Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 2000
Quote:- Vince McMahon will be in Playboy in June. Don't worry, it's just an interview. This time.


We all remember the DX Express being blown up. It looked great with editing. I never knew it was supposed to actually cut into the bus though, that would've definitely looked cooler.

Oh well. It still was awesome after editing.

That is wild that Sandman and HBK had a beer together in his promotion.
- Dave opens with a big recap of the latest PRIDE show, arguably biggest MMA event in history. Mark Coleman won the big tournament, defeating 3 opponents in 1 night. Kazushi Sakuraba defeated Royce Gracie in a match with special no time limit rules (something Gracie insisted on) and it went 90 FUCKING MINUTES before Gracie's corner threw in the towel because he couldn't continue. It was Gracie's first ever MMA loss (and thus, Sakuraba's reputation of "The Gracie Killer" was born). And even after going 90 minutes with Gracie, Sakuraba still had to fight again in the tournament. He was actually winning his next fight before the exhaustion became too much. He took a beating for the last 5 minutes of the round but the fight was still so close that the judges ordered an overtime round, but Sakuraba's corner threw in the towel before it could happen. But regardless, Sakuraba came across as a superstar. And of course, this show marked the return of Ken Shamrock in a non-tournament fight against Alexander Otsuka. Shamrock won in a little over 9 minutes by knockout. And then Eric freakin' Clapton came out to the ring to celebrate with him, because he was there for whatever reason. Dave says Clapton was also at the PRIDE show back in January too. Apparently Eric Clapton liked early-era Japanese MMA. Who knew?

- WWF's Backlash PPV is in the books and was probably the best PPV of the year. The show was highlighted by the return of Steve Austin, who came in and bashed a few people with chairs, leading to Rock winning the WWF title from Triple H. Austin was still very physically limited and can't even do a stunner yet, hence the chairshots. It was the most wrestling-oriented show WWF has done in ages. Most of the angles were as expected, but Dave says that's not a bad thing when it's what the fans want, and WWF delivered on everything people had been predicting and hoping for. Several of the matches were great and even the "bad" ones were decent. The only negative was the camerawork, which was WCW-levels of bad during this show, missing spots left and right. The show was legit sold out at 17,867 but for whatever reason, WWF still felt the need to lie and say it was over 19,000 which the building doesn't even hold.

- Other notes from the show: X-Pac got cut open hardway at the end of the opening match by the ring bell and needed stitches. Plus, X-Pac was suffering from asthma symptoms and was totally winded by the end of the match and actually called for the finish several minutes early because he was spent. Malenko/Scotty 2 Hotty was a great match with a crazy dangerous looking finish. Big Show came out imitating Hulk Hogan and got a huge pop. He beat Angle which Dave thinks was entertaining, but Angle has such star potential and Dave doesn't want to see him getting squashed like a jobber in comedy matches. The announcers were specifically told not to bury Hogan on commentary because they didn't want to seem like they were stooping to WCW's level (Showster was HILARIOUS). The Dudleyz powerbombed Trish Stratus through a table. Apparently, before the match, Trish told Bubba not to protect her the way he's been protecting the other women who have taken the move and give it to her full force just like he would any male wrestler, because she wants to prove that she's not there just to be eye-candy. Bubba was reluctant, but he agreed to do it and Trish got absolutely blasted through the table and did a stretcher job. Chyna got her dress ripped off which is the first time they've shown her in her underwear before (the era of Chyna the sex symbol has begun).

- The California state athletic commission has voted to legalize and regulate MMA as a sport. This should lead to California likely becoming the main place where MMA shows (in particular UFC) will take place from now on. So needless to say, this is good news for MMA in the U.S. Dave has a lot more info on this if it's the sort of thing you're interested in.

