Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 2000
I remember the Radicalz debut and Benoit's first match with Triple H. First time I'd seen Benoit cause I didn't watch WCW really. I was instantly impressed and a fan of his from that first night.

Ready To Rumble was fucking fun, I don't care if it was considered bad.

I remember watching that Steve Austin interview, and the WWF commercials!

I remember Just Joe for some reason too. That dude's name has always stuck out to me.

I also remember that 5 on 5 tag match with Kane's return, that's one of my favorite moments. Fuckin insane mega pop for Kane, and I remember watching that episode - they set it up so that it was the Radicalz + Triple H and X-Pac vs Rock and Sock and 3 partners if they could find any who dared oppose the McMahon-Helmsley Regime. Didn't find any all night and I was wondering who'd actually step up and do it or would this be 2 on 5? Then Too Cool came out and I was like holy shit, did not expect that, awesome

:| It's weird how sometimes I'll remember stuff from 2000 and 2001 era wrestling better than stuff from last year.
That's because it was more memorable than stuff from last year
Or last week or last night.
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- Now that we've entered the 2000s, Dave is debating who was the Wrestler of the Century for the 1900s. He realizes that trying to decide who that is would be an impossible task due to the way the business has changed over the last 100 years. So he starts breaking stuff down into categories instead. Remember, these are just Dave's opinions.

Best In-Ring Performer - a tough one to judge because the business has evolved. Even the best matches of the 1960s don't really hold up to the athletics of an average match in the year 2000. Matches in the 80s had more believability and intensity but none of it compares to the acrobatics and spots that people do today. Anyway, all this aside, Dave says it's an easy pick for him personally: Ric Flair. He says if you judge everyone at their peak, Flair may not be the best of all time, but for being a top-level worker for more than 20 years, 300+ days a year, nobody in recent history is touching Ric Flair in the ring. He talks about Kenta Kobashi maybe being a better wrestler at his peak but says Kobashi at age 40 isn't going to be nearly as good a worker as Flair still was at 40. And Kobashi never even wrestled 200 days a year, much less 300. Flair wins simply for longevity. He was better than most people for a really, *really* long time.

Biggest Box Office Draw - Overall, Hulk Hogan is the winner. Nobody consistently sold more tickets for a longer period of time. He looks at guys like Austin right now and says no doubt Austin is a huge draw, but when he got injured....ticket sales didn't really go down and business is still strong. When Hogan strolled into WCW in 1994, he instantly quadrupled attendance and doubled buyrates. Guys like Jim Londos and Gorgeous George had similar drawing power in their days, but not consistently every single night all over the world the way Hogan did.

Biggest PPV Draw - Hogan again, although PPV only came along in 1985 and is only big in America, so it's sort of a flawed category to judge the whole century on. Again, Austin and Rock are chipping away at that record every month, but Hogan's been doing huge buyrates since the 80s.

Biggest Merchandise Seller - Hogan again overall, but just in the last 2 years, Steve Austin has really been the big story. Over the long-run, Austin is almost certainly going to end up selling more merch. But Hogan's been doing it for decades.

Biggest Television Star - Rikidozan. Several of the highest rated shows in the history of Japanese television are Rikidozan matches. Nobody in any culture can claim that. Several Rikidozan matches in the 1960s drew the kind of numbers that SuperBowls do. A 1957 match against Lou Thesz did an 87.0 rating. Hogan's biggest TV rating was a 15.2 on NBC. Granted, the comparisons aren't entirely fair because the television industry has changed drastically over the years, but even taking that into account, under any circumstances, Rikidozan's TV ratings numbers are untouchable.

Biggest Cultural Icon - El Santo, who even years after his death is still revered in Mexico and is ingrained in the fabric of the culture in ways no one else can compare to. Rikidozan might have achieved that in Japan but he died relatively young before he could achieve that level of fame.

Greatest Wrestling Promoter - Vince McMahon. Others have had bigger success at times, but nobody has had more long-term worldwide success than McMahon.

Greatest Historical Legend - Dave personally picks Frank Gotch but says Rikidozan, Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki are all close.

Best On Interviews - Dave gives the nod to Flair, although he notes that nobody has ever gotten the kind of reaction from promos that The Rock does but, once again, that's only in the last year or so. Flair has been cutting great promos since the Ford administration.

Female Wrestler of the Century - Mildred Burke was a pioneer in women's wrestling in the U.S. and its biggest star at the time. Chigusa Nagayo was a much bigger mainstream star at her peak but only for a short period of time. Manami Toyota is undoubtedly the best in-ring wrestler but was never a "star" the way Burke or Nagayo was. Moolah had longevity but was never any kind of a draw or good worker, but she's the name everyone knows now. Dave narrows down his picks to Burke or Nagayo but can't seem to really settle on one or the other because they were both equally important in different ways.

Greatest Tag Team - Same issue as above. Longevity, biggest draws, best performers, etc. are all going to be different teams. Overall, Dave finally settles on Dory & Terry Funk but you could make arguments for others.

Greatest Star for Longevity - Lou Thesz and it's not even a question. Won his first world title in 1937 and his last one in 1978 and wrestled everywhere in the world in between and the NWA was largely built on his back.

Greatest Lightweight Wrestler - Dave makes a case for several people (Tatsumi Fujinami, Danny Hodge, Rey Mysterio, Satoru Sayama, Dynamite Kid, Jushin Liger, etc.) and says he's torn between Hodge, Sayama, and Liger for different reasons. He ultimately settles on Jushin Liger.


- Oh hey, real news now. WCW SuperBrawl 2000 is in the books and was....fine. Singer James Brown made a surprise appearance which got a big pop. Hulk Hogan got by far the biggest response of the show, and Sting made a surprise return. There were only 5,500 or so paid fans (another 3,000 comps) and it was the first time in years that SuperBrawl didn't sell out in advance. The show ended with Scott Hall getting legit injured...maybe. It appeared to be a spinal injury of some sort from either the Jeff Jarrett guitar shot or the Sid Vicious powerbomb and he had to be helped out of the ring and taken to the hospital afterward with rumors of a possible bulging disc. He's scheduled for an MRI later this week and is said to be suffering weakness on the right side of his body. The problem here is that there's a lot of skepticism due to the timing of the injury. After his antics last week, it was widely expected that Hall was either going to be suspended or fired following the PPV, so now people are openly speculating that Hall is faking an injury to avoid being fired so he can go back to sitting at home and collecting his contract. In fact, with everyone in the company on guaranteed contracts and a lot of stars allegedly injured, there's a lot of whispers of wrestlers milking injuries so they can stay home and still get paid.

- Other notes from the show: David Finlay was in Brian Knobbs corner during the hardcore match and Dave is annoyed because those 2 had just started a feud against each other, and now they're buddy-buddy and the announcers never even tried to explain why. Just another WCW storyline that makes no sense. The Wall vs. The Demon was actually, believe it or not, billed as the "co-main event" even though it was only the 4th match on the show. The reason is that the contract Eric Bischoff put together with KISS guaranteed that the Demon character would be given a certain number of PPV main event matches. Which means at some point, Bischoff planned to have Brian Adams main event a PPV. And now the gimmick has been given to Dale Torborg who sucks so much that it makes Dave wistful for Brian Adams. Anyway, with Bischoff gone, WCW wants out of the stupid KISS deal but they can't so they're stuck promoting the Demon's midcard matches as "main events." Anyway, Wall beat him in 3 minutes. Tank Abbott beat Big Al in a controversial match. They're friends in real life and so they didn't go easy on each other, with lots of serious hard punches to the face. But the real controversy came after the match, when Tank Abbott pulled out a knife and held it to Big Al's throat while shouting, "I could fucking kill you right now!" The camera immediately pulled away while Tony Schiavone, thinking on his feet, claimed it was a pair of scissors and that Abbott was planning to cut his hair. Of course, Big Al is completely bald and clean shaven so...maybe not that good of a cover. But hey, points for effort! (We'll hear a little more about this next week). Big T (formerly Ahmed Johnson) beat Booker T in a battle over the letter T. Yes, for real. The Terry Funk/Ric Flair match was probably the best match on the show but still wasn't that good. They kept showing clips of their famous 1989 match and it only emphasized how much these 2 have aged and gotten worse in the 11 years since. Sting made a surprise return to save Hogan from a beat down which is all well and good except the last 2 times we saw Sting, it was a whole other angle with Hogan that never went anywhere and has apparently since been forgotten. And Roddy Piper returned as a referee in the main event but nobody seemed to really care at this point in the show.

- Dave hypes the upcoming Super J Cup tournament and lists all the participants. He says it has a lot to live up to because the first 2 Super J Cup events were arguably 2 of the greatest shows in wrestling history. He also says Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko were originally scheduled to be in this tournament but that got scrapped after they signed WWF contracts.

- Dave apologizes to Observer readers about a recent mail fuck up that caused a lot of subscribers to not get the previous issue and some people to get it twice. All the problems should be fixed now and he's trying to make it right with anyone who didn't get the last issue. Good guy Dave!

- Still a lot of rumors swirling about a potential split of AJPW which could come as soon as next month. The idea would be that Toshiaki Kawada or Akira Taue would stay with AJPW as company president while everyone else, led by Misawa, would split off into their own company. AJPW's television contract with NTV expires next month and if there's a split, it's believed NTV might go with Misawa since he seems to have the most support from the other wrestlers. Either way, things are rocky in AJPW right now and whoever ends up with the TV contract is likely going to be the winner in this battle.

- NJPW announced another Tokyo Dome show for April 7th that will be broadcast on TV-Asahi in prime time which is the first time NJPW has had a prime-time TV special since 1992. It's expected to be headlined by another Hashimoto vs. Ogawa rematch. Antonio Inoki also talked about wanting to have Misawa or Kobashi from AJPW involved and also spoke about bringing Vader in. Of course, all of that would depend on AJPW cooperating with the show.

- Tatsumi Fujinami claims he plans to retire after he has 100 more matches. Umm...okay. He named all the top NJPW stars and also said he hopes to have matches with Misawa, Kobashi, Kawada, and Taue before he hangs up the boots (as of this writing, it looks as though he's had almost 400 matches since then, with his most recent match being only 2 weeks ago).

- Speaking of retirements, Atsushi Onita is claiming his final match will be in May. But Dave says Onita has retired more times than anyone other than Terry Funk so don't buy into this.

- Bryan Alvarez (who publishes his own Figure Four Weekly newsletter and works for the Observer website) did a Q&A Yahoo Sports chat and received 997 questions in less than an hour, making it one of the top 10 Yahoo Sports chats in history. The others in the top 10 include Ken Griffey Jr., Karl Malone, and Troy Aikmen. Early internet was weird.

- Sabu is expected to file a lawsuit against ECW in an attempt to get out of his contract so he can go to WCW. Although there's some heat on Sabu from the WCW side because they feel he misrepresented himself when he claimed he didn't have a valid ECW contract when, in fact, he did. WCW won't use him until he's cleared. Sabu is also trying to work independent shows but Heyman is holding him to his contract on that as well. So basically, Sabu can't work anywhere right now unless Paul Heyman allows it. In related news, Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch are still trying to get their release from ECW as well so they can go to WCW.

- On the latest TNN show, Rob Van Dam was stripped of the ECW TV title due to his injury. He held it for exactly 700 days. They did it as part of an angle with Cyrus playing the heel TNN executive role. He said if the TV title can't be defended on TV, it would hurt the lead-in ratings for RollerJam. Dave is amazed that TNN is allowing ECW to portray them like this and especially to keep making jokes at the expense of RollerJam. Because the reality is...it's true, TNN really does only want ECW to provide a strong lead-in for that show (it's the whole reason they made the deal in the first place) and ECW is actively trying to sabotage it, while TNN is standing by and allowing it.

- A couple of interesting notes from another recent ECW house show: Sandman went around after his match sharing beers with everybody and at one point he handed a beer to a little girl who looked to be all of 7-years-old. Also during the show, New Jack cut a promo talking about his injuries and saying he was supposed to be out for 3 months but said all the drinking and drugs he does is going to help him come back sooner.

- Elektra missed another show this week due to her fear of flying and refusal to get on an airplane and her ECW future is in question. Dave says it's hard to get by in this business if you're afraid to fly.

- Ric Flair has officially decided not to run for governor of North Carolina. It seems like this was mostly just Flair's attempt to test the waters for a possible future run and get some publicity in the meantime. Speaking of Flair, this is the last year of his current contract which calls for him to earn $500,000 per year and mostly be used in a backstage role. In reality, he's still going full speed ahead as a wrestler and will probably end up working more house shows than any other major star in the company, so he's negotiating for more money since he's obviously playing a bigger role than they intended for him to be doing in the year 2000 when they made the deal 2 years ago.

- Follow-up on all the Scott Hall news from last week. While in Germany, Hall was relentlessly harassing Terry Taylor, with many saying Taylor showed incredible patience and restraint in not punching Hall's face in. Hall also got into a fight with his on/off-again girlfriend Emily Sherman, who is the neice of Turner executive Brad Siegel and threw a cake at her. And of course, he spent the entire week causing trouble at bars and basically just went on a 24/7 bender during the whole tour. When they went to leave Germany, authorities wouldn't let him on the plane which caused him to miss Nitro. When he arrived back to the U.S. the next day for Thunder, he was bragging that he got the night off work and got to spend another night in a 4-star hotel in Germany. Then he started harassing Taylor again and threatened to go off-script during an in-ring segment and do something to him. Most people thought Hall was just joking but to be safe, they pulled him from the segment entirely. The whole thing led to a 30-minute delay before they started the taping while they sorted out the mess and re-wrote the opening segment. Hall then left the building and went to a bar and was bragging that WCW couldn't fire him because his testimony in the lawsuit with WWF is too important (remember, the old WWF lawsuit from way back in 1996 over Hall and Nash being portrayed as WWF stars when they debuted is *still* pending). Ring announcer Dave Penzer tried to keep the crowd entertained during the 30 minute delay but was getting booed relentlessly. Taylor finally came out before the show started and made up a story that Hall and Sid Vicious had gotten into an altercation at a hotel which was why neither would be on the show (Vicious actually claimed he had a concussion and didn't show up).

- Sonny Onoo is attempting to recruit several of the fired Mexican wrestlers into his racial discrimination lawsuit against WCW. If they bring in guys like Ultimo Dragon and Hector Garza, that may be bad news for WCW. Those were guys who were hugely successful elsewhere but flopped in WCW because they were never given a chance. Combine that with Vince Russo's comments about nobody wanting to watch Mexican or Japanese wrestlers, the pinata on a pole match, Mexican wrestlers hitting each other with tequila bottles and all the other sterotype-angles like that and...you kinda have a decent case against WCW. Onoo appeared on a radio show and talked about all of that, mentioning Russo's comments and how Ultimo Dragon was fired by WCW after they got rid of Bischoff (who had promised Ultimo that they would honor his contract because his career was ended by a botched surgery from WCW's doctor). He basically blamed the whole thing on Russo but Dave points out that a lot of the allegations in the lawsuit go back to stuff that happened under Bischoff's watch. But Onoo of course isn't trying to throw his friend under the bus. (I asked Bischoff about this in his Reddit AMA a few months ago and he responded here: https://www.reddit.com/r/SquaredCircle/c...t/dzcgr4d/)

- Scott Steiner's suspension for going off-script during his promo a couple weeks ago is reportedly for 90 days (nah).

- When Bret Hart was in Germany with WCW, they wanted him to go out and cut promos as a heel. Hart has spent the last decade as the most popular wrestler in Germany and naturally thought that was stupid. When he went out to the ring, he got a huge babyface response, so he said fuck it and just cut a babyface promo anyway.

- On WCW Saturday Night, they aired a segment where Jim Duggan found the old TV title in a trash can and so now he's the TV champion. Dave thinks that's one surefire way to render a title and a champion totally meaningless.

- Dave recounts a funny Chris Jericho story. Apparently Jericho's fiancé found an old WCW action figure package with Jericho and Malenko figures in it that they didn't have, so she bought it for him. On the receipt, it rang up as a Hogan/Sting action figure bundle, which means that goes into the accounting for Hogan and Sting merch and they get the residuals from it (I'm pretty sure Jericho has talked about this before in interviews or something).

- Billy Kidman appeared on a radio show this week and basically said he hates working in WCW. He said Hogan's comments about him recently made it clear that there's never going to be a spot for him higher up in the company. Chris Kanyon was also on the show and Kanyon said Bill Busch had told any WCW star that if they wanted a release, he would give it to them. So Kanyon asked for it and Busch stalled on signing the paperwork before finally refusing and asking Kanyon to give it another month or so and see if things get better. On the radio show, Kanyon called bullshit on that and said at this point, he's trying to cause problems just so he can get fired. Kanyon was also upset because WCW claimed he only worked 55 days last year. Kanyon says that's only in-ring shows. But he spent much of last year doing choreography on the Jesse Ventura movie and on the Ready To Rumble movie, all on orders from WCW, and was on the road 235 days last year because of it.

- Hulk Hogan appeared on Mancow's radio show, saying more outlandish shit. He claimed his SuperBrawl match with Luger would turn WCW around and that nobody under 40 on the WCW roster is a star (Goldberg would probably be thrilled to hear that, Dave says). He said Perry Saturn has never drawn a dime and never would and blamed Russo for WCW's current problems. At this point, Dave just fucking snaps. Aww shit, here we go. "Hogan needs to go. He's done more to hurt team morale than anyone in the company. The company will never rebuild as long as he's around," he begins. Dave says the ONLY job of EVERY wrestler over 40 in WCW right now should be to help create new stars the right way and that anyone who doesn't get on board needs to be fired. No exceptions. WCW has to rebuild, it's going to be a long process and it will be years before the results are visible, but it has to start now and it has to be done as a team. They have to start looking at who the stars are going to be in 2005 rather than still hanging on to guys from the 80s who might still get a big pop but are actively killing the company and dragging ratings down with them. Dave uses Terry Funk in ECW as an example, as Funk was used perfectly to help grow that company. Guys like Hogan can look at every young star and give a dozen reasons why they'll never get over, but people said the same thing about Mick Foley. Hell, Paul Heyman turned talentless Public Enemy into the biggest stars in ECW at one point. In the short-term, WCW is already fucked but they keep destroying their future in hopes of finding a short-term solution. It's time to give up on the present. They have to start looking long-term or they're going to end up like the AWA, folding because they couldn't stop tripping over their own dicks. Bringing back guys like Roddy Piper or putting Hogan against Lex Luger in high profile PPV matches...those things aren't the solution. They're the problem and the longer WCW fails to grasp that, the longer it will take to ever get out of this hole they've dug for themselves. Dave says he knows he sounds like a broken record because he's been saying this shit for a year now, but the real broken record is WCW because they're the ones that keep doing the wrong thing over and over and over and over.

- WCW fired C.G. Afi (better known later in ECW and WWF as Tony Mamaluke). It's a weird decision because Afi is young and making no real money, so it wasn't a budget reason. And he's really talented and has potential. But word is he has had a LOT of concussions over the years and it's thought that WCW might have been concerned about that (he has talked about this in interviews since, and yeah he got released from WCW because of concussions).

- Sting has pulled out of the next few weeks of house show matches. Dave has no idea why he's allowed to just decide he doesn't want to work and still gets paid as much as he does.

- There's an issue with Psicosis' visa so he hasn't been able to cross the border for the last couple of weeks and is stuck in Mexico, which is why he hasn't been on TV.

- WCW has a show scheduled for Winnipeg (you idiot!) soon which is the first time they've ever been there. They've sold 5,000 tickets which is a pretty good advance for WCW these days, but one big problem: most of those tickets were sold weeks ago, when they went on sale and the advertised main event was Bret Hart vs. Chris Benoit. Needless to say, that's not happening now.

- Vince McMahon's comments comparing Mick Foley's wife to Robin Givens ended up being printed in the New York Post this week. Foley confronted McMahon about it at the TV tapings last week. Vince didn't exactly apologize but he did walk back the comments somewhat, saying he has nothing but respect for Collette Foley and understands that she's concerned for the welfare of her husband.

- Raw drew nearly 30,000 to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, and the WWF/WCW feud is such a dead issue at this point that WWF didn't even bother to rub it in WCW's face once during the show. Benoit missed the show because his fiance Nancy was in labor (well that's certainly sad to read in retrospect, since we know how that story ends).

- Luna Vachon was fired by WWF after an incident last week where she taped the mouth shut of one of the TV producers. She claimed the producer was a friend and it was a rib, but the producer was apparently very upset about it. The last time she was in WWF, she had a history of discipline issues and was told when they brought her back that she was basically on a zero tolerance, one-strike policy and, well...there ya go.

- Various WWF notes: Trish Stratus and the Dupp Brothers are expected to start soon. Vince McMahon met with sometime-WCW jobber Chase Tatum but he apparently didn't come off well at the meeting and now he won't be hired. Val Venis has a hurt neck, Taka Michinoku is still out injured from Rumble, Matt Hardy has a separated shoulder, and Chyna is expected to make 2 more appearances on 3rd Rock From The Sun. She also has an autobiography due out in June. A Fabulous Moolah book is expected to follow that. Glenn Kulka was fired and found out about it from the internet because WWF.com posted it before anyone actually called to tell him. Ultimate Warrior's lawsuit against WWF goes to trial next month. Rock is hosting SNL next month.

- Some of the recent Raw Magazine had to be edited because Benoit and Saturn made negative comments about WCW, which would have violated the terms of their release because they're not supposed to speak badly about the company.

- WWF is said to have absolutely no interest in Scott Hall under any circumstances due to his well-known issues. They also don't want Kevin Nash anymore after years of hearing about his political games. They are interested in Kanyon if he can get out of his deal. WWF is looking to build the company around young, hungry stars, not old names that play politics.

- Triple H appeared on Mancow's radio show last week also and ripped into WCW. He said Goldberg was a flash in the pan who gets injured and sits out when things don't go his way and said he didn't think Vince McMahon would even hire him if he was available. Dave says that may arguably be one of the dumbest things a wrestler has ever said. Triple H also said he doesn't like Bret Hart and knocked Hogan for still wearing his tiny trunks and wrestling at 46 years old (weird. I could have sworn I just watched Triple H...in his tiny trunks...wrestle this past weekend, at 49 years old). He also said Flair is still the best when it comes to promos but knocked Flair for still wrestling in his little trunks looking all floppy and frail.

- Many of the WWF women were in the Dominican Republic doing a swimsuit shoot for an upcoming video and magazine. New signee Trish Stratus was part of the shoot.

- WWF stock still hasn't recovered from the XFL announcement and is still hovering in the $11 range (it's hovering around $85 as I post this today).

No mention of Bruno for greatest of the 1900's is a surprise.
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I think he explained why. Basically, Bruno was huge....regionally. For all the times he sold out Madison Square Garden, he wasn't much of a draw outside the northeast. He'd go work west coast shows and they wouldn't even sellout. In places like Japan, he was nowhere near the star that other foreigners were.


- Mick Foley officially retired this week following his match with Triple H at No Way Out. Dave usually does a big career retrospective on big stars after they retire but thinks he should probably wait until years down the road before he does one for Foley because he probably still has a lot more to offer the business. But he still gives him a brief recap. Overachiever in wrestling, defied odds to become one of the top stars in the business and even a best selling author. He gave his body and probably his brain health to the business and achieved great success without ever developing a selfish top star attitude that so many others have. And he went out like a pro, spending the last several months bending over backwards to get Triple H over. Dave says that years from now when Triple H is remembered as one of the top stars in the business, he'll owe a lot of that to Foley. He was probably the single biggest influence on changing the style of wrestling in the past 10 years but it comes at a cost. He's managed to not become hooked on painkillers like so many other wrestlers, but he's likely going to spend the rest of his life in a lot of pain and dealing with the mental effects of so many years of unprotected chair shots and things like that. Dave hopes he doesn't turn into another Dynamite Kid. In the last year or so, injuries had pretty much reduced Foley to a comedy figure but since he was planning to retire, he decided to go out in a blaze of glory. His Rumble and No Way Out matches with Triple H were full of the crazy risks and hardcore madness that Foley built his career on, and in the weeks leading up to the final match, he cut some of the best and most emotional promos of his career.

- So is it Foley's last match? Dave says pretty much no big name wrestler who has had a retirement match has ever stayed retired. Right now, in modern times, Antonio Inoki is currently the only one who has actually kept his word on it (give him, like, a week). Riki Choshu hasn't come back yet but it appears he's planning to soon (yup). Terry Funk has retired and come back so many times now that it's become sad. Foley has said that he won't be one of those people who retires and then comes back and promised he will never wrestle again. Dave isn't so sure. The whole storyline about Foley's dream to main event a Wrestlemia leads him to believe Foley will be back in a year or so, probably to main event next year's WM in what will probably be his real final match after giving him a year to rest up and get back into shape. He'll only be 35 so it's not like he'd be too old to do it (Dave was kinda right, except instead of a year, it was a month). In the meantime, Foley is expected to be kept off TV for a few weeks and then likely return in some sort of on-air role, probably as the new commissioner.

- Oh yeah, the rest of the No Way Out PPV. Dave says it was one of the best WWF PPVs in a long time, full of surprises and great matches. Big Show surprisingly beat The Rock to become the #1 contender for Triple H's title at WM but Dave expects Rock to still end up in the match somehow. It might become a triple threat, which is an idea Dave doesn't seem thrilled with and says Rock vs. Triple H is still the plan for WM but he doesn't know how they'll get there now. Billy Gunn tore his rotator cuff a few days before the show. He worked the match (although he didn't do much and literally couldn't use his left arm at all) and he and Road Dogg dropped the tag titles so that Gunn can go get surgery. Match was still decent even though Gunn was barely able to do anything (Gunn ended up being out for the next 8 months after this). Bob Holly also messed up his ribs before the show, so the triple threat hardcore title match was scrapped from the card. Angle vs. Jericho was good. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardyz was good. Terri Runnels returned and of course she turned on the Hardyz.

