Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 1999
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- More bad publicity for WWF this week, as Sable quit the company and filed a $140 million lawsuit against them for sexual harassment among other things. The lawsuit couldn't have come at a worse time for WWF, which is still facing a ton of negative coverage after the Owen Hart tragedy and because they're still trying to get the pieces in place to go public and a major lawsuit isn't helpful. The issues have been going back for months and became somewhat public before the Royal Rumble, when Sable didn't want to wrestle a strap match against Luna, claiming she wasn't trained as a wrestler and was never signed to be one and didn't like doing it. At one point, she and Marc Mero both asked for their releases but they smoothed things over temporarily. Sable got a lot of heat for not wanting to wrestle since she was the women's champion. She also refused to wrestle on house shows or TV but was willing to wrestle on PPV since there's a lot of money to be made working those shows, which didn't exactly endear her to management or the rest of the locker room. She basically wanted the same contract that major WCW stars have: only work when she wants to, not do house shows, etc. In the WWF, not even Steve Austin has that sort of deal. WWF put up with it because she was so popular but it was becoming a problem more and more. Sable made an estimated $1 million last year through her Playboy and TV Guide magazine covers and her VHS tape that WWF put out which was a huge seller. But it led to a lot of resentment because a lot of people felt she got too full of herself. People in the company argued that there are a lot of beautiful women in the world, many who are better actors and athletes than Sable, and that she was only popular because WWF marketed her to be so. It's also felt that she only got her push because Sunny self-destructed. Sunny was seen as the more marketable of the two women, but she didn't want to go along with some of the more risque stuff that WWF wanted her to do, while Sable was fine with it, so she became the #1 woman in the company while Sunny ended up getting fired.

- The problems with Sable actually go back more than a year, to WWF Unforgiven 1998. At that show, she wrestled Luna in a bra and panties match and when the PPV buyrate came in surprisingly high, Sable felt she deserved an equal payoff to what Steve Austin made, claiming she was equally as responsible for the buyrate, if not more, which got her a lot of heat in the locker room. In her defense, the next month's PPV (which had the same Austin/Mankind main event and without the promise of Sable being stripped to her underwear did a much lower buyrate, so she may have had a point). The famous body paint bikini PPV also did a huge buyrate which she took credit for. During 1998, Sable wasn't really a TV ratings draw, but leading up to her Playboy issue earlier this year, she actually became one of the biggest TV ratings draws in the entire business, with her segments doing huge numbers. She didn't want to drop the title and by then, it was clear to everyone in WWF that her days were numbered, so they got her to agree to drop it to Debra in a dumb non-match on Raw where Debra "won" by being stripped of her clothes. Sable had requested to drop the title at a house show but Vince threatened to hold her in breach of contract if she didn't show up to do it on TV. Sable still refused and showed up to the show with her lawyers and that's when they worked out the Debra match. They even wrote out a handwritten contract for the match which both sides signed:

Sable/WWF handwritten agreement before she lost the Women's title
Quote:"Notwithstanding any agreement between us and because we disagree about the fashion I would lose my belt, and because of my concerns of humiliation and safety, it is agreed that I appear tonight solely upon your contractual assurances that I will not lose my gown nor wrestle, and that the girl with whom I am interfacing agrees with her role. My appearance in Manchester shall be no more then parading in the ring and shall not include wrestling. I agree to make a scheduled personal appearance outside the ring, otherwise, I will have complete hiatus from the WWF until May 23rd, at which time we hope to have our contractual concerns resolved. Until such time, neither I nor the WWF, its employees or subcontractors shall speak disparagingly about the other scripted or unscripted."

-After getting the title off her, WWF cancelled her future promotional appearances and pulled all her merch. On her last day with the company, backstage at the No Mercy PPV in England, someone smeared human shit all over her bags in the dressing room, which Sable later claimed should allow her to get out of her contract and keep her merchandising rights and the rights to the Sable name.

- WWF was involved in getting the first Playboy deal for Sable, making sure it coincided with Wrestlemania. Sable initially turned it down, but when the money offer got raised, she agreed to it. Sable has another Playboy issue coming out in a few months and this time, she made the deal all on her own without going through the WWF. Needless to say, they weren't happy about that and threatened to use legal means to stop the issue from coming out if they weren't going to get their cut (since the whole reason the first issue sold so well is because WWF pushed it endlessly on TV). At that point, Sable and Marc Mero both asked for their release. WWF was willing to give Mero a full release (meaning he could go work in WCW if he wanted) but they wanted to enforce a non-compete clause on Sable meaning she couldn't show up for any other promotion for the remainder of her contract (until Aug. 2001) and she wouldn't be able to use the name Sable. Her lawyers have been fighting that point and part of the lawsuit is her attempt to keep the name Sable, since that's her whole public identity and nobody knows who "Rena Mero" is.

- Sable's lawsuit claims "the WWF controls its performers through carefully designed programs of intimidation and humiliation, including scripted sexual provocation (in and out of the ring), and staged stunts that are inherently dangerous under contracts that absolve the WWF of all responsibility." It also says WWF repeatedly asked her to have her breasts exposed on TV in a "scripted mistake" which she refused. She said Vince called her a "prima donna" and said they would move on to the next woman in the company. The lawsuit goes through Sable's entire tenure in the company, saying that when Rena Mero accompanied her husband to a contract meeting in March of 1996, Vince McMahon told her he was struck by her beauty and suggested she should appear as a valet with the company and she ended up signing a deal around the same time her husband did. A year later, Vince asked her to wrestle, which she was hesitant to do because she wasn't trained and because of the health risks of bumping with breast implants. She said she expressed concerns about drug use in the company and about the risque product and wanted to limit her wrestling appearances to pursue acting, and says McMahon was agreeable. In 1998, she says Jim Ross put a new contract in front of her, demanding she sign and she said she wanted to consult a lawyer first, but Ross demanded she sign immediately. She says she was lied to when Vince told her he would enforce the drug policy and that they didn't let her pursue acting jobs as promised.

- She also claimed the company placed her in dangerous and morally compromising situations. She claimed male wrestlers would routinely walk into the women's dressing room "by accident" and that they would cut holes in the walls to watch the women dressing. The wrestlers also had "big nipple contests" and bragged about sexual encounters with women in the company. Sable was also asked to do a lesbian angle which she refused. She said that some wrestlers, in a "roid rage", threatened to physically harm her, including a specific allegation of a wrestler threatening to bite her face to ruin her career, and says WWF officials did nothing to stop the abuse and in fact participated in it. Her and other female wrestlers were told to engage in a sexually provocative manner that often made her uncomfortable. She also objected to things that Jerry Lawler and Shawn Michaels said about her on commentary: "Do you think she is horizontally accessible?" "She is accessible every which way from what I hear." And while holding the mic, "She certainly seems comfortable with that microphone up at her mouth like that." She says this violated the hand-written agreement that she wouldn't be disparaged on TV. All in all, she wants $10 million in loses from not being able to pursue acting as she was promised, another $10 million for the comments on TV, another $10 million for unsafe working environment, another $10 million because the environment caused her emotional distress, causing her to leave work and miss out on paydays, and another $10 million for emotional distress. Plus a lot of other shit that all comes up to $140 million. Dave says some of these allegations are silly but some of them have merit. That being said, $140 million is way over the top and Dave points out that she profited greatly from willingly exploiting her body for the company and went along with it for years and only seemed to have a problem with it after they started pushing Debra ahead of her (because she was less demanding). That being said, obviously no one should have to put up with the kind of sexual harassment mentioned in this lawsuit and just because she posed for Playboy doesn't mean the WWF should expect her to expose her breasts on live TV or in front of a crowd.

- Vince McMahon's choice to air footage of wrestlers arriving at Owen Hart's funeral against the wishes of the Hart family has caused a lot of controversy. Martha Hart told the Calgary Sun she felt exploited by it and that she had asked McMahon directly several times not to air any video from the funeral. Also, she was angry because when she got to the funeral home on that day, the WWF had a big sign with a heart that said "Owen Hart" and had a big WWF logo on the side. Finally, she said that WWF did not pay for the funeral. Vince McMahon responded in the Calgary Sun a few days later, saying, "For the record, giving Martha Hart the benefit of the doubt in her time of grieving, I spoke to Martha after the death of Owen on approximately five occasions. At no time during any conversations did she ask me to not show footage from Owen's funeral. However, in fairness to Martha, she did indicate to Carl DeMarco (President of Titan Promotions--Canada, and, longtime Hart family friend) at one time, that she would prefer that the World Wrestling Federation not show the funeral footage. However, in a subsequent conversation, DeMarco explained to Martha that since she invited all other media to the funeral service and even to the burial, it would only be appropriate that the WWF show footage of Owen's funeral so that Owen's fans could say goodbye. Giving Martha Hart the benefit of the doubt, she may have forgotten that she changed her mind and addressed the situation with DeMarco and not me. I don't know why Mrs. Hart would publicly raise the issue of who paid for Owen's funeral. It was the WWF's expressed intention to Rob Wintonick of the McInnis and Holloway Funeral Home to pay for all funeral expenses. However, unbeknown to us, Mrs. Hart directed the funeral home that she would pay certain expenses. Incidentally, the WWF also paid for items such as: Limousine services, transportation of the body, flowers, service folders, video screen, public address system, buses, signage for buses, arm bands, catering, housekeeping, lawn cleanup, ladies and men's clothing, sunglasses, hairdressing, obituaries, a Canadian flag. The WWF also paid $152,200 U.S. for transportation expenses for WWF talent and personnel. Also, your article stated that Mrs. Hart instructed our flowers to be removed from the funeral home. Enclosed please find a rendering from our creative department to the local florist. In the funeral home, our flowers were indeed present. However, the WWF logo had been removed and Owen's initials, OH, stood in its place. I can only assume this was at Mrs. Hart's request. It is unfortunate that Mrs. Hart feels violated in any way, although her grief, which we share, is understandable. Out of respect for Owen and the wonderful human being that he was, I do not want to engage Martha Hart's allegations in a public form. I simply am writing so that you will have the facts."

- Needless to say, Dave thinks the letter, especially making a point to list everything they paid for, comes across as extremely tacky and further gives the impression that WWF is trying to save face in the wake of negative publicity. The war of words continued the next day, with Martha saying, "Vince McMahon can say whatever he likes but I know the truth. I said 'I have no control over your matches, but I don't want you to show Owen's funeral on your crappy show'--that's exactly what I said to him." She was especially outraged at Vince's suggestion that she may have just forgotten that she gave them permission. "Owen died in the ring and they were almost mad because they couldn't wait to scrape him off the mat and get on with the show. When the accident happened, I was very decent to Vince McMahon and he said, 'I can't believe you're talking to me.' Everything he did, he did for his own self-serving interests; having the wrestlers here so he could show them on his show; getting speakers so the wrestling fans could hear the service--things like that."

- Kansas City police revealed that there were no signs of drugs or alcohol in Owen's body and the harness that dropped him was tested and showed no signs of being tampered with and seemed to be functioning properly. It's now confirmed that Owen fell 91 feet and hit the corner ropes before bouncing in the ring. He did not die on impact, but he died about 6 minutes later and was already dead by the time they took him out of the ring. The cause of death was internal bleeding due to a ruptured aorta, which led to him bleeding to death internally extremely quickly. Owen was actually scheduled to win the IC title from the Godfather in the match and would have been a comedic champion. The "Higher Power" angle that they're doing on Raw now with Steve Austin was scheduled to have started later that night on the PPV but they scrapped it after Owen's death and delayed it for a week or two. Dave ends this part by saying that this is without a doubt the biggest story in the history of American wrestling.

- WCW has announced the signings of rapper Master P and former NBA player Dennis Rodman. In the case of Master P, he's currently the biggest star in rap these days and just started a sports agency called No Limit Sports. He's expected to debut at the Nitro next week in the New Orleans Superdome and will also appear at a Nitro next month at the Georgia Dome. Word is Master P has been bragging that he will sell out both buildings. Not a chance. Master P's bodyguard, a guy named Swoll wants to be a wrestler and Master P is trying to help him out. Several people in WCW urged Bischoff to sign them before WWF could.

- As for Dennis Rodman, he was just recently released by the Los Angeles Lakers and is basically unemployed now and seems ready to get out of basketball. Last year, Rodman headlined Bash at the Beach with Hogan, DDP, and Karl Malone and the show was the 2nd biggest PPV in WCW history. But despite being paid $2.25 million for that event, Rodman no-showed the Nitro 6 days before it and then showed up to the PPV in no condition to perform. And then, while the show was going on, he left the arena and WCW officials were panicking, not knowing if he was going to come back in time for the main event. Following the PPV, Rodman sued WCW for another $550,000 he felt he was owed. But that lawsuit was settled as part of this new deal and Rodman has signed a 5-show deal with WCW and will appear at the Georgia Dome Nitro and Bash at the Beach and Road Wild PPVs, along with a couple of other unannounced TV appearances. Speaking of Rodman, since being dropped by the Lakers, he's been a defendant in 2 lawsuits in Las Vegas. One is a woman suing him for assault and another woman is accusing him of grabbing her breast.

- Wanna guess who won the ratings battle again this week? Anyway, the highest rated segment of Raw was Debra in a bikini, which shows that Sable clearly isn't going to be missed. Raw more than doubled Nitro's rating (6.68 compared to 3.16).

- Keiji Muto is the current IWGP champion and Dave says that he might be the best all around heavyweight wrestler in the business right now (crazy to think he was still that good in 1999 but that was the end of it. His body starts to fail miserably within the next year). Anyway, after a recent title defense in NJPW, he issued a challenge to both Misawa and Kawada, so clearly the NJPW/AJPW angle is still unfolding.

- To show how bad things are in Japan right now, NJPW held a show at Budokan Hall and failed to sell out the building, despite a packed lineup and the return of Shinya Hashimoto (in his first match back since getting wrecked by Ogawa back in January).

- Vince McMahon's scheduled appearance on Larry King this week was cancelled. According to WWF sources, McMahon was "uninvited" on the day the show was supposed to air. After Vince McMahon was bumped, he was replaced by Jesse Ventura who spoke mostly about wrestling. Ventura tried to downplay Owen Hart's death, comparing it to an accident on a construction site. He talked about his lawsuit against McMahon a few years ago but also praised McMahon as a great marketer. He said wrestlers should unionize but disagreed that they were underpaid. He also balked at the idea that wrestlers are independent contractors and said they should have retirement benefits and collective bargaining. He talked about Hogan ratting him out on the unionizing talks back in 1986 and talks about how he didn't know it was Hogan until several years later when McMahon testified to it in court during their lawsuit.

- Tammy Sytch did an online auction where she sold the implants she had in her breasts while she was in WWF. She's gotten new ones since then so these are the old ones. They ended up going for $11,999 dollars. (dude....what?)

- Terry Funk beat Sabu at an indie show in Canada and announced that it was his retirement match. Dave says Funk has given more to the business than anyone and will be in pain for the rest of his life because of it. But he's also in his mid-50s and Dave says it's definitely time for him to hang it up. But he also says this is probably the 50th "retirement match" Funk has had since he first "retired" back in 1983 so...we'll see (of course not).

- Now that the ECW deal with TNN seems to be imminent, the locker room morale in ECW has gotten a lot better since it means the company is no longer in danger of folding at any moment. The deal hasn't been officially announced yet but it's expected to be done in a week or two and TNN is already selling ads for the show, projecting it will do a 2.0 rating. TNN took a big hit last year on the RollerJam show because they sold ads projected at 2.5 and the show ended up averaging 0.8. But ECW is expected to have a lot more appeal than RollerJam. It'll be interesting to see how it goes because ECW is going to have to tone down the product (blood will still be allowed) but they're also going to have to do more shows (4-5 per week) which is a busier schedule than ECW has ever done (ECW on TNN never even comes close to a 2.0 but we'll spend the next year reading all about that).

- New Jack was found not guilty on 2 counts (aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon) in the trial over the Mass Transit incident. In his testimony, the victim Eric Kulas testified that he was told he was going to face 2 dwarfs in a handicapped match but was instead put in the ring against New Jack, claiming it was an ambush and that he feared for his life. That testimony was contradicted by virtually every other witness who testified, saying Kulas knew what the match was and had agreed to be bladed well in advance. Of course, New Jack cut him far too deep causing massive blood loss and 50 stitches to close the cut. Tommy Dreamer testified that he was with Kulas for most of the night and that even after the match, Kulas had asked him if he'd proven himself and if he could get a job with ECW. Anyway, now that he's been acquitted, Heyman still intends to use New Jack, but not full-time.

- Neither Chris Candido or Tammy Sytch were at the latest shows and appear to be gone again. Axl Rotten also no-showed a show and is apparently fired. And, of course, Sid Vicious missed a recent show, no reason given, but it's Sid so you know how that goes.

- WCW Nitro notes: it was a weird show and not entirely G-rated. Bischoff did commentary for the first hour and was dropping weird shoot comments all over the place, which he also did last week. He called Chastity "a well-known movie star." He also tried to spoil the reveal of Raw's "Higher Power" storyline, telling fans that it would be Vince McMahon. Raw was a live show, not taped, so Bischoff actually didn't know and was just making an educated guess, and lucky for him he was right. He also referenced Sable's lawsuit against WWF. They had a bit where Kevin Nash brought a duffel bag to the ring and it was sitting there behind Randy Savage during his promo. But then a contortionist got out of the bag behind him and dumped a bucket of poop on his head. It was almost a disaster because the lady in the bag was struggling with the zipper and almost couldn't get out. Bischoff pushed Benoit hard on commentary. After Bischoff left commentary, Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan goofed off for the rest of the show, laughing through other people's matches and not paying attention which Dave seems to find outright disrespectful. They gave Buff Bagwell a chance with the big boys, putting him in a back and forth promo with Roddy Piper, and Bagwell totally couldn't hang. Anyway, word is Bagwell is in line for a big push which Dave thinks is just swell since Bagwell is yet another guy who doesn't work house shows. And they did an angle where somebody in a Humvee ran into a limo with Kevin Nash inside. Afterwards, everybody used their low, serious voices, which is pretty piss poor timing so soon after the Owen thing. On the WCW website after the show, Eric Bischoff hinted that Sable was the driver. After making a huge deal about his debut last week, Tank Abbott wasn't even on the show this week. Neither was Jericho, who was there and just not used, probably since he's already got 1 foot out the door.

- Ted Dibiase, who is still under WCW contract, was asked to come in as a manager for Van Hammer, Erik Watts and Evan Karagis (doesn't happen).

- WCW has expressed interest in bringing in both Sid Vicious and Shane Douglas. They're expected to meet with both of them in the next week or so. Bischoff is the one who wants Douglas, but Nash (the booker) doesn't want him around so it'll be interesting to see how that goes. They're also still interested in bringing in Yokozuna for some stupid reason, even though he's banned from wrestling by every state that has an athletic commission, so Dave doesn't see the purpose.

- Goldberg had knee surgery and will be out until late July. He's still trying to renegotiate his contract.

- On the WWF side, Mick Foley also had both knees scoped and will be out until late-July as well. Undertaker is dealing with back issues and arthritis in his hip. Gangrel's elbow is inflamed and has been drained several times.

- The new WWF schedule will have 4 shows per week, Saturday-thru-Tuesday. One Sunday a month will be PPVs, the others will be house shows. Monday will be a live Raw and Tuesdays will be Smackdown tapings. Sunday Night Heat is going to be changed and be taped the week before or may become a recap show (I believe this is basically the same schedule they still do today. Although it will likely have to change starting next year when Smackdown moves to Fox).

- Raw notes: Bob Holly beat Kurt Angle in a dark match and word is Angle looks good in the ring and is ready to debut any day. They had a hard time putting out the fire for the Brood's entrance and it briefly caused a minor panic with the crew off-camera. Test asked Stephanie McMahon out on a date. "Those two need to go to acting school on their date," Dave says. Rodney and Pete Gas lost a loser-leaves-WWF match a few weeks ago, but they were back this week without any explanation given, which is some WCW-level shit. Too Much has been repackaged as a team called Too Cool which is basically a spoof of the Konnan/Mysterio team in WCW (eh, I dunno about that one).

- Insane Clown Posse was supposed to return to WWF this week but it didn't happen for some reason. Their new album "The Amazing Jeckel Brothers" just debuted at #4 on the Billboard charts, selling nearly 141,000 copies the first week. Woop woop.

- The negotiations between Shane Douglas and WWF fell apart. Basically, they made him an offer and wanted him to take a complete physical and a drug test because a lot of people told them that Douglas was damaged goods. His agent came back with a demand for $350,000 per year, and WWF basically said, "fuck that" and pulled their offer.

- A man in Tennessee was sentenced to 10 days in jail for wearing a Steve Austin shirt in court. He was there on DUI charges and the judge decided wearing the shirt was contempt of court. The man's lawyer is appealing it, saying the judge overstepped his authority.
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- Stemming from the death of Owen Hart, as expected, the Hart family filed a lawsuit this week against the WWF, Vince and Linda McMahon, the stunt coordinators, the manufacturers of the harness and cables used, the city of Kansas City, and the owners of the Kemper Arena alleging negligence in the stunt that killed him. Martha Hart, her children, and Owen's parents Stu and Helen are listed as plaintiffs. They all, along with Bret Hart, appeared at a press conference when the lawsuit was announced. "My children have lost their father, and I have lost the love of my life, because of the greed of the WWF and its insistence that its wrestlers take ever-greater chances to attract entertainment dollars in this era of extreme sports," said Martha Hart. Dave doesn't have all the details of the lawsuit at press time since it was just filed right before this issue came out, but he will have a lot more detail next week.

- A separate criminal investigation is still ongoing, with police looking into the rigging and if proper safety precautions were followed. The most likely charge, if any, would be involuntary manslaughter and Dave says there would need to be a lot of evidence to actually be able to file a charge for that. He thinks it'll be difficult to prove anything to that extent. The Kemper Arena people are pleading ignorance, basically saying, "Hey we just rented them the building, we had nothing to do with any of that." The police have also ruled out foul play, saying no one pushed Hart off and his harness wasn't tampered with. No one was standing near Owen when he fell.

- Sable made an appearance on WCW Nitro this week, being shown multiple times sitting in the front row, which raises a lot of legal issues. The showed several close-ups and also had her wave at the camera, though they never identified her. Bischoff only barely acknowledged it on commentary, saying that he's seen that woman in Playboy. Last week on Nitro, they did an angle where someone drove a Humvee into Kevin Nash's limo and on WCW's website, Bischoff strongly hinted that Sable was the driver. Anyway, in this case, WCW is denying any knowledge that Sable would be there, simply claiming that she bought a ticket to the show. WWF and WCW still have pending lawsuits against each other that have been dragging on for years. Sable has her lawsuit against WWF and of course, now they're dealing with the Owen Hart lawsuit. In fact, WWF was also sued this week by the Kuwaiti TV announcer that Vader beat up a couple of years ago for $1.5 million. WCW may be hoping that since WWF has so many legal problems right now that they may not challenge Sable's contract status. Dave thinks that's a dangerous gamble on WCW's part because WWF has to protect their contracts and can't risk setting a precedent of allowing people to jump ship while still under contract and letting it go unpunished. Plus, it could backfire. Goldberg is in the midst of a contract dispute with WCW right now. What happens if he shows up on Raw next week the same way Sable did? If that were to happen, WCW wouldn't have much of a leg to stand on in court now that they've done it first. No word yet on how WWF plans to respond to Sable's Nitro appearance.

- Anyway, last week WWF sent Sable a cease and desist, ordering her to stop using the name Sable from this point forward. The main reason is because WWF is attempting to get a cut of the profits from the upcoming Playboy issue featuring her and they're trying to work out a deal to allow Playboy to market her as "Sable" when they release it. WWF was upset that Sable struck her own deal with Playboy for this 2nd issue, going behind their backs to do so. Her contract calls for WWF to act as her agent on such deals and since the first Playboy was such a monster hit, there's obviously a lot of money to be made with a 2nd one.

- Sable was also interviewed in TV Guide this week and had a lot to say about the company. She basically said everyone backstage is on drugs (even suggesting that many of the ring crew and stagehands are on drugs) and criticized WWF for continuing the show after Owen Hart died. When asked why she was willing to pose for Playboy but didn't want to go along with "accidentally" exposing her breasts on TV, she said, "There is a time and place for that. I do not feel like--in the middle of a wrestling arena where they're serving alcohol and there are screaming fans, including children, in the front row--I don't feel like that is the proper place to be exposed." When asked what happened after she refused, she said she was de-pushed and they scripted her to lose the women's title. When asked about the claim in her lawsuit that male wrestlers would poke holes through walls to watch the women's dressing room, Sable said that her and the other women complained to management about it repeatedly. She said she felt unsafe being backstage. She also noted that her WWF contract was for $150,000 guarantee, which was less than what men in the company make. There was also a claim in Sable's lawsuit that a fellow wrestler threatened to bite and disfigure her face to ruin her career and nothing was done. Dave says that word is Luna Vachon was the one who said that. And to say nothing was done isn't quite true, since she was fired soon after for multiple instances of misconduct, including that.

- WCW Great American Bash is in the books and to say it was bad would be an understatement and an insult to bad shows. The company reeks of desperation right now. The event saw the return of Sid Vicious, "who has walked out on every contract and every company he's been with for his entire career." Plus, he was fired from WCW a few years ago for trying to murder Arn Anderson. Speaking of, rumors that Anderson okayed this deal are false. He was never told about it in advance and found out Sid had signed with WCW when he showed up to the arena. Bringing back Sid and putting him in the world title picture is a desperate move by a desperate company. Of course, this also means the end of Sid in ECW. Dave also takes this moment to rant on WCW bringing in Master P, talking about a press conference they held where Master P seemed clueless about WCW and didn't even know Curt Hennig's name (they're supposed to be feuding) and how Bischoff was kissing his ass the whole time and says it's become a game where WWF and WCW compete over which of them can sign the biggest celebrities and suck up to them. And these celebs are often here just to collect a check, which hurts the product. He also talks about how WCW just immediately kills the appeal of anyone they bring in. Master P is already seeming like a failure. Dennis Rodman proved last year that he's not worth the money they spent to bring him in. They signed Tank Abbott to a 3-year deal, hyped him for one episode of Nitro, and then already seem to have given up on him. So what's next? Dave half-jokingly wonders if WCW has Jake Roberts' phone number.

