Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 1999

- "The Life & Death of Owen Hart," a documentary produced by the same people behind Wrestling With Shadows, debuted on TV in Canada this week and will air in the U.S. next week. It's a tear-jerker of a film, with a lot of home footage of Owen and his children that made it clear that this was just a normal family man who only happened to also be a wrestler. Owen and his family had planned a future, had just bought a new house days before he died, and were planting the seeds for him to retire and stay home with his wife and kids. In fact, Owen is shown as a man who really didn't even enjoy wrestling all that much, but had pretty much been dragged into it since he was athletically gifted and grew up in the Hart family surrounded by the business. Mick Foley was the only WWF wrestler to take part in the documentary. There was a company directive ordering all WWF stars not to cooperate with the filming of the movie, but Foley defied WWF officials and did it anyway out of his respect for Owen. Dave also notes that he himself was featured in the film and he criticizes himself for "falling victim to my own personal pet peeve of simplifying the changes in wrestling brought on as a result of a war between Vince McMahon and Ted Turner." Dave says wrestling fans may be disappointed by this movie because Owen's priority in life was his family, not wrestling, and the film focuses heavily on that aspect and at times glosses over the wrestling parts that would be of most interest to fans and big gaps of his career (his years in Europe and Japan) aren't even mentioned. There's also eerie footage from the catwalk at the Kemper Arena, forcing fans to envision the same things that Owen saw in the last seconds of his life. A lot of the footage was filmed during the same time period that the filmmakers were following Bret for Wrestling With Shadows. It talks a lot about how Owen refused to go along with some of the more risque stuff WWF was doing at the time. Martha Hart has some harsh words for Vince and in footage, Vince comes off looking pretty bad. All in all, Dave says this isn't really a wrestling film. It's a movie about a family man who's life was cut short too soon, and how it destroyed his family.

- 1980s Mexican wrestling legend Brazo Cibernetico passed away last week from acute pancreatitis after being hospitalized for several days beforehand. No word on what caused it as of press time. He was the son of Black Shadow, one of the biggest stars in Mexican wrestling history. Dave runs down his career with the usual obituary.

- Vader won the Triple Crown title in AJPW for the 2nd time and Dave talks about how Vader has basically been the most important wrestler in Japan this year. His arrival pretty much saved AJPW from total collapse after the death of Giant Baba and turned business around when it seemed to be plummeting.

- Nothing new in the ratings this week for WWF or WCW, but things aren't looking good for ECW. This week's show on TNN dropped 34% from the last 2 weeks, doing an 0.79. Despite those low ratings, ECW is usually the highest rated show on TNN on Friday nights, but not this week. This time, they got beat by the Professional Bull Riding Championships.

- Don't bother buckling your seat belts folks, this is a slooooow issue.

- Atsushi Onita is once again teasing retirement, claiming doctors have told him that his knees are shot and that he has to quit wrestling if he wants to still be walking in his later years.

- NJPW held a press conference announcing Bill Goldberg will be wrestling at the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show (nope, a car window decided to put a stop to that).

- Beyond The Mat had a 1-week run in theaters in Los Angeles this week, to qualify it for the Oscars. Several WCW wrestlers, who were in town filming their own movie (Ready To Rumble) went to see it and they all liked it. All of them except Charles Robinson agreed that it was better than Wrestling With Shadows and they all pretty much said Eric Bischoff was an idiot for not letting WCW be involved in it. Apparently, WCW wouldn't participate in the movie unless they had editing power over what was used, and director Barry Blaustein wasn't going for that shit. WWF participated fully, although they were trailing WCW at the time and were desperately agreeing to anything that might give them more publicity. As you might expect, the only person who seemingly doesn't like the movie is Vince McMahon, saying he was upset that it didn't have a happy ending and that it portrayed the business negatively. That's why WWF hasn't promoted it at all and is why Mick Foley, who is basically the star of the thing, hasn't really been allowed to talk about it while he makes the media rounds to promote his book.

- Dynamite Kid released an autobiography this week. Dave promises to have a review of it next week.

- Court TV is working on a documentary about the effect of wrestling on young children, especially focusing on incidents where kids have been killed by imitating wrestling moves.

- On Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis, Jim Cornette cut a promo on Power Pro announcer Brandon Baxter, comparing him to all the worst people in history "like Adolf Hitler and Vince Russo." Oh, Cornette...

- Sometimes, you just gotta copy and paste something directly: "Freddy Sabaugh, whose father Gary wrestles as The Italian Stallion, got a lot of local media attention on 10/27 after being bit by a donkey at the Carolina Renaissance Festival in Charlotte. He's okay, but needed some rabies shots."

- As expected, Sandman returned to ECW at the latest TNN taping. The response was said to be incredible, with the entire building singing along to his theme music. Video here, at about the 8 minute mark.

- Lance Storm appeared on the Observer Live internet radio show and talked about how he's working without a contract in ECW but said he's got a verbal agreement with Heyman and is honoring it. But he also said that if a major offer came his way from WWF or WCW, he'd be stupid to turn it down, but he doesn't expect it to happen. He also said that if he was in charge of ECW, he would enforce drug testing. He spoke adamantly against drugs. A few months ago, he wrote in a letter to the Observer, criticizing Dave for saying that painkiller use is basically inevitable for people who wrestle such a hard physical style. Storm called Dave out on it again on the show, saying, that people have told him for years that you have to take painkillers to survive and steroids to succeed. But Storm said he's been everywhere, from Canada, the U.S., Japan, and Germany (at one point wrestling 60 straight nights in Germany) and has never needed painkillers or steroids and doesn't buy the excuse that you need them to succeed in wrestling.

- Another day, another Tammy Sytch drama. She apparently passed out backstage at an ECW show and claimed she accidentally drank someone else's soda that was laced with GHB. Dave pretty much scoffs at this and nobody else in the locker room is buying it either.

- As part of some cross-promotion effort to boost RollerJam ratings, TNN got a few ECW wrestlers (Axl Rotten, Vito, Sal, and Little Guido) to film a segment for that show (I can't find the footage of this).

- Turner exec Harvey Schiller quit his position as President of Turner Sports last week to go take a job with George Steinbrenner to head up his new sports empire. Schiller was the one who made the decision to fire Eric Bischoff and is basically the person at Turner who oversaw WCW. Depending on who is hired to replace him, this could end up being a huge deal. WCW has always been at the mercy of Turner execs who would basically draw a line in what was and wasn't allowed, how much money could be spent, etc. Depending on Schiller's replacement's attitude towards wrestling, it could be a huge story, or it might end up being nothing.

- Current WCW head Bill Busch held a backstage meeting before Nitro and the topic was mostly over content issues and complaints from Turner's standards and practices department. There was apparently a ton of heat on Ric Flair for blading at the PPV, since he apparently did it without permission after the S&P people had been specifically told there would be no blading other than Sid which was approved ahead of time. Apparently, they even threatened to outright shut WCW down if their directives weren't followed in the future, but Dave says that's an empty threat. Also, no more swearing, no blood, no man-on-woman violence, etc. unless specifically authorized.

- Notes from Nitro: it was actually another pretty good show and, thanks to Russo's frantic booking, it felt fresh for the first time in ages while Raw actually felt sort of stale. But it was good in a car crash sort of way, and the problems with Russo's style of booking are quickly becoming apparent already because the show was all over the place. Kimberly quit the Nitro Girls in a segment that would have been the worst bit of acting for the entire night, "except that Stephanie McMahon was let loose" doing commentary on the other show. Ernest Miller is basically doing Godfather's pimp gimmick now, just toned down. The production quality on this show was a nightmare, particularly during a backstage skit with Kidman filming in Liz and Luger's locker room where the audio and video weren't synced up right and you could hear the director say "cut" and even see the director and the mic and saw Liz break character briefly (yeah this is bad. If you have the Network, it's at 37:30ish on the Nov. 1, 1999 Nitro). There was another production miscue later in the show where you saw the producer giving Sting and Luger a countdown before they started talking backstage. There were several other things, like big moves during matches that were missed by the camera and replays never shown, so you didn't even know how a match ended. The Harris Twins are now going by the name Creative Control. Kevin Nash did a Vince McMahon spoof promo with some bad face makeup, some of which was awful and some of it was hilarious.

- Morale in WCW is up among the midcard guys who are hopeful that they may finally start getting pushed now that Russo is booking things. Meanwhile, some of the older guys who have basically been holding everybody down aren't as excited about it.

- Brad Armstrong is expected to be given a gimmick similar to his brother Road Dogg uses in WWF (ends up being Buzzkill and yeah, it sucks).

- Pee Wee Herman, Courtney Cox, and Marilyn Manson all filmed scenes for the upcoming WCW movie, which is officially titled Ready To Rumble. Speaking of, Rey Mysterio tore his meniscus in his knee filming a scene. DDP has been written off TV with an injury because he has a major role in the movie and will be filming that for the next couple of weeks. Also, along with reportedly having a terrible script, the movie also treats wrestling as if it's totally real, which Dave says WCW doesn't even do on their own wrestling shows anymore. This movie is shaping up to be a disaster.

- On Nitro last week, in the segment where Hall and Nash "wrestled" some strippers, there was the one girl who's a porn star that goes by the name Minka with ENORMOUS fake tits. She was supposed to go out there in a bikini top like the other girls, but she looked so ridiculous that they made her wear normal street clothes instead (this was already linked in the last issue but since things are so slow today, here it is again).

- Dave trashes this week's episode of Thunder, especially the ongoing storyline with Buff Bagwell where they openly acknowledge that he's booked to do the job but in this case, he "went against the script" and pinned his opponent anyway and they made a bunch of vague references to Bagwell going against the powers that be and all that shit. They've basically destroyed the 4th wall, but that's Russo Stunt Booking 101: everything else you're seeing is fake but *this* is totally real you guys.

- WCW was said to be interested in signing Tammy Sytch, but after her recent ECW incident, they're not so sure anymore.

- There's rumors that WCW may be getting rid of Juventud Guerrera because he doesn't speak English and, well, Vince Russo has made it more than clear how he feels about Mexican wrestlers. Dave says if WCW is stupid enough to do that, ECW will snatch him up in a heartbeat and make him a superstar.

- On a WCW website interview, Vince Russo said he would never show his face on television and has no interest in becoming a character on the show. Dave doesn't buy it and figures its only a matter of time before Russo has turned himself into the star (yup).

- Mick Foley's "Have A Nice Day" shockingly debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list for non-fiction (it'll be up to #1 within a week or so).

- Terry Taylor showed up to WWF offices to do some voice-over work but was sent home. After Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara left, WWF has been trying to get all the top office people to sign contracts and non-compete clauses, and Taylor has refused. And until he signs, they're playing hardball and basically not using him. Taylor is pushing to be the new WWF head writer but Vince McMahon is wanting to keep that position himself and not give it up after being burned by Russo. Word is WCW is interested but haven't made an offer and there could be a wrench in that possibility because the last time Taylor worked at WCW, apparently there was a complaint made to the HR dept. regarding Taylor (Dave doesn't specify) and word is that may keep him from being rehired (nah, he ends up back in WCW soon).

- On Raw, they aired a vignette for Kurt Angle, and it appears he's going to be such an over the top old style babyface that he's almost certainly going to be booed, which seems to be the intent and he'll end up as a heel.

- WWF signed Jim Neidhart this week, though not for any real wrestling-related reason. Neidhart is 44 and long past his prime (and even then he wasn't good). But WWF is concerned about a bad outcome in the lawsuit with Martha Hart, specifically over how it might affect their stock prices, and they're hoping to paint a picture that most of the Hart family members and relatives don't blame WWF for it. Thus, Bulldog is signed, and now Neidhart is signed. Basically, they want as many token Hart members as they can get.

- Despite rumors of Randy Savage headed to WWF, it's not true. He's still under WCW contract and WWF won't risk contract tampering so there haven't even been talks. Even if he was available, many in WWF have no interest in bringing him back.

- Droz's health is slightly improving. He's still confined to a wheelchair and is only moving the top half of his body but doctors are happy with his attitude and progress so far. Still no lower body feeling or movement.

- Random WWF notes: they're hoping to get Ken Shamrock to sign a new deal and come back but nothing definite yet. Amy Dumas should be debuting soon. Kimona from ECW had a meeting but hasn't been offered a deal yet. Sick Boy from WCW is expected to get an offer. Bob Holly signed a new mult-year deal. WWF hopes to have their Times Square restaurant open by December.

- Walmart has pulled Al Snow toys after complaints that his action figure encourages violence against women due to him holding up a female mannequin head. The complaint came from one woman, who made enough of a stink that Walmart caved and pulled the figures. Dave thinks this is just about the stupidest shit ever.
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Can’t wait for Jan 31 2000 RAW issue.

I almost wish I had watched WCW at this point, even just the first hour, so I could see this bullshit. I started watching WWF in August of 99. I think occasionally I would watch the first hour of Nitro, I remember seeing DDP doing the People's Champion gimmick. But for the most part I just didn't care about WCW at all.
That Al Snow action figure thing was the stupidest shit.
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Stopped watching WCW after Rey vs Nash at that one PPV I can barely remember.

Would watch a match or two between RAW commercials but that was it.
I remember a friend of mine at the time buying shitloads of Al Snow figures at Kay Bee toys thinking they were gonna be worth a mint later, lol
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That’s minka! Numba one Asian big boob queen!! She used to play tennis, but she don’t play tennis no more
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(08-03-2018, 04:42 PM)Ceallach Wrote: I remember a friend of mine at the time buying shitloads of Al Snow figures at Kay Bee toys thinking they were gonna be worth a mint later, lol

Yep, same with the Blue Blazer doll that came out around this time. People were snatching them up too thinking they were gonna get rich off them later
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Exactly !
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I remember there was some debate on a lot of the sites on the Minka appearance. It was reported on that Monday that Minka would be in a segment with Hall and Nash but then on Tuesday it was reported there was some kind of mix up and she couldn't appear for some reason, or Turner execs wouldn't allow her to appear. I don't know, I'm real fuzzy on the details. But I do remember them saying that they got "this other woman" to appear in place of Minka instead and i was like "uh, dude I know a Minka when I see one. That's Minka!"

So yeah, there was some debate over whether or not it was really Minka that showed up on Nitro. I'm thinking all they had to do was ask one of us perverts and we could have cleared it right up for them.
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- ECW's November To Remember is in the books and....eh. ECW looks less and less likely to ever become a truly competitive promotion. They're a very distant #3 company. Their TV ratings on their best day are still lower than WCW's lowest ratings. Their best PPV buyrates are lower than WCW's worst. They can draw crowds and they've been the promotion that basically innovated the modern day American wrestling product, but WWF and WCW are reaping all the rewards of ECW's creation. And that seems to be where ECW is going to stay. The PPV looked like a low budget WCW show without the name value stars that WCW has, and asking people to pay for a PPV to watch guys like Simon Diamond, Danny Doring, and Da Baldies isn't exactly going to set the world on fire. ECW was always a promotion that presented itself as the company that set the trends of the business. But these days, they're just a distant 3rd place company trying to survive by catering to their small niche audience and not really capable of aspiring to much more. Which leads us to this PPV, kind of a middling, unimpressive show. Jerry Lynn/Tajiri/Super Crazy was good but the crowd wasn't into it because they spent some of the time chanting at a woman in the crowd to show her tits and booing her when she wouldn't. They did the same later when Tammy Sytch came out and Dave seems annoyed that all these wrestlers are risking their bodies for the fans and the crowd just loses total interest in the wrestling every time they see a female. New Jack jumped off the top of a 12-foot high basketball backboard through a table. Sabu vs. Candido was good but again, the crowd just sucked the life out of it. Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka was a great match and everything else afterwards didn't stand a chance of following. In-ring, it was a pretty decent show, but otherwise forgettable. In the main event, Justin Credible almost suffered a tragic injury on a botched backdrop from Raven and landed hard on his neck and luckily didn't break his neck, although he was shaken up during and after the match, but he's luckily okay.

- Another week, another book review. This time, it's the autobiography of Dynamite Kid. Many people, even a lot who hate him, still think he's the greatest wrestler to ever live. Dave doesn't quite go that far, but it's not a huge exaggeration either. He left England for Stampede Wrestling in 1978 and returned 13 years later a broken man, with no more money to his name than when he left. Steroids, pain killers, amazing matches, crippling injuries, overdoses, and more. Now he's confined to a wheelchair at 40 years old. Dynamite Kid is also a miserable, unlikable person and makes no bones about it in his book and he didn't like anyone else either. He really doesn't like Davey Boy Smith and had plenty to say about him. He writes about his famous back injury that should have ended his career and how he was literally almost carried to the ring by Smith a few weeks later so they could drop the tag titles. He trashed almost every promoter he ever worked for (except Giant Baba). The book is brutally honest and shows a dark and bitter underbelly of wrestling, but it's one of the best wrestling books ever written. Dave thinks it's crazy that for years, most wrestling books were terrible and publishers never wanted to take a chance on them, and now within a month, 2 of the best books on the business ever written have been released.

- The Wrestling Observer official web site is finally up and running at http://www.wrestlingobserver.com. There will be regular columns and PPV/TV results, breaking news, and a chat room. a/s/l?

- Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama vs Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa in an AJPW match for the tag titles gets the full 5 stars from Dave, who calls it easily the best tag team match of 1999 despite the production value looking really minor league. But the match was so good it overcame shitty lighting and bad production. It ended with Kobashi giving Misawa a Burning Hammer. Dave wonders how Misawa can even walk after 2 decades of taking all these crazy bumps on his neck (spoiler alert: it takes its toll and Misawa will pay dearly for it in 10 years).

- A magazine in Mexico published unmasked photos of El Hijo del Santo, who in turn filed a lawsuit against the magazine. The magazine claims they got the photos from one of Santo's brothers (I can't find this).