- So that Wrestler of the Century debate that Dave has been pondering for the last couple of weeks has been decided and Dave's answer is: Rikidozan. He spends a LONG time explaining the reason behind Rikidozan (Japan's first wrestling star and in fact, he pretty much created pro wrestling in Japan and became the country's first real cultural television star because of it). He personally handpicked, trained, and mentored Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki, the 2 men who later carried the business after his death. Same with Kintaro Ohki, who was discovered and trained by Rikidozan and became the biggest wrestling star ever in Korea. Basically, the entire industry of professional wrestling wouldn't exist in Japan if not for him. Dave writes a LONG bio on Rikidozan, his life story, history, legacy and why he's arguably one of the the most important people in the history of the business. This is another one of those long pieces that is too much to really recap here but is well worth reading in full if you want to learn a LOT of Japanese wrestling history. It's impossible to overstate how important Rikidozan was to professional wrestling. Without him, there's no Baba or Inoki, no AJPW or NJPW, which in turn means probably none of the shoot-fighting promotions that later formed the basis of modern day MMA, at least not as we know it today. Lou Thesz's departure from the NWA in the 1950s and how that led to the formation of new promotions in the U.S. and even the creation of AJPW's Triple Crown title. It ALL traces back to Rikidozan in some way. Thousands of people attended his wedding, including politicians, movie stars, pop stars, famous athletes, and more and Dave compares it to the Princess Di wedding. He was also heavily tied in to the Yakuza, which ultimately led to his murder. Over disagreements about money and control of the wrestling business, Rikidozan had angered the wrong people. A Yakuza member urinated on a knife, to make sure it would cause an infection, and stabbed Rikidozan in the stomach in a night club hallway. After the stabbing, Rikidozan beat the shit out of the guy who stabbed him while the crowd cheered and then threw the guy out of the club. He then got on stage, announced he'd been stabbed and acted like it was no big thing and continued partying and drinking with a crowd of adoring fans. But he made a fatal mistake by not getting medical attention, contracted peritonitis from the dirty knife, and got an infection and died a week later. His death nearly killed the entire wrestling industry in Japan, especially after the real stories about his life became known to the public (they all worshiped Rikidozan as a sports hero and in reality, he was basically a merciless mob boss who was into a lot of shady shit). Most major arenas no longer allowed pro wrestling and with the biggest star ever dead, the business nearly died with him until Giant Baba and, later, Inoki revived it during the JWA years in the late-1960s (this single paragraph I just wrote doesn't even scratch the surface of all the details Dave wrote. This is seriously must-read for people interested in Japanese wrestling history. And speaking of, if you haven't read Chris Charlton's book Lion's Pride, what are you waiting on?)


- A Detroit News reporter named Jim Thompson, who wrote weekly pro wrestling columns for the newspaper has been arrested and charged with sexual misconduct with minors, in regards to incidents with a couple of teenage boys. Along with his columns, he also did a popular wrestling hotline. When his apartment was searched, they found hundreds of child porn pictures and videos, some featuring Thompson himself with young boys. They confiscated 2 truckloads worth of material from his home and turns out he had a lot of contact with various professional wrestlers also, although it's believed none of them were aware of his crimes. Rumors have apparently been going around about this guy in wrestling circles for years. He was an Observer reader and Dave says that several of this guy's letters had been published in the Observer before also. Police said that he has been doing it for decades and admitted to at least 1,200 encounters with young boys and he apparently used his money to pay young boys to sexually torture him. Dave seems pretty well disgusted by this guy (I looked it up: he went to prison and served 16 years and was apparently released in 2016 and is living in a nursing home in Michigan. He's in his 70s now.)

- WWF stock is expected to finally turn around this week after they announced strong quarter profits and the LA Times published a big story about CBS attempting to buy a $100 million stake in the company to get TV rights. The story said CBS would buy into the company and promote both the WWF and XFL. USA has the right to match any offer first but it's unlikely they'll be able to compete with CBS money. If the deal goes through, Smackdown will stay on UPN and the XFL will air on Sunday afternoons on UPN, while Raw would move to TNN. There had been negotiations with FOX but McMahon walked away from the table because he insisted XFL had to be part of the deal and FOX wasn't interested in that. Of course, this is all big news because if it happens, that leaves USA Network without a wrestling product. Dave thinks they might pick up ECW if this all happens (since a Raw-to-TNN deal would almost certainly lead to ECW being booted from TNN) but it's still too far away to know for sure how it'll play out.

- Dave predicts that Vince McMahon will never allow another independent film producer into the world of WWF. A couple of years ago, Wrestling With Shadows ended up in court against the WWF and now it looks like Beyond The Mat will also. Last week, McMahon ordered USA and UPN to pull all advertising for the movie. The movie studio had spent a TON of money on ads during WWF programming leading up to the national theatrical release. In response, Universal Pictures is threatening a restraint of trade lawsuit against the WWF. This week, WWF's Senior VP Jim Byrne put out a statement saying, "Upon viewing it, we decided that we had no emotional attachment to the film. In regards to their advertising in the body of the show, it has been a longstanding policy of the WWF to not allow any advertising of a competitive wrestling product on our television because it could cause confusion in the marketplace." A few weeks ago, Mick Foley appeared on Good Morning America and promoted the movie. Afterwards, producer Barry Blaustein claims that McMahon called him and said if Foley was really his friend, he wouldn't allow him to promote the movie because it will ruin his career. In recent interviews with Foley, WWF's PR people have informed the reporters that questions about Beyond The Mat aren't allowed. Both of the deals for Wrestling With Shadows and Beyond The Mat were signed when WWF was losing the wrestling war and McMahon was desperate for any kind of mainstream publicity (at the time, WCW refused to participate in both films because they were winning and didn't see the need). The filmmakers of both films had almost unlimited backstage access and McMahon had no control or say in what was filmed. Dave thinks McMahon trying to bury this movie is just going to lead to more publicity for it, and much like Wrestling With Shadows, this movie has been getting rave reviews. It's believed McMahon's unhappiness from the movie is due to the scenes of Mick Foley's children crying hysterically at the finish of the Rumble '99 match. There have been a lot of media reports about how kids shouldn't watch wrestling because they can't distinguish between real and fake violence, and the deaths of several children from imitating wrestling moves has been a big mainstream news story. Seeing 2 young children losing their fucking minds watching their dad get beaten up looks pretty bad for WWF in that case. In an ABC 20/20 story, WWF tried to claim that the scene was staged by the producers but the filmmakers, and even Foley, have denied that it was fake.

- Raw did nearly triple the ratings of Nitro this week, the biggest gap between the 2 shows ever. Nitro hit a new record low of 2.57. And Thunder also did a record low rating when airing unopposed. Oh, and WCW Saturday Night did its all-time lowest rating in the 20+ year history of being on TBS. This week was basically the Red Wedding of WCW's ratings. Meanwhile, ECW on TNN had another good ratings week and gained viewers throughout the show.

- Perro Aguayo is planning to retire this month and will have his final match in Arena Mexico, where he hasn't appeared in over 7 years. Basically, CMLL has a monopoly on that arena and Aguayo works for rival company AAA but he's such a legend in Mexico that he asked if he could have his final match there and it was agreed that he could. It's unknown just who his opponent will be yet but it's expected to likely be Fishman who was his biggest rival in the 70s and 80s. Fishman's career is coming to an end also and it's thought he may lose his mask to Aguayo in the match (lol nah. Aguayo pretty much works a full schedule for the next year).

- Mil Mascaras is talking about running for senator of San Luis Potosi, his home state in Mexico. He wouldn't be the first wrestler to become a senator, but Dave says he'd be the first masked wrestler to do so. I'd love to see a politician who just sits around in a wrestling mask and you never see his face.

- Still a lot of rumors of AJPW splitting up due to Mitsuharu Misawa and Motoko Baba being unable to get along. Apparently there's been talk of a split as far back as last year due to tensions between the two, but Nippon TV told Misawa that, due to Baba having died so recently, they would not go against AJPW out of respect. So if Misawa had split from the company back then, the TV network wouldn't have gone with him. But now that it's been more than a year since Baba passed, Nippon TV is said to be willing to listen and are said to be leaning towards Misawa's side. So if they split and Misawa forms his own company, it looks like AJPW may end up losing their TV deal because of it.

- AJPW will be debuting 2 new wrestlers at an upcoming show. The first is former sumo wrestler Takeshi Inoue (better known as Takeshi Rikio) and the other is an 18-year-old trainee named Kenta Kobayashi (who Dave says "has got to change his name.") In case you're wondering, he did indeed change his name, spending the next decade-plus wrestling as KENTA before signing with WWE and becoming Hideo Itami.

- NJPW filmed an angle at Narita Airport in Tokyo with Shinya Hashimoto slapping Naoya Ogawa in the face and challenging him to a match. Naturally, I can't find any footage of this.

- In the Big Japan promotion, a match between Shadow WX and Mike Samples went terribly wrong when WX literally set himself on fire and then did a splash off the top rope onto Samples. The ring got set on fire and then he rolled out into the crowd while still in flames and it was an extremely dangerous. WX suffered serious burns because he couldn't get his shirt off and other people couldn't put out the fire. He had to be taken out in an ambulance. Korakuen Hall officials were furious and have banned all promotions from using fire or fluorescent light tubes in matches. The police and fire department are investigating and BJW is expected to face some punishment. WX is the one who came up with the stunt so on top of being burned and hospitalized, he's also been fined and suspended for a month (yeah this is fucking crazy and just about one of the stupidest things I've seen in wrestling).

- Sable got horrible reviews for her performance on the show Relic Hunter last week. She's also going to be on the cover of Muscle & Fitness next month.

- Shane Douglas appeared at an XPW show in Los Angeles and cut a promo on WCW, trashing Bill Busch, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair (calling them "fossilized manure") and saying they were why WCW couldn't draw ratings. He also allegedly gave out Busch's phone number on the mic to the crowd. Needless to say, WCW's probably not thrilled about all this since, ya know, he's still under WCW contract. Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch also appeared on the show and they reformed the Triple Threat group from ECW with Douglas.

- Sabu worked 2 house shows for ECW this weekend. He had a long talk with Heyman the night of the first show and as of now, it's still unknown where things stand. Sabu is telling people he won't work the upcoming PPV unless he gets a check for back pay owed for previous PPVs. Heyman claims Sabu isn't owed any money and that if Sabu doesn't work the PPV, he'll be in breach of contract and is threatening to file a lawsuit against him. Sabu apparently threatened to sue him back, but Heyman has called his bluff and as of now, Sabu hasn't filed any lawsuits. (And thus comes the end of the long history between Sabu and ECW. After those 2 house shows, he never wrestled for the company again).

- Various ECW notes: RVD and Jerry Lynn are both still a couple of months from returning from their injuries. Spike Dudley has a torn PCL and needs surgery.

- Backstage at a Toledo house show, Sandman was apparently acting belligerent and got into it with Chris Chetti. It started off with a bet, since Chetti was an amateur wrestler, saying he could pin Sandman in 30 seconds and if he did, Sandman would give him $600. Chetti indeed did it and then continued tying Sandman in knots for a few seconds afterward. It led to a big argument but Chetti ended up refusing the money and they squashed it. People who watched it said it was obvious that Chetti could have easily hurt Sandman if he'd wanted to.

- Dave says that those in power in WCW have pretty much resigned themselves to the fact that they're stuck catering to Hogan's whims. He still has 2 years left on his contract, with full creative control of his angles, and WCW is basically shit out of luck.

- Speaking of Hogan, he just did an interview recently and claimed that all of WWF's headliners were between 35-40 just like WCW. Aside from Undertaker and Austin (both of whom haven't been around in months due to injuries), not a single current WWF headliner is 35 or over. Mick Foley is the closest at 34. Triple H is 30. Rock is still in his 20s. And basically everybody else on the roster of any name value is all under 35 also. Hell, even Austin is only 35 and Undertaker is the oldest at 37 so literally none of them are even that close to 40 yet.

- Here's the story on last week's incident where Tank Abbott pulled a knife out during his PPV match with Big Al. Before the match, Abbott had asked booker Kevin Sullivan if he could use a weapon in the match. Sullivan, thinking like a pro wrestler, said sure, naturally assuming that meant steel chair or table or something. Abbott, thinking like a real life street fighter, had a different idea in mind and pulled a switchblade out and held it to Big Al's throat after the match. Needless to say, there was heat on Abbott. The long-term plan has been to build up Abbott for the rest of the year with the idea that he would face Goldberg at Starrcade in December. But this incident seems to have ended those plans and on Nitro this week, Abbott ended up tapping out to Sid in 3 minutes, effectively killing his push.

- Speaking of, there have been booking meetings this week to discuss how to turn the company around and the plan seems to be to go 100% all in with Goldberg whenever he returns from his injury and to have him plow through everybody on the roster, heel and face. Basically going back to what got him over the first time.

- More news on Sonny Onoo's racial discrimination lawsuit. His lawyers are trying to get Super Calo, Lizmark Jr., Damian, Ciclope, and Hector Garza in on the suit. The idea is that these guys were all pretty big stars in Mexico, but were treated like jobbers in WCW, which they feel helps strengthen their suit and proves that these were talented guys who were capable of being stars but WCW never gave them a chance because of their race.

- Terry Funk missed this week's Thunder taping because he was in Philadelphia for a court case stemming from the ECW incident a few years ago where some fans got burned when a fire spot went out of control (very similar, in fact, to the BJW fire incident mentioned earlier). The case has since been postponed.

- There's a lot of heat on Sting because he was supposed to be at Nitro last week but for whatever reason, he simply refused to come.

- Various WCW notes: Scott Steiner's suspension has been shortened and he should be back before the end of the month. Curt Hennig has missed some shows because his daughter was badly injured in a skiing accident and was even in a coma at one point. Torrie Wilson is on this month's cover of Iron Man bodybuilding magazine.

- Buff Bagwell went on his website and said he's demanding to be paid what he's worth by WCW or else he'll be asking for his release, which allows Dave to get off a tremendous zinger: "I'm not sure what the going rate these days is for a 1.97 quarter hour rating, but it sounds to me like he's asking for a pay cut."

- Scott Hall was indeed going to be fired by WCW after his match at SuperBrawl, but the alleged injury he suffered at the end of the match has saved his job, at least for now. The official diagnosis is apparently a bruised spine and as you can imagine, there's a ton of skepticism over it. Some people don't think he's hurt at all and he basically faked the whole thing, trip to the hospital, MRI, and everything because he knew he was going to be fired. Others think he may really be injured but that he was hurt before the match and that he waited for the right moment to start milking it in order to save his job. Regardless, once he's no longer injured, he's expected to face some sort of discipline for his recent actions (yeah, he never wrestled another match in WCW, although he remains under contract and continues getting paid for most of 2000).

- Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch were able to get their release from ECW and will be starting with WCW any day now.

- Notes from Raw: Dave says it was the worst Raw in a long time. Anyway, Mae Young went into labor and they had her backstage with an EMT, Pat Patterson, Jerry Brisco, Moolah, and Mark Henry as she started to give birth. And then.....they pulled a hand out of her. Dave: "I have no idea what this was." He says someone called into to the online show and explained that rubber hands were a popular sex toy back in the 70s and 80s so he figures the idea must be that she was getting herself off decades ago and apparently the hand has been in there for quite awhile. So...yeah. That happened.

- A New York newspaper wrote an article about the WWF's stock troubles. Despite record profits, high TV ratings, great live attendance, and huge merch numbers, WWF stock is still in the gutter. It opened at $34 per share when they first went public and in just a few months has dropped to $11. The article mostly blamed McMahon, pointing out his obvious genius when it comes to being an entertainment producer and wrestling promoter, but noting that, as the head of a publicly traded company, he's not very good at it. WWF has repeatedly faced negative publicity and they suck at handling it, particularly due to McMahon's often confrontational reactions (like when Coke pulled their sponsorship and WWF responded by mocking them on Raw, or their attacks on the PTC people) the article noted that even though WWF is doing better business than they ever have before, the stock is hurt by McMahon's behavior. And of course, the XFL announcement was devastating to the stock (if you ever wondered why McMahon decided to start a whole separate company this time for the new XFL instead of using WWF money, here's your reason. To keep the stock from tanking again).

- Chris Benoit wrote a post on his website, lashing out at Hulk Hogan. "In the last four years of my career, I have seen the fans get shafted innumerable times on potentially great matches due to an ugly word called ego. I can go on and on talking about different events and times, but what I really want to address here regards someone who should stand out as an inspiration, a role model and a leader in the dressing room--Hulk Hogan. Here is a guy that would show up and disappear into his locker room, which had a DO NOT ENTER sign posted outside of it, concerning himself with only how many segments he had, what hours they were on, and which segments were before and after his. He would walk around, when he did step out of his confines, with this cocky arrogance as if he were the king and we, the paupers. From what I hear, not much has changed. My question is, 'What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?' Don't you think it's time you start to make a positive difference behind the scenes? Lead, follow or get out of the way. Leave the ego at home and start making some real contributions to the business and to the fans that made you." Hogan was on Bubba The Love Sponge's radio show and responded, claiming he was a big supporter of Benoit's and said he always pushed for Benoit to get more TV time and a bigger push, but others in power wanted to bury him. Dave pretty much scoffs at that shit. Perry Saturn also recently said some similar things about Hogan, leading Hogan to reply that he'll make more money this year than Saturn will in the next 10.

- Speaking of Benoit, he and his fiance Nancy welcomed their first child into the world last week, a boy named Daniel Christopher Benoit. Sigh.

- The Rock is apparently up for a role in the next Mummy movie (indeed he was, and that pretty much launched his film career).

- WWF is hopeful of Steve Austin being involved in Wrestlemania somehow. There's no chance he'll be able to work a match but they're hopeful that he may be able to do a run-in and deliver a stunner. But if he can't even do that, then they don't want to put him on the show. The situation is basically the same with Undertaker, he won't be ready to work a match by then, but they hope to have him appear in a non-wrestling role (neither happens).

(10-15-2018, 10:12 AM)Peezy Wrote: 3-6-2000

- A Detroit News reporter named Jim Thompson, who wrote weekly pro wrestling columns for the newspaper has been arrested and charged with sexual misconduct with minors, in regards to incidents with a couple of teenage boys. Along with his columns, he also did a popular wrestling hotline. When his apartment was searched, they found hundreds of child porn pictures and videos, some featuring Thompson himself with young boys. They confiscated 2 truckloads worth of material from his home and turns out he had a lot of contact with various professional wrestlers also, although it's believed none of them were aware of his crimes. Rumors have apparently been going around about this guy in wrestling circles for years. He was an Observer reader and Dave says that several of this guy's letters had been published in the Observer before also. Police said that he has been doing it for decades and admitted to at least 1,200 encounters with young boys and he apparently used his money to pay young boys to sexually torture him. Dave seems pretty well disgusted by this guy (I looked it up: he went to prison and served 16 years and was apparently released in 2016 and is living in a nursing home in Michigan. He's in his 70s now.)

Yeah, unfortunately this was my dude. He wrote under the name ML Curly. Bacc in the phone book days if you looked you could find all kinds of cool shit & I discovered his hotline in the early 90's & also got the paper the day his column was posted. I still have the August 1993 sports section with the faces holding up a triumphant (yet title-less) Lex Luger. Didn't know he was a diddler until a few years ago when on a whim I wondered whatever happened to ML Curly & googled. Total POS & I guess a LOT of people knew behind the scenes.
[Image: John-Cena-Wallpaper_002.jpg]
[+] 1 user Likes Fro's post
Crazy shit

I wonder if that is where Fro got the scoop on the 93,000 number at Silver Dome.

Never trust a diddler.
Vote ethics. Vote autistic. Vote Meltzer.
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[+] 3 users Like Chris's post

Fun fact: Despite it being obvious to erryone else I never "got it" about his ML Curly name until I googled him. Moe Larry Curly, he was a big Stooges fan (no Brisco & Patterson......well maybe Patterson LOL!).
[Image: John-Cena-Wallpaper_002.jpg]
"Well maybe Patterson"

That's funny right there
[+] 1 user Likes sanderz1's post

- More controversy over Beyond The Mat this week after USA and UPN both pulled advertisements for the film after pressure from the WWF. Vince McMahon has a strong "with us or against us" philosophy and has made it clear that the movie is not "with them" so has decided to use his power over the networks that carry WWF programming to force them to ban the ads. The ban is 24/7 on those channels, not just during WWF shows. Dave talks about how much power Vince wields over the networks now (especially since he's playing them all against each other in negotiations for WWF's next TV deal). Dave talks about a similar incident recently where NBC wouldn't air trailers for the movie Dirty Work, starring Norm MacDonald, who had recently been fired from SNL in an ugly feud with NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer. In retaliation for comments MacDonald made about him after the firing, Ohlmeyer banned ads for MacDonald's movie from airing on NBC. In an interview with a newspaper in Memphis, Jerry Lawler called Beyond The Mat director Barry Blaustein a jerk and trashed the movie. Film executives have begun airing ads on other channels, calling Beyond The Mat, "the film Vince McMahon doesn't want you to see." It also won the Best Documentary award at the Cinequest Film Festival. Ads are still airing during WCW and ECW shows (even though WCW has no role in the film whatsoever) but obviously the biggest wrestling audience are WWF fans and not being able to promote the film directly to them during WWF shows is a pretty big blow.

- The New York Daily News published a big 3-part story about the plague of early deaths in the wrestling industry that featured a lot of new information. The story discussed Brian Pillman, with quotes from his wife Melanie talking about his use of steroids, HGH, and painkillers and focusing heavily on Pillman's doctor, Dr. Hackett, who also prescribed drugs to Louie Spicolli and paints him as a dangerous and irresponsible doctor. Vince McMahon was quoted in the story saying that Pillman had passed a drug test before his death. Dave says the opposite, saying that the test actually showed nandralone (a steroid) in Pillman's system which he claimed was left over from a long time ago (apparently nandralone can be detected in your system for an extremely long time after use). Pillman was livid about the test because he felt he was being singled out and had talked about how Shawn Michaels was never tested despite going on TV high out of his mind repeatedly, and how Hawk had lost consciousness on an airplane due to drugs but was also never tested afterward. At the time, Pillman was so pissed he wanted to quit the company but Jim Ross had ordered the test because Pillman's behavior had gotten increasingly erratic. A month later he was dead. The story talked about Ahmed Johnson being prescribed painkillers and steroids by the same doctor, although Ahmed told the reporter that he had since found god and cleaned up his drug problems. It noted that The Patriot (Del Wilkes) had obtained large quantities of drugs from Hackett, who knew that Wilkes was distributing them illegally to other wrestlers (Wilkes was arrested in both 1998 and 99 for forging hydrocodone prescriptions). Dr. Hackett refused to talk to the newspaper but had his lawyer give a statement that basically blamed the WWF. The statement said the doctor had alerted the WWF to certain wrestlers abusing drugs and that WWF banned the doctor from being backstage at WWF shows in response. But several WWF wrestlers went around the ban, continuing to get Hackett free tickets and flew him out to shows so they could get stuff from him. A week after Louie Spicolli's death, a major WCW star (unnamed) flew Hackett out to a show in San Francisco. This guy basically sounds like another Dr. Zahorian waiting to happen.

- The story was also the first to address the real cause of Rick Rude's death, which was triggered by an accidental overdose of painkillers and sedatives. Oxycodone, diazepam, midazolam and citalopram were all found in his system. In fact, the amount oxycodone in Rude's system alone was enough to be fatal. Vince McMahon claimed in the story that WWF dropped its rigorous drug testing program in 1996 because of high costs and the company was struggling financially and losing to WCW at the time. However, the doctor in charge of WWF's drug testing in the early 90s claimed that McMahon stopped the testing because the wrestlers "didn't have the physiques the public wanted to see." This leads to discussion about the drug issue in wrestling and how it's not specific to WWF. Both WCW and ECW have the same problems in their locker rooms as well. In the story, McMahon claimed that WWF has nothing to hide, but considering both WWF and WCW continue to avoid running shows in Oregon (the only state that requires annual drug screenings to run shows) proves otherwise. WCW argued that they do random drug screenings, but WCW's testing is a known joke. X-Pac, who had a well-known history of drug issues (it was the whole reason he was fired from WWF in the first place), claims he was never tested once during his WCW tenure. The story also talked about the lack of health regulation, using the death of Gary Albright as an example. Albright died from a heart issue that almost certainly would have been detected ahead of time if he had ever had a routine. Wade Keller, of the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter, was quoted in the story talking about the dangers of chairshots to the head and concussions and talked about the noticeable mental deterioration of wrestlers he knows who have spent their careers getting hit in the head, which Dave also vouches for. The rest of the story was all about the usual questions of whether or not wrestling is appropriate for kids (here's the 3-part story):




- Ratings news: LOLRAWWINS. ECW also did its all-time highest rating on TNN so far, a 1.28. Inch by inch, ECW's ratings are sloooooowly growing.

- Dave always lists poll results that they do online. I usually ignore them because they're usually boring but there's 2 good ones here. The first was about the XFL and whether it will succeed. 8% said it will be a big success. 19% say it will make it eventually but it will struggle at first. 28% say it will start strong by then fade. 18% say it will be a flop from the start. And 27% say it will never even happen. The second question is about Mick Foley's retirement. 11% believe he will never wrestle again. 20% think he'll have one more match. An overwhelming 62% think he'll continue to wrestle sporadically. And 7% think he'll return full time. The masses were correct on both.

- NJPW still has their working agreement with WCW. They're doing an angle where Keiji Muto, using his Great Muta gimmick, has signed a deal with WCW and is going there to bring back some WCW wrestlers to go against Masahiro Chono's Team 2000 group. NJPW held a poll on who from WCW they'd like to see and the top 2 were Goldberg and Bret Hart. Unfortunately, neither of them will be healthy in time for next month's Tokyo Dome show so that won't be happening. In the case of Hart, his WCW contract doesn't allow the company to book him for NJPW, so if they want Hart, they have to book him directly themselves and negotiate a deal with him. And it's believed Hart would want Hogan-like money ($100,000+) to work a match for NJPW and they don't think he's worth that much.