- Raw this week did its 2nd highest rated show in history (7.4) while Nitro did its lowest rating since the early 1995 days of the show (2.46). The Rock vs. Shane McMahon cage match is now the 2nd most watched match in the history of cable TV. The unopposed first hour of Nitro was a disaster in the ratings and goes to show that the last week or so of TV (the awful episode of Thunder with Arquette winning the title in particular) seemed to have completely turned fans off of WCW. Smackdown also did a monster rating. Speaking of Thunder, the show did a slightly higher rating than normal, but the Arquette title win was the lowest rated segment of the show, and then the Nitro rating 5 days later was a nightmare, so needless to say, this Arquette fella doesn't exactly seem to be a draw.

- Dave gives the results to their latest online poll. One of the questions was "Will Eric Bischoff or Vince Russo hold the WCW title before the end of this year?" 58.9% voted "Yes." 17.1% voted "No, they'll want to but they'll be fired first." 5.9% voted "No, they'll want to but Goldberg will refuse to do the job." and the last 18.1% was "No, because it will hurt the credibility of the title." Give props to the damn near 60% who realized how stupid WCW was at this point, because yup: Vince Russo wins the WCW title 4 months from now.

- Bob Backlund has been fundraising for months for a Congressional run in CT. This week, Backlund officially entered the race. He's running as a Republican in a district that has been held by Democrats for the last 42 years so the odds are pretty stacked. None of the Republican party leaders came out to support Backlund's announcement.

- Sabu won the XPW championship by winning a one night tournament at the latest XPW show. The belt was vacated when Candido (the champ) no-showed the previous night's show. Speaking of the show, former ECW wrestler Jeff Jones appeared and also cut a promo trashing ECW because apparently Heyman fired him by fax a few days ago. And one last XPW note, owner Rob Black (who also operates a porn company) is putting out a new bondage film featuring Nicole Bass and John Kronus (formerly of the Eliminators. I didn't look for video of this).

- Minoru Suzuki got his first MMA win in nearly 2 years at the latest Pancrase event. Dave talks about how Suzuki is a former pro wrestler and one of the real pioneers of the sport, but his body is broken down and he hasn't been a great fighter for several years. Before this, he was coming off 5 straight losses.

- According to Paul Heyman, TNN brought up the possibility of moving ECW from Friday nights to Tuesday nights, but Heyman wasn't interested. Heyman says it's only a matter of time before they're kicked off TNN anyway, since they're about to pick up WWF's Raw, and he doesn't want to have to rebuild the audience on a new night. Heyman has been upset about the lack of promotion TNN gives to ECW and was especially upset because they had a hugely unique situation 2 weeks ago with a WWF wrestler facing a WCW wrestler, for the ECW title, on their show and TNN didn't do shit to promote it or get publicity for it. In fact, on the TNN show this week, after coming back from commercial, Heyman appeared onscreen and said they're sick of running commercials but TNN needs the money because they have to raise the $100 million to pay WWF (we're entering the final few months of this partnership, which is Heyman just going full scorched earth against TNN).

- ECW's upcoming PPV in Milwaukee has sold 2,400 tickets so far. Insane Clown Posse's JCW promotion just ran the same building last week and sold it out.

- The ECW and FMW relationship nearly fell apart this week. FMW was upset that Mike Awesome wouldn't be appearing at their shows this week, as advertised. The deal had been set up with ECW before Awesome jumped ship to WCW and FMW threatened legal action and ECW assumed it was a threat against them. On top of that, FMW owes Balls Mahoney several thousand dollars. Due to this, ECW pulled Balls and New Jack off the FMW show. But FMW has since said it was all a misunderstanding and that they were threatening legal action against WCW and Awesome, not against ECW. Speaking of, there's a lot of rumors that FMW is in bad financial shape right now (yeah, they're deep in debt to the Yakuza and the president of FMW eventually ends up killing himself so his family can use the insurance money to pay it off for their own safety).

- Latest on Lance Storm is that he has committed to stay with ECW through the upcoming PPV but beyond that, he hasn't made a decision. Both WWF and WCW have expressed some interest but neither side has made a serious offer yet. Heyman has offered Storm an incentive-based deal to stay with ECW and promised he would feud with Justin Credible for the ECW title.

