Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 1999
I actually liked the red logo

[Image: c5BuFSa.png]
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

That was the WWE WCW logo.
[Image: Chaos.png]


- ESPN's "Outside The Lines" is planning to air an episode about wrestling soon that will delve into the drug issues and deaths in professional wrestling. Many people in the industry were interviewed for it, along with people like Melanie Pillman (Brian's former wife), Missy Hyatt (Eddie Gilbert's ex-wife), and Louie Spicolli's sister. WWF has already issued a preemptive strike, with Jim Ross talking about it negatively on the WWF website and Vince McMahon in an interview comparing it to a Phil Mushnick column. Dave decides to look at the topic himself. He lists all of the major wrestling names who have died in the last 6 years and there's a lot. Dino Bravo, Art Barr, Eddie Gilbert, Big John Studd, Dick Murdoch, Louie Spicolli, Brian Pillman, Junkyard Dog, Renegade, Giant Baba, and more. Obviously, not all of those were drug related. Bravo was murdered, Baba had cancer, JYD was a car accident, etc. But the point remains, wrestlers tend to die at a pretty early age. And given how few of them there are when compared to other sports, Dave starts breaking it down to percentages, given the estimated average number of active wrestlers in the U.S. and comparing it to, say, the average number of active NFL players or active NBA players. And if you look at it that way, these deaths in the last six years are the equivalent of 8 Major League Baseball players dying every season. Or 14 NFL players dying every season. Can you imagine 14 NFL players dropping dead every single year and nobody doing anything about it? Dave wonders.

- So then the question is....is this because of the grind of the industry, the typical wrestler lifestyle, or just bad luck? And it seems to be a combination of all of the above. While a car accident might seem like bad luck, the truth is, wrestlers spend more time on the road driving from city to city than just about any other athlete. The lifestyle obviously plays a part, given how many wrestlers have drug problems, and how much a lot of that stems from the way the business is (painkillers are often a must for some of these guys). If they hadn't been in the wrestling business, would most of the Von Erich brothers still be alive today? Dave thinks the answer is probably yes. If not for their histories with drugs, would Art Barr, Brian Pillman, Louie Spicolli, and Eddie Gilbert all probably still be alive? Probably. Brian Pillman in particular had no business being a full-time wrestler anymore near the end, given how bad his health was and how much pain he was in and if WWF had been strictly enforcing drug testing back then, he would have been taken off the road. Instead, he failed a drug test shortly before he died and was basically not punished at all for it. Then there's steroids, which wreak havoc on the human heart, and a lot of these deaths are from heart attacks. Big John Studd's doctors openly blamed his liver cancer on his decades of steroid use. Bottom line, there's a lot of room for debate and a lot places to point the blame, but the undeniable fact is that pro wrestlers seem to have a much shorter life expectancy than athletes in nearly every other field and the other undeniable fact is that no one is doing anything about it.

- This week's Monday night ratings are in again and Dave says if this was football, it would be considered piling on. Raw had its 2nd highest rated show ever this week and beat out Nitro by nearly 3 full ratings points. It's just outright destruction right now, with WWF wiping the floor with WCW every week and the gap between the shows is getting wider every time. Even breaking it down by quarter-hour segments, it was never even close. Just to put it in plain numbers: 3.8 million people watched Nitro. 7.3 million watched Raw. Dave says the answer is pretty simple if you watch the 2 shows. One of them is awesome, the other one sucks. It's as simple as that. And while there's a lot of blame and finger-pointing going on in WCW right now about who's fault it is, Dave says the bottom line is the blame falls on 3 people: Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, and Kevin Nash. Everything happening in WCW these days stems from decisions made by those 3 men and that's who has to be held responsible for the current self-destruction of WCW.

- ECW's Living Dangerously PPV is in the books and was a good show overall. The crowd sorta tuned out during the longer matches and Dave thinks it puts ECW in an interesting dilemma. These days, fans are generally bored by longer matches and are there for the big angles and storylines. ECW's strength for the last several years has been presenting an alternative product to what the mainstream companies were offering. But now, WWF has basically taken ECW's entire formula and are using more talented and charismatic wrestlers and higher production values to do it. And now it makes ECW look more like a low-rent copy of WWF rather than the company who basically innovated the style that WWF is now copying. So Paul Heyman is trying to create a new formula and emphasize the in-ring wrestling more and put more of an emphasis on titles and credibility, almost like many of the Japanese promotions do. But the problem there is...Heyman doesn't really have enough talented or charismatic wrestlers to pull off that sort of product. So Heyman is at a crossroads: he can't afford to compete with WWF while presenting the same kind of edgy product they do. And he doesn't really have the right performers to do anything else.

- Other notes from the PPV: Taz opened the show cutting a promo trashing Ric Flair and praising Steve Austin while still saying he would make both of them tap out. Super Crazy vs. Tajiri was a good opener but somewhat disappointing because as good as it was, almost every match they've had on house shows and that have aired on TV have been better and they botched the finish. RVD vs. Jerry Lynn was a really good match that sorta fell apart at the end. Porn star Jasmine St. Clair debuted and couldn't cut a promo to save her life, and then took the worst stunner ever from Francine ("who looked like she hadn't slept since the Carter administration"). New Jack did a dive off the balcony that Dave says was the craziest spot of 1999 so far, but the match itself sucked. Sabu vs. Taz was really good and easily Sabu's best PPV performance ever.

- Dave offers a correction on last week issue where he tallied up all of Ric Flair's title reigns, listing one that was apparently a non-title match or some other such shit. Either way, Dave's revised estimate is that Flair is a 17-time world champion now instead of 18 times. Although, once again, you can argue anywhere between 14 and 21 reigns and you'd still be right so it really doesn't matter.

- Vince McMahon appeared on a Fox News interview segment that basically went off the rails. As soon as the interview started, McMahon's first words were "The reason I'm here is to confront Phil Mushnick, who I was promised would be on this show. Phil Mushnick is not on this show. Phil Mushnick is a coward and a liar." The whole thing went poorly and there was plenty of drama behind the scenes, although who's at fault depends on who you believe. This gets confusing so bear with me. According to WWF's version of the story, they claim Fox asked McMahon to do the show and McMahon agreed because they promised Mushnick would be there live. McMahon and Mushnick have never met in person, although they have spoken on the phone several times and McMahon even sued him several years ago (which was later dropped). Anyway, WWF claims McMahon wanted to confront Mushnick. The Fox News people disagree, saying McMahon agreed to do the show 3 weeks ago, long before they ever considered having Mushnick on. They did invite Mushnick on, and at one point, he agreed but a couple of weeks before, he cancelled because it would be airing on the same day as the NCAA Final Four games and, as a sports reporter, Mushnick needed to be covering those games that day, rather than arguing with Vince McMahon in a studio. But he did agree to call in to the show. So the Fox News people say they informed WWF more than a week in advance that Mushnick wouldn't be there live, but would be calling in. WWF denies they were ever told this.

- Then, 2 days before the show, Fox contacted Dave and asked him to call into the show also (and Dave says the Fox people made it clear to him that Mushnick wouldn't be there in person). They also wanted to have a child behavioral psychologist on the show (so they could have the "is wrestling appropriate for kids" debate). Anyway, when WWF found out about all this, they basically panicked and said that McMahon didn't have time to prepare for debates with Dave Meltzer or child psychologists and didn't want them on the show. Anyway, the day of the show, McMahon showed up but then threatened to walk when he found out Mushnick wouldn't be there live. When Fox said he would be on the phone, Vince refused and said he would leave if Mushnick called in. So Fox producers decided to let Vince have the segment to himself since they had been promoting it all week and didn't want him to walk out. But those at Fox are basically portraying Vince as afraid of debating Mushnick over the phone and said he pulled the power play in order to keep Mushnick off the air. Mushnick himself was held on the phone and heard everything McMahon said during the interview but was never put on the air so he could respond and was furious with Fox about it. So anyway, it just turned into a regular Vince McMahon interview. No Mushnick. No Meltzer. No child psychologists. Fox News people said in retrospect, they wished they would have put Mushnick on the air after the interview started. If Vince decided to walk out on live TV rather than debate Mushnick, it would have looked bad for him, not them, so who cares. Anyway, long story short: Vince McMahon called Phil Mushnick a coward for not appearing on the show live, but when he had the opportunity to debate him over the phone on TV, Vince backed down, so really, who's the coward? The producers at Fox are said to be embarrassed over the whole thing and apologized to Mushnick and felt bad for basically letting Vince McMahon bully them on their own show (here's a clip of it, can't find the whole thing).

- Shawn Michaels and Jose Lothario's new promotion Texas Wrestling Alliance ran their debut show with about 400 fans in attendance. Michaels did a run-in at the end of one of the matches, but didn't take any bumps.

- Kurt Angle debuted in Memphis for Power Pro Wrestling on this week's show.

- Dale Gagner, the guy who is trying to use the AWA name and even started using "Gagne" as his last name, ran a show this week. They even aired ads for the show on TV and announced it as a "WWF & AWA Superstars Present Shotgun Saturday Night." The TV ads showed clips of guys like Ric Flair, Larry Zbyszko, Sgt. Slaughter, and Eric Bischoff. The print ads (flyers, newspapers, etc.) listed The Oddities, The Brood, and the Hart Foundation as being there. When they had the show, of course, none of those people were there. But they brought out several random nobodies and announced them as current or former WWF superstars. Goddamn, that's the carniest shit I've ever heard.

- Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch have consented to being drug tested by ECW before they can return, which was one of the conditions Heyman insisted on before ever allowing them to come back. It will be the first drug tests ever given in ECW history.

- The WCW Uncensored PPV buyrate has come in and it's not good. It did a 0.73 which is a significant drop from the previous month's PPV.

- Scott Hall may be retiring. He's trying to reconcile with his wife and save their marriage and she's pretty much made it clear that they can only be together if he retires, because she believes being away from the business is the only way he can stay sober.

- Scott Steiner was sentenced to 10 days in jail for an incident last year where he hit a guy with his car. He really just sorta nudged him a couple of times to get him out of the way because he was a Dept. of Transportation worker who was trying to stop Steiner from driving down a closed exit ramp, but Steiner apparently REALLY wanted to use that exit ramp. He also was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and was given 200 hours of community service and 7 years probation. Since he's a first time offender, the conviction will be taken off his record as long as he stays out of trouble during his probation.

- Nitro Girl Whisper has given notice to WCW that she's leaving. Nobody was surprised because word is she's now engaged to Shawn Michaels (who had just recently broken off a previous engagement to someone else). Dave wouldn't be surprised to see her show up in WWF.

- Thunder sucked. In fact, for the 2nd week in a row, Thunder did disappointing ticket sales, only putting 5,600 people into an arena that holds more than 25,000. In fact, factoring in the cost of renting the building, advertising, TV expenses, production costs, transportation, paying wrestlers, etc., Dave thinks this may have been the first TV taping in a long time that might not have even been profitable. He says WCW is starting to remind him of the last years of AWA.

- Both Eric Bischoff and Kevin Nash left the arena before Nitro even ended this week, which is always what you want to see from your boss and head booker. This company has basically given up. And yet we're still 2 years away from its actual death.

- It's a virtual certainty that Austin will be winning the title from Rock at Wrestlemania (yup). Also, at some point, expect the Undertaker/Vince McMahon angle to end with the reveal that Linda McMahon has been working with Undertaker the whole time against Vince and Shane (nope).

- Paul Wight was found innocent on assault charges stemming from an incident last year where he punched a guy at a hotel. The judge saw the security footage from the hotel and ruled that the guy (who had tried to start a fight with Kevin Nash earlier in the night) was provoking things, so Wight was acting in self-defense.

- They did a great angle on Raw where Steve Austin drove a beer truck to the ring and sprayed down Vince, Shane, and the rest of the corporation (yeah, I'd say this one is just a little bit famous).


- WWF is planning a new show that will air on the UPN network. The plan is for it to be a women's wrestling show, modeled after the old GLOW show from the 1980s with pretty girls, bad wrestling, and cheesy skits. Jim Ross and Bruce Prichard were in L.A. this week and there was a casting call full of actresses, bodybuilders, stunt women, martial arts women, etc. (this wound up not going anywhere, but WWF ends up with a little show called Smackdown on UPN very soon anyway).
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]


- Wrestlemania 15 is in the books and it was a decent show. More importantly, it will likely become the biggest revenue grossing event in wrestling history when all the numbers come in. The show was sold out months ago and did nearly $1.5 million at the gate (the largest in North America since WM6 in Toronto). The PPV numbers aren't in yet but it was estimated that the show may break 1 million buys, which no PPV event aside from major boxing matches has ever done. Dave talks about how fans have been conditioned nowadays to be more into angles and storylines and they tend to get bored by actual wrestling matches, and so aside from Rock vs. Austin, the crowd wasn't as into the show as you'd expect and were clearly bored by the length of some of the early matches. But that's basically the nature of the business now.

- Other notes from the PPV: on the pre-show, there was a battle royal (basically a get-everyone-on-the-card match) and Owen Hart did commentary and was hilarious. Michael Cole accidentally spoiled the main event early in the show when he announced that after the PPV, "new champ" Steve Austin would appear on the Home Shopping Network. Of course, pretty much everyone going in already assumed Austin was winning so no biggie. Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man was terrible, including a really dumb bit after the match where Undertaker literally hung Bossman from the Hell in a Cell cage with a noose. Boxer Butterbean likely killed any future Brawl For All plans when he obliterated Bart Gunn in a shoot in mere seconds. It was clear from the beginning that Gunn was in dangerously over his head as soon as the fight started and the knock out looked really dangerous. Before the match, they introduced Gorilla Monsoon as one of the judges, in his first appearance since all his health problems awhile back. He's lost a lot of weight but he got one of the biggest pops of the show and looked moved by the reaction. Shane McMahon faced X-Pac in a European title match and Shane was surprisingly very good for someone with so little experience, though he benefited from being in the ring with one of the best workers in the company and they had practiced the match together extensively. But bottom line is, Shane McMahon brought his A-game to this show and knocked it out of the park, so kudos to him. Kane tombstoned Pete Rose again. Sable vs. Tori was the worst match of the year according to Dave. He says they blew everything and people at ringside said they could hear Sable loudly complaining that Tori was being too stiff and hurting her. Jim Ross returned as announcer for the main event, dropping the heel act and just being himself and Austin beat Rock to win the WWF title. The next night on Raw, J.R. said he called the main event because Austin insisted on it (Dave thinks that's probably a true story) and he was back to being his heel character the next night on Raw.

- ESPN's "Outside the Lines" episode about wrestling finally aired and delved deep into the issues with drugs in wrestling, children imitating what they see, wrestler deaths, and more. In one of the more shocking moments, the documentary revealed that during the last 18 months of his life, Brian Pillman was taking a shot of HGH every day, along with a steroid called decadurabolin and heavily abused painkillers because of the pain in his ankle. He was also using cocaine at the time of his death. The documentary produced receipts showing Pillman's purchases and his former wife Melanie said that Pillman got the drugs from a doctor that Hulk Hogan recommended to him back in WCW. A second, unnamed source also revealed that Hogan had steered several wrestlers to this same doctor. Hogan's people denied that he even knows this doctor. The doctor is currently being investigated by the FDA, which is pretty much how the Dr. Zahorian scandal started back nearly a decade ago. Louie Spicolli's sister talked about how her brother used to buy drugs in bulk over the counter in Mexico and smuggle them back over the border. Rob Van Dam was interviewed and admitted to flushing his own supply of somas after Spicolli died. It talked about how neither WCW or WWF runs shows in Oregon (even though Portland is one of their largest TV markets) because the state athletic commission requires drug testing. It talked about how WCW cancelled a show in Portland at the Rose Garden after being informed of the drug testing procedures, and when asked, Bischoff looked bad, stumbling over not being able to give an explanation of why they pulled out of that show. As usual, Vince McMahon came off arrogant and sleazy in his segments, and at times callous and uncaring, which is going to bite him in the ass the next time a WWF wrestler drops dead from drugs. And Bischoff didn't look much better. Most of the wrestlers interviewed, many of whom either denied or downplayed the drug problems in the business, also came across bad. Basically, Dave says it looks like the wrestling industry has pretty much learned nothing from all the scandals earlier this decade and now they're a much bigger target these days and Dave thinks it's only a matter of time before it happens again (yup).

- The post-WM episode of Raw set an all-time record this week, doing a 6.51 rating. Not only was there competition from Nitro, but they were also going against the UCONN/Duke NCAA title game which did huge numbers on its own. Without the NCAA competition, Raw likely would have broken the 7.0 mark and it's probably only a matter of time before they do anyway. As for Nitro, it did a 3.51 so....once again got spanked by Raw, although it was actually a decent show this week. But they're paying dearly for months of bad shows so now, even when it's good, nobody's watching. In a few weeks it's going to get even worse because Nitro is going to be bounced around because of the NBA playoffs so it's not going to get any better any time soon. Also worth noting that this week's Thunder episode did its lowest rating ever.

- Everyone involved in the McMahon/Fox News/Phil Mushnick drama from last week seems to have finally gotten their stories straight, so here's more detail on that: McMahon went on the show believing he would debate Phil Mushnick who would be there live. Fox claims Mushnick was never going to be there live and apparently it was a big misunderstanding that Vince believed he would be. Fox wanted to bring Dave Meltzer, Lou Albano, and a child psychologist onto the show as well, but the WWF people nixed all of them, saying that Vince had only prepared to debate Mushnick. As for Albano, they said he would turn the segment into a joke (probably true) and they accused the child psychologist of being a friend of Mushnick's and felt it would be a trap. No reason given on specifically why they nixed Dave appearing on the show but, ya know. Anyway, when Vince got there and found out Mushnick wouldn't be there live and only on the phone, he threatened to leave. WWF claims that McMahon then said they could put Mushnick on the air over the phone, saying "Bring him on, but it'll get ugly." At that point, the producers allegedly backed down and decided not to put Mushnick on at all. The Fox producers deny that, saying flat out that Vince said if they put Mushnick on the air at all, he would walk. Dave wonders why McMahon was perfectly willing to face Mushnick live, but didn't want to debate him over the phone, and only assumes McMahon probably felt he could intimidate him in a face-to-face debate because that's kinda his thing.

- Mil Mascaras did an interview saying he will be retiring soon and plans to enter politics. Dave tells Mexico to prepare for their first masked governor, since Mascaras will never take his mask off (he never did go into politics but he still wrestles occasionally to this day, at 75 years old).

- Kenta Kobashi tore a muscle in his foot, but continued trying to wrestle with the injury. Two days later, he somehow made it worse (possibly broken) and had to go to the hospital. But he is continuing to work the latest AJPW Champion Carnival tournament, since he's a major part of the booking plans, although he's practically immobile and his entire move-set is basically chopping and punching, since he can't walk.

- NJPW has another Tokyo Dome show coming up next week and they're being quiet about ticket sales, which tells you all you need to know. Word is they're way behind what they normally have been for past Dome shows.

- In Power Pro Wrestling, they're doing an angle with Kurt Angle where he wins all his matches in 30 seconds or less, which is similar to how Dusty Rhodes first got Magnum T.A. over when he debuted and, for that matter, is also how Goldberg got over.

- Sabu missed a few ECW shows this weekend, due to the same usual disputes he often has with Paul Heyman. In fact, Heyman was telling people that Sabu quits all the time and always comes back. Sure enough, by the beginning of the week, Sabu was back.

- Scott Hall and his ex-wife Dana got re-married this weekend. Apparently they came to an agreement that Hall will take some time off from wrestling, but will eventually return but will work a much lighter schedule. Those close to Hall say he's been miserable for the last year because he wasn't able to see his kids and say that's what led to all his issues, so hopefully being reunited with his wife and having his kids back will help him get back on the right track.

- On Nitro, they did an angle with Bret Hart quitting WCW. Behind the scenes, there's a lot more to it. For starters, it's just an angle. Bret's locked into a contract for several more years and isn't going anywhere. But word is Kevin Nash wasn't happy about it, since it was an angle that Hart and Bischoff cooked up together. Nash said he was promised that when he became booker, Bischoff wouldn't interfere. Nash, as mentioned, basically doesn't want to push Hart at all so he wasn't thrilled that Bischoff was booking angles without his input. Anyway, after Hart "quit", he and Bischoff got into a big fake argument backstage because Bischoff wanted to work the locker room to make everyone think it was real, but Bischoff has done that so many times now that no one buys it. Regardless, the angle got over huge with the live crowd and on TV and Bret came out of it looking like one of the top stars in the company, but now WCW has to capitalize on that momentum and, well.........it's WCW. So don't hold your breath.

- Kevin Sullivan passed out before Nitro and was unconscious on the floor backstage "and lost control of his bodily functions." EMTs were called in and word is Sullivan stopped breathing multiple times before being revived. It was thought he maybe had a seizure or heart attack but those were later ruled out, so who knows.