- Barry Blaustein, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, and Terry Funk will all appear on Larry King Live this week to discuss Beyond The Mat. Dave thinks it's a bad lineup, since neither Hogan or Piper have reportedly even seen the movie and have no part in it. Funk is one of the stars so he'll probably be good. Hogan is always good at being Hulk Hogan on talk shows, but he probably won't bad-mouth Vince McMahon since he's almost assuredly looking to return to WWF when his WCW contract expires. And Piper has been an embarrassment on every talk show he's been on recently, still acting like a 70s guy who is trying to protect the business and being halfway in-character during media appearances. Considering this movie does nothing but expose the business, Piper probably won't have anything nice to say about it. Larry King's people tried to get Vince McMahon and Mick Foley for the interview but were of course turned down. Dave once again ponders why WCW is sending their oldest, most washed up guys for big media appearances like this, saying once again that they need to put the focus on young stars and that Goldberg would have been much better suited for this.

- ECW star Justin Credible will be working an upcoming TWA show, which is the promotion Shawn Michaels runs. Paul Heyman is hoping to leverage this into Michaels making an appearance for ECW, but that's all up to Vince McMahon since Shawn is still under WWF contract.

- Sabu is seemingly done with ECW for good. He came back briefly and worked 2 house shows last week. Sabu showed up at the next TV taping in the ECW Arena and was given a script by Paul Heyman (scripts are something they usually never do in ECW) which laid out plans for Sabu to put over Super Crazy in a TV title tournament match. Sabu took one look at that and walked out of the arena, saying he wasn't going to do the job. Heyman reportedly knew Sabu wouldn't agree to do the job and in fact, the reason he wrote it out in a script was so that he would have tangible evidence in case Sabu decides to go to court, Heyman can show evidence that Sabu was refusing to go along with plans and thus breaching his contract. And Sabu fell right into the trap. Super Crazy is well-liked and has consistently been one of the best workers in ECW recently and Heyman is trying to elevate him to be a top star. With Sabu flat out refusing to put him over, it has kind of erased any sympathy Sabu had from other wrestlers in the locker room in regards to his contract situation. Heyman has said he won't stop Sabu from making a living but it will have to be in Japan because he's not going to willingly let Sabu out of his contract to go to WWF or WCW. Dave thinks Heyman will eventually let either WWF or WCW buy out Sabu's contract, which expires in 2003, but he's trying to stall as much as he can. When ECW signed the deal with TNN, the network wanted every wrestler to be under contract because they didn't want the illusion of ECW as a stepping stone and didn't want ECW wrestlers jumping ship to the bigger companies overnight. So Heyman is trying to keep Sabu off ECW TV for as long as he can before he eventually shows up in WWF or WCW, so it won't look like they stole another ECW wrestler.

- The ECW Hardcore Revolution video game has sold over 600,000 copies and was the #2 selling Playstation game last week (and #6 selling N64 game). It's a pretty amazing number, because ECW's TNN show is only seen in about a million homes, and they just sold 600k video games (that video game money is a big reason why ECW didn't go out of business sooner than they did. It kept them alive through much of 2000).

- Dave talks about how ECW is continuing with this gimmick of making the TNN network be seen as heels in the eyes of ECW fans. There's a lot of belief that if WWF ends up making a TV deal with CBS, it would lead to Raw being moved to TNN and ECW would likely be booted off the network (yup). So Heyman is preparing for that by actively trying to turn fans against TNN. It's the damndest thing Dave's ever heard of.

- The PPV buyrate for WCW SuperBrawl looks to be around a 0.15 which is by far the lowest buyrate ever for one of the big two companies. In fact, it's lower than most ECW buyrates and is even lower than the buyrate AAA's 1994 PPV did. This buyrate is so low that it's actually in the same range as the one-off UWFI and K-1 kickboxing PPVs of the early 90s and those 2 shows had no television promotion whatsoever. SuperBrawl featured heavily promoted matches with both Hogan and Flair making their in-ring returns after months of being gone and needless to say, this speaks volumes about their drawing power these days. And at the rate things are going, Dave wouldn't be surprised if the next PPV does even worse. He thinks at this point, WCW would probably save money by cutting back to quarterly PPV shows. To put it in perspective, WCW grossed a total of $773,000 from SuperBrawl. A WWF house show in Atlanta recently made more than that.

- Notes from Nitro: there were only 2,200 paid fans in the building, with another 2,600 freebies for a grand total of less than 5,000 in attendance. Just one year ago, WCW legit sold out the same 16,000-seat arena the first day tickets went on sale. How the mighty have fallen. Flair is supposed to be a heel but he's so beloved by WCW fans that he can't get booed to save his life these days, especially here in Chapel Hill, NC so he had to resort to praising Duke University to get the crowd to turn on him. And even that only sorta-worked. Flair and Luger did the gimmick where they used the chair to break Curt Hennig's wrist and he left in ambulance, leading Dave to ponder why someone needs an ambulance for a broken wrist. From here, Dave just rips the rest of the show apart. Nothing good to say about any of it. We're getting into the really bad, dark days of WCW now.

- At the Thunder tapings, Sid Vicious no-showed, which....shocker. No reason given but Dave is just done with this shit. It might almost be forgivable if Sid possessed some Hogan-like drawing power, but's never been a draw and it's absurd that he continues to get so many chances in this business. Rey Mysterio was sent out to the ring and cut a promo saying he'll be back in a few months. He was backstage and WCW officials wanted him to work the show, but apparently didn't realize that he had major knee surgery and isn't going to be cleared for at least 3 more months, so they just had him do the promo instead. Funny how that sort of thing just slips past them.

- More on the racial discrimination lawsuit being filed by Sonny Onoo, Hardbody Harrison, and Bobby Walker. The lawsuit also argues that their status as independent contractors is illegal and that they were denied employee benefits like vacation and sick time. Walker (who is still technically under contract to WCW) claims he would be a huge babyface star if not for the racism in WCW and says he was told by someone in WCW management that he wasn't being pushed because not enough black people watch wrestling. WCW spokesman Alan Sharp has claimed that 87% of WCW's audience is white. Sonny Onoo was paid $160,000 per year for his on-screen manager role and was upset, noting that the average WCW wrestler makes $300,000. Of course, there's a difference between managers and wrestlers and Onoo also made a lot of extra money for his role as a liaison for WCW and NJPW but he never mentions that in his lawsuit. He also was upset that Asians and Mexicans were mostly given heel roles and said that WCW never had any minority writers on the booking teams.

- WCW is gearing up for Goldberg's return next month, and the plan is to basically turn almost everybody heel so he has a whole roster full of top stars to run through. Which is a fine idea, but there's a lot of stars that aren't going to be willing to turn heel just so they can do clean jobs to Goldberg. Lots of guys in the company have no interest in just becoming fodder for someone else's big push.

- Bret Hart is hoping to be back by July at the earliest but it's still touch and go. As of last month, Hart's pay was cut in half and as of next month, WCW can fire him. His contract prevents him from being fired while injured for a certain amount of time I guess. Hart was interviewed in a Winnipeg newspaper and said he doesn't remember Christmas or New Years due to the concussion he suffered and said it sucks because some people don't believe he's really injured and he's frustrated by that. He said that people not believing him is harder on him than actually being out of the ring. WCW head Bill Busch has spoken to Hart about the pay cut, saying it was a decision made by the legal department based on his contract but that he would try to get the decision reversed.

- Terry Taylor has voluntarily stepped down from the WCW booking committee, apparently due to personal reasons, nothing involving any backstage WCW drama. He'll continue as a road agent for now. Kevin Nash has also been removed from the committee, except he was apparently kicked out with the excuse being that he was a detriment to anything getting accomplished and was a negative influence on things. Nash argues that everyone else on the committee is out of touch and doesn't know how to reach the young adult male demographic that they're fighting for. At this point, pretty much anything you see on WCW TV of any significance is being booked by mostly Kevin Sullivan and some from Ed Ferrara. The idea is that Sullivan is basically in a sink-or-swim situation now to turn the company around and if he fails, he'll be replaced by Terry Taylor (when/if he decides to return) or possibly even bringing Russo back.

- Remember a few weeks ago when someone bought a Jericho/Malenko action figure set and it rang up as Hogan/Savage action figures on the receipt (thus counting towards their merch numbers)? Dave has gotten word from several others who have since done the same thing with the same result. He says someone also bought some old Steiner Brothers action figures and both of them rang up as Hogan figures as well. Basically, Hogan was unfairly getting a cut of merch profits that should have been going to others.

- Punk band The Misfits are threatening to sue WCW, claiming that Vampiro is using their look and that his ring gear and merchandise has artwork associated with the band's signature look.

- Buff Bagwell signed a new WCW deal this week and then immediately missed the following week's Nitro with an alleged knee injury. Lots of people are skeptical, but to be fair to Bagwell, everyone in WCW is paranoid and skeptical of everything these days. With morale in the dumps, pretty much every injury gets questioned by people and the second anyone misses a show, there's a dozen people ready to claim that person is faking it.

- Speaking of faking injuries, Scott Hall is expected to return in a few weeks (nah).

- Rare good news for WCW: the upcoming tour of England looks like it's going to be a huge success. Almost all the shows are sold out or close to it already with some pretty big gate numbers. So for the first time in at least a year, WCW wrestlers will be wrestling in front of large, packed arenas. Also, the Goldberg monster truck is doing good in....monster trucking, or whatever. It's ranked #1 in whatever monster truck rankings are.

- DDP has an autobiography out called Positively Page. Dave is halfway through it and plans to review it in a later issue. DDP is already working on a second book titled Positive Affirmation for Kids from A to Z with DDP (that 2nd one never happened. That was DDP's only chance to make a positive difference, and he missed it. Pretty sure he never did anything good for anyone ever again).

- WWF's quarterly financial report came out and it's good news. I'll try not to bore everyone with exact numbers, but in short: gross revenue is up significantly, almost entirely due to the increase in ad revenue because of the creation of Smackdown last year. Attendance is about the same as last year, but ticket prices went up 20% so they made a lot more money on that. Slight increase in PPV revenue. Huge increase in merch revenue. Tripled online revenue because this internet thing is taking off and this dot com bubble just keeps getting bigger and bigger and it's totally never going to burst. The WWF's wrestling business is so strong that the XFL could lose $92 million dollars and the company would still be profitable. That's why Vince is apparently willing to take this risk now: even if it loses tens of millions of dollars, the WWF should remain strong. Although Dave points out, this is the wrestling business and a lot can change in a year or two (see: WCW) so it's risky to try to predict the financial future based on how good things are going today. But for now, WWF is still doing astronomically huge numbers, although the overall peak of the wrestling industry seems to be fading into the past now.

- There's talk of doing an Onita-style exploding ring match between Kane and X-Pac at Wrestlemania (nah but woulda been neat).

- On Raw, Bubba Ray Dudley powerbombed Mae Young off the top rope through a table and he didn't protect her nearly as much as he protected the other women he's powerbombed recently and Mae took the bump hard. Dave says she's a very tough, ornery woman and she probably loves all this. A lot of the stuff with Mae Young is funny. But she's also 77-years-old and Dave doesn't think it's going to be very funny when she really does get hurt one of these days.

- Davey Boy Smith is in rehab for an addiction to painkillers, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and morphone. He's going to the same place in Atlanta that Steven Regal was sent to and is expected to spend several months there. WWF has promised him that his job will be waiting for him when he returns, but only if he completes the treatment. Normally, WWF tries to keep this sort of stuff confidential, but it was all written about in a story that was placed in several Canadian newspapers, which reported that WWF is paying $75,000 for Smith's rehab. Dave thinks it's good that the company is doing this, because by all accounts Dave has heard, Smith was battling a very serious addiction and was on the road to something tragic if he didn't get it under control. But he also says the fact that all of this was revealed to the media (to a Canadian paper, no less) reeks of WWF trying to get good publicity. Especially in the case of Smith, who is basically McMahon's pawn in the Owen Hart legal issues ("look! This guy who is basically part of the Hart family doesn't blame us for what happened! And look at all the lengths we're going to in order to help him get clean!") Dave thinks this is a good precedent for WWF to set and if they're willing to cover the costs to help wrestlers get the help they need, then that's great. But in the future, he hopes they do it without making a big public deal out of it, because this whole thing comes off as self-serving PR. That being said, they may just be saving Smith's life, and that's more important than whatever their PR motives may be, so they should be commended for it. As expected, Bret Hart chimed in on the issue in his own Calgary Sun column, writing that Vince's motives seem noble on the surface but asked, "Why Davey and why now?" Hart noted that Smith has had these drug issues for years and said, "McMahon is free to prove me wrong by instituting a new WWF policy to rehab any wrestler with a drug problem, even when it doesn't serve his political agenda anymore. I'd be the first one to applaud it."

- Speaking of Steven Regal, fresh off being fired by WCW, he's been given another chance by the WWF. But they're starting slow, by sending him down to Memphis to work for Jerry Lawler's promotion so he can get back in shape. Regal has to keep a job here in America in order to stay in the country, since he's here on a work visa. Otherwise, he'll be sent back to England.

- Steve Austin is wearing a soft neck collar these days and his movement is limited to walking. He's still not allowed to lift weights. They still hope he can appear at WrestleMania but it's definitely not a sure thing.

- WWF is considering holding WrestleMania 17 in 2001 at a domed stadium (indeed they did, at the Houston Astrodome).

- Vince McMahon was away from work for most of last week because he was in Phoenix for the jury trial in Ultimate Warrior's lawsuit against the company. But before a verdict could be reached, the two sides reportedly settled out of court, although the details of the settlement are apparently confidential because Dave has no other info.

- Remember the case in Florida a few weeks ago where a 12-year-old boy is being tried as an adult for the death of a 6-year-old girl? The boy claimed he was imitating wrestling moves he saw on TV. Anyway, The Rock has been subpoened in the case, mostly just because he lives in Miami and they want a wrestler to testify about the moves. Anyway, both WWF and WCW have been airing "don't try this at home" spots in recent weeks due to this case.

- Speaking of the Rock, he will indeed be playing some sort of heel scorpion character in the new Mummy movie coming out next year.

- The situation with B.B., the nurse character who was powerbombed through a table by the Dudleys a few weeks ago, is that she's probably gonna be let go. She's out selling the injury right now but they have no more plans for her. It's said that they liked her look (she's, uh, busty) but they feel she has no charisma and it just wasn't working. In a side note, she's currently dating Bob Holly (yup, she was released and briefly showed up in WCW and later in TNA for a minute before disappearing forever).

- A company in Canada screwed up big time when airing WWF's No Way Out PPV. Since much of Canada still doesn't get PPV, a lot of those events are still shown on closed circuit so hundreds of people pile into movie theaters to watch PPVs on the big screen. This one particular company handles the bulk of it throughout Canada. Anyway, after the PPV was over, someone mistakenly flipped over to the adult PPV channel. It was only on screen for about 30 seconds, but that was plenty of time for crowds of families and children all across Canada to see a woman on her knees giving a guy a blowjob. Whoops.

- On WWF house shows, they've been doing triple threat matches between Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle and apparently they're really good and it's expected that they will end up doing a triple threat match together at Wrestlemania.


- WWF officially gave notice to USA Network this week that they are cancelling their contract effective in September. WWF's deal with USA expires in Sept. 2001, but there's a clause that allows WWF to get out of the deal a year early by giving 6 months notice, which they have now officially done. This doesn't necessarily mean WWF is leaving USA but it means they can now legally shop around their cable package to other networks. Apparently CBS/Viacom is looking to make a huge investment in bringing in the WWF. CBS is in the midst of a merger with Viacom and Viacom owns 50% of UPN (which airs Smackdown). Word is they're trying to get 100% ownership of UPN, which if they do, that would also give CBS/Viacom the rights to Smackdown as well. However, Chris Craft Industries owns the other 50% of UPN and they're furious that Viacom is merging with CBS, saying it violates their contract and yada yada and they're trying to use legal means to stop the merger. If that happens, it could likely screw up the WWF deal. This all gets pretty in-depth with TV insider business talk. Long story short, if all these mergers and plans go through, it will lead to CBS/Viacom having all the rights to WWF and XFL programming in the U.S. It's believed that all the current USA Network shows (Raw, Superstars, Livewire, Heat, etc.) would move to TNN, which would undergo a name-change and face-lift to give it less of a Southern country music reputation. Many industry people are saying the deal is pretty much already done and that WWF will almost certainly be leaving USA Network later this year.

- Losing WWF will likely mean USA will lose it's status as cable's highest rated network and it's unknown what they will do to counter that. USA is said to be interested in keeping wrestling on their network. Paul Heyman seems to already see the writing on the wall, and believes ECW will likely be kicked off TNN when the deal goes through, which is why they've started painting the TNN network as heels on TV. USA is said to be potentially interested in airing ECW if WWF leaves, but that would require a lot of changes for ECW. They would have to massively upgrade their production values and USA is going to want them to fill more airtime than just the 1-hour show they do on TNN now. And they'll probably want it to be live on Monday nights because they want to keep that time slot for wrestling. ECW is basically a mom-and-pop operation almost entirely run by Paul Heyman and he is already said to be collapsing under the workload as it is. Dave just doesn't see how it would be possible for ECW to make it work but thinks it would be interesting. ECW on TNN is small fries right now, because it's a smaller cable channel airing on Friday nights and doing low ratings but he wonders how ECW would do if they were on the big stage, running live Monday night prime time shows on a major network like USA. They have proven they can do good numbers on PPV (in fact, the most recent ECW PPV did a bigger buyrate than WCW's most recent) and despite the TV ratings being low compared to WWF and WCW, the truth is ECW is basically the highest rated programming on TNN aside from NASCAR. If they had the money and production ability to handle it, Dave seems to think ECW might actually do pretty well on the big stage. They're already slowly creeping up on passing WCW in several key areas and in head-to-head competition, they'd probably be able to surpass them for the #2 spot. Of course, then the problem is that WWF would then become the enemy. WWF has been helpful to ECW throughout the years, but the bigger ECW gets, the more of an enemy WWF will become and ECW just isn't going to win that battle. Of course, if USA buys an ownership interest in ECW, then the money might not be a problem anymore and Heyman could focus on handling the creative stuff and then, who knows? Basically, there's a lot of potential possibilities coming out of all this and a lot of the television decisions that are made over the next few few weeks will likely change the future of the industry.

- Things are interesting with WCW right now also. After the Turner/Time Warner merger a few years ago and the Time Warner/AOL merger in the works right now, Ted Turner no longer has the power he used to have. With this new merger, there will be new eyes on WCW, which is currently losing tens of millions of dollars and plummeting. The good news is that with the merger, they will be a $180 BILLION dollar company, so WCW's losses are just a small drop in the bucket. But WCW has always been allowed to exist because Ted Turner had a loyalty to pro wrestling and with him no longer wielding the power he used to, that could always change. Nitro still does competitive prime time ratings for TNT every Monday compared to other networks, which is good, but it's obviously nowhere close to the numbers they were doing a year ago and of course, wrestling has always been a tough sell to advertisers. Thunder is a different story, as even many of the lowest rated cable shows are routinely beating it. And WCW Saturday Night is often the lowest rated programming on all of TBS from the noon-to-midnight time period. So with Ted Turner losing power, a lot of things could conceivably change (at the moment Dave wrote this, WCW was exactly one year away from that very thing happening).

- ECW's Living Dangerously PPV is in the books and will likely only be remembered for one particular spot that left both New Jack and Vic Grimes seriously injured. Jack and Grimes climbed a scaffold about 13 feet from the ground (though Joey Styles claimed it was 40 feet) and the idea was for Jack to suplex Grimes off of it through a table. Apparently neither man bothered to ever go up and look at the scaffold before the show and didn't realize how little footing they would have when they got up there. Once they got up, with the world and PPV audience watching, they had to do something and couldn't back out. So they just sorta winged it and...it went poorly. Grimes, pushing 400 pounds, landed entirely on New Jack's head when they hit the concrete floor. Panicked ECW officials could be seen tending to New Jack, who was unconscious. The cameras mostly cut away from showing the aftermath as New Jack was laying on the ground, twitching while a large pool of blood formed around his head. In the locker room, there was legitimate fear that he might be dead. He laid on the ground for several minutes before being loaded into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital. The following 2 matches were shortened, as ECW officials frantically tried to rush through the rest of the PPV just to get it over with. Turns out New Jack seriously lucked out, as he was "only" diagnosed with a concussion, chest and sternum bruising, and a fractured elbow that won't require surgery. He was out of the hospital the next day but probably won't be wrestling any time soon. He was extremely lucky because it could have very easily turned into another Owen Hart situation (turns out his injuries were worse than known at the time. New Jack has said it caused him brain damage and permanently blinded him in his right eye. Anyway, here's the only free Youtube version I can find, although if you have the Network, it's on there in much better quality).

- Other notes from the PPV: the production value was bad even for ECW. The arena looked dark and the sound was poor. But it's expected to be the best buyrate ever for an ECW PPV and will easily beat the numbers that WCW did for SuperBrawl. The show opened with Steve Corino insulting Sandman's wife and then Rhino goring her through a table. Dusty Rhodes then beat Corino in a bullrope match which was terrible, almost entirely because Rhodes is 55 and too out of shape to be working what ended up being the longest match on the show. Gedo and Jado from FMW worked the show but it was a bad match. Maybe that Gedo guy should start booking wrestling instead of actually doing it. Super Crazy vs. Little Guido was a good match. And the still injured RVD returned to help Super Crazy beat Rhino to become the new TV champion. The show went off the air about 30 minutes earlier than planned because, as mentioned, they rushed through the final 2 matches trying to end the show ASAP because of the New Jack situation.

- Finally some sorta good news for WCW, as they embarked on a tour of the UK and sold out 3 consecutive 10,000+ shows and sold out of all their merchandise. But while they sold out shows and made big money at the gate, by the end of the shows, it was the typical kill-the-town mentality of WCW, with pretty much unanimous negative reviews and complaints about stars like Goldberg, DDP, Sting, Scott Hall, Jeff Jarrett, Sid Vicious and others not being there, even though all were advertised. Jarrett only missed one show due to losing his passport. Vicious wasn't on the tour because he's allegedly not allowed in the country after the 1993 stabbing incident with Arn Anderson (although Dave notes that he did work in England in 1996 for the WWF so he doesn't buy that). Bret Hart went and got a huge response in every city and he cut promos each night to crowds that loved him. He said he had been advised not to fly due to his concussion but did anyway because he didn't want to miss the chance to come back to England and said he would give anything to be able to wrestle there but said his injuries are too severe and basically said goodbye to the fans, leaving many thinking that he may be retiring. The first show ended with Buff Bagwell as the top star, posing and having his music playing as fans filed out of the arena after the main event. Needless to say, nobody in the UK was exactly stoked to have Bagwell as the top star sending the fans home "happy." Another show, no lie, was headlined by the Harris Brothers vs. The Mamalukes for the tag titles, just in case you wonder why WCW house shows stopped drawing. Kevin Nash was there, still injured, but making appearances on crutches and was apparently pretty out of it in Birmingham, slurring his words and, although Dave doesn't outright say it, sounds like he was fucked up on something. But all in all, these sold out crowds full of rabid fans showed up and by the end of the night, they all left disappointed by terrible shows. Classic WCW.

- Bad news for AJPW, as Nippon TV (the network that airs them) announced it was lowering the money they pay the company for television and also that they are moving it to a new time slot, at 2am on Wednesdays. Their old time slot, which was just after midnight on Sundays was already a terrible time slot and this is even worse. AJPW's TV ratings have actually been strong but Nippon TV is apparently not that interested in wrestling anymore.

- UFC 24 is in the books and this is too interesting not to write about. It was supposed to be heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman vs. Pedro Rizzo but during the show, while warming up backstage, Randleman stepped on a pipe and fell down, cracking his head on the floor. He suffered a serious concussion and began vomiting in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. He still wanted to fight, but needless to say, it wasn't allowed. During the show, the announcers stopped hyping the main event and seemed to be stalling for time as the show ran long. Finally, they announced in a backstage interview that the fight was cancelled. Unfortunately, this was the only match anyone watching or attending the show cared about. Due to commission rules and things like that, they weren't able to scrape together a replacement main event in time. The live crowd booed the hell out of it but hey, shit happens.

- Both Nitro and Thunder did all-time record low ratings this week. In fact, the first hour of Nitro was beaten in the ratings by Walker Texas Ranger so USA is kicking Nitro's ass even without wrestling now.

- As mentioned, Michinoku Pro is organizing the 3rd ever Super J Cup tournament next month. Jushin Liger is scheduled to win the whole thing, which was part of the agreement to get him to work the tournament since his name value is the biggest draw for it (yup, he does indeed win it).

- Dustin Diamond, famous for playing Screech on Saved By The Bell, made an appearance for Jerry Lawler's MCW promotion in Memphis and did an angle where he has a crush on The Kat. But she keeps blowing him off and he gets a little pushy about it, but then gets beat down by some wrestlers. Screech even did a stretcher job afterward.

- ECW Magazine has temporarily suspended operations. Subscribers have been given the option to get WOW Magazine, which is published by the same company, or to get a refund (ECW Magazine never came back).

- Notes from Nitro: Dave hated it. Literally all of it.

- Eric Bischoff is meeting with Turner execs this week to discuss getting out of his contract and non-compete clause so he can start doing something else. Right now, he's just sitting home collecting a check.

- There are a lot of morale issues in WCW after word came out that Bret Hart's contract was cut in half because he's been out injured for so long. Lots of people pointed out that Goldberg has been out for about the same amount of time and his contract wasn't cut in half, nor have people like Hall, Nash, or Sting who have all been out for extended periods of time. Lots of double-standard-for-top-guys complaints. Speaking of Hart, after giving the speech in England hinting at retirement, word is he was telling people the same thing backstage, pretty much saying there's a good chance his career is over due to the concussion he suffered and he was said to be emotional about it.