- Jason Knight didn't work any of this week's ECW shows and in Poughkeepsie, we learned why. Ten state troopers showed up to the ECW show looking for him because turns out he has a bench warrant from years ago for a DUI and then jumping bail. He eventually turned himself in this week.

- The lawsuit over the infamous ECW fire incident from 1995 is scheduled to go to trial this week. If you remember, Terry Funk and Foley were in the ring and doing some shit with some fire and it got out of control and went into the crowd where some fans were injured. During the same moment, the lights went out (due to another angle that was happening) and needless to say, with fire going into the crowd in the darkness, it turned into a panicked stampede. A couple of people who were injured sued and it's finally going to trial.

- Booker T was injured on a table powerbomb by Mike Awesome and will not be able to work his scheduled PPV match against Scott Steiner.

- So about David Arquette winning the WCW title...Dave says everyone has their own opinion about it. It got a little mainstream media publicity, but nowhere near enough to justify it (and as evidenced by Nitro the next week doing a near record-low number, it damn sure didn't translate to a ratings increase) and Dave isn't exactly brimming with confidence that this is going to lead to a big PPV buyrate either, to say the least. Dave doesn't give his own opinion, but it's pretty clear he thinks this is just another boneheaded move from an increasingly desperate company. But for what it's worth, Arquette is said to be pretty well-liked by the wrestlers. The night he won the title, he was buying food and drinks at the bar for everyone after the show. Not just wrestlers, but also fans and hangers-on that were around. Even though most of the wrestlers realize this is a bad idea, they all like Arquette personally. Also, he's donating all of his wrestling earnings to the families of Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, and to Darren Drozdov.

- Arquette was interviewed on the Observer website and, to his credit, he knows he's in over his head. Arquette revealed that he didn't find out he was winning the title until the day of the show and was asked to hold it until the PPV. "I said I felt alright, but I did feel kind of weird. Obviously, I don't deserve it. These guys are so skilled and it takes so much athleticism and gymnastics and strength, not to mention all the acting stuff that goes into it, it's really hard." Arquette said he's been training with Kanyon, DDP, and Shane Helms.

- Notes from Nitro: along with Arquette, his wife Courtney Cox and actor Kurt Russell also appeared on the show. Cox's ratings drawing power on Friends did not translate to Nitro. Jericho's former sidekick Ralphus returned and he's expected to be involved in the hardcore title match at the PPV because this company has no sense. The crowd booed new champion Arquette. Billy Kidman got beat up by 2 Hogans (Hulk and Horace) and Kevin Nash at different points throughout the show, with Nash in particular going out of his way to make him look like a jobber. Dave is also particularly miffed at an angle with Nash and Mysterio, which required both of them to run. Nash has bad knees anyway and furthermore, he's still recovering from ankle surgery and hasn't been wrestling. And Mysterio, who is still months away from returning after knee surgery, was involved and also had to run. Dave says WCW has learned nothing from the dangerous Goldberg angle a few months ago and having these guys, still injured with knee and ankle issues, out there running around shows zero regard for the health of the talent, all for a stupid Russo angle that sucked anyway. Sting came down from the ceiling again, way too fast and had a bad landing. Dave really just rips this Nitro to shit.

- Goldberg is said to have been upset with how Tank Abbott was booked on the latest Nitro. There had been plans for months to build Abbott up as a viable opponent for Goldberg, which is why he was doing the one-punch knockout gimmick and all that. But this week, due to DDP interference, Abbott got pinned by David Arquette, which is pretty much a surefire way to kill his momentum as a serious threat. Goldberg ("rightfully so" Dave adds) was upset, feeling this pretty much destroyed whatever aura Abbott might have had in a feud with him later.