- NJPW announced that Bill Goldberg's opponent for the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show will be.....Rick Steiner. Dave is befuddled, wondering why they would even bring Goldberg in and not put him against a Japanese wrestler. Dave suspects this has to be a WCW decision and that they don't trust any of the NJPW guys not to injure their top guy so they'll only allow him to face another WCW guy. NJPW had hoped to have rookie Kenzo Suzuki make his debut against Goldberg, but that's out the window now. (soon, Goldberg's arm will be *in* the window. HEYYYOO!! Ah, we're having fun.....)

- On Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis, Doug Gilbert went a little off the rails during a promo. First, he trashed Brian Christopher, saying that the only reason he was successful was because his daddy owned the company. This is the first time Lawler being Brian Christopher's father has ever been acknowledged down there because they always tried to keep that secret. He then accused PPW owner Randy Hales of smoking crack. He ended the promo by saying, "Jerry Lawler raped a little 13-year-old girl!" at which point they took the mic away and immediately went to commercial. Dave says this is wrestling and you generally have to assume everything you see on TV is a work. But announcer Dave Brown seemed legit upset and Dave can't imagine that Lawler would allow the rape thing to be brought up on TV for an angle, especially an angle that he's not even involved in and, in fact, Lawler rarely even appears in Power Pro anymore. Lawler and Doug Gilbert have always had a strained relationship. Back when the rape case was going on, Gilbert worked for competing promotions in the area, wearing shirts with Lawler's mugshot on them. At one point, he left a message on Lawler's answering machine threatening to kill him, which got the police involved. But the 2 men have always patched things up and kept working together over the years. Word is Gilbert was told beforehand that he could say whatever he wanted about Christopher but wasn't supposed to mention Lawler and, well, he did. After it happened, Gilbert was reportedly fired immediately even though he was apologetic backstage. After the show ended, Lawler came to the studio, demanding a tape of the show, no doubt for potential legal action. They apologized on the air afterwards and Gilbert didn't appear for that night's scheduled PPW show (definitely not a work and Gilbert was indeed straight up fired after this. But, as always, he and Lawler worked out their differences again and still work together to this day. In fact, as I write this, Doug Gilbert's most recent match was 4 months ago......against Jerry Lawler).

- The big angle in WWC in Puerto Rico right now is a storyline building up to the in-ring debut of Carlos Colon's son Carly (that would be Carlito).

- Rena Mero (Sable) has a 5-page spread in an upcoming issue of GQ and is filming an episode of the TV show Relic Hunter and then filming a movie called Doppelganger 224. (She did 2 episodes of the show. Not sure about the movie. She did a couple of awful low-budget movies around this time, maybe the name changed).

- Turner has announced that the former job held by Harvey Schiller (who oversaw the Turner Sports division) has been divided up among other executives. Brad Siegel will be the one in charge of overseeing WCW now. Siegel is the president of the entertainment division of Turner, so WCW is now classified in the Turner hierarchy under Turner Entertainment rather than Turner Sports, though Dave doesn't know what effect that may have either way.

- WCW has hired Terry Taylor away from WWF. There was a previous HR complaint from the last time Taylor worked there but whatever the issue was has been taken care of and he's coming back. Taylor felt he wouldn't have any real power if he stayed in WWF. Plus, he still lives in Atlanta from back when he worked with WCW the first time, so that helped make the decision easier. Taylor will be booking WCW house shows. Taylor had steadfastly refused to sign the non-compete agreement that Vince McMahon had wanted all WWF employees to sign after Russo jumped ship and had recently been sent home after an argument with McMahon over the issue.

- Dusty Rhodes and Sonny Onoo are both gone from WCW. Apparently Rhodes tried to get Vince Russo's job as booker and that failed, so he quit the company instead. There was also a disagreement between Dusty and Russo over the direction of Dustin Rhodes' new gimmick (more on that in Nitro notes). As for Sonny Onoo, he was pretty much only in the company because he is good friends with Eric Bischoff and because he speaks Japanese, which helped with the NJPW partnership. But everybody in NJPW hated Onoo and Bischoff is gone, so they finally realized that they didn't want Onoo around anymore.

- The New York Post ran an article claiming that Nitro's audience has jumped nearly 25% since Russo and Ferrara took over. Dave says that's a misleading stat if he ever heard one. If you compare Russo's ratings to the last episode under Kevin Nash's booking, then yes, there's about a 25% increase. But that's only because that Nash show was a record-low for Nitro, far below the usual average. Comparing Russo's ratings to that one episode is misleading. If you look at the average ratings during the last 3 months of Nitro before Russo took over, his ratings are basically right in line with what they were already doing. Basically, it looks like Russo has stopped WCW's free fall, at least temporarily, but he's by no means increased ratings in any meaningful way. The NYPost article had a quote from Vince McMahon saying, "For (WCW) to think that (Russo and Ferrara) were the reason that we are successful is laughable. They were part of a much larger creative team." In another article, Russo talked about why he left WWF and how he felt he didn't get enough credit, saying, "To see every magazine and TV show and hear how Vince McMahon was the creative genius, that starts to wear on you. Meanwhile, I had my eye on the situation at WCW and I saw it as a phenomenal challenge." Jim Byrne, WWF Senior VP of marketing said in the story, "Vince Russo's departure will have absolutely no effect on this company at all. None." It also noted that Russo is still trying to shop around a scripted TV series he wrote based on wrestling called "Rope Opera." Speaking of Russo.......

- Notes from Nitro: this was by far the worst episode of the Russo-era so far, with WCW just trying to do too much in the span of one show. Basically they threw a million things at the wall and nothing stuck. Dave just goes down the list pointing out all the various plotholes and forgotten angles and nonsensical booking. Dustin Rhodes debuted doing a weird gimmick that looked like a cross between Goldust and Undertaker. He came in on a zip line and then cut a promo trashing the gimmick and complaining about his dad being fired (he actually quit). Another one of those "shoots" that Russo is so fond of. Dave doesn't give this nearly the thrashing it deserves.

- WCW is renegotiating the contracts of several wrestlers to get them on lower deals. Dave names Stevie Ray and Wrath in particular and basically says these guys don't have any leverage and WCW trying to force them into signing lower deals is exactly why wrestlers need to stop being naive and get together and unionize, so that promoters can't renege on contracts that they already signed.

- Former WWF diva Ryan Shamrock is said to be heading into WCW. Former ECW valet Kimona may also be coming in. She'd had meetings with Terry Taylor when he was in WWF but now that he's in WCW, he's pushing to bring her in there.

- Word is Jeff Jarrett held up WWF for somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000 in order to work his last WWF PPV and drop the IC title to Chyna (turned out it was more than that I think). Jarrett refused to do the show unless he was paid the money that he felt was due to him, including upcoming PPV payoffs and later merch and house show payments. Basically, it's all money that Jarrett would have eventually been entitled to, but he didn't trust WWF to make good on it if he left, so he demanded it all up front first. After some back and forth haggling with Jim Ross, they agreed on a number. Jarrett was given a cashier's check for the amount and after it cleared the bank, he went out and worked his match with Chyna, dropped the IC title, and left the WWF.

- Kurt Angle is scheduled to finally make his WWF debut at Survivor Series against Sean Stasiak. The idea is for Angle to act like a babyface, but to be so cheesy and boring that fans will instead end up hating him. Dave thinks it's going to be hard for Angle to act more boring than Stasiak really is.

- Notes from Smackdown: Arnold Schwarzeneggar appeared to promote his movie End of Days and got physical, punching Triple H. They also did an angle airing Big Show's father's funeral, but Big Bossman interrupted and tied a chain to the casket and drove away with it while Big Show hung onto it. Dave evidently didn't see this and is just recapping it like a standard wrestling angle, rather than what it actually is, the most hilarious, dumbest shit of all time.

- Copies of Mick Foley's book that have been ordered through Amazon have been slow to arrive because they're sold out and Amazon is waiting on a new shipment. In fact, most bookstores grossly under-ordered so it's sold out at a lot of those places as well. It's expected that Foley's book will hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list within the next week. The success has obviously increased the demand for more wrestling books. Rock and Austin have books scheduled in the next year or so (ghostwritten) and there's talk about a Vince McMahon book ("won't that be a piece of work" Dave quips. God, I would absolutely KILL for a Vince McMahon book, so long as it was written under the influence of a strong truth syrum).

- K-Mart and Toys R Us have followed Walmart's lead and pulled Al Snow's action figure from shelves after complaints that the included female mannequin head encourages violence against women. For what it's worth, the whole thing has given Al Snow lots of publicity and WWF hot-shotted the tag titles onto him and Mick Foley to capitalize so it's been good for Snow's career at least. Dave worries that this could spiral into a bigger issue. Obviously, this Al Snow story is totally overblown but he compares it to the downfall of UFC, when a bunch of unfair media publicity spiraled out of control and took them down for no good reason. If major chains can pull an Al Snow figure for such a stupid reason, what happens when characters like Godfather and Val Venis start catching major media flak? WWF is in no danger of losing their TV or PPV (they're too popular) but controversy like this isn't good for stock prices. Dave doesn't think this will become a big story, but you never know. Speaking of....

- Coca Cola has dropped its WWF sponsorship, which is a huge major name loss for WWF. Coke made a deal with WCW instead. WWF responded by playing it off as if it was no big thing, although it is, and they also pointed out that WCW's shows are now rated TV-14 also, but they only draw half the ratings of WWF. Which, I mean, yeah good point. Anyway, this is basically the beginning of the WWF vs. PTC war.

- The rumors of Vince McMahon starting an MMA promotion "are the same as the name of the song Vince comes out to on television." Ken Shamrock had talked to Vince about it, but that's pretty much as far as it ever went. WWF had negotiations with PRIDE in Japan about working together but Vince was adamant that the matches had to be works, not shoots. But despite rumors, that's pretty much WWF's only involvement in MMA.

- WWF officially fired Steve Williams for breach of contract. They had asked him to work the FMW tour in Japan and Williams refused because he vowed to never work for a company in competition with AJPW (where he spent much of his career). WWF has been wanting to get out of the deal for awhile because it's a big guaranteed contract and they aren't using him. So booking him for this tour, knowing he wouldn't go, was basically their excuse to get out of the deal and not have to pay the guaranteed money by claiming Williams breached the contract.

- The future of Debra is up in the air. Ever since she started dating Austin, she doesn't want to go on the road unless he is too and she doesn't really want to be a big star on TV anymore. Sounds like she just wants to settle into a post-wrestling life. She'll probably be back for major shows and on TV sometimes but not as a main focus anymore.

- A lot of WWF wrestlers and employees were given the chance to buy stock early at $17 a share. A lot of them immediately sold it for anywhere between $30-34 per share on the first day, which was a big one day profit for a lot of them. The stock price plummeted and has been hovering in the low $20s ever since, so it was a good deal for those who got to buy in early and sold quick.

- There were rumors on the internet that Viscera had died and the rumors got so big that WWF officials were trying to contact him to find out of the story was true and a lot of wrestlers believed it was true also. It was not true (it is now true.)

- Shawn Michaels will probably be back sooner or later because right now they're paying him $15,000 a week to do nothing, so they have to get some return on investment out of him. There has been talks of releasing him because they figure even if he goes to WCW, the problems he would inevitably cause there would benefit WWF in the long run (obviously it would mean Hart and Michaels under the same roof again, plus Michaels and Russo had plenty of friction with each other also). But McMahon decided to keep him because he doesn't want Michaels showing up on WCW TV, no matter what. It might not be a cakewalk for Michaels if he comes back to WWF either, since he's got heat with both Austin and Rock for things he's recently said about them.

- WWF used a clause in Ken Shamrock's contract to renew his deal for 2 more years, so he's locked in with WWF until Feb. of 2002. But Shamrock is out with a neck injury and doesn't seem to want to return to wrestling anyway, and is focusing on returning to MMA, so who knows how that will play out (Shamrock has never returned to WWF since).

- Wall Street Journal ran a story about how Smackdown has increased ratings on UPN by 40% which sounds good on the surface, but still isn't great news because UPN's ratings were so low before that a 40% increase still doesn't even get them in the same ballpark of other networks. Plus, the deal is heavily tilted in WWF's favor as far as advertising revenue and things like that, so even though Smackdown has been a pretty huge success, UPN isn't making nearly as much money off the deal as you would think. But WWF basically saved UPN from extinction, so at this point, they're just thankful to still exist.

- Various WWF Notes: Solofa Fatu is now going by the ring name Rikishi. Luna Vachon is now managing Gangrel, but in real life, they've been married for 2 years. The Rock is being named Sexiest Wrestler by People Magazine, so expect that to get promoted endlessly on WWF TV. Steve Blackman signed a new deal.

- Someone writes in talking about a couple of race horses that are named after wrestlers. One of them is named Chief J. Strongbow. And the other one is a 2-year-old horse named Ultimate Warrior who has ran in some big races in Kentucky. The person writing in says that this horse's running style is just like the real Ultimate Warrior: he runs hard for 30 seconds, then gets winded. But he says the horse can cut a more coherent promo.
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- The big story this week is that Steve Austin's career is in jeopardy due to a neck injury and the controversy about the way WWF handled it. Austin was advertised to wrestle in the main event of Survivor Series, even though WWF knew well in advance that he wouldn't be. But they tried hard to keep a lid on it for fear of hurting the buyrate and because of that, Dave doesn't know all the details just yet. What is known is that Austin underwent tests a couple of weeks ago on his neck which was originally injured by a botched piledriver from Owen Hart 2 years ago and was recently re-aggravated. The results of the tests were that doctors basically advised him to never wrestle again. WWF tried to keep it quiet but rumors started coming out just before the PPV that Austin wouldn't be working the show, though no one knew why. Needless to say, WWF had plenty of time to film angles to take Austin out of the match, and continuing to promote him for it is some pretty egregious false advertising. It's one thing to bait-and-switch fans on free Monday night TV shows. It's another to do it when hundreds of thousands of people are paying $30 each for the PPV. Sadly, this is becoming all too common, and WCW has done it far more often, especially on house shows because WCW always treated house shows as low priority. Though if you look at attendance now, WCW is starting to pay the price for all the towns they killed. This Austin situation is worse. He's the most popular star in the business and Survivor Series was pretty much a one-match show as far as fan interest goes. Most of the people who ordered that PPV were doing so specifically to see Steve Austin in the main event, period. So after the PPV started and Vince safely had everyone's money, they did an angle in the middle of the show with Austin getting hit by a car backstage to write him off TV for awhile. Then they replaced him in the match with Big Show, who went on to win the WWF title. As is usual for Vince, when it's a panic-situation, he goes with the big guy. But considering they're paying Big Show nearly a million per year on his downside guarantee (not even counting other income), they had to do something to justify it. The dumb Bossman/dead father angle wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire, so fuck it, make him the world champion I guess. As for Austin, no real news on the injury yet or how long he may be out. For what it's worth, the Nash Bridges people are still interested in doing a spin-off show with Austin so he could probably stay busy doing that.

- WCW Nitro featured a controversial segment with Ed Ferrara mocking Jim Ross and his Bells palsy. Depending on who you ask, it was either the most tasteless, or the funniest, thing in a long time. Dave actually thinks it was both. Putting aside the Bells palsy stuff, Ferrara was phenomenal in his portrayal of Ross with all the football jokes, his way of talking, the fawning over Dr. Death Steve Williams, and more. Dave says it was obviously mean-spirited, but this wrestling war has been mean-spirited for a long time, and Jim Ross is a major player behind the scenes in this war and he has said plenty of mean-spirited things about WCW so he's open for this sort of thing. Russo and Ferrara didn't get along with Ross when they were in WWF, so it's no surprise that they took a shot at him. Overall, Dave thinks most of the mocking was hilarious, but feels WCW crossed the line by making fun of his Bells palsy affliction and said it makes the company look pathetic when they sink to that level. But all of the other mannerisms and jokes they made at Ross's expense were hilarious and comes with the territory, Dave thinks (he doesn't even mention it here, but this whole Oklahoma debut took place during the infamous Piñata on a Pole match, so you're getting two strokes of Russo-genius for the price of one. More on that match in a bit...).

- Steve Williams' participation in the Jim Ross angle had some scratching their heads, but Williams was said to be itching to get back at Jim Ross, who he feels betrayed him when he was fired from WWF. Ross was the one who initially told Williams he was being fired, and when Williams came back with his lawyer and pointed out that the contract was guaranteed in the event of an injury (Williams was injured at the time) and that he couldn't be fired, Ross then ordered Williams to go make an appearance at an FMW show in Japan. But everyone knew that Williams wouldn't do that because of his loyalty to AJPW, and his refusal to do it gave WWF the legal justification to fire him for breach of contract even though he was still injured. And he blames Ross for it. Dave says it's really not fair because Russo was the one who decided he didn't have anything for Williams and McMahon was the one who made the decision to fire him, Ross was simply caught in the middle (and he's the one who got Williams the job to begin with and was basically the only supporter Williams had while he was there). With him gone, Russo made the decision to bring him into WCW, pretty much only for this angle and Dave says Williams is just a pawn in this war. Tony Schiavone worked with Ferrara and Williams on setting up this angle because it's said that Schiavone hates Jim Ross more than pretty much anybody, stemming back to TBS's decision 10 years ago to remove him from the lead announcer job on the Saturday Night show in favor of Ross, which Schiavone felt was because Ross forced him out and he's held a grudge ever since.