- Random WCW notes: During the UK Tour, Brian Knobbs shaved The Wall's eyebrows and some of Ric Flair's eyebrow while they were asleep. Gene Okerlund was arrested for DUI last week in Sarasota, FL. Christopher Daniels was signed by WCW this week. Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch were backstage at Nitro and are both signed now also.

- Notes from WWF Raw: Bubba Ray Dudley powerbombed Mae Young off the stage through a table. He protected her a lot better this week and it went fine but Dave still thinks it's kind ridiculous and way too risky to be having a 77-year-old woman taking these bumps just to get a pop from the crowd. And Vince McMahon made his huge babyface return, getting a big pop. He also says that Triple H beat Rikishi clean. "Somebody is getting over a little too strong for some people," Dave says.

- The 2 lawsuits between Ultimate Warrior and WWF were settled out of court. Warrior had sued WWF over a bunch of trademark violations (using his likeness for things he hadn't approved) and defamation of character (for saying on TV that Warrior had no-showed dates). WWF counter-sued over him using the Warrior name and likeness that they claim they own the rights to and all that fun shit. Anyway, both were settled, but the terms are confidential.

- Billy Gunn will be out for about 6 months after getting shoulder surgery.

- Trish Stratus made her on-screen debut on Sunday Night Heat, "scouting" Test during his match with Gangrel. She also appeared later in the show, scouting Albert.

- The head of the PTC group wrote an article in the New York Post talking about the CBS/Viacom merger, saying that it would combine 2 of the biggest offenders of sleaze in America today: Howard Stern and the WWF. He also talked about the case in Florida with the 12-year-old who is being tried as an adult for killing a 6-year-old girl while allegedly doing wrestling moves on her. He claimed the girl's brain injuries were consistent with the effects of a Stone Cold Stunner (Dave is perplexed since for one, that's not true and two, that's not even what the people involved in the case are saying, so who knows where he pulled that out of his ass from). Anyway, he was basically trying to paint the WWF as responsible for the girl's death.

- Speaking of that case, The Rock was scheduled to testify in it but his testimony was postponed. Rock was subpoenaed by the defense who apparently wanted to have a wrestler testify about how certain moves are done. And Rock is a high-profile name who lives near where it happened, so they went for him. WWF lawyers are trying to get the subpoena dismissed, claiming Rock's testimony should have no bearing on the case. The 12-year-old in the case has talked with psychologists and they say he's totally aware that wrestling is fake and understands that wrestling moves are dangerous if performed wrong. But the kid's lawyer is still attempting to use the defense that his client was imitating wrestling moves and didn't understand the consequences. He claims he was swinging the girl around as if he was going to throw her into the ropes and lost his grip and she struck her head on a metal pipe which killed her. But the autopsy showed she died from a sustained beating, suffering more than 30 cuts, bruises, fractures, and scratches, including one that detached part of her liver. So obviously it wasn't a single wrestling move gone wrong. The WWF released a statement on the case, saying "To try to blame the World Wrestling Federation for the acts of this delinquent is a pathetic excuse being offered by a defense attorney without a defense."

- The New York Post wrote a story on the controversy surrounding the WWF trying to bury Beyond The Mat. It talked about how McMahon flexed his muscle and got USA and UPN to ban advertising for the movie on their channels. Apparently Lions Gate producers offered to remove any footage of McMahon himself from the commercials if he would lift the ban, but McMahon still refused. For what it's worth, Vince did ultimately agree to allow Mick Foley to appear on Larry King Live to be interviewed about the movie. The article also claimed that prior to this, McMahon spoke with producers about buying into the movie, to help produce and fund it (and presumably to have some say over what made the final cut) but producer Barry Blaustein turned him down because he felt it would hurt the film's credibility if one of the subjects of the documentary also had a financial stake in it. WWF PR rep Jim Byrne claimed that WWF officials had screened the movie and didn't want any part of it simply because they found it boring.

- On his website, Perry Saturn responded to Hulk Hogan's recent comments about him. Saturn admits he acted childish in some of his past comments about Hogan and apologized for them, but then said he was furious at Hogan's comments about Billy Kidman. He said Hogan is in a position where he should be a leader and that he should act like one. He said if Hogan wants to make things right, he should work a feud with Kidman (soon, but it doesn't exactly do Kidman any favors).

- Mick Foley says that since he retired, fans have been asking him constantly when he's coming back, because nobody believes retirement stipulations. Foley now says he wishes he hadn't given his word so strongly about staying retired because people don't believe it anyway and, come to think of it, there's a lot of money to be made when/if he decides to come back...

- There's a lot of heat on Brian Christopher backstage because apparently his attitude just rubs people the wrong way. Meanwhile, there's no heat on his partner Scotty 2 Hotty, who everyone seems to love. In fact, in matches, it's said that a lot of guys will go out of their way to bump all over and make Scotty look good, and then when Christopher gets tagged in, they dead-weight him and do whatever they can to make him look bad because they don't like him.

- A couple of Shawn Michaels' students were recently signed to WWF developmental deals. Lance Cade is said to have a ton of potential and could be a big star. He's tall and is said to remind people of a young Barry Windham. The other is Spanky, who is said to have great facial expressions and is funny, but is really small.

- Someone writes in about the XFL, saying it's a terrible idea doomed to fail and will cost the WWF millions. He asks Dave what his opinion is. Dave says the WWF has enough money that they can afford the startup costs. Whether it makes it or not, who knows but says it's not fair to judge until we see it. That being said, he thinks there will be a lot of curiosity at the beginning but in the long-run, it's going to be a tough mountain to climb.

Quote:So with Ted Turner losing power, a lot of things could conceivably change (at the moment Dave wrote this, WCW was exactly one year away from that very thing happening).

Fuckin Spoilers much? Jesus christ
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- Chris Craft Industries agreed to sell its 50% ownership stake in UPN to Viacom for $5 million, which is one of the last hurdles left to finalizing the WWF/CBS deal. CCI had tried to block the CBS/Viacom merger due to its own deal with Viacom over UPN where they couldn't make a deal with a competing network. CCI didn't have a lot of say in the matter. They filed a lawsuit to try to block the CBS/Viacom deal, but the NY Supreme Court ruled against them and gave them just a few days to accept Viacom's $5 million offer to buy out their half, which is a tiny amount for half of a TV network. The deal still has to go through FCC approval because this will end up with Viacom owning both CBS and UPN, and there's laws about one entity owning more than one TV network but they're expected to make it work. According to most sources, WWF making a deal with CBS is all but a definite now. It will result in Smackdown most likely staying on UPN while Raw and other WWF TV shows will move to TNN (which is expected to get a name change and face-lift to make it a less southern network) later this year.

- Vince McMahon did an interview on the WWF website this week where he responded to all the controversy around Beyond The Mat. Needless to say, Vince came off poorly. Vince's main complaint was that the movie shows all these WWF wrestlers and scenes from within the company, but WWF doesn't have any financial stake in the movie, which Vince claimed was unfair. Which is true, but as Dave points out, that's the contract they signed and lord knows WWF has never had any qualms about holding people to unfavorable contracts. WWF agreed to allow cameras to film at WWF events for the movie without any interference or control over the product, and now they're upset that they're having to own up to the stipulations of the contract. Furthermore, a documentary where the main subject has a financial stake in the project instantly kills any credibility the film might have. Vince also claims he was told that the film would be a limited release project, not a nationwide theatrical release. Dave calls bullshit, noting that Universal Pictures and director Barry Blaustein have been talking from the very beginning of trying to give the film a national release and aiming for major awards. With Ron Howard producing it, everybody expected there was a good chance it would be nationally released. McMahon also said he was upset at the advertising which has dubbed it, "The movie Vince McMahon doesn't want you to see." McMahon said he doesn't care if people see it or not. Of course, the fact that his PR team has gone out of their way to bury the movie (putting out statements calling it "boring") and the fact that Vince pressured both UPN and USA to stop airing ads for it proves otherwise. After saying he didn't care if people saw it, Vince went on to call it a disappointing snoozefest, said it's a lie that lacks entertainment value and shouldn't be considered a documentary. But he *totally* doesn't care if you see it....

- Vince also complained that Mick Foley won't be making any money from the film (again, that's kinda how documentaries work) and was upset that WWF's intellectual property is being used. But, again, this is the deal WWF agreed to when they signed up for it. Vince also complained that the nature of the movie changed several times during filming, which is actually true. The original idea for the film was to follow young wrestlers as they attempt to make it to the WWF, but as they began filming and uncovering more things, the concept of the movie changed. Vince said he had offered producers triple the cost of the film in order to have a financial stake in it (presumably so he could then order a bunch of changes) but was turned down. WWF had agreed to advertise the movie up until the moment they didn't, and ads were scheduled to run before they were pulled at the last minute, which further proves that WWF was involved up until the moment that Vince decided he didn't want people to see it. McMahon has denied that he pressured USA or UPN to pull the ads, but other sources say otherwise and it would surely be a weird fuckin' coincidence if that was the case. Especially for UPN, which is badly in debt and isn't in the habit of turning down advertising money without a good reason. The New York Times last week ran a story on the whole ordeal, including a quote from Ron Howard who said he believes Vince is trying to shut down the movie to keep anyone from seeing it and that Vince doesn't want viewers to see his wrestlers as real people. It's also said that both Vince and Linda McMahon were particularly unhappy with the scene depicting Foley's children crying while their father is beaten to death by the Rock with chair shots. Anyway, Lion's Gate is apparently considering filing a lawsuit over all this, since they claim to have contracts for advertising that WWF, USA, and UPN violated.


- Anyway, Beyond The Mat is out nationwide now and the reviews are gold. It already won several film festival awards, has been getting lots of 3-and-4 star reviews from all the big movie outlets. Roger Ebert, who is not a wrestling fan, said watching the movie made him realize just how real pro wrestling actually is. It has gotten some negative reviews, mostly from people who felt it didn't go hard enough on wrestling and complaining that it didn't address the drug and steroid issues. Dave's take: hey, it's a 2 hour movie, they couldn't tackle everything. The film chose the story it wanted to tell and told it well, but no, it wasn't a full blown take-down of the wrestling industry as some critics were hoping it would be. Anyway, from here Dave just shares a bunch of reviews from different media outlets, mostly raving about it.

- Foley was given permission by McMahon to appear on the Larry King Live show (along with hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and producer Barr Blaustein) to promote the movie and came off great. Piper talked about hoping that wrestlers in the future could get medical benefits and retirement and saying that they need to have a union (which Foley agreed with, surely to McMahon's delight). They eventually got into a little back and forth, with Foley calling Piper bitter at one point. Hogan claimed he liked the movie and wished he was in it but didn't contribute much otherwise. He and Foley did talk about wanting to work with each other, with Hogan claiming they could sell out the Pontiac Silverdome together. During the show, both Piper and Hogan complained about the long list of injuries they've suffered in their careers. In a later radio interview, Foley scoffed at that, saying he's had more injuries than both of them combined. He also said that Piper is always in character and dismissed most of what he said. During the same interview, Foley said he didn't think Mae Young should be taking bumps and she definitely shouldn't be stripping to her bra and panties on TV anymore. When asked about his retirement, he said, "Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who feels that I'm actually retired. Nobody believes me. I will probably come back for one big match in about a year, but for right now, believe it or not, I'm working on some children's books and other projects." (Fun fact, Dave notes: Foley un-retired 3 days after this. But we'll get to that in a moment...)

- Villano III lost his mask to Atlantis in one of the biggest matches in Mexican wrestling history, in the main event of CMLL's first ever PPV. Villano III is probably one of the top 15 or so stars in the history of Lucha Libre and had worn the mask for 27 years. The show packed 20,000 people into Arena Mexico, which is thousands more than the usual capacity. The show sold out in advance, the fastest sellout in the 67-year history of CMLL. They put 4,000 standing room only tickets on sale the next day and they sold out immediately also.

- WCW Uncensored is in the books and it was the most WCW show possible. For a company that desperately needs to chart a new course for the future, instead Hogan won his main event match with Flair--twice--and basically won the world title match that he wasn't even in. Dave says the worse things get for WCW and the more obvious it becomes that something has to change, they just keep doubling down on the same mistakes that got them into this mess. WCW also threw in the towel when it comes to selling tickets, and barely promoted the show locally. The PPV drew 2,543 paid fans, which is less than ECW did for their PPV last week. And they did about 47,000 buys on PPV, which is also half of what ECW's PPV did last week also and is by far the lowest buyrate of any WWF, WCW, or ECW PPV ever. So yes, in case you're keeping track: a PPV event headlined by Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair got slaughtered in both attendance and buyrate by an ECW PPV the week before. That's how far this company has fallen.

- Other notes from the PPV: Chris Candido debuted and is apparently going to be part of the cruiserweight division. No Tammy Sytch yet but she's still expected soon (Dave contradicts this later in this same issue). Bam Bam Bigelow faced The Wall and the highlight of that match was Wall splitting his pants. In the Jarrett/Sid Vicious world title match, Hogan had to run in and give Jarrett the leg drop, then dragged Sid on top of him for the win, thus establishing that Hogan basically beat Jarrett, not Sid. Then the main event was the Hogan/Flair strap match. The announcers talked about how the only way to win was to drag your opponent to each corner, meanwhile, Hogan and Flair were busy trying to pin each other and the referee was counting, so nobody knew what the actual rules were. Hogan pinned Flair to win the match and then, just to make sure everyone got the point, he also dragged him to all 4 corners afterward. LOLHOGANDOUBLEWINZ.

- At NJPW's upcoming Tokyo Dome show next month, IWGP champion Kensuke Sasaki will face IWGP Junior heavyweight champion Jushin Liger. It'll be the first time in NJPW history that the heavyweight and junior heavyweight champions have faced each other. The show also has Ogawa vs. Hashimoto and Muta vs. Chono and will air on TV-Asahi live in prime time (this show ends up doing a MONSTER rating on TV).

- XPW in California is planning to start running monthly shows at the 17,000-seat Los Angeles Sports Arena which is a pretty ambitious place to be running shows. XPW also will start airing a weekly show on the America One Network in the L.A. area. They have also offered big contracts to names like Sabu and Shane Douglas, because apparently they've got a lot of money to throw around since they're funded by a successful porn company.

- New Jack is expected to be back in about 2 weeks after his scary injury at the recent ECW PPV.

- Joey Styles is appearing in an infomercial selling colorized dollars and coins for New England Mint.

- Lots of rumors going around about potential management changes in WCW. The word around the locker room is that Eric Bischoff will be returning to take over control from Bill Busch (not exactly). There's thought that bringing Bischoff back may also make Sonny Onoo's racial discrimination lawsuit go away, since Onoo and Bischoff are close friends. Bischoff has denied he's coming back, but nobody believes him, which tells you all you need to know about his credibility among the wrestlers. Dave says WCW is desperate right now, since the last 2 PPV buyrates were embarrassing beyond anyone's wildest imagination and ticket sales for upcoming shows are reaching scary low numbers.

- Dave breaks down the plans for Spring Stampede and talks about how the current plan is to eventually build for Goldberg vs. Sid Vicious. But Dave thinks in this case, Hogan should actually win the title and then drop it to Goldberg. Obviously, Hogan as world champion is the last thing WCW needs to be doing right now under normal circumstances. But Hogan's name still means more than Sid's. And if they want to make Goldberg the face of the company, it would mean more for him to be the one to finally vanquish Hogan once and for all. So Dave thinks they should put the belt on Hogan for a quickie title reign when the time comes, and then have him drop it to Goldberg in decisive fashion. And after that, Hogan needs to fuck off forever down to the mid-card. But obviously, the big problem here is getting Hogan to agree to any of that. He has full creative control of whatever he wants to do and he's not looking out for anyone but himself, so what's in WCW's best interest isn't necessarily what Hogan is going to want to do. And nobody can stop him.

- WCW's new policy of cutting people's pay in half when they've been out injured has hit 2 new victims. Both Kevin Nash and DDP got their pay cut to 50%. Dave thinks this new policy is more bad than good. It's good because WCW has a history of guys milking injuries and taking off more time than they need just so they can sit home and collect a paycheck. So this will encourage guys to stop being lazy and return to work. That's good. But the bad side is that it's going to force wrestlers who really are hurt to come back to work too soon or to not take time off at all when they're injured. That in itself pretty much guarantees more injuries and more drug issues and Dave knows of examples in WCW of that very thing already happening.

- Scott Hall is still out "injured" and he's expected to face some sort of punishment once he comes back for all the incidents that occurred before he got hurt. Remember, he was expected to be fired after his main event match at SuperBrawl, but he conveniently got hurt at the very end of the match and now WCW doesn't want to fire him because it opens a whole can of worms to fire a guy who just got injured in your ring (despite all the skepticism, Hall apparently really was hurt. He ends up getting neck surgery during this time off).

- Notes from Nitro: Chris Candido debuted in his first match, beating Lash Leroux and looked good. In recent weeks, Vampiro has been the closest thing WCW has had to a younger star who has been getting over, so naturally, he lost to Lex Luger because god forbid one of the old top guys in this company aside from Flair ever be willing to put over somebody else. Ric Flair was the best in-ring performer on the show, carrying Sting for the millionth time to a good match. But Dave says Flair may need to start wrestling in a shirt because no matter how decent he still is in the ring, his physique is gone and it's hard to take him seriously. He also says Flair should be a special attraction at this point instead of wrestling every week but WCW is determined to always do the opposite of what they should do, so whatever. And in the main event, Sid turned on Hogan (they were partners in a tag team match) and choke slammed him, then Sid pinned Hogan and the ref actually counted, which is stupid. So the team of Hogan & Sid both won and lost the main event apparently.

- Goldberg is expected to return to the ring in May. He reportedly lost nearly 30 pounds due to not being able to work out while injured so they're giving him an extra month or so to get his look back before he returns. In the meantime, he's making a ton of media appearances to promote Ready To Rumble and other stuff.

- WCW has reportedly decided not to hire Tammy Sytch after all, feeling she's too much of a risk due to her well-known issues (nah, they still bring her in).

- Several people reported "problems" with a recent WCW.com poll that asked fans to vote on what they thought was the best match at Uncensored. Basically, no matter what you picked, it added extra votes to other matches instead. Wanna guess how that went? Basically, it ended up with the Hogan vs. Flair match getting the majority of the votes, even when you voted for something else. When someone pointed this out on the Observer online show, WCW immediately changed the website so that you couldn't see the vote totals anymore.

- Bret Hart has been telling people he may be forced to retire due to his concussion issues. He's still suffering from bad headaches, slurred speech, occasional memory loss, and losing his train of thought. He said that even if he does come back, he'll never take anymore shots to the head. In a recent interview, he put the blame on Goldberg, saying that Goldberg closed his eyes when he threw the kick that gave him the concussion and couldn't see where he was aiming the kick, which hit Bret super hard in the head. He said he wasn't bitter at Goldberg, but said, "The kind of accident that happened with me is somebody was just a little too real with his kicks." If Bret does end up retiring, it doesn't sound like he'll miss it much, saying, "The wrestling profession is in the toilet. I am looking forward to running as far away from it as fast as possible. I look forward to a day not only when I can wash my hands of it completely, but never have anything to do with any aspect of it."

- And in one other Bret Hart note, he appeared on the Geraldo Rivera show because they were talking about Beyond The Mat. Rivera was extremely dismissive and negative towards wrestling in general. At one point, it was brought up that Hart is working on an autobiography about his years in the business. Later on, apparently after they were off the air, Geraldo said the book would make a good door stopper since it's about wrestling. The remark was apparently not meant to be heard, but Bret did indeed overhear it and was pretty offended, as you can imagine. In related news, fuck Geraldo Rivera.

- Hulk Hogan recently did a radio interview saying he was back in WCW because the younger wrestlers there can't cut it, so he's back to save the company. Dave thinks that's sure to help morale.

- More on Gene Okerlund's recent DUI arrest in Tampa. The local news there reported that he ran a red light and was weaving in and out of traffic and almost hit a police car before he was pulled over.

- Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera's contracts both expire in October. Dave doesn't think either is going to stay with the company but it might depend on where WCW is by then. If they've started making moves to push younger stars, then it might be worth it to stay. But otherwise, he expects them to leave. WWF probably won't want either of them, but ECW would. Dave says that aside from Kidman and Goldberg, there's probably nobody in WCW that Paul Heyman wants more than Guerrera. But unless ECW gets a bigger network deal (their days are probably numbered on TNN if/when this WWF deal goes through), with a lot more cash, they probably can't afford him. (Dave doesn't know it yet, but at this point, Psicosis has already wrestled his final WCW match. He'd show up in ECW a couple months later. He's right about Juvi though. He stuck around until October when his contract was up and bounced. Didn't end up in ECW though).

- Bryan Clarke (formerly Wrath) and Brian Adams will be forming a team called Kronik. Dave thinks Clarke has potential (although he says Nash basically buried him during his time as booker) but Brian Adams is useless and brings nothing to the table, so why are they saddling Clarke with him?

- Mick Foley is already returning to the ring, and will be headlining Wrestlemania in a 4-way match alongside Triple H, The Rock, and Big Show. According to Foley, he says he planned to really stay retired, at least for awhile. But nobody believed him anyway, and the chance for a big payoff and to achieve his dream of main eventing Wrestlemania came along and so now he's decided to work the match. Dave doesn't seem to be buying it and looking back on the angle leading up to Foley's "retirement", he things it looks like this was planned from the beginning, that No Way Out was never REALLY going to be his last match. Either way, he seems disappointed. Before No Way Out, Foley cut one of the best promos Dave had ever heard (literally calls it one of the 10 best promos in the history of the business) talking about how much he was against prostituting his retirement and wasn't going to be one of those guys who came back just to get one last payday and vowing that if he lost the match, he really was retiring. And now, literally only 3 weeks later, he's already announced a comeback. Dave thinks it's a pretty big blemish on Foley's credibility and says for all the jokes people make about Terry Funk retiring, at least he stayed retired for 17 months the first time. And when Funk returned, Japanese fans in particular never fully forgave him for going back on his word and his popularity there was never the same (Foley wrote about this in his book. If I remember correctly, Foley still claims that he really was going to retire but I guess Vince called him and convinced him to come back for this match).

- Notes from Raw: it was in Chicago and the crowd was nuclear hot, probably one of the hottest crowds in Raw history. In fact, they may have been too hot, because during the Acolytes match, 2 women in the crowd took their shirts off, which completely derailed that match since no one in the crowd cared about it anymore. During Linda McMahon's entrance at the end of the show, a fan jumped the barricade and ran up the ramp towards Linda. Luckily, Triple H jumped on him before he could do anything as the camera cut away. Edge got into a shoving match with a fan while making his entrance through the crowd. Trish Stratus was at ringside for Test's match and then announced she was going to be managing Test and Albert as a new team T&A. And her mic skills here were baaaaad. Dave says she made Sable sound like The Rock on the mic. The lines she was given were bad to begin with but her reading of them was terrible (yeah it wasn't good. But to be fair, it's her very first time ever speaking on camera. She's clearly nervous as hell. She would get MUCH better in later years). Anyway, this new team isn't for them, it's mostly being used as a platform to give Trish a big promotional push, since they see dollar $ign$ with her. Speaking of Trish, the T&A idea wasn't the first idea they had for her. The original idea was for her to play a porn star and be affiliated with Val Venis, but she refused to go along with that idea.

- At this point, neither Austin or Undertaker is expected to appear at Wrestlemania, although they will both be in town for the fan fest the day before signing autographs and whatnot. That could still change at the last minute but as of now, they're both still too messed up to do anything. And they feel it doesn't serve any purpose to have either of them on the show if they can't do anything physically. They're hopeful that Austin will be in decent enough condition by next month's PPV to at least show up and deliver a stunner or two.

- There had been talks of doing an exploding ring match between X-Pac and Kane at Wrestlemania, similar to Onita's famous matches. But they dropped the idea because they didn't think they had enough time to plan it and get familiar with it. They didn't want it to go wrong and not look good at Wrestlemania of all shows. Plus, without having time to fully test something like that beforehand, they also don't want to risk something going wrong and someone getting hurt.

- Saturday Night Live was hosted by the Rock and featured guest appearances by Big Show, Foley, Triple H, and Vince McMahon. It was considered a big success, with Rock coming off like a star. All the other wrestlers played their parts well also and it was the highest rated SNL episode of this season. In fact, it was the highest rated episode since an episode from last year that featured a Monica Lewinsky appearance.

Full Monalogue


- Taka Michinoku is still rehabbing his shoulder from the injury suffered at Royal Rumble. Doctors recommended he have surgery but he's trying to avoid it. He wants to come back 100% because he's excited about the opportunity to work with Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. His contract expires in October and he has said he'd like to stay in WWF.

- The Owen Hart family lawsuit against WWF is expected to go to trial in Feb. 2001 but will probably be delayed several times before then.

- The WWF Restaurant in Times Square is going to turn into a night club on weekend nights. To try to bring in more people, the night club area of the building will have almost no WWF-tie ins. No wrestling merch or logos or anything like that around because, turns out, the kind of super cool hip people who hang out in NYC night clubs on Saturday nights till 3am aren't really wrestling fans. So that will all be exclusively in the restaurant side. New York mayor Rudy Guiliani has publicly come out against the night club because WWF plans to allow people under 21 to enter. Guiliani publicly warned WWF that at the first sign of trouble from the night club, "we're going to bust you from A-to-Z and back again." Speaking of the restaurant, word is it does good business on Mondays and Thursdays, as people watch Raw and Smackdown there, but it's not really doing well on most other nights, even though it's right in the middle of Times Square and literally thousands of people per hour walk past it.