- Notes from the Thunder taping: there was a #1 contender's battle royal for the WCW title and among the people in it was Randy Savage. I only mention this because it ends up being Savage's last match in WCW and for all intents and purposes, it's honestly his last real match ever (he technically has one more "match" years later in TNA but I would barely call that a match, since he does literally nothing in it). And the ending of the show was massively screwed up. DDP and Jeff Jarrett were supposed to brawl towards a scaffolding area where David Arquette would be up there with a guitar and he would hit Jarrett, who would then fall through a gimmicked part of the stage. Problem is, earlier, Asya was leaving the ring and didn't know about it and she stepped into the gimmicked spot and fell into the stage. Then Arquette did the same thing, also falling through the stage. So the big hole there was already exposed. So DDP and Jarrett improvised and somehow DDP ended up taking a bump into the hole to try to save things. Dave has no idea how they're gonna edit this to make it good enough to air (turns out they just don't show it at all. One moment, you see them climbing the scaffold and a few seconds later, the camera cuts back and DDP is laying in the hole).

- WCW has the Slamboree PPV scheduled for this week (May 7th) at the Kemper Arena where Owen Hart died. Dave says a lot of people don't realize it, but May 7th also would have been Owen's 35th birthday. Bret Hart isn't expected to be at the show. Dave's just praying they don't lower Sting from the ceiling like they've been doing the last couple of weeks.

- Nitro next week is at the TWA Dome in St. Louis and they're expecting around 4,000 fans. The first time WCW ran that building, only 18 months ago, they drew 29,000 in the middle of a massive snowstorm. Bret Hart won't be at the show because he'll be in Kansas City giving depositions in the Owen lawsuit.

- Former WCW ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta has written a book talking about his 20+ years in the business and it's expected to be released in October (yup, called Bodyslams).


- Some WCW roster updates: Maestro was given word that he will be released at the end of the month. Barbarian has already been released. Vampiro had a contract dispute that got ugly enough that he contacted WWF at one point, but both sides smoothed things over so he's still here. Lenny & Lodi were also released. Dave says Lodi had charisma but sucked in the ring. But Lane was good at everything they threw at him and Dave is baffled why they'd get rid of him. And Bobby Eaton's contract expired and won't be renewed. Eaton hasn't been used much at all the last couple of years but was kept around because he was well-liked and all the old-timers would go to bat for him anytime WCW talked about cutting him loose. In this case, poor Eaton literally never saw it coming. One day, his paycheck didn't arrive in the mail. He called the company to see what was up and was told he no longer worked there. Eaton was probably the longest tenured, uninterrupted wrestler there. He started with Crockett back in 1985 in the Midnight Express and had been with the company through the Turner buyout up until now (Dave actually has this wrong. Eaton was fired by Bill Watts in 1992 and spent about a year in SMW and NJPW before being rehired by Bischoff in 1993 after Watts was gone. So it wasn't uninterrupted).

- Newly signed WCW wrestlers Michael Modest and Christopher Daniels have been told by WCW to be patient. Right now, they're trying to get over the wrestlers who have been with the company longer before they begin pushing the newly signed stars. Daniels is under contract but hasn't been used since he signed.

- Dusty Rhodes will be returning to WCW to host the WCW Classics show on the Turner South Network. It'll be showing old WCW and Crockett matches from the 80s and early 90s.

- There's talk that Dustin Rhodes may be repackaged with a character as legally close to Goldust as they can get away with.

- Tazz tore his bicep on Raw when Bob Holly jumped on he and Saturn who were brawling outside the ring. He will be getting surgery this week. They did an angle the next day for Heat where Benoit attacks Tazz to write him off TV and set up a Tazz/Benoit angle when he returns. He'll probably be out for about 3 months.

- Stu Hart called up both Benoit and Jericho this week to thank them for standing up for him and refusing to work the Stampede show when they found out he wasn't involved and that it was really just Bruce and Ross Hart trying to leech off of Stu's name and the anniversary of Owen's death in order to do a big show.