- An incident happened backstage at the latest UFC show which took place in Japan. Akira Maeda, president of RINGS, was backstage talking to reporters when a K-1 fighter named Yoji Anjo came up behind Maeda and attacked him. Police were called and charges were filed. Maeda hit his face on the wall when he fell and was bleeding badly. Naturally, since both Maeda and Anjo have past pro wrestling backgrounds and because this seems like a Japanese wrestling angle, a lot of people have questioned if it's real. But there's consequences for filing a fake police report, so Dave is skeptical that it's an angle because the police involvement was definitely real. Apparently Maeda and Anjo have had heat for years and there's a lot of history between them from their days back in UWF back in the 80s. Apparently there was an incident between them 3 years ago also, where Maeda slapped Anjo and this was the first time they'd seen each other since and Anjo attacked him. Dave says it's kinda poetic justice. Maeda's career pretty much took off after a similar incident back in 1987 when Maeda cowardly shoot kicked a defenseless Riki Choshu from behind, breaking his orbital bone. The incident caused NJPW to fire Maeda and he went on to create the new UWF promotion. But Dave says that for someone to run up behind Maeda and fuck him up is basically what he had coming to him. As for Anjo, he's mostly famous for an incident a few years ago where he showed up at Rickson Gracie's dojo unannounced and challenged him to a fight on the spot on behalf of UWFI. Gracie beat the shit out of him and embarrassed him and humiliated UWFI in the process, with many feeling it's one of the main reasons UWFI lost popularity and ultimately folded afterward.

- Oh yeah, Survivor Series. Anyway, the PPV is in the books and....eh. The Austin bait and switch left a lot of people unhappy with the show and most of the other matches were boring, the crowd was dead, and it mostly just sucked or was forgettable. Kurt Angle debuted and they played his debut perfectly. He came out doing his clean cut 1970s babyface schtick and within 30 seconds, the whole building was chanting boring and then spent the rest of the match booing the hell out of Angle, simply for doing good wrestling moves. Angle ended up turning heel on the crowd, telling them not to boo an Olympic gold medalist. Angle looked impressive and it was a good debut that worked perfectly to get him over as a heel. Dave says that "X-Pac is the best wrestler I've ever seen that almost always has bad matches on PPV." Big Show vs. Bossman and Prince Albert was real bad. Dave says "I guess it could have been worse, but that's like saying a mugging could have been a shooting" and gives it negative-1 star. Chyna vs. Jericho was bad because even Jericho couldn't carry Chyna to something watchable in a long singles match. Chyna was so bad that the crowd turned on her and began cheering Jericho, despite Jericho doing every heel trick in the book to try and get booed. During the Hollys/Too Cool vs. E&C/Hardys match, Dave talks about the commentary. Normally Jim Ross and Lawler's gimmick of not getting along is part of the act, but it seemed to be getting pretty real during this match, as they seemed legitimately annoyed with each other at times. And of course, Big Show won the title in the main event that Austin was not in because he got hit by a car.

- Several documentary shows regarding wrestling aired this week. In the first, A&E aired a documentary piece on Steve Austin that was mostly accurate, talking about his high school days, his start in wrestling, his time in WCW, etc, It talked about him getting fired by Eric Bischoff because he didn't think Austin was marketable, which Dave says "will no doubt go down in wrestling history as the single biggest bonehead personnel move ever made." It claimed that after being fired from WCW that Austin's career options were pretty negative and playing it up like his career might not recover, which is one part the documentary got wrong. In reality, everyone in the industry knew that Austin had superstar potential and he pretty much had his choice of where he wanted to go, and while he was in ECW, he had both WWF and AJPW fighting to sign him him. But overall, it was a good documentary.

- A TV station in St. Louis aired a 1-hour documentary on the history of St. Louis wrestling under Sam Muchnick in the 60s and 70s, featuring whatever surviving footage they could find from the time, interviews with people like Harley Race, Lou Thesz, Ted Dibiase, and more. Dave is bummed because there's so little footage because nobody back then had the foresight to realize that these tapes would be valuable to future generations, so they were all erased and taped over back then. Dave doesn't so much review the show and mostly just goes off on his own tangent about the history of St. Louis wrestling.

- The last one was a Mick Foley documentary released by WWF that is probably pretty good normally, but since Dave recently read Foley's book, the documentary was pretty lacking in comparison. But if nothing else, it's interesting because Undertaker appeared out of character, interviewed as Mark Calaway, and seemed uncomfortable doing it. But overall, it was mostly just a fluff piece that basically played it as "Mick Foley did a few things in Japan and was a struggling nobody until Vince McMahon made him a star" and left out a ton of other important stuff. Dave was unimpressed.

- Dave reports the death of Wolf Ruvikskis, a famous Mexican wrestler and actor, dead at 78. The media coverage for his death was huge. He was one of the most famous heels in wrestling during his day but was even more famous as an actor. We also have the death of Tony Rumble, a wrestler and promoter for NWA New England, which is evidently a pretty successful indie company. Long obits for both.

- Raw and Nitro was more of the same, with Raw winning the ratings battle by more than 3 full points. That being said, a lot of people felt Nitro was the better show this week, but no matter how hard Russo is trying, the numbers just aren't really moving. Meanwhile, Smackdown did an all-time high rating. ECW on TNN did about the same rating it usually does, but there was at least a positive sign because the number grew during the show, meaning people were hooked. So that's good.

- Bull Nakano once again failed to qualify for Japan's women's pro golf tour.

- Tully Blanchard's wife has charged him with assault. The couple are legally separated and going through a divorce and she accused him of grabbing her hand and trying to pull her wedding ring off, twisting and bruising her arm and hand. He was released on bond.

- On Power Pro Wrestling this week, there was no mention of Doug Gilbert or what he said last week. He wasn't on the show, nor were other people involved in the angle (Brian Christopher, Tommy Rich, etc.) and none of them were even referenced. It's believed Lawler is going to likely file a lawsuit against Gilbert for what he said. Instead, Jim Cornette came in with a few of his OVW wrestlers like Nick Dinsmore (Eugene!), Scott Sabre, BJ Payne, Trailer Park Trash, and Seven (Kevin Thorn! Mordecai!) and they based the show around them.

- Vic Grimes is now working in ECW, at the suggestion of WWF and he even moved to Philadelphia to be closer.

- Notes from Nitro: The Harris Brothers, going by the team name Creative Control, are now using the individual names Gerald and Patrick (you know, Brisco and Patterson). Russo was all over this show, although not shown onscreen, but cutting promos off camera. There was an utterly racist "piñata on a pole" match featuring several of the luchadors that Dave is pretty disgusted by. It was made even worse because the pinata kept falling off the pole. After the match, Steve Williams ran in to attack everybody and apparently didn't bother to fake things too much, since he ended up sending 3 of the luchadors to the hospital. Dandy with a possible broken collar bone, Juventud Guerrera with an AC joint injury, and Psicosis injuring his ankle. All from Williams throwing them around. Asya vs. Kimberly Page was just an excuse for Torrie Wilson to referee the match in a striped bikini (with Bobby Heenan saying she "looks like a zebra with speed bumps!"). Luger sent flowers to Sting, then gave Sting brownies with Ex-Lax in them because ha-ha I guess. Bret Hart vs. Kidman was given 4 minutes while Kevin Nash vs. Sid was given 8. And that's basically WCW in a nutshell right now.

- Speaking of Juventud Guerrera, the idea is to do an illegal immigrant angle with him, but depending on how bad his injury is, that could get scrapped. Apparently the idea was suggested by a fan on WCW's internet show and Russo liked it and has decided to run with it.

- Bret Hart appeared on the Howard Stern show to plug Wrestling With Shadows. Stern hadn't seen the movie and didn't know the story, so they mostly talked about their respective divorces. Bret said he and his ex-wife are on good terms and trying to reconcile. They talked about WWF continuing the show after Owen died, which both Stern and Robin Quivers acted outraged by. They joked about Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels having a gay love affair and Bret didn't shoot it down but admitted he had no proof. 2 days later, Bret was on the Observer Live show with Dave and said he wished he hadn't said it but still said it was something that has been rumored.

- Apparently an incident took place between Randy Savage and Road Warrior Hawk backstage at a Kid Rock concert in Tampa. The incident also involved Savage's girlfriend Gorgeous George and Hawk's wife. There's various stories going around but it appears Savage sucker-punched Hawk (the 2 have heat going back years). During the fight that ensued, Gorgeous George got into it with Hawk's wife and began pulling out clumps of her hair. Hawk claims he saw Savage approaching and stuck out his hand to shake and Savage sucker-punched him instead to start the brawl. Hawk said if it was just them, he wouldn't be upset but since his wife got assaulted in the fight also, he's talking about filing a lawsuit. There was an incident backstage at a NJPW show back in 1996 where Hawk punched Savage unconscious right before his match. So this is an old feud and the two have had heat for years. Here's more details on this story.


- Various WCW notes: Rey Mysterio is getting surgery for a torn meniscus and torn ACL and will probably be out for 7 or 8 months. Shane Douglas is still out with a torn bicep but hopes to be back in a few months. Dave says Douglas has a history of trying to rush back too soon after serious injuries, often causing more damage, which is why he's so broken down these days. WCW was interested in signing Bob Holly but he just re-signed with WWF. Barry Windham, Kendall Windham, and Hector Garza were released. Stevie Ray is having his contract renegotiated because somebody in accounting apparently realized they were paying Stevie fucking Ray $750,000 a year. Several Power Plant guys were released also, and Dave names them, but only 2 of them are notable: Jamie Noble and Shark Boy.

- The reason they scrapped the Seven gimmick for Dustin Rhodes is because the Turner standards and practices people felt it too closely resembled a pedophile character from the movie Powder (that's not quite accurate. The movie Powder has nothing to do with that topic. But it was written and directed by a guy who was convicted of child molestation and when the movie came out, there was a big controversy about it).

- The Weekly Pro Wrestling magazine from Japan has a picture of Torrie Wilson with her nipple exposed. So...there ya go I guess. Or just wait a couple of years for Playboy.

- Random WWF notes: Test broke his nose during an early segment on Smackdown but still worked the main event later. Shane McMahon's wife Marissa is the new backstage woman doing interviews. WWF The Music Vol. 4 debuted at #4 on the charts, which is insane for an album with no radio airplay. Rage Against The Machine and Mariah Carey were #1 and #2 respectively, just to give you an idea of what the charts are like. (Dave doesn't say what #3 was but I'm an OCD nerd and had to look it up: Lil Wayne - Tha Block is Hot. Weezy been around for a minute.) Steve Austin appeared on Regis & Kathy Lee and acknowledged that Debra is his girlfriend.

- WWF execs are meeting with the PRIDE execs in Japan again this week to negotiate a deal for WWF to run a show at the Tokyo Dome next year. In return, PRIDE wants them to send Kurt Angle or some other WWF stars to a PRIDE show to make an appearance and help promote it.

- Darren Drozdov had spinal surgery last week, with plates and screws to re-align the vertebrae and stabilize the neck fracture so as to not cause anymore spinal cord damage. While there is hope for his recovery, those who understand the injury say it will be a miracle if he ever returns to his prior level of function and in reality, he'll probably never be able to walk again, let alone wrestle. He still has no lower body movement and his upper body movement is extremely limited also.

- Mankind is expected to take time off because his knees are in bad shape. Most people realize that he probably only has 1 or 2 years left, which is something even he's acknowledged and has admitted that he hasn't been what he once was for a long time and he doesn't want to be one of those guys who sticks around too long past his prime.

- WWF signed a few wrestlers to developmental deals. One of them is a valet named Bobcat who has worked the indies (she is mostly famous for being Godfather's ho that briefly won the Hardcore title) and the other is an indie guy named K-Krush (better known as R-Truth).

- More negative publicity over the Al Snow action figure. Target has now joined the other stores in pulling it off shelves and there's media stories about it that are turning into a bigger overall story claiming WWF promotes violence against women. Crazy how one little minor dumb thing can snowball into something much bigger.
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- Steve Austin's in-ring career is still in doubt following bad news on test results on his neck. In the last few weeks, he was getting numbness and tingling in his arms, fingers, and shoulders. Following tests earlier this month, WWF altered plans and wrote Austin out of the picture. The original plans called for Austin, as a heel champ (he would turn after winning the title at Rumble from Triple H), to face and lose the title to babyface Rock at Wrestlemania, but all those plans are out the window now and they made Big Show the champ instead. The MRI results showed that Austin has several discs in his neck that are messed up dating back to the Owen Hart piledriver 2 years ago as well as spinal stenosis which is a separate issue that has probably just been gradually worsening throughout his career by taking bumps every night. Austin also had a myelogram procedure done, where they shoot dye into the spine to get a better look at the damage. No word on exactly what that revealed yet but word is that it wasn't good. Austin has been meeting with the top neck specialists in the country on the issue.

- This hasn't been breaking news to Austin. Ever since the Owen injury, he always knew he was on borrowed time as a wrestler. Dave actually says that Austin and Bill Goldberg met each other awhile back and had talked about doing a big match together in a few years and Austin told him that he didn't know if he'd still be around that long. After returning from the Owen injury, Austin adjusted his in-ring style to a safer style that was easier on his neck (no bumps anywhere near it) and cut back his schedule so he usually doesn't work house shows in smaller markets anymore. The idea has been to gradually position Rock as the company's new top babyface and ease Austin out of the top spot. There's a lot of interest in him as an actor, especially since he did monster ratings for Nash Bridges last year. Despite not being able to wrestle, WWF has talked about bringing him back to TV sooner rather than later in a non-wrestling role, because he's got the biggest guaranteed contract of any wrestler in WWF history and they don't want to keep paying him all that money and not get some use out of him.

- Dave recaps a recent MMA fight with Kazushi Sakuraba who defeated Royler Gracie, becoming the first man to score a decisive victory over a Gracie in a Vale Tudo match. Sakuraba started out as a pro wrestler in UWFI and grew up idolizing the original Tiger Mask. (Sakuraba would later become known as the "Gracie Hunter" because he ends up having wins over 4 different members of the Gracie family. He also later went to NJPW alongside Shibata and spent a few years there as a midcard guy.)

- WCW's Mayhem PPV is in the books and was a weird show. It was in Toronto and the crowd basically went full-Canada. Cheering who they hate, booing who they love...ya know, just having fun Maggle! Multiple times during the show, WCW turned down the crowd audio when they were booing the "wrong" person. Sting was booed out of the building against Bret, which was expected. Others, like Goldberg and Booker T being booed caught WCW by surprise. Just to show you how far WCW has fallen in less than a year, this show drew about 14,000 people which is a solid number, but was still 2,000 short of a sell-out. For comparison's sake, the last time WCW came to Toronto back at the beginning of 1999, for a Nitro, the show sold out in 15 minutes. This time, for a PPV with weeks of promotion, the show failed to sell out even though most people knew Bret Hart would be winning the WCW title and even that wasn't enough to pack the building. So not good signs. Although to be fair, they also got kinda fucked over by WWF, who booked the nearby Skydome the night before for a house show in one of those "coincidences" that has happened countless times over the years.

- Other notes from WCW Mayhem: the show featured the semifinals and finals of the WCW title tournament. Evan Karagis vs. Disco Inferno was bad because Karagis, in his first major PPV singles match, was nervous as hell and blew a million spots. Negative star for that one. Curt Hennig lost a "retirement" match to Buff Bagwell, and the crowd spent part of the match chanting boring, although Hennig did get a big ovation after he lost. Dave expects him back in a few weeks. Sting wore a t-shirt during his match to hide his physique because he's looking kinda flabby these days. Vampiro vs. Berlyn was a clusterfuck that turned into an excuse for Steve Williams and Ed Ferrara to mock Jim Ross some more, yet again making fun of the Bells Palsy stuff which Dave is pretty disgusted by. Ferrara is now going by the name Oklahoma. Another negative star for this one. Yet another negative star for Meng vs. Lex Luger. David Flair vs. Kimberly gets negative two stars and was less of a match and more of a blowjob tease. But once Kimberly started beating him up, the crowd just booed the shit out of it. And Bret Hart beat Chris Benoit in the main event to win the WCW title in a good match but not as good as their Nitro match in Kansas City a few months back.

- FMW in Japan ran their biggest show of the year which featured Terry and Dory Funk teaming up in Japan for the first time since 1987 and also featured appearances by WWF's Shawn Michaels and several ECW stars. There were reports that FMW overspent for the show and that if it wasn't successful, it could be devastating for the company. Word is they spent around $500,000 putting the show together (including $50,000 for Michaels alone, and all he did was referee the main event) and it's unknown whether they broke even or not. FMW heavily promoted Michaels' appearance but when he came out, his reaction was decent, but really no better than Raven or Tommy Dreamer got. Meanwhile, the Funk brothers got by far the biggest pop of the show. Along with Raven and Dreamer, ECW wrestlers Balls Mahoney, Francine, and Jazz also worked the show and all did jobs. And in the main event, Hayabusa (wrestling simply as H) defeated a fake Hayabusa. It was a no DQ match and of course, Michaels got involved, getting bumped at one point and hitting fake Hayabusa with a superkick.

- While he was in Japan, Michaels set up a deal with FMW to work with his San Antonio-based TWA promotion. FMW will send rookies to TWA for training, while Michaels will send his best students to work tours in Japan for experience. On the next FMW tour, two of Michaels' 18-year-old students will work the shows. One of them is a former high school football player who wrestles as Lance Cade, while the other is a high-flying junior heavyweight wrestler that goes by the name American Dragon (we all know him by another name these days).

- Nitro closed the ratings gap significantly this week. I mean, Raw still wiped the floor with them, but it was the closest that ratings have been in awhile, with Raw doing a 5.51 rating (the lowest in months) and Nitro doing a 3.41 rating. Fans tuned out of Raw in droves during the main event (Triple H vs. the Acolytes in a segment that also saw Vince McMahon return) and switched over to Nitro to watch Goldberg and Vicious vs. Hall and Nash (that's basically the last good ratings news WCW is ever going to have). Meanwhile, Thunder did its second lowest rating ever against Smackdown.