- Remember the case in Florida with the 12-year-old kid killing the 6-year-old girl and how Rock was subpoened for it? WWF lawyer Jerry McDevitt wrote a blistering letter to the defense attorney and the mother of the accused killer, blasting them for trying to blame WWF or wrestling for what happened and for subpoening the Rock. "Your statements and associated innuendo that either the WWF, Dwayne Johnson, or both, have some causative role with and to the brutal murder committed by your client are false," the letter said. "Nobody need look any further than the actions of your client and his mother to understand why Tiffany died that day." The mother was home when it happened but was in another room. The WWF has threatened to sue the defense lawyer to prevent Rock from testifying. Speaking of, since WCW was in Florida last week, but Hulk Hogan and Sting were also subpoened to testify in the trial. The lawyer responded to McDevitt's letter, saying, "If the WWF doesn't like the media exposure of children being hurt or killed by other children imitating professional wrestling, do not blame me. Blame your shameless marketing of violence to children." When asked about Hogan and Sting, he responded, "I want Hulk to provide the jury with a historical perspective of pro wrestling, on how pro wrestling became increasingly violent and how it caters to kids. And Sting is important because he shot a Sprite commercial where he is shown grabbing a kid, sending him through a window and rattling his head on a fireplace mantel."

- Lita suffered a severe concussion, dizziness, and double vision when Eddie Guerrero power bombed her on the floor on Raw a couple of weeks ago but she was back on the road this week working matches against Jacqueline.

- The Rock is expected to miss most of May and June because he will be in England filming his role in the new Mummy movie. So if he wins the title at Wrestlemania, it will likely be a short title reign.

- Lots of letters this week, most of them about Beyond The Mat. One guy writes and talks about how dark the movie was and how he can see why Vince wants to suppress the film, because it paints a dark picture of the business and the way it affects people's lives. He's worried the movie will give critics more ammo to target wrestling. Dave responds and says if you think the movie is an honest portrayal and that it makes the wrestling business looks bad, that says more about the business than the movie. If it gives the critics more ammo, maybe it's because the critics are worth listening to. Wrestling is a fucked up, dirty industry and instead of being mad that someone is shining a light on it, maybe we should all pay more attention to what that light is exposing.

Ain’t no E in Bryan Clarke.

He does B Horror Movies now, like Axeman.

Huh. So that's why The Rock didn't win the WWF title at WrestleMania 2000. I always wondered about that, it never made sense to me that he didn't win at Mania but would win at Backlash.

I think he did, anyway, didn't he...? I thought that would end up being his longest title reign, 5 months or so.

- WCW has made the decision to bring back Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo in a last-ditch effort to save WCW. The decision has been in the works for about a month and people are already doubting whether or not the two can co-exist with each other. Dave recaps what led us to this point. First, the group of Bill Busch, Kevin Sullivan, JJ Dillon, and others pretty much pulled the coup last year that got Bischoff canned and Russo was hired soon after. But once it became clear that Russo desperately needs someone to filter his insane ideas, those people also pretty much forced Russo out in favor of Sullivan as the head booker. But the company continued free-falling under Sullivan. Bischoff and Russo had been in talks with Brad Seigel and pitched an idea where they would lead competing factions of older and younger wrestlers fighting over power for the company. Bischoff tried a similar angle to this last year but it never got off the ground because, aside from Ric Flair, none of the older wrestlers (like Savage, Hogan, Piper, etc.) wanted to be portrayed as "old" and didn't want to be forced to put over younger stars that hadn't established themselves. Bischoff was officially hired back into WCW as the head of creative on 3/22, but due to the company losing so much money on his watch last year, he was not given control over the business end of things. Bill Busch informed Siegel that he would quit if Bischoff was brought back, and he made good on his word and walked out when he was told. Bob Mould, a somewhat famous musician who has also been part of WCW's creative and management team, also quit when he heard the news. Kevin Sullivan has been told he's essentially being sent home to sit out the rest of his contract and he no longer has any power either. Sullivan has argued that he was handicapped after inheriting the mess Russo and Bischoff left behind, plus the injuries to Goldberg and Bret Hart, and while that's true, Sullivan never really made any major changes either and it was clear things weren't going to improve with him booking.

- The initial idea was to cancel this week's TV tapings and shut down for a week and then return on 4/10 with a fresh start and new storylines. But they ended up not cancelling the tapings and as a result, this week's Nitro is expected to be the lowest rated in the show's history. There was also talk of shutting down for several weeks and cancelling next week's PPV, which Dave thinks might not be the worst idea so they can take the time to slap a fresh coat of paint on the company and basically reboot. But it doesn't look like that will happen either. On Nitro this week, the announcers played it up big, labeling Russo as the man who turned WWF around and Bischoff as the one who turned WCW around several years ago and literally calling them the geniuses responsible for the current pro wrestling boom. Dave says you can't argue with Bischoff's initial success. He took WCW, which was in the red for about $6 million per year and turned it into a $200 million dollar company by 1998. But even at their peak, it was clear WCW had no future because they built around stars who were past their prime and never had a focus on creating future stars to sustain that success. WWF capitalized on that failure and by the end of 1999, WCW was back in the red again, way worse than they were before Bischoff took over. After a series of dumb, expensive investments (KISS, Master P, Megadeth, Dennis Rodman the 2nd time, etc.), losing stars like Chris Jericho, and continuing to rely on old 80s relics, and blowing through millions of Turner's dollars with nothing to show for it, the company lost faith in Bischoff's business judgement. At one point, Bischoff just turned the whole thing over to Kevin Nash as the new booker, who seemingly had no interest in doing anything other than pushing himself and his friends, which sunk the company to even further lows.

- As for Russo, it's true that WWF did pretty huge numbers during the time he became more involved in creative and when he left the company, he did a good job of convincing everyone that he was the genius behind WWF's turnaround. But within a few months of his departure, it became clear just which Vince deserved the credit for WWF's success. WWF never missed a beat when Russo left and TV ratings and house show business continued to increase (and keep in mind, WWF hasn't had Austin or Undertaker for the last 6 months either, plus McMahon has kept himself off TV until recently also). Meanwhile, in WCW, when Russo took over, the company just skidded further off the rails. Russo did play a major part in pushing WWF to move away from the failing family-friendly approach. But really, they pretty much just copied Paul Heyman's formula so...ya know. To be fair to Russo, he seemed to be the only person in WCW who realized how badly the company needed a drastic change and he really did try to push new people like Benoit, Bagwell, and Jarrett to the top. But then he brought back Piper, brought in George Steele and Jimmy Snuka, and booked dangerous angles like the one that got Goldberg injured. He came in with a lot of hype and ratings initially went up a bit out of curiosity, but they quickly plummeted again. He booked a tired rehash of the Montreal Screwjob finish at Starrcade, rendered all the belts meaningless, booked absurd screwjob endings to nearly every match on TV and PPV, and essentially booked the company like a monkey throwing his poop at random. As a result, WCW has now fallen behind ECW in both PPV buyrates and live show attendance and TV ratings have continued to plummet.

- Here's some hard numbers for those Russo supporters out there who still, somehow, defend this guy 20 years later: when Russo took over WCW in Oct. 99, they were averaging 4,628 people per show. By January (his last month in power), average attendance was down to 3,593. Nitro's ratings in Oct. 99 were averaging 3.08. By January, the average was....3.10. Oh, you say! But that's higher! Yes, on paper, 3.10 looks higher than 3.08. But the reality is, during that time, Nitro went from three hours back down to two. On paper, that should have led to a significant increase in the average. If Nitro was still three hours, that 3.10 would be equivalent to a 2.9. So even though it looks like ratings slightly increased on Russo's watch, they actually went down. The loss of that third hour gives the illusion that they didn't. Oh and in Oct. 99, the Halloween Havoc buyrate was 0.52. In January, the PPV buyrate was 0.26. TL;DR - by literally every single metric, WCW business got worse under Vince Russo. But hey, it got even worse since he left, so...take solace in that?

- Quick note just at press time, it's been reported that they will announce the XFL will air in prime time on NBC due to a deal between Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol. The two men were business partners back in the 80s and put together Saturday Night Main Event. If this ends up being true, it would be huge for both the XFL and WWF and is expected to play a part in WWF's new TV deal. More on this next week.

- With Wrestlemania just around the corner, Dave takes a long in-depth look at the biggest annual show in the business. He starts by talking about the 3 biggest annual events in wrestling. NJPW's Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show has been the biggest wrestling event in the world for much of the last decade since starting in 1992 because NJPW was the biggest and most successful company. But NJPW is struggling these days and WWF has surpassed them as the top company. WCW has Starrcade, but the only year that show was ever the biggest was in 1997 (Sting/Hogan) and never really reached the heights of Wrestlemania or the Tokyo Dome show. From here, Dave recaps the entire history of Wrestlemania. Risking it all on WM1, the Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper/MTV crossover promotion, the 3-arena debacle of WM2 (where 2 of the 3 arenas weren't even sold out), WM3 which is the most historically famous wrestling event ever and all the folklore surrounding that ("While the 93,173 number is a work repeated so often even those who should know better believe it's the truth. According to Zane Bresloff, who promoted the event, the actual number in the building was 78,000, but the event did sellout weeks in advance and it is realistic to believe the potential if the building was larger could have been 100,000 tickets," Dave says and I'm sure that won't lead to a tired ass discussion in the comments.) The next 2 WM events at Trump Plaza, which were held because Trump paid for them, hoping to do the same kind of business that major boxing events usually do. But the crowds sucked because they mostly weren't wrestling fans, they were high rolling casino comps. Dave also takes a moment here to detail the history of WWF and Jim Crockett running shows against each other's major events to attempt to hurt them, like Vince creating Survivor Series solely to try to hurt the 1987 Starrcade buyrate, and how Crockett retaliated by airing Clash of the Champions on free TV against WM4 and so on and so forth for the next couple of years. Then there's WM6 with Hogan/Warrior, the WM7 drama with the venue being changed due to low ticket sales and turned out to be a huge flop on PPV. WM8 with over 60,000 fans except a LOT of them were papered and it flopped on PPV. WM9 with Hogan returning to win the title, but it didn't help business and he refused to put Bret over later that year. WM10 with 2 of the greatest WM matches in history, WM11 with Lawrence Taylor, WM12 with the ironman match, WM13 which had the Bret/Austin classic but was the moment WWF hit the bottom of the barrel with the lowest WM buyrate ever, WM14 with Mike Tyson and the crowning of Austin as the new top star which did record business, and finally WM15 which mostly sucked but ended up being the biggest money show in wrestling history...until next week when WM16 inevitably breaks that record. Anyway, Dave goes into more in-depth recap of each Wrestlemania here, but you already know the stories on most of this so I...actually have no idea why I just wrote this big ass paragraph.

- Last year's Wrestlemania featured Austin/Rock main eventing and broke a bazillion records. This year's plan was originally to do a rematch, with the roles reversed (Austin as heel) but Austin getting injured screwed that up. This year's WM is still expected to become the biggest money grossing event in the history of professional wrestling. As for this year's plans, it's still up in the air. As of a few weeks ago, the plan has always been for Rock to win the title, essentially his coronation as the new top star and face of the company. But that may not happen anymore because Rock is scheduled to film The Mummy 2 movie and will be out for a couple of months soon after Wrestlemania. It's not in the company's best interest to build toward Rock's big moment for an entire year, only to have him win the title and then have to lose it again a month later. The company is pushing the idea that Foley will win and that's what they want everyone to believe, for the big feel good story. Dave thinks the only chance of Triple H retaining will be if Foley turns heel and helps cost Rock the match. Usually a heel retaining the title at Wrestlemania seems like something they'd never do, but Triple H (who was only supposed to be a transitional champion to begin with) has been a huge success as champion and has become a legit main eventer and top star. And Big Show pretty much isn't even in the discussion. Though for what it's worth, Dave says Big Show will probably become the tallest wrestler to ever headline a Wrestlemania, so hey, that's something! Of course, in kayfabe, Andre The Giant was billed at 7'4 (he wasn't) so even though Big Show is legitimately slightly taller than Andre was, they can't admit that without breaking the Andre mystique.

- Despite all the huge paragraphs above, they're really only 2 stories. I guess this is a slow week because Dave writes huge pieces about a former WCW jobber turned boxer who was exposed for fixing his matches and all the legal issues with that. And then he writes a big historical piece about Frank Gotch that stems from a letter someone wrote the week before. All really interesting stuff, but none of it newsworthy at all.

- Ratings news, Monday stuff is still the same. Thunder ratings reached a pretty horrible low and bottomed out with the main event of Hulk Hogan vs. Dustin Rhodes doing a terrible 1.91 rating. WWF Sunday Night Heat did a lower than usual rating because the Oscars were on. ECW did a pretty bad rating for the 2nd week in a row and was actually close to their all-time low, which isn't good news and kinda surprising since just a few weeks back, they were reaching all-time highs on TNN.

- Dave recently ran a poll on the radio show, asking fans which was better: Wrestling With Shadows or Beyond The Mat? With 37% of the vote, Wrestling With Shadows wins, compared to 21% for Beyond The Mat. The other percentages were people who haven't seen one or the other. What say we, KBC?

- AJPW pulled a huge surprise in their annual Champion Carnival tournament. Jun Akiyama, who was expected to easily make it to the finals of the tournament, ended up losing to Takao Omori in a 7 second match in the very first round. It's the shortest match in AJPW history. It's a single elimination tournament, which means Akiyama has been eliminated. Dave isn't really sure what the plan is here, but it damn sure makes the tournament hard to predict now. He speculates that this means Steve Williams will probably end up in the finals against either Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi, or maaaaybe Vader (Williams didn't make the finals either. It ended up being Kobashi vs. Omori, because AJPW apparently decided to strap a rocket to Omori and try to make a main eventer out of him. Prior to this, it looks like he was just sort of languishing in the midcard).

- Oh hey, in the very next paragraph, Dave breaks down the next tournament matches and wonders whether AJPW may end up pushing Omori to the finals in order to try to make him a star (yup).

- Speaking of Kobashi, he blew his knee out last week and doctors have told him he needs surgery. As anyone who follows AJPW and Kobashi in particular knows, he's naturally ignoring that advice and continuing to wrestle.

- Shawn Michaels will be returning to the ring next week for his own TWA promotion in Texas. Michaels is billing it as his final match, coming out of retirement to face Venom for the TWA title. The match is said to be a "bunkhouse brawl" instead of a regular wrestling match because Michaels has said his back can't stand up to doing a normal match.

- A website called TokyoPop.com is going to start airing live matches from FMW online (that seems like it would have sucked with 2000-era internet technology. Anyway, TokyoPop.com still exists. It's an anime/manga site).

- Dave recently caught up on some Memphis Championship Wrestling and gives his thoughts on some of the people there. K-Krush has good charisma (that would be R-Truth). Bobcat looks like every other blonde valet (she's most famous for being the Godfather's ho that won the hardcore title). Blue Meanie has lost so much weight that he doesn't even look like the same person. Lance Russell is still an incredible announcer. So on and so forth. Anyway, Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved By The Bell) appeared yet again, continuing his angle of being obsessed with the Kat which once again led to Screech getting beat down and doing a stretcher job.

- ECW has a PPV scheduled for next month but have not yet picked a location. Heyman wants to run the show in a new market because the first-time crowds are usually the best. Heyman had negotiated with the Mandalay Bay casino and hotel in Las Vegas to do it there, but the talks fell through. Both Jerry Lynn and RVD are expected to be back from their injuries by then.

- Notes from the most recent ECW TV taping: Dusty Rhodes came out with 2 strippers who flashed the crowd, but of course that won't air on TV. Cyrus made fun of Mick Foley's "retirement." And the show ended strangely. Sandman and Super Crazy were beat down after the main event and left laying. And....that was supposed to be the end of the show. But the crowd was expecting to be sent home happy and didn't leave and kept chanting for Sandman (who was helped out of the ring, selling an injury) and Raven (who was at the show but didn't work due to illness). Heyman called an audible and sent Mikey Whipwreck out to tell the crowd to leave, which led to Raven making an unplanned run-in to give him a DDT, which is about all he could physically do. Then, with Raven in the ring, the crowd began chanting for Sandman to come back out, so Raven went with it and called for him to come out. But by this point, Sandman was already in the showers and thought he was done for the night and he legitimately didn't want to come back out. Ultimately, he did and he caned Raven to send everyone home happy, but he was upset about it and he had words with Heyman and Raven immediately after backstage.

- New Jack and Tommy Dreamer will be appearing together in a small role in the CBS TV drama Early Edition.

- Every angle done on WCW TV this week was meaningless because the company is starting over with a clean slate in 2 weeks under Bischoff and Russo. Spring Stampede takes place on the 16th and there are no matches planned as of yet and there won't be until 6 days before the show when WCW resets. Word is Russo will be doing most of the writing. In an interview with 1wrestling.com, Russo said he hasn't watched a single second of WCW TV since he was relieved of his duties back in January.

- Notes from Nitro: it was the spring break show, so the crowd at least seemed to be having fun which is a break from normal WCW shows. Someone in the front row had an "I wish I was at Raw" sign that somehow never got confiscated and was there for the entire show on camera. At the very beginning of the show, a woman in the front row flashed Gene Okerlund, leading to him saying, "Young lady, you're very proud of those, aren't you?" on TV. DDP made his big return and pretty much just plugged the Ready To Rumble movie. Sid Vicious missed the show due to a shoulder injury. Dave can understand not wrestling with an injury but Sid is the WCW champion, and Dave thinks he should at least show up and cut a promo or something. But then again, nothing in WCW matters right now until Russo and Bischoff reboot it anyway. Sting and Luger fought onto the beach all the way to the ocean. And to his credit, Hogan did a promo during the show where he really put over Vampiro as the wrestler of the future and later in the main event, he worked against The Wall and allowed Wall to no-sell the leg drop. So kudos to WCW for finally making an effort to push some new people, even if it all gets wiped away in 2 weeks.

- Notes from Thunder: the show drew 1,700 paid fans. Literally 24 hours earlier, Raw sold out a different arena in the same city for Raw with over 12,500 paid fans. Lots of rumors were going around saying Bobby Heenan had been fired, but he was doing commentary on this show, so obviously that wasn't true. Chris Candido is already doing jobs to Chavo Guerrero so he clearly isn't getting any sort of push after debuting just a couple weeks ago. And no real storyline progression, just tons of hype about what the future for WCW holds under Bischoff and Russo. WCW is basically in a holding pattern right now and nothing matters until the reboot.

- Hogan appeared on another radio station doing an interview where he buries everybody. He said Bret Hart is in Canada and "can't remember what WCW is." He said DDP was out injured with a broken fingernail and said WCW needs people who will crawl through broken glass with one arm in a sling to sacrifice and get in the ring. He said Kidman needs to start training like Torrie Wilson. He did praise Vampiro again though, so Hogan seems to like him. Anyway, WCW head Bill Busch was on WCW's live internet show and admitted that Hogan has full creative control in his contract and also said that he still has 6 guaranteed PPV main event matches in his deal.

- Tammy Sytch is expected to make her WCW debut at the Spring Stampede PPV in a couple of weeks.

- Variety ran a big story about some marketing changes that WCW is making. New hires to take over various marketing jobs, new marketing strategies and promotions that the company is planning to run, etc. Dave says that's all well and good, but nowhere in the article did it mention the idea of maybe putting on good shows that people want to see. All the marketing geniuses in the world can't save a product as terrible as WCW is right now.

- Brad Armstrong will be out of action for several months with a knee injury suffered in the dumbest way possible. For some reason, before a show, Armstrong was goofing around in the parking lot with Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis and they decided--just for shits and giggles--to do the ol' famous wrestling angle of hitting someone with their car. You know, one of those dumb "you drive at me, I'll jump up on the hood like the stuntmen do in the movies" type of things. So.....they did it. And now Armstrong needs knee surgery because of course he does (that was pretty much it for him. He never wrestled in WCW again and in fact, he didn't wrestle anywhere for another 4 years before returning to the ring in 2004 and working indie shows periodically until 2011. Died a year later).

- Les Thatcher's Heartland Wrestling Association have signed a deal with WCW to act as a developmental territory for them. Power Plant wrestlers will go work shows for him for a little while before debuting on WCW TV.

- Various WCW notes: Mexican wrestlers Halloween and Damian are joining Sonny Onoo's racial discrimination lawsuit against WCW. Although with Bischoff returning to the company, Dave expects this lawsuit to ultimately disappear. Christopher Daniels starts with WCW next week. Dave thinks he has a ton of potential. Some people within the company are pushing for Shane Douglas to return. Konnan's suspension ends this week so he should be back soon.

- The legal red tape behind the scenes on WWF's new TV deal is still being sorted out. The FCC is expected to allow the Viacom purchase of UPN to go through, which will mean Viacom will own 2 networks (CBS and UPN) which used to be against the law but that's being changed now. Those in the TV industry pretty much believe this to be a done deal. The news has boosted WWF stock up to $17.31 per share (as I write this, WWF just announced the new FOX deal for Smackdown, which boosted the stock up to damn near $60 per share)(10/24 update: currently $80.64).

- The Rock was on Jay Leno recently and movie critic Roger Ebert appeared also. Ebert told Rock that he has talent and told him to get into acting and get as far away from wrestling as he can. Rock laughed it off and said he was working on it.

- Notes from Smackdown: it was in San Antonio and a tag team called American Force 2000 worked a dark match. The team consists of two trainees from Shawn Michaels' wrestling school, Spanky and American Dragon. Lots of cool high spots but they weren't very fluid and screwed some stuff up. They also hyped up the Shawn Michaels vs. Venom match next week in TWA for the live crowd.

- A lot of the WWF wrestlers are using new entrance music right now, to promote the new WWF Aggression CD. It's basically rap remixes of everyone's theme music and Dave thinks it sucks because the fans don't know these songs. So now even when the Rock is making his entrance, the crowd doesn't pop because it's an unfamiliar. Luckily it's temporary and they'll go back to the real versions eventually. Speaking of, WWF The Music Vol. 4, which was released 6 months ago, is still hanging on in the top 200 charts. It's at #152 this week and sold over 10,000 copies. In 2018, any album that is still moving 10k copies six months after it came out would be the best selling album of the year.

- WWF claims they have enough money set aside to fund the XFL for at least 3 seasons. They're hoping to expand to 16 teams by 2005. WWF has once again emphasized that they will own all the teams and aren't interested in outside investors. They also again promised that this is going to be legit and the games won't be fixed. Advertisers are said to be hesitant, because they don't have a lot of hope that this whole XFL thing is going to succeed.

- Shawn Michaels is said to be itching to get back on television in the WWF, but right now, they have no interest. Business is booming so much these days and they've attracted so many new fans in just the last year or two alone that Michaels isn't considered a top star anymore and WWF doesn't feel the need to use him in any way.

- USA Today ran a story about Mick Foley's alleged last match coming up at Wrestlemania. Foley was quoted as saying, "I was much more successful and, going over my taxes now, obviously a lot more profitable being more of a comedy character in 1999 than I ever was being the King of Hardcore. If I'd known I could make more money making people laugh than making people wince, I'd have done it a long time ago." He also said that if it hadn't been for Austin getting injured, he would have retired last year. He said he hated going back on his word so soon after he retired and says he spent 20 minutes trying to talk Vince McMahon out of bringing him back for the match. But ultimately, he admitted that the money was too much to turn down. "It may take some people a while to forgive me, but not as long as it would take me to forgive myself if I didn't do this. Realistically, it's probably going to be the most money that I've ever made. So 15 years from now, when everyone has forgiven me, my kids' college will be taken care of." But Foley super duper swears this time that Wrestlemania will be his final match. "By leaving now, I'm probably giving up on the most profitable year in my career. But I was named after Mickey Mantle. I grew up hearing about how Mickey Mantle stuck around one season too long. I didn't want people to make the same comments about Mickey Foley."

A website called TokyoPop.com is going to start airing live matches from FMW online (that seems like it would have sucked with 2000-era internet technology. Anyway, TokyoPop.com still exists. It's an anime/manga site).

-They were also the US distributor of FMW videos and DVDs in the US, they released a dozen or so volumes. But yeah, they were then and still are a manga publisher primarily.
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(10-24-2018, 10:37 AM)Peezy Wrote: 4-3-2000
- Dave recently ran a poll on the radio show, asking fans which was better: Wrestling With Shadows or Beyond The Mat? With 37% of the vote, Wrestling With Shadows wins, compared to 21% for Beyond The Mat. The other percentages were people who haven't seen one or the other. What say we, KBC?

tough choice. haven't seen Beyond the Mat in quite a few years, but i think it gets my vote. such a dismal portrayal of older wrestlers, Jake the Snake in particular.
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I actually just recently re-watched Beyond The Mat. Wife had never seen it, and there's some stuff that a bitch just gots to see if she's gonna stay married to me. That was required viewing so I made her sit through it haha


- Wrestlemania 16 is in the books and Dave wasn't impressed, saying it wasn't even as good as an average episode of Raw. Not great for a show that is going to end up being the biggest money drawing event in the history of pro wrestling. Vince McMahon turned heel to allow Triple H to retain the title in the main event which Dave thought was pretty lame. Dave thinks a big problem was the length of the show. They added an extra hour, plus the live Heat pre-show which means the whole event was more than 4 hours, which is just too long for a crowd to sit in an arena and still be energetic (Wrestlemania too long? Perish the thought). Terri vs. The Kat was literally the only singles match on the card. The crowd was dead for most of the show which also didn't help. But hey, live gate of over $1.3 million (4th highest in American history), all-time merch record, and surely to be an all-timer when the buyrate comes in. Can't argue with that.