- WCW's next PPV is less than 2 weeks away and nobody has a clue where it's headed. Nothing has been announced and backstage, they don't even have plans for what the main event will be yet, much less any undercard matches.

- Dave says Scott Norton has a real ego problem. He never wants to sell for anybody and goes out of his way to make his opponent look bad if he's booked to lose. Dave talks about how he was getting beat up by the Horsemen a few weeks back and refused to stay on the ground even when all 4 of them were beating him. On Nitro this week, he kicked out of the pin on 3 even though it was the finish. Shit like that. Dave thinks WCW should put him on a plane back to Japan where he's a bigger deal and throw away the ticket home.

- Eddie Guerrero should be back in about 3 months, after the injuries he suffered a few months back in a car accident.

- Chastity, the former ECW valet who is now playing Raven's sister in WCW, apparently once appeared in a porn movie called Live Bait prior to getting into wrestling (yeah, this one's out there in google-land if you care to look for it).

- Eric Bischoff has denied rumors that he is quitting and says he still has 3 years on his WCW contract.

- There was a dark match on Raw between 2 of the women that WWF found through their casting search for their new women's wrestling show. Malia Hosaka defeated Brandi Alexander in the match (neither woman went on to much after this but they both dabbled in WCW and the indies. Hosaka was originally planned to debut later on as Essa Rios' valet but instead they signed Lita for the role).

- Speaking of, WWF has reportedly lost interest in the Superastros Lucha Libre show they were doing and instead are all excited about the new women's show. In fact, the contracts that the women were offered are said to be significantly higher than what the Mexican wrestlers were being paid.

- WWF suggested an incest angle for Ken Shamrock, where he'd be caught in bed with his "sister" Ryan Shamrock. The idea didn't get very far, as apparently Ken nixed the whole thing. He has a son and didn't want his kid going to school and having other kids make fun of him, saying his dad sleeps with his sister and stuff like that.

- Steve Austin was on Conan O'Brien's show and was asked about the Ringmaster gimmick. He said he had been fired by another company (WCW) and had been unemployed for a year (which ECW was surely thrilled to hear) and said he needed the WWF job at the time, so he took the Ringmaster gimmick even though he knew it sucked.

- The Headbangers are being split up. One of them is going to be given a gimmick called Beaver Cleavage and have a sexy "mom" come to the ring with him. The other Headbanger may be doing a clown gimmick, with Bruce Prichard as his manager. They're also bringing in Shawn Stasiak with the gimmick that he will be a sex slave for the PMS group of Jacqueline and Terri (and later Ryan Shamrock).

- In a really weird aside, Dave just casually mentions that Debra McMichael and Steve Austin's soon-to-be ex-wife Jeannie Clark look almost exactly alike. And that's all he says. I wonder if Dave is implying something here. Austin's divorce from Clark would be finalized a month after this and then a year later, he marries Debra. Were they already dating at this point and Dave was just subtly hinting at it? Or was it just a really coincidental thing that he decided to mention for seemingly no reason at all?

- The New York Times reported that WWF is expected to sign a lease for a WWF Restaurant in Times Square soon. WWF has tried this several times in the past and always got turned away because the landlords viewed wrestling as lowbrow. But the success of WWF at this point is just too big to dismiss so it's finally happening. WWF will have to pay Planet Hollywood $8 million up front, plus $2 million per year for the location. It will also cost another $4 million to renovate the location to turn it into a WWF-themed restaurant.
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

I always wanted to go to WWF New York Frown Too bad they closed it down.
I went there a few times, cool ass shop upstairs and random thing I remember about it is they had things like replicas of Andre the Giant and big shows hands.. best times were during Sunday night heats and during the alliance survivor series ppv .. the pop when team wwf won was loud as fuck
[Image: 4mWpL7U.png]

- Davey Boy Smith was hospitalized in Calgary with some sort of spinal infection and is in really bad shape. He's been in crippling pain for weeks with back pain as well as abdominal pains and had dropped around 40 pounds. Tests determined it wasn't cancer and doctors were stumped. Finally, he went to a doctor again last week when his daughter noticed a large lump on his back. Doctors determined it was a bone infection spreading through his body. He was given aggressive antibiotics but that didn't work so now he's hospitalized. Doctors think it's a staph infection on his spine and shouldn't be life threatening, but he'll be hospitalized for a long time and it's unknown if he'll ever be able to wrestle again. Smith described the pain as having a knife in his back 24 hours a day and the pain has gotten worse since he was in the hospital and he could be there for months. He's still under contract to WCW but hasn't been used in several months after injuring his back on the trap door built under the ring that was used for Ultimate Warrior's entrances back in the fall, which is likely where all this stems from.

- A Japanese women's wrestler named Emiko Kado was also seriously injured in a match after taking a bump wrong over a week ago and has been in a coma ever since. Dave has very few details on this one, other than she was a rookie and had only worked a handful of matches. Dave says a lot of people have compared this to the 1997 death of Plum Mariko in a match in Japan (yup, Kado eventually dies from her injuries. Later found to be a "sprained acute membrane in her brain").

- Wrestlemania 15 numbers are coming in and early estimates are that it did around 830,000 PPV buys, which will make it the biggest money PPV in wrestling history. WWF will bring in more than $12 million just from the buys alone. The New York Daily News reported that WWF had tried to get both Howard Stern and Monica Lewinsky to appear, but they both turned down 7-figure offers. Lewinsky apparently turned it down immediately, while Stern negotiated for several weeks before deciding against it. He talks about how WWF has proclaimed it to be the best WM ever but Dave naturally disagrees and says WM 10 still holds that honor. But he does give his personal picks for the top 10 WM matches ever and he puts Austin/Rock from WM15 at the #10 spot. Just in case you're wondering the rest:

1. Michaels vs. Razor Ramon ladder match (WM X)
2. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (WM XIII)
3. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (WM X)
4. Ricky Steamboat vs. Savage (WM III)
5. Warrior vs. Savage (WM VII)
6. Hart vs. Michaels (WM XII)
7. British Bulldogs vs. Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake (WM II)
8. Ric Flair vs. Savage (WM VIII)
9. Hogan vs. Warrior (WM VI)
10. Rock vs. Austin (WM XV)

- AJPW is expected to officially announce their 2nd ever Tokyo Dome show for next month. Dave breaks down the matches and says that the show will also have an official ceremony honoring Giant Baba, which will also feature legends such The Destroyer, Gene Kiniski, and Bruno Sammartino appearing, all of whom are well-respected legends in Japan and will likely never appear in a ring there again, so it'll be a big deal. AJPW also wanted to bring in the Road Warriors, Steve Williams, and Steve Austin for the show but Dave doubts it'll happen. WWF has big house shows booked that weekend and Austin especially would cost AJPW a fortune to get. And since the show will likely sell out the Dome regardless, Dave doesn't see the point in spending a ton of money to bring him in. No word on Road Warriors or Williams (they do get them, but not Austin).

- Wrestling, especially the WWF, is dominating the home video market in the "Sports" listing according to Billboard. Of the top 20 selling sports videos this week, 19 out of 20 of them are wrestling related (mostly WWF). The only thing keeping it from being a full 20-for-20 is the tape of Super Bowl 33 which charted at #9 this week.

- The subject of backyard wrestling seems to be the new hot topic everyone is concerned about now. There have been several news stories about it recently and ABC's 20/20 is doing a piece on it this week, featuring interviews with Vince McMahon and Mick Foley, who Dave calls "the crown prince and ultimate hero and god to every teenager who wants to bash a light bulb into their head and fall on thumbtacks." Dave isn't sure that this is worthy of being a big story. Obviously the idea of teenagers doing dangerous moves, blading, falling in barbed wire, etc. is bad. But it's not like there has been a huge epidemic of hospitals reporting wrestling injuries. Dave isn't sure that this whole backyard wrestling phenomenon is common enough to warrant all these breathlessly panicked news stories. Dave talks about how he used to play tackle football in the street with no pads when he was a kid and basically sums it up as, hey, kids do stupid shit and sometimes they get hurt. But unless we start seeing evidence of backyard wrestling causing more injuries than football or skateboarding, Dave doesn't think this is really a story.

- Raw won the ratings battle again this week but the gap wasn't as wide as usual, and WCW was even a little competitive for 2 segments. But overall, it didn't make a difference. One of the biggest mistakes WCW has made lately is not taking advantage of their first hour. Nitro is a 3 hour show and that first hour has no competition from Raw. If they were smart, they would use that hour to build the hell out of the rest of the show and do everything they can to keep viewers. Instead, week after week, they just throw out curtain jerking jobbers out there to have boring matches and do nothing to take advantage of the hour lead time they have. So now, even without competition, Nitro's first hour ratings are starting to plummet because the show just sucks. They've managed to kill the one hour of Nitro that should be the most successful.

- Brian Pillman's former wife Melanie has apparently been studying the effects of Human Growth Hormone and is convinced that is what killed him, which is why she talked about it on the ESPN show last week. Pillman reportedly was using so much HGH for more than a year but quit cold turkey shortly before his death, largely because he couldn't afford it (Pillman and his wife were having financial troubles and HGH is prohibitively expensive). She believes his quitting led to an enlarging of the heart, which killed him. Dave goes into the science behind some of this stuff but basically says we'll probably never know for sure what the exact cause was, and it likely was a combination of many things.

- The newly revived Stampede Wrestling, led by Bruce and Ross Hart, ran their first major show this week. Most of the wrestlers weren't anyone of name value. Stu Hart was there, moving around very slowly, but got a huge reaction from the crowd of about 1,800 fans.

- Mr. Fuji filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against Nintendo and THQ over the WCW vs. NWO video game. There's a character in the game named Master Fuji that he feels is based on him. Mr. Fuji was at times called Master Fuji when he was in the WWF.

- Jake Roberts was arrested in Athens, GA for being $21,000 behind on child support payments.

- In news that was destined to happen, Sid Vicious no-showed ECW's Cyberslam PPV and now appears to be done with the company. He missed his first flight, so they booked him a 2nd flight. He called and got that 2nd flight upgraded to first class....and then missed that flight also. Paul Heyman says he talked to Sid the next day and Sid evidently told him that he no-showed in order to get Heyman's attention because he wants creative control. In response, Heyman told him to go get fucked and said that Sid won't be brought back to ECW unless he posts an appearance bond, which he would forfeit in the event he no-shows. So Sid's done in ECW (nah, he comes back a couple more times).

- In-ring wise, ECW is now poised to put on the best PPV shows in the U.S. Dave mentions that WWF doesn't have the depth as far as talented in-ring guys goes. WCW has plenty of in-ring talent, but none of them are ever pushed. Meanwhile, ECW has quietly been rebuilding their undercard with guys like Jerry Lynn, Super Crazy, Taka Michinoku, and others. The base of ECW is now built on strong in-ring performers and unlike WCW, Heyman is at least making a clear attempt to push these guys to help them get over.

- New Jack's trial in the Mass Transit incident has been postponed until May.

- ECW has a lot of potential deals in the works to try to bring in money. There's been discussions with TNN about ECW getting the Friday night time slot that RollerJam currently has. The first season of RollerJam just ended and was a ratings flop and it's unknown if the show will even get a 2nd season. They're also still working on a video game deal, negotiating with 2 companies: Take Two Interactive and Acclaim (they end up going with Acclaim and, in fact, Acclaim ends up buying a 10% ownership stake in ECW, but we'll get there). Heyman has also had meetings with WWF about some licensing ventures. All of this is basically an attempt to bring in much-needed cash for ECW. They recently got that big loan and that has smoothed things over for now, but it's not a permanent fix.

- Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch made their return to ECW at the most recent Arena show. Candido had noticeably lost weight but looked good. Sytch looked better than she did a few months ago, but still looked like she's been through hell. For now, they're not really being written into any storylines, but if they can stay clean, Heyman plans to ease them back into the mix.

- WCW will be getting a visual overhaul this week. New logo, new set design for Nitro and Thunder, and other little visual changes. Given the state of WCW right now, Dave says that's like putting a fresh coat of paint on a house that was just hit by a tornado. Speaking of, apparently the new stage set isn't the safest and all the wrestlers backstage were making bets on who would be the first to trip over it while making their entrance.

- Scott Hall is scheduled to be out for the next couple of months and when he comes back, he will be working a 5-nights-per-month schedule (Nitros and PPVs only). Obviously, a lot of people in the locker room aren't going to be happy, since Hall is making a guaranteed 7-figures per year, while guys who go on the road, work all the house shows, all the Nitros, Thunders, and PPVs aren't even making a fraction of that. It's basically the same deal that Hulk Hogan has. And while Hall is undoubtedly a big star, he's not Hogan. But Dave says once they opened the door a crack and gave Sting a similar deal to Hogan, it led to the inevitability of other top stars angling for the same deal. Basically, WCW is going to end up where all the top stars only work TV and PPV and it's going to kill house show business. But then again, Dave says that Hall has been such a disaster in the last year or so that this is probably the only way they'd be able to use him effectively anyway.

- Bret Hart had surgery to repair a groin tear and will be out for about 6-8 weeks. After they did the angle on Nitro with him quitting, they didn't mention Bret at all on TV this week (since doing so would give away that it's an angle and, for whatever reason, Bischoff is still intent on trying to work everybody with these "shoot" storylines). Of course, if they never mention Bret's name during the next 2 months, everyone is just going to forget about it. "But WCW would rather try and fool people and not get something over than emphasize something other than Hogan's program and get anyone else over," Dave says.

- Chris Jericho's sidekick Ralphus is done on TV and believe it or not, word is the reason they got rid of him is because he was getting too big of an ego.

- Random notes from the latest Thunder tapings: during the NWO battle royal, "The crowd went dead, like they had each individually had their hands covered in Novocaine." Describing the whole show, Dave says, "This was basically everyone just goofing off because nobody cares." At one point Norman Smiley did his big wiggle dance and the camera cut away to a crowd shot so as not to show it. Just overall a total shit show.

- No word on Kevin Sullivan's scary collapse backstage last week, but he was perfectly fine the next day. And I think that's the last we hear about it. Seems like that'd be a bigger deal but whatever.

- Chris Benoit was on a radio show in Toronto and had some interesting stuff to say. When a caller asked if there was a conspiracy to destroy WCW from within, Benoit said, "It appears that way." Benoit also said that when he signed a new contract last year, he had vowed never to complain about WCW again, but then said Bischoff hadn't delivered on promises that were made so...he's back to complaining again. He said he's still wrestling for the money and that in 3 years, he'll be 34 years old, be a free agent, and will have a lot of money in the bank. So at this point, he's basically just going through the motions and collecting a check. Amazing that WCW, at least temporarily, managed to kill Chris Benoit's passion for wrestling. His entire identity—prior to, ya know—was that he was borderline obsessive about pro wrestling. And WCW made him not care. During the show, Benoit also complained that Kevin Nash only pushes his friends.

- Several Canadian indie wrestlers had tryouts with WCW before Nitro last week (Mike McFly, Greg Pawluk, Eric Freeze, Todd Douglas, Gary Williams, Peter Smith and Scott D'Amore).

- MMA fighter Tank Abbott has signed a WCW contract and will probably end up working with Goldberg at some point. Dave says he always knew Abbott would end up in pro wrestling, given his charisma, but Dave is "betting strongly" against this working out.

- WCW execs were so upset with how the company (and Bischoff especially) were portrayed in the ESPN show last week that they have cancelled all planned media pieces. No more media outlets allowed to film backstage and Bischoff cancelled an interview on TSN's Off The Record, saying he wasn't doing anymore interviews due to the ESPN show, which he apparently feels misrepresented him.

- Chris Brock, a former WCW jobber, has a country song out called "Ordinary Life" that is #7 on the country music charts. Enjoy. I didn't.

- Kevin Nash reportedly told Vampiro that he's being taken off Nitro and Thunder and won't be on TV. There was a lot of heat on Vampiro after a recent match with Juventud Guerrera, with everyone feeling like Vampiro was careless and didn't protect Guerrera in the match.

- Fitness model Trish Stratus, who has reportedly been trying to get into the WWF, was backstage at WCW Nitro when they were in Toronto recently, looking to get hired there also. I'm befuddled that Trish had such a hard time finding a job.

- WCW ordered a ton of new business cards, stationary, etc. that features the new logo. Except they goofed and the address on all of it lists their headquarters as "Altanta." Ha! Calssic WCW.

- Time Magazine is doing another one of those Man of the Century online polls and Ric Flair is in 2nd place (behind Jesus Christ). More than 20 million people have voted, making it the biggest web pole in internet history and Flair has over 310,000 votes. But the editor of Time.com has said that Flair will be removed from the poll because his ranking is due to "unfair lobbying from wrestling websites." The whole thing led to Time posting this notice on the poll: "Whimsical candidates and others who do not fall within the spirit of the title will not be counted." Word is they are planning to remove Jesus from the poll also, although they're hesitant because of the flak they know they're going to catch from religious nutcases and wrestling freaks whenever they remove the top 2 gods from the list. Funny enough, if you remove Jesus and Flair, that would bump 3rd place up to #1. Who's currently in 3rd place, you ask? A former painter named Adolf Hitler.

- Mick Foley's knees are in bad shape and he needs to take time off to get them worked on, but with this month's Backlash PPV being built around him so much (he's on the poster and commercials), he felt now wasn't the time to take time off so he's planning to work through it.

- WWF will be running a special on UPN later this month that will somewhat act as a pilot for their planned women's show. It won't be all women though, since they need to draw a big audience, so expect a couple of the male stars. But it will be primarily focused on the women. If the show is a success, the plan is to run a new 1 hour show on UPN starting probably in August, that will air in the middle of the week, probably on Wed. or Thurs. (needless to say, the idea behind this show changes somewhat).

- A biography about Mick Foley is being written by ghostwriter Lou Sahadi (turns out Foley wasn't happy with Sahadi's version of the book and decided to write it all himself and the rest is history).

- Shawn Stasiak will be starting with WWF in about 6 weeks. He's currently undergoing a hair transplant before he starts. Matt Bloom, who has been working in Memphis as Baldo, will be starting around the same time. The original plan was to book him as George Steele's son but that idea seems to have been dropped.

- Bart Gunn suffered a concussion in his knockout loss to Butterbean at Wrestlemania and was still disoriented even the next day. All told, the Brawl For All concept has been considered a flop. Savio Vega suffered a neck injury he still hasn't recovered from. Steve Williams was brought in to be a top guy and ended up getting injured and humiliated by Gunn, which not only killed his planned push but has pretty much wrecked his entire aura as a tough guy which his whole career was built on. And Bart Gunn, who WWF officials apparently thought had a legit shot against Butterbean, got murdered on live PPV and they haven't mentioned the match on TV since. So really, nothing was gained in the end.

- Steve Austin and D-Lo Brown are in a 1-800-COLLECT commercial that started airing this week.

- Steven Regal has been released by WWF. He's been in drug rehab for the past few months and was only 3 weeks away from completing it. Since he was almost done with treatment, he was allowed to leave rehab and go home for a weekend and, well...it went poorly. Apparently that was the last straw for WWF and they fired him.

- Shawn Michaels' promo that he cut at Wrestlemania was apparently not what it was supposed to be. Dave's not sure how it was supposed to be different, but apparently Shawn went off-script somehow and it led to a lot of heat on him about it, which is why he wasn't on TV the next night. Speaking of Michaels, he just got married last week in Las Vegas to Whisper of the Nitro Girls. The two have only known each other for a few weeks (and now they're coming up on their 20 year anniversary together).

- Forbes Magazine had a really interesting article about how pro wrestlers have basically no leverage when it comes to their paycheck. The story noted that wrestlers only get about 15% of the revenue that the business generates and compared it to the NBA, who's athletes get 48%. Dave has talked about this in the past actually, when people would write in and say that WCW wrestlers were overpaid and Dave would respond saying that, given the money WCW brings in, the wrestlers are actually underpaid. He's compared it to different sports and it's the same across the board. Players in MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, etc....all of them are paid a much higher percentage of the revenue than either WWF or WCW wrestlers are (this is still true to this day). Point being, wrestlers BADLY need to unionize. Anyway, in the Forbes article, they talked to Ken Patera who was a major star in the 70s and 80s. Patera said that at his peak, he earned $140,000 per year but after expenses (mostly travel and hotels and whatnot), he only netted about $42,000 in his best year.

- Random Dave thoughts: he says Stephanie McMahon has been very good in her limited role on TV lately. He also thinks X-Pac is the best in-ring worker in WWF right now.

- The plan was to do an Austin vs. Rock rematch at Summerslam, but instead, they're going to rush it and do it at this month's PPV. The reason is that they realize they can't keep Rock a heel for much longer (he's just too popular) so they need to do the rematch now.