- Oh yeah, the PPV. The show wasn't sold out, only drawing 11,600 to an arena that holds 13,000. And even of those that were there, the crowd was heavily papered so paid attendance was significantly less. Dave notes that last month, WWF sold out the same arena for a house show that didn't even have Austin or Undertaker on it. The 2 opening matches were Hak vs. Brian Knobbs and Van Hammer vs. Mikey Whipwreck, leading Dave to wonder why WCW would use those guys but somehow couldn't figure out a way to get Billy Kidman or Juventud Guerrera on the show. Scott Norton was supposed to face Ernest Miller (and lose) but didn't work the show due to high blood pressure. Dave seems to suspect Norton just didn't want to do the job. Ric Flair vs. Roddy Piper was "the single worst PPV match Flair has ever been in." Sting vs. Rick Steiner gets negative stars, as did Kevin Nash vs. Randy Savage. Dave goes into a whole rant about the tag title match, saying there's backstory from earlier in the week. It's a long confusing mess, but basically, Ric Flair was supposed to be involved in an angle with Benoit on Thunder last week, but nobody at WCW sent word that he was booked for the show or sent him a plane ticket. So on the afternoon of Thunder, WCW realized their mistake and told Flair to get to Syracuse for the show ASAP. They spent thousands of dollars chartering a jet to fly him there and spent most of the show booking it on the fly and stalling, hoping he would make it before they went off the air. He finally arrived at the arena with 10 minutes left in the live show but by then, they had already re-booked things, and told Flair he was no longer needed. Anyway, the booking change on Thunder is what led to DDP and Kanyon winning the tag titles on this PPV.

- UFC approved a new rule book that addresses a lot of issues. Dave breaks down everything, from drug testing protocol, changes in judging rules and the scoring system, and the new rounds system among other things. Lots of interesting stuff that is pretty much the genesis of modern-day UFC rules. I know I've mentioned this before but I don't usually cover the MMA news that is in every issue of the Observer. But I know there's a lot of crossover between wrestling and MMA fans so I'm sure a lot of MMA fans are reading these. From the very beginnings of the sport, Dave has covered it in detail just like he does wrestling. Not just UFC, but all the Japanese promotions too. Pancrase, RINGS, Pride, etc. So if you're an MMA fan with an interest in the behind-the-scenes news going on in the 90s, you really should go read this stuff, it's interesting even for me and I'm not an MMA fan.

- Diablo Velasco passed away this week at 75. You probably haven't heard the name but he's the guy who trained some of the greatest legends in Lucha Libre, including El Santo, Blue Demon, Perro Aguayo, and dozens of others.

- The ECW/TNN deal still hasn't officially been announced but it's pretty much a done deal. The show will be tamer. ECW will still run their syndicated shows, but none of the footage that airs on the TNN show can be used on the syndicated shows, which is going to really hurt those shows. ECW has to keep their syndication deals in place though, because if the TNN show doesn't work out or got cancelled, they'd be left without any television and that would kill the company. But don't expect a lot of storylines or angles to take place on the syndicated shows anymore, it'll almost all be done on the TNN show. Right now, ECW is just staying the course and not really doing any major storylines. The plan is to wait until the TNN show before doing any big angles and they may re-do some old successful angles with new wrestlers, since they figure the vast majority of the audience won't be that familiar with ECW's past.

- Rob Van Dam has a small role in an upcoming episode of NBC teen series City Guys. The New York Post criticized NBC for it, pointing out that RVD is a known pot-head who advocates for marijuana in ECW and wears "420" merch and stuff like that and says he shouldn't be on a kids show. NBC execs are said to be upset about it, but the episode has already been filmed so hey, what can ya do? (Can't find any footage from the episode, but here's a pic from the set).

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- The guy last week who paid $11,999 for Tammy Sytch's old breast implants ended up not paying, so they're back up for auction.

- Eric Bischoff hasn't attended a Thunder taping in weeks. Head booker Kevin Nash wasn't there for Thunder this week either. Just in case you were wondering how much the people in charge of WCW care about that show.

- Insane Clown Posse claimed on their website that they're heading to WCW soon (yup).

- A lot of people in the locker room were praising Ric Flair for putting over Buff Bagwell clean without complaint a couple of weeks ago. Basically, the locker room sees Flair as the only old guy there who is willing to put them over and try to help make them stars, while guys like Hogan, Savage, Piper, and Nash hold everybody else down and won't work with them.

- Speaking of Nash, although he's technically the head booker of the company, he really only books his own programs and a couple of his friends. Dusty Rhodes and Kevin Sullivan are basically booking the rest of the company.

- Shane Douglas is said to be close to starting with WCW. In a recent interview, Flair said he would never work an angle with Douglas (but of course he does). He also didn't seem thrilled about Sid Vicious being brought back, for obvious reasons.

- Bischoff has tried to defend his decision to fire Davey Boy Smith, saying the paperwork was drawn up before they knew how bad Smith's medical condition was. Dave says that may be true, but it wasn't mailed until several days later and by then, everybody in the industry knew that Smith was fighting a life-threatening spinal infection, so Bischoff's "we didn't know" excuse doesn't really hold up.

- Lou Thesz was interviewed about Owen Hart's death and basically criticized the state of the wrestling industry, saying, "I don't think I've ever felt as old or as out of touch as I do today." Thesz said that he stopped watching wrestling years ago but he has tried not to publicly criticize the business because he knows the wrestlers are just trying to make a living and give the crowds what they want. He then added, "I don't mean to be unkind, but I don't have to tell you about the audience. They're not too bright."

- Harley Race was in the Kemper Arena the night Owen Hart died and says he was one of the last people to talk to Owen and had even joked with him beforehand, telling him to make sure the rope didn't break and that Owen laughed about it.

- The plan to reveal Vince McMahon as the "Higher Power" was a last minute decision. They had hoped to have a major babyface turn heel for the role and had asked Mick Foley to do it, but he turned it down.

- Due to Owen's death, the Over The Edge PPV seems to have pretty much been buried. When showing clips of Undertaker winning the title, they just say "On PPV Last month." Dave says he's willing to bet that next year's May PPV will be given a new name and there probably won't be anymore PPVs entitled "Over The Edge" (correct. And even though it was never released on home video, it was eventually made available on the Network).

- WWF is looking to sell the hotel and casino that they bought in Las Vegas. They hope to use the money to buy a different piece of property in Vegas that would be more accommodating for what they want (a hotel/arena that they could run live wrestling shows out of).

- All the letters are about Owen Hart, and this time some people are defending WWF's decision not to stop the show. He also disagrees with Dave saying that Steve Austin's beer tribute to Owen was contrived, saying there would have been a huge outcry if Austin had done nothing. Dave disagrees, saying that neither Vince or Undertaker spoke on the tribute show and there was no outcry. He also says Austin didn't go to Owen's funeral, even though he was heavily pressured to, but there was no outcry for that either. Dave says Austin's tribute to Owen was held until the very end of Raw as a ratings ploy, to keep fans waiting to see what Austin would do and that it was clearly choreographed and contrived.
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Ric Flair v Benoit was a Tallahassee Thunder

- A week later and it's even less clear what WCW hoped to accomplish by putting Sable on Nitro. It did nothing for the ratings, either that week or the following. All it has done is strengthen WWF's case against WCW in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit. WCW is claiming that she bought a ticket and just happened to show up to their show, which is bullshit that nobody is buying, especially since she was sitting front row with security guards on either side of her and then repeatedly shown in close-up shots on camera. Plus, she didn't show up until more than an hour into the show and then left soon after being shown on camera. Sable's explanation was even dumber, as she was quoted in USA Today saying, "I wanted to see if the same level of obscenity was taking place. It was not." Anyway, all WCW employees were told not to mention her name, even her real name, on air but they had pictures of her on the WCW website after Nitro aired and one of them referred to her as Sable. WCW immediately removed the photos the next day but everything is forever on the internet so you know how that goes. WWF lawyer Jerry McDevitt spoke with WCW's lawyers and threatened to file a federal lawsuit against WCW and is investigating whether or not Sable was paid for her appearance (WCW lawyers refused to answer that question). Sable appearing on WCW TV like she did is a blatant violation of her WWF contract and WWF has made it clear that under no circumstances will they give up the rights to the name Sable, with McDevitt saying, "She can sue us till the cows come home and she's not going to get it." The rights to the name are especially important for her right now due to her upcoming Playboy issue, which is due out in August. Without WWF signing off on it, Playboy can't promote her as "Sable" which is going to be a huge blow to sales of the magazine (and especially considering WWF isn't promoting it on TV at all).

- Sable has gotten a lot of publicity out of the lawsuit, appearing on various shows and doing media interviews, mostly trashing the WWF and calling it obscene. Dave notes that Sable's credibility in this is lacking, since she willingly participated in the obscene behavior for years and in fact was one of the leading stars of it and benefited enormously from it. Furthermore, over the years, she has done countless interviews defending WWF against media outlets who called the product obscene (unlike Owen Hart, who was on the record in the past admitting he didn't like the direction of the company). It really looks like Sable had no problem with the on-screen obscenity until she started having a contract dispute. Jerry McDevitt says there's no truth to Sable's claim that she signed her contract under duress or that Jim Ross threatened to fire her if she didn't sign immediately. That being said, nobody in WWF has denied her allegations that they wanted her to "accidentally" lose her top on TV, which is pretty sketchy and, along with other sexual harassment allegations, it makes it hard to look at WWF as an innocent victim here. In a USA Today story, Vince McMahon responded by basically trying to blame all of this negativity on WCW, which is obviously absurd, saying, "I think that opportunists such as our competitor are really behind a lot of all of this negativity. They don't know how to compete with us, and in essence what they're trying to do is beat the drums of negativity, hoping that, in some way, that is going to hurt the organization or hurt our fans."

- Of course, WWF is also facing a major lawsuit from the family of Owen Hart. One of the Hart family lawyers is a Kansas City attorney named Gary C. Robb who is recognized as one of the best lawyers in America and is known for winning record-high settlements in several major cases. In one 1995 case, he got a verdict of $350 million for his clients following a helicopter crash, which is the highest liability jury verdict in U.S. history. Soooo...not great news for WWF (spoiler: he ends up getting Hart's family $18 million, which was also a record for that sort of case, but we'll get there eventually). WWF is just one of many parties named in the suit (the stunt people, the arena people, the harness manufacturers, and more). The lawsuit alleges negligence, failure to provide proper equipment, failure to provide proper training, failure to follow basic safety procedures, etc. For what it's worth, after the incident, the NBA banned having mascots come down from the ceiling. Eric Bischoff hasn't said for sure if they're going to ban it or not, but they don't plan to lower Sting from the ceiling anytime soon again. Famous O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran appeared on a TV show and sided with the Hart family and blamed WWF for the accident. McDevitt responded, basically telling Cochran to fuck off and saying that the whole thing was just a tragic accident and that in the entire history of the WWF, Owen Hart was the first time a wrestler has ever died in the ring.

- Oh, we're not done. Bassam Al Othman, the host of Good Morning Kuwait, filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against WWF related to Vader roughing him up on TV back in 1997. Jerry McDevitt called it a "silly lawsuit" and accused Othman of trying to pile on to WWF while they're facing the Hart and Sable lawsuits. Othman is particularly upset that WWF aired footage of Vader roughing him up on TV.

- Konnan was quoted in a newspaper article saying some stuff about WCW that got him in a lot of hot water with Eric Bischoff. Konnan was quoted saying, "You have a lot of wrestlers that wield a lot of power. If you don't conform or be part of their clique, if you're not drinking or training with them, you get cut out. That's just bad business." Konnan also said that in the past, Bischoff had become intolerable and condescending to people, but that Bischoff had been trying to be better lately. Regardless, the comments infuriated Bischoff and he and Konnan had a loud screaming argument at each other backstage at Nitro, with Bischoff particularly upset that Time-Warner executives might see the quote and start wondering what's going on backstage that they don't know about.

- There's been an extreme lack of 5-star matches in recent years, but we finally got one! Misawa vs. Kobashi for the Triple Crown title in AJPW is a strong front-runner for match of the year and Dave gives it the full 5 (and yes, this ends up winning match of the year, making it 2 years in a row that Misawa and Kobashi win that award). Kobashi ended up getting his nose destroyed and had surgery 5 days later to repair it and was supposed to take a month off, but he's already announced he'll be back on the next tour starting next week, because Kobashi.

- Hayabusa is expected to be unmasked soon. They're doing an angle where FMW's heel commissioner is telling him he can't wear his mask anymore. The real reason is because Hayabusa is so broken down from injuries that he knows he needs to change his in-ring style and the idea is for him to become more of a ground-based wrestler and he wants to unmask and basically change his character entirely (he briefly wrestles under the name H for awhile, unmasked, before eventually returning to the Hayabusa gimmick).

- Antonio Inoki is bringing back the Big Van Vader gimmick and giving it to some new guy named Sylvester Terkay who works in Inoki's UFO promotion. If you recall, there was a big lawsuit deal in the early 90s because Inoki owned the rights to the name "Big Van Vader" and the smoking headgear thing. That's why the real Vader dropped the "Big Van" part of his name and stopped using the smoking helmet. Dave thinks trying to give this classic gimmick to a green rookie is a terrible idea (this dude dabbled in WWE for a minute back in 2006ish but never amounted to anything beyond that).

- The ECW/TNN deal still hasn't been finalized. There may have been a snag due to Rob Van Dam's recent interview in High Times magazine where he talks about smoking pot, which the TNN people evidently weren't thrilled with. But it doesn't seem to be that big a deal and ECW is still expected to finalize a deal with TNN soon, with the first episode of ECW on TNN likely debuting in August. There's no word on how this will all work out as far as tapings go or what can be shown where (there's going to be issues with TNN not allowing ECW to air any of the TNN-show footage on their syndicated shows). Either way, ECW is basically coasting right now because they don't want to shoot any big angles or start any new storylines until the national show debuts. When that happens, the plan is to push Van Dam as the top star and eventually build to him winning the ECW title.

- Christopher Daniels debuted in ECW in a match with Super Crazy and everyone there reported that it was the best match of the show, but Paul Heyman didn't like it for some reason and decided not to air it on TV. Anyway, after the match, Daniels cut a promo saying that if you're 200 pounds and from Mexico they call you a Luchador, if you're 200 pounds and from Japan they call you an international superstar, but if you're 200 pounds and American, you get a needle in your ass as quick as you can.

- ECW had their first ever show in Chicago this week which was a big success with a sold out crowd of 3,000. There was one part that almost went bad. A fan threw a chair in the ring, leading to Bubba Ray Dudley leaving the ring and going into the crowd after the fan, but luckily, nothing happened. Also, Sabu did a run-in at the end of the show. That doesn't sound like a big deal until you hear this part: Sabu was on a tour with FMW in Japan. He flew from Tokyo to Chicago, just to do the run-in on the ECW show, then immediately flew back to Japan to finish the FMW tour (having read every issue of the Observer from this decade, I'm convinced that there wasn't a harder working guy in the business during the 90s than Sabu, especially earlier in the decade).

- ECW wanted to bring in Vader to put over Taz at the upcoming PPV, but it's not happening. Due to his deal with AJPW, they want Vader to be kept strong and won't allow him to do any jobs elsewhere. ECW wants to find big name stars who will put over Taz clean and Vader was willing to do it, but since AJPW won't let him, it won't be happening.

- There's a new promotion starting up in California called Xtreme Pro Wrestling, that is co-founded by male porn star/producers Tom Byron and Rob Zicari, who performs as Rob Black. The promotion is expected to heavily feature porn stars from their companies.

- WCW's Great American Bash PPV did a 0.43 buyrate, making it the 5th lowest PPV buyrate in WCW history. Considering how hot wrestling (well, WWF) is right now in the mainstream, that's a pretty horrific number.

- Goldberg appeared on the Dennis Miller Show on HBO this week and a few days prior to the show, Bischoff had a meeting with Goldberg's agent Barry Bloom because there was significant concern over what Goldberg might say, since the two sides are still at pretty heated odds over Goldberg's contract situation right now. Anyway, Goldberg didn't say anything bad and Dennis Miller was actually really defensive of wrestling, talking about taking his son to a WCW show and how nice everyone was. He didn't seem to understand the whole promotional war though and he brought up Steve Austin, but Goldberg just sorta changed the subject. He did complain about the schedule, but never complained about WCW directly. Others weren't as nice. In a recent radio interview, Hulk Hogan was interviewed and although he didn't name Goldberg by name, he referenced him, saying there was a guy in the company who was given a huge push but didn't have much experience and now he's self-destructing before their eyes. Okay Hulk, sure.

- WCW has pretty much given up on trying to re-sign Chris Jericho and have all but accepted that he's leaving when his contract runs out soon. Dave says it's basically because certain people have gotten in other peoples' ears and convinced WCW that Jericho isn't worth it and that he's never drawn money. Dave thinks Jericho, along with Goldberg, have potential to be two of WCW's most marketable stars in the future if they were positioned right but hey, what does Dave know? Anyway, the only real pitch WCW has given to Jericho is they want to put him in a young guys vs. old guys feud, with people like Jericho feuding with Flair. Of course, that isn't really a promotion for Jericho, it's mostly just a way to move Flair down to midcard (also, Randy Savage shot down the idea of being involved in the angle because he doesn't want to be seen as an old guy). As for WWF, they're basically promising to push Jericho as the next Shawn Michaels.

- Arn Anderson is said to be uncomfortable with the fact that WCW has brought Sid Vicious back, but is willing to go along with it and do business. When asked about it, Eric Bischoff had this to say: "It became clear to me he has matured over the past five years. He realizes he made mistakes in and out of the ring and recognizes the tremendous opportunity he has here. So far, he has conducted himself very professionally. I've got all the confidence in the world that he's learned from his mistakes... If it doesn't work out, Sid's options are really limited. I think he's matured to the point that he understands that."

- Kevin Nash was said to be pretty upset about Sable being at ringside during his promo on Nitro last week, since it completely took the focus off him and the crowd spent the entire time chanting for her during his segment.

- WCW hopes Bret Hart will return at the July 5th Nitro at the Georgia Dome. Dave thinks Hart has the potential to come back as a huge babyface, but then again, he should have been the biggest babyface in the world when he debuted in WCW last year after the Screwjob, but they botched that so don't hold your breath. It's possible Hart may not be back by then, because Bischoff told him to take all the time he needs in the wake of Owen's death. Hart has been telling people that he's not sure if he's going to wrestle again, although most people still think he will.

- WCW was going to bring in rap group Naughty By Nature to perform at the Georgia Dome Nitro, but Master P flexed some muscle and got it nixed (as a lifelong hip hop fan, this is the most random shit ever. Also, I never heard anything about those guys having beef and in fact, I think Master P was featured on a NBN song around this time. So I'm gonna assume this is a case of Dave maybe getting one wrong here).

- Notes from WCW Nitro at the Superdome in New Orleans: the show drew a little over 15,500 fans paid. They were looking to be in the 13-14,000 range but sales surged slightly once Master P (who's from New Orleans) got added to the show and they sold an extra 2,000 tickets or so. Master P was telling people last week that him in WCW would sell out the Superdome and, well, so much for that. Eddie Guerrero returned, after a 7-month absence, to absolutely zero fanfare. Dave says Eddie was noticeably slow and seemed hesitant in the ring since it was his first match back. The No Limit rappers were all over the show and it all pretty much sucked.

- Random WCW Notes: Scott Steiner's back has been in terrible shape lately and there's rumors he may not be able to keep wrestling much longer. Bam Bam Bigelow has been getting epidurals to drain excess fluid out of his spine. Referee Charles Robinson has 4 cracked vertebrae in his upper back from Randy Savage doing the elbow drop on him a few weeks back. Steve Regal has been training at the WCW Power Plant. There's also an impressive tag team at the Power Plant named Shannon Moore and Shane Helms who have worked some indies.

- Curt Hennig's anti-rap redneck group is actually getting over with WCW crowds even though they're supposed to be heels. WCW is aware of it and not happy about it, and they're planning to bring in Willie Nelson to film a vignette with Hennig, where Hennig tries to buddy up to Willie but gets shot down. They want country music fans to also think Hennig's group is uncool. (Trying to promote a redneck group against a group of rappers to their mostly southern fanbase. How did they think this was gonna go?)

- Dusty Rhodes returned to doing commentary for WCW Saturday Night and Dave says it was gruesome. "I need a damn thesaurus to keep finding new words to describe WCW," he adds.

- Chris Jericho did some concerts with a band called Fozzy Osbourne in Atlanta. Jericho was the lead singer and people said he was good. Then Dave drops a classic deadpan Dave-joke: "He said both rap and country suck and heavy metal rules. If he could have kept his drug problems under control he'd have probably been the best worker in the business by this point. That's Heavy Metal, not Jericho I'm talking about."

- WWF Raw Notes: Kurt Angle beat Matt Hardy in a dark match. Al Snow picked his nose and ate the booger. Prince Albert wore panties. The Rock is really over.

- WWF is claiming that they want to sell their Las Vegas hotel and casino because they can't renovate it to be an arena that they could hold events at, and that they're planning to buy a bigger hotel somewhere in Vegas. But a lot of people are saying the real reason is that WWF just doesn't want to admit that they made a mistake and way overpaid for this shitty hotel and now they're just trying to dump it and be rid of it. There's no plans to actually buy another hotel in Vegas, that's just to save face.

- Brian Christopher needs major knee surgery and will be out the rest of the year. Mick Foley is also working on his autobiography while he recovers from knee surgery. Expect Rock and Austin biographies to come out later this year also.

- Steve Austin was going to go on the Jay Leno show to respond to Goldberg's challenge awhile back but when WWF informed Leno's people that Austin would be turning down the challenge, they cancelled it. Leno only wanted him on the show if he was going to accept and obviously that's not happening.

- Letters this week are mostly about Owen Hart. The usual, people remembering him, then picking sides. Who's to blame, why Vince is the devil, so on and so forth. There's also several letters about Sable's lawsuit, sadly all of which have pretty much the same theme: she paraded around half-naked on TV, she posed for Playboy so she's basically a whore, she knew what she signed up for, she should shut up, WWF made her who she is, etc.
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(06-18-2018, 10:26 AM)Peezy Wrote: - ECW had their first ever show in Chicago this week which was a big success with a sold out crowd of 3,000. There was one part that almost went bad. A fan threw a chair in the ring, leading to Bubba Ray Dudley leaving the ring and going into the crowd after the fan, but luckily, nothing happened. Also, Sabu did a run-in at the end of the show. That doesn't sound like a big deal until you hear this part: Sabu was on a tour with FMW in Japan. He flew from Tokyo to Chicago, just to do the run-in on the ECW show, then immediately flew back to Japan to finish the FMW tour (having read every issue of the Observer from this decade, I'm convinced that there wasn't a harder working guy in the business during the 90s than Sabu, especially earlier in the decade).

I was at that show. It wasn't as dramatic as it sounds with the chair tossing. It was just the super amazing super heel Dudley's talking shit to the crowd about fucking their mothers and daughters. Heel Dudley's with an open mic and allowed to swear were money. If I recall this was the best of the ECW live shows I saw because one was Anarchy Rulz and the other was a TNN taping(s) so this was just more raw and unfiltered. I want to say the tag match had a flaming table which was wild for me as a 17 year old.

[+] 2 users Like JustJoe's post
Never being able to see an original ECW show live is one of my great wrestling fandom regrets
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(06-18-2018, 09:31 PM)Peezy Wrote: Never being able to see an original ECW show live is one of my great wrestling fandom regrets

Perhaps I should start a wrestling fandom regret post. I have my fair share being a 25 year fan...
Peezy, you know their last show ever was in Pine Bluff AR, about 2-2.5 hours from you. I took four of my friends who had never seen ecw before and they were blown away. Sandman did his usual entrance and came down right in between us. He poured beer in one of my buddies mouth
Yeah I know. I had no idea at the time, I probably would have gone.
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- King of the Ring is in the books and it was WWF's first PPV since the ill-fated Over The Edge. The in-ring action was noticeably toned down and safer and, probably due to the Sable lawsuit, the only woman on the show was Chyna and there was none of the typical half-naked bra and panties stripteases that you normally get on PPV now. The King of the Ring tournament sucked. Earlier in the week, word leaked out that the VHS box cover for King of the Ring was already being produced and that the cover said, "See the Big Show go through 8 men enroute to winning the King of the Ring!" When that news got out, WWF apparently changed plans and so Billy Gunn ended up winning the tournament. The show was legit sold out with nearly 20,000 people, as most WWF events, especially PPVs, tend to be these days. It was in the Greensboro Coliseum and it broke the gate record for that arena which was set way back in 1986 by Starrcade. During the show, Jim Ross talked about the history of the arena, naming all the legends like Flair, Steamboat, the Briscos, Andersons, etc. who had worked there but then finished by saying none of them had ever drawn 20,000 to the building. Which is true, but only because back in those days, it only held 15,500 so that's obviously misleading. WWF was only able to get 20,000 into it because of recent renovations. If the arena held that many people back in the 80s, there's no doubt Crockett would have packed it repeatedly.

- Other notes from King of the Ring: Kurt Angle worked a dark match and people say he has the look of someone who would have been a major babyface star in the 70s. Road Dogg vs. Chyna was the best match of the tournament, which should tell you just how bad the whole tournament was. The Hardyz vs. Edge & Christian was good and Dave says the spot where Edge speared Jeff off the middle ropes will probably be replayed endlessly for the next week. Which is good. They should. That's how people get over. Dave points out how WCW hasn't shown any replays of the sick Juvi driver that Juventud Guerrera did to Blitzkrieg a few weeks ago that was probably the coolest looking move done in wrestling all year, and neither guy has really been seen on TV since. "And Eric Bischoff can't figure out why his side has so much talent and is losing so badly." Bottom line: WWF knows how to make new stars. Rock vs. Undertaker sucked because Taker is badly broken down from injuries right now. There was no ceremony after Billy Gunn won the tournament, he just sorta went to the back and the next match started. Considering the show ended up going off the air 20+ minutes early, Dave isn't sure why the show felt so rushed. The Hardyz/E&C match also only went about 5 minutes.

- NJPW has announced that Tatsumi Fujinami will become the new president of the company, replacing Seiji Sakaguchi. In reality, it's mostly a figurehead position. Riki Choshu is the main guy in charge, he's the booker and has all the power. Fujinami becoming president seems to be mostly because Choshu wants to do a NJPW vs. UFO angle, with a rematch between Shinya Hashimoto and Naoya Ogawa but Sakaguchi was against working with Inoki's UFO group (since Ogawa decided to shoot on Hashimoto at the Jan. 4th show and seriously injured him). So Choshu pushed Sakaguchi out and made Fujinami the president. Speaking of the Ogawa/Hashimoto shoot, there's still speculation on what was legit and what wasn't. Word is both men went into the ring knowing that it was going to be a real fight, it wasn't a double-cross, but things did get out of hand. Hashimoto apparently didn't realize quite what he was getting into in a shoot against Ogawa and got the shit beat out of him for it, which severely damages his character, since his entire gimmick is that he is supposed to be a legit tough guy and the entire Tokyo Dome watched him get his face pounded in like a jobber. Pretty much everyone else in NJPW seemed to be in the dark and were shocked at seeing Hashimoto get brutalized like he did.