- Other notes from the show: Rapper Ice-T came out with The Godfather and D-Lo, performing a song that "seemed like it was longer than the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels Wrestlemania match." But at least Bull Buchanan looked really impressive. Bob Holly won the hardcore title battle royal in a totally botched finish that seemed to have the announcers and even Howard Finkel confused. Dave says Bob was indeed supposed to win but the finish was still fucked up somehow. Also, some glass got in Tazz's eye during the finish but luckily he didn't suffer any real injury from it and they were able to get it out backstage. Test/Albert vs. Al Snow/Steve Blackman was negative stars and even J.R. called it "bowling shoe ugly" which is of course code for "this match sucks." Trish Stratus is hot but she has no stage presence and Dave thinks she needs to be sent to MCW or OVW for a few months because she's not ready for the big time. The Hardyz/Dudleyz/E&C ladder match stole the show and Jeff Hardy in particular continues to raise the bar on dangerous stunts. The Benoit/Jericho/Angle match was nowhere near as good as you would have hoped given who was involved. And the main event lasted a good 10-15 minutes too long and when it got down to just Rock & Triple H, both men were badly exposed and couldn't carry it. Dave says the main events of the previous 2 PPVs (which Triple H was in) were light years better than this mess and considering it was the biggest show of the year, they picked a bad night to be off their games. Mick Foley's involvement in the whole thing was pretty sad. In February, Foley cut one of the best promos of his career talking about his retirement, and then had the perfect retirement match. It was the perfect note to go out on. Now, just 6 weeks later, he was dragged out of retirement for really no purpose (WM was going to do a record-setting buyrate whether he was there or not and the show was sold out months ago), didn't look to be in great shape and looked bad in the ring, may have broken his ribs by not being able to make the jump from the ring to the announce table during one spot, and then got eliminated from the match with nearly 20 minutes still left to go by yet again putting over Triple H and then leaving to a half-hearted ovation that paled in comparison to his last match. To his credit, he has openly admitted that he did this match because the money was too good to pass up, and that's his right of course. Everybody's got families to feed and bills to pay so Dave doesn't begrudge him for it. But regardless, Foley's perfect retirement has been forever tarnished by returning to participate in this shit-show. After it was over, Rock laid out Vince, Shane, and Stephanie with rock bottoms. It was Stephanie's first ever big bump in the ring and Dave says she's already a better worker than Rikishi and the Harris twins.

- The odds of the XFL succeeding got a major boost this week with the announcement that NBC will become a 50% owner in the league and will broadcast games every Saturday night. WWF and NBC will split the start-up costs. Also, NBC purchased 2.3 million shares of WWF stock, meaning NBC owns about 3% of the total stock (the public owns another 17% and McMahon himself owns the other 80%). It's a shock because NBC had been discussing a similar deal with Time Warner last year, but NBC backed out because they didn't feel it was financially possible. NBC Sports head Dick Ebersol and McMahon have been friends since the 80s so that may have played a part. The games will air on Saturday nights, which are traditionally the lowest rated night of TV during the week but NBC is confident that McMahon knows how to attract viewers in the age group that they're looking to target, noting that Raw does 3x better than Monday Night Football with viewers in the 12-24 age group. Plus, The Rock giving SNL its biggest ratings in over a year helped convince them that Vince has the midas touch. Of course, WWF's success on Mondays might not translate to Saturdays because it's a lot less likely that 12-24 year olds are going to stay home on Saturday night to watch television. Plus it's still going to be minor league football compared to the NFL. This also should end speculation that the games would be worked. WWF might survive such a scandal, but NBC won't go for that shit. From here, Dave just goes on and on, talking about other failed football leagues, the various challenges that the XFL will have to overcome to be successful, and why it's still by no means a guaranteed success just because NBC has jumped on board. The odds are still heavily against it. (This section of the Observer is actually a pretty interesting read because a lot of the problems that Dave talks about are things that Vince is still going to have to deal with the 2nd time around in 2020 when the new XFL happens).

- Vince Russo did an interview on WCW Live on their website full of noteworthy comments. He says he left in Janury right before the Souled Out PPV when Bill Busch told him that the company wanted to focus less on ratings and entertainment and more on wrestling. Russo disagreed and refused to be part of the booking committee. Russo admitted that he pitched the idea of Tank Abbott winning the WCW title at Souled Out, but Busch shot that down. Russo said he wants to bring back Konnan and Shane Douglas because he thinks they both have a lot to offer and feels Douglas especially could be a big star with WCW, and he feels they were right to stand up to Busch (which ultimately got them suspended when they didn't follow the Radicalz to WWF). There have been talks of bringing Douglas back, but it's complicated because he went online and threatened to sue the company at one point, so there's bad blood. Russo said he wanted to bring Bischoff back as a TV character months ago but got overruled. He said himself and Bischoff will be the main people in charge of booking things going forward. Russo denied making any mistakes during his first tenure as booker and blamed everything that happened on others in the company trying to undermine him. He said he wants to bring the NWO back and wants to rebuild the cruiserweight division. Russo also claimed that WWF turned things around in the ratings when DX drove a tank to WCW's show (Dave notes that Steve Austin becoming the biggest star in the world and bringing in Mike Tyson had, ya know, just a taaaaaaad more to do with it). He wants to move Thunder back to Thursdays so it can go head-to-head with Smackdown and he wants to move Nitro's time slot so that it's also going head-to-head with Raw for both hours. He blamed Jim Ross for WWF's mid-90s terrible ratings and said Ross just wanted to do announcing and didn't take his job as talent relations head seriously (Dave points out how stupid that comment is, since pretty much every single hot young star WWF has right now were people that Ross recruited). Russo also said he wants the titles to start meaning more, and Dave points out that Russo is a big part of the reason why they currently don't mean shit, saying nobody has done more to destroy the credibility of the belts in WCW than Vince Russo. He claimed that Scott Steiner's promo where he buried Ric Flair several weeks back that got Steiner suspended was the best promo of the year (Dave argues that for one, no it wasn't even close, and secondly, even if it was, are we going to start rewarding people who go against the script now?). And saving the best for last, Russo said he wants to bring Ultimate Warrior back to work an angle and match against Goldberg, saying, "In all honesty, there isn't anybody out there that wouldn't love to see a Goldberg vs. Warrior match." Dave is just aghast at the idea anyone would want to see that.

- Russo also claimed that he boosted WCW's ratings from 2.5 to a 3.5 in 12 weeks. Dave spends an entire paragraph explaining why this claim is total bullshit. For starters, the "growth" in the ratings that you see can be attributed entirely to Nitro cutting back to 2 hours and due to the Monday Night Football season ending. In September, the month before Russo took over, Nitro was averaging a 3.38 doing 3-hour shows. The average for October, after Russo took over, was 3.08. So we're already trending downward in the very first month. It starts getting math-y at this point. But for instance, after the show dropped down to 2 hours, that heavily skewed the averages. So the first 2 hour show did a 3.38 rating. But if that had been a 3 hour show, with the usual Monday Night Football competition, it would have been a 2.9. So the number might look higher on paper, but in reality, they were still losing viewers, not gaining them. To be fair to Russo, the ratings for Thunder DID increase 11% after he took over initially, primarily due to Russo putting focus on it again. Nash had basically tried to kill Thunder, so when Russo came in, they started pushing Thunder as a special show again. So there's that. Problem is, they made Thunder special again by bringing in all the top stars and the increase in expenses for that dwarfed whatever small gains the show made. And of course, once people realized that Thunder still sucked, the ratings plummeted again and continued falling even further after he left. Dave gives Russo credit for at least working hard and trying to do something different. He clearly busted his ass TRYING to make WCW better, which is certainly more than Nash can say. But it didn't work and no matter how Russo tries to spin it, nearly every business aspect of the company got worse with him in charge.

- The state of New Jersey is fighting to try to regulate so-called "extreme wrestling" and this week, Vince McMahon came out in favor of the regulations. The bill introduced would ban anyone under the age of 19 from attending "extreme" wrestling shows and allow local officials to ban those types of shows completely if they so choose. But of course, the wording on the bill is pretty vague as to what constitutes "extreme" wrestling so there's a lot of legal concerns over that. The bill is worded in a way that would not affect nationally touring companies like WWF or WCW. Naturally, ECW is hoping to be excluded from the bill as well, although having Extreme in their name isn't helping their case. The whole issue started due to shows run by indie promotion Jersey All Pro Wrestling, which regularly hosts hardcore bloody death matches. ECW official Steve Karel put out a statement on ECW's website saying they want nothing to do with JAPW and don't want to be associated with them and that they should be treated the same as WWF and WCW. AP ran a story on the issue and Paul Heyman was quoted saying, "I support regulation as long as it's fair. It's a necessary evil as without it you have people who are unqualified participating and someone may drop dead in the ring. It's too dangerous in today's environment (not to have regulation). A fair commission is to the benefit of the promoter, wrestler and consumer." In the same article, Vince McMahon was quoted in an AP story about the issue, saying "Extreme wrestling is a profoundly disturbing trend which has no other objective but to cause serious injury to an opponent in an effort to annihilate them. We share the Governor's concern that young people could be exposed to such a horrible spectacle as extreme wrestling. Extreme wrestling has no relation whatsoever to World Wrestling Federation's entertainment programming and the bill differentiates it as such. At the WWF, every effort is made by the athletes--who are trained professionals, unlike the local amateurs of extreme wrestling--not to cause harm to themselves or their opponent in our ongoing weekly action adventure series." Another New Jersey-based promotion, CZW, is expected to be targeted by this new law as well.

- The 4th edition of a book called Wrestling Title Histories was recently published and Dave calls it the greatest reference work ever published on pro wrestling. It's basically what the title says: a comprehensive listing of the title histories of virtually every major wrestling championship dating back to the mid-1800s up through 1999. This leads Dave on a rant about how titles don't mean anything anymore because they bounce around so often that it's not even worth keeping track. The WWF title changed hands more times in 1999 than it did in the entire decades of the 1960s and 1970s combined. In 1999, the WWF title and Intercontinental title were held by a non-wrestler (Vince) and a woman (Chyna) while the WWF women's title was held by a man (Harvey Wippleman). WCW's cruiserweight title was held by a woman and a TV writer (Madusa and Ed Ferrara) while the TV title was awarded to Jim Duggan after he found it in a trash can after Scott Hall threw it in the trash months earlier (remember, most of this is all the work of Vince "we need to make titles more important" Russo). As a result, titles have no drawing power and mean pretty much nothing anymore, but they used to be the backbone of the business. The only major titles in wrestling that mean anything these days are AJPW's Triple Crown championship and maybe WWF's World title to an extent, but even that means far less now than it ever did before. But this book is interesting for studying history. For example, in the last 10 years, only 4 people under the age of 35 (Lex Luger, Sting, The Giant, and Goldberg) have held the WCW championship. Which is, of course, the total opposite of WWF which has spent the last decade mostly putting the title on young guys like Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, Diesel, Sid, Undertaker, Kane, Austin, Rock, Triple H, etc. Just in case you're wondering why WCW has a reputation for being a company full of old washed up has-beens.

- In the latest poll results from the internet shows, they had people vote on the best and worst WM matches of all time. So in 2000, Observer readers still believed that Steamboat/Savage was the best WM match of all time (just barely beating out Shawn/Razor and Bret/Austin). On the flip side, worst WM match ever was a landslide, with Undertaker/Giant Gonzales at WM9 getting 40% of the vote.

- So much for Perro Aguayo retiring, as he's already scheduled for CMLL shows for the rest of the year and may be returning to Japan to work as well. Dave's not even remotely surprised.

- An FMW show in Japan was recently cancelled because it was too close to the Mt. Usu volcano which just recently erupted.

- Hayabusa will be co-starring in a movie called Backyard Dogs about a kid who dreams to be a wrestler and does backyard wrestling matches before making it to the big time (Frankie Kazarian is in this too and after watching the trailer, I demand this movie be awarded a belated Oscar).

- Shawn Michaels' alleged final match took place in his TWA promotion last week against Venom. It was your basic weapons match, garbage cans, ladders, cookie sheets, etc. Michaels bladed and also did an elbow drop from the top of a ladder, which was his only real major bump. Mostly it was Venom bumping all over for Shawn for the big spots. After winning the match and the TWA championship, Shawn vacated the title (with Dave cheekily saying to add it to the list of titles Shawn has managed to avoid losing in the ring) and announced a tournament to determine a new champion.

- Court TV aired a show called Wrestling With Death, talking about the dangers of wrestling and yada yada. Linda McMahon was interviewed and came off cold and callous. The show was okay, but dragged in parts. The highlight was Linda saying that the WWF doesn't market to children, and the host responded by pulling out a bag full of WWF toys found at Toys R Us that are clearly marketed to children and basically made Linda look like a complete fool.

- At the latest Stampede Wrestling show in Canada, Harry Smith, the 14-year-old son of Davey Boy Smith, defeated a heel named T.J. Wilson. After the match, Wilson and his stable were beating on Smith when Davey Boy did a run-in to save him and it was announced that the father and son would be forming a tag team called the New British Bulldogs (here's the video. TJ Wilson would later become Tyson Kidd. And yes, that is Maura Ranallo announcing).

- At an ECW house show in Norfolk, after the show was over, Sandman brought a few young ladies into the ring and it got pretty R-rated. For starters, they looked young (not necessarily underage, but maybe not old enough to be drinking either) but he poured beer all over them and then got them to take their shirts off. One of the women wasn't wearing a bra and was just parading around topless in the ring, which could be an issue because there's some Virginia state law about that sort of thing during entertainment events.

- On a recent ECW show, Tajiri kept referring to Super Crazy by the name "Super Chico" leading Dave to say, "Isn't that Bryan Alvarez?" (turns out Alvarez used to wrestle under the name Super Chico.)

- Nitro this week was basically just a lame duck hype show to build up to the Russo/Bischoff takeover starting next week. They hyped up both men and portrayed it as if no one had ever beaten Vince McMahon in the TV ratings until Eric Bischoff came along. Dave takes a moment to point out all the other times WWF has lost to other companies in the ratings. Through most of the 80s and into the early-90s, WCW Saturday Night was the highest rated wrestling TV show. In 1985, Mid South Wrestling was doing bigger numbers than WWF. So on and so forth. But nobody cared because until 1995, nobody paid attention to TV ratings because they didn't matter nearly as much as ticket sales and PPV buyrates. It wasn't until Nitro came along and the head-to-head war started that ratings even became a thing people cared about. WCW also occasionally did better PPV numbers than WWF in the early 90s (before Bischoff) and were much stronger with ticket sales in most southern markets. It also claimed WWF was beating WCW all the time until the NWO came along. Not true either, as the first time Nitro and Raw went head-to-head, Nitro won. And for the 10 months or so before the NWO came along, WCW was winning the ratings battle more often than not. WCW can't even get their own revisionist history right in ways that would make them look better. As for Russo, the WCW version of his story is that WWF sucked until Russo took over and single-handedly saved them and now he's back to do the same for WCW. All in all, it was a really weird show full of WCW's weird, backwards ass version of history.

- Billy Kidman won the cruiserweight title from The Artist at a Baltimore house show and lost it back to him the next night at a Pittsburgh house show. Neither title change was ever acknowledged on TV (all the titles get vacated next week anyway when WCW reboots).

- Bret Hart was on TSN's Off The Record and said he doesn't have any animosity towards Davey Boy Smith for going back to the WWF, but said he does have a problem with Smith publicly saying that McMahon shouldn't be held responsible in any way for Owen Hart's death. Considering Smith threatened to sue over the back injury he suffered in WCW, he thinks it's kind of hypocritical for him to not think Vince has some responsibility. He also spoke about meeting with Vince when he came to Calgary for Owen's funeral. He said that when they talked, they didn't really discuss Owen's death because of the legal issues (both sides knew at the time that there were going to be lawsuits coming out of this) so that's why Bret didn't talk to Vince about Owen. But then a few weeks later, Vince went on TV and claimed Bret didn't care about Owen because he never talked about him during their conversation. Bret was pretty pissed about that because he says Vince knew that Bret couldn't talk to him about Owen because of the pending lawsuit. When the host asked if Bret would ever go back to WWF and how you should never say never, Bret responded saying "absolutely never."

- Eric Bischoff did an interview with the Observer website and talked about how WCW can't go to the same extreme lengths that WWF went to because they can't do anything to embarrass Ted Turner. He said that he and Russo plan to basically blow up WCW and start from scratch next week and that they are going to change directions in a way no one expects. The rumors Dave has heard are that basically, they're just gonna pretend 1999 didn't happen and plan for a Goldberg/Scott Steiner feud. Also during the interview, Bischoff was asked about Scott Hall's status and said that is in Brad Siegel's hands. Speaking of...

- Scott Hall reportedly had neck surgery last week due to injuries allegedly suffered at SuperBrawl, although that's not for certain. Only one friend of Hall's has told Dave that he had surgery. Hall's other friends that Dave has spoken to know nothing about it and it seems like mostly nobody has even heard from Hall lately and nobody knows what he's up to.

- WCW announcer Mark Madden does a sports talk radio show in Pittsburgh when he's not doing wrestling. Anyway, in a recent Pittsburgh newspaper poll, Madden was recently voted "best reason to kill your radio."

- In the UK, there was a lot of media coverage and even a segment on a BBC news show in regards to WCW engaging in false advertisement. Their recent tour heavily advertised Goldberg and Sting, but of course, neither was there. Instead, fans got to see the Harris Twins vs. The Mamalukes as the main event. As you can imagine, fans weren't thrilled and there's a lot of stories about fans wanting refunds and filing complaints with the venues.

- Various WCW notes: they still sell Rey Mysterio and Psicosis masks at the merch table, even though both men have long ago lost their masks. Shane Helms needs reconstructive nose surgery from an injury he suffered but he's trying not to miss any TV time so he's working through it while wearing a protective face mask.

- There's interest in bringing in Marc Mero and Rena Mero (formerly Sable). Marc is legally free and could show up in WCW right now if he wanted but Rena is still locked into her WWF non-compete clause for another 18 months (WCW won't exist in 18 months).

- There are people in WCW who are worried about an incident that took place at last week's spring break Nitro and are hoping it doesn't get out to the public. So here's Dave to tell us about it! Anyway, some WCW people apparently unofficially sponsored and organized a wet t-shirt contest with about 15 women participating. By the end of it, every single one of them was totally topless and most were bottomless as well. There were a good 500+ people gathered around watching, many with cameras, and at least one wrestler was on stage helping to remove clothing from the women. Needless to say, WCW is hoping none of this footage surfaces (I don't think it ever does, but if I'm not mistaken, I think we find out later that Buff Bagwell was the wrestler).

- Notes from Raw: they've paired Chyna together with Eddie Guerrero but they're not doing Eddie any favors in the way they're portraying it. Chyna has been wearing huge heels and the camera shoots them from a low angle and it makes Eddie look like a dwarf next to her. Dave says Guerrero is showing so much charisma and personality lately that he's probably gonna get over anyway but Dave doesn't think this is helping people take him seriously and it's clear they're intentionally doing it to emphasize the size difference. Also during the show, they kept pushing that Pete Rose should be in the baseball hall of fame. "Maybe they'll induct him into the WWF Hall of Fame as a publicity stunt," Dave jokes, 4 years before that actually happens.

- Dave attended the most recent Smackdown tapings and has notes from seeing it in person. Jericho carried Viscera to his best match ever. Lillian Garcia sang the National Anthem and Dave says she has a great singing voice and the crowd popped big for her and she seemed genuinely happy to be getting such a big crowd response. It played into the storyline later in the show when McMahon forced her to sing and then basically told her she was marginal and could be replaced, which got big heat because the crowd loved Lillian on this night. At one point, Vince came out a second time and redid parts of his promo from earlier in the show because he apparently forgot a line, so that'll be edited in and fixed in post-production.

- There's a couple of new wrestlers who are starting out at the OVW developmental territory. The first is Shelton Benjamin (who Dave mistakenly calls a former All-American football player at North Carolina State, obviously confusing him with someone else) and a former bodybuilder named David Nelson (that dude never became anything).

- The Guardian newspaper had a listing of the 50 most powerful people in sports. Vince McMahon was listed at #39, ahead of names like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Rupert Murdoch was #1 and Ted Turner was #5. The Ted Turner listing talked about his ownership of the Braves, Hawks, Thrashers, etc. but never mentioned WCW.

- WWF and video game company THQ are working on a WWF online game that will be specifically marketed to the internet (don't think that ever happened but the WWF No Mercy came out later that year for N64 and WWF Royal Rumble was released the same year for Dreamcast and arcade in Europe and Japan).

- Kurt Angle was interviewed recently and praised MMA, calling it one of his favorite sports and saying he would like to wrestle against guys like Mark Kerr and Mark Coleman, and particularly praised Kerr's amateur wrestling. Angle and Kerr faced each other in the 1995 Olympic trials and he said that if Kerr had more of a work ethic, Kerr probably would have beaten him. Angle said he would fight in MMA if the money was right. Angle also said Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman are the toughest guys in the WWF and said he thinks Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Christian would have all been great amateur wrestlers if they had pursued it when they were younger.

- Someone writes in trashing Vince Russo, because during a recent interview, Russo said that WWF's ratings haven't improved since he left and the letter writer says yeah but they haven't dropped since he left either. Dave responds and notes that, actually the ratings HAVE gone up since Russo left. In his final month with WWF, Raw was averaging a 6.17 and Smackdown was averaging a 4.13. In the most recent month, Raw averaged 6.45 and Smackdown a 4.80. But, to be fair, Dave says, much of that increase is probably due to outside factors. Monday Night Football is off the air and Nitro cut back to 2 hours, both of which helped Raw's rating. And Thunder got moved to a different night, so Smackdown is no longer going head-to-head with that. So that probably is why the ratings went up but, regardless of the reason, Russo is wrong when he says the WWF's ratings haven't increased. In fact, to be honest, WWF never even missed a beat when he quit and it quite frankly didn't seem to hurt them at all.

- Someone else writes in criticizing ECW and Paul Heyman over the recent New Jack/Vic Grimes spot that nearly got New Jack killed. He says that Heyman doesn't care about his wrestlers and is perfectly happy to watch them go out there and destroy their bodies with insane stunts so ECW can make a buck. He says Heyman is no better than a pimp who allows his whores to work without condoms so they can earn more money for him and says someone is going to end up dying in an ECW ring because Heyman "and his henchmen" are courting injury and death.

Was that David Nelson guy the same one from American Gladiators?

I used to have Backyard Dogs, no post dated Oscar necessary there. Complete garbage. The original black ranger was one of the stars

- At an ECW house show in Norfolk, after the show was over, Sandman brought a few young ladies into the ring and it got pretty R-rated. For starters, they looked young (not necessarily underage, but maybe not old enough to be drinking either) but he poured beer all over them and then got them to take their shirts off. One of the women wasn't wearing a bra and was just parading around topless in the ring, which could be an issue because there's some Virginia state law about that sort of thing during entertainment events.

I was at this show! It was at this really weird venue, the Boathouse, which was like on a barge floating behing a baseball stadium, with a really low ceiling people kept hitting. No idea if it ever turned into anything I didnt live in the state
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- There's some strange happenings going on between WCW and ECW in regards to ECW champion Mike Awesome, who debuted on Nitro this week despite allegedly still being under ECW contract and still holding the ECW world title. Awesome reportedly has more than 2 years remaining on his ECW deal. It started over the weekend, when Awesome no-showed the Thursday and Friday ECW house shows. At first, no one was suspicious since Awesome had never missed a show and he claimed on Thursday that his flight had been cancelled. But then he made a similar claim on Friday and missed that show as well. Around that same time, rumors began spreading that he was going to WCW, which no one in ECW was aware of at the time. The rumors came from Florida radio host Bubba The Love Sponge, who reported on his show that WCW had offered Awesome a high 6-figure-per-year offer to jump ship. By Saturday, everyone in ECW was aware of the rumors and it was believed that Awesome was gone and would not come back to drop the title and everyone naturally felt he was acting unprofessionally. On Saturday night, at the TNN tapings, Heyman had with him a copy of Awesome's contract, signed and initialed on multiple pages by Awesome, though Awesome himself claims he had never signed a contract and accused Heyman of faking his signature. During the day on Monday, Heyman attempted to get a temporary restraining order to prevent Awesome from appearing on Nitro, but it didn't work. Throughout the day, WCW and ECW went back and forth on negotiations and it apparently ended with WCW agreeing to pay ECW a low 6-figure payment in order to get Awesome a full release from his ECW deal, and in return, Awesome would not bring the ECW title belt with him onto Nitro. Also as part of the deal, WCW has agreed to allow Awesome to return to ECW later this week to drop the title to an ECW wrestler, which will be his final ECW appearance. In addition, WCW agreed to promote Awesome's upcoming title defense that would air on ECW's TNN show later that week, although that didn't quite go as planned, since WCW announcers only sort of vaguely referenced it and never directly mentioned the TNN show on the air. WCW also violated the agreement by allowing Awesome to cut a promo during his debut after attacking Nash, which wasn't agreed upon during the negotiations. Due to that, negotiations between both sides continued on Tuesday, with Heyman threatening legal action over WCW violating their agreement.

- It'll be interesting to see how all this plays out at a time when many, for the first time ever, are beginning to view ECW as the #2 promotion in the U.S. Last month, ECW attendance and PPV buyrates were ahead of WCW's numbers. But WCW still has more money to throw around, and stealing the ECW world champion is going to destroy months of planned storylines which were building to Awesome vs. RVD where Van Dam would finally be crowned ECW champion, which was expected to be the biggest show in ECW history when it eventually happened. This puts ECW in a tough spot now, if WCW can just swoop in and steal their contracted stars at any moment and use their money to buy their way out of any legal issues that come from it. It makes it impossible for ECW to book long-term or create true stars. For what it's worth, the Awesome WCW debut was pretty much meaningless, since most people in the crowd didn't even seem to know who Awesome was and his mic work in the promo afterward was weak and forgettable. Dave talks about how Heyman's biggest talent is hiding peoples' weaknesses and WCW is going to have to carefully protect Awesome and book him correctly if he's got any hope of becoming a star there and, well.....it's WCW. He's also 35 years old and coming off double-knee surgery less than a year ago and his best matches are the kind of dangerous ECW style brawls that WCW doesn't do.

- It turns out Awesome isn't the only one WCW went after, as word got around that they had also made some type of offers to Lance Storm, Sandman, Rhino, Mikey Whipwreck, Kid Kash, and manager James Mitchell. Backstage at the latest ECW show, Heyman was determined to get signed agreements on paper from everyone who is working on verbal deals. Sandman signed an extension on his current contract. Rhino, who has apparently considered taking WCW's offer, chose to stay and has signed a 5-year deal with ECW. Don Callis has verbally agreed to a long-term deal, but he signed a 1-year agreement. Lance Storm only agreed to sign a 30-day deal on paper, which means he and Credible will be dropping the tag titles soon if he doesn't sign a longer deal. If he leaves, that will mean ECW basically lost both its world and tag team champions within a month which obviously wrecks even more long-term storylines and destroys plans for next months PPV. But it puts Storm in a good negotiating position with both ECW and WCW.