- On the WWF website, Vince McMahon once again called Phil Mushnick a liar and a gutless coward for not appearing on the Fox News show to debate him face-to-face. Conveniently, they left out all the other details about Vince backing down from debating him over the phone, or how Mushnick was never actually scheduled to appear in person in the first place or any of the, ya know, real facts.

- Someone writes in to ask Dave if he was paid for being a UFC judge at their PPV awhile back and says that if he was, it would compromise his ability to cover the promotion fairly and he should disclose it. Dave responds and said he was not paid to be a judge and he agrees that it would have compromised his ability to cover the show fairly and says that if he had been offered money to be a judge, he would have turned it down for that very reason.
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]


- Japanese women's wrestler Emiko Kado passed away this week after slipping into a coma and never regaining consciousness following an injury in the ring a couple of weeks ago. She took a bump wrong on a back suplex from Mariko Yoshida and never moved again. It was only her 15th professional match ever. Dave says she's the 11th wrestler in the last 20 years to have died in or immediately after a match, which is actually substantially lower than boxing, which averages 3-4 deaths per year worldwide stemming from in-ring injuries.

- Davey Boy Smith is still hospitalized with some sort of spinal infection. It's been said that this is almost certainly career ending and is possibly life threatening. He's having a 2nd spinal tap done this week to drain fluid and keep the infection from spreading to his brain. They haven't diagnosed exactly what it is but it's very painful and it's not responding to treatment. While investigating the infection, doctors also learned that Smith has crushed C-9 and C-10 discs in his back and has 4 other fractured discs. If/when he heals from this infection, he will need back surgery to repair all of that also. The infection has caused his veins to collapse but he's currently being fed through an IV. Doctors have told Smith that its possible he will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Anyway, at this point, Dave basically recaps Smith's career since it looks to be about over at this point (nope, he makes it back to WWF for one final run). Speaking of....

- In possibly the most classless move in company history, WCW fired Davey Boy Smith via FedEx this week, effective immediately. WCW used a 90-day injury clause in his contract to justify it. Smith still had 2 years on his deal and has been out with the back injury since taking a bump on the trap door in a WCW ring that was built for Ultimate Warrior. Needless to say, there's talk of a lawsuit since his injury occurred due to unsafe working conditions (Smith wasn't the only one to get hurt by bumping on the trap door, though his was by far the worst injury from it). Dave says it's obvious that Smith's career is likely over and it was inevitable that WCW would release him, but the way they did it (by mail) and the timing (while he's literally fighting for his life) couldn't have been worse. Dave says this even tops the way they fired Ricky Steamboat when he was similarly injured several years ago (this becomes a bigger story in the next couple of issues).

- NJPW's latest Tokyo Dome show did surprisingly huge last minute walk-up ticket sales and ended up being the 9th largest crowd in Japanese wrestling history, likely stemming from curiosity over Masahiro Chono competing in an exploding barbed wire match against Onita. They ended up packing the Dome (although some of it was heavily papered earlier in the week when it looked like ticket sales were going to be slow). Chono and Onita basically ended in a no contest when both men were too battered to get up, and the fans weren't happy. And the main event saw Keiji Muto make former UFC star Don Frye tap out, thus continuing the NJPW-style of booking where they bring in athletes from other sports and have them put over NJPW guys in order to portray NJPW stars as being the best.

- WCW Spring Stampede is in the books and ended up being the best PPV of the year despite all the turmoil currently surrounding the company. Hogan did a knee injury angle in the main event and there's some political stuff behind that. Hogan reportedly wants to take another break and disappear for awhile, partly because he realizes his recent babyface turn isn't working and his character is stale, and also because he sees the writing on the wall with WCW. With the company plummeting down the tubes right now, Hogan wants to make sure he's not around as it happens so it doesn't look like he's the one tanking ratings. Then, when they hit rock bottom, he can make a big return and take credit if/when they back up. The result of all this was DDP becoming the most unlikely world champion since Ronnie Garvin. Dave says that while DDP definitely had some doors opened for him by being good friends with Bischoff, he has worked hard to take advantage of that opportunity and made himself a big star. But he's not nearly as over now as he was a year ago and the pop for DDP winning the title was as weak as you'll ever see for a world title change. As great as the rest of the show was though, the main event match is a perfect example of WCW's problems right now. It was a four-way match and Sting, at 41 years old, was the youngest guy in the match. Even special guest referee Randy Savage is old. Having your world title picture revolve around those guys (Hogan, Sting, DDP, Flair, etc.) is a perfect example of why WWF is blowing them out of the water every week.

- Other notes from Spring Stampede: Juventud Guerrera vs. Blitzkrieg was a near match-of-the-year candidate, ending with a scary Juvi driver off the top that looked good but Dave hopes he never sees it again because it's the kind of move that could easily go wrong and kill somebody. Bigelow vs. Hak in a hardcore match was way better than it had a right to be, with Hak bumping all over the place like a madman to make it memorable. Benoit got busted open hardway during his match and had to get stitches later. And as mentioned, Randy Savage was the special referee for the main event, making his return alongside his girlfriend going by the name Gorgeous George, who is basically a Pamela Anderson lookalike. In fact, Savage got the biggest pop of anyone in the match.

- Monday night ratings news is still the same. WCW is paying the price for a year-plus of bad shows. Even though Nitro last week was the best episode of the show in months, the ratings were abysmal and they got blown out by Raw again. They spent most of the first hour plugging the returns of Randy Savage, Sting, and Roddy Piper. Dave just doesn't understand why this company can't grasp the fact that they need to be building new stars and stop relying on relics from the 80s to somehow turn things around because it's not going to happen.

- ABC's 20/20 aired their piece on backyard wrestling, featuring interviews with Mick Foley and Vince McMahon and it was about what you'd expect. Dave doesn't really think WWF and especially not WCW should be blamed for inspiring this stuff, since a lot of the footage (light bulb tubes, barbed wire) were clearly inspired by more underground death match promotions. Even ECW doesn't do violence to the extent that was shown in the piece.

- Entertainment Weekly also did a piece on the wrestling business and basically got all their facts wrong. It said that wrestling draws 35 million viewers per week. Dave says that even if you count every TV show and count every viewer as a different person and break down the multiple hours of Raw and Nitro as if they were separate shows, you'd still only get to around 22 million, so that number isn't even close to true. It also said WWF brought in more than $30 million on PPV for Wrestlemania. Real number is closer to $13 million. Painted Vince McMahon as being solely responsible for the popularity of professional wrestling (Eric Bischoff and the NWO would surely dispute that) and that in 1982, Vince stopped pretending that wrestling was a sport and has been openly acknowledging that its fake ever since. Dave says he remembers having multiple conversations with Vince just a few years ago where Vince was chewing him out and accusing Dave of "revealing that Santa Claus isn't real" by doing the Observer Newsletter. The piece also painted WCW as if Ted Turner just created it out of thin air in 1988. And that's just scratching the surface of everything they got wrong. Entertainment Weekly: not exactly journalism.

- Raw and Nitro were scheduled to go head-to-head against each other in Atlanta in September but it won't be happening now. Both shows were booked to take place in different buildings in the city, with Raw at the Georgia Dome and Nitro at the new Phillips Arena. But the Georgia Dome cancelled WWF's date, saying it would cause confusion in the marketplace with both shows running there. On the WWF website, Jim Ross said it wasn't WWF's decision and they still wanted to go head-to-head against Nitro in their hometown.

- NJPW is hoping to run another Tokyo Dome show in October and they want it to be headlined by a Shinya Hashimoto vs. Naoya Ogawa rematch. There's some political issues at play here. For starters, obviously the last match they had ended badly, with Ogawa shooting on him and Hashimoto needing nose surgery from the beating he took. It also ended the relationship between NJPW and Inoki's UFO promotion. Inoki has been openly complaining that NJPW has become too Americanized and fake and that's why he's doing the worked-shoot UFO thing, because he believes wrestling should be more realistic. So there's that hurdle to overcome. Plus, Ogawa is the current NWA champion and because of NJPW's relationship with WCW, they're specifically not allowed to book the NWA champion. So either Ogawa would need to lose the title before then, or NJPW and WCW would have to end their relationship.

- There's a lot of talk that TNN is wanting to start airing wrestling later this year. Word is RollerJam was renewed for a 2nd season and they're hoping to do a 2-hour block on Friday nights, with a wrestling show followed by RollerJam. They've talked about doing their own promotion, but there's not a lot of unsigned talent out there who are famous enough that could sustain a company starting from scratch. There's guys like Sid or Warrior, but they'd be more trouble in the long run than it'd be worth. ECW has more meetings scheduled with TNN this week so it's possible it could end up being them if TNN decides they want a company that already has an established following.

- A 2nd Brian Pillman memorial show is taking place next month and will feature both WWF and WCW wrestlers. WWF is sending Mankind, D-Lo Brown, Tom Prichard, Terry Taylor, Road Dogg, Al Snow, and Jim Ross. WCW is sending Benoit, Jericho, Mysterio and Malenko.

- Latest on that dumb carny who is trying to revive the AWA name. He's trying to sell shows to amusement parks and sent them a press release which talked about selling out arenas and said that their recent live shows have grossed over $5 million each (the only show to do that recently was NJPW's Tokyo Dome shows). The press release also claimed that AWA provides the WWF and WCW with all the stars that you see on Monday nights through an agreement with them. Basically, this guy couldn't be more full of shit.

- More financial drama with ECW, as several people had checks bounce this week and rumors are running rampant about the future of the company yet again. Heyman is still negotiating with TNN for a national TV deal as well as trying to put together a video game deal. He's also had meetings with WWF for them to take over the licensing for ECW but he's especially hesitant to do that because it would give WWF significant control over the company and he doesn't want to do that if he can avoid it.

- WWF is trying to push ECW to hire Steven Regal. Now that WWF has fired him, he's in danger of being deported back to the UK so they're evidently trying to do Regal a solid and get him a job somewhere so he can stay.

- Randy Savage's return to TV has been sorta funny and cringe-y at the same time. He's bigger than ever and is clearly desperately trying to look and act young. He's out there with his less-than-half-his-age girlfriend and on Nitro, he cut a promo and started doing a bunch of catchphrases, including "lay the smack down." Dave honestly seems a little embarrassed for him.

- Random Nitro notes: Sting came out and cut a long promo and the more he talked, the less over he got. By the end, there were noticeable boos. DDP, fresh off winning the title the night before, got heavily booed. As for the Bret Hart/quitting angle, they were originally going to treat it as a shoot but they apparently realized that everyone would just forget about it if they stopped mentioning it, so this week on Nitro they played it up a lot.

- Ted Dibiase was backstage at Nitro but said he won't be returning to wrestling. Dibiase has legitimately become very religious in recent years and is unhappy with the direction of the business.

- This week's Thunder was the lowest rated episode ever and even WCW Saturday Night did its lowest rating in years. Thunder was sold to advertisers on the basis that it would always pretty much do a 3.5 rating, so no matter how bad the show gets, as long as they stay in that range, they'd be fine. But this week it did a 2.0 rating so, yanno....not great. Dave considers the possibility that the show is so bad on purpose because they're trying to kill it so everyone can have an extra day off.

- Goldberg donated $100,000 to the University of Georgia for a football scholarship in his name.

- Bischoff held a meeting before Nitro last week and was really excited about the new WCW look (logos, new stage set, opening music, etc.) and predicted they would soon do a 7.0 rating. "As if that's what people watch Monday night wrestling for," Dave says. Speaking of the new set, all the wrestlers hate the new ramp because there's no footing and everyone is afraid of falling in their entrances. Goldberg already slipped this week.

- WCW is trying to come up with new slogans for an advertising campaign and right now they're bouncing around between "Shut up and wrestle" and "It's out there." Dave suggests "Dumb and Dumber." (They ended up going with "It's Out there" and here's a few of the weird ass ads):


- Jim Ross was back doing normal commentary duties on Raw this week. Dave says Ross isn't fully healed from his most recent Bells Palsy attack, as he still has some facial paralysis and slurring of his voice, but that notwithstanding, he's so obviously light years ahead of Michael Cole and every other announcer they have, so they pretty much had to put him back out there.

- For a change, Dave kinda shits all over Raw this week and basically says it was an awful show, capped off by Rock allegedly throwing Austin over a bridge into a river. The show also featured a bunch of Undertaker's dark ministry gimmick, which Dave hates.

- The upcoming 2-hour special airing on UPN later this month will be called "WWF Smackdown." If the show is successful, it may lead to a weekly series. Seems they've scrapped the plans for it to be a women's show pilot.

- WWF has released several wrestlers. Dave doesn't have a complete list as of press time but he knows Gillberg and Public Enemy were among them and maybe Blue Meanie also.

- Sable will be doing a 2nd Playboy shoot after the huge success of her first one, but it probably won't be out until next year (nah, it comes out in 1999. She's gone from WWF by then though).

- WWF's May 23rd PPV which will be held at Kemper Arena in Kansas City is already sold out Frown

- Pancrase has filed a lawsuit against Ken Shamrock over comments he made in an interview where he claimed Pancrase officials asked him to lose 2 fights when he worked there and says that they have done worked matches. Pancrase denies it and sued him for saying it.

- On Sunday Night Heat, Matt Bloom made his debut as a fan running out of the audience to get involved in a Bossman vs. Droz match.

- Jesse Ventura was asked about the current direction of wrestling and says he actually doesn't watch it anymore, but he still defended it, saying that wrestling was never wholesome and it always promoted stereotypes. "Every Japanese wrestler was a sneaky little guy who threw salt and every German wrestler was a Nazi. If you don't want children to see it, that's called parenting." Ventura also talked about not having any connection to wrestling since he's on the blacklist for both WWF and WCW. He said WWF banished him after he beat them in a lawsuit and said WCW banished him because he doesn't get along with Hulk Hogan. He also said he felt disrespected when he went to Nitro last year while running for governor and they refused to acknowledge him on camera. "I walked away that night and said I'd never go back again. And the best part of it is I won. And so now they're all sucking up to me."

- Some guy writes in and says his 16-year-old daughter and her friend went to a WCW Nitro show last week and had ringside seats. Before the show, WCW security asked his daughter and her friend to be ring girls for the show and then took them backstage where they stayed for more than 3 hours. The daughter said everyone in WCW backstage treated them great and was nice to them. Dave responds and only says, "There's something about this letter that I found really funny, but I can't exactly put my finger on it."
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

Not a good idea with a bunch of wrestlers around. 16 don't mean nuffin to them (looking at you Raven).

Speaking of Raven, we are only a few months away from the blowup backstage where he walks out. I cant wait for that, gonna be really interesting. Between that, the Dudleys signing with wwe, and raven returning to ecw its gonna be a great read. That was a pretty huge two to three week span. I think taz signs with wwe around that same point too.
The first few months of 1999 are fairly boring, but yeah after Owen dies, shit gets pretty interesting the rest of the way
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

(05-21-2018, 09:29 AM)Peezy Wrote: 4-12-1999
- WCW ordered a ton of new business cards, stationary, etc. that features the new logo. Except they goofed and the address on all of it lists their headquarters as "Altanta." Ha! Calssic WCW.

Calssic WCW indeed.
[Image: 24H1eOe.jpg]
[+] 1 user Likes twiztor's post
Shoulda said Mylanta, cuz that's what you need to make it through Nitro! Amirite?
[+] 1 user Likes sanderz1's post

- Davey Boy Smith's condition has improved somewhat this week as his spinal infection was officially diagnosed as staph and antibiotics finally started working. But there's some concern over how much long-term damage was already done. He was also put into a body cast due to spinal and vertebrae injuries believed to be from taking a bump on Warrior's trap door at last year's WCW Fall Brawl PPV. After the initial injury, he wrestled a couple more matches but the back pain was so bad he couldn't do anything. Dave says that this has been basically the worst year of Smith's life. He was also losing a battle with a painkiller addiction before all this started. His wife, said to be desperate to show him how bad his habit was, took a bunch of his pills and nearly overdosed and died to get his attention (Diana writes about this in her book, it's nuts). Smith checked himself into rehab in December. Then his son broke his arm and then his sister and mother both died from cancer just weeks apart from each other. And now, he's dealing with all these back issues that may end up putting him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Oh, and he got fired by WCW. Dave has a ton of info here, including direct quotes from Smith, so it's clear Dave was talking to Davey Boy during this time and getting a lot of the details directly from him. He recaps what led to this point. Smith was happy during his time in WWF but then the screwjob happened, he injured his knee trying to pull Shane McMahon off of Bret during the backstage fight, then he had to pay $150,000 out of his own pocket to get out of his WWF contract. Went to WCW, got addicted to Xanex, Percocet, Demoral, and morphine, but he kept getting sick in rehab and doctors couldn't figure out why. Eventually he was hospitalized when they realized it was the spinal infection. And of course, while literally fighting a life or death ordeal, WCW sent him a letter to fire him.

- On WCW's website on an audio show, Bischoff was asked about firing Smith and said that Smith wasn't working and hadn't kept in contact with the company, so they fired him. Davey Boy disputes that, saying before he went into the hospital, WCW called him and wanted him to fly in to Nitro in Toronto to cut a promo. He agreed, but the tickets never arrived, so he called the office and was told that they would fly him out the next week to Nitro in Las Vegas instead. But before that could happen, he was hospitalized and then fired. Bischoff said it was a tough decision but he could look himself in the mirror and know he made the right call. But the company got so much negative publicity for it that Bischoff has since called Smith twice to try to apologize.

- UFC has a hearing scheduled with the Nevada State Athletic Commission this week that will determine whether they can get sanctioned. Dave doesn't want to overstate things, but it's very possible that the future of UFC rests on whatever decision is made. If the commission decides to sanction UFC shows, the hope is that it will lead to cable companies agreeing to carry UFC events on PPV again but it's not guaranteed. And if the commission rules against them, it may very well be the death blow for UFC.

- An estimated 28,000 fans came out to Budokan Hall in Japan for a public funeral ceremony for Giant Baba. It was by far the largest crowd to ever attend the funeral for an athlete in Japan and the 9th largest funeral ceremony in the history of Japan (and yes, Dave lists the other 8. Mostly movie stars, politicians, and musicians). Fans were camping out the night before the ceremony.

- That being said, the future for AJPW doesn't look particularly bright right now. Vader just won the Carnival Champion tournament, making him only the 3rd foreigner to ever win it and while the shows drew well, they were behind last year's numbers. AJPW has a Tokyo Dome show scheduled soon and that's expected to sell out the Dome because it's also going to be the final big memorial show for Baba, but after that...things get murky. The Tokyo Dome show will officially mark the end of the Giant Baba era of AJPW and it's unknown where the company goes from there. There's still a power struggle in the front office, with Baba's widow Motoko Baba on one side and Misawa on the other and the two disagree strongly on how the promotion should now be run. For what it's worth, most of the wrestlers are said to be siding with Misawa.

- Lots of talk about various WWF wrestlers being released this week. Most of the names on the list aren't a big surprise. Public Enemy were considered a flop from day one and they didn't make themselves any friends by complaining a lot as soon as they showed up, which led to the match on Sunday Night Heat were the Acolytes basically murdered them on live TV. Gillberg was cut because the character had pretty much run its course. Blue Meanie was originally released but some sort of internet campaign to keep him ended up working. WWF called him and told him they had decided to keep him. Golga, George Steele, and Luna were all let go since the Oddities gimmick is done. Luna was actually sent home weeks ago for discipline issues and just now officially fired. Bart Gunn was released because he's not exactly the most charismatic guy and all he had going for him was the legit shoot-fighter gimmick after winning Brawl For All. But then he got his brain punched into soup by Butterbean at Wrestlemania, so that killed that. Legion of Doom was also released to no one's surprise since both men, especially Hawk, are all but useless in the ring these days and the nostalgia from the 80s has worn off. The biggest surprise was the release of Steve Williams. He was the top foreign star in AJPW and was brought in to feud with Steve Austin. But they decided to put him into the Brawl For All tournament to get him over as a tough guy, and they expected him to win. But of course, he didn't and, much like Bart Gunn, without the tough guy shooter aura around him, WWF didn't see anything else in him. He was also injured in the Brawl For All fight and hasn't fully recovered months later. Plus he's notoriously bad on the mic, so WWF cut their losses on him. Williams and LOD will both be working AJPW's Tokyo Dome show but no word on if they'll stay with the company past that.

- There were rumors that Jim Cornette had been fired also but it's not true. He missed the latest TV tapings (he was sick) and it's no secret that he has heat with Kevin Dunn and Vince Russo. It's also no secret that they didn't like Cornette's commentary, since he often referred to past wrestling history with guys who were in the old NWA and they also didn't like him using words like "wrestling" and "wrestlers." Anyway, Cornette is still employed and they actually plan to have him set up a minor league farm system for WWF to develop new talent. Later this year, Cornette is expected to move to Louisville, KY and run the Ohio Valley Wrestling promotion there. WWF will send people down there who need work and occasionally send bigger stars to help draw crowds, and new WWF hires will also go there to train before being put on TV.