- The FCC is expected to approve the Viacom/CBS merger, which will then become official soon after. The merger will lead to Viacom owning 41% of all television stations in the U.S. But the USA Network's lawsuit against WWF and Viacom is still pending so no word on how this will all affect the WWF deal just yet. TNN is expected to get new management and will drop its country music image in an attempt to draw younger, male viewers. CBS is also talking about running special events to maybe air occasionally on Friday or Saturday nights as made-for-TV movies that WWF would produce. Viacom also owns MTV which is where Sunday Night Heat will end up and WWF is hopeful that the MTV association will help since they're wanting to launch their own record label and try to sign big name artists.

- Despite appearing at Backlash and swinging a chair around, Steve Austin is still a long way from returning to the ring. He's only recently began light weightlifting. He still has some numb spots in his hand. Austin has made it clear that he doesn't want to be like Hulk Hogan and stay around past his prime, relying on his name value long after he can't work anymore, so it's really not even a definite that he'll ever actually return to the ring. But if he does, it's looking like it will probably be Summerslam at the earliest.

- Various WWF notes: Undertaker is expected to return to the ring at King of the Ring (he worked a few TV matches before this but yeah it was his first PPV match back). Shawn Michaels is expected to return to WWF soon in his old role as commissioner. Jim Ross also teased it on the WWF website this week. Billy Gunn is still going to be out several months while he recovers from shoulder surgery. MCW wrestler K. Krush, real name Ron Killings, worked a few dark matches at the latest WWF tapings doing a rap gimmick. Viscera has a separated shoulder.

- Wizards of the Coast gaming company filed a lawsuit against WWF to keep them from releasing a card game that supposedly copied designs from Wizards of the Coast trademarks. Wizards is actually releasing a game with WCW next month and one of their game designers had first met with WWF before shopping the idea to WCW and signed a deal with them. But WWF still apparently used the ideas the Wizards people presented them to make their own game, which is also scheduled to come out next month and would compete against WCW's game. So Wizards is seeking to block WWF's game (they both still came out).


- WWF has had talks with amateur wrestler Brock Lesnar, who recently won the NCAA heavyweight championship. Dave says he has a great look for pro wrestling. WCW has also expressed interest and Lesnar has also had a meeting with Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo. But Lesnar also spoke with Kurt Angle and Gerald Brisco and is said to be leaning towards signing with WWF. If he signs, he'll be sent to OVW, where his former University of Minnesota training partner Shelton Benjamin is already working. Benjamin is said to have a great attitude for pro wrestling.

- XFL update: all players will earn $50,000 per year with $3,000 bonuses going to the team that wins and additional bonuses for the team that wins the championship. Coaches will be paid $150,000 plus bonuses for winning. They're also hiring dance coaches to give each team their own unique touchdown dances that they'll be encouraged to do after they score. Kickoffs will be from the 25-yard line. They're also considering 4 points for any field goal more than 50 yards.

- MSNBC ran a segment on Bradshaw because apparently he's done really well in the stock market recently and talked about his track record. Bradshaw recommended people buy into MCI WorldCom. This is the 2nd time Bradshaw has been on the show discussing stocks. Last time he was on, he recommended WWF, Citigroup, and Walmart stock, all of which have gone up significantly since then.

- Dynamite Kid is expected to be in attendance at WWF's UK PPV Insurrextion this week, as a guest of Chris Benoit. It will be the first WWF show that the wheelchair-bound Dynamite has attended in more than a decade.

- In an interview with the Observer website, Steve Regal discussed his addiction problems that he has been dealing with. He said his drug problems started when he injured his knee in a match in Japan with Chris Benoit. He said WCW encouraged him to get surgery at the time but he refused because he didn't want to take time off and he used painkillers to work through the injury. He re-injured the knee again later (yet again in a match with Benoit) and ended up having to get the surgery, which led to more pills. Then a neck injury, more pills, then muscle relaxers, but the pain was so bad he couldn't sleep, so then he went to sleeping pills. And then he and Benoit were in a car accident together in 1997 that aggravated his neck injury (starting to think maybe he should stay away from Benoit). He couldn't train so he gained weight and WCW released him. He went to WWF, but had 2 bouts of pneumonia which delayed his WWF debut plus he was still terribly out of shape. Went to rehab a couple of times, back to WCW, and now back to WWF. He said it's only been in the last few months that he started feeling healthy again. He's currently wrestling for MCW in Memphis to prepare for his WWF return and has lost about 50 pounds (I may be wrong but I think he's been clean ever since, unless you count the 2007 steroid suspension).