- One of Fujinami's first duties is to travel to the U.S. and visit WCW to get more familiar with their roster. NJPW and WCW still have a working agreement, but NJPW has been unhappy with it for awhile now because WCW never sends them anyone of value. NJPW wants to book people like Goldberg, Sting, Hogan, and Nash for some of their Tokyo Dome shows, but WCW always blocks it and sends them nobodies instead. The problem is, none of the top WCW stars want to go to Japan and risk injury by working the much harder Japanese style. With everyone in the U.S. making so much money now, there's no financial incentive to do it. NJPW has quietly reached out to WWF to inquire about working with them if the WCW deal falls through but Dave doesn't think that'll work out. WCW has a deep roster, many of whom aren't being used and some of them could work the Japanese style well. And their top stars never work house shows, so they could easily fit it into their schedule if they wanted. But in WWF, they don't have a deep roster and everybody, from the top down, works a grueling schedule. So even if WWF wanted to send their top guys to Japan, they'd have to find a break in the schedule to do it and that's not happening.

- Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, and Sable all made big mainstream media appearances this week. Hogan spent an hour on Larry King Live and came off well for people who don't know any better, except for one incident where he used the word "Polack." He was telling the story of how he got the name Hulk Hogan and told a story about how he got into the WWF (the story he told isn't remotely true, by the way, but then again, almost everything Hogan said during the interview was self-serving bullshit so that's nothing new). Anyway, he talked about how McMahon Sr. wanted him to dye his hair red and be an Irish hero, since the company already had an Italian hero (Sammartino), Pedro Morales for the Puerto Ricans, Strongbow for the Native Americans, and Ivan Putski "for the Polacks." Anyway, the Polish National Alliance got involved, saying it's a derogatory term and comparing it to the N-word. Hogan's people put out a statement saying that Hogan was only quoting what McMahon Sr. had said to him 20 years ago. Anyway, for what it's worth, Dave then gleefully points out about a dozen holes in just that story alone, about how timelines don't even begin to match up with the story Hogan told and how he was going by "The Hulk" years before this allegedly happened and all that shit. Hogan gonna Hogan.

- Among Hogan's other bullshit: said he left the WWF due to being singled out by Vince McMahon for the steroid controversy (he actually quit because he didn't want to put over Bret Hart at Summerslam). Basically called WWF pornography and said the WCW product would win in the end. Hogan repeatedly linked himself to Bret Hart, saying things like he and Bret were going to work together to make WCW suitable for children again. Basically, since Owen's death, Bret Hart is seen by the mainstream as the saint of the industry and one of the most known stars, and Hogan was smart enough to make sure he tied his name to Bret's as often as possible. When Larry King said, "You were very close to Owen," Hogan didn't deny it even though that's obviously not true, they barely even knew each other. When asked about Jesse Ventura's comments that Hogan ratted him out to Vince about forming a union, Hogan denied it. Of course, Vince McMahon testified to it during the lawsuit with Ventura, so either McMahon lied under oath, or Hogan is lying now. Draw your own conclusions. Hogan talked about how they were doing a show at Wembley Stadium and Ventura was pushing for a union then. Dave points out that WWF has only done 1 show in Wembley and neither Hogan or Ventura even worked for the company then. The Ventura/union drama happened in 1986 and even if you accept that Hogan simply got the arena wrong, you still have the problem that WWF never ran a show in London during this period so unless Hogan is also getting the entire continent wrong, then maybe he's just full of shit. Hogan also subtly hinted that Ventura used to do drugs (party drugs, not steroids) during the 80s and said Ventura hates him because he refused to help Ventura in his mayoral campaign. He also continued trying to push the idea that he is serious about running for President in 2000 which is obviously bullshit and when King pressed him on issues, he was totally clueless. When asked about his opinion of Vince McMahon, Hogan said, "I have a lot of respect for how he's taken care of his family. As far as a businessman, his theme of ride the horse until it drops, shoot it, then eat the horse, I don't agree with." He said he didn't think he'd ever be able to go back to WWF. By the end of the interview, he was talking in circles and mixing up his answers with work and shoot replies. You know, tell just enough "real" stuff to make the interviewer believe you're being candid, and then give them total bullshit answers for everything else.

- Sable appeared on Jay Leno and didn't fare very well. She was introduced as "Rena Mero, the artist formerly known as Sable." She got a tepid response and showed basically no personality. Dave thinks it was a reality check that shows outside of the carefully scripted confines of the WWF, she's probably not going to do very well on her own. She basically gave the usual "WWF is obscene and vulgar" statement and said she'd never go back to the company again unless things changed. When asked about using the name Sable, she said it was up to the courts to decide.

- Vince McMahon was on both the Today Show and Conan O'Brien's late night show. The Today Show was mostly a chance for host Matt Lauer to grill McMahon about Owen Hart's death. It started with Lauer talking about how popular wrestling is, only for McMahon to interrupt and emphasize that it's not wrestling, it's WWF that's popular, basically burying WCW. Anyway, during the interview, Vince said that Owen Hart had never expressed concern to anyone in the company about doing the stunt (which may have been true in regards to management, but Owen told several other wrestlers that he was nervous about it). He said that Owen had rehearsed it earlier in the day and that if Owen had been concerned about it, they wouldn't have done it. McMahon blamed the Hart lawsuit on the family being too quick to listen to their lawyers who are just out for a payday. He said the WWF is more than willing to make a financial settlement with Owen's family but he wouldn't accept responsibility for the accident. He said he had spoken to Owen's wife Martha after the accident, but when he attempted to contact her later in the week, he was told to talk to her lawyers and she wouldn't communicate with him any further. When asked about whether wrestlers should be doing those stunts, Vince compared it to WCW, saying, "Time Warner's wrestling company has done it dozens and dozens of times with the same rigger." Dave finds that insulting, since there are obvious differences (Sting always had the safety line hooked up that he had to manually undo. Owen had a single-button release on his because the plan was for him to release when he was 3 feet off the ground and fall face first in a comedic way. So there were significant differences in how WWF and WCW did it. And Vince damn well knows that). When asked about comments Jesse Ventura made, McMahon said Ventura has been out of the business for years and maybe people shouldn't take his opinion on the wrestling industry in 1999 as gospel. When asked about Bret Hart's comments, Vince called him disgruntled and said his popularity has plummeted since leaving WWF and he has a personal grudge against them, so don't listen to Bret either.

- As for Vince's interview on Conan, it was awkward and mostly light-hearted, but Vince seemed out of place and it just didn't work. He also took another shot at Ted Turner that seemed totally out of context. Owen Hart or Sable were never brought up and it was just to promote King of the Ring (I can't find video of any of these other media appearances, but here's the Vince/Conan one at least).

- Due to a computer error with the Neilsen ratings people, Dave doesn't have ratings for Raw and Nitro yet this week. But he's willing to risk his reputation and make a wild guess that Raw probably won.

- Longtime NJPW referee Katsuhisa Shibata retired this week. He had worked for the company for over 30 years. Shibata's son is currently training to be a wrestler with NJPW. During the ceremony, Shibata gave his son a body slam, basically to publicly introduce him as a future NJPW wrestler (and thus the Observer Rewind debut of Katsuyori Shibata).

- Antonio Inoki's UFO promotion held a show with Naoya Ogawa defending the NWA title. It was broadcast live on the internet, both on NWA's website and on www.antonio-inoki.com but it's still 1999 and the technology sucks so word is the audio quality was bad and the video quality was even worse. Maybe some day.

- David McLane, the man who created GLOW in the 1980s, is getting back in the business. He's planning to hold auditions in Los Angeles soon for women that will be trained as wrestlers. Basically, it's going to be a modern-day revival of GLOW (this ends up becoming Women of Wrestling, better known as WOW. And funny enough, as I type this, it was just announced yesterday that WOW is coming back and will be getting a new show on AXS in 2019).

- Jerry Lawler almost left Power Pro Wrestling this week but it got settled. When Power Pro began, Randy Hales was announced as the sole person in charge, and Lawler was said to not be involved in management at all. Everyone mostly knew that was bullshit, but Lawler had to say that because the USWA lawsuit was still ongoing. But now that the lawsuit is settled, Lawler was ready to stake his claim to power in the company and Randy Hales resisted. Lawler threatened to quit the promotion and began looking into getting his own TV deal, figuring he could start his own promotion and probably take the WWF developmental deal with him. But they seemed to have squashed whatever the issues were and Lawler was back on TV this week.

- Speaking of Lawler, he is apparently serious about running for mayor of Memphis and is expected to make an official announcement about it soon. Lawler has an incredible gift of gab and is a huge local icon in Memphis, much bigger than Ventura ever was in Minneapolis. And after Ventura's surprise win, none of the other candidates are taking Lawler lightly and the media isn't treating this potential campaign as a joke. After Ventura, there's significant belief that Lawler might be able to pull it off if he makes a go of it.

- Reportedly, the ECW deal with TNN was finalized this week and there should be an official announcement made soon. The first episode is expected to be a history-of-ECW type of show. It's a 3-year deal and as part of the agreement, TNN has an option to purchase 10% ownership in the company after one year. The 3 years aren't guaranteed of course. TNN can cancel any TV show they want at any time for any reason they see fit, so if ratings aren't strong, that doesn't necessarily mean ECW will be on the channel for 3 years. Blood will still be allowed. Male-on-female violence won't be. Beyond that, it's sorta unknown where TNN will draw the line. ECW will be paying for the production costs of the new show themselves, approximately $25,000 per week which will include a new entrance way, better lighting, etc. ECW will get a percentage of ad sales after TNN takes their cut. TNN also airs in Canada, which means for the first time, ECW will get exposure in that country as well and because of that, their next PPV in Sept. will be available in Canada.

- Notes from the latest ECW Arena show: Rhino Richards, now going by simply "Rhino", defeated Christopher Daniels. And Danny Doring and Roadkill came out with a new valet that Dave doesn't have a name for (that would be Amy Dumas, better known as Lita). Also, before the show, Paul Heyman had a meeting backstage with all the wrestlers and basically thanked them for sticking with him through the bad times and the bounced checks and told them about the TNN deal and that starting in September, they would be doing 3-4 shows per week.

- The WCW/Master P deal may already be falling apart. Last week at the New Orleans show, Master P kept making demands, trying to get more limos and more perks for his entourage and trying to negotiate a better contract for his friend Swole (who WCW just signed). Master P basically showed Bischoff less than zero respect and was a pain in the ass to work with the whole time. Plus, the next morning, one of his bodyguards (who was part of his entourage on Nitro) was arrested at the airport with a gun. There's rumors that Master P may already be done, since Bischoff is already sick of his shit.

- Ric Flair is dealing with a back injury, plus it's no secret that he's not thrilled with his current role in the company, which is basically designed to end his career. Dave says WCW bookers have been trying since the 80s to bury Flair as a top star and phase him out, but it looks like Nash might be the first one to actually succeed at it. Anyway, Flair isn't wrestling but is still going to every city to make appearances. In fact, at a house show in Michigan, there was a Savage vs. Bagwell match booked, but neither man wanted to do the job. So Flair volunteered to come out at the end and it would turn into a three-way match and then he'd let Bagwell pin him, just so they wouldn't have to do a DQ finish. They're still talking about doing a young vs. old angle, and Flair was said to be excited about the idea of himself, Hogan, Piper, and Savage as a unit fighting against the younger stars. But then Savage threw a fit about doing it because he doesn't want to be portrayed as old. And if it happens, Flair would be the one doing all the jobs, because he's the only one willing to put people over, so that idea seems to be falling apart also.

- Notes from Nitro: it was in Chicago and failed to sell out. That used to be an automatic, weeks-in-advance sellout. This time, they were several thousand short. And once you factor in advertising costs, TV expenses, payroll and travel expenses, etc., the show was only barely profitable. Steven Regal returned and still looked to be out of shape but did okay. Sid Vicious and Savage came out to interrupt a Flair promo. Arn Anderson was in the ring and when Sid came out, Anderson simply went and stood in the corner away from everybody and basically didn't even acknowledge the rest of the angle. But after it was over, Sid walked over to the corner and shook Anderson's hand, which got a small pop from those who recognized the significance. Kevin Nash is desperately trying to book himself like Steve Austin, in that one-man-against-all-odds style but he's not Steve Austin and it's not working. Curt Hennig is absolutely crushing it in his new redneck anti-rap role and has more talent than everyone else he's on screen with combined. In fact, Hennig and his group's song "Rap Is Crap" is actually getting some real interest from country radio stations as a novelty song that they want to start playing.

- Tank Abbott is still under contract and has been flown out to every Nitro but hasn't been used in weeks. In fact, this week, Sting, Rick Steiner, Konnan, Rey Mysterio, Kidman, and several others were all flown to Nitro this week but then just flew back home because WCW didn't use them.

- WCW is doing a Nitro Girls PPV next month, which will mostly just be them frolicking around in bikinis. And in order to make sure it doesn't succeed, they scheduled it for a Monday night. So their own PPV will be going against Nitro (and Raw). Because WCW.

- Jimmy Hart pitched an idea to allow him to book WCW Saturday Night. He wants to build the show around only young guys and do it in a studio setting with old Memphis-style angles. No word on if it'll happen. For now, Kevin Sullivan is still booking that show.

- If you're wondering why Ernest Miller gets so much TV time on Nitro, it's because he's got friends in the right places. He's Eric Bischoff's son's karate teacher.

- Bret Hart will make his return to WCW at the Georgia Dome Nitro next week, so of course, in typical WCW fashion, they didn't bother to mention it once on Nitro this week. Hey, why would you want to promote something major like that in advance? It's like this company actively hates ratings. Anyway, Hart is expected to tease the idea that he may retire but should be doing an angle fairly soon that will lead to him vs. Hogan.

- Thunder notes: Eddie Guerrero had his 2nd match back and looked much better this time and had a great match with Psicosis. Dave says it's one of those matches that a good promotion would use to get both guys over, but in this case, well, you know. (Dave has taken off the kiddie gloves when it comes to WCW. He's full of disdain for this shitshow of a company at this point). David Flair won a match and now they're doing an angle saying that he's undefeated (7-0) and that he's chasing Goldberg's record. Dave reminds us that he lost to Meng only 2 months ago, but hey, who's counting? Certainly not WCW.

- Chris Jericho has been doing jobs to Buff Bagwell on house shows and isn't being used on TV unless he signs a new deal. Nash wanted to job him out on TV until he leaves, but Bischoff doesn't even want him to have any TV exposure. WCW is definitely interested in keeping him, but Jericho doesn't seem interested in staying.

- Raven is still with the company, but has been off TV with an injury. He had rotator cuff surgery recently as well as surgery for gynecomastia (basically the same male breast surgery that Rock had last year, which is often attributed to steroid use).

- WCW had a surprise drug test at a house show in Milwaukee, which upset most of the locker room for obvious reasons, but also because almost none of the top stars were there, which always seems to be the case when WCW springs these "surprise" tests.

- Sid Vicious is telling people his WCW contract is a 2-year deal for $1.5 million per year. Others, who are more reliable and trustworthy, say it's more like $500,000 per year. (I got curious and looked up the info in a lawsuit he filed after WCW closed. Turns out it's neither. It was a 3-year deal. First year was for $800,000. Second year for $850,000. Third year at $900,000. Neither him or WCW made it to the 3rd year).

- Other random WCW contract notes: Shane Douglas should be debuting soon. Public Enemy is expected to return also. WCW has signed 21 new wrestlers in recent weeks to developmental deals ranging from $300 to $1,000 per week. The deals lock them in with WCW for 3 years, but WCW can drop them whenever they want. They aren't guaranteed deals like the stars have. Among the names signed were Shane Helms, Shannon Moore, and Jerry Tuite (later known as The Wall in WCW), among others.

- Eric Bischoff wasn't at Nitro or Thunder this week. He's usually not at Thunder so that was no surprise, but he usually doesn't miss Nitro so that got people talking (Bischoff was so checked out at this point).

- Speaking of Bischoff, he did a newspaper interview and admitted that WCW dropped the ball after the NWO angle ran its course. He blamed WWF, saying they changed audience expectations with all the obscenity and vulgarity and once again insisting that WCW was not going to follow suit. "The WWF raised the bar in terms of expectations of the audience in a way this company has decided we're not going to compete with. It's an audience who really doesn't care about advertising and long-term business growth. All they want to do is be entertained, shocked, surprised and have something to talk about Tuesday morning when they go to school or work."

- Kurt Angle worked another dark match before Raw and I only mention it because Dave says he won the match with....the burning hammer. Can you imagine if THAT had turned into Angle's finisher?

- The "Over The Edge" PPV name has officially been dropped and will no longer be used in the future. Dave says they did the same thing after Brian Pillman died, dropping the Badd Blood PPV name.

- Jim Cornette is moving to Louisville this week to help run Ohio Valley Wrestling. The promotion will be WWF's own developmental company. Basically, new wrestlers will start there for a few months, then move to Memphis to work in Power Pro for a few months, before finally moving up to WWF.

- Kevin Kelly and Michael Cole will be the announcers for the new Smackdown show starting next month, which pretty much guarantees that it will be the B-show.

- Random brief WWF notes: Terry Taylor is wanting to restart the WWF light heavyweight division but Vince is a size-freak and basically has no interest in signing small guys so it's probably not happening. Rena Mero (Sable) is getting tons of media requests to go on TV and talk about WWF and her lawsuit. The audience for Raw has grown 166% over the past 2 years since bottoming out in 1997.

- Lots of letters basically shitting all over WCW, calling it unwatchable, etc. One guy suggests that they need to fire Kevin Nash as booker and hire someone like Vince Russo or Ed Ferrera to write the show. Given that's exactly what happens in a few months, that's pretty prescient. Someone else writes in to accuse Dave of ageism when it comes to his criticism of WCW. "Do we all have to wear droopy drawers and spout retarded hip-hop slang like Konnan?" the person asks. Oh cool, apparently my dad wrote in to the Observer.

- Someone else writes in with a pretty unfortunate letter, basically trashing Sable and making really shitty comments. Here's a sample: "What work did she ever do? The plastic surgeons did all the work, ballooning her breasts with those horrible things and cramming her jawline practically under her eyeballs. Now the lawyers are doing the rest of the work. Peepholes in the dressing room? Someone whose job it was to have the biggest breasts and sexually tease people with them is complaining about a peephole?" Anyway, later in the letter, he talks about loving Dusty Rhodes commentary, saying he doesn't care how dumb or childish Dave thinks he is because of it, and calls Mike Tenay the worst announcer in the history of broadcast sports. So that's the kind of person we're dealing with here.
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- Chris Jericho has agreed to a 3-year contract with WWF this week. Jericho is still with WCW at the moment, his contract with them doesn't expire until later this month and he still has a handful of house shows to work with WCW, but he's not expected to appear on TV for them anymore. Signing Jericho has been seen as WWF's #1 priority for 1999 by Jim Ross, who handles that stuff. Chris Benoit was also up there with Jericho as being WWF's top priorities, but he has since re-signed with WCW. Anyway, WWF wasted no time and immediately announced the signing on their website and it's expected that Jericho will debut on WWF TV as soon as his WCW contract expires on July 27th (about 2 weeks later, actually). Ever since he became a breakout star in WCW last year, WWF has seen him as a potential top star and made it a priority to sign him. He's got the look, the skills, and the charisma to pull it off, but he's untested as a headliner in the U.S. because WCW never gave him that chance. Also, he's a little smaller than what Vince usually likes so you know how that goes. But he's still young and, barring injury, Jericho should probably end up being a main eventer for the next decade.

- Dave also thinks that letting Jericho get away will end up being one of the biggest black marks on Eric Bischoff's career, right up there with firing Steve Austin. Bischoff just never saw a main eventer in Jericho and he was never allowed to break past the glass ceiling that all the other midcarders there are stuck under and it was made even worse by the fact that WCW basically buried him all this year, which made it an easy decision for him to leave. In fact, for the last several months, once it became clear that he was probably leaving, WCW announcers were ordered not to mention Jericho on TV and signs in the crowd mentioning Jericho were confiscated. Furthermore, guys like Malenko and Benoit were promised big pushes if they re-signed, and they did, only to pretty much still be in the same spots they always were in. Jericho saw that and realized he was never going to get a fair chance in WCW. While the company has plenty of money to burn, they didn't even bother to offer Jericho a significant raise to stay, the way they did Benoit and Malenko. Jericho's WWF contract deal has a lower downside guarantee that what he was making in WCW, but offers a lot of incentives that could end up earning him substantially more. Bischoff was reportedly pretty "whatever" about the whole thing and didn't seem to care if Jericho stayed or went. Dave once again thinks this will end up being something we all look back on 5 or 10 years from now as a huge mistake from a company that was, at one time, "the global leader in the industry, only to piss it all away by lack of management foresight." (Spoiler: yup.)

- The ECW on TNN deal is finally official and was announced last week that it will premiere on Aug. 27th. The 2 weeks before that will feature a "History of ECW" special and another show the following week introducing fans to the current stars and storylines. The first show will be taped in Birmingham, AL although there's talk of moving it to a bigger city, likely Cleveland. TNN wants them to do tapings in more upscale looking arenas. Heyman wants to do at least one taping at the ECW Arena for historical purposes and as a thank you for the original ECW fans who have been going to shows there for years. Many of the shows will be taped weeks in advance, which will require long-term planning to keep continuity issues from popping up, which is something WCW has always struggled with so we'll see how ECW fares at it. The TNN deal also gives them the option to extend the show to 2 hours if they want to, although that would only happen if they cancel RollerJam. TNN has invested millions into RollerJam and one of the big reasons they made the deal with ECW is because they want wrestling to serve as a lead-in to RollerJam, hoping those viewers will stick around to watch it (Dave doesn't think that's going to work out well). So the chances of them cancelling it and expanding ECW to 2 hours is highly unlikely.

- WCW Nitro in the Georgia Dome featured the returns of Bret Hart (following Owen's death) and Goldberg (following injury). The crowd was only 19,000 or so paid (another 6,000 or so papered) which is the smallest crowd WCW has ever drawn at the Georgia Dome. They had it configured to hold 44,000 and barely got half of that and is just further proof that WCW's popularity is continuing to plummet. Bret Hart gave a speech, thanking fans and expressing doubt about his future, which was expected to be turned into a storyline but word is there's a lot more reality to it than most people thought and Bret is said to be genuinely unsure if he wants to wrestle again. Hart really didn't seem ready to be put in front of a crowd to talk about this stuff and was said to be on the verge of tears in the locker room before going out and he definitely looked like a guy who hasn't yet recovered from losing a close family member. Doubts or not, it's still expected within WCW that Hart will eventually return to start a storyline with Hogan later this year. Hart, Hogan, and Bischoff all had a meeting in Chicago last week to discuss it but nothing was set in stone.

- The other big note from Nitro was the return of Goldberg. It was preceded by a performance from metal band Megadeth, performing a song of theirs that is on the Universal Soldier II soundtrack (the movie features Goldberg). At the end of a long ass performance, Goldberg appeared and said, "I'm back!" but most wrestling fans probably missed it because people tuned out in droves during the Megadeth performance. Goldberg's appearance did get a huge pop though, but that was all there was to it (this is edited out of the WWE Network version of the show, I assume because of rights issues with the Megadeth song).

- One final note from Nitro, the very end featured Randy Savage running through the locker room looking for Gorgeous George. At one point, he slapped Torrie Wilson, who laughed it off rather than acted scared (this scene is famous now for being in the intro of Botchamania) and then he ripped off George's shirt and threw her across the room. For a company that's always trying to say they have the moral high ground by not sinking to WWF's level, having Savage physically abuse women like that makes WCW look pretty bad (honestly, in my opinion, this was worse. Seeing a woman take a Stunner or a powerbomb is one thing. Those are wrestling moves that you'd never see people use in a real fight and there's a suspension of belief involved there. Seeing Randy Savage intensely screaming in the faces of scared women, slapping one of them in the face and shoving the other one across a room came off a lot more realistic and uncomfortable).

- Dave decides to take an in-depth look at TV ratings. He talks about how ratings work, how a lot of it is misunderstood, how ratings ("like all numbers in wrestling") are often exaggerated or outright lied about. Raw routinely does double what Nitro does. Sunday Night Heat generally beats WCW Thunder by a full point. Smackdown's upcoming debut will probably destroy Thunder. And so on and so forth. Anyway, Dave decides to compare how ratings have changed over the last year (comparing the 1999 numbers from the last few months to the same time period in 1998). The total Monday night wrestling audience has increased from just under 10 million last year to more than 11 million this year, but that's not good for WCW because almost all of that is people watching WWF. Last year, WCW was winning every demographic except for kids and 18-24 males. Now, they're losing every demographic except for the 55+ age group. WCW has dropped 32% among kids, while WWF increased 62%. He keeps breaking down stuff like this but it's a lot of percentages and numbers, so I won't go into it but there's a TON of detail and analysis, so if you're ever doing a research paper on Monday night wrestling ratings in the 1990s, this is the issue for you. Bottom line: WWF is crushing WCW in nearly every way possible. For what it's worth though, WCW has shown a huge increase in female viewers aged 55 and up in the last year. Dave has no idea why, but for some reason, WCW is a major draw in the coveted granny demographic.

- He also takes a look at Japan ratings, comparing AJPW and NJPW to the same period last year. AJPW has had a strong 38% increase in ratings since last year, which is surprising since the product is so stagnant lately and attendance is down. Part of it may be attributed to the death of Giant Baba and all the viewers who tuned in for that and then stuck around. but it's been 6 months since Baba died and ratings are still up, so who knows. NJPW is the same story, with ratings up 41% from last year, despite declining attendance. Dave notes that the Japanese economy is in the toilet right now, so part of it can probably be attributed to people staying home to watch wrestling on TV for free rather than going to see it live.

- Nobuhiko Takada's latest foray into shoot fighting once again went poorly at the most recent Pride event. If you recall, in 97 and 98, he lost 2 fights to Rickson Gracie. He then beat UFC star Mark Coleman, but that was a worked fight that Coleman was paid handsomely for. So this week, he went against former UFC fighter Mark Kerr and got dominated and tapped out in 3 minutes. After the fight, Takada talked about wanting to face Royce Gracie, but Takada's marketability is pretty much shot after so many high profile losses so Dave doesn't see the point. Pride seems to be grooming NWA champion Naoya Ogawa as the next big draw. Ogawa is younger and bigger than Takada and has an impressive judo background, and has Antonio Inoki backing him. He faced Gary Goodridge at this show and won, but a lot of people suspect the match was worked (I believe to this day, Goodridge says he was offered money to take a dive and refused it and claims he legitimately lost to Ogawa, but who knows).