- Ratings were the same ol' story this week, with Raw killing Nitro. But for what it's worth, for the 2nd week in a row, Nitro was actually a much better show. But right now, WCW is so far behind WWF and the perception of WCW is so terrible that it will take months of better shows before the ratings start showing a difference.

- Bill Apter is leaving London Publishing after 28 years of doing wrestling magazines there. Dave talks about how the old wrestling magazines in the 70s and 80s were huge for giving exposure to many promotions and helping to create stars during the territory days. Fans were able to read about stars in other places and it helped bridge the gap when they would go work in other territories. Dave says it's hart to overstate how powerful and important Apter was to wrestling back in those days. Anyway, he's leaving to go be the editor of the new World of Wrestling magazine, which is going to be less kayfabe and more of a legit, insider view of the business (ala, the Observer).

- TNN has been getting questions from various media outlets about their plans to get involved in wrestling and have denied that there is anything to the story and says they don't know how the stories got started. But Dave knows better and says they're still negotiating with ECW. The plan, if it all pans out, is for ECW to be the lead-in for the RollerJam show. RollerJam has been a huge money-loser for TNN because they dumped a lot of bank into it and the ratings are dogshit. So they're hoping to salvage it and figure they can put a wrestling show on first and then wrestling fans will stick around to watch RollerJam after.

- Back in 1997, USWA/Power Pro commentator Dave Brown's daughter and granddaughter were killed by a drunk driver. The man who was driving, Donald Branch, was convicted on 7 counts this week and will be sentenced next month. Branch had 2 previous DUIs and had a .22 blood-alcohol level when he hit them. Brown's daughter also several months pregnant at the time (Branch ended up being sentenced to 48 years in prison and he's still there. He's been denied parole several times. To this day, Dave Brown continues to be a huge advocate here in Memphis for trying to stop drunk driving).

- Speaking of Power Pro Wrestling, Dave has been watching and he thinks this Kurt Angle fella is pretty good. Because he's an Olympic gold medalist, he's going to get a push when he debuts in WWF. He worked a dark match before Raw this week and some in the company are wanting to bring him in sooner rather than later. Despite only having very limited experience, he's already able to work pretty well in the ring and he reminds Dave of a good 1970s midcard clean-cut babyface, which unfortunately, is not exactly the type of character that is very popular these days. I suspect Angle will find a way to make it work.

- Shane Douglas suffered a broken ankle and will be out until at least the upcoming PPV (nope, he ends up not working the PPV).

- Another week, more bounced checks in ECW. Paul Heyman held a meeting and told everybody that everything will be okay financially in another month or so and to just try to be patient with him, but Heyman has said that before, so everyone's pretty skeptical. But a lot of the wrestlers are said to be scared to leave because if ECW does go under, Heyman will almost certainly end up with either WWF or WCW, likely in a position of some creative power. And nobody wants to bail on ECW, only to wind up working for Heyman again 6 months later in another company and being buried because he's pissed at them. WCW in particular is said to be especially interested in talking to Heyman about having him come in as booker (I wonder if Heyman could have saved WCW in 1999...). Anyway, Heyman has said he's been very close to accepting a loan from WWF, although he really doesn't want to if he can avoid it because he doesn't want to be indebted to them. If he can't make a deal with Acclaim soon for an ECW video game, he may be forced to accept it. But right now, the hope is to strike a deal with Acclaim, who would produce an ECW video game that would be out near Christmas, and the deal would also include a major advance on money up front before the game comes out, which would get the company fully out of debt.

- Dave has more thoughts on this past week's Nitro, saying it was among the best episodes in the show's history. Unfortunately, WCW is in such a deep hole right now that it's going to take more than 1 or 2 weeks of good shows to get them out of it. This week's main storyline was Flair acting nuts and Roddy Piper having him committed to a mental hospital and Dave thinks it was the most entertaining angle they've done in ages and that both Flair and Piper were great. He still doesn't think these 2 should be the main focus of the show since, ya know, they're old. But that notwithstanding, Dave thought this was incredible and hilarious, especially Flair's gone-off-the-deep-end act.


- Hulk Hogan had arthroscopic knee surgery last week. Turns out the knee injury was legit, although it was fairly minor and Hogan has been working with it for a long time. But he saw the writing on the wall with WCW and decided now would be a good time to get off TV and get away from the sinking ratings, so he went ahead and scheduled the surgery and they did the injury angle at the PPV to write him off TV for a bit.

- Random brief WCW news-bites: word is Torrie Wilson is done with WCW (not quite). Wrath tore his ACL in a match on Thunder and will be out for 6 months. Perry Saturn's back is injured and turns out he's been dealing with it from months and the injury stems from, you guessed it, the same trap door they had under the ring that Bulldog was injured on. Luckily, Saturn's injury isn't as bad as Bulldog's but he's still been getting epidural shots to work through it. Rey Mysterio has a concussion. Curt Hennig is injured. Barry Windham is injured. Mike Tenay got whiplash in a car wreck and had to go to the hospital. Arn Anderson apparently slapped Disco Inferno backstage over something he said, but Dave has no details. Eddie Guerrero was backstage at Nitro and looked to be in great shape and should be back in about 2 months.

- Likely due to the bad coverage from the Outside The Lines episode on ESPN awhile back, WCW hit everybody with a surprise drug test at the Thunder tapings, and then followed it up 4 days later with a second surprise test at Nitro. Word is a bunch of guys backstage were scrambling looking for the drugs they use to mask steroid usage. Word got out about the test beforehand and several guys no-showed the taping (Scott Hall, Bam Bam Bigelow, Scott Steiner, and Brian Knobbs are named as people who missed the show for whatever reason).

- Goldberg did an interview and had some interesting stuff to say. He said his gimmick was inspired by watching UFC tapes and said it was such an obvious idea for a wrestler that he wasn't sure why no one really did it before the way he has. Dave agrees and said he was pitching MMA-type gimmicks to guys he talked to during the early UFC days but nobody wanted to do it. Goldberg said his original name was going to be The Hybrid but there was a copyright issue so they just went with his real name instead. When asked if he had health insurance, Goldberg revealed that he has it through the Screen Actor's Guild because he did the Universal Soldier II movie, but not through wrestling. He said he felt like his character has been overexposed and that he should only be on TV periodically. Said he'd like to wrestle only 2 more years but said chances are it'll probably be more like 5 years. But he said there's no way he'll still be wrestling when he's 38. Dave thinks it's funny because every 30 year old wrestler says that, but none of them ever quit. He says he remembers when Flair was 40 and Sting and Luger would make fun of him for still hanging on and wrestling. Now Sting and Luger are in their 40s and Flair's 50 and he's better than both of them and they're all still wrestling.

- Not only is Davey Boy Smith still in the hospital, but Bret Hart had his groin surgery in the same hospital while Davey was there. Furthermore, Bret's sister Ellie Neidhart was also there at the same time having a hysterectomy. Lots of Hart & Hart Associates in that hospital this week.

- There's someone who is breeding and selling thoroughbred horses and evidently they're a WCW fan. Some of the horses for sale are named Big Papa Pump, Rowdy Roddy, Monday Nitro, and Diamond Dallas. That last one is a filly, by the way (I googled that because, as it turns out, I'm not up on my horse lingo. A "filly" is apparently a young female horse).

- Randy Savage is pushing for his girlfriend Gorgeous George to be pushed as WCW's answer to Sable. She's also being trained to wrestle by indie women's wrestler Starla Saxton (better known these days as Molly Holly).

- Paul Wight is now going by the name The Big Show in WWF.

- The upcoming special on UPN called WWF Smackdown will basically be patterned just like an episode of Raw. Right now, it's only a one-time special, but if its successful (and it almost certainly will be), it's believed that it will likely turn into a weekly show. The idea of doing an all-women's show has seemingly already been dropped. UPN doesn't want the show to be live, so they can edit out anything they don't like. So most likely, it'll be a taped 1-hour show and Dave expects it will air on Wednesday nights, although it could end up on Tues. or Thurs.

- There have been talks of putting the Hardy Boyz with DX and also another plan of possibly pairing them with Michael Hayes to create a new generation Freebird-type team.

- Bret Hart was backstage at WWF's Calgary house show. Dave says it's not as big a deal as it sounds. It was just a house show so Vince wasn't there. Bret has friends there that he came to visit, nothing more. Hart also spoke briefly with Earl Hebner. He asked Hebner about his health (remember he had the aneurysm last year) and Hebner noted that he's going through a divorce, and Bret responded, "Yeah join the club." Dave says Bret actually called Hebner last year when he was in the hospital, but the 2 haven't spoken since until now. As for WCW, they had no problem with Bret going and Bischoff was actually happy about it because it will get people talking that he's heading back to WWF and will play into the Bret-quit-WCW storyline.

- WWF has cut ties with the William Morris Agency, which is the most well-known talent agency in the world. WWF had a 3-year deal with them and the William Morris people were negotiating some sort of movie deal with WWF and Columbia Pictures. Vince McMahon told the agency to pass on the project because he wasn't interested and it was apparently such a big disagreement that the two sides ended up severing their contract.
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]


- Rick Rude passed away on April 20th of a heart attack after being rushed to the hospital near his home in Alpharetta, GA. That afternoon, he had taken his 8-year-old son to school, then attended a martial arts class, and then went to play a round of golf. When his wife came home around 5pm, she found him on the floor barely breathing and with a light pulse. She called 911 and they got him in the ambulance and briefly revived him, but he slipped back into a coma again and suffered a cardiac arrest at the hospital and died. His death is being investigated as a possible drug overdose, since empty pill bottles were found near his bed but it will take several weeks for toxicology results to come back. Dave says Rude is the 25th active wrestling personality to die at a young age in the last 6 years and the 6th death so far this year and obviously, this isn't a good look for the industry. While no one saw Rude's death coming, sadly drug overdose deaths are becoming all too common and almost isn't even a shock anymore. Rude had actually been recently training for a wrestling comeback after retiring in 1994 and word is he has been trying for several months to get out of his WCW contract, presumably to go wrestle in the WWF. At one point, tensions had gotten so bad that he threatened Eric Bischoff that he would just buy a ticket and show up in the crowd on Raw. Rude was unhappy with his role in WCW, since he was brought in to be an announcer but, quite frankly he sucked at it, and so he was basically sitting at home not being used. There was so much bad blood that when Eric Bischoff tried to attend the viewing, Rude's mother asked him to leave, which Bischoff quietly did. Rude had apparently contacted WWF in recent weeks about coming in to work with Steve Austin (the 2 are old friends from way back) but until he was clear of his WCW contract, WWF basically wasn't talking to him. Another hold up was that Rude had gotten a 7-figure settlement on his Lloyd's of London insurance policy from his 1994 injury. Rude had tried at different points to get both WWF and WCW to help pay back the insurance policy so he could return to wrestling. Rude had just recently started building a new home on 20 acres of land he owned in Rome, GA and had also talked about opening a wrestling school on the property. There had been incidents in the past few months with Rude that should have probably been seen as warning signs. Back in March, he was backstage doing commentary for the Backstage Blast show (basically Nitro without commercials that airs on DirecTV) and Rude literally passed out on the set in between segments and his segments were so bad that it was embarrassing. The following week, he missed the show due to pneumonia and a few days later, he was arrested for DUI. Dave talks about how the hot new drug in the biz these days is GHB, better known as liquid ecstasy, and that there have been a lot of issues with guys taking it that he has been told about (Dave gets told a lot of stuff off-the-record). And of course, it's also worth noting Rick Rude's well-documented use of steroids.

- Dave goes into the usual full obituary of Rick Rude. Talks about his early years as a championship arm wrestler, noting that he was deceptively strong, his training to be a wrestler in Minnesota, his early career alongside the Road Warriors, working in Memphis with Jerry Lawler, working in Florida where he had an incident with Wahoo McDaniel. For some reason, he and Wahoo didn't get along but when it was about to break down into a fight, Wahoo backed down because Rude had a reputation of being a legit bad ass fighter. Word that Rude had backed down Wahoo spread around and helped build his reputation. Then to WCCW where he feuded with the Von Erichs and Bruiser Brody, then on to Jim Crockett's promotion. Rude was one half of the tag team champions, but he abruptly walked out on the company with no notice to jump ship to WWF. He got heavy into steroids but never was considered big enough to be a main event player against Hogan and settled into an upper midcard heel, most famously against Jake Roberts and Ultimate Warrior. Quit WWF over a money dispute in 1990, then to Japan and then to WCW, where he feuded primarily with Sting until his career ended. His career peaked in 1992 when he was the best heel in the business and was just starting to become one of the best workers also, but then the injuries started adding up and he never quite got there. He was the first foreigner to make it to the G-1 finals in NJPW (Karl Anderson and Kenny Omega have since done it). In 1994, he faced Sting in what ended up being his final match and severely injured his back on a move that he later blamed Sting for and was extremely bitter about. He hung out in ECW for a minute, then back to WWF as DX's bodyguard, then showed up in WCW, famously appearing on both Raw and Nitro at the same time. Outside the ring, Rude was said to be the complete opposite of his character and was a devoted husband who talked endlessly about his kids and loved to fish.

- From here, Dave basically goes on his usual hopeless rant about how nothing is going to change until promoters are forced to change. Everyone will pay lip-service to the subject for a minute, there'll be some tributes and 10-bell salutes, and then the world keeps turning because the companies still have to make money and for that, they rely on roided up wrestlers doing things the human body isn't meant to do on a nightly basis who then use pain pills and other drugs to deal with it. Rude's death was covered as a major story on ESPN, CNN, and other national news outlets and as usual, there were some comparisons to people like Pillman and Louie Spicolli but Dave sadly thinks Rude will simply end up as another statistic and nothing is going to change because of this (he was right).

- WWF Backlash is in the books and was headlined by Austin vs. Rock having the best WWF PPV match this year. Matt Bloom made his WWF in-ring debut on Heat before the show under the name Prince Albert. Due to the recent Columbine shooting, they didn't have Undertaker wearing his usual trench coat. USA Today actually had an article showing a picture of Taker in his trench coat and implied that he was one of the influences of the Columbine shooters, which WWF was rightfully pretty upset about. It's also worth noting that Sting wasn't wearing his trench coat on Nitro this past week either. The PPV ended with the infamous "Where to, Stephanie?" bit where Undertaker is driving the limo and kidnaps Stephanie McMahon.

- The Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing to decide whether or not to sanction UFC fights was abruptly cancelled at the last minute because commission members needed more information. Commission members are expected to be at ringside for the next UFC show so they can see it up close and personal for themselves and then a follow-up hearing will be scheduled.

- There's a bill up for debate in the Oregon state senate that would deregulate pro wrestling and eliminate drug testing, among other things. The state requires both urine testing (for drugs) and blood test (for HIV, although wrestlers don't like it because a blood test is a lot harder to cheat and it'll find drugs also). Anyway, if the bill passes, you can probably expect to finally start seeing wrestling there (if you lived in Oregon and you wonder why WWF or WCW never came your way during the 90s, that's why).

- More bounced checks in ECW this week and morale is still in the toilet because of it. Sid Vicious showed up at a recent ECW show to get money that was owed to him ($6,000) and Sid told people that was the reason he no-showed the previous ECW Arena show, because his last check had bounced. He also claimed he never got sent a plane ticket for the show. Dave says the check part is true, but the plane ticket part is bullshit because not only did Sid get a ticket, he missed his first flight and exchanged that ticket for another flight and still didn't get on the 2nd plane.

- The negotiations between ECW and video game company Acclaim are not only for a video game but there have also been discussions of Acclaim buying a share of ECW (yeah, they end up buying 10% of the company).

- Both ECW and WWF did 10-bell salutes for Rick Rude at various house shows over the weekend.

- Last week's Nitro was one of the best episodes of the show in months, if not years. This week, they followed it up with 3 major title changes, hoping to keep the momentum going. Didn't matter. Raw squashed them again and Nitro was back to being stupid again this week. Dave talks about how the company has zero continuity. For example: on Nitro last week, they said Flair was being committed to a mental hospital for 72 hours. Then on Thursday, they announced he was out of the hospital and was backstage running the show. Then on Nitro this week, they acted like he's been in the mental hospital all week, still running around in his underwear, completely contradicting what they said on Thunder. Anyway, Flair in the nuthouse would have been stupid in anyone else's hands, but Flair was hilarious in the role. Speaking of continuity issues, Randy Savage was "suspended" last week and now Gorgeous George has to wrestle Charles Robinson and win to get Savage reinstated. And yet, Savage still wrestled on Nitro this week so....is he suspended? Is he not? If he's not, why is the Gorgeous George/Robinson match happening at the PPV? WCW sure doesn't seem to know or care. Or how about Roddy Piper being fired as commissioner last week, only to come out again this week, still commissioner. And then they did an angle and fired him again, without acknowledging that he was supposed to have already been fired last week. They did a segment about Hogan having knee surgery and literally showed him walking into the hospital as if he was totally fine. Dave says that even if he can walk, the whole injury angle was to write Hogan off TV for a couple of months so, ya know....at least fake a limp or something. Anyway, Randy Savage came to the ring with another unnamed woman (eventually dubbed Miss Madness, aka Molly Holly). On the plus side, Sting vs. DDP was an excellent match and Dave gives it 4 stars so it wasn't all bad.

- Davey Boy Smith is finally out of the hospital. He's at home but is in a full body cast and has a new catheter tube inserted every morning and has a nurse come in every day to take care of him. Basically, he was going stir crazy in the hospital and had to get out but he's still by no means better. He's just continuing treatment at home. In related news, Eric Bischoff has contacted his lawyers since Smith is threatening to sue. Bischoff claims he had no idea Smith was hurt as badly as he was and that he had heard Smith wasn't even hurt, so that's why he felt justified in firing him. As for Smith, he's still hoping to wrestle again and said before he retires, he wants to wrestle a tag team match with his son Harry, who is now 13 (good news...it happened! Smith pretty much retired in 2000 but he came out of retirement briefly in 2002 and worked 2 tag team matches with his son at some indie shows in Canada. They ended up being his final matches ever).

- WCW is planning to do an incentive plan to get more guys to work house shows (since all of the top stars don't like to work them). Basically, for every house show you work, you get extra bonus money. The idea is to get more of the top stars to work more house shows. WWF house shows almost always feature all the top stars (Rock, Austin, etc.) while WCW house shows are full of guys like Scotty Riggs or Silver King or David Taylor.

- Scott Steiner has been sued over an incident 2 years ago where he allegedly got into a fight at a bar and beat up some guy.

- Random Raw notes from Dave, all quotables:

Quote:"Whenever HHH is put in a position where he's supposed to have a good match to make himself the star they've been grooming him to be from day one, he usually comes up short."

"X-Pac was looking for Kane. For like 90 minutes. When these wrestlers go backstage, they must hide really good. It's totally believable. When I was in high school at a dance chasing women, they'd somehow hide for like 90 minutes too. But they never came out to music and fireworks and I was never choke slammed once. At least by a woman."

"Then Kane realized the error of his ways and carried X-Pac to the back. The last time he did that he had a major crush on the person he carried to the back. You don't think..."

- Headbanger Thrasher is suing the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team for $10 million from an incident where a foul ball hit his wife in the eye and she's now legally blind in that eye.

- Vince McMahon sent a letter to Entertainment Weekly magazine this week complaining because they had Goldberg on the cover. The article inside talked about the growth of pro wrestling this year and Vince pointed out that the growth is WWF growth, not overall wrestling growth. Valid point, Dave says. He complained about some other stuff in the article and then said Entertainment Weekly should have informed readers that their parent company also owns WCW, which is why they had Goldberg on the cover.

- If Steven Regal doesn't get a job soon, he's going to be deported.

- WWF had another training camp deal this week, and among the people there were Rico Cosantino (Rico!), Jason Ahrndt (Joey Abs) and a few other guys who never really become anything notable. Also, Dory Funk is no longer doing the training because they're planning to move Jim Cornette and Danny Davis down to Louisville where they will take over Ohio Valley Wrestling and start training guys there. Funk apparently didn't want to move so...he's gone.

- Headbanger Mosh is still scheduled to be doing some sort of clown gimmick. The Insane Clown Posse is claiming that they are returning to WWF to do a thing with him. They also said if WWF mistreats them again, they'll just quit again. "That's a good attitude to start with," Dave says. This never happened.

- UFC star Tank Abbott met with WWF a couple of months ago and reportedly told them he would be a bigger star than Steve Austin. Dave says Abbott has a lot of charisma and could probably get over if he's halfway decent in the ring but let's not be ridiculous. No word on him going to WWF but there's rumors coming out now that he may have already signed with WCW (yup).