- Anyway, the first Nitro of the new Bischoff/Russo era finally happened and was mostly considered a big success. It was built around a young vs. old feud, the New Blood (young stars) against the Millionaire's Club (the older stars) and saw most of the older top stars getting beaten down by younger stars that they never would have been caught dead in the ring with before. Hulk Hogan actually laid down for a three-count in a non-match with Billy Kidman, and it looks like they're turning Hogan's recent comments about Kidman into an angle. And even more shockingly, Ric Flair worked an angle with Shane Douglas (who was brought back at this show) after vowing for years that he would never work with him. WCW announced every championship was vacated and that they would all be decided at Spring Stampede in 6 days. But by the end of the show, only 1 match was announced for the PPV. The rest is expected to be announced on Thunder. Overall, it was unpredictable and exciting but on the downside, it was full of insider references that were clearly lost on the live audience and probably most people watching on TV also. Bischoff came off strong as a character, but in his first real on-screen appearance as a character, Vince Russo didn't come across as a star at all and seemed out of place. They also revealed Bischoff as the person who drove the Humvee in that big mystery angle from, like, a year ago that most fans had long since forgotten about. WWF was referred to constantly during the show, which just made WCW seem minor league by comparison. Due to all the publicity going into this show, the rating was up about half a point and took a decent bite out of Raw's audience. But they can't re-create a monumental show like this every week, so the real test will be the next few weeks.


- New Japan's latest Tokyo Dome show drew the smallest crowd that NJPW has ever drawn in that stadium and initially the show was considered a failure. But then the TV ratings came in. The show aired in prime time for the first time in years and did a monster 15.7 rating, on the strength of the Hashimoto vs. Ogawa rematch, with Hashimoto vowing to retire if he couldn't win. The match had a lot of mainstream interest given their history. Roughly 34 million people watched the match, which would be the largest rating for any pro wrestling match in the world since Antonio Inoki vs. boxer Leon Spinks in 1986. The most watched U.S. match of the modern era was the Hogan vs. Andre match on Saturday Night's Main Event from 1988, which did 32 million viewers, so this match even beat that. Anyway Hashimoto lost and Dave doesn't believe for a second that he's retiring and says when he makes his inevitable comeback, he'll be regarded as a liar and his popularity will never recover. Same thing happened to both Terry Funk and Atsushi Onita. Japan takes retirement promises seriously. They're already doing an angle where NJPW claims fans are writing in letters begging Hashimoto not to retire. (yup, he came back in 6 months). Also, Ogawa dislocated his shoulder during the match and is expected to be out for a little while. It was the 5th time Hashimoto and Ogawa have main evented the Tokyo Dome, which is a record.

- Jushin Liger won the 3rd Super J Cup tournament as expected, since NJPW refused to let him participate if he wasn't winning. And a wrestler named Cima from Ultimo Dragon's Toryumon promotion (later renamed Dragon Gate) stole the show with his performance. He's only 22 and reminds Dave of a young Eddie Guerrero. He went all the way to the finals, after having the 3 best matches in the tournament, and was especially popular with the female fans. Dave runs down the results.

- WCW's movie Ready To Rumble opened to mixed reviews and landed at #6, doing $5.6 million opening weekend. It basically makes a mockery out of wrestling and the people who watch it, full of dumb toilet humor aimed at the 16-year-old teen boy demographic. Dave thinks it shows exactly what wrestling companies and mainstream media producers think about wrestling and its fans, as it was basically dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. But hey, it's just a movie. Some of the jokes worked, some didn't, and Dave seems ready to just put this flop behind us and forget it existed. Oh, if only it would be that easy...

- PRIDE has a show coming up in May and it will air on PPV in the U.S. and one of the main matches will feature Ken Shamrock, in his return to MMA. There's a lot of question about whether this show can succeed on PPV and also a question of whether or not WWF will help promote it. When Shamrock left, there were talks of having WWF promote his next two fights with PRIDE, but Shamrock hasn't been mentioned on TV in months. Word is McMahon wasn't exactly thrilled that Shamrock left, but he realized that Shamrock is getting older and this was his last chance to go back for one last run in the sport he helped pioneer, so McMahon begrudgingly agreed to allow him out of his contract to do it. But it doesn't look like they have any interest in helping to promote it. Dave covers a lot more about this PPV, but ya know, MMA...

- In CMLL, they've got a guy named Tarzan Boy who they have been pushing as a new top star. But he's been getting booed unmercifully for weeks because the fans don't accept him as the top star (spoiler: I looked it up and he turns heel soon. What a novel idea.) (10-29 UPDATE: this was written pre-leukemia reveal. He's NEVER turning heel now.)

- Vader is out injured after losing to Misawa in the 2nd round of the Carnival Champion tournament. In storyline, they're claiming Vader's arm was broken by Misawa's armbar finisher. In reality, it's thought to be a shoulder injury and he was already hurt going into the match so they did the angle to give him time off. He's expected to take a few months off before returning (that was it for Vader and AJPW for awhile. When he returns in October, it's for Pro Wrestling NOAH and he spends the next couple of years there. He did eventually return to AJPW for a one-off match in 2004 and a few more in 2011 and 2012 but that's it).

- Tatsumi Fujinami announced he will be working one last retirement tour before hanging up his boots, saying his front office duties with NJPW prevent him from being able to train and wrestle regularly. Dave notes that Fujinami was one of the top stars in NJPW in the 80s but doesn't mean much these days (of course, this didn't really happen. He kept wrestling for a couple more years. Took a 2 year break in the mid-00s and then returned and has been wrestling ever since, up to present day at 64 years old).

- NJPW's annual Young Lions tournament will take place in the next couple of weeks, featuring names such as Masakazu Fukuda, Katsuyori Shibata, Kenzo Suzuki, Wataru Inoue, Shinya Makabe and some kid named Hiroshi Tanahashi.

- ECW and FMW are still working together and Mike Awesome was supposed to work the upcoming FMW tour. In fact, there had been plans in place for a quickie title change, with Awesome dropping the ECW title to Masato Tanaka, and for Tanaka to lose it back to Awesome in the U.S. shortly after. But obviously, that's all blown to shit now.

- Bull Nakano is apparently serious about becoming a pro-golfer. She has tried in the past and didn't come close to making the cut and it was thought to be a publicity stunt. But she's continued working hard at it and it's said that she's really serious about it, and this isn't just some gimmick (she eventually makes it into the pros, though she's never really successful at that level). (10-29 UPDATE #2: that Bull Nakano shirt Beth Phoenix was wearing last night on the PPV was awesome.)

- The judge in the murder case in Florida where The Rock, Hulk Hogan, and Sting were all subpoenaed to testify has apparently decided "fuck that" and trashed the subpoenas. So they're all off the hook and won't be forced to testify.

- CBS' 60 Minutes show aired a piece on professional wrestling with Andy Rooney covering it. The entire premise of the piece was showing a bunch of clips of wrestling moves that would be impossible in real life and showing clips where punches obviously miss and then saying, "look, wrestling isn't real!" and questioned how stupid the audience must be to spend money on something so silly and fake, and said wrestling's booming TV ratings are evidence of the lack of intelligence in our culture today. Dave says this would have been a stupid story to run back in 1975. To do it in 2000, when the entire business doesn't even try to hide that it's fake anymore, is downright embarrassing and 60 Minutes should be ashamed. The business is ripe for some real investigative journalism to dig up plenty of worthy stories, but this was pure bullshit and, much like Ready To Rumble, it shows how the mainstream still views wrestling and its fans, despite its popularity.

- XPW in California has a show coming up advertising Chris Candido vs. Shane Douglas for the XPW title. Both are signed to WCW but Candido won the XPW title before he signed and I guess WCW is allowing it? Dave doesn't say. Anyway, there's also going to be a barbed wire thumbtack nails glass light bulbs etc. match with Axl Rotten. They've also been talking about using Sabu, which has gotten them legal threats from Paul Heyman. XPW owner (and porn producer) Rob Black responded to the threat by posting a video on the internet cutting a promo on Heyman, saying he was going to introduce a new character called Gay Lee Dangerously with a vibrator instead of a cell phone, and he'll cut promos on gay movie sets. Well okay then. (Can't find video of this.)

- A San Antonio newspaper ran a story about some of Shawn Michaels' students at his TWA wrestling school. One of them, American Dragon, is an 18-year-old from Washington named Brian Danielson. He was an honors student in college who dropped out to train with Michaels. In the article, Danielson was practically bragging about the fact that he has already suffered 3 concussions in just his first three months in the ring. I'm sure it's fine.

- ECW had planned to hold their May PPV in Kansas City the week after WCW's Slamboree PPV. The whole reason is because ECW wanted to go into the same city as WCW right after them and draw more people for a major show, thus solidifying their position as the #2 promotion. But WCW had a 30-day exclusivity clause with city-owned arenas to not run PPVs from other companies. They could run a PPV in some of the non-city owned buildings but those aren't big enough to fit enough people to outdraw WCW so it defeats the whole purpose. So it's looking like it'll end up in Milwaukee instead (yup). The main event was scheduled to be Mike Awesome vs. Tommy Dreamer but, well, you know. With the loss of Awesome and possible loss of Lance Storm in the near future, the whole PPV card is up in the air right now.

- New Jack made his ECW return for the first time since his injury at the last PPV and, in true New Jack fashion, he immediately got into a backstage incident with Vic Grimes, who he apparently blames for the bump gone wrong that nearly killed him. They were separated before anything could really happen, but there's still heat there. Some backstage said New Jack seemed to still be showing the effects of the concussion he suffered and has lost weight.

- Notes from the latest ECW on TNN show: during a promo, when discussing Da Baldies tag team, Francine said, "I'm a baldie myself but I can't show you on television." And Raven continued to be phased out. He's been doing lots of jobs lately and clearly isn't being pushed anymore and it's obvious that he's leaving ECW when his contract is up in August (remember, he only signed a 1-year deal after leaving WCW because the terms of his WCW release prevented him from going to WWF. So the plan all along was for him to spend a year slumming it in ECW before heading north to work for Vince).

- Paul Heyman has threatened to sue the Insane Clown Posse and their JCW promotion if they use Sabu, because apparently they've been advertising him.

- WCW is planning to make some major changes to their touring schedule, scaling down to about 13-15 shows per month. Monday and Tuesday TV tapings, plus 1 PPV per month and every other weekend running 2 house shows in major markets with all the stars appearing. WCW Saturday Night tapings are up in the air and for the next several weeks at least, it will just be a recap show.

- Other notes from Nitro: Goldberg was heavily advertised locally and appeared after the show went off the air, but wasn't on TV since they aren't ready to do his big return yet. Russo was introduced as the man who turned WWF around, and cut a promo putting over the guys who left, like Benoit and Guerrero, and then start babbling about getting screwed over by management while no one watching had a clue what he was rambling on about. Bischoff came out and made a scissors comment to Sid to no reaction to the crowd and evidently Bischoff thought they must not have heard it because he said it again. Still no reaction. (pleaseclap.avi) Hogan and Kidman had their confrontation which led to Hogan blading after a Bischoff chairshot and Kidman pretending to pin him while Bischoff counted. Hogan's getting a lot of positive response for "putting over" Kidman but Dave calls bullshit and says Hogan basically treated Kidman like a jobber until Bischoff did the chairshot, which put all the heat on Bischoff, not Kidman. He's sure Kidman probably got a little something out of it, but let's slow down on crowning St. Hogan, Thy Lord of the Job. Bret Hart was shown in the crowd. They originally wanted him in the rafters but he vetoed that because duh, why the fuck would you even ask? Rena Mero was shown in footage of the Ready To Rumble premiere. Sean Stasiak (formerly Meat in WWF, and yes, they acknowledged it) debuted and did some move on Curt Hennig that was botched so bad, Dave calls the debut Shockmaster-esque. And one final note: during the opening segment, when all the wrestlers were in the ring, they were told to act somber and serious. But everyone was biting their tongues trying not to laugh because the opening pyro briefly caught Brian Knobs' hair on fire.

- WCW is pushing Rey Mysterio to hurry up and return, but he's still not fully recovered from his most recent knee surgery and probably shouldn't be back in the ring until June or July (so of course, he'll be back by next week).

- There's expected to be an official announcement about the WWF television situation soon. Word is the WWF/CBS agreement is pretty much a done deal. USA has the right to match any offer first, but word is USA is not going to match the offer so WWF is likely headed to TNN at the end of the year (this gets a lot messier before we get there).

- Early estimates are that Wrestlemania did approximately 875,000 buys which would make it the biggest non-boxing PPV in history. And considering that WWF offered a more expensive 12-hour all-day package for the show, it's thought that WWF's take from the PPV money is going to be more than $15 million. So needless to say, a pretty overwhelming success.

- WWF's Sr. VP of marketing Jim Byrne gave a speech somewhere recently and let loose lots of interesting info. He gave a lot of attendance and financial numbers that were actually realistic, and Dave says that ever since WWF has gone public on the stock market, they've been forced to be a lot more honest about a lot of the information they claim publicly, rather than giving outrageously inflated numbers like they've done for years past. Said they plan to start their own record label called Raw Records. Dave expects them to sign and push Lillian Garcia for that. He said WWF is producing an action adventure series with Steve Austin that they plan to pitch to networks. When asked about Owen Hart, he said the WWF has offered to take care of Martha Hart and her children for the rest of their lives, but said she's getting bad advice from her lawyers and it could drag on for years. When asked about Vince Russo, he said he wished him the best, but also said WWF's business has gone up since he left while WCW has gone down. He said perhaps Vince McMahon was protecting Russo from himself by shooting down much of his more ridiculous and outlandish ideas. He lashed out at Beyond The Mat, accusing the producers of setting up Foley's family at ringside against orders to try to get shots of them crying and basically painted it as if it was all faked. He also said he didn't think Foley was totally retired.

- WWF Injury Updates: Grand Master Sexay's knee is all busted up. Kane broke a bone in his hand but still worked Wrestlemania but he'll be out for a little bit now and then will work with a cast on his hand. Jeff Hardy was hurting bad after the WM ladder match and missed a few house shows. Undertaker has started lifting weights again and is expected back in the ring in 6-8 weeks. Current plan for Taker is to come back as partners with Kane and have Paul Bearer managing them, but that could always change.

- So here's what went wrong with the hardcore battle royal finish at Wrestlemania. Bob Holly was supposed to break the jar over Crash's head and cover him for the pin. But as the referee was counting, the 15-minute time limit was supposed to run out at the count of two. But Bob Holly was a second or two early on the spot. Crash had no way of seeing that the time was off and since he wasn't supposed to kick out, he didn't. Referee Tim White went to make the count and at 2....there was no bell. He never actually hit the mat for 3, with White signaling that Crash had lifted his shoulder up (although he clearly hadn't). But the problem came from backstage. They thought White had hit the 3 count and made the call from backstage to announce Bob Holly as the winner. Crash was supposed to retain and even the announcers sold it as if he had won, but then word came from the back that they were going with Bob. So yeah, pretty nice clusterfuck there.

- To clear up rumors going around, yes it's true: Triple H and Chyna have broken up. She gave a recent interview saying she was single. It's known that they have been having issues lately about where to live. She wants to move to L.A. because she's been getting acting offers and he just bought an expensive home in New Hampshire (pretty sure there's more to it than that. Also, they end up getting back together. The final breakup with Chyna discovering the Stephanie affair wasn't until 2001.)

- Amateur wrestler Brock Lesnar from the University of Minnesota won the NCAA heavyweight championship a few weeks back. WWF has been interested in signing him and after winning the NCAA title, Brock gave an interview and was asked what he planned to do next. He said he definitely doesn't plan to play football and said pro wrestling is a good possibility. Dave says Lesnar has a great look for wrestling and is an incredible athlete. You can never predict how a great amateur wrestler will do as a pro because a lot of it depends on attitude and checking your athlete ego at the door, but Dave thinks this Lesnar kid might have a good chance of making it.

- The Canadian Football League has had talks with WWF about making an agreement with the XFL. Obviously, they're concerned about XFL (who will be paying players more money) raiding the league of its best players. CFL President Jeff Giles talked about the situation and acknowledged that Vince McMahon had previously tried to buy the entire CFL outright. "What was on the table (that the CFL turned down which led to the formation of this league) was the outright sale of the league an the outright loss of our rules and we weren't interested in that. They wanted complete control of the league and our board felt that was giving up too much," he said. WWF Canada president Carl DeMarco responded, saying, "Those idiots missed the boat. The CFL dropped the ball. The WWF could have been the CFL's white knight. Seven out of eight teams lose money and surveys show the fans don't care--they really dropped the ball." Speaking of the XFL, advertisers are said to be concerned about what kind of fans it will attract. They think it will pull WWF fans, but not NFL fans, and that's bad because wrestling fans are seen as poor white trash and advertisers don't like to pay much money for their shows.

- Things aren't looking good for WWF New York, their restaurant in Times Square. They've stopped pushing it on TV and word is it's been fairly empty other than on Mon. and Thurs. nights when they have live Raw and Smackdown screenings. And it's sitting in one of the most expensive real estate locations in possibly the entire world, Times Square (it manages to hang on for another 3 years).

- In an interview, when asked if he planned to write a book like Foley and Rock, Shawn Michaels said he would love to but he wants it to be a real book. Not the fluff bullshit books, he wants to write the real stuff that people want to hear. (I've read Shawn's book. It's the safest, most sanitized fluff book WWE has probably ever put out).

- Tazz was interviewed by the Observer website and asked about the Mike Awesome situation and said, "I think it's great for Mike Awesome and his family financially if it's there. But I feel that him as he world champion from ECW going to Nitro is horrible. I'm old school. I'm a firm believer in doing the business the right way when you're going out the door. No matter how much animosity you have with the boss, you still owe your locker room as world champion and your fans that moment when you drop the belt and pass it on to another wrestler. I did it to Mike Awesome. I have nothing against Mike. Personally, I like Mike. The world heavyweight championship really means a lot to that company. Paul markets that belt in a big way. I'd hate to see him kill that belt. I understand he has some animosity with Paul, but it's business. I lost to Mike Awesome and handed him the belt. Mike wasn't in the company for a year. He was home with an injury. There were other guys in that locker room that I felt, I don't want to say deserve that belt more, but were in line for that belt. Guys like Rob Van Dam and Sabu and Justin Credible and Tommy Dreamer. Even Raven, who was only back a couple of weeks when I was there. Paul decided that Mike Awesome was the guy he wanted to do this with. One of the first things Vince McMahon said to me was do business the right way and drop the strap. I said I'd do it no other way. When I was ECW champ if someone offered me billions of dollars, I swear on my life I wouldn't throw that belt down." (I was with him until the last line.)

- Tons of letters this week, with a lot of people just trashing the new Nitro and especially Vince "watch me mark out for myself" Russo. To be fair, there's a few who also really liked it, although pretty much everybody thinks all the shoot-y inside references were too much. Some letters bashing ECW. Complaints that titles don't mean anything in wrestling these days. Basically, nobody's happy about anything. Same as today.


- NJPW wrestler Masakazu Fukuda passed away from complications from a cerebral hemorrhage after collapsing in the ring during a match with Katsuyori Shibata. In the match, Shibata hit him with an elbow drop that he was supposed to kick out of but instead, Fukuda didn't get up and began snoring in the ring, sending officials into a panic and he was immediately rushed to the hospital. Fukuda had a history of brain issues, having suffered a similar cerebral hemorrhage last year, which led to him having brain surgery before recently returning. After being rushed to the hospital, Fukuda underwent a 2nd emergency brain surgery. All of the wrestlers and NJPW staff rushed to the hospital and pretty much the entire company stayed there all night. Shinya Hashimoto, who is off the road due to recently "retiring" heard the news at 11pm that night. He immediately got in his car and drove all night, 6 hours one way to get to the hospital. But Fukuda never regained consciousness and spent nearly 5 days in a coma before ultimately passing away. According to those who saw the match, he didn't take any hard bumps to the head or anything, no worse than any other match. But the word is both Shibata and the referee started to feel something was wrong even before Fukuda collapsed and when he didn't kick out as planned, they immediately ended the match. Tatsumi Fujinami will be a pall bearer at the funeral. It's the 13th known death of a pro wrestler in the last 20 years that happened with a wrestler collapsing during or immediately after a match, the most recent being Gary Albright. Dave recaps Fukuda's career, which isn't much since he was still a NJPW Young Lion who was just beginning. Crazy that this happened in a match with Shibata and then, 17 years later (almost to the day), Shibata is forced to retire due to a similar brain injury.

- WWF's new TV deal announcement has been delayed because the USA Network has filed a lawsuit against WWF, Viacom, and CBS. This gets complicated so bear with me. Or just skip down to the Mike Awesome story if you want. It's your life man, don't let me tell you how to live it. By the terms of their current agreement, USA has the right to match any offer that WWF gets from another network, which would allow them to keep WWF for another 5 years. Last week, USA announced that it plans to match the offer that CBS/Viacom is making. But here's the catch: USA's right to match the offer only applies to the 4 wrestling shows (Raw, Heat, Superstars, and Livewire). The CBS/Viacom offer is for all of that, plus several other things such as XFL broadcasting rights, a $500,000 movie development fund, a 1-hour weekly drama series on UPN, a publishing joint venture with Simon & Schuster (which Viacom owns), radio specials, hosting theme park events, an equity investment in WWF stock, and more. So basically, the CBS/Viacom offer is for a lot more money, which USA doesn't want to match because they don't want all those other things. USA's lawsuit says "By tying the right of first refusal with respect to the (television series) to rights to different properties that Viacom and CBS wish to exploit. . . the 'offer' represents a transparent and unlawful attempt by WWFE, Viacom and CBS to frustrate USA's contractual rights." USA has been publicly preparing itself to lose WWF and even when they do, they will still remain the top rated cable network. But it's thought that USA may just be filing this lawsuit in order to throw a wrench into the CBS/Viacom deal. Time is ticking because fall season TV advertising sales will be starting soon and WWF and CBS/Viacom need to get this deal finalized so they can start selling ad-space. By stalling the deal at the last minute, USA might just be angling for a big cash settlement to make the lawsuit go away. Either way, doesn't sound like USA is particularly thrilled about losing WWF.

- The situation with Mike Awesome and the ECW title took a bunch of crazy twists and turns this week and ended with a WCW wrestler facing a WWF wrestler for the ECW title in an ECW ring. As mentioned last week, ECW and WCW initially came to an agreement where WCW would pay ECW a 6-figure settlement in order to get Awesome released from his contract and there were several stipulations WCW had to follow in order for Awesome to appear on Nitro (such as him not bringing the ECW title on TV with him), and things he would do and say and what the announcers would do and say. But according to ECW, 2 of the stipulations were violated. When Awesome appeared, the WCW announcers were supposed to say that he is the ECW champion and that he had a title defense scheduled that would air Friday night on TNN. They mentioned he was ECW champion but they never plugged the TNN show. There was exact scripting for what the announcers were supposed to say and Dave has seen it. In fact, it appeared that Scott Hudson began reading from the script as he was supposed to but he was then cut off midway through by Tony Schiavone, and thus never got to the part where they plug the TNN show. Word is that was a purposeful call from someone in WCW, with those in the company saying that there was simply no way WCW was ever going to plug ECW's show on the air, especially not during the first show of the new Bischoff/Russo-era. The other stipulation is that Awesome wasn't supposed to cut a promo, which he did. All of this led to more legal threats the next day which resulted in Awesome being pulled from the Thunder tapings.

- As for Awesome dropping the title, Heyman came up with the idea of bringing in Tazz as a surprise opponent to win the belt. Heyman called Vince McMahon who accepted the proposal Heyman laid out, which was for Tazz to win the ECW title from Awesome and then drop it a week later at another ECW show to Tommy Dreamer. Heyman even pitched the idea for Perry Saturn to do a run in during the Tazz/Dreamer match so that Tazz (a WWF guy) wouldn't have to lose clean to an ECW guy and Heyman even offered to let WWF use the footage on TV to help further the Tazz/Saturn angle they're doing. No word if that's going to happen but reportedly WWF has no issue with Tazz losing clean to anybody in ECW.

- Anyway, the Awesome/Tazz match was nothing as a match but the back story is about as crazy as it gets. Awesome showed up to the arena with WCW head of security Doug Dillenger and never went to the ECW locker room due to concerns that he almost certainly wouldn't be welcomed kindly. When Awesome came out, he got a massive "you sold out!" chant, and then Tazz came out to a huge pop, using his full WWF gimmick. WWF music, two Z's in his name, WWF version of his nickname, etc. Tazz beat him in about 1 minute and, without selling the finish at all, Awesome jumped up, climbed over the guardrail and left the building immediately. A lot of people were surprised WCW would agree to allow Awesome to lose to a WWF wrestler, but Heyman pretty much had them by the balls here. Dave doesn't know that it was a great idea. A WWF guy now holds the ECW title, plus Tazz didn't even beat Awesome clean, Dreamer had to help, so it didn't even do a good job of burying Awesome (although that may have been something WCW insisted on). Anyway, when the match aired on TNN 2 nights later, all the internet buzz and hype didn't amount to shit in the ratings, as the show did about the same rating it's been averaging for months.