- Gordon Solie is recovering well after recently having surgery to remove his vocal chords. Dave says that after Solie's wife died from cancer, Solie didn't care anymore if he lived or died and had pretty much given up on life. When he first found out he had cancer, he didn't even want to get it treated but was eventually talked into it. The only thing to get rid of the cancer was this surgery, but it would take away his voice forever. Solie was in such feeble condition that he figured he would die during the surgery but he went through with it anyway and survived and is now said to be doing well (goddamn, this is sad. Anyway, he only lives another 8 months or so after this).

- Lawler has threatened to sue Doug Gilbert and Power Pro Wrestling over Gilbert's comments a few weeks ago on live TV when he made the comment about Lawler raping a little girl. Dave doesn't know if a lawsuit will actually happen though because it would cost Lawler a lot of money in legal fees and even if he wins, there's probably not much money to be made. Power Pro, just like all the Memphis promotions that came before it, operates on a shoestring budget and guys like Doug Gilbert probably aren't exactly making a great living off of it. So Lawler could sue them, but it might not be worth the trouble.

- An indie wrestler who wrestles under the name Lupus in New Jersey suffered serious injury in a ladder match when his foot slipped as he was jumping off the ladder. He came up short of the guys he was trying to land on and cracked his head on the concrete floor outside the ring. He had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital but he's expected to recover and be fine. I wonder if he went to see Dr. House....

- The situation for RollerJam on TNN is looking dire. They were planning to run a PPV and a live show tour, but the tour was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Dave doesn't understand what the fuck these people are even doing. RollerJam booked the same size arenas that WWF and WCW book (the big 15,000+ seat buildings). But the problem is, even WCW can't fill most of those buildings anymore. And RollerJam's TV ratings are lower than ECW's ratings. And ECW would never dare try to run a major arena like WWF and WCW because it would be financial suicide. So why RollerJam thought they had a chance is beyond Dave.

- Dynamite Kid did an interview recently to promote his book and had lots of interesting things to say. Said the toughest man he ever met was Meng. Said his best friends in the business were Danny Spivey, Moondog Spot, Harley Race, Ultimate Warrior, and Bret Hart. Said he feels like he's watching himself when he watches Chris Benoit. Said he'll never be able to walk again. Felt his best matches ever were his 1-hour draws with Bret Hart in Stampede. Said his favorite company to work for was AJPW. Said if he could have 1 last match against anyone, it would be a shoot match against Davey Boy Smith. Thought the Big Show dad/cancer angle was disgusting. Says if he was Bret Hart in 1997, he would have never let himself be put in a submission during that match and in fact, he probably wouldn't even have shown up to the show and would have kept the belt. And said he won't attend or appear at any wrestling events because he doesn't want to embarrass himself in front of a crowd since he's in a wheelchair.

- ECW's video game deal with Acclaim was officially announced this week. The deal was done months ago but couldn't be announced until Acclaim's contract with WWF expired, which it finally did. As part of the deal, Acclaim has taken approximately a 15% stock interest in ECW. The money from the deal will allow ECW to pay off much of its existing debt and puts the company back on more stable financial footing. They were hoping to have the first ECW video game out before Christmas but it's not going to make it and instead will be out in February. It's expected to be the first wrestling game with an M rating and will have barbed wire matches and other hardcore-type things.

- ECW filmed a major angle with popular band Limp Bizkit in Peoria, IL. Turns out the band was having a concert at the arena across town the same night as the ECW show so they worked out a deal with the band to appear and do an angle. It led to Steve Corino talking about how much he loved the Backstreet Boys, only for Fred Durst to come out and it led to an angle with him and Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney beating on Corino. (I always had a thing for Serena Altschul. Man, this video takes me back).

- Apparently Arnold Schwarzeneggar's people reached out to ECW about doing something with them to promote his new movie, because he had such a good time doing Smackdown. But the 2 sides couldn't work out a deal so it didn't happen.

- The new woman who came out with Danny Doring on last week's TNN show is the ex-wife of Big Dick Dudley and works as a stripper under the name Elektra (same name she would continue to use in ECW).

- Dave breaks down the planned card for Starrcade in a few weeks which will be headlined by Bret Hart vs. Goldberg for the WCW title (somebody get Bret a helmet for that one). Tickets have been on sale for a bit and they're moving pretty slow, which isn't a good sign for WCW's biggest show of the year.

- Notes from Nitro: Scott Hall was either wasted or doing a great job of acting like he was (just out of curiosity, I went on the Network to watch this and see. And yeah, Hall seems a little gone here. Sorta slurring a little and just generally looking drunk. But in funnier news, he's also wearing a t-shirt for a Michigan strip club called The Landing Strip). A couple of dudes debuted, one of whom was Vito from ECW and the other is a guy named John Hugger, who's been training at the Power Plant (later known as Rellik which, if you haven't heard, is 'Killer' backwards). A commercial for ECW's November to Remember PPV aired nationally during the show. Endless stupid and terrible matches. Malenko vs. Benoit had a flag match and Dave says you have to be a special kind of genius to put these 2 in a bad match together, but Russo managed to do it. Malenko threatened to burn the Canadian flag, leading Bret Hart to do a half-hearted run in, looking like he didn't want to be anywhere near this angle. Russo (still not shown on camera, but talking off screen) was all over this episode and has basically made himself the unseen Vince McMahon-like star of the show.

- The New York Times did a story on Russo and Ferrara and WCW in general. It mentioned that Fox executives are still wanting to get into the wrestling business, which leads Dave to mention that Rupert Murdoch actually tried to buy WWF last year but Vince shot him down. The article claimed Fox still wants to start their own promotion and build it around Hulk Hogan. Dave can't even begin to list all the reasons why that's a bad idea in 1999. The article featured quotes from Russo, including one where he says that when he was in WWF, the ratings got so high and they got so comfortable that they pretty much just started writing shows to entertain themselves. It also mentioned that Bret Hart doesn't hold any ill will towards Russo and Ferrara even though they were the ones who scripted the stunt that killed Owen.

- The storyline plans with Hogan are to basically do an age discrimination lawsuit angle, with the idea that Russo doesn't want Hogan because he's too old. Basically, after the real lawsuit between Flair and Bischoff last year got Flair over huge as a babyface, they figure they'll fake it this time. The plan is for Hogan's lawsuit to be settled with him returning as a preliminary wrestler and the storyline being that he has to work his way back up to the main event (Inoki did a famous storyline like this in the 80s). So Hogan would start by working opening matches against the usual first hour Nitro nobodies and as he gradually works his way up the card, the evil heel boss Vince Russo will start trying to throw obstacles in his way, with the hopes of turning Hogan/Russo into WCW's version of Austin/McMahon.

- Speaking of storylines, the plan for Bret Hart after Starrcade is to basically redo his 1997 WWF angle, with him becoming more and more pro-Canadian until the U.S. fans turn on him and then basically redo the Canada vs. U.S. angle. Dave says great, now if they can just get Steve Austin, maybe they can turn this sinking ship around. You'll notice that all these big planned angles are just carbon copies of what WWF already did.

- Various other WCW notes: WCW's only house show last week was in Cleveland and drew around 3,000 people which is basically the same numbers ECW does in that market. Prince Iaukea may be having his name chaned to "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Iaukea" and start doing a Prince gimmick. Elizabeth's name may be changed to "The Hot Package." Fitness model Trish Stratus was backstage at Nitro and has been looking to get into wrestling.

- WWF has banned World of Wrestling (WOW) magazine photographers from being at ringside and shooting photos. Because WOW is printed on high-stock quality full color paper, WWF sees it as competition to their own magazine, so no more WOW at ringside. All the shitty, black and white, cheap Apter mag photographers are still welcome.

- There's been talk of doing a retirement angle with Mick Foley, but as of now it's been nixed. They do plan to lighten up his schedule significantly. Foley has said he doesn't want to have a retirement match and then be one of those guys who comes back. So basically, Foley is expected to ease into more of a part-time role from now on.

- Undertaker is expected to be back by the Rumble, as his groin injury is still healing. He's also scheduled to work some shows in December in Puerto Rico for Victor Quinones' IWA promotion (Taker works one show in Puerto Rico but he basically just stands on the apron because he's not recovered yet. He doesn't actually return to WWE until May, when he comes back as Biker Taker). Also, while they've both been out, Paul Bearer has lost nearly 50 pounds.

- As mentioned awhile back, Coca-Cola dropped its sponsorship of WWF due to the adult content, which is a huge blow, but they're still sponsoring WCW. It's the first and best example of what Bischoff predicted would happen, that advertisers would start pulling out of WWF over concerns with the content. A second major sponsor, the U.S. Army, followed suit this week and pulled all their ads from Smackdown after getting pressure from a group called the Parents Television Council (the PTC....man, we're gonna be hearing a LOT about these fuckers in the coming year or two). The WWF is worried about a domino effect starting and the PTC is putting pressure on a lot of company sponsors. WWF has asked fans to start writing letters to those sponsors, telling them how much they like the WWF. Jim Ross read a prepared statement about it on Raw and it's obvious WWF is concerned.

- In typical WWF fashion, they've started lashing out at the PTC, calling out the head of the organization by name. It's something WWF always does when they don't want to actually debate the merits of an argument against them: just launch bitter attacks at the "enemy" instead. The PTC is a group that is actually endorsed by some celebrities, like Steve Allen, Orson Bean, Senator Joe Lieberman, Pat Boone, and Dean Jones. In the past, WWF has argued that their show isn't in bad taste and doesn't portray rape or murder. The PTC put out a press release, pointing out the instance a few weeks ago on Raw when it looked like a woman (implied to be Stephanie) was about to be gang raped in the locker room by DX (yup, that happened. One of the early Nov. episodes). And the Austin hit by a car angle, which they referred to as "attempted vehicular manslaughter" and said that's awfully close to an attempted murder storyline. They also railed against the Big Show father/cancer angle, the bad language, the middle fingers, etc. The PTC got a lot of publicity previously by trying to take down Howard Stern, but they didn't really have any success there. Anyway, after getting the U.S. Army to pull sponsorship, this week the PTC is pushing both the U.S. Coast Guard and Burger King to pull their sponsorships next. In somewhat related news, WWF has also continued shit-talking and burying Walmart on TV after Walmart (and several other stores) pulled the Al Snow action figure.

- Speaking of the Big Show angle, the way it played out wasn't the original plan, which was to build Big Show back up as a top star. The angle was conceived by Terry Taylor. The idea was for Show's father to die and be cremated, and then Undertaker would steal the urn and flush the ashes down the toilet, building to a main event level storyline between Big Show and Undertaker. But with Taker still out injured and Terry Taylor leaving for WCW, plans got changed around and it ended with Big Show being comically dragged through a cemetery riding a coffin by Big Bossman.

- And speaking of the PTC, WWF is planning an angle about them, which is why you've been seeing some guy in the crowd lately holding signs proclaiming WWF is immoral and whatnot. The idea is to do a religious zealot angle where a group of wrestlers are trying to clean up the company (we're still quite a ways from the RTC being born but the idea was there at this point already).

- There's talk of putting Amy Dumas together with Papi Chulo when she makes her WWF debut. It's still going to be awhile because she's recovering from breast enhancement surgery (yup, she comes in as Lita and his name gets changed to Essa Rios and they're paired together for a minute when she debuts).

- Randy Savage's girlfriend Gorgeous George is reportedly telling everyone that she's headed to WWF. George, real name Stephanie Bellars, is still under WCW contract until June. Savage's WCW contract expires in January and it's widely expected that he'll be returning to WWF but there's been no real negotiations as far as Dave knows. WWF also has a lot of interest in Ric Flair still. Dave thinks Flair would be a good idea simply because he can still cut amazing promos and when used sparingly, can still have good matches. Savage sucks at both nowadays so he's not sure if signing him would be a good idea, but given the wrestling war, nobody with the fame and name value that Savage has will go un-signed for long. And even if they do bring him in, it probably won't be for a big money deal because then, to get their money's worth, they'd have to actually push him as a top star and nobody wants that.
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- The WWF began hemorrhaging advertisers this week, as the Parent Television Council (PTC) continues their crusade against the company. On top of Coca-Cola dropping them last week, this week they got dropped by the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, M&M Mars, and AT&T. Earlier this year, Wrigley quietly dropped WWF also and there's said to be many other sponsors who are on the fence. A lot of people thought Eric Bischoff was out of touch for refusing to copy WWF's style and for predicting that WWF's content would eventually alienate advertisers, but now the dominoes are starting to fall and he doesn't look so crazy now. With all this bad publicity hitting and with rumors of a negative Wall Street Journal story forthcoming, the WWF publicly and loudly announced that they would be toning down the product. The decision was made due to how the negative publicity and potential loss of more sponsors could seriously hurt the stock price. "You'll see less aggression, less colorful language, less sexuality. Some of the more controversial characters may not appear on a regular basis on Smackdown," McMahon told the WSJ. But this week on Raw was the same as usual, and for a company that talks about how they don't do rape or murder, Dave says the Triple H/Stephanie marriage, where Triple H talked about how many times he "consummated the marriage" with a drugged and unconscious Stephanie McMahon is basically the textbook definition of a rape storyline (at least until you find out she was in on it).

- In the same Wall Street Journal article, Linda McMahon noted that Raw probably won't be toned down as much because it's a cable show and these PTC people seem to only be targeting Smackdown since it's a network show. The PTC doesn't even seem to realize Raw exists, as all their complaints seem to be about Smackdown only. In the future, Smackdown will be labeled TV-PG although there's no independent group that monitors this stuff, so the rating doesn't really mean anything. UPN was so concerned over this that they (without consulting WWF), rated last week's Smackdown TV-MA. WWF is in a position of trying to tone down their product to please advertisers, but not tone it down too much because they don't want to alienate fans. The loss of Coca-Cola amounts to several millions of dollars per year, and they have increased their spending with WCW instead. WWF was particularly upset by that because WCW in the last few of weeks (since Russo jumped ship) has been openly copying WWF's more adult-themes. Anyway, Coca-Cola has said they would reconsider advertising with WWF if they changed the product. RC Cola signed a deal with WWF in their place, which sounds like WWF couldn't strike a deal with Pepsi either. From here, Dave lists all the official statements from the various companies. "After review, we have determined that yada yada doesn't meet the moral guidelines our company supports, etc. etc." and whatnot. On Smackdown, WWF urged fans to write to various sponsors and listed their addresses and phone numbers online. Burger King is sticking with WWF so far. In the midst of all this, Vince McMahon wrote a letter to all the WWF advertisers that read:

Quote:"The Parents Television Council is not about parents and is not a council. It is a fictitious name utilized and controlled by a right wing zealot named L. Brent Bozell III, to masquerade his personal extreme views under the ruse that the "council" is a representative group of parents monitoring television on behalf of children. Bozell is the son of the speech writer for former Senator Joseph McCarthy, and evidently has appointed himself some finely-tuned calibrator of what is fit for all to see.

Using McCarthy smear tactics, Bozell has attacked programs like the cartoon show Captain Planet and the Planeteers because it "seeks to indoctrinate children and scare them into leftist political activism," has stated that the media panders to gays, that Bryant Gumbel is an "insufferable leftist," and that Nelson Mandella is "the leader of a terrorist movement." Bozell has been on a holy jihad for over a year attempting to get Howard Stern off the air, all the while writing a column for a newspaper owned by the Moonies. Bozell's actions have caused at least one advisory board member to resign, calling him "overzealous" and "out of line."

We at the World Wrestling Federation find Coca-Cola's decision to be discriminatory, hypocritical and an affront to free speech. This is based on Coke's continued advertising support as reported by Neilsen Adviews of the TV-14 rated World Championship Wrestling, The Man Show, MTV's Real World, Ally McBeal, Baywatch, Silk Stalkings, Dawson's Creek, Saturday Night Live, etc.

The World Wrestling Federation believes that turning off a devoted and consistent television viewing base of tens of millions across the nation who watch the WWF week after week is a huge marketing mistake, especially when according to MRI (Mediamark Research, Inc.), those fans index significantly above average for the consumption of carbonated beverages. This decision runs counter to Coke's stated marketing goal of increasing sales volume and could be the worst marketing decision since the fiasco introduction of New Coke."

- Steve Austin got some good news on his neck this week. He's expected to undergo a neck/spinal surgery soon that may save his career. The surgery is to remove a bone spur on his C-4 vertebrae, similar to a surgery baseball player Cal Ripkin Jr. recently had (same surgeon also) and it's believed Austin should be able to return to wrestling if all goes well. Once the bone spur is removed, he will be reexamined to see how much permanent damage has already been done, which will determine when/if he can return. The original long-term plan was for Austin, as champion, to turn heel and then drop the title to Rock at Wrestlemania. But that's out the window now. Even if Austin does make it back before WM, it would be too short a time to make him champion and turn him heel. Plus, he'll be a sympathetic babyface when he returns so a heel turn would probably not work out well anyway.

- On the flip side, Mick Foley is planning to wind down his career, due to all his injuries over the years. There's been a lot of talk this week about doing a retirement announcement. Foley appeared on TSN's Off The Record and said he didn't want to use the word retirement because he wasn't discounting the possibility that he may return for one or two big matches in the future, but that overall, he's pretty much done and will be stepping away soon. He said he's happy to be getting out now because he doesn't want to end up a vegetable. Foley had decided quite a long time ago that he probably wouldn't last much longer than the end of this year. His in-ring ability has declined significantly in the last year, which he's been open about admitting, especially after having double knee-surgery in August. The idea is to do an angle in the next month or two to basically send him off into retirement and at some point, he'll return as the on-screen commissioner, the same way Shawn Michaels was awhile back.