- WWF is being extremely careful to never talk about the "cross" that Undertaker keeps crucifying people on. They make sure to always say the "symbol." In fact, on Raw 2 weeks ago, during a promo when Undertaker mentioned putting Christian "on the cross," they went back after the show and and overdubbed it with Undertaker saying "on the symbol" when they aired the replay and for the west coast showings.

- Sable claimed she was 31 in a USA Today story the other day. In previous interviews, she has claimed she was "under 30" without giving an exact age. Dave doesn't know her exact age but he's been told she's older than her husband (Marc Mero) and he's 35. So who knows how old she is (according to Wikipedia, she would indeed have been 31 during this time. But who knows if even that's accurate).
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]


- The 8th largest verifiable crowd in wrestling history packed the Tokyo Dome this past week for an AJPW show and, more importantly, for a celebration of the life of Giant Baba. The show was billed as Baba's symbolic "retirement" match and they even rang the bell like there was a match, while some of Baba's most famous opponents like Bruno Sammartino and Gene Kiniski were in the ring. At the end of the ceremony, Baba's wife Motoko Baba came to the ring and left her husband's giant boots in the center of the ring. It was followed by a 10-bell salute from the 65,000 in attendance. It was the end of the Baba era and the end of AJPW as it has been known for nearly 3 decades. As for the show itself, Mitsuharu Misawa regained the Triple Crown title for a record 5th time by beating Vader. Steve Williams and the Road Warriors both worked the show but no word on if they're staying with AJPW long-term now that both have been released by WWF. Interestingly enough, there were negotiations prior to the show for NJPW to work with AJPW for the show. With business down throughout Japan, there's been a lot of consideration of the rival promotions working together and the plan was to send NJPW's Shinya Hashimoto to work a match against AJPW's Toshiaki Kawada, figuring it would do huge business and could jump-start a big NJPW vs. AJPW angle. But Motoko Baba shot down the plan, figuring (correctly) that the show was going to sell out without NJPW's help.

- There will be a press conference next week with AJPW announcing the new corporate hierarchy. There's been an ongoing power struggle between Misawa and Motoko Baba over control of the company since her husband's death. Motoko owns the majority of the stock in the company and has the deep pockets to keep it afloat, but Misawa was the one being groomed by Giant Baba to take over and he has the support of all the wrestlers within the promotion so it'll be interesting to see how it shakes out. It's expected Misawa and Mrs. Baba will try to co-exist to run it together and Misawa is likely to be named the new president of AJPW at the press conference.

- We get an obituary for Jos LeDuc, most known for his feuds with Dusty Rhodes and Jerry Lawler during the 1970s. Died due to a lung infection. He was a famous strongman, known for his extreme in-ring antics like throwing Lawler out of the ring onto a table, slicing his arm with an axe during a promo, breaking a vase over his head, and legit feats of strength like pulling a bus, having real fans try to break his strong grip, holding back a car with his knees against a brick wall, and more. All of which were real and not gimmicked (this video shows all of it and it's pretty incredible. For some reason, all the people being unable to break his grip is the most impressive to me).

- Ratings news for this week: Raw's rating was almost 3 full points ahead of Nitro, basically doubling their viewership. And in fact, the last hour of Raw was the highest rated hour in the history of the Monday night wars. On the flip side, Nitro's final hour was the lowest rated hour of Nitro in several years. Raw's last hour more than tripled the rating of Nitro's last hour. With Nitro being preempted this week by the NBA Playoffs, it's expected that Raw will finally break the 7.0 mark. Also, fun fact, on Nitro this week, they never once even mentioned that they won't be on the air next Monday night. Because WCW. Also, the one-off UPN special "WWF Smackdown" did a 4.0 rating which was actually considered a disappointment. But it still did significantly better ratings than WCW Thunder at the same time. There's still talk of Smackdown being turned into a full-time weekly show to air on UPN later in the fall but the deal isn't done yet.

- Dave decides to take a look at what's going on here with WCW. Fans have clearly turned their backs on the company, for all the obvious reasons. Basically, it sucks. He says nothing short of a total overhaul is the answer. It's going to take months of rebuilding to even start thinking of turning the ship around and since WCW has spent the last several months doing some of the worst booking in the history of wrestling while pushing all the wrong people, Dave doesn't see it happening. Everything that WCW pushes and emphasizes are the things wrestling fans hate and they just don't seem to get it. Randy Savage, DDP, Sting, Luger, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, and even Ric Flair should not be the focal points of your wrestling company in 1999. Every one of them is in their 40s with several pushing 50. Even Goldberg has become just another guy at this point and he was the only saving grace the company really had. Within WCW, the argument is that you can't build around guys like Benoit and Kidman because they would get killed in the ratings. And that's true right now. But that's because WCW has never built them up to be taken serious as top stars. If you look at most of WWF's top stars, they were all midcard nobodies just a couple of years ago. But WWF dedicated time and effort into making them stars and now they're killing WCW. Dave says all the TV time spent on Savage and Piper would have been better spent on making Chris Jericho into a main event star, but they didn't, and now he's got one foot out the door and is probably WWF-bound in a few months. 1999 needs to be a rebuilding year for WCW, like a sports team. Just accept that you're going to lose the ratings war for the next year or so and spend that time overhauling the mindset of the company. Build younger talent and put them over the old guys. "A football team that has its entire starting line-up past its prime and is in the middle of a 3-13 season doesn't trade its draft choices in order to sign more people five years past their prime."

- The WWF did a great tribute video for Rick Rude on the Superstars show this week, with comments from Vince McMahon. It's also believed (but not confirmed) that WCW plans to pay Rude's family the remaining 2 years he had on his WCW contract. For what it's worth, WCW did not do that for Louie Spicolli, but on the other hand, Spicolli didn't have a wife and 3 kids like Rude. After Brian Pillman died, WWF paid his family the following 3 months of Pillman's contract and also has cooperated in multiple fundraisers, including letting WWF wrestlers work Pillman memorial shows alongside WCW wrestlers (it also came out years later that Vince privately gave Pillman's wife large sums of money on multiple occasions because she needed it, like to save her house from getting foreclosed and whatnot).

- Sonny Oono traveled to Japan on behalf of WCW to try to work out an agreement with the Pride MMA promotion for a deal to get Pride events airing on PPV in the United States. It's interesting because Pride and UFC basically have identical rules these days, so if WCW can get Pride to air on PPV through outlets like Time Warner and TCI (Turner-owned properties), it would make the PPV ban on UFC look even more hypocritical than it already does. That being said, there's also the question of how this show would do in the U.S. The Pride shows are mostly unknown fighters in the U.S. and likely wouldn't draw very well on PPV unless WCW did an incredible job of promoting it. And considering they can't even do a halfway decent job of promoting their own shows these days, it doesn't bode well.

- Remember all the legal battles over USWA a year or so ago and the fraud charges and all that? Multiple lawsuits all got combined into one federal case with XL Sports (the company that bought USWA) suing Larry Burton and Jerry Lawler. Anyway, the trial went to jury and this week, the jury awarded XL Sports $3.5 million in a judgement against Burton.....and $0 against Lawler. In fact, Lawler had also filed a suit against Burtan for money that he was owed and the jury awarded Lawler a $1 million judgement also. It's interesting because XL Sports tried to portray Lawler as Burton's partner in the whole scheme. During testimony, Lawler was apparently very charming and managed to distance himself from Burton in the eyes of the jury. Even Vince McMahon was scheduled to testify at one point but it ended up not happening. Jerry Jarrett testified against Burton and Lawler as well. Lots of people were urging Lawler to settle out of court prior to the trial because he had the most to lose. Burton doesn't have millions of dollars, so neither XL Sports nor Lawler will probably ever see a dime. But Lawler has significant assets and was in significant danger of being found complicit. But luckily for him, he got off. On Raw this week, Jim Ross twice referred to Lawler as "Teflon King" in reference to this ruling. The whole case is very complicated and Dave recaps all of it, but long story short: Burton was a snake, he tried to con people, and he just got F'd in the A by the jury, and meanwhile, Lawler skated, even though, to be honest, he was almost certainly in on it.

- (Side note about this case: I feel like maybe Dave has some details wrong here. In Lawler's autobiography, he mentions being friends with Burton and leaning on him during his breakup from Stacy Carter, and that was in 2001. So I'm having a hard time believing they would still be friends if Lawler had really sued him and won a $1 million settlement against him. But who knows.)

- Juventud Guerrera and Jerry Flynn were both arrested for DUI last week. Flynn was arrested for a simple DUI and released on $5,000 bond. Guerrera, on the other hand, was arrested at gunpoint for DUI, fleeing the police, reckless driving, and more. Evidently he tried to run and that usually doesn't work out well. He was later released on $10,000 bond. Both failed their breathalyzer tests, coming in at more than twice the legal limit.

- A lot more on the Senate bill in Oregon that is attempting to overturn the law requiring wrestlers to be drug tested. It's all complicated and messy, but basically the argument is that wrestling is entertainment, not a sport, and thus they shouldn't be drug tested the way athletes in other sports are. WWF also complained that the testing would cost the company a lot of money (the wrestlers have to pay for their own drug tests). The WWF official claimed the drug test could cost up to $1,000 per wrestler and that a typical WWF show has anywhere between 70-120 performers, meaning it could cost WWF $70,000-to-$120,000 just to have all the people be able to work a show there. Dave points out how that's complete bullshit. For starters, a physical and drug test in Oregon is only around $200, not $1,000. And furthermore, even if you add managers and referees and announcers, there's maaaaaybe 40-50 performers on any given WWF show, and substantially less for house shows. The police are against the bill, with the police captain quoted in a news article saying, "If drug testing scares them off, I guess people can draw their own conclusions from that." Someone else was quoted saying that if every state had drug testing for wrestlers the way Oregon has, "maybe Louie Spicolli, Brian Pillman, Rick Rude, and a number of others would still be alive."

- A wrestling promotion called Cutting Edge Wrestling in Newfoundland have started a political party and the idea is to have their wrestlers run for different offices during the next elections. Obviously a publicity stunt to draw attention to the promotion (and actually kind of a brilliant stunt, if you're just a no-name local indie looking for attention. My brain is just going down the rabbit hole now. Have a handful of guys with crazy colorful gimmicks run for various local offices. Do it all legally. Legitimately file the paperwork and try to get into the debates. Arrive in full gimmick, cut promos on the deficit, challenge your political opponent to cage matches, etc.).

- At a Nashville show, Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee faced the Fabulous Ones and the match featured an interesting tribute to Rick Rude. Near the end of the match, Lawler's girlfriend Stacy got up on the ring apron, grabbed a mic and said, "Hit my music!" Rick Rude's old WWF music started playing and she did the Rude-disrobing routine and stripped down to her bra and panties, distracting the ref which led to the finish.

- There's a new show in production called Battle Dome which will combine elements of wrestling and shows like American Gladiators (I only mention this for two reasons. For one, in 2000, Battle Dome ends up having a cross-promotional feud with WCW. And two, it had Terry Crews and who doesn't love Terry Crews?)

- Lots of backstage heat in ECW with Shane Douglas, Axl Rotten, Chris Candido, and Tammy Sytch for different reasons. In the case of Douglas, he and Paul Heyman have been bickering for months, particularly over money (Douglas is owed a lot) and because Heyman wants to phase him out of the main event scene in favor of younger guys. Heyman also recently fired Douglas' best friend who ran the merch stand at a lot of the shows. In the case of Axl Rotten, he no-showed en event and then wasn't booked for the next few shows as punishment. And Candido reportedly threw a tantrum about something backstage, which led to both he and Tammy being pulled off the recent shows as well. Taz and Sabu also missed the shows for personal reasons (Taz's wife giving birth and Sabu had a family emergency).

- Dave thinks Lance Storm is great in ECW and is surprised neither WWF or WCW have actively tried to pursue him, but thinks it's just a matter of time (still another year, but yeah).

- Notes from this week's Nitro: Dave says the episode basically encapsulates everything that is wrong with WCW right now. For starters, they were in Charlotte, NC. Ric Flair country. That used to be an instant first-day sellout just a year or two ago. But this week, they were giving away free tickets all over town and still only drew 9,700 (and only 6,300 paid) to an arena that holds 18,000. Dave says WCW has effectively killed the Carolinas market for themselves, usually by making a point to bury Flair every time they come through. They debuted a new muscular bodybuilder woman (who later becomes Asya, which is WCW's answer to Chyna). And of course, the show ended with Flair (getting almost no reaction from the hometown fans by the end of the night) getting pinned by DDP, leading to fans throwing trash and leaving angry. Dave says the company seems determined to make sure Charlotte fans will never want to come back to a WCW show. He also reviews Thunder, which was mostly boring and only had one halfway notable thing. The Disciple (Ed Leslie) wrestled Randy Savage, which is interesting because just a few weeks ago, Leslie was supposed to be "fired" when he lost a match to Hogan. Of course, he came out on Thunder for this match and it was just never addressed at all. Say it with me everybody: because WCW.

- On Regis & Kathy Lee this week, they talked about the death of Rick Rude. It's interesting because Kathy Lee absolutely hated Rude when he was a guest on the show a decade ago because he showed up with a picture of her airbrushed on the crotch of his tights, which she didn't know about in advance, and then he chased her around the studio trying to kiss her, which she also was not a fan of and later called it the lowest moment in her career. Her husband Frank Gifford wrote a book and trashed Rude in it big time. Not sure what they said about Rude's death, I can't find video of it but here's the 1989 Rude appearance that made Kathy Lee hate him.

- Both WWF and WCW's media people have made it clear to various media outlets recently that they don't want interviewers to ask them about drugs in wrestling or the deaths of wrestlers.

- Due to the Columbine shooting, WCW has dropped the plans for Alex Wright's new gimmick (they were airing vignettes of the Berlyn gimmick at the time, with the dark gothic punk look and wearing long trenchcoats and shit. Basically, he kinda sorta looked like the Columbine shooters and looked like he might listen to the same music. And in post-Columbine 1999, that was enough to scare everybody. Anyway, they eventually let him keep the gimmick and just delayed the debut for a few months. Still flopped).

- WCW referee Brian Hildebrand is still suffering from terminal stomach cancer and is down to 76 pounds and is unable to keep food down. He's been hospitalized and is now being fed through an IV. Fuck cancer.

- Goldberg was on QVC to help move some WCW merch. While there, he was asked what was up for him next week and said he didn't know because no one tells him anything. Then when asked about why Nash recently saved him from a beat down and why it was never referred to in the following weeks on TV, Goldberg just sorta shrugged and said they change things every other day so he has no idea.

- Barry Windham is out of action because he's getting liposuction on his stomach.

- WCW is putting out a Nitro cologne (WWF did that too. Enjoy):


- WCW wrestler Glacier put together a charity show in Georgia for a local 10-year-old who needs surgery for a birth defect. The show raised around $30,000. Several WCW wrestlers (all lower card guys) worked the show. Goldberg also showed up, although he didn't wrestle. But he was visiting a children's hospital in Florida earlier that day, then jumped on a plane to attend Glacier's charity show. Goldberg's a damn good dude.

- Torrie Wilson is on the cover of this month's issue of Muscle Mag International

[Image: f72PXFN.jpg]

- Dave runs down the expected lineup for WWF's upcoming Over The Edge PPV. Among the planned matches: Godfather vs. Blue Blazer. Brace yourselves everyone, it's coming and it's not pretty Frown

- On Raw, they did a brief mention of the Columbine tragedy, naming the victims and whatnot. The reason was because one of the kids who died, Matthew Kechter, was a huge wrestling fan and his father actually contacted WWF and asked them to mention his son. The reason is because Matthrew's younger brother Adam (also a huge wrestling fan) was watching and so he got to see it and it was just a cool moment for him during a tough time. Also, after the Backlash PPV, both The Rock and Mick Foley called Adam and spoke with him.

- Sable posed for a 2nd Playboy photoshoot this week and they're rushing the release date of the issue for September. Sable's first Playboy has moved over a million copies, which is significantly more than they usually do (ends up becoming the all-time highest selling issue. Sable would be gone from WWF before her 2nd one comes out though).

- Letters section, some guy writes in wondering how long it will be before Stephanie McMahon gets a boob job (about a year and a half buddy, hang in there).

- Someone else writes in and talks about how he was a referee for a WWF show in Cornwall, Ontario back in 1990. Rick Rude came out and before his match, he did his usual routine. "What I'd like right now is for all you fat, out-of-shape, Cornwall cornholers..." Anyway, during the match, Rude kept berating himself and saying to the referee that he didn't mean to say "cornholers." He meant to say "cornball Cornwallers." Backstage after the match, he was still beating himself up and even went to one of the road agents and asked if he could break character and go back on the mic and correct it and apologize, but they wouldn't let him. The referee says he rode back to Montreal with Rude and a few other guys and all Rude could talk about the whole drive back was how he didn't mean to say it and felt horrible for it, repeatedly saying, "They just didn't deserve that." Apparently it really ate him up that he had insulted them slightly worse than he had meant to.
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

Fuck, it looks like it’ll be posted while I’m on vacation.

- Nitro was preempted this week by the NBA Playoffs, so it was already expected that Raw would set a ratings record, but the numbers were beyond what anyone expected. Raw did an 8.09 rating, making it the most watched wrestling show in the history of USA Network. More than half of the usual Nitro audience tuned in to watch Raw. The Rock/Austin/Vince vs. Taker/HHH/Shane match peaked at a 9.17 rating, making it the single most watched wrestling match in cable history and the first to top 10 million viewers. Also, Raw destroyed the NBA games that were on TNT in place of Nitro. The Raw rating is likely going to be one of the highest ratings for any show on cable TV this year and gives them a lot of leverage when negotiating their TV deal next year. WWF is still negotiating with UPN to get another show on there later this year. They've also had discussions with FOX for a network show, but Fox wants to buy the WWF or at least own a majority interest in the company, and Vince ain't going for that.

- Time to look at the downfall of WCW. The ratings for both Thunder and Nitro are falling to record lows every week. House shows and PPV buyrates are plummeting also. Dave says this is all the result of a lot of long-term problems finally coming home to roost. Lack of strong leadership, bad company morale, and a total disregard for what the fans want to see. Hot shot title changes, booking that makes no sense, completely killed Goldberg's momentum, built the company around old stars and never planned for the future by building new ones, and on and on and on. Booking... plotholes you can drive trucks through. People sent out to kill TV time and cut promos who don't really have anything to say, stuff that happens one week and is never followed up on, because there's no long-term booking plans for anyone. So many heel/face turns that crowds often don't even know who they're supposed to cheer or boo this week. Dave thinks Bischoff needs to regain full control of his company or step aside. The inmates are running the asylum. People no-show or refuse to do jobs without punishment. Booking that is designed to bury people that Nash and Hogan don't like rather than doing what's best for the show. So on and so forth.

- So what's the solution? Dave says they have to rebuild. Out with the old, in with the new. It's going to take a few years and business will probably be bad while they do it, but it's a long-term process. Just accept that you're going to lose the ratings war for the foreseeable future and stop worrying about it. Worry about rebuilding instead. It's time to start booking guys like Hogan, Flair, Hall, Nash, Savage, Hart, and Piper in major storylines against guys like Booker T, Kidman, Goldberg, Jericho, Raven, Benoit, and Guerrero and the old guard needs to start cleanly putting over the new stars and the company has to follow that up by presenting those young guys like stars. Dave points out that many of ECW's biggest stars (Douglas, Dreamer, Sabu, Sandman, etc.) became stars because Terry Funk put them over. House shows have to change if business is going to pick up. Either the top stars have to start working house shows or WCW has to stop trying to run major cities with nobodies. Unfortunately, WCW foolishly gave contracts to all their top stars that basically lets them skip most house shows. Steve Austin is the biggest star in the business and he works the same house shows as everyone else in WWF. A year ago, WCW was outdrawing WWF in a lot of markets. Nowadays, you'd be hard-pressed to even find 1 city where WCW can even come close to outdrawing WWF. Any of the old guys who aren't willing to put over the young stars don't need to be there. Dave thinks they should put more emphasis on what happens on Thunder because at least with that show, there's no concern of people changing over to watch WWF. There's so much more. Bottom line is, WCW doesn't have a chance of catching up with WWF this year and probably not next year either. But if they do a total overhaul of the company and try to rebuild and think long-term, they may survive (spoiler: WCW does not think long-term and does not survive).