- Lots of letters this week and you won't be surprised that they're mostly about WCW and David Arquette winning the title and booooooy, are people pissed. "WCW is a company run and booked by people who hate pro wrestling," says one guy. "How can I even fondly remember Ric Flair's title reigns when it's the same belt worn by David Arquette? I can't and won't watch anymore," says another. "So what's Russo's excuse of the week going to be this time? According to my calendar, Monday was the anniversary of the opening of the Empire State Building, so that must have been the reason for the ratings being what they were," adds another. And on and on and on. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Though to be fair, 2 other people write in and basically says that kids these days don't care or respect anything anyway, so who cares if WCW destroys the credibility of their world title, it's not like today's wrestling fans give a shit.

Raw Deal eventually leads to an online WWF/WWE Card game called With Authority. I played it when it came out and lasted from roughly late 2000 I think up through about 2003 I believe, before the servers were shut down. Can still find the game even today on private Peer 2 Peer servers, though I imagine the numbers of those who still play it have dwindled down to virtually nothing. There's a game called Ring Veteran in development that is basically With Authority updated, just without licensing. So they use generic wrestlers and images, but offer add-on support with a full comprehensive WWE pack to make it look all nice and stuff.
Was the Dean Malenko/Scotty 2 Hotty finish the DDT off the top rope?
Yup and it's horrifying

We had just gotten Comcast hooked up at my mom’s and we were told PPVs were free for the whole month. I tuned in right at this spot after remembering that Backlash was on.

Called my best friend and he ordered it on his tv so we could talk more about it at school.

- The main story this week is a LOOOOOOOONG in-depth look at the proposed legislation that would require drug testing for all wrestlers that work in New York and Dave says if it passes, it would completely change the business as we know it. Dave doubts the bill will pass and he also expects all of the major U.S. promotions (WWF, WCW, ECW) to put on a united front against it. The drug test would include all drugs. Illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and steroids. There's 2 big things here that are especially worth noting. For one, there would be mandatory suspensions for failures. The 1st failed test is a one-show suspension, which is fine. But a 2nd failure is a 1-year suspension. And since 20 other states honor suspensions by other commissions, that would make anyone who fails a 2nd drug test unable to wrestle in about half of the country for a year, which is going to make them pretty useless to any of the major companies. And a 3rd failure is a lifetime suspension, which means you might as well pack up and move to Japan or Mexico at that point. So failing more than 1 drug test can pretty much destroy someone's career. Dave thinks that may be a bit much, especially if the failure is for something harmless like marijuana, but that's how the bill is written.

Furthermore, the suspensions are enforced by outside agencies, not the company, so you can forget all the freebies that people have gotten away with for years. Dave uses Scott Hall for example. In WWF, Hall only failed one drug test (coincidentally, ahem-ahem, he was suspended for it on the same day he gave notice that he was leaving for WCW). But according to Hall's wife, he failed at least 10 tests while with the WWF, but was never punished for them. That shit won't fly under the New York law. The other big deal here is that this is in New York, the state that grosses by far more money for pro wrestling than any other. WWF and WCW have been avoiding Oregon for years and it's no big deal because, well....it's Oregon. Even if they could, they would only run 1 city there (Portland) and since Portland is so close to the Washington state line, they can just run a show in Washington and draw most of the Portland fans. But New York is too big and too profitable to not run shows in. WWF especially would stand to lose tens of millions of dollars if they pulled out of the city. And New York is the media capital of the world and it wouldn't look good if WWF was refusing to run shows there because the reasons why would be obvious (aka the entire locker room is full of pilled out junkies and the company knows it) and the media would surely cover it. Not to mention the effect something like that would have on WWF's stock. And of course, the only other alternative would be for the companies to really do their best to clean up the locker room and hope like hell their top stars stay clean. And, well, you know how that goes. Dave goes into a ton of detail about this, but (spoiler) this bill never amounts to anything, so.....moving on.