- Legendary Japanese wrestler Hiro Matsuda passed away last week from cancer and Dave gives him the usual long obituary, covering his years training under Rikidozan, first becoming a star in Mexico, then in the U.S. where he worked the territories, becoming the first Japanese wrestler to win an internationally recognized world title when he beat Danny Hodge for the NWA Jr. Heavyweight title, which was a huge story in both the U.S. and Japan because of Hodge's legendary status. Matsuda also became famous outside of the ring for basically being a locker room policeman in the Florida territory, and any wrestlers or fans who got out of line had to deal with him. Anyone who came into the territory wanting to be a wrestler pretty much got the shit beat out of them by Matsuda first and if they took it and came back the next day, then he would train them. After that, he mostly worked behind the scenes with Crockett and later with New Japan until his death.

- Keiji Muto's knees are still shot as a result of doing moonsaults for the last 15 years. He has had 2 sets of cortisone shots in his knees and he has trouble even walking these days. It's believed he may only have a year or so left to wrestle (as I type this, 17-and-a-half years later, on March 15th, Muto just had a match where he performed his "final" moonsault because he's getting knee replacement surgery soon. And he still hasn't ruled out making a comeback afterwards).

- Former wrestler Buddy Rose was arrested on second degree assault charges and unlawful imprisonment after a domestic incident with his wife. He was released on bail, but had reportedly made threats to kill his wife, so the judge ordered him back into custody and raised the bail amount. His wife told police that Rose had relapsed back into a cocaine addiction and that she had recently filed for divorce. In the apartment they still shared, she claims he came up behind her with a knife and said, "You're not leaving me" and he only let her go after she begged him not to kill her. Rose then reportedly threatened to kill himself before he was ultimately arrested.

- Dave thinks Danny Doring is gonna be a big star some day. Well hey, you can't get 'em right all the time.

- Update on Elektra in ECW: she apparently manages several strip clubs in the Jersey area and has trained under Fabulous Moolah (uh-oh) and Johnny Rodz. She also appeared on WWF TV not too long ago as one of Godfathers hos and was splashed by Viscera and taken out on a stretcher.

- The buyrate for WCW Mayhem looks to be a 0.45 which is a near-30% drop from last year's November WCW PPV.

- Notes from Nitro: the former Ryan Shamrock debuted in WCW as Symphony, the valet for Maestro. Juventud Guerrera beat Jushin Liger to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title, which Dave says will go down as a low-point the history of the title. Not because of Juvi, he's great. But it took place on Nitro, so it was a 5 minute match, the belt wasn't even brought out to the ring, no introductions or ring entrances, and the announcers totally ignored the match while Brad Armstrong was doing his stoned gimmick on commentary (Liger wins it back on Nitro again a week later). Kevin Nash threw the TV title in a garbage can. Dave thinks they might as well do that with all the WCW title belts, for as much as they're worth these days (Duggan would find the title a month or so later and be crowned the new TV champion). The Revolution (Shane Douglas, Dean Malenko, Asya, and Perry Saturn) are all going by new names: Rattler, Python, Boa, and Trouser, respectively (this didn't last too long). Jerry Only, from the Misfits, beat Steve Williams in a cage match and Dave says it's a worst match of the year candidate and was worse than Kennel in a Cell. In fact, as Dave recalls this shit-show, it seems like every segment is crazier and dumber than the one before it, and fans are booing it all. You can really start to see Vince Russo getting comfortable in his new job now, and as a result, the show is already spiraling out of control with more plot holes and stupid ideas than you can shake a stick at, shot rapid fire at the screen for 3 straight hours. Dave can't shit on this episode enough. God help this poor man's sanity in 2000....

- Torrie Wilson has been taken off TV for now in a contract dispute. She's wanting $250,000-per-year for 3 years and they don't want to pay her that much. Dave says if WCW had any clue how to market her, she would be a steal for that price. You can literally track how the ratings go up when she's on TV already, so considering how much they pay other people who don't move the needle at all, Torrie is more than worth $250,000-per-year. But WCW apparently doesn't agree.

- Speaking of Torrie, there was supposed to be an angle last week where Eddie Guerrero would kiss Torrie, causing Kidman to spaz out and get pissed. On TV, they did the angle, but you never saw the kiss, it was meant to be implied. At the time, Dave thought the camera just missed it happening because this is WCW and production mistakes like that happen weekly. But turns out Eddie refused to do the kiss because he didn't want his children to see him kissing another woman besides his wife on TV, so they did it like that.

- Rey Mysterio got knee surgery this week for a torn ACL. He actually injured it during the filming of the Ready To Rumble movie but didn't want to get surgery because he felt like he was actually getting a chance to be a star under Russo, which is something all the previous bookers never gave him, but Russo insisted he get the surgery because he didn't want Mysterio making it worse and they want him at 100%. So he'll be out for awhile.

- Bret Hart wrote a Calgary Sun column talking about Dynamite Kid's book. He wrote, "As great a wrestler as he was, I'm saddened to realize that in addition to injuring his elbows, knees, shoulders and back, he's broken his brain, too." Bret Hart has taken extensive notes and journals throughout his career (which later helped him write his own book) and he used those notes to point out many factual errors in Dynamite Kid's book. Dynamite Kid has responded to the allegations, standing by everything he wrote.

- DDP reportedly asked for his release from WCW recently and was turned down. He's also spoken to Big Show about jumping ship to WWF. WCW is trying to make budget cuts and DDP has more than 2 years left on a pretty huge contract. But they haven't been doing much with him lately, so he figured they may be willing to let him leave. With Bischoff no longer around to protect his spot, he pretty much sees the writing on the wall. Dave thinks WWF would be glad to have him, since taking a top star from the enemy is always a big goal, but DDP isn't going to make near as much money in WWF as he does in WCW right now. But DDP is also 44 years old and the time and effort spent on pushing someone like DDP as a top star in WWF would probably be better spent on pushing someone like Edge.

- Speaking of DDP, he got into a backstage scuffle with Buff Bagwell last week before Nitro. Page got one good shot in before the fight was broken up and it seems that Terry Taylor (shoulder) and Doug Dillenger (hamstring) suffered more injuries in stopping the fight than either Bagwell or DDP did. That being said, a lot of people think it's those guys working an angle. DDP and Bagwell are long-time friends and the fight was allegedly over something involving Kimberly, which seems ripe for a juicy angle. Plus, from those who witnessed it, it didn't seem like that real of a fight. So right now, the big theory is that it's all a work and that, yet again, WCW is trying to trick all the people backstage (no idea if it was or not but I don't think anything ever came of it if it was).

- Recent WCW house shows in Texas this past week had too many no-shows to even bother naming and it didn't matter because attendance at all house shows is abysmal these days. WCW is paying for their sins for things they did when they were on top, when they killed half their towns by advertising top stars who never showed up. They had a lot of fan goodwill built up back then and Bischoff took it for granted and now that they're no longer on top and desperate to win some of that goodwill back, it's not there.

- Injury reports: Kidman's got a messed up neck, Eddie Guerrero has a messed up elbow, and Roddy Piper is only going to be a referee and do interview segments right now because he's so banged up from decades of injuries that he may never wrestle again, or it will be very rare when he does. Vampiro has a concussion and rib fractures.

- Former ECW valet Kimona is expected to start with WCW soon. Terry Taylor has been trying to get her hired and at first that was in WWF, but when he switched companies, now he's bringing her in there.

- Insane Clown Posse met with WCW officials about returning but the meeting didn't go well. They're still trying to return, because they've burned their bridges with WWF and ECW, so WCW is the only possibility left.

- WCW Saturday Night is changing and will feature matches taped before and after the Tuesday night Thunder tapings. Jimmy Hart had been pushing to change the show into its own small-time territory type show, with its own championship belts, feuds and wrestlers that aren't part of Nitro, and Paul Orndorff as its commissioner. But although he kept pushing for it, it never happened.

- Tony Schiavone apparently got some death threats this week. No more details given.

- Mick Foley's book has officially topped the list to become a New York Times #1 bestseller in the non-fiction list. Dave ponders whether or not this copy of the New York Times will be a collector's item to wrestling fans in 20 years. It's been 19. Anybody got a copy?

- Dave breaks down some WWF financials (spoiler: they're doing pretty good right now) and also has some info on the stock. WWF employees were allowed to buy as many shares as they wanted before it went public for $17 a share, but with the clause that they basically can't be cashed out for 3 years and it's dependent on staying with the company for 3 years. In the cases of some of the top stars who bought a lot, this probably equals up to several hundred thousands of dollars. Dave says it was clearly done as a big incentive to keep the top stars from jumping ship because then they'd be giving up all that money if they leave.

- Raw featured the planned wedding of Stephanie McMahon and Test and, well, of course things went awry. At one point when recapping it, Dave says "The director of this TV show is the bomb. The way they shot the faces and shot this wedding, WCW on its best day couldn't touch this production." So, yay Kevin Dunn I guess? And of course, it ended with Triple H showing video of him marrying a drugged and unconscious Stephanie McMahon and talking about how many times they consummated the marriage. At the Smackdown tapings the next night, despite still being a crying babyface, Stephanie was booed out of the building.

- WWF has signed fitness model Trish Stratus to a 3-year developmental deal, with the provision that she will be a wrestler and not required to do any kind of nudity. Apparently she has turned down deals in the past for nude fitness photos. She's been on the cover of a lot of fitness magazines and stuff in the past, but she has been trying to get into wrestling and wants to actually wrestle and not just be eye-candy. She'd had talks with Terry Taylor about going to WCW and was backstage at the recent WCW Mayhem PPV and had even spoken with Raven about going to ECW at one point before finally striking a deal with WWF.

- WWF wrestler D-Lo Brown and WCW backstage exec Mike Graham apparently ran into each other recently at an airport maybe and had a bit of a heated moment. Arn Anderson was there as well and they were all talking. At some point, D-Lo made some sort of joke saying something along the lines of "You old guys will do anything for a paycheck." Everyone who heard it recognized that it was an obvious joke and D-Lo was just poking friendly fun at Graham and Anderson. Graham didn't find it funny and responded by saying that he wrestled for 25 years and never crippled anybody. Needless to say, that's a sore subject for D-Lo after the Droz injury a couple months back. At this point, Arn Anderson pulled Graham away before the situation escalated and talked him down. Graham came back and apologized and he and D-Lo shook hands and that was the end of it.

- Speaking of, there's a lot of rumors that D-Lo is jumping ship to WCW. The WCW hotline claimed his contract is up in 2 months and he was close to coming in. Jim Ross went on the WWF hotline and denied it, saying D-Lo still has 18 months on his WWF contract. WCW sources say D-Lo has a loophole where he can get out of the deal in January (D-Lo wasn't going anywhere).

- In similar news, Gene Okerlund claimed on the WCW hotline that the Rock's contract is also running out and that he would be jumping ship to WWF. That, of course, isn't even remotely close to true and in fact, Rock still has something like 4 years left on his WWF deal and isn't going anywhere. Classic Mean Gene.

- Edge will be filming a role in the upcoming Highlander movie.

- If WWF's Times Square restaurant is successful, they plan to open 2 more similar locations in Miami and Las Vegas (in case you're wondering if the Times Square restaurant was a success, you will note that there are not any WWE restaurants in Miami or Vegas).
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- Smackdown was toned down this week, albeit only slightly, after all the controversy the company faced last week. The bad publicity caused the stock to tank, although it has mostly bounced back since then. None of the sponsors have returned, but WWF knows that may take time. There's talk of making both Raw and Smackdown TV-PG but there's concern because when Jerry Springer toned down his super successful show due to controversy, his ratings plummeted and fans felt the show had sold out. WWF doesn't want to meet the same fate and alienate the fans who have come to expect the more adult content.

- Russo appeared on the Observer Live radio show to be interviewed by Dave and dropped a lot of news. He confirmed Nitro would be going back to 2 hours in January, from 8-10pm. Russo said he was vehemently against the move, wanting it to be 9-11pm so he could do a more risque show. He also doesn't like the idea of giving WWF the unopposed 10-11pm hour. But it's out of his hands. Dave explains the effect this will have on artificially increasing ratings numbers and how it will affect WCW's advertising revenue. Bottom line, having that last hour unopposed is going to help WWF tremendously as far as making their ratings look better and thus making more ad money. As for WCW, it MIGHT help, but the ratings are going to have to improve significantly in order for this decision to pay off for what they're losing in ad revenue by dropping the 3rd hour. And Dave doesn't seem confident. Also, Russo revealed Thunder is moving to Wednesdays, which should help ratings for both it and Smackdown, since they won't be airing head-to-head anymore.

- Russo also complained about the Turner Standards & Practices people, who have started pressuring WCW to clean up its act in the wake of all the WWF controversy. He said they dropped the Bells Palsy aspect of Ed Ferrara's "Oklahoma" gimmick due to them getting complaint letters and Russo implied that Jim Ross and his friends wrote the letters. He also said that when Rhonda Singh was on the show recently, the S&P people wouldn't let Roddy Piper make fat jokes about her and said they were being overly careful because of the WWF/sponsorship issues.

- Other notes from the interview: the TV title is being dropped, which is why Nash threw it in a garbage can last week. On the subject of blood, Russo said at Halloween Havoc, they had to practically beg Brad Siegel to let them get Sid to do a bladejob. Then in the very next match, he said Flair went into business for himself and bladed, which got WCW a ton of heat from the Turner execs. He said he's heard the rumors of D-Lo Brown jumping to WCW and said he doesn't know the details on his contract but would love to have him in WCW, while also saying he'd like to get Test, Christian, and Edge in particular. He called Steve Regal a talented but boring wrestler. Also said he would jump at the chance to sign Shawn Michaels to WCW. Said Michaels is extremely difficult to deal with but is one of the best ever and said Vince McMahon was always intimidated by Shawn. Said he wants to do more with Arn Anderson because of his mic skills. Is trying to find a new role for Lenny & Lodi, who got taken off TV a few months back after GLAAD protests over their gay gimmick, but Russo is fighting Turner on that one. Says he and Randy Savage have an angle in mind for him to return, but that Savage and WCW can't agree on money terms for his new contract, so it may never happen. Dave adds that Savage and his girlfriend Gorgeous George have been trying to make a deal with both WWF and WCW, but both companies feel like he wants way too much money for what he's actually worth these days. Russo even gives us some WWF storyline closure in this interview! He said in the HHH vs. Mankind boiler room brawl match from Smackdown a couple of months ago, a mystery person pushed Mankind off the top of a high platform. It was never explained who it was and it was pretty much forgotten a week later. But Russo reveals that it was supposed to be Davey Boy Smith. So now you know!

- And still more notes from the interview: Russo didn't want to do the Jushin Liger/Juventud Guerrera IWGP Jr. title match on Nitro last week in the first place, but it was forced on him by WCW and their partnership with NJPW. Liger didn't want to do the title change either but that was forced on him I guess. He was scheduled to work with Mysterio on the show, but with him out injured, he was put with Guerrera instead. There's heat now because Guerrera injured his arm in the match and he feels like Liger purposely was unprofessional and didn't protect him because he didn't want to work with him and because he wasn't happy about losing the title to Guerrera. Anyway, this whole thing has put a strain on WCW and NJPW's relationship. When asked who he's planning to elevate to a higher level next year, Russo said the main 2 were Chris Benoit and Jeff Jarrett. He also said that Kidman needs to improve his mic skills but thinks he could be a top guy also. And also mentioned Mysterio, Guerrero, and Lash Leroux. And finally, he also claimed the WWF was near bankruptcy before he took over their head writing job because Bruch Prichard and Pat Patterson were out of touch and still doing TV like it was the 80s.

- There was a big study of the PPV industry released that gives some interesting numbers for both 1999 and for the entire decade of the 90s as a whole. 1999 PPV revenue is about $1 million coming from movies, $367 million from porn, and $486 million from sporting events (wrestling and boxing). In that wrestling/boxing split, $247m is from wrestling and $219m from boxing. From 1991-97, boxing always outdrew wrestling but this is the 2nd year in a row that wrestling topped boxing. Over the decade, Showtime Event Television was the top PPV promoter (they do boxing) while WWF was in 2nd place. TVKO (also boxing) was in 3rd, WCW was in 4th, UFC was in 5th, and ECW in 6th. The most purchased wrestling event of the 90s was Wrestlemania 15 which did 850,000 buys. It was the 16th most purchased PPV overall. The top 15 were all boxing. The most purchased concert in the history of PPV was a New Kids on the Block concert show in 1990 and that only did 260,000 buys. UFC 5 with Gracie vs. Shamrock was the most buys ever for UFC in the 90s and in fact, looking at the list of top shows for UFC, it's undeniable that Ken Shamrock has been by far the biggest drawing star in the history of UFC.

- Austin may have dodged a bullet on his career being over but it's looking highly unlikely that he'll be back in time for next year's Wrestlemania. The current plan is for him to have neck surgery late next month (the doctor, one of the leading neck specialists in the world, is booked up solid for the next month and couldn't get Austin in any earlier). Austin's doctor has said that after the surgery, he should be able to lead a normal, pain-free life, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be able to go back to a full-time schedule of taking bumps in a ring. So right now, they're optimistic that his career isn't over yet but it's by no means a sure thing. For now, the planned Wrestlemania main event is for Triple H to defend the WWF title against The Rock.

- Ticket sales for NJPW's Jan. 4th show are moving slow. There was talk of doing a 3rd Shinya Hashimoto vs. Naoya Ogawa match, but the problem is, NJPW has another show booked for the Tokyo Dome in April. They want to save the Hashimoto/Ogawa match for the April show because otherwise, they have nothing worth a damn that will draw a Tokyo Dome-sized crowd. But with tickets moving so slow for the Jan. 4th show, they announced a tag team match, with Hashimoto and Ogawa on opposite teams. So that way they can still sorta face each other a little bit on Jan. 4th (and hopefully help sell tickets) but the big singles match will be held off until April.

- Shawn Michaels' trainees American Dragon and Lance Cade debuted in FMW in Japan, winning a tag team match (here's footage of Bryan and Cade in FMW. It's not from the match mentioned above but it's from a week later, so close enough. And if you squint through all the blurriness, you can almost make out who's who!).