- When covering Raw this week, Dave talks about how the Austin vs. Undertaker match did a monstrous 9.5 rating, making it the most watched wrestling match (or segment) in cable TV history and was the first match to ever break 10 million viewers (it actually did almost 11 million). Literally 1-in-every-6 TV sets in America with access to cable was watching this match. I mention this because there's some controversy here. To this day, WWE (and Vince Russo in particular) constantly claims that the Rock/Mankind "This is your life" segment was the highest rated segment in Raw history. Not true. This match beat it by more than a full ratings point. Now, to be fair, this match happened during the overrun at the end of Raw. Nitro had already gone off the air, so Undertaker vs. Austin didn't have competition and a lot of people switched over from Nitro to catch the end of Raw. So you could argue that this number is artificially inflated, while the Rock/Mankind thing happened in the middle of the show. But that notwithstanding, the factual answer to "What was the highest rated match/segment/whatever in Raw history" is NOT the This Is Your Life segment. It's Undertaker vs. Austin on June 28, 1999.

- Speaking of Nitro going off the air before Raw ended, Nitro actually ended way earlier than planned. The timing got screwed up on the final match and the angle and not only did Nitro not have an overrun, they actually went off the air 3 minutes before the hour was even over. In fact, Nitro seems to have stopped even doing overruns entirely, which Dave says is yet another sign that this company seems to have already thrown in the towel and given up.

- Kenta Kobashi had nasal surgery last week to fix a badly broken nose. He had been told to sit out for a couple of months and to not even start training for several weeks. So in typical Kobashi fashion, he didn't miss a single show. Doctors warned him that he could mess it up and would risk needing to redo the surgery but Kobashi ain't no bitch! In his first match (just two weeks or so after the surgery), he came out wearing a nose guard mask but they turned it into an angle in the match, with his opponent taking it off and repeatedly punching him in the face. Kobashi was said to be in extreme pain, because every bump made his head feel like it was going to explode. He's working tag matches for now but still....

- Antonio Inoki visited North Korea again this week to discuss the possibility of doing another major show there. Back in 1995, Inoki and NJPW held 2 shows in North Korea that each "drew" more than 150,000 people, making them the 2 largest recorded crowds in pro wrestling history.

- There was a lot of national news coverage this week regarding a story where a 7-year-old accidentally killed his 3-year-old brother by imitating wrestling moves on him. It happened in Dallas and the 3-year-old died four days later in the hospital from brain swelling after his brother clotheslined him and he hit his head on the floor. The 7-year-old said he was copying Steve Austin and the Undertaker and was said to be in tears and distraught and that he didn't mean to hurt his brother (ugh, that's rough).

- RollerJam on TNN is trying to become more wrestling-like. They have a heel owner, doing storylines playing up the sex and violence aspect, all the women are wearing skimpier outfits and having "accidental" wardrobe malfunctions, and things like that. Since ECW will be the lead-in for that show soon, they're trying to cater RollerJam to the wrestling audience in hopes that they'll stick around after ECW ends.

- Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch were backstage at the latest ECW show, but they aren't being brought back just yet. Heyman is willing to do it, as long as they can prove that they're staying clean. He also realizes that Tammy (as Sunny) has some mainstream name value and it would be good to have her when the TNN show starts, but that's all dependent on her being clean.

- Raven recently had surgery for gynecomastia and got an infection afterwards that was nearly fatal. Doctors told him that he could have died if he had waited any longer to come to the hospital. But he's okay now.

- Dennis Rodman, who recently signed a WCW contract, was supposed to appear at the Georgia Dome Nitro but he called beforehand and backed out. He also no-showed a photo shoot for WCW Magazine. Off to a good start.

- Master P is reportedly getting $200,000 per appearance on Nitro. His bodyguard Swole, who is training to be a wrestler, signed a 1-year deal for $400,000 which is only slightly less than WCW offered Chris Jericho to re-sign. "Has the world gone nuts?" Dave asks.

- Vince McMahon suffered a cracked tailbone in a motorcycle accident in Greenwich, CT. He was apparently coming around a corner and was hit by someone backing their car out of their driveway. McMahon was knocked off the motorcycle and shaken up but was back at work at Raw the next day.

- WWF's King of the Ring PPV did a 1.13 buyrate, which is almost triple the buyrate what the most recent WCW PPV (Great American Bash) did.

- WWF still hasn't officially done anything in regards to Sable appearing on Nitro a few weeks ago. They're still considering it a contract breach and her contract stipulates that, in the event of a breach, she forfeits her merchandise royalties, but WWF hasn't enforced that yet so who knows.

- Davey Boy Smith has mostly recovered from his back issues and is back to training twice a day in hopes of returning to the ring in WWF later this year, though he says he won't be able to take certain moves, like suplexes. He's also been trying to stay neutral when it comes to the Owen Hart thing and the lawsuit, basically staying out of it so as to not upset his family or the people he's hoping to get a job with.

- As expected, the GTV segments are planned to be revealed as Goldust doing the filming. Right now, he's out with a back injury (nope, he ends up leaving soon and going to WCW. Doesn't show up again in WWF until 2002).

- Someone writes in and randomly says he broke up with his girlfriend because she wasn't a Shawn Michaels fan. Dave responds saying, "That isn't the dumbest reason I've ever heard for a break up, but it does make the list."
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- WWF is expected to hold a press conference this week to announce that Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura will be involved in Summerslam next month, which is a major coup for the WWF. It's the type of major mainstream story the WWF needed to take attention away from the Owen Hart death and the Sable lawsuit. Ventura's participation is guaranteed to lead to massive mainstream publicity and is sure to lead to a lot of additional PPV buys. No word on what Ventura is being paid but it's sure to be in the 7-figures and Ventura is donating the money to charity, which is good publicity for WWF and gives Ventura a way to avoid some of the criticism he's going to get for involving himself with wrestling. That being said, while this is great news for WWF, it's unsure how Ventura benefits. If he's not keeping the money, he's risking his political reputation by getting involved with the WWF, which is constantly under fire for their risque content (spoiler: he's keeping quite a bit of the money).

- WCW also had recent interest in bringing in Ventura. Basically, both companies began reaching out to him after he won the election back in November. Of course, Ventura left both WWF and WCW on bad terms years ago. In the early 90s, he successfully sued the WWF for royalties and ended up winning more than $1 million. He basically got pushed out the door of WCW which he blames on Hogan joining the company. It's not known how Ventura will be involved in Summerslam. He could wrestle, although if he does, it would almost certainly be a tag match. His last match was in 1986. But most likely, his role will probably be as a guest referee and it would probably play out very similarly to the Mike Tyson deal last year. As for why it didn't work out with WCW, no word for sure, but Ventura has a very personal vendetta against Hogan and hasn't had many nice things to say about Bischoff either. As for the WWF, despite the lawsuit and his bad business relationship with the company in the past, Ventura has never really seemed to have a personal grudge against McMahon. Basically, it was all business, never personal. The same can't be said for Ventura and Hogan.

- Jerry Lawler officially announced this week that he will be running for mayor of Memphis and by the end of the week, he already had his first scandal (more on that in a moment). Lawler grew up in Memphis and is one of the biggest celebrities to ever come out of the city. There's already 12 candidates in the race and may end up being 15 before the deadline. With that many candidates leeching votes from each other and with Lawler's celebrity status, it's believed that he will play a significant factor in the outcome of the election, whether he wins or not. Due to the success of Jesse Ventura, the other candidates and media are taking him seriously because Lawler is a far bigger star in Memphis than Ventura ever was anywhere in Minnesota. Like Ventura, Lawler is portraying himself as the common outsider who is coming in to buck the entrenched political system. Also like Ventura, Lawler is a gifted and charismatic public speaker and Lawler especially is great at selling himself in interviews. If he wins, Lawler doesn't expect it to affect his Raw job since he only has to fly in 1 day a week for Raw and 1 Sunday a month for PPVs. There's also the question of equal time laws, since Lawler is always on TV but as long as he doesn't campaign for himself during Raw or Power Pro tapings, he'll probably be okay. He admitted not being fully up to speed on all the political issues in the city, but talked about being a quick learner and is hopeful he can win over voters in the debates. While there's a lot of similarities, there are also big differences between Ventura and Lawler. In Ventura's case, he's a former Navy SEAL which he promoted heavily and he was able to push himself as a loyal family man, with a long successful marriage. Lawler has no military background and, of course, he is just 5 years removed from a high-profile statutory rape allegation. And he doesn't have the best business reputation either after the failure of USWA and his association with shady people and the subsequent fraud lawsuit afterward. Basically, Lawler has a lot more skeletons in his closet than Ventura did. Even right now, Lawler still has a case pending from where he threw a parking ticket in a cop's face and drove off, running over the officer's foot.

- As for his scandal, two groups (The League of Women Voters and the National Organization of Women) have both complained about Lawler's website because it has a bunch of risque photos of his valet and real-life girlfriend Stacy Carter. If Lawler is elected, she could potentially be the city's First Lady and there's mostly-naked photos of her all over Lawler's website. Lawler initially removed the photos but re-added them later in the week with a message saying, "Stacy is in show business, and the nature of show business includes sometimes outlandish costuming...I should know. Stacy's photos that have appeared on this site would be rated PG-13 in the movie business. Now any time you challenge the entrenched political special interests, they will attack you. The nature of politics today is that they attack even your families or the ones closest to you." The next day, as a publicity stunt, Lawler played in a softball game and invited the media out. Stacy Carter was there, dressed in winter clothes with a turtleneck sweater, suffocating in the 100-degree heat, while Lawler told the cameras that politics are so silly that they're forcing his girlfriend to dress like that. At some point, Lawler is probably going to have to address his constant sexist remarks on Raw or the race-baiting promos he often used back in the 70s when he worked as a heel (Memphis is a very racially polarized city).

Here's some of the photos from Lawler's website. NSFW obviously.

- Jack Brisco, one of the top stars of the 1970s, is hospitalized in ICU for various issues. It started with back surgery to remove a tumor, then he got a bacterial infection and pneumonia, followed by a staph infection and fluid in his lungs. Basically everything went wrong after the surgery. He's expected to make a full recovery but it'll take a long time. A radio station in Tampa incorrectly reported him dead, which led to other media outlets following suit and word spread throughout the industry that he had died. Both WWF and WCW reported it on their hotlines before removing it. Jack's brother Gerald Brisco called up the radio station and chewed them a new asshole for getting the rumor started (Jack's still got another 10 years).

- The Oregon House of Representatives voted down a bill that would have stopped drug testing for national touring wrestling groups. So nothing has changed and WWF and WCW will likely continue not doing shows in Oregon. The governor had made it clear that even if the bill had passed, he would have vetoed it. Oregon is unique because they also draw blood to do HIV testing, which is the big reason they don't want to run shows there. Because they don't want to submit to blood testing, not necessarily because of HIV but because of all the other drugs those tests can catch that aren't as easy to cheat on as a urine test. There was an incident several years ago, prior to the Zahorian trial, where the WWF submitted Howard Finkel's blood and claimed it was Hulk Hogan's, in order to get him licensed to perform there, and got caught. WWF hasn't been back since. The bill had actually been expected to pass and a lot of politicians were confident that it would, but a lot of the heat from Owen Hart's death seems to have soured people on professional wrestling and it's believed that played a big part in the bill getting shot down. This issue may come up again in the future though. A new arena is being built in Vancouver, WA which is just across the state line from Portland. It's expected WWF and WCW will start running shows in that area, which will still serve the Portland, OR fans, but the state of Oregon would lose out on the money events like that generate. So that will likely put pressure on them to change the law sooner or later.

- WCW's Bash at the Beach PPV is in the books and it wasn't great. Dave doesn't understand where this company's head is at. Totally incompetent booking, matches that didn't even sound good on paper that were even worse live, stipulations that were never fully explained and, in one case, totally ignored, and finally a ridiculously brutal hardcore battle royal that cost more than $100,000 to produce and was barely hyped in the weeks before the show. And it was so poorly lit that you could barely see what was happening anyway, but it still led to several wrestlers being injured for no good reason. The hardcore battle royal was filmed at a junkyard about 40 minutes from the arena. Goldberg wasn't at the show, but the crowd spent the whole night chanting for him and he was by far the most over person with the crowd. Bad matches, bad finishes, bad booking, etc. Just a bad show.

- Other notes from Bash at the Beach: Ernest Miller vs. Disco Inferno was originally promoted as "loser wouldn't be allowed to dance anymore" match, but they seemingly dropped the stipulation right before the show and after Disco lost, Schiavone offhandedly mentioned it but said it was removed and he can still dance. Rick Steiner vs. Van Hammer was real stiff, with Steiner just beating the shit out of him. David Flair vs. Dean Malenko gets negative stars because even Malenko couldn't carry this to anything watchable. Torrie Wilson was back in Flair's corner with no explanation given (apparently she was supposed to be with Nash in storyline). Dave thinks WCW should get migraine pills to be a sponsor because you need them to follow WCW these days. Curt Hennig and his West Texas Redneck group are getting over huge due to their "Rap Is Crap" song which people in the audience were singing during their entrance, even though they're supposed to be heels. Then, the Junkyard Battle Royal. Which was apparently for the newly created WCW Hardcore title, which you wouldn't have known before because WCW never even bothered to announce that they were creating a hardcore title until the match began. Filmed at a junkyard, outside in the dark, with no professional lighting. Had to climb the fence and escape the junkyard to win, which should have led to a bunch of dramatic near escapes (you know, like a cage match) but didn't because that would have made too much sense. There was a helicopter filming from above and you couldn't even make out half the people in the match. Silver King ended up cutting his shoulder badly and needed 60 stitches to close it. Hak was hospitalized after with a separated shoulder and neck injury. Hugh Morrus needed stitches in his hand. Mikey Whipwreck got a concussion. Dave says it might as well have been Brawl-For-All given the risk/reward ratio of the match. Dave doesn't even want to rate the match, saying it's not fair to the guys who worked hard but it was filmed so poorly that it was just unwatchable. DDP/Bigelow/Kanyon vs. Benoit/Saturn was a good match but the crowd spent the whole time distracted by a bunch of beach balls in the crowd until the very end. Match had a hot ending and the crowd got into it, which was the only time they got into anything on this show. Dave laments how far Ric Flair has fallen, because his only role on the PPV was to run away from Judy Bagwell at one point and Dave is just thrilled that the greatest wrestler of all time is now reduced to selling for a 60-year-old woman. Savage won the world title, only to lose it the following night on Nitro which was partly punishment because of......

- There was also a lot of heat on WCW for the scene on Nitro last week where Randy Savage slapped Torrie Wilson and threw Gorgeous George down. WCW portrays themselves as the clean, kid-friendly company and yet that happened. Plus, the way Savage attacked the women was a lot more realistic and akin to real domestic violence than cartoonish wrestling moves. Bischoff in particular got a lot of heat for it because it was at the Georgia Dome show in Atlanta and a lot of Time Warner higher ups were there to see it. To make it worse, Torrie Wilson didn't know Savage was going to slap her so it wasn't planned. Naturally, Savage caught a lot of heat for it as well, to the point that he was sent home from Thunder a couple of days later. On the PPV, George came to the ring with big sunglasses on and took them off to reveal 2 black eyes, but the announcers never acknowledged it and WCW officials were told not to use any footage of it in video packages so they're not going to work a domestic violence angle.

- As mentioned, Randy Savage lost the title on Nitro, one day after winning it, to a returning Hulk Hogan. Despite that, Nitro only put a slight dent in Raw's ratings dominance. The Hogan/Savage title change was Nitro's highest rated segment in a long time but it still didn't come close to touching Raw. Oh, and just for shits and giggles, remember last week when Megadeth performed on Nitro and it ended with the surprise return of Goldberg. Turns out, nobody saw the Goldberg return because that Megadeth performance TANKED in the ratings and was the lowest rated Nitro segment in years. So by the time Goldberg appeared at the end of the song, hundreds of thousands of viewers had already changed the channel.

- Publicly, everything has been smoothed over in AJPW when it comes to the management situation. But privately, behind the scenes, there's still a power struggle going on for control of the company between Misawa and Giant Baba's wife (NOAH, coming soon to a Budokan near you).

- Antonio Inoki is hoping to do another show in North Korea in the spring of 2000. He recently went there and met with top government officials (not Kim Jong-il but whoever his 2nd in command is) to discuss it. Japan and North Korea pretty much have no business relationships with each other at all so if Inoki can make this happen again, it would be a pretty big deal (nah this never turns into anything).

- Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW) out of California will have their debut show at the end of the month. It's mostly notable because the promotion is run by porn producers and will feature several porn stars such as Rob Black, Tom Byron, Ashlyn Gere, Jasmin St. Claire, Lizzy Borden and Kristi Myst.

- Scott Hall showed up at an ECW show in Florida, which was held in a small venue with a bar. Hall hung out at the bar for most of the show and the crowd spent much of the time chanting for Hall, to the point that it distracted from the matches. Bubba Ray Dudley got on the mic and basically said, shouldn't you be at the WCW PPV right now (it was the same night as Bash at the Beach). Anyway, later in the show, Bubba Ray and D-Von ended up fighting with a bunch of drunk fans when trying to leave the ring (the venue was small and was over-packed) and Bubba ended up throwing chairs and a table at the guardrail where the fans were, before security got involved.

- Rob Van Dam, his wife Sonya, and Sabu were involved in a jet-ski accident that left Sonya with a badly broken leg.

- Dave goes on a bit saying he feels sorry for Francine because she is basically anorexic looking right now and has to go out in front of a crowd in tiny bikinis every night. It leads Dave to talking about the unrealistic body standards that women in wrestling are required to have and how they all end up getting cosmetic surgery and starving themselves to look a certain way. Dave talks about times Missy Hyatt legit passed out from not eating for days at a time because she knew she'd have to be in a bikini in front of a crowd and things like that. But says even at their skinniest, none of the other women in the industry look like Francine right now, who is basically just a skeleton with implants and she looks really drawn and haggard from it and he thinks it's shitty that these women are expected to maintain these near-unattainable appearances.

- Konnan and Vampiro faced each other on Nitro and considering how much history those 2 have, it was actually their first singles match ever. Mike Tenay talked about that and talked about how they hate each other from their time together in Mexico (they used to, but they have since squashed their beef). Anyway, Konnan lost because he's still being buried for his recent comments about Eric Bischoff in an interview from a couple weeks ago. And Vampiro is going to start being pushed because WCW officials were impressed with him last week because he had a match with Rick Steiner and, in typical Steiner fashion, Rick was stiff and beat the shit out of him legit, busting his lip and giving him a black eye, but Vampiro didn't complain about it at all afterwards which won him some supporters.

- WCW's upcoming Road Wild PPV next month will likely be the last PPV in Stugis at the motorcycle rally. Basically, WCW is so far behind in revenue compared to last year that there's a lot of heat on them for running shows like that. The Road Wild PPVs in Sturgis are always free to the biker crowd, which always leads to a bad show, but more importantly, it costs the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in gate money. In the past, it was fine when WCW was bringing in so much money, but now that business has fallen off a cliff, Turner execs aren't thrilled with WCW leaving that much money on the table. The whole thing was always just a perk for Eric Bischoff, who is into motorcycles and held PPVs there every year as an excuse to go have his motorcycle fun, but everyone else in the company who isn't a biker hates going every year. At one point, there was talk of doing a split-arena show for Road Wild this year, with half the show happening in Sturgis and the other half airing from the Manhattan Center in New York (as I type this, we're only 3 days away from WWE doing the same thing with the 25th anniversary of Raw). Kevin Nash loved the idea because he's one of the people who hates going to Sturgis, plus he figures he'd be really popular with the WWF fans in New York if they did the show at the Manhattan Center. But then someone in WCW was smart enough to point out that doing a PPV in front of 1,000 fans in the tiny Manhattan Center wouldn't exactly generate a ton of revenue and would look minor league. So that idea was scrapped and the PPV will be entirely in Sturgis. But this is likely the final year that will happen.

- Random other WCW notes: Scott Hall should be returning soon. Kevin Nash wants time off from the ring so he can focus on booking. Shane Douglas has signed with WCW and may be part of a new Four Horsemen group, which would likely lead to him working with/against Flair, which should be interesting considering how they feel about each other. Flair has vowed to never work with Douglas in the past. Insane Clown Posse will be starting with WCW soon. And Lanny Poffo is still under contract, making $75,000 per year for doing absolutely nothing.

- The Turner execs who were at the Georgia Dome Nitro a couple weeks back were also very upset about the Lodi and Lenny Lane tag team. They're doing a gay gimmick and it was apparently controversial enough that the Turner execs want them off TV.

- Goldberg's contract negotiations apparently went in his favor. Dave doesn't know the details, but Goldberg apparently got enough of what he was asking for to satisfy him. Goldberg is also said to be upset about the things Hogan said about him in recent interviews.

- BBC's Louis Theoreaux's show Weird Weekends did a piece on WCW, with Theoreaux making the mistake of calling it all fake. So he went to the Power Plant and the trainers basically ran his ass into the ground, working out and taking bumps until he puked (here's a clip of it).

- Bret Hart made some waves with a Calgary Sun article this week. He said he was out and about and saw 2 dogs rolling in manure and said it reminded him of British Bulldog who would do anything to get into the WWF. Dave thinks Bret should probably not say anything about WWF publicly as long as this lawsuit is going on. Stu Hart was interviewed recently and was also asked about Bulldog wanting to return to the WWF and Stu basically shrugged it off, saying the guy has to make a living.

- Sting did a really interesting and candid interview with a Miami newspaper. He said he did have talks with Vince McMahon before signing his most recent contract but says he'd already promised Bischoff to stay so he did. Said he'd never let his kids watch WWF. Said he owns the Sting name so he can take it with him if he ever leaves. Said wrestlers need to unionize. Said he didn't want to testify in the Hart trial but knew that it was a possibility he might get deposed against his will and be forced to because he has done the same stunt as Owen a million times and often had the same people who rigged the gear. Admitted it was scary to be lowered from the ceiling but said he always had the option not to do it. Said he would still be willing to do it again. Said he thinks WCW gave away Sting vs. Goldberg too soon. They did it on free TV and he says he begged and begged them to build it properly and put it on PPV but they didn't listen. Doesn't like WWF's product but he doesn't think advertisers are ever going to pull out of it the way Bischoff keeps insisting they will. Said if it was going to happen, it already would have by now. Criticized WCW for insulting the audience with bad finishes and not building new stars but said all the people who matter in WCW disagree with that philosophy and want to keep themselves on top. Said he didn't like the most recent fake-Sting angle because it had already been done. Said he's never seen ECW. Said it was his decision to stop wearing the trenchcoat after the Columbine massacre. Said he plans to wrestle for another 2 years (when his WCW contract runs out) and then retire. Dave says every wrestler is apparently obligated to say "2 more years and then I'm done" but they never stick to it.

- Michael Hayes is expected to team with the Hardy Boyz at the next WWF PPV. A lot of people may criticize that but Dave points out that Hayes is actually younger than most WCW headliners and can still cut better promos than most everyone in the company. He still sucks as a wrestler and is out of shape, but for a one-off, it could be worse.

- Sable filmed a commercial for an ab-roller exercise thing. How the mighty have fallen.

- When Hulk Hogan was on Larry King's show last week, he said he wouldn't go back to the WWF. However, at Owen Hart's funeral, when talking with other wrestlers, Hogan reportedly told several people that he wanted to be back in the WWF.

- Steve Austin threw out the first pitch at the Mets vs. Yankees game last week. I can't find video of it, but here's Austin talking about it on his podcast in hilarious fashion:

- WWF has been doing a Millinnium Countdown clock on TV and the countdown should end on Aug. 9th during Raw, which is also the night Chris Jericho is expected to debut so that's most likely what that is going to lead to.
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A much better link for all the Stacy photos. About 40+ of them here:

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XPW is where Cena started, right? I remember seeing something on one of the networks in 1999- 2000 or so about it and seeing The Prototype on there.
Nah, you're thinking UPW which was just a regular ol' indie.

XPW was porn stars and insane death matches.
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[+] 1 user Likes Peezy's post
XPW was mostly garbage. There were a few bright spots but not much. After ecw died, xpw became the place where former ecw stars would show up for an easy payday. It was like early CZW with porn stars and worse wrestlers.

Their big star was The Messiah who was the champ and when he decided to leave and go to CZW the owner of xpw sent some goons over to Messiah's apartment who attacked him and cut his thumb off. The incident was chronicled on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries
[+] 2 users Like sanderz1's post

- WWF and Jesse Ventura held their press conference to announce Ventura will be the special referee for the main event at Summerslam. There have been rumors that the match would be a triple threat or four-way match, but during the press conference, Vince insisted it would be one-on-one (nope, it becomes a triple threat). The betting money is that it will be Austin vs. Triple H, in order to finally solidify Triple H as a main event-level top star, especially considering all the mainstream publicity the match will have. Ventura is also expected to be around during the build-up of the match as well, making appearances on Raw before the PPV. It's a huge deal for WWF. Tons of mainstream publicity and guys like Austin and Triple H will get a rub from working with him (the same way Austin did with the Tyson angle). It's the first positive publicity WWF has had in months and it's definitely needed. As for Ventura, it's a tougher question. If the goal is to just be a 1-term governor and use it to increase his celebrity and make money, then it's definitely a good move. But if he is aspiring to a higher political office, getting involved with pro wrestling again might not be the best thing for him if he's wanting to be taken seriously as a politician. On the other hand, it's not unusual for politicians to make cameos in the entertainment world and there are worse scandals out there. But WWF has a pretty trashy reputation right now due to the risque product and a state governor implicitly endorsing it by participating in it has a lot of people talking. Lots of people have been calling it political suicide but Dave disagrees. The voters of Minnesota know who they elected and probably won't care. And given all the other political scandals in the country these days, Dave doesn't think this will hurt Ventura much if he decides to run for office again in the future (I had a video of this press conference but it's since been removed apparently).

- There's a question of what Ventura is being paid and where it's going. They implied that Ventura would be making $100,000, which would be going to charity but they also offhandedly mentioned he would make more in royalties and other fees. Dave doesn't know what Ventura is being paid, but he talks about the numbers that guys like Tyson, Rodman, Malone, and Leno were paid in recent years and he thinks Ventura's mainstream value is bigger than all of them except maybe Tyson. Ventura's no dummy and he didn't come crawling to the WWF, so Dave figures he's gotta be making in that same range (a few million or so) and will be pocketing most of it. But the media picked up on the $100,000 number and that's being reported everywhere and both Ventura and the WWF seemed to go out of their way to mislead people into thinking Ventura's ONLY making that much and that it's all going to charity. Ventura has gone to great lengths to keep the real number secret, including having WWF officials in the know sign confidentiality agreements to not talk about it. Long story short, Ventura's probably making a couple million, but he only wants people to think he's making $100,000 which is going to be donated to charity. There's also some conflict of interest concerns, since the governor of Minnesota will be taking money from a corporation that does a lot of business in his state, and is a company that also deals with regulation laws in that state.