- Speaking of bad WCW shit, the latest Slamboree PPV is in the books. 6 months ago, WCW drew 30,000 paid fans to this arena for Nitro in the midst of a huge snowstorm. This week, they drew 13,000 paid for a PPV. Bischoff returned to TV and somehow (never explained) has power over the company again and reversed the Flair match decision so that he lost. In real life, Flair had been promised a PPV win in exchange for doing jobs to Sting, Nash, and Page on TV in the last few weeks but it didn't happen here and once again, Flair is being vocal about how unhappy he is in WCW and wanting to go to WWF. Bret Hart, fresh off groin surgery, returned sooner than he was ready to do a run-in and was moving gingerly. Goldberg was taken to the hospital after the PPV thinking he had a broken ankle, but X-rays showed no broken bones so he'll be okay. The injury was caused by Hart when he legitimately hit Goldberg's leg with a chair harder than he meant to. Hart was apologizing profusely backstage afterward because he has a rep of never injuring anyone. But Goldberg was fine the next day. The plan is for Goldberg to challenge Bret to a match on the Tonight Show, with Bret still saying he quit WCW and the match will eventually take place in the Tonight Show parking lot in the next week or two. Hart is clearly nowhere near ready to work a match after the surgery but they still plan to do it anyway. Oh yeah, the Steiners got back together, with no build-up or reason given. Lil' Naitch vs. Gorgeous George wasn't a good match or anything but it was entertaining and to her credit, George clearly trained hard for the match and did well, and Charles Robinson was hilarious and played his part perfectly. And Nash won the world title from DDP.

- U.S. News and World Report magazine ran a big 7 page feature on wrestling and, mostly, Vince McMahon and, as always, it was full of most of Vince's revisionist version of history and full of the usual fake numbers (35 million viewers, $500 million dollar company, etc.) and covered all the usual "is this suitable for kids" stuff. McMahon talked about his past extramarital affairs behind Linda's back and talked about the steroid use in wrestling "back when it was legal" which has always been bullshit, but of course, no drug problems in WWF nowadays, nope, nada. You know the WWF version of this story by now: rasslin' existed in smoky, dimly lit basements until Vince McMahon rose like a phoenix in 1984 and invented modern day sports entertainment overnight, Ted Turner has a vendetta against him, Vince singlehandedly created everything, blah blah blah etc. etc. Dave seems exhausted by the fact that so many reporters just accept this version of history as fact in every mainstream media story he reads.

- Dave recaps UFC 20, which is mostly notable by Bas Rutten winning the UFC heavyweight title in a controversial split decision that most people think Kevin Randleman should have won. It's led to a lot of questions about whether the fight was fixed, since UFC has invested a lot into Rutten as their next big star so they had a good reason to want him to win. Dave doesn't necessarily go that far, he doesn't think the fight was fixed, but he definitely thinks it was the wrong decision and Rutten lost the fight. Randleman's people were said to be furious afterwards, feeling their guy got robbed. Dave thinks they have a point.

- WCW valet Chastity once appeared in a porn movie called Live Bait. Dave actually reported on this a couple of months ago but didn't think it was a big deal, but now several media outlets are picking up on the story. It was mentioned in TV Guide and the New York Post, mostly in an attempt to trash Ted Turner. Headlines like, "One of the female stars of Ted Turner's family friendly WCW organization has an X-rated past." It was also mentioned on Jay Leno's show, Craig Kilborn's show, and even Saturday Night Live referenced it. Even WWF made reference to it on their website, saying that at least their "porn star" is just a guy playing a gimmick (Val Venis). Dave points out that WWF brought in Jenna Jameson so, yanno, they probably shouldn't be throwing rocks in glass houses. Anyway, the porn film was produced by Jules Jordan and he's been interviewed by it, saying he's surprised it's such a big deal because she only appeared in one scene (a blowjob scene with a guy and another woman) and there's no photo of her on the box and she's not even listed in the credits. It was such a minor thing. Apparently she was supposed to do more scenes but showed up late so they didn't use her. Anyway, backstage Eric Bischoff has reportedly said that whatever she did in her past is the past and she won't be punished for it (yeeeeeeeah, about that...she gets fired).

- AJPW officially announced Misawa as the new president of the company in a press conference. Giant Baba's wife Motoko Baba is on the board of directors (along with several other top wrestlers). So that's where it stands for now.

- Steve Williams inquired about getting rehired in AJPW and was basically told "maybe." In the past, Williams was the top foreign star and that role has now been filled by Vader. With business not doing so great these days, it's not sure if they will want to pay Williams the big salary he's expecting. Williams is pretty upset with how his WWF run played out. In AJPW, he had a great paying job where he got first class accommodations everywhere paid for and it was pretty much a job for life. But Jim Ross convinced him that he could come to the WWF and only work 10-15 days a month so he could spend more time with his family, and he was promised a run against Steve Austin. But the Brawl For All basically wrecked those plans and then Vince McMahon lost interest in him, so he feels like he never got a fair shot. So now he wants to go back to AJPW but that might not work out either.

- There's still a lot of talk about a potential inter-promotional NJPW vs. AJPW angle. New Japan in particular keeps hinting at it and trying to get something going but no deals have been made yet.

- Legendary wrestling announcer Gordon Solie is having some health issues lately. He was supposed to do commentary for an indie show but had to cancel because of polyps on his vocal chords. They checking to see if it's malignant. Solie recently lost his wife to cancer (sadly, it is indeed throat cancer. He dies about a year later).

- There's a made-for-TV movie airing next week about Jesse Ventura. Dave has seen an advanced copy of it and says it's really bad. Also, it gets basically everything wrong. Parts of it were filmed at Nitro and in scenes that supposedly take place in the 70s, you can see NWO merch and WCW logos in the background. Goldberg, Raven, and Chris Kanyon all have small roles in it (and Kanyon worked as a consultant behind the scenes for all the wrestling stuff). It's basically a bad, cheesy made-for-TV flick and it's clear that the people making it didn't really know much about wrestling. There's a sleazy evil promoter that's supposed to be Vince. Rob Reiner as "Gorilla" who is Ventura's announcing partner. They also pretty much re-create the Montreal Screwjob in this movie, which is what causes Ventura to "quit" wrestling. (Dave is underselling this. This movie is legendarily bad).

- Bad News Allen wrestled his final match this week in Canada and is retiring and will be getting a double-knee replacement. The doctors suggested he do one knee now and the other one six months later, but he opted to do them both at the same time and get it over with (he ends up doing a few more matches, but not many. He still retires in 1998, just later in the year).

- The status of Shane Douglas in ECW is up in the air right now. He was having negotiations with WWF earlier in the week. Word is WWF is unsure if they want him or not due to his frequent injuries. But he's a hell of a talker and WWF is at least fairly interested in him. But he's currently out of shape and not nearly the worker he used to be due to injuries and he also still has the stigma of flopping in WWF a few years ago as Dean Douglas. But both sides seem to be willing to put the blame for that at the hands of the Kliq so they're not holding it against him. Douglas and Paul Heyman are barely on speaking terms and it's thought that the upcoming PPV will be Douglas' last match with the company, and he's expected to put over Justin Credible, but at this point, no one's even sure if he'll show up for that (nope, he doesn't. Nobody knows it yet, but Douglas has already wrestled his final ECW match by this point).

- Inside Edition came to the latest ECW Arena show to try to film some footage for a story they're doing on the New Jack/Mass Transit incident (since the trial is coming up soon). Heyman told all the wrestlers to not let the cameras film them and the Inside Edition people weren't allowed backstage.

- Davey Boy Smith is improving and is able to move around a little and even leave the house. He's also still interested in wrestling again and is said to be in contact with Vince McMahon. Even though WCW released him, they're still sending him weekly pay checks, which is a pretty obvious attempt to try and avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit and stay on his good side. Not quite the same situation for Rick Rude's family. Rude's widow has not received any checks from WCW so they don't appear to be paying out the rest of his contract to the family.

- In the recent ESPN special that aired on wrestling, they talked about a doctor named Dr. Edmund Chien who reportedly prescribed drugs and steroids to lots of wrestlers, including Brian Pillman. In the show, Pillman's wife claims Hulk Hogan hooked Pillman up with that doctor and it became a bit of a story. Anyway, the DEA has seized medical records from Dr. Chien and are investigating him, which is basically the same way the whole Dr. Zahorian mess got started.

- Perry Saturn is dealing with a back injury, which was suffered after landing on Warrior's trap door in a WCW ring, same as Davey Boy Smith. This week he had fluid injected into his L-4 disc and has been in agony to the point that other wrestlers were having to help him carry his bags in the airports. He had been taking heavy painkillers to deal with it but was said to be scared by Rick Rude's death and stopped taking them. He's not working house shows right now but since he's half of the tag champs, he's still doing TV and PPVs.

- Goldberg tried to renegotiate his contract this week. He's still signed for several more years at $800,000 per year. Even though he is by far WCW's biggest star, he is still paid well below the likes of Hogan, Hall, Nash, Hart, Savage, and Sting (all of whom make $1.5 mil or higher). So he tried to renegotiate and get a raise but Bischoff isn't going for it, which has left Goldberg pretty unhappy.

- WCW is tossing around the idea of bringing in Sid Vicious and Yokozuna. Because that's just what they need. Yokozuna wouldn't even be allowed to wrestle in most states since he can't pass commission physicals. And Sid is, well, Sid (they don't bring in Yoko but sure enough, Sid will be there soon).

- Chris Jericho wrote on his website that he has made up his mind about his future but won't say what it is. But most everyone in WCW is under the assumption that he's headed for WWF when his contract is up.

- The reason why the recent Flair vs. Page match on Nitro sucked is because the two guys weren't on the same page. Flair likes to call things in the ring and Page has a reputation for wanting to plan the match out in advance, move-by-move and Flair just wasn't going for it. So when they got in the ring, it just didn't click.

- Scott Hall's on/off relationship with his ex-wife Dana is on again and he has asked for several months off so he can stay home and try to fix their relationship. She doesn't want him wrestling at all and wants him to retire because she thinks getting away from the business is the only way he can stay sober.

- The latest on the WCW/NBC deal is that...it's basically dead. Backstage, Bischoff was telling people that TBS execs screwed up the deal somehow and that NBC backed out of it after the NBA strike ended. But a lot of people think Bischoff is just trying to save face because it's looking like WCW (Bischoff specifically) went around talking about the deal before it was done, which is why everyone thought it was a done deal. Turns out it wasn't. That's why you keep shit like that quiet until it's actually in writing and finalized.

- Juventud Guerrera and Jerry Lynn aren't being punished at all by WCW for their DUI arrests last week.

- On a recent episode of David Letterman's Late Show, the top 10 list for the night was "Slogans for the new WCW Nitro cologne." So in case you're wondering, here was the list:

10) Finally!
9) Because when you're sitting on your ass all day watching wrestling, you've got to smell your best!
8) This stuff can make you Governor
7) Give a bottle to that nancy boy son of yours...it couldn't hurt!
6) The perfect gift for...uh...it's really hard to say
5) If you actually bought Michael Jordan's cologne, you might as well buy this!
4) The exciting scent of the lowest common denominator
3) Like a piledriver up your nose
2) Sometimes you just want to smell phony
1) Attract them white trash babes!

- On Raw, they had a Deba vs. Sable evening gown match. It ended up with Sable tearing Debra's dress off to win. But then Commissioner Shawn Michaels reversed the decision, saying in his eyes, the woman who loses their clothes should be the winner. So they awarded Debra the title. Dave says interestingly enough, this was done because they've had trouble getting Sable to do a job and give up the belt. So this was the compromise because they don't want her to quit but they wanted to get the title off her (she quits soon anyway).

- Also on Raw, Patterson and Brisco came out doing their stooge routine in what Dave says was the best segment on Raw in months. They came out to Hogan's old "Real American" music, doing all the Hogan poses. They went against the Mean Street Posse guys and Patterson was especially great. Dave says Patterson will still be one of the best workers in the business 5 years after he's dead. The whole thing was hilarious and at the end, Jim Ross capped it off by saying, "And fellas, he's single."


- In a newspaper article, Earl Hebner talked about the Montreal Screwjob and had this to say: "It was the most difficult situation I have ever been in in this business. It was something I did because I was told to do it. I basically did it to protect the business for the rest of the boys. Here is one guy who was going to screw up 150 guys' lifestyle. The guy already had a $9 million contract. What was the big deal? If you work for somebody and you don't do what they tell you to, they don't need you." As you might expect, Dave calls bullshit on this. Hebner was also asked about swearing on his kids that he wouldn't screw Bret and Hebner admitted that he swore to Bret that he wouldn't count him down for a pin and therefore, he claims he kept his word. "I said I would never count him out, and I didn't. Bret and I were real close, but Bret didn't offer me any money. He didn't say if you do this, I will give you this. I have a family that I have to take care of."

- Mick Foley is expected to take some time off after the upcoming PPV to get his knees scoped.

- Radio DJ Bubba the Love Sponge, who has made some appearances in WCW, interfered in a match at a WWF house show. Dave says you know things are bad for WCW when even Bubba The Love Sponge has jumped ship.
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]


- ECW's Hardcore Heaven is in the books and the PPV comes at a weird time for the company. It's no secret that ECW is plagued with money problems and lots of wrestlers are owed significant sums of money. Bounced checks are everywhere. There's tons of rumors about Heyman being very close to making several deals that might help save the company but no one knows anything for sure. The most talked about deal is for ECW to get a 1-hour weekly show on TNN but that's not quite finalized just yet. Heyman is also said to be close to finalizing a deal with Acclaim for a video game and maybe more. Shane Douglas is said to be owed more than $80,000 dollars and has resulted in him quitting the company. He was supposed to work the PPV against Justin Credible, which was going to be his final ECW match, but after issues all week with Paul Heyman, he ended up no-showing the event. The night before the PPV, Douglas was at an indie show and was telling people that ECW was about to go under and that Paul Heyman wasn't returning his phone calls and hadn't sent him a plane ticket for the PPV. Heyman's story is that he had a long conversation with Douglas a couple of days ago and that they had worked out an agreement for him to work the show and put over Credible. Heyman said he didn't send Douglas a plane ticket because the show was driving distance (3-hour drive) so he didn't need to fly. Douglas also claims that the TNN deal isn't even close to done because TNN is asking questions about ECW's financial state. Heyman was furious when he heard Douglas was saying that and tried to get ahold of him but Douglas wouldn't return his calls. Douglas is still negotiating with WWF but nothing is finalized. Douglas says he still considers himself an ECW employee and no one has told him that he's fired. Sources close to Heyman say otherwise and that Douglas is gone. Anyway, the night before the PPV, Paul Heyman called Sid Vicious to get him to replace Douglas in the match. The problem there is that Heyman is trying to build Credible (and Lance Storm) as two of his top stars, but they ended up getting squashed by Sid because, well, that's how Sid does business and Heyman was kind of in a bind. Heyman had previously vowed never to work with Sid again after he no-showed an ECW Arena show awhile back, but in Sid's defense (for once), Heyman had bounced a check to him.

- Axl Rotten, Chris Candido, and Tammy Sytch are gone also. Candido and Sytch worked the PPV but were basically buried (Candido was squashed by Taz in 1 minute). Both of them are owed money also because they allowed Heyman to use their personal credit cards to buy plane tickets to fly wrestlers in for shows. Candido claims Heyman also owes them around $80,000. It's basically the same situation as Douglas, who allowed Heyman to max out his personal credit cards to front ECW money and now he's having to pay cash for everything. There's also rumors that New Jack has quit the company. The story is Heyman has decided not to use him right now because the Mass Transit trial is coming up and there's likely going to be some national publicity out of that. Heyman is trying to distance ECW from that as much as possible while he's still trying to put all these deals together. New Jack isn't happy about not being used so he's telling people he quit. No explanation of why Rotten may be gone.

- Oh yeah....there was a PPV. Other notes from Hardcore Heaven: there were rumors this would be the company's final PPV and they didn't announce a future PPV during the show, which isn't a good sign. RVD and Jerry Lynn were both injured in their match with concussions that legit knocked both of them unconscious at different points and Lynn was hospitalized afterward for that as well as a broken nose and he'll be out for at least a few weeks. But it was still by far the best match of the show and should have been the main event because nothing afterwards could touch it. The crowd chanted "she's a crack whore!" at Tammy Sytch and, well, she looks the part these days. (Later, when reviewing the most recent TV show, Dave says Tammy looked like Courtney Love in the final scenes of the Larry Flynt movie.) Prior to the Justin Credible match, on commentary Joey Styles acknowledged that Shane Douglas wasn't there and probably would never be back in ECW again due to a dispute with management. But that was as far as it went, they didn't actually bury Douglas or anything. When reviewing the Sid/Credible match, Dave talks about Sid getting hit and he accidentally types "no-showed" instead of "no-sold." Muscle memory I guess. Sabu did a run-in but came out too early and it screwed the timing of everything up.

- There was a meeting this week between AJPW president Mitsuharu Misawa and NJPW president Seiji Sakaguchi to discuss doing some inter-promotional matches between AJPW and NJPW to help revive the stagnant Japanese wrestling scene. Also at the meeting was IWGP champion Keiju Muto. The meeting was really only for show because the media was there. Dave says the secret negotiations must already be pretty far along because they even showed Muto on AJPW television, which means the TV networks must already be on board also because they're strict about not showing anything from the competition. Dave says the 2 promotions have worked together twice in the past. Once in 1979 and again for a few events in 1990 but most of the matches were never shown on TV because of both groups TV contracts not allowing it. In an interview after the meeting, Muto said that meeting Misawa was "like meeting his lover for the first time." It's well known in Japan that Muto basically worships Misawa and thinks he's the best wrestler of all time. In the past, Muto had suggested an inter-promotional match between himself and Misawa and even volunteered to put over Misawa clean even though Muto was IWGP champ at the time. But business was so good in Japan that neither side saw any reason to do it so it never happened. Dave thinks that potential match would have been a lot better a few years ago because both men, especially Muto, are badly broken down by age and injuries nowadays (looks like this match never happened. Muto and Misawa faced off in a couple of tag team matches several years later but never had a 1-on-1 match).

- Speaking of Misawa, even though he was officially named president of AJPW, he still has to answer to Motoko Baba when it comes to any major financial decisions, since she is funding the company. In other AJPW news, the Road Warriors may be coming in for a few tours later this year. There's been a lot of talk about how AJPW would operate after Baba passed away. But one other issue that people have forgotten is that he was also still a major draw. And without having him to help sell tickets, business will suffer some, so Misawa is trying to bring in people who have big names in Japan (like the Road Warriors), especially to help draw in smaller cities. Johnny Ace helps the company book a lot of the foreign stars and he's interested in bringing in Mike Awesome, who has a big name in Japan from his years in FMW. But with FMW business suffering lately and the unstable financial situation in ECW, Awesome is wanting to find somewhere more stable to work so he can be assured of a guaranteed paycheck. He's currently still out of action after having knee surgery last year.

- WWF held a UK-only PPV called No Mercy this week in Manchester, England. Word is it was basically an average show, nothing major happened. During the show, they mentioned Davey Boy Smith several times. Smith is still recovering from all his spinal issues and is currently a free agent, although WCW is still sending him paychecks to try to soften the bad publicity after they unceremoniously fired him, and Smith has made it clear he wants to return to WWF. They talked about his health problems and aired a tribute video to him for the fans. Sable was supposed to face Tori in a match, but after they got to the arena, Sable claimed she had a cold and couldn't wrestle, so Nicole Bass took her place (Sable is so checked out at this point). About a month ago, Shane McMahon "retired" the European championship, but they brought it back for this show only and had Shane successfully defend against X-Pac. And Austin beat Undertaker and Triple H in the main event.

- Monday night ratings were the same ol' story. The Rock vs. Undertaker casket match did a 7.3 rating for that segment, making it the highest rated segment ever when they actually had competition on the other channel. As always, it was never even close for WCW.

- Must be a slow week. Dave decides to go through his star-ratings and start averaging shit out for the year so far. So basically, for the first 5 months of 1999, who are the best in-ring wrestlers (at least based on Dave's star ratings). Anyway, in singles matches, the top guy is....Juventud Guerrera, who's basically averaging 4.13 stars per match. Second place goes to Kenta Kobashi, then Koji Kanemoto, then Jerry Lynn, and Misawa rounding out the top five. As for tag teams, it's not even close. Kobashi and Jun Akiyama are averaging 4.63, way ahead of all the other tag teams in the world.

- New Japan is trying to strike a backdoor deal with WWF, to do business since, well, WWF is the hottest company in the world right now. Obviously, if NJPW strikes a deal with WWF, it would end the WCW relationship which would result in WCW pulling out guys like Scott Norton and NWO Sting who are fairly popular in New Japan.