- Gordon Solie now has a voice box like Kane's gimmick and uses it to talk. It makes him sound like a robot and he's said to be in good spirits about it.

- Jim Cornette is basically booking Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis, alongside his OVW booking duties. And Rico Constantino is now the champion of both promotions. WWF is supporting both companies.

- Dusty Rhodes made his ECW debut at the latest TNN tapings and did an angle with Steve Corino. Anyway, there's been talk of having him stick around for a few shows and do a match on PPV of Rhodes/Dreamer vs. Funk/Raven. It's expected to be a short-term deal because Rhodes is clearly playing this as an attempt to get back into WCW. If he gets over in ECW, they'll probably take him back in a heartbeat and even Heyman has acknowledged that this is just a short-term thing because Dusty is only using ECW to get WCW's attention.

- There's also been talk of Shawn Michaels appearing in ECW, likely as a one-time appearance as a special referee or something. Raven was on the Observer Radio show and basically said it's up to Vince McMahon whether it will happen at this point, but it's being talked about. Word is Michaels' friend Justin Credible is also pushing for it. As for Shawn, he still has heat with basically everyone in WWF, including most of management, Austin, Undertaker, and Rock. So there's not a lot for him to do in WWF, especially not as a wrestler, which is why they haven't put him back on TV even though he's sitting around doing nothing and collecting $15,000 per week.

- Other ECW notes: Super Calo debuted but got injured almost immediately. But he's expected to stick around. Too Cold Scorpio worked a show recently but is not full-time and is most likely headed to AJPW. New Jack is banged up from doing all his balcony dives on every show. Former Nitro Girl A.C. Jazz and Ray Lloyd (Glacier) were backstage at the show with Dusty Rhodes.

- Ric Flair has once again requested his release from WCW, through his lawyers. So far, WCW hasn't agreed to it. Dave doesn't elaborate.

- Notes from Nitro: Dave calls it the night of a billion angles. On at least 4 different occasions, Dave points out instances where these angles were already done on Raw in the previous weeks, and done better. Also, the production quality on the show was all over the place, with mistakes and bad camerawork and worse. It makes it obvious how much better WWF's production quality is because the WCW camera crew just can't seem to keep up with all of Russo's rapid-fire angles and crazy overbooking. Dave says the show was starting to look like GLOW at one point. Censors kept trying and failing to censor the "asshole" chants from the crowd. A new female wrestler named Daffney debuted as David Flair's crazed girlfriend. They acknowledged that Thunder sucks and Russo said all the top stars will be appearing on that show from now on, in order to get people to tune in. "Vincent" is now being called "Shane" because subtlety. Scott Hall came out with a ladder, leading Schiavone to ask him what he was doing, and Hall responded "You've got the format sheet in front of you." Because WCW is no longer even remotely pretending that this isn't all scripted. DDP cut a promo vaguely referencing rumors that he was going to WWF. He basically implied that the rumors aren't true, but he was careful not to bury WWF either, so read into it what you may. Dave says he knows that DDP contacted Big Show and Big Bossman and asked both of them to pass on the word that he's interested in going to WWF and they basically responded saying that they wouldn't guarantee him anywhere close to what he makes in WCW.

- Notes from Thunder: basically it all sucked except for Jushin Liger vs. Benoit, which was a good match. Juventud Guerrera was on commentary for that one and boy was he pissed. As mentioned last week, he's got heat with Liger stemming from an injury 2 weeks ago and he absolutely buried Liger on commentary. He called Liger a con man and unprofessional and basically trashed the match despite it being the best match on Thunder in ages. Anyway, Guerrera is going to most likely need surgery for a dislocated elbow stemming from the match with Liger.

- Torrie Wilson posted on her website and said she's still negotiating with WCW and wants to return but right now, the 2 sides aren't agreeing on money. Her original deal was a per night deal, for $3,000-per-appearance on Nitro plus first class plane tickets (most of the roster travels coach). Later, WCW wanted her to start working Thunder also, which in theory should mean another $3,000-per-show. Instead, WCW drew up a new 3-year contract that pays her per-year, just like every other wrestler. But the contract maths out to less than $6,000 per week, which Torrie (naturally) felt was a paycut (because, well, it kinda is). WCW sees it differently, and here we are. WWF has apparently made an offer, but it's less than WCW's offer. It's expected she'll eventually agree to WCW's deal.

- The William Morris agency has struck a high 6-figure book deal with Goldberg for a biography that will be mostly written by his brother Steve Goldberg. Obviously, the success of Mick Foley's book opened a lot of eyes and wrestling books are having a moment now (Rock and Austin have books coming out soon also). Dave thinks the Foley book was a unique situation, and the new books coming out likely won't be near as successful even if they are all bigger stars than Foley.

- One of the big complaints internally in WCW about Russo and Ferrara is that people say they're booking solely for the internet fans. All the worked shoot comments and angles, people not wanting to lay down and do jobs, etc. Russo and Ferrara are said to always be trying to find out the internet fans response to their booking and have backstage producer Bill Banks immediately report initial online reactions to them during the shows.

- Several WCW wrestlers were named in a news story about an Atlanta strip club being indicted for operating as a mob front. The owner of the club is said to be a close associate of the Gambino crime family and the indictment noted that he provided free booze and strippers to give oral sex to numerous famous athletes, including NBA stars Patrick Ewing, Dennis Rodman, and Charles Oakley. On the WCW front, it listed Randy Savage, DDP, Scott Steiner, and Perry Saturn as people who frequented the club. None of them are charged with any crimes (this ends up becoming a bigger news story with lots of scandalous sex details, but Dave never really covers it too much after this).

- In a recent Calgary Sun column, Bret Hart seemed to be hinting at a forthcoming heel turn and that he doesn't seem to be excited about it. He basically tried to prepare his Canadian fans, telling them if management wants him to do something stupid, for the fans not to take it too seriously. The plan is for Bret to revert to his 1997 anti-American gimmick, but he doesn't want to do it. As for taking things too seriously, in the article, Bret admitted that he had taken the business too seriously in the past, but not anymore. Said being champion doesn't mean anything these days except for a little extra on your paycheck. He also defended himself against accusations of being a hypocrite because he always criticized WWF when they went in a more adult direction, but now that WCW is doing it, he isn't criticizing them. Bret basically shrugged it off, saying he's changed and just doesn't care anymore (basically, it seems like a really pessimistic column with a guy who just doesn't give a shit about anything. Which, in retrospect, yeah Bret was in a pretty dark "fuck it all" place back then. And it's just going to keep getting worse for the next few years).

- In yet another column the week after that, Bret talked about the state of wrestling in general. He praised Steve Austin, calling him "a hell of a lot better than Shawn Michaels" and seemed depressed that guys like himself, Austin, Undertaker, Savage, Hennig, and Foley are winding down their careers and wonders who will carry on the art of pro wrestling when they're gone (and Undertaker is *still* wrestling, holy shit). He basically thinks Benoit is the only guy who might be able to carry on the legacy. Also, in this article, Bret DID complain about WCW's new direction, saying, "when they can't play can-you-top-this anymore, and they need to rely on solid wrestling for their main events, there won't be anyone there to carry on. We're at the point where classic matches will be fewer and fewer until they fade away forever. Watch them while you can. Hidden in the hoopla of ratings generated by a new breed of fans who choose soap opera over sport, few people notice or even care that wrestling as I know it, and as long-time fans know it, is about to die." Cheery as always Bret.

- Notes from Raw: Rikishi is expected to get a push because the crowd pops when he dances with Too Cool. Triple H was over big as a face while Stephanie McMahon begged him to sign an annulment on their marriage but then he cut a fantastically evil heel promo later in the show that got Stephanie cheered again, but by the end of it, they were back on his side. And Miss Kitty doesn't want to wear underwear.

- Undertaker and Ken Shamrock were both backstage at the latest tapings. Undertaker still isn't ready to wrestle but may return to TV soon anyway (nope). Shamrock is expected back soon (nope).

- With Steve Austin definitely out of Wrestlemania, it's expected Mick Foley will stick around until then before winding down his career. From this point forward, he probably won't work many house shows and will probably do tag team matches most of the time to lessen his workload.

- On Smackdown, X-Pac cut a promo implying that Tori gave him a blowjob backstage. Normally that would have been fine for WWF, but with the crackdown on content lately, they made him go back out and cut another promo and now the original one won't air.

- WWF has hired Jonathan Coachman, a sportscaster from KMBC in Kansas City. He starts next month.

- Phil Mushnick said some more shit.

- Jim Ross was interviewed on the Observer Hotline and talked about when Russo was in WWF and how he had tried to come up with different gimmicks for him. Like when J.R. was heel or acting like a disgruntled announcer and stuff like that. Here's what he had to say: "I never watched the replays of any of that when I was disgruntled, deranged, mentally disturbed, unbalanced--whatever the heck it was they wanted me to be. Russo wanted to turn me heel because he doesn't believe that people with a Southern accent have any intelligence and people don't respect individuals with a Southern accent. They laid out this plan that I didn't want to do at the time. But you try to be a team player and practice what you preach, so you go along with what management wants to do. If I had not wanted to try to support Russo and Ferrara, I would have gone to Vince (McMahon) and told him that I wasn't going to do this. And he would have said, 'OK, J.R., I understand why you don't want to do it.'"

- Former WWF wrestler Ludvig Borga (real name Tony Halme) is scheduled to face WBA #1 contender Henry Akimwande in a boxing match later this month. Akimwande is the #1 contender to Lennox Lewis' title (far as I can tell, this match ended up not happening because Akimwande had to pull out with an injury).

- WWF is still negotiating with the PRIDE execs who are working to help WWF put on a show at the Tokyo Dome late next year. They're also discussing a possible TV deal with the Fuji Network which would give WWF equal TV coverage as NJPW and AJPW have there in the country.

- Trish Stratus suffered a sprained ankle in her first week of training with WWF.

- Sean Stasiak got fired by Jim Ross in front of everyone at the latest tapings. Apparently Stasiak kept a tape recorder in his bag and would allegedly tape conversations when he left the room to hear what people were saying behind his back. Anyway, he got caught and McMahon made the decision to fire him (I think we find out later that the story isn't quite that dramatic).
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Monday will be the last post for 1999 and then I'm taking off a few weeks to finish 2000.


- WWF Armageddon is in the books and Dave says it was a weird show, built around one match, Triple H vs. Vince McMahon. Vince was entertaining but he's not a wrestler. Earlier in the day, Triple H injured his knee practicing for the match so Dave gives him props for carrying Vince through a 30-minute clusterfuck on one leg and making it watchable. As a match goes it was pretty terrible, but the finish with Stephanie turning heel was really well done. Other notes from the PPV: Kurt Angle came out to no reaction and the crowd chanted "boring" during his match with Steve Blackman. Which is kinda the point of Angle's gimmick but....the match *was* boring and that's not good. Jericho vs. Chyna was actually the best wrestling match on the show, which is 100% due to Jericho carrying her. During the main event, they kept saying Vince McMahon was 53 which prompts Dave to tell a funny story: he says back in August of 1991, he had a conversation with Vince just a few days before his birthday. They got to talking about it and Vince said he was going to be 45 or 46. Dave asked which is it. He replied ("and I swear I'm not making this up" Dave says) that he honestly didn't know. Dave asked if he was born in 1945 or 1946 and Vince said 1945. So Dave said that would make him 46 and Vince replied, "Well, I guess so." So anyway....he's 54.


- And oh yeah...there was the evening gown match. On Monday morning, WWF sent out a press release that read, "During the World Wrestling Federation's TV-14 rated pay-per-view event, titled Armageddon, on Sunday, December 12, 1999, an overzealous Miss Kitty flashed her breasts for less than 1 second in the 4 Corner Evening Gown Pool Match for the WWF Women's title. WWF censors immediately placed a towel over her chest. The WWF apologizes for this unauthorized exposure." So, do you buy it? Dave sure as shit doesn't. Considering they essentially hyped it up on TV the week before and since Sgt. Slaughter was right off camera with a towel immediately ready to cover her up, it's pretty obvious that it was planned. With all the content concerns lately, WWF losing advertisers, and the stock plummeting because of it, Dave thinks Vince really must have balls the size of grapefruits to risk doing something like this right now, but says his brains are apparently a lot smaller. Obviously, the stockholders came down hard on Vince which is why the next morning they put out the press release blaming it all on Miss Kitty and didn't acknowledge it at all the next night on Raw, which obviously would have been a big selling point for the replay. But Miss Kitty was on Raw and there's no word that she's been punished. If she had actually done that of her own accord, she would almost certainly have been fired on the spot. Sooooooo, ya know.

Needless to say, this link is NSFW

- That being said, Dave doesn't feel like this should be a problem on PPV. It's not free TV. This was a pay-for event and it was specifically advertised that this match was going to have women ripping each others' clothes off. It's not like kids accidentally stumbled across some tits while flipping through channels. And it's a lot tamer than most movies that air on PPV. So for the PPV aspect of it, Dave doesn't see an issue. But as a live event, the situation is different. It's a live show, with a live crowd, and a lot of children were in that crowd. Dave can definitely see problems with that and says if WWF wants to do spots like this, with actual nudity, they should probably have a minimum age limit. To claim it was all an accident afterward, that Miss Kitty did it without asking, is pretty clearly dishonest. Sable's lawsuit went on record stating that WWF had repeatedly asked her to do the same thing and she had always refused. Several months ago, Phil Mushnick reported that he had heard from a source that WWF was planning to do exactly this sort of thing on PPV, and Vince McMahon went on TV and called him a liar. Of course, they later had Jacquelyn lose her top at the UK PPV and now this, so once again, Mushnick is kinda vindicated, whether wrestling fans like him or not.

- Speaking of content concerns, that's still an issue. The PTC group is now pressuring MCI to drop their advertising on Smackdown. WWF is feeling the pressure and are claiming they are toning down Smackdown significantly and that Raw will be gradually toned down as well.

- This week's Nitro was the lowest rated show since Russo took over and in fact was the 2nd lowest rated Nitro in over three years.

- Steve Williams is working an upcoming AJPW tour, which may cause him issues with WCW (since they have a relationship with NJPW). Williams is working on a per-night deal with WCW, he's not under contract. Word is he wasn't expected to stick around WCW long anyway, because Russo was the one who was pushing to get rid of him when he was in WWF, so it's not like he was wanted anyway. But they needed Williams to go along with the Oklahoma/Ed Ferrara gimmick to mock Jim Ross, so that's why they brought him in but that angle is basically dead now. (Yup that was the end of his brief run in WCW.)

- In NJPW, on the last show of the year (and century and millennium), Genichiro Tenryu beat Keiji Muto to become the IWGP champion. The win makes him only the 2nd person to ever win both the IWGP and AJPW Triple Crown titles (Vader being the other). At 49, Tenryu is also the oldest major world champion in Japanese history. Dave thinks it's a weird choice. NJPW is a lot like WCW right now, in that they need to be elevating new stars, not relying on old ones. Dave expects he'll lose it to Kensuke Sasaki, who is a younger guy being groomed as a top star, but he's not as over as they'd like him to be yet.

- Beyond The Mat will be released in theaters early next year. ABC 20/20 did a story on the movie and interviewed WWF PR person Jim Byrne, who trashed the film and said it gives a distorted view of pro wrestling and claimed that many of the scenes were staged. He in particular claimed that the scenes with Mick Foley's kids crying watching the chair shots at Royal Rumble last year were staged, which Dave says is most definitely not true and that was as real as it gets. Needless to say, WWF is trying to distance themselves from this one and they're especially concerned with the images of horrified children crying because it plays into the media stories of wrestling being psychologically damaging to kids who can't distinguish that the violence isn't real.

- Paul Heyman is still trying to get WWF to let Shawn Michaels appear on ECW's next PPV in January but no word on if it'll happen or not.

- TNN put out a press release touting that Dusty Rhodes was on this week's ECW show and played it up as if he was one of many stars to defect from WCW over to ECW. The press release also mentioned Raven, Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, James Vandenburg, 2 Cold Scorpio, Super Calo, and Ray Lloyd as people who all quit WCW to go to ECW. Well, for starters, Ray Lloyd (Glacier) isn't even in ECW, he was just backstage at a show recently. The rest of those guys (except Raven) were all fired by WCW, they didn't quit to go to ECW. And in fact, Scorpio was fired by WCW, like, 5 years ago. The only person who belongs on the list is Raven, who really did walk away from a big money WCW contract to go back to ECW. The rest all pretty much went only because they got fired and WWF didn't want them (this press release is pretty much the sum total of promotion that TNN ever did for ECW).

- Speaking of Dusty Rhodes, Dave recaps the angle with him on ECW with Steve Corino and Dave is just befuddled at all these fans cheering the hell out of Dusty when he was introduced as the man who put hardcore wrestling on the map. "Suffice to say, there will be a time when Hogan is 55 and he'll be long gone from the mainstream and be looking for one last pop and a small promoter nine years from now will be looking for a big pop and Hogan will be introduced as the main who put hardcore wrestling on the map and the hardcore fans of the day will give him a standing ovation." Dave says about 12 years ago, Dusty was, by far, the most hated man in the business by the hardcore fans (aka the ECW fans). Worse than Hogan or Warrior ever were. Dave says it got so bad at one point that he stopped doing live interviews in the studio in Atlanta on the live TV show because he was supposed to be the top babyface and he would get booed out of the studio. Dave also says Dusty once threatened the PWI magazine people that if they didn't give him the Most Popular Wrestler award (during Hogan's 80s prime and Piper had just turned babyface and was almost as popular as Hogan), he would bar their photographers and reporters from Crockett shows. But anyway, time makes people forget I guess.