- Dave also finds a little hypocrisy in Ventura's choosing to do this. When his book came out a couple of months ago, his book publicity tour lined up with the media circus over Owen Hart's death. On every talk show and interview he did, Ventura was asked about Owen, about the wrestling industry, about unionization, etc. And he was EXTREMELY critical of the business, talked about how toxic it was and how wrestlers needed to unionize, and essentially just trashed it. On the Larry King show the night after Owen died, Ventura was on the show along with Eric Bischoff, and Ventura was so critical of McMahon and the business in general that Bischoff was put into the awkward position of actually coming to McMahon's defense at times. Of course, this was before WWF threw a couple million dollars in his face. This week, now that he's working with WWF, his tone changed greatly and he seemed to be toeing the WWF company line and has basically had nothing but nice things to say. Dave talks about his own connection to Ventura. Back in the mid-80s, while still working for the WWF, Ventura was one of the first wrestlers to openly admit to being an Observer reader and he praised Dave and the newsletter. Back then, Dave was seen by most wrestlers as one of the most hated guys in the business, because he was "exposing" everything and they didn't like it. But Ventura was a fan and publicly gave props to Dave for years. But then, when he went to WCW in the early 90s and eventually became a terrible commentator, Dave wrote about it. And suddenly, Ventura did a total 180 and began trashing Dave. He once went on the WCW Hotline and claimed that the Observer's annual awards were all made up because he didn't believe people had voted for Jim Ross as best announcer all those years (Ventura hated Jim Ross). This past week, in reference to something Dave recently wrote saying that Ventura was never a good in-ring worker, Ventura called Dave a parasite. After the press conference this week, Ventura did interviews with reporters and went on another tirade against Dave due to being unhappy about what Dave had written. Anyway, Dave basically says that Ventura was elected governor because he convinced people that he was a straight-talkin' no nonsense guy who couldn't be bought by special interests and would always stick to his convictions. But when WWF came knocking at his door with a bunch of money, he proved that he's just like any other politician whose opinions are for sale to the highest bidder.

- It appears that Sable's lawsuit against the WWF is on the verge of being settled. The $140 million dollar lawsuit was mostly an attempt for Rena Mero to get the rights to the name Sable and to not have to give up a cut of her $850,000 Playboy deal, which she negotiated herself instead of going through WWF, which was against the terms of her contract. Last week, a judge in Hartford, CT ruled that WWF owned the rights to the name "Sable." She seemed to be hoping WWF would settle on the name thing rather than face the bad publicity of the lawsuit, but she was wrong and they took it to court, which ruled in their favor. After the judge made that ruling, negotiations began between lawyers from both sides to settle the lawsuit. Details are confidential and it's not finalized yet but is expected to be soon. The big issue seems to be a cut of the Playboy money. Playboy has already started promoting the magazine and they're using "Sable" in the promotion. There's also merch revenue, contract release issues for both her and her husband, and stuff like that. Obviously, both sides are hoping to come out of this looking good and Dave expects there to be a lot of confidentiality clauses around this settlement when it's finalized.

- ECW Heat Wave 99 is in the books and was mostly designed to just help the company coast along until the TNN show starts. But if anyone thought ECW was going to play it safe now that they have a national TV deal, they were mistaken. It was an extremely raunchy and violent show. However, there were some TNN execs there who weren't exactly thrilled about parts of it, but Heyman managed to soothe things over. Speaking of TNN, there's a lot of people wondering if ECW can surpass WCW to become the #2 promotion in the country if the TNN deal goes well. Dave says there's a lot of logical and financial reasons why the answer is almost certainly no. But if the TNN show becomes a hit and if WCW continues free-falling, it's not impossible, but it's highly unlikely. Anyway, Don Callis (called Cyrus in ECW) joined Joey Styles for commentary and having a 2-man booth was a huge improvement for the show and Callis was really good. I think this guy might have a future in commentary!

- Other notes from the show: it began with Danny Doring coming out with an unnamed woman and asked her to marry him. The crowd chanted "She's got herpes!" at the woman, followed by "She's a crack whore!" (that would be Lita, in case you're wondering). Jazz had a mixed-gender match against Jason and Dave says this Jazz girl is a great athlete and if there was actually any such thing as real women's wrestling in the U.S., she'd have the potential to be really good at it. The tag team match began with Bubba Ray Dudley cutting an obscenity-laced promo on the crowd (this was one of the things that got the TNN people upset). Dave said it started out shocking but quickly got boring and dragged on forever (this is probably the most famous Dudleyz promo ever, if you haven't seen it. It's the "mom in the front row who taught her daughter how to suck dick" promo, and that's just the tip of the iceberg), and the momentum of the show grinded to a halt. Then the match started and it was a bloodbath, with Bubba and Balls Mahoney both using cheese graters on each other and then licking the blood. The whole match was a bloodbath (which is the other big thing the TNN people didn't like) and ended with the big flaming table spot. At the end of the Taz match, he came out with barbed wire to choke Tajiri but after the TNN people were so upset by the last match, Heyman made a decision to try not to show the barbed wire spot so the camera pulled waaaaaaaay back from it and you couldn't even tell what Taz was doing if you were watching on TV. Tommy Dreamer teased retirement due to a back injury. He really does have a badly injured back and may need surgery that would keep him out for around 6 months, but for now, the retirement thing is just an angle. And the main event was really good. Overall, pretty decent show.

- Ken Shamrock is expected to take a year off from WWF soon to jump back into UFC. Dave thinks it's a big risk to step away right now, since pro wrestling is lucrative and the WWF is the hottest thing in the world. And to go back to UFC, which is struggling to survive, so he can fight again, even though his reputation as a shoot fighter is already solidified. There's not a lot for him to gain and a lot for him to lose. But Shamrock is 35 and he also realizes that if he ever wants to go back to MMA, it's now or never and he wants to prove to himself that he can still be as good as he was.

- Tony Schiavone was replaced by Scott Hudson on commentary at Nitro this week. Hudson was told to be at Nitro but didn't know why and only found out an hour before going on the air that they wanted him to be the lead announcer. Schiavone was told that they wanted him to take a break but he was none-too-thrilled about it. Bischoff told Schiavone that it was only temporary but considering how bad Schiavone has become lately, and how Hudson brought a breath of fresh air to the show that was widely praised, Dave wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being a more permanent deal.

- Bart Gunn has been working in AJPW, on loan from WWF. But his WWF contract expires soon and since "Bart Gunn" isn't actually his real name, he'll be changing names before the next AJPW tour (ends up becoming Mike Barton because I guess Barton sounds sorta like Bart Gunn if you say it fast).

- It's almost a certainty that Riki Choshu is going to come out of retirement soon for a match against Atsushi Onita (well, yes and no. Yes that happens, but it's not soon. It's still a full year away from happening. But yes, that's exactly what happens: Choshu vs. Onita). Anyway, Dave says that Onita and Choshu are probably the most famous Japanese wrestlers of all time behind the big 3 (Rikidozan, Baba, and Inoki) so it'll probably be a huge match when it happens (eh).

- Jim Cornette is now helping to run Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville. The plan is for it to be the step 1 developmental territory for the WWF. After the guys work there for a bit, they get sent to Power Pro in Memphis for step 2, and then finally to the main WWF roster. The first WWF trainee heading to OVW is California indie wrestler Rico Constantino.

- Rob Van Dam's wife Sonya is still hospitalized in Orlando after her jet ski accident last week and it's believed it may be a year before she'll be able to walk again. She was injured when her, RVD, and Sabu were riding jet skis and she crashed. She underwent 3 surgeries this past week, including one to put a steel rod into her femur and a steel plate below her knee. ECW acknowledged the accident during the Heat Wave PPV and showed a fan in the crowd with a "Get well Sonya" sign. She's expected to be in the hospital for another 2 weeks before she can go home.

- Paul Heyman is trying to get Mike Awesome to return to ECW as a full-timer. He's been out for about a year after getting knee surgery and has committed to work for AJPW on the next tour and may end up there full-time but Heyman is hoping to get him instead. If Awesome chooses to go to AJPW, he could still work part-time for ECW but Heyman doesn't want him if ECW is his 2nd priority.

- Kevin Nash seems to have lost a lot of his booking power in the last week or so. It's nothing official, but Bischoff and Hogan were doing most of the writing for TV in the last couple of weeks.

- Notes from Nitro this week: Dennis Rodman did a run in and attacked Randy Savage to start an angle there. Just to show you how far both WCW and Rodman have fallen, there was practically no mainstream media buzz about Rodman's appearance. Shane Douglas made his WCW debut and cut a promo, but 90% of the audience didn't know who he was or what he was talking about. Raven returned, alongside the Insane Clown Posse, and it looks like they're forming a stable with Vampiro. The rest of the show sucked, nearly every match ended with run-ins and ref bumps and convoluted nonsense, because WCW is just a trainwreck right now. And this was still one of the better Nitros in recent months.

- Goldberg's newly renegotiated contract is for $1.5 million per year. For awhile there, it looked like he was trying to get out of his deal and WWF was salivating at the idea of signing him if he could have somehow gotten out of his contract. They were already coming up with plans for a Goldberg/Austin program, but alas, it was not to be.

- WCW is paying the band KISS $500,000 to perform at an episode of Nitro next month. On top of that, they will be introducing a new wrestler named the KISS Demon. Dave says to remember this gimmick because it's destined to be remembered alongside Oz and the Ding Dongs as far as utterly stupid gimmick ideas go. There's also talk of making a group of wrestlers called the KISS Warriors to go along with it and make it a stable.

- On an interview on WCW's website, Hulk Hogan had a lot of interesting stuff to say. He claimed that when he worked in WWF, Pat Patterson once made a pass at him. He also said back in the days, everybody used to go to Jesse Ventura's room to smoke weed. Hogan said he thought The Giant was going to be the guy he was going to pass the torch to, but said he didn't have the work ethic. Now he thinks it'll be Sting or Goldberg. He also said the Master P angle has been a flop and that everyone knows Master P isn't any good, but at least Curt Hennig has gotten over from it. He also said he wishes there were more clean finishes in matches (Dave makes sure to remind us that this is the same guy who booked most of Nitro a few days later, which was full of run-ins and ref bumps). He also knocked the idea of bringing Dennis Rodman back, saying he didn't have high hopes and said that Rodman was good the first time they used him but was terrible the second time (when he showed up sloppy drunk for the tag match against DDP and Karl Malone).

- WCW is also talking about doing a gimmick with Disco Inferno where he takes a bump on his head and gets amnesia. So then he would start thinking he's one of the top stars and would go around cutting promos on guys like Benoit and Malenko, and act mad at them for thinking they could take the main event spots from guys like him and Hogan (okay, that's actually pretty funny. But I don't think they ever did it).

- TSN's Off The Record crew is travelling to Stamford to do a big 3-show piece on the WWF, much of which will focus on the Owen Hart stuff and will probably be a major story when it airs.

- There's talk of having Chris Jericho work with X-Pac as his first feud after he debuts.

- Mark Henry is in the doghouse because he weighs over 400 pounds and they've been pushing him to lose weight but it's not happening.

- Nicole Bass, Ryan Shamrock, and Goldust are all gone. Bass has been saying she could make $20,000 a month doing "apartment wrestling" which is basically a fetish sex thing for guys who want to watch women overpower men or some such shit. That's far more than she was making in WWF and they didn't want her either since she hasn't improved in the ring. Ryan Shamrock just didn't want to sign a long-term contract because she's only 20 and didn't want to be locked into one thing for 3 years so she's gone. And Goldust has been out with a bad back for awhile and he and Terri Runnels are going through a real-life divorce. Reportedly, Goldust suggested to McMahon that he wanted to really get surgery to have breast implants in order to take the Goldust character to the next level. McMahon wasn't willing to go that far and that, among other things, basically led to Goldust not re-signing. WWF officials kinda pushed him out the door anyway since they're getting divorced and they feel Terri is more marketable. Dave expects him to end up in WCW.

- Lots of people writing in about Jericho going to WWF. One guy is super excited and thinks Jericho will main event Wrestlemania some day (yup). Someone else is just glad Jericho got off the sinking ship that is WCW and also believes Jericho will go to WWF and prove to become one of the all-time greats (yup). And finally, the rest of the letters are all trashing WCW. The first one starts with "WCW is without a doubt the worst promotion in the history of pro wrestling." And it doesn't get any better from there.
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(06-25-2018, 11:10 AM)Peezy Wrote: A much better link for all the Stacy photos. About 40+ of them here:


I remember these. I had such a crush on her. I still absolutely love this pic I got from them one year (98 or 99). It's so retarded. I got it with a Lawler auto I had bought back in the good old Compuserve days where you had to mail a check or postal money order. Ahhh. Thank God for Paypal.

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- Vince McMahon appeared on TSN's Off The Record last week and lashed out at Bret Hart. It was the first of 3 episodes that will feature WWF, but Dave only saw the first episode at press time, so we'll get details on the following episodes in the next issue. Anyway, on this one, McMahon reportedly agreed beforehand to answer any and all questions regarding Owen Hart's death. It's worth noting that host Michael Landsberg has always been very pro-WWF, to the point that he has even had discussions with them about leaving TSN to work for them, but in this interview, Landsberg pulled no punches and challenged McMahon on every topic. McMahon defended his choice to continue the show after Owen had died, saying it was one of the most difficult situations but that they never even considered stopping the show because that's just how they do things. He said no disrespect was intended but Landsberg pointed out that most people, including most of the Hart family, did feel that it was disrespectful. When asked why the live audience was never told of Owen's death, Vince just said it didn't feel right to tell them and they were going to find out later anyway. Landsberg then asked Vince about his hour-long meeting with Bret Hart after Owen's funeral, which led Vince to lash out. He said Bret carried the entire conversation and only mentioned Owen once and implied that Bret didn't care about Owen and that Bret was only using Owen's death for revenge on Vince. "I couldn't believe what I was hearing, he said I ruined his marriage, I ruined his career, all he wanted to do was talk about himself. It was like looking into the eyes of a skeleton. He wasn't human. It was a very weird experience." To be fair to both parties, Dave says that before their meeting, Bret had been told by his lawyers not to discuss Owen's death with Vince. Dave says it's likely that Vince didn't know that, so he can see why it might have been weird for Vince to have had a conversation with Bret at Owen's funeral and yet Bret never talked about him. That being said, for Vince to use that private conversation to publicly trash Bret is pretty classless.

- When asked why McMahon and almost the entire roster went to Owen's funeral but nobody from the company went to Pillman's, Vince said it was a different situation and that Owen's wife asked for the wrestlers to attend (Dave says that implies that Melanie Pillman didn't want wrestlers to attend, which is false and he hints that she was actually hurt that no one from WWF showed up). When asked about paying for Owen's funeral, he said Martha wanted a lavish funeral for Owen (Hart family members have disputed this) and said WWF sent a blank check to the funeral home to cover it, but said Martha insisted on paying for "part" of it on advice from her lawyers. Vince also talked about the letter he sent to the Calgary Sun a few weeks back and says it was never meant to be published (Dave calls total bullshit on that one) and basically said that he knew he was going to appear to be the bad guy no matter what. He's the evil promoter. She's the poor sad widow. "She could be lying through her teeth but I'm not going to win regardless of the facts," Vince said. He said most of the bad publicity that he has gotten in the last few months has been because of Bret, blaming him for being in Martha's ear and said Bret has talked terribly about the WWF in interviews. He again trashed Bret for never talking about Owen in their conversation and said he took advantage of Martha being in a vulnerable emotional state and basically said Bret is leading the lawsuit against them. Dave says pretty much anyone who even halfway knows the Hart family knows that isn't true. The whole thing seemed designed to goad Bret into responding and hopefully make himself and his family look bad. Dave says this is nothing new for WWF. Any time they get into trouble, whether it's the steroid scandals or sex scandals of the past or this, WWF always has a habit of trying to spin the story and turn it into something else. In this case, Vince McMahon is taking the death of Owen Hart and his company's role in it, and is trying to spin it into a Bret vs. Vince story. Anyway, Bret said before the interview aired that he didn't plan to watch and no matter what Vince said, he wasn't going to comment.

- Also in the interview, Vince was asked about Jesse Ventura being involved with the WWF. When asked about the thought that Ventura was degrading the office of Governor by getting involved in the WWF, Vince defended his product by saying he's only giving the public what they want. Landsberg responded that, "Pornographers hide behind that. There have to be guidelines and there has to be some responsibility." When asked about Ventura's comments about unionizing wrestlers, Vince said that Ventura believed that at one time, but he doesn't anymore, saying Ventura had changed his mind. Dave says that changed mind was bought and paid for pretty recently because less than 6 weeks ago, Ventura was still very vocal that wrestlers needed to unionize. Funny how a big ol' bag of cash will change someone's mind. Vince was asked if he'd ever work with Hogan again and he said "Never say never." When asked what if Eric Bischoff called him up asking for a job, would he work with him? Vince didn't exactly say no, he just said it depends on what Bischoff could offer the WWF.

- The lawsuit filed by Sable against the WWF was officially settled out of court this week. Both sides agreed to keep the terms confidential and to not bad mouth each other in public. On WWF's website, they confirmed the settlement but said nothing else. Last week, before it was finalized, Vince McMahon was interviewed on Entertainment Tonight and implied that Sable wouldn't be getting any money in the settlement. During the same segment, Triple H, Chyna, Big Show and Ivory were brought on as well and they all knocked Sable as someone who got a big head and became a prima donna. Anyway, as for the settlement, Dave does know a few things. Marc Mero was given a full release and can go anywhere now. Meanwhile, the terms of Sable's contract remain the same: she can't work anywhere else in wrestling until her WWF contract expires in August 2001. WWF still owns the name Sable. And the Playboy money terms were settled, although Dave doesn't know the details (that issue of Playboy ended up using the name Sable, so I'm gonna assume WWF got their cut). Prior to the settlement, Sable was being interviewed for the show Fox Files and at some point during the interview, Marc Mero got mad and snatched the cameraman's camera and took the tape out because he didn't like the questions being asked. They got footage of it happening and it was played up big in commercials before the interview aired (I can't find video of this sadly).

- The most famous heel in Lucha Libre history, Cavernario Galindo, passed away this week at age 75 from lung cancer. He was not only a major heel in the ring, but he gained a lot of fame as the lead heel in a bunch of El Santo's movies as well and was arguably one of the top 5 stars in Lucha Libre history. He was one of the pioneers of bloodbath matches, much like The Sheik was in his day, and was the person who popularized the technique of blading in Mexico and had a lot of memorable bloodbaths against Gory Guerrero.

- WWF Fully Loaded is in the books and was the best PPV from any company in months. Not much newsworthy out of it, just good matches, clean finishes, well done angles, etc. During the Sunday Night Heat pre-show, Triple H cut a worked-shoot promo, referencing the fact that he was supposed to win the 1996 King of the Ring but didn't because he was being punished for the curtain call incident (he even called Hall and Nash by name) and blaming Jim Ross for being the one who punished him (this promo is where The Game nickname originated). Dave says it was a really good promo and that Triple H has been pretty good on the mic for a year or so now and WWF is finally going full-speed ahead with pushing him as a main event star. Otherwise, Dave just recaps all the matches.

- All of the wrestlers in AJPW were given raises recently, which was Misawa's way to thank them for staying loyal to him in the behind-the-scenes power struggle over the company after Giant Baba's death. Reportedly, at one point the power struggle got so bad that Misawa threatened to leave the company and take the roster with him and start a new promotion, and about 2/3 of the wrestlers were reportedly willing to walk with him. Dave says that if Misawa and 2/3 of the AJPW roster left to form their own company, they would likely have no trouble getting a TV deal and obviously, it would be devastating to AJPW (we're about a year away still but that ends up being exactly what happens).

- Things aren't all golden for Misawa though. For starters, he's been criticized for not really focusing on long-term booking and has already blown through big money title matches against Vader, Kobashi, and Kawada in quick succession. There's also an issue with Stan Hansen. Basically, Misawa has pretty much phased Hansen out and decided not to use him much anymore because he's old and not really any good in the ring these days. Not using Hansen is what allowed Misawa to free up enough money to give everyone raises (AJPW business is still down, so the money isn't coming from that). The issue here is that Hansen basically had a handshake agreement with Baba that he would have a job for life with AJPW, and a handshake deal with Baba has long been considered by most people to be more binding than an actual contract. But with Baba dead, Misawa doesn't appear to be sticking with that deal and is only wanting to use Hansen on special occasions.

- Dave offhandedly wonders why New Japan doesn't have a TV deal in the U.S. Obviously, there's a language barrier and NJPW on TV here in America would probably only draw a small, fringe audience of hardcore fans. But when you look at other sports channels here, you see things like Australian Rules football, obscure soccer games, and other fringe foreign sports. And they're all over smaller TV channels here. Considering how hot wrestling is these days, Dave thinks NJPW on TV would do decent enough ratings to make it worth it for a small American channel (it only took 15 years or so, but AXS finally made it happen).

- At the latest NJPW show, they had a battle royal which saw the in-ring debut of 19-year-old Katsuyori Shibata, who is a second-generation wrestler and the son of recently retired NJPW referee Katsuhisa Shibata.

- Kurt Angle won the Power Pro Wrestling world title this past week in Memphis. Power Pro crowds have been pretty lukewarm on Angle's 70s-style babyface character but they popped big for the title change.

- ECW caught a lot of heat this week for a tasteless promo that Joel Gertner cut about the recent death of John F. Kennedy Jr. (who died in a plane crash in the ocean a week or so before this). Gertner's promo included jokes about the size of JFK Jr.'s "cockpit" and joked that the plane crashed because he was having a mid-air threesome with the other 2 women on the plane. He also joked about Ted Kennedy's drinking and his 1969 Chappaquiddick incident (google it) and ended the promo by saying, if JFK Jr. could talk right now, he'd say "glub glub glub." The promo aired on most of the TV shows, though it was edited out of the NYC syndicated show. But when the heat came down, ECW pointed the blame at Gertner and tried to distance themselves from it. On the ECW website, they had a statement saying, "We here at ECWwrestling.com apologize to anyone who was offended by Joel's tasteless remarks on the TV show." Heyman later admitted to scripting this ahead of time, trying to get heel heat for Gertner and trying to get some publicity as they build towards the TNN show, but says he realized it may have crossed the line. Dave talks about all the wrestling fans who were so offended when Craig Kilborn joked about Owen Hart's death and says this is no different, except Kilborn only told one joke, whereas Gertner made repeated JFK Jr. jokes during a long 5-minute promo.

- Axl Rotten, Chris Candido, and Tammy Sytch all posted notes on their websites, talking about their drug issues and trying to get back into ECW's good graces. Axl Rotten was basically begging for his job back (I guess he was recently fired, I may have missed it) and said he fell off the wagon after his grandmother's death but saw getting fired as a wake-up call and thanked Heyman for alerting him to how bad his problem had gotten and vowed he was clean now. Candido and Sytch basically did the same thing, saying they're clean and hoping to come back to ECW soon also. Candido has been telling people Sytch is pregnant but Dave says it's hard to know whether that's true or not because at one point in WWF, she missed a show and later claimed she'd had a miscarriage, but when WWF asked for proof (hospital records, doctor's note, anything), she couldn't provide any evidence, which was one of the main reasons they fired her. Anyway, Candido and Sytch have been talking about enrolling in college and Heyman has since made that a condition of their return. He wants them to prove that they're enrolled in college and attempting to make something of their lives outside of wrestling before he'll bring them back.

- The woman who appeared with Danny Doring at the latest ECW PPV has been wrestling on the indies under the name Angelica. She has worked indie shows with the Hardy Boyz and has even trained with them and is reportedly a pretty good wrestler. She's making $100 per show with ECW but has to provide her own transportation and cover her own hotels. So basically, she's not making shit (once again, that would be Lita, paying her dues).

- WCW Injury Report: Hulk Hogan suffered a knee injury in his tag match with Sid Vicious and Nash on Nitro last week. It happened basically on the first real move of the match and he was noticeably immobile (more than usual, anyway) for the rest of the match. David Finlay suffered a severe leg injury at a house show, having a piece of table slice through his leg so deep that you could see the bone and it severed some tendons. He was bleeding like crazy and needed surgery and it's thought to possibly be a career-ender (it wasn't, but he was out for about 5 months and from what I read, nearly lost the use of his leg, so yeah it was bad). And Konnan has a concussion and neck injury from one of the ICP guys (Shaggy, if you're curious) doing a leg drop on him and landing with his butt right on Konnan's head.

- Speaking of Konnan, he was arrested as he got off the plane in San Diego last week on felony charges of threatening a flight attendant during the flight. He was released the next morning on bond, Dave has no other details (I don't think this ever really comes back up again so I have no idea what becomes of this).

- There had been plans for Arn Anderson to return to the ring as part of a Four Horsemen angle but he was unable to get cleared by doctors so that has been scrapped and he will be remaining retired.

- Master P is done with WCW. The wrestlers who were part of his group (Konnan, Mysterio, etc.) will form their own, new "jobber group." (That becomes the Filthy Animals)

- Ted Dibiase had a speaking deal at a church in Denver this week and was very critical of wrestling. He called the WWF "pure pornography" and said he can't believe parents would let their children watch it. He says he feels sorry for anyone who looks up to Steve Austin as their hero because he mocks a famous Biblical verse. He also talked about WCW and said it's not as bad. He said he still works for them backstage but he keeps seeing women in less and less clothing and feels they're drifting in the same direction as WWF and if it keeps happening, he may not work for them anymore.

- An indie wrestler named Shark Boy has been working for a couple of years and has developed somewhat of a cult-following, especially among fellow wrestlers who think he's just great. Anyway, he signed a developmental deal with WCW.

- Chris Jericho's last WCW match took place at a house show in Peoria, IL. Jericho teamed with Eddie Guerrero against Mysterio and Kidman and before the match, he said he'd leave WCW if he got pinned. Of course, he did. After the match, they all 4 hugged in the ring and Jericho was near-tears. Mysterio got the crowd to chant "Jericho" which led to him getting on the mic and saying he was overwhelmed by the response...........but then said Peoria still sucks. Classic Jericho.

- On one of the shows (Thunder? Nitro? I dunno), Buff Bagwell came out in black face and cut a promo imitating Ernest Miller, which some felt was racist (ya think?). Backstage, Miller was legitimately furious about it and it became a tense situation (these 2 end up getting into a backstage fight pretty soon).

- Hollywood Reporter magazine had a small story about an upcoming WCW movie in the works. It will star David Arquette. People who have read the script say it's awful. Rose McGowan plays a Nitro Girl-type character. Several WCW wrestlers will appear in the flick.

- There have been reports from San Antonio media outlets that Shawn Michaels was involved in a road rage incident where he allegedly pulled a gun on a motorist who cut him off (I have never heard this story and it's never mentioned again so who knows).