- Kevin Nash was on the Tonight Show last week ad did well. They talked about Goldberg challenging Steve Austin last time he was on the show, saying they knew all along Austin wouldn't accept. Goldberg was actually supposed to do the show (and do a taping of Hollywood Squares) but he refused to do either because he's currently at an impasse with WCW over renegotiating his contract. So Nash did the Tonight Show and DDP filled in for him on Hollywood Squares. He also told his version of the story of how he got the nickname Big Sexy, crediting it to a conversation with his wife. Dave says that sounds better than the real story, which is that awhile back, an indie wrestler using the name Big Sexy had a WCW tryout and Terry Taylor liked the name and suggested it to Nash instead of hiring the guy who came up with it. Anyway, with Nash on there, they set up a big angle with Nash challenging Hart. Of course, Leno laughed through the whole thing and laughed especially hard when told Goldberg was injured because he didn't believe it because, ya know, wrestling is so totally fake and those guys don't really get hurt. Goldberg really is dealing with injuries and is getting arthroscopic knee surgery next week.

- On Nitro, Eric Bischoff cut a long promo that was basically a shoot, with him admitting that WCW is losing the war because they have been building the company around the wrong people but promised they would be back on top again eventually. However, backstage Bischoff had a meeting with the wrestlers and told them the plan is to build the company around 10 stars who are proven money draws and everyone else will have to wait their turn for a push. No official word on who those 10 guys are, but from what Dave hears, it's basically the same ol' same (Hogan, Page, Savage, Flair, Nash, Hall, Sting, Hart, Piper, and Goldberg....note that Goldberg is the only one on that list under 40). So even though he went on TV and basically admitted the problem, there's clearly no plan to really change anything.

- Rapper Master P reportedly wants to get involved in wrestling, either with WWF or WCW.

- There's a lot of drama behind the scenes with WWF and Sable, to the point that most people think it's inevitable that Sable will probably try to leave soon and take a shot at making it in Hollywood. She'll have to use her real name (Rena Mero) because WWF owns "Sable." Dave thinks it probably won't work out for her very well, especially without the Sable name. Maybe in the short term, but if she's off WWF TV for a few months, wrestling fans likely aren't going to follow her for long. Right now, both Sable and WWF are just trying to tolerate each other, since it's mutually beneficial for business. She also has a new Playboy coming out later this year that's sure to be a big hit. Sable's contract isn't a wrestling contract (she was originally signed to just be a valet) so she's been refusing to wrestle house shows and refused to work several matches in order to drop the women's title, which is why they did the angle with Debra last week to get the belt off her without her really losing. She agreed to work PPVs because that's where the big payoffs are, but that's pretty much it when it comes to actually wrestling.

- Steve Austin and Debra are featured together in the latest issue of George Magazine (interestingly enough, that's the magazine founded by JFK Jr. who dies in a plane crash about 2 months after this). Speaking of, Austin's divorce from first wife Jeannie Clark was finalized this week. She got custody of the kids. There were a lot of tabloid stories about this.

- WWF writer Ed Ferrera gave his 2-week's notice last week after a dispute with Vince McMahon about something on the show. However, McMahon refused the notice and apparently talked him into staying (we're not too far away from both Ferrera and Russo jumping ship to WCW).

- ECW wrestler Super Crazy worked the latest WWF Superastros show under a mask, using the name Super Loco.

- A Christian magazine called Plugged In wrote an article trashing the state of wrestling these days, complaining about the lack of morality and its effects on society. The article said that years from now, when men degrade women or people turn a blind and desensitized eye towards violence in society, no one will blame the Undertaker or Steve Austin, but maybe they should because of the impact it has on kids.

- LOTS of letters this week. Someone asks about how WWF and WCW contracts are structured and it's a long read with lots of percentages and terms like "downside guarantees" and whatnot. But it's interesting if you're into knowing how that sort of stuff works. Letters about Rick Rude. Someone asking why Dave trashes the wrestling companies over drug use, saying it's the wrestler's fault if they take drugs and die, not McMahon's or Bischoff's. Someone predicts WWF's new Smackdown show will overexpose the product like Thunder did for WCW.

- Someone else writes in trashing the Undertaker gimmick, leading to Dave writing a pretty hilarious response. In reality, the response is really just Dave recapping the Undertaker/Kane history in kayfabe but when it's written out like this, it really puts into perspective just how absurd the whole thing actually is:

Quote:Kane is really Glen. I think he was once the Unabomber. As a child, he was in a fire that killed both his parents. Except his real father was Paul Bearer, who raised him from the age of nine. Mark was also raised by Paul Bearer after his parents died in the fire. However, even though they lived in the same house as children, Mark thought Glen had died for 20 years until he showed up in St. Louis the day after Brian died. Brian really died. Mark's parents really didn't. Nor did Glen, nor did Mark really think Glen died. He knew that was just a clever wrestling storyline. Nor did they live in the same house. Anyway, Glen told Paul that Mark set the fire that never took place. Mark wanted to kill Paul for saying he murdered his parents because Glen used to fool around with fires and was the one who set the fire. Paul was having an affair with Mark's mom and was actually Glen's father. Mark wanted to kill Paul for that one. Glen and Paul set Mark on fire and choke slammed him into his mothers' bones after they exhumed the grave. Eventually Mark got so mad that they fought each other. But that was really a promotional stunt by Vince to draw a buy rate for Wrestlemania so Mark hated Vince. So because he hated him so much, he and Glen got together to be his bodyguards. But they got yelled at because Vince was an ungrateful asshole so they destroyed Vince's ankle. Actually that was because Why? The same reason Paul Wight, Vince's top enforcer, turned face to get away from Vince being such an asshole and because Rock was such an asshole and was back with him two weeks later, in the role of Vince's top enforcer and running in to help Rock. Anyway, as it turned out, after spending a year fighting Glen because he'd killed his parents, Mark admitted he was the one who killed his parents and burned his brother. And the police show up to arrest wrestlers every Monday but nobody ever questions him. And Paul loved those parents and Glen, his son. So now, Paul and Mark are back together with Paul. And Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara's attention to the minutest detail make them the greatest script writers on television.

[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

Also: Friday is Owen Hart day
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

Lol that response was awesome. And Friday will be a tough one
No. No. Noooooo.
[Image: 330skup.jpg]


- This is the Owen Hart issue. This is going to be long and it's going to be heavy. Strap in.

- Dave opens the issue with his own personal story, talking about how just last week, he got to see Brian Pillman's children and says the last time he saw them was 18 months earlier at Pillman's funeral. Last week, he talked to Rick Rude's wife, who was planning a birthday party for their 5-year-old daughter for the first time without her husband. He talks about all the good people in the business, such as the wrestlers who gave up their few days off to work the recent Pillman memorial show and how Steve Austin gave the family a $10,000 check. He transitions this into talking about Owen Hart, one of the most beloved people in the business and who's death had nothing to do with drugs or the usual trappings of the industry. On May 23, at 7:41, what will become the most famous moment in wrestling history happened. Just before they cut to a pre-taped backstage interview with Owen Hart, Jim Ross could be heard on the air saying, "We've got a big problem out here." Dave writes this story in a back-and-forth narrative sort of way. Part obituary, part recap of what happened. He writes a few paragraphs about Owen's childhood, and then a few paragraphs about the accident, then a bit about Owen's early career, then more about the accident, and so on, switching back and forth like that. I'm going to skip most of the obituary stuff about Owen's life and career (although I highly suggest reading it if you want to learn about his career) and focus mostly on the details of what happened at Over The Edge. Also, I'm jumping around all over the place so parts of it might be a little out of order from the way it was originally written. But this is one of those all-time must-read issues of the Observer if you're the type that likes to go read this stuff in full.

- A pre-taped Blue Blazer interview was shown on TV. When the cameras returned, it was just Jim Ross. Unbeknownst to the viewers at home, Jerry Lawler had left the announce table and ran to the ring as soon as Owen hit. Somehow, while hanging above the ring to make a Sting-like, goofy superhero entrance, Owen came out of his harness and fell to the ring, landing on the corner ropes and then flipping forward into the ring. Many people in the crowd who saw it believed he had a broken neck. Others thought it was a crash test dummy and part of the show. WWF cameras made sure not to film the ring while Jim Ross repeatedly tried to tell viewers what had happened and assure everyone that it wasn't part of the show and that what was happening was real. EMTs frantically tried to perform CPR on Owen and fans at ringside said they could hear the EMTs panicking because he had no pulse and was changing color rapidly, eventually turning blue. Lawler returned to the announce table looking white as a ghost and said, "It doesn't look good at all." They aired a backstage Jeff Jarrett interview to buy more time while EMTs continued working.

- After a 7-minute delay while Owen was worked on and then taken from the ring, Jeff Jarrett and Debra were scheduled to go on next. It was obvious from Jarrett's face that things were bad, as he looked like he was barely holding it together and Debra was openly crying. Dave says he barely saw the rest of the show and doesn't really remember anything he saw. His phone started ringing off the hook with wrestlers from other companies and other people in the business calling to ask if it was a work. Dave said the announcement of Owen's death will likely end up being the most vivid memory he will ever have watching professional wrestling. Hart was rushed to Truman Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival from massive internal injuries. Dave got word from the hospital that Owen had died shortly before Ross announced it on the air.

- So what happened? Right now, the belief is that Owen may have accidentally pushed the release button on his harness while still hanging high above the ring (anywhere from 50 to 96 feet up, depending on which story you believe) and plummeted to the ring. No one knows for sure just yet. If someone made a mistake in hooking him up, they aren't admitting to it. Owen was said to be uncomfortable with the entrance. He had done it before a few months back and before the show started, they tested the apparatus twice (once with Owen and once with a heavy sandbag) and it went fine. But Owen had complained to his wife and a few fellow wrestlers about it, saying he didn't feel safe and his wife was strongly against him doing it, but he apparently felt he had to. Hart's autopsy listed the cause of death as internal bleeding due to blunt chest trauma. Three other people were on the catwalk at the arena at the time of the accident, some people WWF hired who had previously done stunt work with them and the Kansas City authorities are investigating.

- The decision to continue the show was, of course, hugely controversial and WWF was brutally criticized in the media for it worse than any media criticism they've ever gotten. Dave says you can make arguments either way and the decision was obviously made under intense pressure at a very stressful moment. There are precedents for it. The 1972 Olympics weren't cancelled after the Israeli massacre. There have been auto races that continued after a driver was killed. Wrestling isn't necessarily a sport, more of entertainment like a play or a concert, although granted there are millions of dollars at stake, between PPV revenue and tickets. Paul Heyman told Dave that under the circumstances, he also would have kept the show going. Even Eric Bischoff was on Larry King's show and wouldn't give a straight answer but admitted that he wasn't sure if he would have stopped the show either. Dave doesn't go for that. He points out the WWF Beware of Dog PPV show a few years ago where the feed got cut out and they ended up going off the air during the PPV. It cost them some money but it didn't bankrupt the company or anything. Dave says no one (other than the most selfish and callous people) would have complained if they had cancelled the show. Dave also doesn't like the fact that the live crowd wasn't told of Owen's death (most people found out about it after the show was over from the local news). And an hour after Owen's death, the announcers mentioned it once and then carried on with the show without mentioning it again, leaving the television audience basically stunned and clueless. On the same hand, Ross repeatedly said they didn't want to sensationalize what was happening and Dave understands that. WWF was basically in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation here. Dave says at the time, he was completely spaced out and in shock and it wasn't until several hours later that he really started to think about whether or not the show should have stopped. He says now, in retrospect, that yes it definitely should have been stopped and it was a terrible decision to continue. But even he had no idea how huge the media backlash was going to be.

- Hart's family, as you might expect, were outraged by the decision to continue the show. Many of them have also blamed the ongoing ratings war, saying both sides are taking more risks and doing more crazy stunts in order to draw more viewers. Many of them were also upset about the tribute show the next night on Raw, feeling that it was just Vince doing damage control to stem the tide of bad publicity and said it was tasteless. The family was also upset with how WWF handled the situation with them personally. WWF officials didn't contact Stu Hart until 2 hours after the show ended and it wasn't even Vince, it was WWF Canada official Carl DeMarco who called to give them the news (which of course, by then, Stu was already aware of). Vince called the family later on that night, but Bruce Hart was said to be disgusted by what Vince said (something about WWF being their extended family and yada yada. By the way, this whole thing is full of quotes from Bruce Hart doing what Bruce Hart does: trashing other people and making things about himself and trying to be the center of the story. Bruce is, by far, the worst Hart). As for Owen's wife Martha, WWF officials did at least call her almost immediately after it happened.

- Bret Hart was on a plane on the way to Los Angeles when it happened and didn't have his cell phone and didn't find out about it until several hours after it had happened. Bischoff reportedly met Hart at the airport in Los Angeles and Bret immediately flew back home to Calgary. Hart was scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show to answer the challenge from Kevin Nash, but that was cancelled and Jay Leno talked about the incident on his show, wishing Bret and his family the best. The following night, late night host Craig Kilborn wasn't quite as classy, joking that the Blue Blazer had died but the White Turtleneck is still alive, which upset a lot of people.

- Backstage, around the time that it happened, they were pre-taping a scene where Vince McMahon was being taken away on a stretcher in an ambulance in somewhat of a comedy bit (it ended up being added into the show after the Jarrett match). As the ambulance with McMahon in it was driving away, right after the scene cut, Bruce Prichard came running in screaming that they needed the ambulance to come back.

- Owen had reportedly told a lot of people that he was looking to get out of the business and planned to retire when his contract expired in 2 more years. Of course, a lot of wrestlers say "Only 2 more years" but then never walk away so who knows if he really would have. A few weeks ago, they wanted to do an angle where Owen would fall for Debra, thus feuding with a jealous Jeff Jarrett. Owen turned down the angle, not wanting his wife and kids to see him falling for another woman on TV. So they decided to bring back the Blue Blazer gimmick for him instead, which Owen reportedly felt was a punishment for turning down the other storyline, but he was determined to have fun with it anyway.

- The media is, of course, having a field day and the news coverage is unprecedented. Wrestling fans are being portrayed as bloodthirsty maniacs who want their stars to entertain them with unsafe stunts and promoters are portrayed as callous and uncaring. Some of these perceptions are at least partially true.

- The following night on Raw was a 2-hour tribute show to Owen. No risque behavior, no storylines, just quick matches with anyone who felt like wrestling. There were also video tributes from different wrestlers, many who visibly broke down. Most of them seemed sincere, although Dave felt Billy Gunn's and the Rock's comments came off a little tacky. Almost all the wrestlers wore black arm bands. Vince McMahon didn't appear on the show, nor did Undertaker because they apparently didn't want to show him out of character. There was also controversy over holding off Steve Austin's tribute until the end of the show, as a ratings ploy, and especially considering the fact that Austin openly disliked Owen and had gone on record in interviews blaming Hart for injuring him in 1997. So having Austin come out and do his beer tribute at the end came off as WWF trying to make themselves look good rather than a sincere tribute and holding him off to the end of the show seemed like a way to keep fans from changing the channel. On Nitro, Chris Benoit and Roddy Piper also wore black arm bands and they acknowledged Owen's death at the beginning of the show and mentioned it a couple of times throughout.

- All WWF house shows for the next week were cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date. Vince McMahon also informed all the wrestlers that WWF will pay to fly them and their spouses to Calgary for the funeral, which Dave says is a far cry from when Pillman died (in that case, no one from WWF went to the funeral, although McMahon and Ross did attend a wake the night before) and WWF didn't offer to pay for anyone to go, even though it was on an off-day in the schedule.

- And that's.....pretty much it this week for the Owen Hart story, but have no doubt there's plenty more in the coming weeks and months. There were other news stories this week, but Dave just blows through them at light speed, pretty much lumping everything into 1 big paragraph and not really talking much about any of it in detail.

- WWF signed a deal with UPN for a new 2-hour weekly show that will air on Thursday nights starting in August. It will totally revamp the company's touring schedule. The show will be called Smackdown and will be taped on Tuesday nights and aired 2 days later.

- WWF is also expressing interest in going public, with McMahon hoping to raise $150 million by selling off about 20% of company stock. There's a lot of talk in the media that it's going to happen but may still be several months away. It's also believed that Owen's death will likely delay it while the company tries to recover from the negative publicity.

- The 2nd annual Brian Pillman memorial show raised $35,000 for the family. Ricky Steamboat was at the show and said his back has been in constant pain since retiring in 1994 due to a back injury. Steamboat did say he felt like he may be able to work one last match and would like to face Flair, but said there's no way he could go back to a full-time schedule.

- Sable is in a major contract dispute with WWF (much more on that in the coming weeks).

- There was a lot of heat backstage in WCW after last week's Nitro due to several wrestlers going off-script and criticizing the company. In particular, Dean Malenko cut a promo saying that you have to have a driver's license showing that you're over the age of 45 in order to get a push in WCW, which led to Malenko and Bischoff having a heated argument backstage afterward.

- A couple of weeks ago, WCW referee Charles Robinson suffered a chest injury after Randy Savage hit the big elbow drop on him. Robinson doesn't have a big muscular chest like other wrestlers and because of Savage's injuries, he tries to avoid as much impact as he can on his knees and hips, so these days, he's coming down harder on his elbow and ribs into the wrestler taking the bump, so the elbow drops are hitting guys harder than ever. In this case, it led to Robinson suffering a partially collapsed lung and needing to be hospitalized.

- Chris Candido is back in ECW, despite rumors of being fired last week. Paul Heyman disputed that Candido was ever owed $80,000 like he and Tammy Sytch claimed last week. Heyman says the most Candido was ever owed was $23,000 and ECW has already repaid that to him and they currently don't owe him any money. As for Shane Douglas, Heyman says he has no interest in ever bringing him back.

- Steve McMichael is currently in rehab. Speaking of drugs, WCW is interested in bringing back Steve Regal, but it's not a done deal.

- Vader signed a 2-year deal with AJPW that will pay him about $15,000 per week. Vader has said he's considering retiring after the 2 years is up. There goes that "in 2 more years..." again.

- Bradshaw and Steve Blackman got into a fight fight at the Kansas City airport in the baggage claim area the day before the PPV. This story is hilarious and Bob Holly wrote about it in his book. This issue needs some lighthearted levity, so let's read it:


Quote:At Kansas City airport, Steve and I were waiting around when Bradshaw came over. It was an early morning flight and John was still drunk from the night before. He started patting Steve’s ass. Steve said, “John, I don’t play that shit, knock it off.” John patted him again. And again. Steve was getting brutally pissed. He told him, “John, next time you do that, I’m going to knock your fucking teeth out.” So, of course, John did it again. Steve whipped around and backhanded Bradshaw, popping him with jabs in the face.

John started swinging and missing, and his head was snapping back with each of Steve’s jabs. Steve stepped back, planning to kick Bradshaw’s knees out, but he got his leg caught in a bag handle. Al Snow and I grabbed Steve, Ron Simmons grabbed John, and we pulled them apart. John was walking back and forth like a bandy rooster, looking to fight. Before we left, Steve told him, “I’m going to fucking kill you.” He meant it too.

We got our car and got on the road. Ken Shamrock was riding with us. Me, Blackman, and Shamrock. That’s a dangerous car, and I’m the warm one — a teddy bear compared to the other two. That whole journey, Shamrock was poking and prodding Steve, telling him that Bradshaw was going to beat his ass. Steve wasn’t saying a word. And who did we see when we checked in to the hotel? Bradshaw and Ron were right there.

The boys don’t always stay at the same hotels, so it was a complete coincidence and not a good one for John. He came over to apologize and Steve said, “No apologies, I’m going to finish you later,” then walked off. We found him in the gym, still boiling mad. Once we were in the arena and had sat down in catering, John walked in. Everybody went silent as Steve stood up. He said, “If you’ve got something to say to me, you say it now or I’m going to finish you in front of everybody.” Bradshaw walked over, apologized and said, “I shouldn’t have fucked with you,” and shook his hand. That was the end of it. Steve sat down and said, “Bob, if it wasn’t for that bag, John would be in intensive care right now.” Trust me, I believe it — if anybody can put Bradshaw in the hospital with one kick, it’s Steve Blackman.


- Mitsuharu Misawa appeared on TV-Asahi (NJPW's television network) for a talk show. All the wrestlers have exclusive deals with the networks so Misawa appearing on TV-Asahi is further evidence that an AJPW/NJPW deal is imminent.

- Letters section and there's already several letters people faxed to Dave about Owen's death. Lots of people basically trashing WWF for continuing the show and one guy thinks Vince McMahon is doing damage control because he's preparing for an inevitable lawsuit. Someone else writes in about Triple H, calling him the most over-pushed wrestler ever, slow in the ring, sucks on the mic, never gets over with fans, etc. He ends it by saying, "I predict Helmsley will fail miserably as a main eventer."