- Despite ratings still being in the toilet, WCW is reportedly sticking with Russo and giving him plenty of time to turn the ship around. He's reportedly convinced them that it's going to take 6 months or so before they start seeing changes in the ratings, which Dave says is true but we're a couple of months into the Russo-era already and the early signs don't look promising. When WWF got hot, their TV ratings were the last thing to change. But you could see the signs that they had momentum, because house show business started getting hot. That's not happening with WCW and in fact, house show business is worse than ever right now.

- Nothing new on Ric Flair's situation. He wants out of his contract, WCW is refusing to release him. His contract expires in Feb. of 2001 so it's a stalemate for now.

- Dave recaps Nitro and shits all over it so much that it's not even something I can recap fairly without just copying and pasting his entire review. TL;DR - show sucked.

- Torrie Wilson signed a 2-year WCW contract. WWF had made her an offer also. WCW's offer was for more guaranteed money, but the WWF offer had huge marketing potential if she had gotten over. Ultimately, part of her decision was that she felt "safer" with WCW and didn't want to risk signing with WWF and being put into a lesbian angle or something (well that's going to become the most ironic sentence ever in about 4 years).

- Konnan was on the Observer Live radio show a few weeks ago, on the same episode Raven was on. Raven trashed WCW endlessly, but Konnan, since he's still with WCW, caught a lot of heat for it because a lot of the stuff Raven said got attributed to Konnan and since nobody in WCW actually listened, Konnan got heat for it from people who heard second-hand that Konnan had said things, when in reality, he didn't.

- The Standards & Practices people at Turner came down hard on WCW this week before the Thunder tapings. Jim Duggan was supposed to have a match against Asya. And Rhonda Singh was supposed to face Evan Karagis for the cruiserweight title, and she was supposed to say if she lost, she'd strip. Both matches were scrapped because the S&P folks are pretty much banning any man vs. woman matches.

- Notes from Thunder: Hall and Nash opened up with a promo with Hall acting (...) like he was drunk and talking about his ladder matches against Shawn Michaels. Sid came out and eventually pushed Hall off the ladder, with Hall taking the single fakest looking bump ever, on purpose. Dave says if this was a company with any discipline, Hall should have been fired on the spot but then again, he's given WCW at least 50 other reasons to fire him in the last 3 years and they haven't done it, so there ya go. Juventud Guerrera was on commentary and was funny for a lot of the show, but he also started making a lot of inside references (calling The Artist Known As Prince Iaukea the "worst gimmick in the entire company", making a bunch of Lex Luger/steroid references, etc.) and that sort of shooty bullshit is constant in WCW now under the Russo-era. Guerrera was actually told by Russo to go out there and say whatever he really thinks and to not react like a normal wrestling announcer would and, well, he did. And while it was funny (Dave says several times that Juvi was pretty hilarious), it did nothing to actually enhance or advance the product and mostly just buried people. And finally, they're trying really hard to make Jeff Jarrett into Shawn Michaels and Dave's only comment on that is, "Well, they're trying."

- Dave with a pretty prescient observation about Vince Russo: "Russo was apparently thrilled at the internet response (to Juventud Guerrera's commentary) and wants to keep him a regular. He is smart about one thing. Even though he's booking for a small percentage of the total audience, if he gets over as being cool with that percentage, he'll create a legend for himself as a great booking mind even if the numbers and the profit/loss of the company don't back up the portrayal in the long run and he'll always have work in this profession." (Which is basically what happened. Russo booked for a hardcore portion of internet fans and, to this day, he still somehow has a legion of supporters who listen to his podcast and worship everything he says, despite the fact that WCW plummeted even further into the abyss under his "genius" booking.)

- At Nitro, they had a big meeting backstage about wrestlers showing up late and informed them that anyone showing up late will be fined from now on. So of course, the very next night for the Thunder taping, Luger showed up 5 hours late. So far, no word if he's actually been fined.

- Remember last week when several WCW wrestlers were named in an indictment over an Atlanta strip club being used as a mob front? Well, those wrestlers had all been interviewed by the feds as part of the investigation and had been promised their names wouldn't come out publicly, because there's a morality clause in their WCW contracts. So needless to say, they weren't thrilled about their names making the newspapers. For what it's worth, the few wrestlers listed are said to only be a small percentage, and in fact, a lot more big name WCW wrestlers weren't mentioned in the news and were also interviewed by the feds in the case.

- Madusa, Roddy Piper, Sting, and Bobby Heenan appeared on ABC's Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher show. Sting said little but came off as the most intelligent. Madusa came off like an airhead. Piper came off like an out-of-touch 70s drunk, throwing a fit from the very beginning, basically being the old guy who still doesn't want to break kayfabe and treats it like it's all real. At one point he pulled his pants down and showed his scar from his replaced hip and then talked about Owen Hart's death and said, "Go tell Mrs. Hart what a joke it is." Sting was more subdued and came across well, and Heenan didn't do or say much at all. Overall, Piper basically dominated the show and while wrestling fans might have enjoyed it for the spectacle, to the general non-wrestling public, he came off looking pretty bad and probably didn't help the image of professional wrestling.

- The Rock and Goldberg met each other in Toronto this week while both companies were there running shows. They hung out in a private box at a hockey game where Wayne Gretzky was being honored. They talked for about 15 minutes, mostly about their contracts and possibly working together in the future (basically, Goldberg wants out of WCW, along with pretty much everyone else these days).

- Ted Turner was on the Larry King Live show and someone called in to complain about the content of WCW lately, with all the language and sexual stuff. Turner thought the caller was talking about WWF, claiming WCW doesn't do that, and had to be assured that the caller was indeed referring to WCW. Just in case you wondered how much attention Turner pays to WCW.

- Bret Hart doesn't want to do the anti-American gimmick again that he did in WWF 2 years ago. So that whole storyline has pretty much been given to the Revolution faction instead, with Shane Douglas playing the anti-American Bret Hart role.

- Ultimo Dragon is expected to sue WCW soon over his botched elbow surgery that ended his career. He's already sued the doctor. Dragon had a verbal agreement with Eric Bischoff that WCW would take care of him and keep him under contract, which is why he didn't sue before. Shortly after Bischoff was fired, so was Dragon. The surgery was supposed to be a routine arthroscopic procedure to remove some bone chips and he would have been back in 6 weeks. Instead, he wound up with a severed nerve in his elbow and has been forced to retire.

- In this week's Bret Hart Calgary Sun column, he talked about meeting with Special Olympics officials and how they told him that they are considering pulling their sponsorship from the WWF. Hart said that WCW needs to think carefully about how much they want to copy WWF's content and said he would hate to think that he might not be welcome at the Special Olympics due to the things happening in wrestling that he has no control of. Basically, Bret's not a fan of all this risque stuff, from either company.

- The Nitro Girls are all talking about wanting raises, particularly Spice who plays Prince Iaukea's valet. They all signed contracts to be dancers, not performing talent, and now that they're always being involved in storylines and, in some cases, matches, they want raises. Dave says they're obviously right and they should get them.

- Triple H vs. Mankind (possibly as Cactus Jack) for the WWF title is likely going to be the title match for Royal Rumble. Which means that either Triple H or Foley will win the title from Big Show before then. Dave believes Triple H was scheduled to win the belt from him last week on Raw, but after injuring his knee the day of the PPV match against Vince McMahon, Triple H wasn't able to wrestle that night. Internally, the belief is that Big Show isn't ready for the title, but they basically panicked after Austin went down with the neck injury and felt they had to shoot a new star to the top immediately to try to fill the void, so we got Big Show. But he'll likely drop the belt soon (yup, loses it to Triple H on Raw 2 weeks after this).

- USA Today had a big story on Steve Austin's neck issues, confirming that the issue is a bone spur in his neck and a spinal disc protrusion. Due to years of taking bumps, he's also had some narrowing of the spine which complicates the surgery. For his surgery, portions of the C-3 and C-4 discs will be removed along with the bone spur in order to decompress the spinal cord and relieve some pressure in the area. Finally, they'll take a bone graft from his pelvis and use it to fuse the discs together. A few months after the surgery, they will be able to reevaluate to see how much permanent damage has already been done. He should be able to lead a normal, relatively pain-free life, but it's still up in the air as to how much wrestling he'll be able to do, if any.

- Notes from Raw: they started an angle with Mark Henry sleeping with Mae Young (it begins). Vince McMahon called Triple H a rapist. Stephanie McMahon cut the best promo of her short career so far, tearing into Vince. She's a pretty good heel, turns out. She blamed Vince for having her abducted by the Undertaker last year, which is some good continuity. The crowd hit her with a massive "slut" chant but Dave points out, hey, Vince DID have her abducted. She's kinda in the right here. Later in the show, the Rock introduced Wade Boggs (may he rest in peace) and Dave thinks Rock could read the phone book and it would be a great promo. There was some unintentional comedy when J.R. and Lawler tried to promote a talking Steve Austin action figure but when they put it on camera, it didn't work. They found out later in the show that they forgot to put batteries in it and had to try again later, but needless to say, pretty embarrassing and not a good look when trying to plug new merch. And since it was in Tampa, radio DJ Bubba The Love Sponge worked a dark match against Gerald Brisco with the Mean Street Posse and Patterson also getting involved.

- The PTC is still harassing the WWF. Burger King recently pulled their sponsorship from the company but after Smackdown was slightly toned down, they came back. The PTC is still pressuring Burger King and MCI to drop their sponsorship and the WWF stock continues to suffer from the negative publicity. (I think it may be after I finish doing the Rewinds, but the good news is that this all eventually ends with an out-of-court lawsuit settlement where the PTC ends up paying WWF millions of dollars and has to publicly apologize. Fuck 'em.)

- In an effort to counter the negative publicity, WWF proclaimed that Raw last week drew its all-time record high rating. Needless to say, this isn't even close to true. Last week's Raw did a 6.54 (which is impressive, especially going against Monday Night Football) but the all-time Raw ratings record is 8.09 so, obviously, that was a lie. But in the wake of all the publicity, WWF is trying to put on a front that it's not affecting them and desperately trying to stop the falling stock prices by playing the "everything here is all roses!" card. So in typical WWF fashion, they just decided to blatantly lie and figured no one would care enough to look up the truth. And aside from Dave calling them out on it, they're probably right.

- The WWF restaurant in Times Square isn't officially open yet but they've been doing some small events before the grand opening. Word is the food is good, but expensive. But the portions are huge. There's a Hulk Hogan pinball machine and a 1,000 seat theater where they plan to have matches occasionally.

- Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young were sent by the WWF to be presenters at the Billboard music awards. Dave says in the context of the WWF, having these 2 women on TV is a funny joke and the crowd is with it. But outside of the WWF, it was just 2 old women that nobody knows presenting an award at a major music event. Mae Young's name was announced wrong and the guy who came out with them got them mixed up. Mae took a bump and the crowd didn't care at all. Dave thinks they should have sent Rock or some other top guy who has some more mainstream name value.

- Droz did an interview on WWF's Byte This show saying that his health situation is tougher on him mentally than it is physically but that he's still fighting and is starting to regain movement in one of his thumbs.

- A guy named Joe Perkins writes in a letter to talk about Vince McMahon and how he took over the promotion from his father. Perkins is actually a member of the WWF Board of Directors (and kept that spot all the way up until 2017). Anyway, he wants to clear the air on something Dave wrote recently and it's some pretty interesting insight into a part of WWF history that doesn't get covered much in detail, so let's just read it:

Quote:In your 11/1 comments concerning Vincent K. McMahon's starting responsibilities for his father and Capitol Wrestling, you make historical errors of fact. You imply he was handed Capital Wrestling on a "silver platter." Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me correct your perspective because I was there.

My new advertising agency represented Abe Ford here in Boston. We negotiated the initial TV contract with WISH-TV, Ch. 38, owned by the Archdiocese of Boston. I worked with General Manager Monsignor Francis Flaherty. The station was a religious educational station except for two hours a day when it accepted commercial broadcasting. They broadcasted on the then new UHF band where TV sets had to have a converter in order to receive UHF programming. We paid the station $25 per week. The wrestling program was supplied by Vincent J. McMahon. The wrestlers who performed at the Boston Gardens were supplied by Vincent J. McMahon. Revenue was shared by McMahon and Ford, after expenses.

Prior to this relationship, Ford had not promoted wrestling in Boston. Ford owned the Fort Theatrical Agency on Stuart Street. He booked night club acts and exotic dancers. Wrestling had been promoted early on in Boston by Paul Bowser, then later by Bower, Eddie Quinn of Montreal and Johnny Doyle under the name Atlantic Athletic Corporation, with Walter Kowalski being the champion. Sam Menacker was the announcer doing a live 90 minute Saturday afternoon show from the studios of WBZ-TV in 1957-58. Most of the talent was Canadian and some was supplied by Vincent J. McMahon.

After the first start on Ch. 38, after four or five unsuccessful events, the promotion was stopped. About a year-and-a-half later, McMahon and Ford again attempted to promote wrestling in the Boston Garden now that more TV homes could receive UHF. The breakup came when Ford tried to sell the promotion to Canadian interests without consulting McMahon. McMahon felt Ford was selling a business that he didn't own, or at the very least, as he viewed it, was only a minor partner in a business where all the ingredients were supplied by Capital Wrestling. To prove the point, McMahon cut off supply of talent and TV programs. It happened suddenly one night when during intermission at a Boston Garden event, Angelo Savoldi, then McMahon's road manager, informed Ford there would be no next event. I was there.

Ford sued, claiming a conspiracy between McMahon, the TV station, now WSBK-TV owner by Storer Broadcasting and the Boston Garden. The case was settled shortly after McMahon and my depositions. Ford received enough to cover his lawyer fees. Capitol Wrestling, Ch. 38 and the Boston Garden were each to pay one-third. McMahon eventually repaid the Boston Garden and Ch. 38 as he felt they had been unfairly drawn into the dispute. Upon receiving the reimbursement, Ch. 38 thanked McMahon, then canceled the wrestling program. I was successful in clearing wrestling on the new Ch. 56. Vincent J. McMahon ran the Garden events adn we became representatives of Capitol Wrestling here in New England. The promoting rights to the Boston Garden were never handed over to his son. I know because I was at every event. Angelo reported the receipts by phone from the Garden accounting room to Vincent J. McMahon in Delaware or Florida. We held the TV contracts and paid the advertising and they were billed to Capital Wrestling in Washington, D.C., not to Vincent K. McMahon.

We began to expand the number of stations in New England that were airing the program to Bangor, Portland, Manchester, Springfield and Providence for Vincent J. The territory at the time remained New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington/Baltimore.

Ray Morgan approached Vincent J. McMahon and demanded AFTRA/SAG union national talent fee because the program was airing in a number of cities. McMahon offered to raise it from local to regional fees. Morgan felt he had the upper hand and McMahon couldn't do the show without him. McMahon asked me if he had to pay the national union fee rate. I advised had to pay at least the regional fee because many stations were union shops and wouldn't air the show if Morgan filed a grievance. The only exception I knew would be if Vince or a member of the family were to do the announcing, then he could bypass the union rate, so long as the union dues and pension fund fees were paid. Vincent K. McMahon, who was employed at Capitol Wrestling doing entry level jobs now was paid nothing above his regular small salary to do the announcing.

Regarding promoting in Bangor and other small towns around New England. In order to make a living, Vincent K. McMahon had to promote some small markets. He was not just handed those towns. He had to buy out the local promoter with his own money or find a town that had not been previously promoted. We are talking metropolises like Burlington and Rutland, VT, Bangor and Augusta, ME and Nashua, NH. To make, $50, $75 or $100, he drove to those events in a near wreck of a blue Buick. Our invoices for his advertising and promotional expenses were billed to him directly in West Hartford, CT, where he was living in a trailer park with Linda, Shane and Stephanie, who was a baby at the time. He often carried bricks on construction jobs to earn a few extra dollars. Howard Finkel, who helped Vince worked at the Marlin Firearms Factory in the first aid department. Bills went to West Yarmouth and were always separate from those for Capital Wrestling. Vincent J. McMahon made it quite clear to me that his son had to pay his own bills and I was not to look to Capitol Wrestling if he fell behind.

Vincent K. McMahon began to buy out his fathers' 49% minority partners, Phil Zacko, Arnold Skaaland and the late Gino Marella. They all gladly sold their interests as profits at the time were getting slim. They thought the kid was foolhardy for offering such a large sum, which turned out to be small in retrospect.

Vincent K. offered a number of times to buy the additional few percentage points from his father to get controlling interest. He was repeatedly turned down. When Vincent J. became ill, he set the terms for the complete buy-out. They were harsh. I know because I was there. Over the next two year period of the buy out as Vincent K. took more control, we began to expand into other territories. Vincent K's obtaining controlling interest would not be complete until the last penny was paid after two years. This resulted in numerous disputes between father and son. On one occasion, we had cleared TV in Cleveland. When the inactive Cleveland promoter complained, Vincent J. promptly gave him the TV clearance. This all took place in a limo with the promoter who that night was Vincent J's guest and neighbor in Fort Lauderdale on the way to the traditional dinner at Jimmy Weston's following a Madison Square Garden event. Vincent K. could do nothing. He was still in the two year period of buying out his father. A few years later, when the local promoter vacated the market, we negotiated a new agreement.

I cleared San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tulsa, Milwaukee and a dozen other markets for Vincent K. when the old-time promoters were still in business. Vincent K. received many threats including death threats. The fans made the choice of which events to patronize, a fact I brought to the attention of a local sportswriter in San Francisco who championed the cause of a local football hero turned promoter.

All the promoters continually complained to Vincent J. with the result being a great deal of disagreement between father and son over the old vs. new way of doing business. Being a product of the old way, I was at first reticent to clear markets in other people's territories. Vincent K. told me that he didn't pay all that money to keep the old set-up, we're going national, even international. The last part even I didn't believe then. Since I'm still contributing to WWFE, I was wise in not disputing his vision.

Joe Perkins
Newton, Massachusetts

[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

This is the last Rewind for 1999. Gonna take a month off and finish 2000.