- The wrestling documentary, tentatively titled Hittin' The Mat, is scheduled to come out in October. It mostly focuses on Mick Foley, Jake Roberts, and Terry Funk. A few weeks back, they were filming footage at Mick Foley's house and they re-watched the match between him and Rock at Royal Rumble, with Mick seeing his children's reaction to it for the first time and he was said to be stunned by how much his kids were affected.

- Chris Jericho did a radio interview and was asked about his future plans in WWF. He denied rumors that he would be joining DX or that he would be revealed as the person behind GTV. When asked about being the Millennium Man that they've been doing a countdown for, he didn't deny it. Dave says that's because the countdown is indeed for Jericho. Also in the interview, when asked what he would do differently if he was booking WCW, Jericho said he would immediately do Benoit vs. Hogan for the title next week and make Benoit the champ because he's ready for it. He said he first began thinking aout leaving WCW last year when they scrapped his planned feud with Goldberg.

- Droz suffered a stinger in a match last week and missed a few shows (he suffers a more permanent stinger in a couple of months).

- Jesse Ventura is continuing to catch flak for being involved in wrestling again, and in interviews, they've been grilling him about how much money he's actually making and he's been getting very defensive about it.

- Debra McMichael confirmed in an online chat that she is dating Steve Austin.

- Tammy Sytch went on her website and claimed she'd been talking to Vince McMahon to give him information to help in the lawsuit against Sable. Jim Ross went on the WWF website and denied it, saying Sytch hasn't spoken to McMahon anytime recently about Sable or anything else and that she's lying.

- While he's been out recovering from knee surgery, Mick Foley has finished writing his autobiography and hopes to have it out before the end of the year. He's hoping for "Blood & Sweatsocks" to be the title.
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- The WWF has officially changed its corporate name from Titan Sports, Inc. to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. and announced last week that it has filed papers to go public. This gets a little dry and stock-markety but hey, maybe we've got some stockbrokers or something here that will find it interesting. The initial offering will be for $172.5 million in Class A common shares and will be traded on the NASDAQ exchange as WWFE. There's no word on when trading will begin, this is just the first step in a long process. There had been talk of doing this months ago, but Owen Hart's death and the Sable lawsuit and the ensuing public backlash against the company seem to have delayed things. But with the Sable lawsuit settled and the criminal investigation into Owen's death completed (more on that in a minute), they're now moving forward. Company stock is currently owned 100% by Vince McMahon. His current salary as CEO of the WWF is $250,000 per year but will be raised to $1 million, plus another $1 million as a performance bonus after they go public. Linda McMahon, the President of the company, currently gets a salary of $190,000 but that will be raised to $750,000 with another $750,000 bonus when they go public as well. The money raised in the offering will be used as capital to continue current business and to start new business ventures (mhmmm...), some of which are already in motion. The WWF plans to expand beyond wrestling, with business ventures such as theme restaurants, theme hotels, and possibly a record label. "There has even been talk of potential expansion into other sports related industries."

- The Kansas City police department completed their criminal investigation into Owen Hart's death and no charges will be filed. There was a possibility that involuntary manslaughter charges could have been filed against the person who handled the rigging, but authorities determined there was no basis to file charges. WWF's website posted a note saying that the decision "further supports the World Wrestling Federation's belief as to the truly accidental nature of Owen Hart's death. Hart's accident was one of those extremely unfortunate tragedies that sometimes occur despite the best of precautions." A civil suit by the Hart family is, of course, still pending.

- It's time again for this year's Observer Hall of Fame. Well, not exactly. Results and newest inductees will be announced next week, as voted on by secret ballot from a number of different wrestling names (wrestlers, historians, other people involved in the business, etc.) But Dave decides to list all of the candidates who are eligible this year and give his personal opinions (he's only one voter of many) and tell which people he voted for. Out of all the eligible people, each voter gets to pick up to 10 people they think should be inducted. Anyway, first up, a list of people that were eligible but that Dave did NOT vote for: Lou Albano, Arn and Ole Anderson, Bob Backlund, Cien Caras, Masa Chono, Terry Gordy, Chavo Guerrero, Gran Hamada, Volk Han, Michael Hayes, Curtis Iaukea, Konnan, Lizmark, Wahoo McDaniel, Ben Miller, Gorilla Monsoon, Fabulous Moolah, Pedro Morales, Dick Murdoch, Bull Nakano, Masa Saito, Seiji Sakaguchi, El Satanico, Tiger Jeet Singh, Sgt. Slaughter, Jimmy Snuka, Wilbur Snyder, Kerry Von Erich, Steve Williams, and Eric Bischoff. He gives a paragraph or so of explanation for each person and why he didn't pick them. One other name on the list who didn't get picked: Carlos Colon. Dave says that by all rights, Colon probably should be in the Hall of Fame simply from his longevity and drawing power for so many decades in Puerto Rico. But for Dave, and for a lot of other people, the murder of Bruiser Brody taints him. Colon didn't kill Brody, but his name is forever linked to the whispers of a cover-up and Colon's decision to re-hire the guy who DID murder Brody and make him a top star is just too much for Dave to be able to vote for him in good conscience.

- So who DID Dave cast his 10 votes for? Lioness Asuka ("one of the best female workers who ever lived"), Hiroshi Hase (great worker and was part of the booking team that created the NJPW dynasty of the 80s and 90s), Shinya Hashimoto (has headlined more 7-figure gate shows than any wrestler in history, including multiple sold out Tokyo Dome shows), Mick Foley (no-brainer pick for Dave and he was only 1 vote short from being inducted last year), Jushin Liger (Dave calls this the easiest and most obvious pick, one of the best ever), Shawn Michaels (says Shawn's best in-ring performances are borderline unbelievable, they're so good. His career was cut short and he had an unprofessional rep, but he's simply too great for Dave to not vote for), Keiji Muto (was on the bubble before but this year has clinched it. Muto has been on fire in 1998-99 and that puts him over the hump), Ken Shamrock (controversial pick for sure, but Dave is voting on his shoot and worked-shoot credentials. This is more of a vote for Shamrock's MMA legacy rather than his wrestling legacy), Undertaker (headliner for the last 9 years and has made a gimmick work that no one else could have), and finally Jim Ross (best commentator ever). Anyway, those are just Dave's personal votes. There's no guarantee that all those names will be inducted, we'll find out next week (or Friday in 2018 time).

- WWF is cancelling its Superastros show and will be scrapping the entire Lucha Libre division entirely, mostly due to the addition of Smackdown and because Superastros was actually a money-losing show. Univision was paying WWF approx. $17,000 per week for the tapings, which didn't even pay for the talent they used, much less the production costs. Vince McMahon tried to renegotiate the deal months ago, to expand the show to 1 hour and get the budget increased to $50,000 but Univision shot it down. The ratings were also lower than Univision wanted. WWF made it a big priority when they first decided to do the show but by the time they started hiring people and put it on the air, they had already seemingly lost interest and never treated it as a priority. There were never any real storylines, no titles, and it was mostly just a throwaway show from day one. Anyway, Savio Vega has been working as an announcer since he's still not medically cleared to wrestle after a recent injury and with the cancelling of Superastros, they've decided not to renew Vega's contract. He's expected to return to work in Puerto Rico.

- WWF is working to bring in the Dudley Boyz and Stevie Richards from ECW. None of the contracts are signed yet but the Dudleyz reportedly reached a deal with Jim Ross this week and they already started an angle in ECW to write them out of the company. Stevie Richards is also due to come in and they would have hired him earlier, but there was concerns about his neck. But he just recently passed a WWF physical, so he's headed in also. Vince Russo has reportedly been interested in using the Dudleyz for months and pushed for their signing and talks got serious a few weeks ago. WWF has been keeping Paul Heyman in the loop in order to keep things amicable, and that's why the Dudleyz surprisingly lost the tag titles at Heat Wave. Word is the Dudleyz were making $600 each per show with ECW. After WWF made them an offer, they reportedly went to Heyman and said they would stay with ECW if he could give them a raise but Heyman told them he couldn't afford it and encouraged them to take the WWF offer. Neither Joel Gerner or Sign Guy Dudley will be joining them. WWF only wants Bubba Ray and D-Von. There's a lot of people wondering if they can cut it in WWF or if they'll become another Public Enemy (who basically got exposed outside of ECW as a team that didn't belong in the major leagues). Bubba can cut great promos, and while they're not the best wrestlers, they work hard and are willing to take crazy bumps and do whatever they can to get over, so Dave thinks they may do pretty well. As for ECW, Bubba in particular is also a big figure behind the scenes handling business stuff, so losing him is an extra big loss for the promotion.

- A New York state senator has opened an investigation into the wrestling industry and is looking into the possibility of enacting legislation to restrict wrestling and make it an adults-only event for shows run in the state. There's actually some precedent for this. Back in 1957, after a riot at Madison Square Garden following a wrestling match, wrestling was nearly banned in the state of New York and the athletic commission ended up banning children under 14 from events at MSG. The ban lasted for nearly 20 years before it was lifted. That being said, Dave doesn't think anything will come of this. There's way too much money and political issues involved in pro wrestling for this to amount to anything. Plus, some promotions are worse than others. For example, is it fair for kids to be banned from a WCW show in New York just because ECW isn't kid friendly? Speaking of, Dave thinks ECW probably should voluntarily ban children from their shows. It might even be good for them. It would give them some publicity and differentiate themselves from the competition. They could truly present themselves as wrestling for adults. It would allow them to have wilder shows without the fear of the media backlash of "how dare they market to kids" like WWF is getting. But since ECW recently started selling action figures that are being sold in toy stores, that's probably not going to happen now.

- Nothing really new to report for the ratings, we all know how it went. Raw basically doing double the ratings of Nitro. One thing worth mentioning though. Not only is Raw crushing Nitro, but Sunday Night Heat is also routinely beating Nitro by a full point or more every week. That's how bad shit has gotten for WCW. In fact, the lowest rated segment of Nitro this week did a 1.98 rating, which is in the Saturday morning WWF Livewire range.

- Things in AJPW aren't looking great. As sad as it is, the company has spent most of 1999 coasting on the momentum and publicity surrounding Giant Baba's death. But that's slowed down now and crowds are down. Furthermore, the matches haven't been great lately, with guys like Misawa and Kobashi having only decent matches and all the top stars are broken down. Plus, the production values of the recent shows Dave has seen look more and more amateurish, and TV ratings are down (yeah, the slow decline of AJPW has begun and to this day, they've never really recovered).

- A Brian Hildebrand benefit show was held last week and featured the rare instance of WWF and WCW wrestlers appearing together. Eddie Guerrero, Billy Kidman, Hugh Morrus, Shane Douglas, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko from WCW worked the show, along with D-Lo Brown, Al Snow, Chris Jerico, Terry Taylor, Mick Foley (as a special referee) from WWF. Shark Boy, Chris Candido, and even Bruno Sammartino appeared as well, which just goes to show how well-liked and respected Hildebrand is. If you recall, he is still suffering from terminal stomach cancer. In less heartwarming news, WCW employee and hotline reporter Mark Madden got into an argument backstage at the show with Sammartino about something Madden wrote about Sammartino in the past. Jim Cornette also has beef with Madden but he agreed to avoid Madden at the show and not make a scene out of respect for Hildebrand.

- Still no real info on the terms of the Sable/WWF lawsuit settlement. Both sides signed confidentiality agreements and also agreements not to bad-mouth each other publicly. The new issue of Playboy with her came out this week and they use the name Sable all throughout, so obviously some sort of deal was made there and WWF is surely getting a cut. But yeah, new Playboy is out. Google is your friend here.

- The Barry Blaustein documentary about wrestling that will be released later this year will be titled "Beyond The Mat."

- Nitro notes: Dave points out that on this and every episode of Nitro and Thunder for the past several months, the crowds have been chanting for Goldberg during all the main event matches and promos. So every time you see Hogan or Nash or Sting or Flair or Savage on TV, you're usually hearing chants for Goldberg in the background. And yet this company can't seem to figure out that they should be booking the promotion around him and instead he's still stuck playing second fiddle to The Hogan & Nash Show. Anyway, what else...commentator Scott Hudson took a beating from Scott Steiner to be written off TV so they can bring Schiavone back. Dave says Hudson actually did a really good job during his few weeks as commentator, and he hopes someone in WCW took notice of it, but "then again, Juventud Guerrera and Blitzkrieg had the best WCW match of the year a few months back on PPV and see where it got their careers when it comes to even being booked on the shows." Country music singer Chad Brock will be performing on Nitro next week and Dave can only imagine how that segment is going to do in the ratings. Chad Brock actually briefly wrestled in WCW and trained at the Power Plant before becoming a musician and has had a couple of minor hits, but almost no one outside of a small segment of country music fans have a clue who he is. Dennis Rodman came out to cut a promo on Randy Savage and it didn't go well. The problem is Rodman is supposed to be the babyface in this feud, and well, let's let Dave tell it: "Then he talked about how he already had sex with Savage's girlfriend. The crowd didn't like that. Then in his infinite wisdom of how to play babyface, he said in front of a crowd of 99.9% white guys from South Dakota that once you've had black, you'll never go back. You can imagine the response but he got more heat than anyone on the show for it, which would be good if the idea was to turn Savage face. Rodman's lucky he's a celebrity millionaire because I had this friend, maybe acquaintance that I would run into every week at the beach would be more accurate, about ten years ago who used to constantly say that line to women and I never saw anyone get so universally shot down so hard in my life. It was one of the all-time worst pick-up lines I ever heard."

- If you remember, WCW is planning to run a Nitro Girls PPV soon but neither TBS or TNT will allow them to run commercials for it because the premise of the PPV is basically just the women frolicking around in bikinis and the Turner execs felt it's not PG-rated enough and forbid them to air the commercials.

- Still a lot of media attention for Jesse Ventura working WWF's Summerslam, with lots of people saying it's unethical for him to use his fame as governor and exploit his job to earn a paycheck in wrestling. Dave disagrees and doesn't see why wrestling is any different than any other TV shows that politicians have done over the years. However, he thinks it *is* a little shady that Ventura is going to such extreme lengths to hide the fact that he's making a 7-figure payday for it, while misleading people into thinking he's donating all the money to charity, when in fact he's only donating $100,000 of it to charity, which is only a fraction of what he's actually being paid.

- Big Show is being put with Undertaker as a tag team because they're hoping he learns something, because he kinda sucks and they're hoping some of Taker's dedication and work ethic will rub off on him. Big Show has gotten a notorious reputation of being pretty lazy since arriving in WWF. They're also wanting him to lose weight. He's a legit 440 right now and they want him down to 400. At his peak in WCW, he was 505.

- Kurt Angle's debut is being delayed until October or November because they don't want to put him on TV yet and expose him before they're sure he's ready (yup, ends up being at Survivor Series).

- Erin O'Grady is expected to debut soon in some sort of angle with Bob Holly.

- Vince Russo is writing a pilot for a television series that takes place behind-the-scenes of a wrestling company.

- On the second episode of Off The Record that focused on WWF, it was mostly just a puff piece with Vince and Linda McMahon interviewed together. When asked why Stephanie McMahon was presented differently on TV than every other woman on the show, especially Debra (in other words, why is Stephanie the only strong, realistic character while all the other women are just out there in lingerie every week), Vince responded that Stephanie "isn't built like Debra." Anyway, Vince was then asked if he would ever book Stephanie to be in those type of sexual storylines, and Vince basically said maybe. But Linda then jumped in and said, "I'm not involved in the creative process but I might have to look at that one first."

- Someone writes in asking who Dave thinks are the legitimately toughest wrestlers in American pro wrestling. Dave says it depends what you mean by tough. What kind of fight? Change the rules and you change the outcome. Depending on whether it's a no-rules street fight or a boxing match under boxing rules or an MMA fight under UFC rules, you'll have different winners. Dave says Meng, Ken Shamrock, and Dan Severn are probably the first names that will come to mind if you ask people. If you're talking strictly grappling, there's nobody in the business that could hang with Kurt Angle. Guys like Goldberg, Scott Steiner (who everyone is afraid of), Dave Taylor, and Robbie Rage from the tag team High Voltage all have tough-guy reps in WCW. On the WWF side, Steve Blackman's got a reputation of someone you shouldn't fuck with. Mostly, Dave just sorta rambles. But he ends it by saying he thinks the toughest guy in all of wrestling right now is Brian Hildebrand.
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- Four new names were inducted into the Observer Hall of Fame. Jushin Liger, in his first year of being eligible, received 95% of the vote which is by far the most ever in the short history of this HOF and will likely never be topped. The other 3 inductees are Lioness Asuka, Keiji Muto, and Jim Ross. Both Shawn Michaels and Shinya Hashimoto came just one vote short of being inducted as well. Mick Foley came 3 votes short, which surprises Dave. Last year, Foley was only 1 vote short and he just had arguably the biggest star-making year of his career so it's a surprise he didn't make the cut again this year. Dave figured he was a sure thing. Remember, people are voted on by a collection of past wrestling stars, current wrestlers, long-time wrestling historians, and reporters who cover wrestling. It's a mix of people from all over the world. The criteria is basically the same as the Major League Baseball HOF. Must get 60% of the vote to be inducted. Only eligible if you're at least 35 years old or have had at least 15 years in the business. etc. Voters and their picks is kept confidential due to the political nature of the wrestling business.

- Lots of news coverage on WWF going public and holy shit I can already tell this is a long, complex story that I'm going to struggle to sum up. (Just one interesting thing here that I never knew before we dive into it. In the past, WWF has ventured into both movies and music. But I never knew the names of those subsidiary companies. Turns out the movie business was named Shane Productions. And the music side was called Stephanie Music Publishing, Inc.). Anyway, Dave talks about how WWF is currently at the all-time peak of its popularity (they've made more profits in the last 2 years than they made in the previous 15 years combined). Look, I'm gonna be real with y'all. I don't know or understand shit about this and I'm having a hard time writing it up. Dave starts dropping numbers everywhere and using terms like "stockholder equity" and "income tax profit level." I can't hang. Basically it's just listing all of WWF's numbers over the last few years, debts they have, profit margins, loans, operating costs, etc. and how it relates to their stock filing. If you're a stock market nerd, this would probably be super interesting to you. But I'm a wrasslin' nerd and this is putting me to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezxlmkmsewoeqmc,sdewrw44443mdsaaaaa%aaaaa,kjjj

- All of this does lead Dave to examine the state of the business and that's the kinda thing I can understand. Right now, the business as a whole looks like it's starting to fall. ECW has shown no growth in awhile. WCW is plummeting at an alarming rate. And WWF is still at its peak, but things seem to be leveling off. Things like TV ratings and buyrates are probably not going to get much higher than they already are now, which leaves only one direction to go. The addition of Smackdown could lead to over-saturation (there's already signs of that too, with shows like WCW Thunder and WWF's Sunday Night Heat beginning to show signs of it in the ratings). WWF is on top right now, but things can change quickly. NJPW was the top wrestling promotion in the world in 1995. WCW was the top in 1997 and half of 1998. Look at the shape of both of them now. In every genre of entertainment, it's not unusual for something to get really hot for awhile, and then cool off. WWF is hot right now but they don't seem to be getting hotter. Dave is pretty obviously predicting the downfall of the Attitude Era and the inevitable ratings decline that will come in the next few years. There's also some other interesting stuff about the numbers. Since WWF was legally required to open the books and reveal their real numbers, it confirms what Dave has been saying for years: WWF always lies about this stuff. For years, in interviews, news articles, and press releases, WWF has been claiming that they are a $500 million-per-year company. But these stock filings prove that those numbers are total bullshit and the real number isn't even half of that. Just things like that. Turns out you can lie to the public all you want, but you can't kayfabe the stockholders.

- In their stock filing, WWF was required to list several potential obstacles that could be downfalls of purchasing stock. Basically, if any of these things go badly, it could be bad for stockholders: Failure to create popular shows. Failure to retain key stars. Loss of Vince McMahon (either through retirement, disability, or death) and noted that the WWF does not have a life insurance policy on McMahon to protect the company in case he dies. Failure to keep current TV and PPV deals (Dave notes that the USA Network deal expires in Sept. 2001 but there are provisions that allow either side to terminate the deal a year earlier, in Sept. 2000....that becomes noteworthy in 2000). Failure to compete with WCW. An economic decline in the U.S. that would lead to fans spending less money. Possibly inadequate insurance coverage, meaning that WWF cannot assure stockholders that if someone were injured in the ring, that it would be covered fully by insurance (this became an issue back in the Marty Jannetty/Chuck Austin case years ago). Potential legal regulations (meaning if states start creating laws that makes it difficult for them to run shows). Potential scandals (WWF never has a shortage of those, and they never handle them well). And the possibility of year 2000 computer problems (lol Y2K).

- WWF also listed substantial legal liabilities that could prove to be problematic to stockholders. They specifically listed the Owen Hart lawsuit along with other lawsuits they're currently facing, including one from Ultimate Warrior, one from Demolition Ax, one from Moondog Rex, and two from WCW. The lawsuit from Ax is seeking $6.5 million based on a claim that WWF made a verbal agreement with him in 1991 to employ him for life and to compensate him for coming up with the Demolition tag team. Moondog Rex, who was one of the original Demolition members, also filed a lawsuit claiming he wasn't compensated for coming up with the Demolition idea. Ax and Rex's lawsuits have since joined together but they still haven't gone to trial. Warrior sued the company back in 1996 for $15 million which still hasn't been fully settled. And WCW filed a mostly frivolous lawsuit against WWF last year (which was basically a mirror image of the same lawsuit WWF filed against them in 1996). WCW filed another suit against WWF later in 1998 alleging that WWF was trying to block the release of Wrestling With Shadows and to prevent WCW from promoting it. Basically, all of those lawsuits are still pending and if WWF loses them, it could affect the stock, so they were required to report that info.

- Lots of other possibilities coming out of this. Unionization? If it's ever going to happen, now is the time, but Dave doesn't think it will. But he once again points out how under-paid wrestlers are. You have lower-level major league baseball players making $1 million a year and the average person on the street probably couldn't even name them or pick them out of a lineup. Meanwhile, some of the most popular names in wrestling are only making $400,000 a year or so, even though wrestling does way bigger than baseball in TV ratings. Major league sports often pay 40% or more of their total income towards player salaries. In WWF, it's only 12% of their income. But the problem is, a lot of these wrestlers are used to making $500 bucks a week on the indies, so when they get to WWF and start making $5,000 per week, they feel lucky to have it, when in reality they're still grossly underpaid.

- We get a long obituary for Japanese women's wrestling pioneer Jackie Sato who died of stomach cancer this week. She was the biggest women's wrestling star of the 70s and was the main influence behind all the 80s-era Crush Gals wrestlers who came along after. She was basically forced into retirement in 1981 because All Japan Women traditions were basically that they had mandatory retirement before age 25. But she came out of retirement in 1986 to be the top star for new rival promotion JWP but then her career ended a year later in one of the most brutal matches ever. Sato went against Shinobu Kandori, and during the match, Kandori was told to shoot on Sato (there was some backstage drama there) and she gave Sato a horrific beating. She never wrestled again. The story of that match became the central focus of a book called "Puroresu Shyo-jo Densetsu" (Legend of Girls Wrestling) written by Makiko Ida in 1990, which was a huge best-seller and won several awards (when I wrote this Observer up months ago, I had found a video of this match on YouTube. But it has since been deleted for copyright and I can't find it anywhere else).

- Jerry Lawler is continuing to get a lot of mainstream coverage for his mayoral campaign in Memphis. He's been giving speeches talking about bringing in WWF wrestlers to speak at schools, giving away WWF tickets for students with good attendance and academic records and things like that. Considering the content of WWF television these days, that whole aspect of Lawler's campaign isn't exactly getting quite the warm reception he probably hoped for among people old enough to vote. In regards to all the gang violence in Memphis, Lawler also suggested setting up fighting rings for the gang members to fight it out with rules rather than violence in the streets. "I think I can help channel some of this violence into a productive way with these kids," Lawler said in Memphis newspaper. "They could still have a gang and still have a fight with a gang from another neighborhood, but we'll do it in a ring, and we'll give the winner a trophy instead of a tombstone." Also, due to equal time laws on television for mayoral candidates, Lawler has stopped appearing on Power Pro Wrestling's TV show, but is still working live shows. The equal time laws don't apply to his Raw appearances because they are on the USA network, a cable station which is not broadcast over federally regulated airwaves. Lawler makes $180,000 per year for his work on WWF Raw and WWF PPV commentary. He also earns anothter $25,000 per year doing local TV stuff in Memphis and another $10,000 yearly wrestling locally. Lawler plans to keep his WWF gig if elected and pointed out that even though being the mayor is a full time job (it pays $140,000 yearly), he can still do Monday nights and 1 Sunday per month for WWF. Local TV in Memphis, you say?

- Stan Hansen, realizing his wrestling career is nearly finished, has been talking about getting into coaching football.

- Bruno Sammartino was hospitalized this week with diverticulitis and is being given a lot of antibiotics. Brock Lesnar is a pussy. He had diverticulitis and had to retire from UFC. You didn't hear about Bruno Sammartino retiring from UFC did you?! Damn right you didn't. Because he wasn't no bitch.

- Remember Andre Verdun, the 17-year-old kid who got locally famous a few months back for doing hardcore backyard wrestling shows and the media picked up on it? He's signed a deal with a production company to produce 8 full-length backyard wrestling shows. And the E! network is also doing a feature on backyard wrestling, focusing on Verdun. Anyway, as for his new shows he'll be filming, Verdun will get $2 for every tape sold after the first 500 are sold, plus 30% of the profits if the matches ever air on PPV ("stop laughing," Dave says).

- ECW is getting a ton of mainstream publicity leading up to their debut on TNN this week. Entertainment Weekly had a story on ECW, with a picture of Spike Dudley going through a flaming table. The story talked about ECW being more brutal than WWF and WCW. Eric Bischoff was quoted in the story saying, "If they bring that formula to TNN, and TNN doesn't discipline itself, I think wrestling in general will suffer." Most insiders do believe ECW will have to be significantly toned down but ECW can't publicly admit that without alienating their core fanbase, who will surely accuse them of selling out. Basically, it all depends on the ratings. "If the ratings are bad, Paul Heyman will be viewed by TNN as irresponsible and impossible to deal with. If the ratings are good, he'll be an eccentric genius."

- Taz was negotiating with WWF this week but as of now, it's believed he's staying in ECW (about that...)

- TV Guide ran a big story on WCW this week, pretty accurately portraying them as a struggling company that's losing the ratings war.

- Ric Flair missed Nitro, allegedly due to a back injury. But he was also asked to put over Shane Douglas clean during the show and balked at that, saying Douglas hasn't gotten over and doesn't deserve it. Most everyone in the locker room hate it when the old guys don't want to put over the new talent, but in this case everyone is siding with Flair because he's always been willing to put over almost everyone in the past. And secondly, because most people don't see any business reason for Flair putting over Douglas, and most see it as Bischoff's way to attempt to humiliate Flair since Bischoff still hasn't gotten over his dislike for Flair and knows how he feels about Douglas. Flair has actually talked about wanting to be taken off TV but still wants to work house shows, which is the total opposite of all the other big names.