- The same night the match happened, Tazz was on the pre-taped Smackdown show getting beat by Crash Holly and then he jobbed to Eddie Guerrero at multiple house shows (in New York and Pittsburgh, 2 big ECW cities) in opening matches. This week, Tazz came out with the ECW title on Raw, while J.R. explained it by saying he won it "on his day off" and never mentioned Mike Awesome. Tazz then lost a match on Raw (although he wasn't pinned). But then, the big kicker: Smackdown, in a champion vs. champion match, in Philadelphia no less, Tazz jobbed to Triple H. Not only that, Triple H broke Tazz's submission and won even with Tommy Dreamer coming out to try to help Tazz, pedigreeing them both (in the years since, even Vince has kinda half-way apologized for that one). Yes, ECW got lots of national TV exposure this week but at what cost? WWF portrayed the ECW title as not even on par with their joke of a hardcore title and then had Triple H absolutely bury Tazz and the ECW title in general on Smackdown. Tazz will eventually drop the belt, and it will probably never be acknowledged on WWF TV, and Dreamer is not expected to ever return to WWF to get revenge on Triple H, so pretty much nobody from ECW came out ahead here. It's expected that Dreamer will win the title, only because he's the most loyal guy Heyman has and he can trust him not to fuck over the company and jump ship like Awesome did. Dave says it reminds him of the last years of AWA, when all the champions kept getting swooped up by WWF and eventually they put the title on Larry Zbyszko (who nobody bought as a world champion) simply because he was Verne Gagne's son-in-law and they trusted him not to leave. In Dave's opinion, this whole debacle has positioned ECW in the eyes of fans as a second-rate promotion who's stars aren't even remotely on the same level as WWF stars. And perception is important. Nobody wants to feel like they're watching the minor leagues of anything.

- Spring Stampede, the first PPV under the Bischoff/Russo regime, is in the books and it wasn't bad. In fact, it was probably the best WCW PPV in about a year, but that's still not saying much. Since they're still in the reboot phase, the show featured a ton of angles to make sure the New Blood group got over as heels, with the heels winning every vacated title. The matches were mostly bad and there were tons of screwjob finishes, but since they're starting fresh, Dave is willing to excuse that for now, since they're trying to build brand new storylines and it's kind of necessary. A lot of it felt like a 2nd rate WWF imitation. There was a ton of swearing, even by the announcers, and that felt forced and reportedly the announcers weren't super comfortable with it either.

- Other notes from the PPV: Chicago radio DJ Mancow had a match with Jimmy Hart and considering he's unknown to most of the country and the match was never hyped on TV, imagine the confusion for fans watching this on PPV. It should have been a dark match for the live crowd only. Jimmy Hart played a heel in the match, despite being a babyface and Hogan's manager all the other time. "I've seen worse celebrity matches, which is about the nicest thing I can say about this one." Mike Awesome made his in-ring debut and was fine but not great, and the crowd chanted ECW at him, but WCW never acknowledged his ECW ties. Hogan got his heat back by beating the shit out of Kidman "to the point because of the size difference and the manner it was done, it actually looked like child abuse." Then Hogan went after Bischoff in the locker room, but Russo brought out cops who actually pulled guns on Hogan and arrested him. Terry Funk took a bunch of chairshots to the head from Norman Smiley and Dave doesn't like it and wishes Funk would stop allowing his brains to be smashed to mush. Russo "fired" Dustin Rhodes, saying the only good character he ever had was Goldust and claimed he wrote all the lines for Goldust to say in the first place. Yay 4th wall breaking, a timeless Russo classic. Tammy Sytch debuted, helping Chris Candido win the cruiserweight title. It wasn't caught on camera, but Tammy fell right on her ass on WCW's terrible entrance ramp during her run-in. And of course Jeff Jarrett won the WCW title. If you're wondering about all the signs in the crowd that were promoting DDP's book, well, that wasn't fans. DDP, smart self-promoter that he is, made the signs himself and littered the building with them before the show (always a hustler).

- More Hart family drama, as Stampede Wrestling announced they would be running an 85th birthday celebration show for Stu Hart....in conjunction with WWF. The next day, Stu Hart said he wouldn't be attending. Bruce and Ross Hart, who run Stampede, originally wanted to do an Owen Hart tribute show since we're approaching 1 year since his death but sorta masking it as a Stu Hart celebration show, since his birthday is also in May. Bruce contacted Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, asking to use some wrestlers and it was approved by WWF (who were apparently under the impression that it was only a Stu Hart show). Dave says several Hart family members have been in regular contact with WWF including Ellie and Diana, the wives of Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith, who are expected to testify against Owen's wife Martha in her wrongful death lawsuit against WWF. The show comes on a day off for WWF stars so pretty much all the Canadian wrestlers (Jericho, Benoit, Edge, Christian, Test, Venis, etc.) all signed up to go work the show for free, believing everyone was on the same page and that it was all good. But the day after it was announced, Stu Hart said he wouldn't be attending, feeling it was in poor taste. In a Calgary Sun newspaper article, Bret Hart was quoted saying that Stu was unaware that the show had even been planned in his honor. Martha Hart was quoted saying WWF is just trying to score PR points and she won't be involved either. Bruce has been trying to change Stu's mind but no dice. When all of this came to light, many of the WWF wrestlers wanted to pull out. Benoit in particular said he was misled about what the show would be and doesn't want to go anymore. But Vince McMahon won't let any of them back out, saying that unless the show is cancelled, they're already advertised and have to go. As of press time, the show is still scheduled (it ends up not happening).

- CMLL held its first ever PPV in Mexico this week, headlined by Atlantis vs. Villano III in a mask vs. mask match and it was a pretty amazing show. Dave says it felt like an old school 80s U.S. show, with the crowd hot for every match and most of the matches being really good. And the pop for the finish of the main event was off the charts, given that this was 2 of the most famous masks in Lucha Libre history at stake. Atlantis won and the crowd came unglued and Villano unmasked (yeah the crowd heat in this match is just bonkers). Sangre Azteca took a NASTY bump outside the ring in the opening match that looked like a surefire broken neck when Ricky Marvin failed to catch him, but he was lucky and was okay (I posted the video of the Atlantis/Villano III match one or two issues ago, but here's video of the Azteca bump).

(7:52 in this match with replays after)

- More news on New Jersey attempting to regulate "extreme" wrestling. WWF, WCW, and seemingly ECW will be exempt from the rules because they aren't classified as extreme (even though 90% of the stuff in the bill, such as blading, barbed wire, etc. have been used in those companies regularly, although you can't expect stuffy politicians to actually grasp the nuances of what they're voting on). A lot of this stems from indie company Jersey All Pro Wrestling which runs death matches regularly. It was made even worse this week when a female JAPW wrestler was seriously injured in a match, fracturing one of her vertebrae. When the media confronted him about it, AJPW president Frank Iadavaia told them that it was angle and that she's fine and she backed it up, claiming she wasn't really hurt. But then the media investigated it deeper and confronted the woman at her home and found out she really is injured with a broken neck and that it's not an angle. She then admitted that she and Iadavaia agreed to lie and tell people it was fake due to the political issues and admitted that, yes, she's really seriously hurt. So yeah, they got busted. Needless to say, this didn't help their case and just strengthened the calls for regulation.

- The second week of the Bischoff/Russo era did not bring good news in the ratings, as Nitro did its lowest rating since the earliest days of the show back in 1995, doing a 2.47. That's even lower than the lowest rated Kevin Sullivan-booked episode. Can't blame the low rating on Raw either because that show mostly sucked this week. So yeah, looks like they didn't make a very strong first impression last week.

- XPW held their big show at the LA Sports Arena, drawing 1,200 people. Shane Douglas was there and cut a promo trashing WWF, WCW, and Flair. The crowd chanted "you sold out" because they knew he had returned to WCW. Douglas called XPW owner Rob Black's wife a "porno whore" and slapped her, which led to an angle with Sabu making a surprise appearance, turning the main event into a three way with Sabu, Douglas, and Chris Candido.

- Sabu was scheduled to work on Insane Clown Posse's upcoming JCW tour as the headline star but Paul Heyman successfully blocked it via legal threats. Sabu DID work XPW's recent show despite Heyman's legal threats and the way they're trying to get around it is by saying that Sabu did the show for free and wasn't paid ("wink wink," Dave adds). Basically, XPW is calling Heyman's bluff on this one (considering Heyman was struggling to keep ECW afloat at this point and XPW was funded by massive amounts of porn money, this was probably a safe bet that Heyman wasn't going to waste resources suing them. Probably the same reason WCW didn't hesitate to steal Mike Awesome, despite a valid contract. ECW was just powerless against people with more money).

- Lance Storm went on his website this week and basically said the same thing Dave said about the Tazz/Mike Awesome match, that Awesome not losing cleanly and dropping it to a WWF guy didn't help out ECW at all and makes them seem minor league. He got some heat for it in the ECW locker room so he removed the post. Anyway, he's expected to be sitting down with Heyman this week to discuss a contract extension.

- Notes from Nitro: the show opened with Russo and Jarrett and a bunch of other New Blood guys having a big balloon and confetti celebration, with them cutting a promo trashing Jim Ross, which was lost on 95% of the people watching. Dave thinks Jarrett should probably wait to see if he draws TV ratings or PPV buyrates as champion before he starts talking too much shit (spoiler: no). Then DDP did a run-in and they showed him coming through the backstage area, and showed Curt Hennig and Stasiak going over their match for later that night. Stone Cold Hulk Hogan showed up and the cops tried to keep him at bay but he gave them all a dirty look and they backed down, which leads Dave to quip that he's glad he doesn't live in that city. 800-year-old Terry Funk practically killed himself in a hardcore match to get The Wall over. Brian Adams and Bryan Clark debuted under the team name Kronik. Sting came down from the ceiling for the first time since Owen Hart's death and Dave is appalled that WCW would do that again. Even the NBA banned mascots from being lowered from the ceiling and haven't done it since Owen's death and for WCW, the company that still employees Bret Hart, to do it is absolutely mind-boggling. WCW is running a show in the Kemper Arena in Kansas City soon and Dave just hopes they don't do it again there but who the fuck knows with this company anymore (WWE has still never done it since, in the 21+ years since it happened). DDP faced Mike Awesome and during the match, announcer Mark Madden was going on and on about how this is a new WCW and they will have winners and losers and the refs won't be calling DQs and no contests the way WWF does. Literally seconds later, the DDP/Awesome match ended in a double-DQ. WCW, folks. The show ended with Bret Hart showing up with a chair and swinging it at Hogan and Bischoff, but the show cut to black before you could see who Bret actually hit. Dave thinks it was a decent cliffhanger, but if you're wondering what the live crowd saw....he hit Hogan (of course, Bret was already retired so this led to nothing).

- Notes from Thunder: David Arquette was on the show to promote the movie and it looks like they're going to do some kind of angle with him in the coming weeks. (...............) Anyway, Dave just trashes this show for not making sense. This is still early on in the new Russo era so there's 500 angles/matches per show thrown at the screen as fast as possible and logic just went out the window. Tag team partners were pinning each other in matches with no explanations given, people were DQ'd in No DQ matches, guys who lost tournament matches still advanced somehow, etc. Just peak WTF-WCW going on at this point.

- Speaking of David Arquette, Ready To Rumble did $2.68 million in its 2nd week (53% drop from last weekend) and after the first 10 days, it's at around $9 million total and sitting at #10. Not great news (yeah it finishes up as a HUGE financial flop and only made back half of its budget).

- Eric Bischoff met with MMA fighter Mark Kerr and there are apparently plans to bring him in as part of a group called Fight Club which they also plan to include Mark Coleman, Don Frye, Tank Abbott and....Rick Steiner. Okay then (never happened).

- Announcer Scott Hudson's father passed away from a heart attack while Hudson was doing Nitro this week. In fact, his parents were watching the show when it happened.

- Notes from Raw: the show opened with a "Dusty Finish 2000." Jericho seemingly beat Triple H for the WWF title after a fast count from Earl Hebner in a fantastic match. Jericho "winning" the title got a monster pop from the crowd but of course, it was reversed soon after. And of course, Triple H made sure to refer to Jericho as a "sawed off midget" at one point and in the main event later that night, on opposite sides of a tag match, Triple H pinned Jericho clean to make sure nobody gets the crazy idea that Jericho is on his level or anything. God forbid. Also, Kurt Angle did some hilarious skits basically being a nerdy guy preaching abstinence to college kids. Dave thinks it was funny but also feels like Angle has too much star potential to be doing a goofy comedy gimmick.


- Notes from Smackdown: Tazz came out, wearing the ECW title, to challenge Triple H, which led to Triple H saying that ECW sucked and of course, they had the match later that night and we all know how that went. It's not hard to see how Triple H was beginning to gain a reputation that would haunt him for the next decade.

- The wrestling restaurant business is not booming. WWF New York is empty most days and they've stopped promoting it on TV and word is they're in the process of revamping their plans for it. WWF is blaming the bad business on the management group they brought in to run it. WCW's Nitro Grill in Las Vegas isn't doing well either, and part of the staff was recently laid off and they stopped serving lunch.

- Various WWF Notes: depositions in the wrongful death trial for Owen Hart began this week. WWF The Music Vol. 4 recently passed 1 million sales, thus certifying it platinum. Gangrel is out of action for at least a month due to a separated shoulder. Mick Foley will be taping an episode of "Now and Again" on CBS.

- WWF.com posted an article about the recent Court TV show that focused on deaths of children imitating wrestling moves (in which Linda McMahon was interviewed and came off poorly). WWF claimed the Court TV producers told them the show was about something else and that Linda had not prepared to be asked questions about that topic. Dave says he's done hundreds of media interviews and not once has he ever been given anything more than an occasional broad outline of what might be asked, so he doesn't buy that excuse. WWF also had footage of Linda's full unedited interview with the show, as opposed to the edited footage that aired on Court TV, and they put that online, basically accusing Court TV of editing her comments out of context. Dave thinks the unedited footage actually makes Linda look worse, as she repeatedly tried to dodge questions or change the subject when pressed. There was also the part where Linda claimed WWF doesn't spend a single dime marketing to children, which led to the host pulling out a whole box full of WWF merch from Toys R' Us (action figures and whatnot), and Linda responded by calling them "adult collectibles." They brought up Vince Russo's quote from a couple years ago, saying the WWF motto is to basically do as much as they can get away with. Linda responded saying Russo doesn't work there anymore and insinuated that he was fired for having that kind of attitude, which of course isn't remotely true. Just stuff like that.

We all remember the Jericho fake title win, that was incredible. But I do also remember Tazz challenging Triple H in that champion vs champion match. I remember being confused, wondering if Tazz was still competing regularly in ECW. Never knew it was a week-long thing til now. How interesting.

And yea, Triple H was such a bitch back then. Watching it back then as a new fan, it made him a real effective heel to me because I always wanted him to get beaten and he very rarely ever did, which made me hate him even more. But man, he should've done the job more often.

- The smoke has finally cleared around the ECW world title situation and it ended up with Justin Credible crowned as the company's new champion at the latest ECW Arena show. Long-term, Heyman had actually talked about making Credible the champion more than a year and a half ago, but wanted to wait until they had a national TV deal. But then Mike Awesome came along, things changed, and it just never happened. Pretty much all of the ECW title changes during the last year have been the result of Heyman having to respond to real-life problems (Shane Douglas injury issues and heat with the company, Taz leaving for WWF, Awesome defecting to WCW, etc.). The idea to put the belt on Tazz after the Awesome situation was in order to get the ECW title promoted on WWF television, but of course, it was presented as a nothing title and Tazz ended up doing a 5 minute job to Triple H on TV, in Philadelphia no less, so that didn't really do ECW any favors. The TNN shows afterward did pretty much the same exact rating it had already been doing. Now that Tazz has dropped the title, there's no plans for ECW and WWF to work together beyond this. It was just WWF throwing them a bone for this one situation. Anyway, as for the title change: Tazz got the biggest pop of the show from the ECW Arena crowd. Tommy Dreamer then defeated Tazz to win the ECW title and afterward, Tazz gave a big speech, putting over ECW and the other wrestlers. As various wrestlers were congratulating Dreamer, Justin Credible came out, threw down the tag title (basically a way of vacating those belts to get it off Lance Storm. They did an injury angle earlier in the show on Storm, who still hasn't signed a contract extension and may be WCW-bound soon) and challenged Dreamer, and won the title.

Tommy Dreamer vs. Tazz

Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

- There's been a lot of calls for safety reform in NJPW after the death last week of Masakazu Fukuda who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage during a match. He'd previously suffered 2 other hemorrhages and had undergone brain surgery just 6 months earlier. The first hemorrhage happened back in October in a match with Shinya Makabe. He returned in February and suffered another hemorrhage. Before being allowed to return this time, he was given a full physical and the doctors gave him a clean bill of health after an MRI and CAT scan. Two days later, he wrestled his first match back....and hemorrhaged again. Went into a coma and 4 days later, he died with his family, his fiance, and Shinya Hashimoto at his side. Hashimoto had driven overnight for 6 hours to be at Fukuda's side immediately after the injury and stayed at the hospital for days until he passed away. Everyone from NJPW attended his funeral, including Antonio Inoki. There's been a lot of media coverage of the death, calling for better medical care for wrestlers. NJPW has actually been at the forefront of this sort of thing in the past. In 1988, NJPW was the first company to hire a full-time doctor, before any other promotion did and in 1996, they started having trainers on the road with the wrestlers full-time as well.

- Afa Anoa'i held a tribute show for Gary Albright this week featuring several WWF, WCW, and AJPW wrestlers. The show opened with Afa bringing out Rikishi, his sons (Manu and L.A. Smooth), his brother Sika, and his grandson. The Rock and Mick Foley sent video tributes and donations. RVD was there signing autographs to raise money but didn't work because he's still injured. Scotty 2 Hotty, Stevie Richards, Head Bangers, Kaientai, Road Dogg, Eddy Guerrero, Chris Jericho and Rikishi from WWF all worked, while Crowbar was the only representative from WCW. AJPW sent Too Cold Scorpio, Steve Williams, Johnny Smith, and Maunukea Mossman. There was a lot of talk about Sabu not being on the show. Sabu claims that he didn't want to cause Afa any legal problems by working the show, since Paul Heyman has been sending legal threats to anyone who tries to use Sabu. But Paul Heyman says he specifically sent Sabu a letter giving him clearance to work this show because it was a tribute for Albright. But Sabu missed the show anyway for some reason. (I can't find one long video of the whole event, but if you go to Google Videos and search "Gary Albright Memorial Show", you can find several videos and matches from this show).

- Dave gives a glowing review to a recently published book detailing the history of wrestling at Madison Square Garden dating back to the 1800s. This is interesting considering all the people who get outraged at Dave because he refutes the WWF claim that Bruno Sammartino sold out MSG 187 times. He's already pointing that out here, noting that after Sammartino won the title in 1963, "the crowds were usually strong but the mythology that the Garden sold out every month was definitely not the case." In fact, during the late 60s, business was down and one Bruno match against George Steele at MSG only drew 5,527 (and even that number is probably inflated, Dave says, since that's the number the promotion itself reported, and they always exaggerate). Most of the time, Bruno was drawing around 9,500 to shows at MSG and during one 5-year period during Bruno's first title run (1965-1970), he didn't sell out MSG at all. Things turned around in 1970 and they began drawing sellouts again. Sammartino's 2nd title reign did much better business and at that point, he began selling out MSG regularly. Using this book, WWF's records, and Dave's own research, he tries to fill in as many blanks as he can. And at most, Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund are actually near tied, with around 41 verifiable sellouts each, give or take a couple, though he admits that there are some gaps in the 70s that he can't account for that might boost Bruno's number up a little (Dave has later revised Bruno's number to around 60 or so. Impressive but still nowhere near the 187 that WWE still claims today).

- New York State senator Thomas Libous made headlines this week when he called for pro wrestlers to be drug tested to be allowed to work in New York. For what it's worth, Dave notes that the big problem in wrestling these days are pain pills, which are often obtained legally, which makes drug testing problematic. Libous suggested a 24 hour ban for a first failed test, a year ban and $25,000 fine for a 2nd failed test, and a lifetime ban & $100,000 fine for a third. The big thing here is that most state athletic commissions (in the 20 or so states that regulate this sort of thing) usually enforce suspensions made by other states, so if someone was banned in NY state, it would pretty much be the same as being banned everywhere that has an athletic commission. Vince McMahon responded to the story, saying, "We are performers. We are showmen. He'd be drug testing everyone on Broadway. He'd be drug testing the circus." McMahon also called it unconstitutional. WWF and WCW contracts both stipulate that steroids are illegal and against company policy, but nobody is even trying to pretend that they aren't still rampant in the business and neither company actively tests people. Dave talks about how WWF and WCW have both avoided running shows in Oregon for years due to this sort of policy. A few years ago, Florida talked about enacting the same sort of testing and both companies threatened to stop running shows in the state if that law passed (it didn't because WWF hired highly-paid lobbyists to fight and get it killed). Pulling out of Oregon is one thing, since they only have one major city that they would even run in (Portland). But pulling out of New York, on the other hand, would be damn near impossible for WWF. They do more arena business in the state of New York than anywhere else in America and it's essentially their home base (the company is technically based in Stamford, CT because that state has better tax laws, but it's only an hour from NYC). So needless to say, expect WWF in particular to fight the hell out of this one.

- Stampede Wrestling's planned Stu Hart birthday show has been postponed. It was to be held close to the 1-year anniversary of Owen Hart's death and Stampede had planned to bring in more than 20 WWF wrestlers for the show, which led to Stu Hart himself refusing to attend. Plus Owen's widow Martha came out against the show publicly also. It became a no-win situation because a lot of the WWF wrestlers who had previously volunteered when they thought it was approved by the Hart family wanted to pull out, but WWF ordered them to honor their commitments. But Stampede finally saw it was a no-win situation due to all the negative publicity and decided to postpone it. There's a lot of people claiming Stu had never agreed to the show in the first place. WWF officials claim Stu Hart spoke with Bruce Prichard and seemed happy about the show, but after Bret Hart confronted Bruce Hart about it, Stu decided to pull out. Chris Benoit claimed on his website that he and other wrestlers agreed to the show because it was presented to them (by Bruce and Ross Hart) as an Owen tribute show and they believed it had Bret and Martha's blessing (which is why 26 WWF performers, including referees and even Howard Finkel, all volunteered to work it initially). But anyway, it's all postponed and likely permanently cancelled now.

- Raw did its 2nd highest rating ever this week, a 7.15 which is actually slightly higher than the rating they got last year for the Owen Hart tribute show. And even though Raw did a huge number, Nitro did okay too, doing a 3.05 rating which is actually good "by WCW in the year 2000 standards." Just a lot more people overall decided to watch wrestling this week than usual for some reason.

- ECW's Sandman worked for Shawn Michaels' TWA promotion in San Antonio, taking part in their world title tournament. Sandman got eliminated by DQ and then beat up his opponent. Then he and Shawn Michaels drank beers in the ring together (can't find any video of this, but that's just a surreal pairing of wrestlers that I never knew crossed paths).

- Insane Clown Posse member Shaggy 2 Dope suffered a broken nose, broken cheekbone, and a concussion from a bump gone wrong at one of their JCW shows. It resulted in them cancelling a show this weekend.

- The WCW title changed hands twice this week, first with DDP beating Jeff Jarrett on Nitro, followed the next night at the Thunder tapings by actor David Arquette pinning Eric Bischoff in a match where DDP's title was on the line. The hope within WCW is that Arquette winning the title will garner mainstream publicity and a ratings boost. Time will tell if they're right but reportedly the crowd didn't seem to like it. (This happened right as the issue went to press so Dave has no other thoughts or news on it this week. We'll hear plenty about this on Monday.)

- WCW Saturday Night will no longer be holding tapings for its own matches. It will now become a recap show of Nitro and Thunder hosted by Zbyszko and Terry Taylor. Prior to Nitro, the Saturday night show was the company's flagship show dating back years on TBS.

- More on Sting coming down from the ceiling last week. Before the show, Sting asked Bret Hart if he had a problem with it, and Bret told him he didn't as long as he felt safe doing it and had a safety line. There were some people in the company who thought it was in poor taste, but Russo insisted it was important for Sting to do it. He did it again on Nitro this week. Dave's waiting to see if they'll be disgusting enough to do it at their upcoming Kansas City show (not quite).

- USA Network's lawsuit against WWF and CBS is scheduled for trial in June, but it will likely get settled before that. Ad buying for the fall season begins this week and CBS wants to settle this shit ASAP so they can finalize the WWF deal and start selling ad space. So USA will likely get paid a handsome sum of money to drop the lawsuit and go away (nope, this one goes to trial and drags on, much to CBS and WWF's irritation).

- On Smackdown, they did a thing where Austin dropped a huge block on DX's bus and it exploded. Except it went totally wrong. First, they couldn't get the crane to move. They tried to make it work for 3-4 minutes before finally turning off the camera. In the ring, Vince began ad-libbing to stall for time. Finally, the cameras came back on and they dropped the block on the bus. The idea was this big heavy block would plummet through the roof of the bus like a knife through butter and then boom goes the bus. Except it hit the roof....and didn't even make a dent. It just sorta landed there. And for some reason, the bus exploded anyway because that's how explosions have to work on TV. Luckily this was a taped show and with careful editing, it will probably look fine when it airs, but it was a disaster for the live crowd to see.

- Mark Henry is being sent to OVW. Between this and the other angles he's been involved in for the last year, Dave thinks WWF is trying to get him to quit. Henry has a 10-year guaranteed big money contract that he signed back in 1996 before he ever had his first match and WWF has seemingly regretted it ever since (I love that Henry stuck it out. Because Dave's right, Henry really wasn't any good when he started and for the first few years of that contract, it was obvious WWF was trying to get him to quit. They booked him in the most humiliating, dumbest stuff. But Henry abso-fuckin-lutely was NOT going to walk away from that big ass contract. He just put his head down and did whatever dumb shit they told him to and kept cashing those checks).

- Vince McMahon will be in Playboy in June. Don't worry, it's just an interview. This time.

- Whole bunch of letters from people mostly trashing the new Russo/Bischoff era, including one guy who brags about having worked 30 years in the business and claims if he was put in charge of WCW, he could save it. "I've been a booker and a matchmaker and guarantee with the talent they have, I could turn the product around very quickly and they wouldn't even have to pay me. Vince McMahon is doing well because he loves the business and the same goes for me. That's the difference." His name's Jeff Walton and no, you've never heard of him either.


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