- Last week's WCW Nitro ended with yet another reformation of the NWO, with Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Bret Hart, and Jeff Jarrett as the members, all holding the major WCW titles. It's led to more questions about Vince Russo as booker, which has been a polarizing issue inside and outside of WCW. His detractors point out that WCW's ratings haven't improved under his watch and in fact, last week's Nitro was the 2nd lowest rated episode of the show in years. His defenders point out that it took a good 6 months for WWF ratings to turn around and they also blame TNT's standards and practices people for standing in Russo's way. Dave doesn't buy the S&P argument, because the only things they've nixed have been irrelevant stuff. They may make Russo change a curse word in a promo, or they didn't want Jim Duggan beating up Asya in a throwaway midcard Thunder match. Shit like that. That stuff is small fries to the overall picture and has nothing to do with why the ratings aren't improving. WCW head Bill Busch is still standing by his decision to give Russo 6-months-to-a-year to try and prove himself and turn things around. It's true that WWF's ratings took months to recover, but the signs of business turning around were there long before the ratings actually started reflecting it. For what it's worth, WCW ratings WILL turn around next year when they cut the show down to 2 hours, but that's just because the 3rd hour won't be dragging the average down. Plus football season is ending soon and that will help too. Thunder is moving to Wednesdays, so it won't be getting its ass handed to it by Smackdown anymore, so those ratings should go up too. So that will look good for Russo, but it's also a total illusion and not a sign that business is actually improving. Because it's most certainly not. House show business (which was the first sign in WWF that things were turning around) is still at abysmal lows and getting worse. PPV buyrates seem to have bottomed out. They're not falling anymore, but they're not moving up either. So due to all of this stuff, Nitro's ratings will probably jump from the low 3's to the high 3s when they cut back to two hours, which looks good on paper. But unless Nitro starts doing 4.0 or higher ratings, then nothing has actually really changed. It's just the illusion that comes with dropping the 3rd hour and how that affects the average. Dave starts breaking down numbers and it gets pretty in-depth. But for those people who still defend Russo's WCW booking and point to the fact that ratings went up around this time, this is the perfect explanation about why Russo deserves zero credit for that. It was all due to programming decisions and scheduling changes, plus the end of Monday Night Football. The number of actual viewers didn't increase, even if the rating did.

- But forget about ratings, the real issue is the other numbers. Are people buying tickets to the shows? Are they buying merchandise? What are the PPV buyrates? That's where the money is made. Last week's Nitro sold 4,500 tickets. Thunder sold 1,700. Those are embarrassing numbers. Merch-sales-per-head hit an all-time low for the modern era in WCW last week. Even the people who do go to the shows aren't buying shit. Next week's Nitro is in the Houston Astrodome, which holds more than 60,000 people, and they've sold less than 6,000 tickets as of press time. And Russo has been in charge long enough now that he can't keep blaming the stagnant business on the people who ran the show before him. TV ratings take time to grow, but historically, house show business is quick to turn around at the first sign of a good angle. In 1996, before the NWO angle, business was pretty bad but the Flair/Savage angle at the time immediately sparked a 37% increase in house show business within a month. So will this new NWO angle be the one that turns things around? Maybe but Dave doesn't seem optimistic. At this point, WCW seems to be at rock bottom and Dave thinks ECW could probably give them a run for their money in most markets as far as drawing fans goes.

- Starrcade is in the books and fittingly enough, the final wrestling PPV of the century ended with yet another repeat of the Montreal Screwjob. This time the roles were reversed, with Bret Hart playing the Shawn Michaels role and Goldberg in the "got screwed" role. The finish left the show ending on a flat note. In fact, almost every match on the card ended with a screwy finish, which is basically the Russo way. Scott Hall had to pull out of his ladder match against Benoit due to last minute injury, and was replaced by Jarrett. He and Benoit had one of the best WCW matches of the year and Dave has to give credit where it's due and says Jarrett has been working his ass off to justify the push he's been getting from Russo and has been doing great work since arriving in WCW (a lot of people resent him for it, figuring he's only being pushed because he's Russo's friend and also jumped ship from WWF at about the same time). Steve Williams refused to put over Vampiro, so their match ended in DQ and Dave suspects that's probably it for Williams in WCW (yup). Madusa won the cruiserweight title from Evan Karagis, even further diminishing a title that is already meaningless. Kimona from ECW debuted as a cheerleader valet for the Varsity Club, under the name Leia Meow. Nash vs. Sid gets negative stars, as does a couple of other matches. Benoit vs. Jarrett ladder match gets 4 stars. And the Goldberg/Hart main event was decent until the stupid ending. Also, Dave notes that at one point in the match, it looked like Goldberg kicked Bret pretty hard in the head...

- Vince Russo appeared on the WCW Live internet show and lashed out at his critics and blamed WCW's standards and practices people for the fact that ratings haven't improved. Russo claimed that everything he's done in WCW so far was in order to put the pieces in place for the NWO revival that happened on Nitro last week and *now* everything will start improving. He pointed out several things that S&P wouldn't allow him to do (they wouldn't let Roddy Piper call Ronda Singh "fat", wouldn't let Ed Ferrara make fun of Jim Ross' Bells Palsy, etc. Dave says none of those things would make an iota of difference in the ratings). Russo said he was promised leeway when he was hired but now S&P interferes. He lashed out a bunch of critics by name, particularly against Dave himself, and began calling him names. Dave shrugs it off and thinks Russo seems desperate. Russo admitted that he gauges success by internet feedback (Dave says maybe he should gauge it by ratings numbers, ticket sales, and PPV buyrates instead). Russo talked about bringing Lenny & Lodi back as a tag team called Standards & Practices and making them nerdy pencil pushers. He also talked about bringing Ultimate Warrior back and spoke of wanting to bring in Bruno Sammartino as a traditionalist who hates what WCW is becoming and turning that into an angle. Dave says no one in WCW has contacted Sammartino so no idea where that's coming from. Also said he wants to bring back Randy Savage and that he plans for Jarrett to be a main event star for WCW in 2000. He also said that if he was to quit or get fired by WCW, he would never return to WWF because he could never work for Vince McMahon for another day ever again (spoiler: he does, briefly. And to this day he admits he still texts Vince ideas and is trying to angle his way back into the company. Anyway, I really wish I could find audio of this).

- The E! network aired an episode of True Hollywood Story about Hulk Hogan. Dave says it surprisingly was fairly accurate. Covered his early life, glossed over his time in Japan, AWA, WWF, WCW, etc. While it was mostly accurate, it did try to imply a bunch of bullshit. Like when Hogan got fired from WWF for doing Rocky 3, it acted as if he was lost, struggling to get by, career might be over, yada yada. In reality, he was still making huge money in Japan and was already a huge name. Basically a lot of the dishonest stuff was mostly just trying to portray Hogan's rise to the top as more difficult than it was. Plus the same ol' nonsense about how nobody knew if Andre was going to agree to do the job at WM3, or that Andre had never been body slammed before or that he weighed 600 pounds at the time, etc. It also mostly ignored his role in the steroid scandal of the early 90s. But everything else was basically true.

- Nitro the night after Starrcade was bad news, being the lowest rated post-PPV Nitro since Russo took over. The show also made news due to language, with the word "shit" being used several times, uncensored. WCW of course claims it was all an accident and needless to say, Dave isn't entirely buying it. The following day, WCW released a press release saying the following:

Quote:"Monday evening some strong language aired live on WCW Monday Nitro. The reason for this occurrence was a network delay booth operator did not report to work on Monday evening. This absence was not immediately realized due to the fact that the Broadcast Operation Center and the delay booth are located in different areas of the building. Once the personnel shortage was realized, the Broadcast Operation Center took action to staff the delay booth.

The network has taken corrective measures to prevent this type of incident from happening again in the future.

There was no intent by WCW or the network to allow offensive language to air on the program."

- At the most recent Michinoku Pro show, Great Sasuke announced that he wants to do a third Super J Cup tournament in April. There have been 2 previous Super J Cups before. The first in NJPW was won by Chris Benoit and the second was put together by WAR and won by Jushin Liger. Those 2 one-night tournaments were arguably 2 of the best professional wrestling shows of the decade. So needless to say, expectations will be high for this one.

- 20/20 aired a story on people training to be professional wrestlers and Dave says it was really good and surprisingly accurate. It mostly focused on Les Thatcher's training school as well as the WCW Power Plant and admitted that wrestling is fake but showed how difficult it still is. The main people featured in the piece were Shark Boy (who was later released by WCW after training at the Power Plant), Nigel McGuinness (who came from England to train with Thatcher and showed a great attitude and enthusiasm, but is small), and Craig Zelner (never amounted to anything in wrestling, dabbled in MMA for a bit). They showed them cutting promos and working matches at small shows, and Dave says McGuinness was better than a lot of the pros already.

- News out of XPW in California: former ECW and WCW valet Chastity worked the show and was scheduled to feud with Missy Hyatt. But Hyatt has since quit the company after getting into a backstage argument with Nicole Bass, who was upset that Hyatt was wearing the same white shirt/denim shorts look. Speaking of Bass, her sexual harassment lawsuit against the WWF has a court date next month. She's also releasing a series of sexual domination videos.

- Minoru Suzuki had his first MMA fight in a year, in his hometown of Yokohama. Suzuki proved to still be a big draw for casual fans, and brought in a big crowd and was by far the biggest star of the show. Didn't matter. He still got wrecked in the first round. Ha! What a pussy, am I right you guys? Guys? Hello? Oh sh--

- Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, and Axl Rotten were all officially fired by ECW this week. Word is the locker room at a recent ECW house show was so unprofessional to the point of embarrassment with all the out of control drug use. Heyman wasn't at the show, but after getting reports on it, he made the decision to fire those 3 (all of whom were already on the bubble of being fired several times before anyway). It's clear to anyone who watches that Rotten and Sytch especially are just shells of what they once were as performers. Candido less so, but he's still fallen hard. Dave praises Heyman for being the only promoter in the big 3 right now who is apparently willing to do something about the drug issues in wrestling, while those sorts of things continue to go unpunished in WWF or WCW. Although for what it's worth, he says that while most people in the locker room agreed with the decision to fire those 3, they also pointed out that there are other stars on the roster who have even worse drug problems, but they're bigger stars and Heyman hasn't done anything about them.

- New Jack didn't work ECW's recent shows in Tennessee because he has an outstanding warrant in the state.

- Bill Goldberg was injured doing an angle on this week's Thunder where he was looking for Vince Russo in the parking lot and ended up punching out a limo window. The glass cut into his arm and he bled like crazy. As of press time, he has feeling in his fingers and hand, which is a good sign. Apparently the glass cut deeply into his tricep and he lost a massive amount of blood before getting to the hospital (more details next week but spoiler: it's not good news).

- In regards to the earlier rumor of Bruno Sammartino working with WCW, Dave has apparently spoken to Bruno and while nobody from WCW has reached out to him, Bruno is willing to listen to offers. If the money is right and he isn't portrayed in a negative light, he says he'd be willing to work an angle and even a match for WCW, although he would want it to be a big tag match or something so he wouldn't have to take many bumps. The idea would be a legends group (Bruno, Larry Zbyszko, etc. against the NWO guys most likely). Bruno hasn't wrestled since 1987 and is on record as saying he felt his 85-87 return was a mistake that he only did to help his son's career after retiring in 1981. He has been extremely critical of the wrestling business ever since then and he's aware of how hypocritical it would look if he came back to work for WCW, given the way it's booked these days under Russo. But he says if the angle is to his liking, he's willing to take the flak from people.

- Notes from Nitro: the show drew about 9,000 fans, but only 4,500 of them or so were paid, the rest were comps. I only mention this because it's actually like that every week. I just haven't been mentioning it. But every WCW show, from house shows to TV to PPVs...thousands of free tickets are given away every week and they still never come close to selling out these arenas. They had a backstage segment full of words like "smarks, smart marks, shooting" etc. while Vince Russo openly talked about being the person who booked the Montreal Screwjob (not true, of course). Basically, the whole show is more of the same from Russo. 3 hours of insider references, worked shoots, openly acknowledging that everything you see is fake except for all the guys going against the script, a million angles with no continuity all thrown against the wall, etc.

- Useless wrestling trivia: "when Ric Flair was growing up in Edina, MN, he used to work as a paper boy. One of the people he delivered papers for was Mad Dog Vachon."

- Paul Bearer was backstage at the WCW Thunder taping 2 weeks ago in Mobile, AL. Nothing to read into it, he lives in the area and was apparently just visiting friends.

- Eric Bischoff is said to be interested in returning to WCW as Hulk Hogan's manager.

- Triple H is still expected to win the WWF title from the Big Show in the next couple of weeks, as soon as his knee heals up enough for him to return to the ring.

- Vince McMahon and Chris Jericho reportedly got into a backstage argument at Smackdown 2 weeks ago. Basically, the gist of it as far as Dave has heard is that McMahon criticized Jericho's ring work, and Jericho didn't back down and instead argued his case at Vince. But contrary to rumors, he was never unprofessional and neither man was screaming at each other or anything. There's been criticism of Jericho for getting over as a face when he's supposed to be a heel (specifically, he's been getting cheered in matches against Chyna), but that's just the nature of being as good as he is and being booked in stupid storylines. There's been a lot of reports that the usual suspects (basically the DX guys, like Triple H) have gotten into Vince's ear and argued that Jericho isn't as good as he's hyped up to be and that he's not a main event guy. Reportedly a lot of this heat on Jericho stems from him accidentally potatoing Chyna during one of their matches. On Smackdown recently, Triple H made a joke during the show about a homeless guy not being able to work, "just like Jericho." Anyway, Jericho spoke with Triple H and Chyna and reportedly apologized for accidentally hurting Chyna and now he's booked to work with X-Pac for the foreseeable future because Vince wants X-Pac to teach Jericho how to work. There were also rumors that Vince offered Jericho a release from his contract. Jim Ross denied it on the hotline but others have insisted that it's true. Regardless, true or not, he's staying. Dave's take on this is that there's certain people in WWF who feel threatened by Jericho because he's got the skills and charisma to be a top star and there's only so many spots on top. (Jericho wrote about all this in his book but essentially, yeah, Dave has most of it correct: Jericho accidentally gave Chyna a black eye and Triple H basically buried him to Vince afterwards, which led to Jericho being held down and treated like a midcard loser during his first year or two in WWF. He and Triple H didn't get along for years due to it. Jericho was arguably the first--though by far not the last--major victim of Paranoid Triple H. Younger fans might not remember it as vividly because we all love Papa H now due to NXT. But he was kind of a dick who hurt a lot of people's careers during the early-00s).

- IWA in Puerto Rico ran a couple of shows featuring a lot of talent on loan from the WWF, including Undertaker making his return to the ring for the first time since September. Taker was supposed to be in a singles match but he's still not fully healed from his groin injury and has put on some weight, so it ended up being turned into a tag match with him and Viscera vs. Godfather and Kane. He was still really limited and didn't do much of anything in the match. As of now, the plan is still for him to return to action in WWF at the Rumble (nope, he's still gonna be out for another 5 months). Undertaker was the main drawing star and had committed to doing the shows months ago, which is why he still went and did them, but he's in no shape to be wrestling yet. (I can't find video of this match anywhere, but I'm curious what gimmick he used. Depending on which it is, this match would either be the final appearance of Deadman Taker until 2004 or the first ever appearance of Biker Taker).

- A 21-year-old student at Shawn Michaels' wrestling school suffered a serious neck and head injury on a botched back drop and was in critical condition in the hospital as of press time. Michaels has no insurance and is currently covering the hospital bills himself and flew in family members in. He's also expecting to get sued over it inevitably and with the bills mounting, Michaels has told people he may have to return to the ring to pay for it (I assume we find more info about this in future issues because there's no name or extra details here yet and I can't find much info elsewhere).

- Various WWF notes: D-Lo Brown's contract still has 14 months on it, so forget rumors of him going to WCW. Steve Austin is getting married to Debra soon and is planning to return to wrestling as soon as his neck heals after his surgery. Jerry Lawler and Miss Kitty missed the TV tapings last week because they coincided with the Hollywood premier for Man on the Moon with Jim Carrey (which is getting great reviews). Ken Shamrock still wants to return to MMA in 2000. And when Taz debuts, his name will be spelled Tazz because Time Warner owns the trademark on "Taz." And WWF stock hit an all-time low this week.
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A mooooonth??? UUGGHH!!!

Jkjk can’t wait
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How dare you, I was bored at work all damn day. Had to resort to rereading the photo thread.
[+] 1 user Likes DangPlex's post
The Houston Nitro caught my eye. I wanted to see what the crowd looked like and from the opening, it looks like they did a good job of hiding the crowd size which ended up being 16,000+. The card was trash and had me legitimately wondering who some of these people were:

1 Brian Knobbs Def. Bam Bam Bigelow
2 Buzzkill & Mike Rotunda Def. Dean Malenko & Konnan
3 Tank Abbott Def. Shane
4 Lash LeRoux & Midnight Def. Booker T. & Stevie Ray
5 Bret Hart Def. Jerry Flynn
6 J. C. Ice & Wolfie D. Def. Berlyn & Rick Steiner
7 Asya & Norman Smiley Def. Jim Duggan & Perry Saturn
8 Jeff Jarrett Def. Billy Kidman ***½
9 Don Harris & Ron Harris Def. (CO) Fit Finlay & Meng
10 Crowbar & David Flair Def. Evan Karagias & Vampiro
11 Buff Bagwell & Kanyon Def. Big Vito & Disco Inferno
12 Kevin Nash Def. Sid Vicious & The Wall
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Bunch of goddamn tag matches
Who did you not know Chris?
Shane and Midnight.

To clarify, when I read the results I could not picture either of them. Then when I watched it, I vaguely
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Damn, I dont remember pg13 in wcw at all
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