- Notes from Nitro: The crowd was nuclear hot for whatever reason which helped the show. ICP teamed with Vampiro for a match. ICP are passable indie-level workers. Raven was at ringside with face paint on. Curt Hennig was given new entrance music because he's a heel and "Rap Is Crap" was getting too over (it had even been getting radio play) and god forbid WCW ever allow someone to get over. Speaking of changing music, Goldberg was given terrible new music (that doesn't last long). Last week on Thunder, Randy Savage promised to reveal on Nitro who was driving the hummer that ran into Nash's limo awhile back. Anyway, Nitro is here and....Savage didn't reveal anything and it was never mentioned by him or the announcers. Country singer Chad Brock performed, leading to more than 350,000 homes changing channels to Raw. Dennis Rodman was there and Dave talks about how it's funny that Rodman (who is a legit 6'6) is so much taller than Hogan (who is billed at 6'8). Rodman cut a promo, saying Gorgeous George was his bitch, which led to Okerlund pulling the microphone away. Hulk Hogan brought the old red and yellow gimmick back which got an insane pop. Even Goldberg looked stunned by the crowd reaction to Hogan.

- During Thunder, when Sid did a run-in, you could hear a big explosion in the building. It actually sounded like a gunshot. The announcers never referred to it on the air. Anyway, turns out it was a malfunction with the pyro and both of the guys who handle the pyro for WCW were injured and hospitalized with burns. There was no more pyro used for the rest of the show.

- Dustin Runnels is expected to return to WCW soon, fresh off leaving WWF recently.

- Gene Okerlund's WCW contract is due soon. He tried to get an offer from WWF to use as leverage, but they weren't even interested in talking to him, so that didn't work out.

- Torrie Wilson is expected to be paired up with Kidman soon (in more ways than one, as it turned out).

- Steve Austin missed a few shows due to a shin injury and Debra was off the road too, since apparently her deal now is that if Austin doesn't go on the road, she doesn't either since they're dating. Dave thinks that's some WCW shit. Also, Austin recently refused to work TV matches against both Billy Gunn and Jeff Jarrett, feeling neither of them were over enough to deserve the rub.

- Notes from Raw: Jesse Ventura made his return to WWF, cutting a promo putting himself over as a Navy SEAL and subtly shitting on Hogan and had a face-to-face with Triple H to build Summerslam. Ventura also did commentary later in the show. Kane was handed a mic and spoke his first real words since debuting almost 2 years ago, saying "Suck it." Test is getting over and improving in the ring.

- Oh yeah, there was one other notable thing....some guy named Chris Jericho made his WWF debut. It happened during the Rock's promo, when the countdown clock came on the screen. He gave a very good heel promo, basically describing WCW (boring TV, buyrates plummeting, etc.) but claimed to be talking about WWF. Rock had a great comeback promo also. Dave thinks it was a really good debut and linking Jericho with Rock is smart because it immediately establishes him as a bigger star than WCW ever promoted him to be. But Rock is so charismatic and has so much presence that, by the end, Rock's promo had mostly overshadowed Jericho's big debut.

- At the tapings for next week's Raw, Erin O'Grady debuted as Bob Holly's cousin Crash Holly, with his hair dyed to look like Holly. Jericho interrupted an Undertaker promo, claiming Undertaker was boring everyone "which, in fact, he was," Dave adds. And the Summerslam main event was changed to a three-way, with Mankind added.

- Stevie Richards has signed with WWF. The Dudleys haven't signed yet but it's reportedly just a matter of finalizing the paperwork so they should be in soon.

- Rena Mero appeared on TSN's Off The Record and on Howard Stern's show. On Off The Record, she said that her husband Marc Mero has retired from wrestling and won't be going back to WCW (pretty much true. He never went back to WCW. In the next few years, he worked a handful of matches for XWF and TNA but that's it. He really did pretty much retire from the biz after leaving WWF). She said both of them are out of the wrestling business, but said never say never when asked if she may return some day. On Howard Stern, he tried to coax her into revealing how much money she got in the WWF settlement but she wouldn't bite. A few days later on the show, Stern was making fun of her for claiming she wanted to be an actress and said she delivers lines like a robot.

- It's said that long term plans are for Vince McMahon to return to TV eventually and do an angle to turn Austin heel (still a couple of years away and still a terrible decision).

- Vince Russo will no longer be writing for WWF Magazine and will only be doing TV. Dave thinks it's too bad because some of Russo's "nonsensical rants" in the magazines were entertaining.

- Road Dogg was interviewed in a newspaper recently and basically gave his thoughts on some of his coworkers, which was interesting.

Quote:On Billy Gunn: "A great athlete, bad attitude."

On Shawn Michaels: "Ditto for Billy, but he's worse. I think he's the best wrestler I have ever seen."

On Triple H: "I think Triple H infiltrated the Kliq because I don't think he belongs in that category. I think he's a better guy than a wrestler."

On Rock: "Got a big huge shove and let it go to his head."

On Austin: "He's a heckuva guy, and he's a good wrestler. He's smarter about the business than he is a great wrestler. If you can be the man and still have everybody's respect, it's unheard of, incredible."

On Foley: "He's a real smart man; crazy for some of the bumps he takes."

On McMahon: "I think Vince is a genius. He's a genius businessman, which in turn makes him a jerk."

On Bret Hart: "I just never understood the Bret Hart phenomenon. He was just good, not great."

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Fgt mezer wrote:

Dennis Rodman was there and Dave talks about how it's funny that Rodman (who is a legit 6'6) is so much taller than Hogan (who is billed at 6'8)


Oh david, you HILARIOUS "man" you!!!


Whew.....think I'm okay now!! Just so funny!! Never thought the NBA rebounding champ was taller than Hulk!!! Oh BTW Rodman is 6'7 but whatever, peeps reading this will believe the """""journalist""""" over me. Doesn't matter, thanks for the laugh!!!!! Haven't ROFL'd that hard since I heard david speak an 8-word sentence in his 30 minute YouTube video.
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[+] 1 user Likes Fro's post
So I'm listening to the live Q&A episode of the Observer podcast from yesterday in San Francisco and somebody asked Dave about Chris Adams' missing ring, which is a running joke from me posting these on Reddit LOL
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So it's funny to people on Reddit?
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[+] 2 users Like Chris's post

- NJPW's G1 Climax is in the books and the company wisely used the opportunity to try to create a new star, with Manabu Nakanishi having the run of his life through the tournament and defeating IWGP champion Keiji Muto in the finals by submission to win the tournament in a huge, star-making upset. It's very similar to the way Masahiro Chono won the first ever G1 tournament back in 1991, which solidified Chono as a top star. They're hoping the same holds true for Nakanishi (nah, not really. He goes on to have a fairly successful career, but was never truly a top star).

- There's a lot of talk about Steve Austin right now due to injuries he's dealing with and talk that he's starting to become difficult to work with. During a post-Raw dark match with Triple H, Austin suffered several injuries on a table bump gone wrong (badly bruised shin, torn TCL ligament in the back of his knee, and a deep cut on his chin, among others). Austin is expected to work Summerslam but may be out for a month or more after that, and the reason they added Mankind to the Summerslam match was to take some of the weight off of Austin because he's reportedly not anywhere close to ready for the match. Then again, Mankind is coming back pretty quickly after knee surgery so there's no telling how ready he's going to be either. The plan is for Austin to lose the title at Summerslam and then probably be phased out a little while he heals up. Ultimately, he's expected to win the title back at Rumble and face the Big Show at Wrestlemania, but Big Show has been a big disappointment since they brought him in, so that can and probably will change. But his contract is huge, so they have to keep pushing him as a top star to justify it.

- As far as Austin being difficult to work with lately, there's some different stories there. Last week, it was mentioned that he refused to work with both Billy Gunn and Jeff Jarrett. As for Gunn, when Austin showed up to Raw the night after his first blood match with Undertaker, he was banged up and they wanted him to wrestle Gunn. But Austin didn't see any reason why he should face Gunn in a match on Raw with no storyline implications and no build. Basically, they just wanted Austin to have a match on TV for no reason. Austin said he'd be willing to work with Gunn in the future if it was properly built and there was a good storyline reason but he was hurting from the night before and didn't see a point in having a throwaway match with Gunn for no reason. As for Jarrett, that situation is different and is basically exactly what was reported last week: Austin doesn't feel Jarrett is in a position in the company where he should be fighting the champion, since he's basically a lower-card nobody and felt it would bring Austin down more than it would elevate Jarrett. Also, reportedly the 2 don't really get along for other reasons (stemming from Jarrett publicly criticizing Austin for doing the "3:16" Bible verse thing). In reality, most people don't really think Austin is difficult to work with. It's just these incidents happened at the same time, for different reasons, and from an outside perspective, it just sorta looked like Austin was being a cranky asshole. Most people in the locker room say that, while Austin is careful to watch his own back politically, he's the closest thing to a model employee the company has had in that high profile of a position and is well-liked and respected backstage by most everybody.

- WCW Road Wild is in the books, and as always happens with this PPV in Sturgis, it was total shit. Nearly every match was bad, the crowd of non-wrestling fans sucked, the atmosphere sucked, and so on and so forth. Basically, it looked like a cheap indie show and of course, the company made no money off the event since it's free for everyone in Sturgis at the biker rally, meaning WCW left a good $200,000-300,000 dollars on the table in gate money which is a terrible decision for a company that is facing a massive decline in revenue already. The only excitement from the show happened in the dressing room before it aired, with Marcus Bagwell and Ernest Miller getting into a backstage fight over a disagreement to what the finish of their match would be. Bagwell was originally booked to lose but threw a fit complaining that he had been left laying on TV in the last few weeks and that he should go over. Nash changed the finish and then it turned into a whole thing. It escalated and Bagwell tried to slap Miller, which led to Miller landing 2 solid punches to Bagwell's face and then getting tied up on the ground by Miller until they were broken up. Bagwell's right elbow and forearm got scraped up in the fall (you can see it later during the match). The 2 have had heat for weeks, stemming from Bagwell doing a promo in blackface a few weeks back, which Miller felt was racist. They still went out and had their planned match and kept it professional in the ring, even though the match sucked (Bagwell won). The following night, Bagwell was punished by being kept off Nitro entirely.

- Other notes from Road Wild: Chris Benoit vs. DDP was the only good match on the show, and DDP deserves credit as he worked hard to get Benoit over and ate a clean pin in the middle of the ring which most of the top stars would never do for Benoit. The announcers repeatedly tried to claim that Sid Vicious has a winning streak that rivals Goldberg's old streak and Dave doesn't know what they're smoking. For starters, almost every TV match Sid has had since he came back has ended in DQ and he's been losing nearly every match he's wrestled on house shows. With the internet becoming so popular, people aren't being fooled by that shit anymore. Dennis Rodman faced Randy Savage and, to show you how much Rodman's stock has fallen, WCW garnered almost no mainstream publicity for his match. Rodman's on-again-off-again ex-wife Carmen Electra was supposed to be there for the finish but I guess they're off again so Savage's girlfriend Gorgeous George did the spot instead. And Hogan beat Kevin Nash in a loser-must-retire match, which will almost certainly last for at least a week. As a funny note, on the WCW Hotline, Mark Madden was calling the match "Loser gets time off."

- The last week has basically been WWF week on MTV, with the network airing a new WWF-related show for 5 days straight. The highlight was an episode called MTV True Life: I'm a Pro Wrestler and Dave thought it was fantastic and must-see. It mostly followed a couple of guys struggling through wrestling school, along with a former star struggling to make ends meet (Tony Atlas) and Triple H as the guy who has made it to the top. The tragic story of Tony Atlas pretty much stole the show. There were other shows that aired, like guys auditioning to be wrestlers, judged by Mick Foley. Wrestlers picking music videos. Austin interviewed. A karaoke show featuring Droz, D-Lo, and Godfather, and finally a Summerslam count-down show (I can't find the True Life thing, it looks like it's been wiped off the free internet, but I think it's on the MTV app if you have a login for that).

- There's a rumor that made its way through the sports world this week, claiming that the NFL and/or ABC had offered Vince McMahon $100 million to move Raw to a different night other than Mondays, but that Vince turned it down. Dave says the story sounds ridiculous and as best he can tell, there's no truth to it at all. But it gained enough traction that it was reported on some sports shows (though they admitted that it was also just a rumor). Raw does huge numbers, but it's still significantly lower than most prime time shows. Undoubtedly the popularity of Raw has a negative impact on Monday Night Football, but it's not THAT big of a negative impact. So for now, Dave's pretty skeptical on this rumor unless he finds out otherwise.

- Dory Funk is holding a training class with several wrestlers this week. One of them is a woman named Amy Dumas, who recently worked a few ECW shows as Danny Doring's valet. She's said to be a good worker and has trained with the Hardy Boyz.

- ECW held their first TV taping for the new TNN show in Toledo last week and it was said to be a major letdown to those behind the scenes and morale in the locker room in general isn't great right now. Checks are no longer bouncing, which is good, but attendance is down and the last few shows haven't really reached the break even point in gate numbers. Part of the reason is that the advertising budget has been scaled back for most shows. Despite being a TNN taping and being heavily hyped, the Toledo show was heavily papered to fill the building.

- Taz has re-signed with ECW. Taz's agent contacted both WWF and WCW and asked for a $450,000-per-year deal with a specified number of dates. WCW never even responded. WWF responded, saying no thanks and countered with a low-ball $200,000-per-year offer and that was basically where that ended. So he re-signed with ECW. He was making around $3,000 per week and may have gotten a slight raise but contrary to rumors, there was no big bidding war for Taz.

- The latest on Ric Flair's back injury is that his doctor has told him to take a month or so off. In reality, Flair has often wrestled with injuries far more severe and could work through this if he wanted to, but WCW has killed his passion for wrestling so he's taking the time off. Over the past week, he's been talking again about retiring and didn't appear on any of the shows.

- Randy Savage injured Evan Karagis with his elbow drop off the top rope, making that the 3rd person in the last few months that he has hurt with that move. Due to Savage's hip and knee problems, he's been landing with a lot more of his weight on his opponent's chest when doing the move, which is leading to guys getting hurt left and right.

- Now that Kevin Nash has to "retire" after losing to Hogan, the plan is to bring him back in about 2 months along with Scott Hall, with the 2 of them reforming the Outsiders. The idea is basically to recreate the original angle, with both of them no longer employed by WCW, coming in to takeover the show like they did back in 1996.

- There has been talk of bringing Bret Hart back as a heel, which Dave thinks would be just about the stupidest thing WCW could possibly do with him at this point.

- Notes from Nitro: Sid's undefeated streak at the start of the show was billed as 55-0 which, as already covered, is total bullshit. Then, by the end of the show, they were saying 59-0, seemingly not even realizing their own mistake. Tony Schiavone tried to get Harlem Heat over as the greatest tag team of all time. Dave says Booker T is pretty good but Stevie Ray makes the Dudley Boyz seem like Misawa and Kobashi. They showed another vignette for the debut of Berlyn and the announcers acted like it was a big mystery, seemingly forgetting that they already openly acknowledged last week that it's Alex Wright.

- Prior to the Road Wild PPV, WCW had an angle on Jay Leno's Tonight Show where Rodman was on as a guest and Randy Savage showed up to attack him, which is just about the only mainstream coverage their match got.

- Rena Mero was on Larry King's show and it was like pulling teeth to get her to say anything interesting. She refused to say she was angry with the WWF and said her husband was retired from wrestling. She talked about getting movie and TV offers and said she'd be starring in a new TV series next year. She basically bent over backwards to avoid trashing the WWF because of the lawsuit settlement. Also, as a side note, in another recent interview, she admitted that she had talked with WCW about coming in as Hogan's manager, which shoots down the obvious bullshit claim that she simply showed up to Nitro and bought a ticket (which of course, no one believed in the first place). DDP and Goldberg also appeared on the Larry King show with Rena and all 3 talked about wrestling needing a union. Also, DDP claimed he would only wrestle for 2 more years and then retire. Dave thinks there must be a rule that every wrestler has to say that when they go on a talk show (can't find any footage of this).

- Remember the lawsuit WCW filed against WWF over Wrestling With Shadows? Basically, in order to get the last bit of WWF footage they needed for the movie, the producers had to sign an agreement saying the movie would never air on any Turner channels. WCW filed a suit alleging restraint of trade. Anyway, the case was thrown out this week. Score one for WWF.

- Nitro has relaxed its language standards a little, so they can now say "ass" on Nitro. Ooooh, naughty!

- Random WCW notes: Psicosis may be getting unmasked soon. David Finlay had to get a second surgery on his leg following his injury awhile back. WCW is talking about bringing back Jim Neidhart. Swoll (Master P's bodyguard turned wrestler) was arrested for being months behind on child support.

- A newspaper did a story on Randy Savage's girlfriend Gorgeous George, real name Stephanie Bellars. Savage and George were cooperating with the story at first, but then the reporters uncovered Bellars' past criminal history. At that point, she and Savage cut off contact with the reporter. Anyway, Bellars once spent time in jail as a teenager for burglary and slashing another girl's face with a beer bottle. She also has a 6-year-old son and used to work as a stripper prior to WCW.

- Raven has made it very clear that he's unhappy in WCW. He trashed the company on a radio show recently and then went online later and said he'd rather be back in ECW. He still has 10 months on his WCW contract but says when it's up, he's gone (gonna be a lot sooner than that).

- Davey Boy Smith officially signed a contract with WWF this week. He and his wife Diana also filmed a lengthy interview with Jim Ross that will probably air in segments on Raw during the next few weeks and is apparently a bit of a shoot interview that's expected to be controversial. There's been a rift in the Hart family over Smith's choosing to return to the WWF (we hear more about this in the coming weeks, but this interview never airs due to the Hart lawsuit. Still sitting in the WWE vault somewhere to this day, I imagine).

- Shawn Michaels will be working as a TV sportscaster in San Antonio for KENS TV, covering high school sports.

- UPN is spending 40% of its total promotional budget to promote Smackdown. UPN is a struggling network and they're pretty much putting all their eggs in the WWF basket and counting on Smackdown to save the network from dying. There's been concern about wrestling being over-exposed, with the addition of Smackdown and with ECW on TNN. When asked about it, Vince McMahon responded, saying, "We're not wrestling. We've never been wrestling and we refuse to be placed in the wrestling category. That's Ted Turner's business and I guess it's the guy on TNN's business." Dave says there's no point wasting space to point out how ridiculous that statement is.

- Jesse Ventura held a press conference in Minneapolis and was questioned about his wrestling involvement. At one point, Ventura said drug testing was unconstitutional without probable cause. Dave recalls Ventura telling him personally back in 1993 that 90% of the wrestlers making money in the business are on steroids and he was strongly advocating for drug testing back then, but hey, he's collecting checks from Vince again so you know how that goes.
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- WWF's Summerslam is in the books and was one of the better shows of the year. It sold out months ago and got a lot of mainstream eyes due to Jesse Ventura's involvement. It's expected to end up doing either the first or second highest PPV buyrate ever but the numbers won't be known for a couple of weeks. Mankind ended up winning the title because the original plan (Triple H winning the title) was so well known and word had leaked out weeks ago, so they changed it to do the feel good finish and instead had Triple H win it from Mankind the following night on Raw. Ventura seemed to enjoy himself, since he's already in talks with WWF about appearing at Wrestlemania next year also, but the media has crucified him for it, especially by first time WWF viewers who were shocked by what they saw. So he's refusing to answer questions about it in the media and in fact has stopped giving interviews altogether. He caught a lot of flak for attempting to hide how much money he's making. Dave doesn't know the exact amount but says Ventura got paid more for this one appearance than he ever did for any other acting or political gig he's ever had. There were concerns over conflict of interest, since WWF does business in his state and he's collecting a paycheck from it and just days before the show, a political group filed a lawsuit to try to stop his appearance, but the judge threw it out. But during the weeks leading up to the show, Ventura asked WWF to stop referring to him as "Governor Ventura" since there was so much controversy about him using his political office for private gain. So in the last few weeks, WWF only refereed to him by his old name, Jesse "The Body" Ventura. There was also an agreement that he wouldn't be put in a position that could lead to an injury which is why he didn't even do the classic guest ref spot of throwing a punch at the heel. The sex aspect of the show was toned down, and their most controversial characters (the pimp, the ho's, the porn star) weren't on the show at all. Ventura did use some rather vulgar language when arguing with Triple H and Shane McMahon at various points in the match and he caught some heat in the press for audibly saying "bullshit" on camera.

- Other notes from Summerslam: Edge and Christian and the Hardy Boyz have pretty damn good chemistry together in the ring. Tori vs. Ivory was one of the worst matches of the year. Luna Vachon made her return. She was fired earlier in the year for fighting with Sable but now that Sable's gone, she's back. Test vs. Shane McMahon basically stole the show and they had a surprisingly great match. Considering Shane has only had a handful of matches, he was shockingly good. The Rock got pissed at Billy Gunn during their match for some reason and the next night on Raw, he cut a promo pretty much burying Gunn as a jobber. In the main event, Mankind looked pretty limited due to his recent knee surgery and he's put on weight while he was out so he was moving slow. Austin was also limited with his right leg injury. It was a decent match but Triple H isn't quite good enough to carry 2 injured guys through a PPV main event and the match suffered some for it, but they had enough bells and whistles with Ventura and Chyna's involvement to keep it entertaining.

- The first ever real singles matches between Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan took place this week....at 3 house shows. Dave recaps the history here: Hogan wins the title at from Yokozuna at Wrestlemania 9, with plans that he would drop it back to Bret at Summerslam. Instead, Hogan balked at working with Bret and dropped it back to Yokozuna and then left WWF instead, leading to years of bitterness from Bret but they have since squashed the beef. The original plan was for Hogan to drop the title to Bret at Fall Brawl in a face vs. face match but that has since been scrapped. And after Randy Savage and Ric Flair both had to miss a string of house shows (more on that in a minute), Bret was called and asked to come in and work with Hogan. Which is all well and good for those fans, but they have now started running a hypothetical dream match with zero promotion in 3 cities that already had weak ticket sales. For what it's worth, the matches weren't great since Bret has been out for months and Hogan has been working with a bad knee injury for weeks now and basically limped through the matches. They all ended in no contests after run-ins. Fun fact: technically Bret defended the U.S. title against Hogan on Nitro in Aug. 98 on Nitro. But it was only a couple of minutes before the match turned into an angle and so Dave says it wasn't a real match and he doesn't count it.

- Flair missed the house shows because of his back injury. The Savage situation is a bit trickier. Savage got into an argument with WCW officials backstage after the Road Wild PPV, claiming that Hogan was trying to sabotage his career. Savage has been heavily involved in this "who drove the hummer" angle that's been sorta lingering for a couple of months. Anyway, the angle was quietly dropped by Hogan (who is essentially booking the company right now when he doesn't like whatever Nash comes up with) and Savage was pissed. He refused to work the house shows and also missed Nitro last week so who knows what's up with his status right now. (Turns out his career is almost over. He only ever wrestled 4 more matches after this, and only 2 of them were in WCW. The last "match" was in TNA and he did absolutely nothing in it other than walk to the ring, so I wouldn't even count that. So at this point, he's only really got 3 matches left. Approaching the end of the road for Randy Savage here).

- WCW backstage morale has gotten even worse after Eric Bischoff basically lost his fucking mind at a backstage meeting before Nitro last week. He called the entire locker room together and then began singling out individual wrestlers to berate them for various things. He said he's going to turn things around and only wanted wrestlers who want to be there. First he went after Raven and yelled at him in front of everyone for his recent radio show comments. Bischoff offered him his release and Raven accepted and then simply got up and walked out of the room. Next up was Konnan, who he yelled at for a promo he cut at a house show. Apparently Konnan got on the mic and cut a promo on Curt Hennig and his Rednecks crew, saying something along the lines of "You look like you haven't had any pussy since pussy had you." Konnan apologized for the comments. Bischoff then offered him a contract release also, and then said his door was open to anyone who wanted out of the company, he'd let them go. At that moment, no one accepted (yet). Bischoff then went after Rey Mysterio for a comment he made on Thunder, something about Lenny Lane going down the Hershey Highway in some sort of gay joke. Bischoff then yelled at Marcus Bagwell for his recent fight with Ernest Miller. Then he yelled at Public Enemy for recently complaining about doing a job to Sid Vicious. Some people feel Bischoff did what he needed to do, since the WCW locker room is completely out of control these days, but others felt he should have handled the matters privately rather than try to embarrass people in front of the entire locker room. Others pointed out that it was hypocritical for Bischoff to go after midcarders like Raven and Konnan, while big stars like Sting and Randy Savage have been critical of the company in interviews or said or done objectionable things (Savage especially, from complaining about jobs, throwing his girlfriend around on TV, using obscene language on TV, etc.) and Bischoff has said nothing to them. Basically more of the same, with the midcarders feeling like the top stars are unfairly treated differently, which is a valid complaint.

- Anyway, as mentioned, Bischoff said that if anyone has the balls to leave, he'd let them out of their contract. Ric Flair wasn't at the meeting, because he absolutely would have jumped at the opportunity (he's been trying to get out for years now). Raven, as mentioned, called Bischoff's bluff at the meeting and accepted the deal and walked out. Later on that night, Konnan, Mysterio, and Kidman all privately approached Bischoff and requested their release also. Nobody else asked. Dave says it was a risky move by Bischoff because if any of the big core stars had taken him up on his offer, it likely would have cost Bischoff his job when the Turner execs got wind. But most of these guys have guaranteed contracts and mortgages and families, so most weren't going to take the offer (don't worry, Bischoff is going to cost himself his job in less than a month anyway).

- Raven spoke with WCW's lawyer about his release and was told he had a 90-day non-compete clause. Raven pointed out that Bischoff had offered a full release. Bischoff later changed his tune and agreed to give Raven a conditional release, which would allow him to go to ECW but not to WWF for the remainder of his WCW contract, which is up in 10 months. Conversations were had with Terry Taylor in WWF, who said they would be interested in all 4 men who asked to be let go, but he later said WWF wouldn't talk to any of them until they were given a full release due to potential contract tampering issues. Bischoff later tried to talk Raven into staying and asked what it would take to make him stay. Raven told him he wanted to be one of the top 10 stars of the company. Apparently Bischoff wasn't going for that. Anyway, Raven then had talks with Paul Heyman, who wants Raven back but could only offer him about half of what he makes in WCW. Raven's plan is to work for ECW for the next 10 months or so while he has a conditional release and then when he's fully clear, he hopes to jump to WWF. So he's pretty much done with WCW. As for Kidman, Mysterio, and Konnan.....they're in a tough spot. Bischoff offered releases to anyone who wanted them. Those guys called his bluff. And then Bischoff changed his mind and pulled the offer from them. So now, those 3 are still stuck in WCW, with a boss they don't like and who doesn't like them, and everyone on both sides knows they want to leave. So needless to say, things are pretty awkward right now.

