Mushnick covers it as the toxic business that it usually is. "That's why people who have a problem with him usually don't debate the merits of his points but try to ignore the points themselves and criticize him personally. He's clearly done the industry more good in the big picture than any mainstream journalist. Those who disagree, please answer this question. Granted its all fallen by the wayside, but would there have ever been steroid testing in the first place in this industry without Mushnick? And how many kids are being molested this week around wrestling as compared with years ago? Compare the number of drug deaths among active pro wrestlers over the last decade with that of active NBA or Major League baseball or football players to debate the merits of his bringing that subject up." In short, while most everything Mushnick says about the business is negative, the reason it upsets people so much is because more often than not, he's correct in what he says and people don't like to hear the truth when it comes to something they love (still true today, just glance at Dave's Twitter feed).
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I didn't know where else to really leave this comment...but I do enjoy what Meltzer does - however, I never realized how fucking terrible he is at speaking.

It's honestly frustrating to hear him attempt to form complete thoughts.
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I think his problem is he has so many thoughts he can’t speak them all at once.
[+] 1 user Likes DangPlex's post
He's better than he was. Go listen to some of the eyada shows and then some of the modern WORs
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Yeah public speaking ain't for everybody. Lots of ums and uhs.
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When you spend 88.9% of your life lying you have to really think before you speak, as to not accidentally expose those lies.
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[+] 2 users Like Fro's post
He's a Scat Man.
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