- Dave ends the issue with an apology, saying due to all the news about Owen's death, it took a lot longer to put this issue together and says it's practically a miracle that he even got the issue done this week. He says it doesn't really feel appropriate to talk about good or bad matches or to review anything. Most of the other news listed here was already written before Owen's death and anything he missed, he'll catch up on next week.
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]


Here's the video before they announced his death, when they're still working on Owen in the ring and J.R. is stalling for time
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]


- Owen Hart's funeral was held in Calgary this week and was attended by around 2,000 people, including many in the wrestling community and even a few Canadian politicians, and of course tons of media. Most of the WWF roster, along with their spouses and many of the office employees all attended, with the company footing the bill for their travel. In fact, WWF paid for a lot of the funeral arrangements as well. The WWF rented 3 buses, painted up with sayings like "We love you Owen" on them to transport everyone to the funeral. But then, on Raw the following Monday, they aired footage of the buses and people arriving to the funeral, which Martha Hart had explicitly asked them not to do, and she wasn't happy about it. Steve Austin was basically the only major WWF star who didn't attend. Outside of WWF, the funeral was also attended by Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, The Road Warriors, Shane Douglas, Brian Blair, Jim Powers, Dory & Terry Funk, Tiger Jeet Singh, Killer Kowalski, Chris Benoit and Woman, Chris Jericho, and Kevin Von Erich and others. There were also members of the Calgary Flames, Calgary Stampeders and Calgary Hit Men hockey teams. Lots of wrestling fans gathered outside the funeral and while most people were respectful, several of them started cheering whenever they'd see big name wrestlers, which many thought was in bad taste.

- Owen's wife Martha was remarkably poised and spoke about her life with Owen. Bret Hart gave a eulogy, telling stories about Owen's legendary practical jokes. Hulk Hogan was the subject of a lot of media attention for showing up, but he tried really hard to keep a low profile and stay as inconspicuous as possible. Country singer Collin Raye (who was friends with Owen) sang a few songs. Vince McMahon was at the funeral at the request of Martha, although many in the family reportedly weren't comfortable with it. Vince and Bret Hart spoke in person for the first time since Montreal, though no one knows what was said (Bret writes about it in his book and we'll hear a lot about it in the coming months). Vince also went to Stu Hart's house in his limo and had someone pass along a message saying he was there if Stu wanted to talk to him, but he would understand if he didn't. Stu accepted and he met with Vince but again, no one knows what was discussed. Earl Hebner didn't attend the funeral because he didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable by being there, since they all basically hate him after his role in the Screwjob. During their speeches, both Martha and Bret had some strong words and thinly-veiled threats for the WWF. Martha said that there would be a "day of reckoning" coming for what happened to Owen and that it was her final promise to him, while Bret said that Owen was too good for the spectacle of what wrestling had become.

- So...after facing the biggest negative media story in its history, where does the business go from here? The media has crucified wrestling, using Owen's death as an excuse to rip on the current direction of the product. The WWF has mostly kept quiet due to the potential liability issues and all wrestlers have been instructed not to speak to anyone in the media regarding the circumstances of Owen's death. WCW wrestlers were also instructed the same thing. Vince McMahon is scheduled to appear on Larry King Live this week, which will be the first time he's publicly talked about it. Beyond that, if there's any good to come out of a tragedy like this, it's that it can hopefully be the catalyst to making changes about ALL of the problems in the industry. Dave knows this won't happen, but he says Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff need to work together to spearhead these changes. Obviously, unionization needs to be on the table but again, Dave is realistic and knows it won't happen, he's just daydreaming at this point. There also needs to be independent oversight, someone who understands the realities of wrestling but isn't beholden to McMahon or Bischoff, who can tackle the issue of drugs and injuries. Dave suggests the same people who work with the NFL on these issues. And then he goes way out and left field and suggests one person to oversee all this: Jesse Ventura. Dave knows that name probably surprises a lot of people, since Dave himself has never really been shy about not being a big fan of Ventura and obviously, neither Vince or Bischoff care for him either. But Ventura understands the business. He knows the demands and gets it from an economic and entertainment level as well as the in-ring part. He's also high profile and isn't a guy who backs down from a fight. The wrestling business needs someone who will hold it accountable and not buckle under pressure from McMahon or Bischoff. Once again, Dave reiterates that this is basically just a fantasy pipe dream, and Ventura's plenty busy already as governor. The whole thing would require a business full of con-men to be honest with themselves and the public. It would require promoters who make millions of dollars off of driving these wrestlers until the wheels fall off them to stop doing that. It would require them to give up power to an outside force. Basically, there's a million reasons why it won't happen, but ya know, we all fantasy book sometimes.

- While examining this topic, Dave also looks at the financials of the companies. WWF has released a lot of numbers lately because they're interested in taking the company public. WWF pays about 13% of its income to the wrestlers, which is exceedingly low (WCW pays about 20%, while pretty much all major league sports like NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, etc. pay their performers more than double that percentage) and WWF's profit margin over the past year was 167%. Even the most successful franchises in pro sports aren't even remotely close to as profitable. Point being: wrestlers are drastically underpaid and if they don't ever unionize and fight for their fair share, they always will be. Dave also points out how the human costs are adding up. WCW added Thunder and WWF is adding Smackdown, which just means more time on the road, more injuries, more drug issues and rehab visits, more failed marriages, etc. Owen's death was obviously a tragic accident but in everyone's haste to do so many hours of live TV every week and a cut-throat competition between WWF and WCW, there's rushed carelessness and poor judgment on both sides and eventually, that was going to lead to something going wrong. This was a professional stunt being done by a guy who was not a trained stunt man, and it had zero reason to be done. It didn't add to the buyrate or ticket sales and the whole corny Blue Blazer "say your prayers and eat your vitamins" gimmick was just meant to be a parody of 80s babyfaces like Hogan. And while he's ultimately responsible for his own actions, negligence and poor judgement also played a role in Brian Pillman's death (he had previously failed a drug test and was clearly in no physical condition to be wrestling at all, and yet WWF put him out there in the ring every night anyway). At some point, both companies have to realize that relentlessly chasing profits and ratings victories isn't worth the human cost.

- Bret Hart and Martha Hart were both on Larry King's show, just hours after the funeral. Both complained about the direction of the business and talked about how Owen was against it. Martha said Owen had planned to ease out of the business after his contract was up. Martha heavily implied that she was planning to sue the WWF. Bret was also complimentary of Eric Bischoff during the interview, talking about how Bischoff made sure to meet Bret at the airport as soon as he heard the news and had already gotten a private jet chartered to fly Bret to Calgary by the time he landed, which Bret really appreciated. Bret explained how he found out, saying that when he was on the plane, someone got word to the pilot that there was an emergency and to call home but none of the phones Bret tried would work (1999 cell service in airplanes, what can ya do). Bret was initially worried about his father but finally got a working phone and talked to someone who told him what happened. Bret has been talking about retirement a lot in the last week, feeling his passion for wrestling was gone after this. The planned Hart/Goldberg storyline has been scrapped, since Bischoff told Bret he could have as much time off as he needs and besides, if/when Bret comes back, no one is going to accept him as a heel right now anyway.

- Of course, the media criticism is still off the charts, with most people asking why WWF continued the show. Phil Mushnick got his 2 cents in, along with nearly everyone else. The Kansas City Police are also catching some heat for not forcing the show to be stopped. Within the business, opinions seem to be divided. Every wrestling promoter Dave has spoken with understood and agreed with McMahon's decision to continue the show, citing the millions of dollars the company could lose by stopping the show (refunding PPV money). Dave disputes that, saying they could have rescheduled the show during one of the replay times but whatever. Wrestling fans are split but Dave says most of the ones he's talked to think it should have been stopped. Among actual wrestlers, there also seems to be a split and it's actually turned into a heated argument among a lot of wrestlers. As far as the tribute show the next night on Raw, virtually every wrestling fan loved it, but pretty much everybody within the business that Dave has spoken with thought it was crass, exploitative, and phony.

- A lot of media stories featured quotes from people who knew Owen and talked about how he didn't really want to wrestle anymore. In fact, wrestling was never really his passion, he just sorta fell into it and was good at it, but even early in his career, he had nearly bailed on it several times but stuck around for the money. He definitely developed a love for it and worked hard but it was seemingly never his dream. And especially by the end, most people said he was just collecting checks in a business that he didn't care about at all anymore.

- So what exactly happened? The harness Owen was attached to had a release button. In WCW, Sting had come down from the rafters a million times, but was attached to a safety hook that often took a long time to take off and sometimes looked bad on TV as he struggled to unhook himself. So the harness Owen was in only required him to press a button to release himself. The idea was Owen would be comically lowered to the ring and then, about 3 feet from the mat, he would hit the button and fall on his face like a dork. So that's why it was just a single button release.

- Jerry Lawler was interviewed in the local Memphis newspaper and talked about the incident. Remember, Lawler was one of the first people to the ring after Owen hit. Lawler got in the ring and partially lifted Owen's mask off his face in case it was impairing his breathing and then said, "I leaned further in and looked at his face. His mouth was open and his eyes were both, not wide open, but it was just a fixed stare. Both pupils were already dilated. There was no breath whatsoever. I just felt immediately he was gone." Lawler then went on to say some really foolish shit in the interview, including this nugget when defending the WWF: "Everything has to be blamed on somebody. Kids shoot somebody in a school. They say, 'Let's blame movies and video games. Let's not see how they were raised by their parents.' A guy inadvertently pulls a release mechanism and causes himself to fall and so all of a sudden it's 'Let's blame wrestling.' I'll challenge any sport with physical contact to see if they've had less participants die. It was certainly a tragic accident. But it's part of life. I don't think matches are any more dangerous than they've ever been." (Dave is particularly blown away by the wrongness of Lawler's claim that wrestling hasn't had more people die than other contact sports).

- There was lots of media coverage all over the world of Owen's death and other promotions that he had worked in also paid tribute. In CMLL in Mexico, they acknowledged Owen's history there. In NJPW, they held a 10-bell salute and Jushin Liger spoke to the crowd about Owen.

- Davey Boy Smith has been openly saying he doesn't believe McMahon is to blame and that he's still hoping to return to the WWF. He's still recovering from his spinal issues. Owen's brother Ross Hart was actually awake and watching the Craig Kilborn show last week when Kilborn made the tasteless joke about Owen and he called CBS and complained. Dallas radio station KEGL's morning show caught a bunch of flack when they talked about Owen while making a bunch of crashing sound effects and played Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" song.

- And finally, the last bit of Owen news for this issue is that Bret Hart wrote about it in his weekly column for the Calgary Sun. Here's what Bret had to say:

Quote:I just can't believe it. My brother Owen has been taken away from me. He was such a wonderful human being and I will miss him so much. I've tried and tried to sum up into words what he meant to me. What he meant to all of us who loved him. It seems everyone knows by now what a great husband, father, son and brother he was. He was, without a doubt, the finest family man I ever knew. His life was centered around his wife, Martha, his one and only childhood sweetheart, and his two beautiful children, Oje and Athena. So many times, I remember he sprinted from the door of the plane, his two carry-on bags in each hand, at full run, worn out and weary, just to clear customs, through the sliding doors, to their outstretched arms. A man with no vices. None. His only obsession, his family. Always his family. And oh, how he loved them all. I don't believe anyone knew Owen as well as me, except Martha. I recall, so often, in airports, hotel rooms, dressing rooms, long drives on endless highways, his only dream was to come home to his wife and his two children. He almost made it, only days before moving into their dream home. He worked so hard for that dream. It's all so unfair, an exhausting argument with God. A long and sad meditation on fate and purpose and love. I'm so sorry, Martha. You and he deserved so much to have all your dreams come true. As your brother, if you can hear me, and I know you can, you would be so very proud of her. I understand, even more so than before, why you fell in love with this girl and why you loved her so much. As your brother, I promise to watch over Athena and Oje. To be there for them. To try my best to make up for your absence. To tell them about you and to never let them wonder what you were like. To help Martha forever and to insure what you wanted the most, that Oje and Athena are raised with respect and love and that they'll be guided by your spirit to have integrity and conscience. That they will make you proud. Martha wouldn't have it any other way. Neither will I. My mother and father, I know what he meant to you, to all of us Harts, and I hope, in our sadness, we can find some way to overcome this tragedy and move on again. The Harts are loved and admired for our strength. This will be a true test. We all have so many wonderful and beautiful thoughts and memories of Owen, I wouldn't know where to start. I can't. I've concluded that we can only hold on to all those memories and like our last brother, Dean, we will laugh and smile and talk endlessly of how you made this world a better place. Owen, you were the funniest person I ever knew. I thank you for that. I will smile to myself forever at all the funny things you did. A prankster? Nobody but all of us who knew you will ever understand how hilarious it was to be around you. Prank me anytime, Owen. I'll be waiting for your call. You were a great man who never, ever lost his heart of a child. I will hold dear my memories of all the places, distant lands and people we saw together. The sunset in Guam. The breathtaking beauty of Cape Town, South Africa. Our hell ride to the Taj Mahal in India. The serenity and beauty of the Hong Kong skyline. The harsh realities of Hiroshima and Auschwitz, where we paid our silent respect, and maybe more importantly our trip to Jerusalem, the ceaseless wonder. For, like Jesus, nailed to the cross, to a grid of paradoxes, you balanced yourself between the torment of not knowing your mission and the joy you took in carrying it out. Owen, you have all the answers now. I remember always being your protector. Looking out for you. I feel my heartache and my eyes begin to sting when I think, why wasn't I there to protect you in the Kemper Arena in Kansas City last Sunday. To question if this was really necessary. Shame on you, Vince McMahon. Owen, I loved wrestling with you. You were a great wrestler from start to finish and millions of your fans will never let that be forgotten. Maybe it's not important, almost kind of meaningless, but I know you were proud of your accomplishments, as I was, and you were one of the greatest athletes to ever step foot in a wrestling ring. Everyone has a song in their heart. My family's has always been professional wrestling. The hardest aspect of it was always the never ending loneliness. In reflection of that, both you and I understood from the very start that we were singing a very sad song. But neither of us, even at this dark hour, are shamed at having sung that song. For, no matter what anyone ever thinks, Owen, yours will always be the most beautiful song I've ever heard. I'm lonely for you already. The world loved you very much and we will all miss you for a very long time. Your loving brother, Bret.

- *deep breath*

- NBC's made-for-TV movie about Jesse Ventura aired this week and it was as horrible as expected. Ventura himself had nothing to do with it and complained loudly about it. It was universally panned for being boring and so inaccurate that even mainstream media outlets picked up on how wrong it was, so you can only imagine how much Dave can pick it apart, but he doesn't waste the time bothering. In related news, Ventura's autobiography was released this week and he made all the media rounds promoting it but of course, he got grilled about Owen's death on every show and spent most of the time talking about wrestling needing a union. Dave does review the book and actually seemed to enjoy it, finding Ventura to be very candid and honest, as he tends to be. But it's not a wrestling book and he doesn't talk much about his wrestling career, although he does talk in detail about his failed attempt to start a union just before Wrestlemania 2, but Hogan ratted him out to Vince McMahon and ruined it for everybody. He also writes about the lawsuit against WWF that he won and his WCW tenure, but mostly breezed through those stories. Most of the book is about politics and his governor campaign.

- NJPW officials met with Eric Bischoff in Las Vegas this week to discuss their working agreement. NJPW has talked about dropping its deal with WCW and putting together a deal with WWF instead. NJPW is upset because they want big stars like Goldberg to come in every now and then, and instead, WCW sends them nothing but jobbers. For what it's worth, since Japan business is stagnant and American business is through the roof these days, American companies like WWF and WCW aren't really that interested in working with them like they used to be. Earlier in the 90s, NJPW was by far the top promotion in the world, which is why it was such a lucrative deal for WCW to be able to do talent exchanges and joint shows with them. But nowadays, even though WCW is plummeting, they don't really need NJPW like they used to and WWF damn sure doesn't need them, so NJPW isn't in a great bargaining position right now.

- Fitness model Trish Stratus is apparently being courted by both WWF and WCW.

- It's almost a lock that ECW will debut on TNN with a one hour show on Friday nights starting in September. Word is TNN will own a portion of ECW and that it will be a slightly toned down version of the product. The contracts haven't yet been signed but most everything has been agreed to. Dave says the man-on-woman violence is likely to be the main thing TNN won't allow.

- ECW has also completed a deal with Acclaim for a video game that will go into effect in November after Acclaim's deal with WWF expires.

- The trial against New Jack in the Mass Transit incident started this week. They played the video of the incident for the jury on the second day. Speaking of, New Jack has been removed from the opening credits of ECW's TV show so he's probably gone, but Heyman isn't saying for sure. It likely depends on the outcome of the trial.

- Heyman is also telling people that he's done with Shane Douglas, Tammy Sytch, and Chris Candido, although he said maybe down the line he may be willing to bring Candido back if he can get his shit together. But Heyman says he's forever done with the other two. In other news, Heyman is interested in bringing in indie wrestler Christopher Daniels (he ends up working a handful of ECW shows).

- Jerry Lynn's nose is all messed up from being broken against RVD. He needs surgery but he's avoiding getting it because he doesn't want to take the time off.

- WCW Slamboree did a horrible 0.45 buyrate. Crunching the numbers, Dave says the company is about $12 million behind last year so far in PPV revenue. That number is only going to get worse.

- Nitro notes: Eddie Guerrero returned, doing commentary, which is his first time back on TV since his car accident 6 months ago. If you remember, at the time Guerrero was hurt, on TV they said he was attacked by the NWO and that's why he was out. But this week, they openly talked about the car accident, so that angle is apparently forgotten. Tank Abbott debuted and was announced as a special ref for the main event but he was tossed out there, clearly lost, with no idea what to do and didn't even know how to count pins. Anyway, Abbott has signed a 3-year deal. Ric Flair cut a promo saying that the elbow off the top rope was banned, which is fine, except they did the exact same angle last week banning the elbow, and apparently forgot about it between last week and this week so they did it again while acting like it was the first time. Anyway, later in the show, Savage wrestled and did the elbow off the top and they counted it as a pin instead of DQing him. Curt Hennig and Bobby Duncam Jr. started doing a bad country singer gimmick. Ric Flair seems to just (......."Ric Flair seems to just" what, you ask? I have no idea. I wrote this back in January and evidently I never finished writing this sentence. So who knows how I was going to finish that. Come up with your own ending!)

- Gene Okerlund is talking about retiring when his WCW contract expires later this year.

- Raw notes: business resumed as normal and we've arrived at the Higher Power storyline. The show ended with one of Undertaker's druids in the ring who is supposed to be the Higher Power. Austin looked under the hood and saw who it was and freaked out but the show went off the air without revealing who it was. People in the crowd who were close enough to see thought it was Vince. Raw also saw the debut of some hidden camera segment called GDTV (which was originally going to be revealed as Goldust secretly filming people. But then Goldust left the company and it was renamed GTV and then they just never revealed who was behind it). They also did an angle with Mankind getting his knee smashed with Triple H's sledgehammer in order to write him off TV for a few months because he needs knee surgery.

- The new Smackdown show on UPN is expected to be much more toned down from Raw.

- Sable and Marc Mero are in a contract dispute with WWF which is why they aren't being used right now (plenty more on this in the next issue).

- Tons of letters, all about Owen Hart of course, and pretty much all of them are raging against WWF for continuing the show. "I wonder if the show would have continued if it was Shane instead of Owen," someone asks. Someone else rants against Vince and calls him Satan. "They rolled him out of the ring like garbage and kept on moving." People saying they'll never watch WWF again. So on and so forth.

- Lance Storm actually writes in to debate something Dave wrote in an issue a couple of weeks ago and I'll just copy and paste Lance's letter:

Quote:I will probably get heat for this, but I'm compelled to voice my opinion. In your 5/24 issue, you wrote "To even entertain the thought that this style of pro wrestling could be performed day-in-and-day-out without pain killers is not to see the big picture and to be any kind of a wrestling fan you can't be such a hypocrite and not accept that limited use of pain killers has to be acceptable."

In wrestling, perception has a habit of becoming reality. People are constantly reading. Being told things like this, people will start to believe them. Or at least start using them to justify what they want to believe.

I've been in this business almost nine years. I worked the six month season for Otto Wanz, wrestling as many as 29 matches in one month. I did two-and-a-half years in Japan working the junior heavyweight style. I now work for ECW, the supposed hardcore injury capital of wrestling. I have never taken pain killers of any kind to work. Pain killers are a choice. Perhaps a very difficult one, but a choice nonetheless.

Realizing this is the first step in cleaning this sport up. We have lost way too many good people already.

Lance Storm
Calgary, Alberta

[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

(06-11-2018, 08:35 AM)Peezy Wrote: 6-7-1999

Lawler then went on to say some really foolish shit in the interview, including this nugget when defending the WWF:

[Image: zppmo.jpg]
[Image: John-Cena-Wallpaper_002.jpg]
[+] 3 users Like Fro's post
This thread is slowing down again due to videos
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

So let's take it
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

to the
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

[Image: jx9SHdi.png]


edit: wait no
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]


Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)