- Dave decides to look at all the new wrestling on TV these days and the possibility of overexposure. In hindsight, WCW doing Thunder was a bad idea (though most people knew that at the time too). The toll it took on the wrestlers and the crew was just too much and the product has suffered and the wrestlers have suffered and it's very much hastened WCW's demise. Dave worries that WWF will suffer the same fate, overworking everyone with more travel, more TV to produce, more angles and storylines for the creative team to write, etc. WWF producer Kevin Dunn was interviewed about the new Smackdown show and said it will be rated TV-PG, unlike Raw.

- ECW is going to have trouble too. Paul Heyman is under enormous stress with the TNN deal and word is he barely slept at all last week producing the new show. For one of the first times in history, Heyman missed all of this week's ECW house shows because he was so busy getting the TV show together. And this isn't a one-time thing: it's ECW's new weekly schedule. The company is going to live or die on Heyman's shoulders and he's absolutely swamped with the workload. Dave thinks he desperately needs to delegate some responsibility, and suggests letting Dreamer run the non-TV house shows, which he's done in the past. There's other problems too. The TNN deal basically saved ECW from certain death but even though checks aren't bouncing anymore, they're still working on basically no budget and surviving from show-to-show. There's almost no advertising money anymore, which is why house show attendance has been down. The hope is that the TNN exposure will help the company grow and become profitable. ECW has been on the brink of extinction several times in the past, but Heyman has always managed to pull them through. In related news, the first ECW on TNN taping in Toledo was so bad that Heyman considers most of it un-airable and instead will be putting together a "best of" show for the first TNN show, with only some of the Toledo taping being aired.

- Raw vs. Nitro ratings were the same story as always this week but it's particularly interesting to note that Nitro featured a concert from KISS that did a terrible 2.25 rating. WCW has plans of co-promoting a KISS concert/wrestling PPV on New Year's Eve but they may be second-guessing it now after the abysmal ratings drop KISS gave them this week.

- NJPW has a major stadium show scheduled this week and one of the headlining matches was to be Nobuhiko Takada vs. Kensuke Sasaki. But just days before the show, Takada pulled out because he got a bigger money offer to work a Pride show. NJPW made a big mistake here because Takada had verbally agreed to do the show, but he never had a signed contract for it, but NJPW still announced the match and promoted it. It's really similar to what happened in 1997 when Ken Shamrock verbally agreed to work a Tokyo Dome show and they began heavily promoting it. But then he backed out and signed with WWF before the show instead, leaving NJPW a Tokyo Dome show without a main event. NJPW keeps learning the hard way that you can't trust wrestlers unless you get it in writing. Anyway, Takada says he'd still like to work with NJPW in the future, but New Japan president Tatsumi Fujinami says Takada betrayed them and they will never use him again (indeed, they never did).

- Atsushi Onita recently ran his own show in Japan, headlined by...wait for it..."a no rope barbed wire scapegoat hell barricade mat street fight tornado electric mine dynamite death match." I'm sure it was a true catch-as-catch-can grappling classic.

- Antonio Inoki is still trying to put together another major show in North Korea and says he's hoping to get Michael Jordan to appear, which sounds stupid on the surface, but hey, he got Muhammad Ali to attend the last North Korea show, so never count out Inoki's ability to get crazy shit done.

- Insane Clown Posse worked an indie show in Pottsville, PA last week on a whim. They're on tour right now for their new album and had a day between shows. They browsed the internet looking for any indie wrestling events and found that one. They called the promoter up and asked if they could come wrestle on the show. The promoter thought it was a prank until their tour bus pulled up outside an hour before the show, but he was thrilled to have them. Only Shaggy 2 Dope wrestled, facing off against Tom Dub, a member of their entourage who also wrestles from time to time.

- Correction from last week: Taz has NOT re-signed wth ECW. And it also turns out that WCW did make him an offer, but it was somewhat of a low-ball deal. They basically were only interested in signing him to keep him from going to WWF. Though he hasn't signed, Taz has verbally agreed to stay with ECW, where he's been promised a major push. Given his size, he's not going to be booked as a top guy in either WWF or WCW and since neither of them made him a major money offer, he's content to stay in ECW and be a big fish in a small pond (this obviously all changes here pretty soon, since he debuts in WWF in just a few months).

- Paul Heyman appeared on MSNBC for a panel discussion on whether wrestling is suitable for children. Heyman came off fine, although Dave says he looked very tired (this is pretty fun to watch. Heyman is great as always).

- The Dudley Boyz are telling people they still haven't signed a WWF contract and are still willing to stay in ECW if Heyman will offer them a contract. They seemingly want to stay with ECW and realize they will be top stars there and in control of their own fate, whereas if they go to WWF, nothing is guaranteed and they give up all creative control (Bubba Ray in particular is a big part of ECW business behind the scenes). Storyline wise, this seems to have turned the Dudleys into even bigger stars in ECW since everyone knows they're probably leaving. They've been really heeling it up, cutting promos saying they won't put anyone over on the way back and vowing to hand the ECW tag title belts over to Vince McMahon on Raw.

- WCW's Fall Brawl PPV is less than 2 weeks away and there's absolutely nothing on the drawing board for it, not even a single match. They were supposed to put together a promotional piece this past week to air on the PPV promo channels but they cancelled filming because they don't have anything decided for the show yet.

- Notes from Nitro: Tony Schiavone opened the show talking about the capacity crowd of 18,000 fans in attendance. Real attendance number, in case you were wondering: 8,900 (and far less than that paid). Some matches were so bad or boring that Dave thinks they might as well have just had "Switch to Raw" written on the screen and it would have basically been the same thing. Hogan faced Sting in the main event and Schiavone bent over backwards screaming like it was an all-time classic match. In reality, it was just as slow and plodding as you'd expect a Hogan/Sting match to be. Dave says only in WCW would you see *actual* classic matches all the time with the midcard guys, and the announcers can't be bothered to even pay attention, but then they lose their shit trying to pretend Hogan vs. Sting is good. Anyway, then KISS performed at the end of the show, as wrestling fans switched channels to Raw in droves, and Brian Adams debuted as the KISS Demon.

- There's been rumors that Eric Bischoff's job is in jeopardy but it seems to have blown over (spoiler: it hasn't). There's been a lot of heat on him and the office in general due to some racial issues that seem to have started with the No Limit Soldiers vs. West Texas Rednecks angle. Most of the office is made up of country music fans, but there's also some black employees and something about the angle polarized the office employees and led to some tension. It got worse 2 weeks ago when one of Bischoff's secretaries wrote an email with a very nasty racist joke and attempted to email it to some friends in the office. But she fucked up and accidentally emailed it to everyone in the office, black and white both, and needless to say, it didn't go over well. It got worse when Bischoff chose not to fire her for it, which naturally upset a lot of people in the office who were offended.

- Sid Vicious is still doing an "undefeated" gimmick which, as Dave pointed out last week, is complete bullshit. But to make it even worse, no one can keep track of what the number is supposed to be. On Nitro, the announcers talked about his streak being in the 60 and 70s (they varied from 66 to 72 at different times). On Thunder, they talked about it being 62-0. And then Sid himself cut a promo talking about it being in the 50s. It sounds like this is meant to be a joke or comedy gimmick where Sid is heeling it up by lying about his streak, but it's not. WCW just can't be bothered to keep track of the fake numbers.

- DDP had a significant role in the TV movie "First Daughter." It aired on TBS and did a 6.9 rating which is the highest rating of any show in the history of TBS and in fact, only 27 movies in the history of basic cable have ever done higher than a 6.0 rating. So big hit there for Turner, and a good look for DDP.

- Some notes on the woman who plays one of Macho Man's valets Miss Madness: her real name Nora Greenwald, she's 21 and has been wrestling for 2 years under the name Starla Saxton. She also has gymnastics and powerlifting experience. (Everyone, let's give a warm Observer Rewind welcome to Molly Holly!)

- Notes from Raw: they had a new ring announcer named Lillian Garcia who is attractive so naturally, the fans spent most of the show chanting for her to show her puppies. She was a total amateur at announcing but hey, maybe she'll get better. They did an angle where Big Boss Man stole Al Snow's dog Pepper (this does not end well for Pepper). Jeff Jarrett came out with Jerry Lawler's real-life girlfriend Stacy Carter, under the name Miss Kitty. Lawler pretended like he didn't know who she was. "She's the 16-year-old you were picking up at the softball game when you were only pushing 40," Dave reminds him. Boom, headshot. Dave ponders how weird the world has become that she has a legit chance of becoming the first lady of Memphis if Lawler is elected mayor. And Triple H won the WWF title from Mankind. Dave kinda shat all over this show and says it was the worst episode of Raw in months.

- Chris Jericho's in-ring debut in WWF took place in—where else, you idiot?—Winnipeg, but it actually wasn't planned. The Rock was supposed to face Big Boss Man in the main event but Rock wasn't able to make it because his flight out of Miami was delayed when a guy ran out on the runway in front of the plane, yelling about wanting to go back to Cuba. It caused a huge delay and caused Rock to miss his connecting flight from Chicago to Winnipeg. Anyway, Jericho was tasked to fill in for Rock and he ended up beating Boss Man in the main event.
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- It's a new season of wrestling on TV, with good and bad news to go around. For starters, Raw ended up being pushed back 2 hours due to the U.S. Open but even though it aired late at night and Nitro was airing unopposed in its normal time slot, Raw still killed them in the ratings. Without competition, Nitro did its best ratings in months (even though they still lost) but they also put on a terrible show, which Dave thinks is nothing short of mind-boggling. This was WCW's best chance to try to win back some viewers and they totally shat the bed by presenting a borderline unwatchable Nitro. Even other wrestlers in the WCW locker room were said to be shaking their heads in disbelief that they could fumble the ball this badly. Thursday also featured the debut of WWF's new show Smackdown which was basically just Raw with a new set. The ratings for it were decent but both WWF and UPN were slightly disappointed that they weren't higher, especially since UPN is 100% relying on Smackdown to save the fledgling network. WCW Thunder, which did absolutely nothing to try to counter against the debut of Smackdown airing at the same time, did its lowest rating ever and the numbers will likely drop more in future weeks as Smackdown establishes itself.

- After the terrible Toledo taping that was supposed to be the debut of ECW on TNN, Paul Heyman decided against airing most of the footage and instead taped 2 new hours from Queens, NY. The show was in front of a rabid audience that was capped off with Raven making his return to ECW, to arguably one of the loudest pops in ECW history, to win the tag titles from the Dudleys along with longtime enemy Tommy Dreamer (more on Raven in a bit). Following the taping, the locker room emptied out to send off the Dudleys, who had their last match with the company and are WWF-bound. Some of the footage from Toledo, along with matches from the Queens taping, will comprise the next couple of episodes of ECW on TNN.

- As for the debut episode of ECW on TNN....it was basically a clip-show. Paul Heyman put together a highlight show of ECW matches and moments to introduce fans to the new product. It didn't go well. The debut episode did a 0.94 rating which isn't great news. TNN was selling ads for the show based on a presumed 1.9 rating and were publicly predicting at least a 2.0 for the debut. Everybody was getting their hopes up in advance, with people openly predicting they would soon surpass Nitro's falling ratings. ECW was the highest rated show on Friday night for TNN but in the grand scheme of things, that doesn't mean much to TNN given the money invested and expectations they have for it. RollerJam debuted earlier this year in the same time slot and did a 1.7 rating and even that was considered a disappointment, so ECW debuting with a 0.94 is even more so. The good news is that ECW has a loyal fanbase that they brought with them to TNN so the ratings probably won't be much lower than that, so there's really nowhere to go but up. But they'll have to go up significantly before TNN is happy with it.

- Dr. Joel Hackett, an Indianapolis doctor, had his medical license suspended and is under investigation by state police on drug distribution charges. The doctor is known to have connections with many within the wrestling business and was specifically known for having prescribed drugs to Brian Pillman and Louie Spicolli (the Somas that Spicolli OD'd on were prescribed by Dr. Hackett). This obviously brings up comparisons to the Dr. Zahorian investigation back in 1991 that blew open the steroid scandal of the early 90s. Once again, we have a doctor over-prescribing controlled substances to famous wrestlers who don't necessarily have a medical need and the fact that many in the business know about him. WWF officials claim that they were aware of Dr. Hackett and had banned him from being backstage at their shows as far back as 1995 but did admit that a couple of their wrestlers may have been in contact with Dr. Hackett within the last few months. Following the death of Brian Pillman in 1997, WWF sent letters to several doctors that were known to be prescribing drugs that they were no longer allowed backstage at events. Following this, Hackett, who is black, claimed racial discrimination and threatened to sue. In turn, WWF handed over documents relating to Hackett to the DEA and the AMA. But those groups apparently never acted on the evidence WWF gave them. After learning that wrestlers were still seeing Hackett outside of the company, WWF sent a memo to all the wrestlers telling them to avoid dealing with him back in 1997. Some wrestlers protested, upset that WWF was trying to tell them what personal doctors they were allowed to see. Although he was banned from the locker room, Hackett was still getting free comped tickets to shows from wrestlers he was friends with so then WWF banned him from getting comped tickets. Hackett was no stranger in WCW either, and even after Spicolli's death, several top-money WCW wrestlers were known to fly Hackett in to major events and he would be backstage there as well.

- Documents filed with the Indiana medical board note that Dr. Hackett is being investigated for several things, including failure to perform adequate medical exams before writing prescriptions, failure to document medical need for prescriptions, knowingly prescribing drugs to a wrestler that he knew was illegally distributing them, and knowingly prescribing drugs to wrestlers he knew were addicted to them. As mentioned, WWF became aware of Hackett several years ago (just after the McMahon trial) when several wrestlers failed drug tests, but were able to provide valid prescriptions. As per WWF's drug policy at the time, there wasn't much they could do about the wrestlers seeing this doctor, but they were aware that it was becoming a major problem, particularly the use of Somas. It got even more alarming when Louie Spicolli overdosed while still working for the WWF and nearly died, which led to WWF releasing him soon after. So to be fair, in this case, it does seem like WWF did try to put a stop to this guy years ago.

- NJPW set an outdoor-attendance record of 48,000 people for a Jingu Stadium show headlined by Great Muta vs. Great Nita in an exploding barbed wire match. There was a lot of concern about this show, as mentioned last week, when Nobuhiko Takada backed out at the last minute. But they managed to sell out the stadium anyway. The show was said to be disappointing but hey, they got your money already, so tough shit.

- For the second time this year, Toshiaki Kawada suffered an injury that will require him to be out of action for several months. Kawada will require surgery to repair broken bones around his eye and isn't expected back until December. It's a big blow to AJPW, since he was scheduled to headline a show against Vader this week. It's the second time a Kawada vs. Vader match had to be scrapped due to Kawada being injured. To save the show, Misawa will wrestle twice, doing his own previously scheduled match and then working later in the night in the main event against Vader.

- Jesse Ventura is at war with the media in Minnesota over their criticism of his participation in Summerslam. What?! A thin-skinned celebrity-politician doesn't take media criticism well? Perish the thought. Anyway, Ventura is basically lashing out at all the local media outlets, refusing to grant interviews, calling them names, and urging people to cancel their subscriptions to local newspapers that have criticized him.

- ABC's Nightline aired a story on hardcore wrestling. Dave found it weird to see no-name indie wrestlers doing bad chairshots in front of 50 people being treated as if it's a major news story. The Nightline people went to shows by 2 virtually unknown promotions (Combat Zone Wrestling and Jersey All Pro Wrestling), with Ted Koppel interviewing these guys. The story focused on the usual issue of whether this is appropriate for kids. Dave says that's a fair question to ask, and there's a newsworthy story there, but for the Nightline people to focus on companies that aren't even a blip on the pro wrestling radar was weird. When a major network like ABC is investigating wrestling and its effect on kids, one would think they would focus on WWF, WCW, and ECW. Companies like CZW have no place in this conversation because almost nobody has even heard of CZW before (can't find video of this but CZW and JAPW are going to have a lot of problems in the next year with the state of New Jersey trying to shut them down).

- Dave talks about how Manabu Nakanishi recently won the G1 tournament, with the idea being to make him a new top star. The problem is, Nakanishi just doesn't really have it and the fans see it. He tries hard but something about him just doesn't click with the fans. Dave also points out how this is a perfect example of the differences between NJPW and WCW. In NJPW, they realize that they need to create new stars because all their current headliners are in their mid-30s, and they're trying to create new stars but none of the young guys are really ready yet. Meanwhile, in WCW, all their headliners are over 40, some are pushing 50, and they have several young guys who are ready to be the new top stars, but WCW actively holds them down instead of trying to get them over to that next level.

- Psicosis faced Rey Mistero Sr. in a hair vs. mask match in Tijuana last week, with Psicosis losing the match and his mask. It ended with Juventud Gerrera turning on Psicosis to cost him the match, generating monster heel heat that you rarely see these days. Psicosis unmasked and the crowd chanted his name after the match. Him losing his mask here was only for Mexico. In the U.S., Psicosis is expected to lose his mask again on WCW TV soon.

- At a recent Michinoku Pro show, American indie wrestler Christopher Daniels wrestled under a mask under the name Curry Man.

- There is a PPV being planned for October called Heroes of Wrestling that will feature lots of names from the past like Jake Roberts, Jim Neidhart, King Kong Bundy, Yokozuna, Jimmy Snuka, and others (oh man, what a legendary clusterfuck this one turns out to be).

- Down in Power Pro Wrestling, Dave says that Kurt Angle has been looking really impressive in the ring, especially considering how new he still is. With his current babyface character, Dave thinks he would already be a surefire headliner in the 70s or 80s. But it's the 90s and he's kinda bland on promos so who knows if he'll be able to get over on the big stage here in America. If he was in Japan, Dave thinks he would be an instant superstar.

- Pride, the MMA company in Japan, contacted the WWF this week looking for wrestlers who could compete at an upcoming event. They were interested in Steve Williams (who is still under contract) and Steve Blackman. But when WWF was told that the fights would be legit shoots, they pretty much shot it down instantly, because they learned their lesson from Brawl For All.

- Raven has signed a 1-year deal with ECW after being given a conditional release from WCW. Raven was making about $275,000 per year in WCW and his ECW deal is believed to be around $150,000 a year. So needless to say, he took a drastic pay cut to get out of WCW. Raven has made no secret that his plan is to stay with ECW for a year while the remainder of his WCW deal runs out, and then jump to the WWF.

- Paul Heyman was also extremely interested in bringing in Billy Kidman. But Kidman still has 3 years left on his WCW contract and Bischoff only offered him the same conditional release that he gave Raven. Which meant Kidman couldn't go to WWF. He could have accepted it and gone to ECW. But Kidman makes around $300,000 in WCW and he wasn't willing to take a massive paycut to spend the next 3 years in ECW. So he's staying put in WCW for now, even though it's no secret he wants out. Raven also tried to get Konnan to come to ECW, but Heyman wasn't that interested in him and Konnan also didn't want to take the paycut.

- Heyman is still negotiating with AJPW and has interest in bringing in Maunakea Mossman, Vader, and Kenta Kobashi. There's no guarantee any of those will happen, but he's trying (I don't believe any of those pan out).

- On the ECW Hotline, they teased that Ultimate Warrior was interested in coming to ECW. That got further confirmed when Warrior himself went online on his website and wrote a post confirming that he was interested in ECW. But Dave doesn't think it's ever going to happen because Warrior's a fucking nutcase and ECW could never afford what he'd want (indeed, this never happens).

- Shane Douglas is claiming ECW owes him $140,000 and is threatening to sue.

- Speaking of, Paul Heyman has said he won't take Sandman back because Sandman walked out on ECW without finishing up his prior commitments and he also claimed Heyman owed him money and threatened to sue. Heyman says they didn't owe Sandman anything and that his lawyers have already shut down Sandman's claim. He also says he won't ever bring Public Enemy back because they refused to put over the Dudleys a few months ago and no-showed an event where they were supposed to (PE never returned to ECW. Sandman, of course, will be back in a month).

- WCW Fall Brawl is next week, and it's right in the heart of Flair Country (Winston-Salem, NC). So, how are things going you ask? Well, for years, WCW has been running shows in that area and year after year, they drew sell-out crowds and they repaid those fans by making local favorites Flair and the Horsemen look stupid every time. As a result, with only a week or so to go before a major PPV, they've only sold 2,200 tickets. Textbook example of how to kill a once-thriving town.

- Notes from Nitro: the Berlyn (Alex Wright) character debuted and it was really well done, though Dave is disappointed that he's already slated to feud with Bagwell, which immediately establishes him as a midcard guy when WCW is desperately in need of fresh faces on top. Not that Alex Wright is necessarily a main event level guy, but it was a hot debut and the wind was totally sucked out of it when he said he was going after Bagwell. Also, Hogan's face turn isn't going so well. He got good nostalgia pops for the first couple of weeks when he returned to the red and yellow, but that has totally faded and now it's mostly just a mixture of polite cheers and boos.

- WCW has booked a New Year's Eve PPV at the 70,000-seat Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, AZ that will be a combination full-length WCW show and full-length KISS concert. Dave says the WCW wrestlers are going to be pretty annoyed at having to spend the biggest New Year's Eve in history working (it gets cancelled).

- Needless to say, Kidman and Konnan are both in the dog house after calling Bischoff's bluff and trying to get out of their contracts. Both men are staying, but they're expected to both be buried for awhile. On the flip side, when Bischoff gave Raven his release to go work in ECW, Bischoff told Raven that he admired his guts to stand up and say he wanted his release and walk out of the meeting. Bischoff said he didn't expect anyone would actually do it. Both sides basically agreed that they wouldn't bad mouth each other and in 1 year, when Raven's contract is up, he would be welcomed back in WCW if he wanted to return.

- Chastity was given word that her contract will not be renewed when it expires in December. That has left Hardcore Hak (Sandman) wanting to return to ECW, although Heyman has said he doesn't want him back. But given the low rating of the first TNN show, Dave thinks Heyman would take him back in a heartbeat (spoiler: Heyman takes him back in a heartbeat).

- WCW wrestler Dennis Rodman was arrested for public intoxication last week and was released the next day. Dave is SHOCKED, I tell you, SHOCKED at this turn of events.

- Ric Flair and Goldberg were among many of the celebrities who attended a celebrity golf event for late basketball coach Jimmy V. Goldberg had one of the longest autograph lines of the event, only rivaled by Michael Jordan's. They also did an auction and the top selling item at the auction was one of Ric Flair's robes, which sold for $28,000 (I've read $35,000 on another source). Who bought it, you ask? Darius Rucker, lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish (and yup, he still pulls it out to wear around the kitchen every now and then).

- Notes from Raw: Undertaker isn't wrestling right now due to a torn groin, but is still appearing on Raw. Mankind also clearly returned way too early from his knee surgeries and he has also gained a lot of weight and is looking real bad in the ring. New ring announcer Lillian Garcia has been making lots of mistakes and Dave doesn't have high hopes for her sticking around long (whoops). Big Show has never been worse in the ring.

- The Dudley Boyz debuted on Smackdown, beating up the other tag teams with 2x4s. Afterward, they cut a promo backstage, with Bubba Ray doing his old stuttering gimmick. D-Von also did his catchphrase from ECW, the old "Thou shalt not fuck with the Dudleyz" line, except it was changed to "mess with" for obvious reasons.

- Road Dogg is reportedly recording an album and will be off TV for a couple of months, which is why they're claiming he's injured. He's not really (I assume nothing ever came of this? Or maybe it was another cover for going to rehab? He went a few times during this era).

- WWF is close to signing Sylvester Terkay, who has wrestled in Japan. And they're also looking at bringing in former UFC fighter Oleg Taktarov. There's also talk of bringing back Curtis Hughes, who has reportedly lost a lot of weight.

- Developmental signee Vic Grimes has been working for about a year down in Memphis under WWF contract but isn't panning out too well. They're talking about sending him to ECW to get more experience (not good news for New Jack coming soon).

- The sit-down interview that Davey Boy Smith and his wife Diana filmed with Jim Ross was supposed to start airing in segments last week but it hasn't happened. WWF is hesitant about airing them due to a lot of the controversial things he said and because of the ongoing lawsuit with the Hart family. Smith also recently made a lot of harsh comments about Bret Hart in a Calgary Sun newspaper interview. Smith claimed that Bret had called up Diana (his sister) and told her that if he were to see her on the street that he would run her over. Smith said he was upset because he quit WWF and went to WCW out of loyalty to Bret following the Montreal Screwjob, but Bret didn't have his back when Bischoff fired him. Bret was very upset about Smith's comments but didn't respond to them publicly because of the WWF lawsuit, but he did write his own column in the paper saying that he would give his side of the story some day when he is able to.

- On Smackdown, Stevie Richards and Blue Meanie had filmed a segment called the "Blonde Bitch Project" which is obviously a spoof on the recently released Blair Witch Project movie. It was supposed to end with them mocking Sable, but Vince McMahon scrapped it likely for legal reasons given the lawsuit settlement where neither side can publicly disparage each other.

- Mick Foley's autobiography should be out in October and is called "Have A Nice Day." Unlike other WWF bios that are coming out next year that are ghostwritten, Mick Foley actually wrote his own book entirely himself. Speaking of Foley, now that he's back, WWF wants him to drop 50 pounds since he returned from injury much heavier than when he left.

- WWF has contacted Jim Neidhart about coming in to form a tag team with Davey Boy Smith. WCW is also interested in bringing in Neidhart. Dave can't seem to figure out why either company would even bother.

- The Rock is expected to be in Memphis this week campaigning on behalf of Jerry Lawler's mayoral run (I remember a lot about Lawler running for mayor but had no idea Rock was here trying to help him).

- WWF returned to Kansas City to the Kemper Arena for the first time since Owen Hart's death for a house show. A lot of the wrestlers said it was uncomfortable and eerie to be wrestling in that arena again.

- Al Snow pulled a pretty funny rib on Val Venis this week. On TV, after Big Boss Man kidnapped Snow's pet dog Pepper, Snow was seen hanging up "MISSING" posters for the dog. The phone number on the posters was actually Val Venis' real home phone number and it aired on TV, which surely led to him getting a lot of messages on his answering machine when he got home.

- The Moonlight Bunny Ranch, a legal brothel in Nevada, has named one of their rooms the Jesse Ventura Suite because Ventura used to frequent the Ranch when he was a Navy SEAL based out of the area. The room will be decorated with SEAL and Ventura memorabilia. They also said Ventura now has a lifetime free pass to the Ranch. For what it's worth, before it was renamed, the room was previously called the Monica Oral Office.
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