- WCW Slamboree is in the books and it was a desperately needed good show for the company, probably the best WCW PPV in over a year. Bad news is they only drew 4,862 paid fans for a $139,000 gate, which made the show a money-loser from a live standpoint. They were on pace to sell 6,000 tickets in the weeks leading up to the show, but when Arquette became world champion and was added to the main event, ticket sales didn't just slow down, they straight up flat-lined.

- Other notes for the show: the opening match got screwed up when they botched the finish. The referee counted 3 even though The Artist kicked out and then they briefly played Candido's music before stopping it. Tammy Sytch got her dress pulled off and was wearing more clothing under her dress than any woman in wrestling history that has had her dress pulled off. Shawn Stasiak beat Curt Hennig clean, leading Dave to quip, "I didn't know they were allowed to do clean wins in WCW." Hugh Morrus ditched that name and announced he was now going by the name Hugh G. Rection. Oh, Russo. Last week on Thunder, Ric Flair won a battle royal to become the #1 contender for the WCW title, so of course he jobbed to Shane Douglas on this show, because that makes perfect sense. Flair is still wrestling matches in dress pants and a shirt, which looks ridiculous. Sting made a regular entrance, which is good because this show was in the Kemper Arena plus it was Owen Hart's birthday, so at least somebody had the common sense enough to not lower Sting from the ceiling this time. Hogan faced Kidman and it was a decent enough match by Hogan standards but these 2 are just totally miscast. Kidman as the heel who needs a million people to help him fight Hogan is doing nothing whatsoever to get him over. Hogan repeatedly had Kidman beat a dozen times in this match, but special referee Eric Bischoff wouldn't count, just to ensure that people know that Hogan would have easily won otherwise. And in the main event, Jeff Jarrett won "the most prestigious title in the history of our sport." It was the triple cage match and Arquette turned on DDP to help Jarrett win. Basically the exact same finish of the last PPV, with the same 2 guys, except this time it was Arquette instead of Kimberly who turned heel. After the match, Kanyon took a big bump off the cage through the gimmicked rampway. After the show, Dave got a lot of emails and calls from people who hated that spot because they felt uncomfortable seeing something like that in the same building Owen Hart died in but Dave doesn't think it was that big a deal and compares it more to the Foley HIAC bump.


- NJPW's Fukuoka Dome show also took place and it was by far the smallest crowd NJPW has ever drawn for a major dome show. It was announced at 35,000 but the real number was closer to 25,000. The big dome shows are what carry the company financially and at this point, they need 3 successful dome shows if they're going to break even financially this year. The last dome show didn't do great and this one was an unmitigated flop. PPV isn't a big thing in Japan so there's no real money to be made by running PPVs, live gates are still where it's at. They filmed a major angle during that match with Antonio Inoki and Riki Choshu that's expected to lead to a match between the 2 retired wrestlers. It's the first time in his long career that Inoki has played a full-fledged heel and Dave thinks it's all a sign of desperation from a company that is clearly struggling right now. Kenzo Suzuki won the Young Lion's tournament by beating Shinya Makabe. They did a tribute before the show for recently passed wrestler Masakazu Fukuda and Dave says Fukuda was scheduled to be in this match and may have even been booked to win the tournament before his death.

- WWF ran another UK-only PPV, called Insurrextion. The Kat flashed her breasts briefly at Terri after their arm wrestling match and the cameras caught it for a split second. Benoit worked the show with a broken cheekbone and his right eye was basically swollen shut. Davey Boy Smith made a surprise appearance and won the hardcore title from Crash Holly but he got a pretty disappointing pop, which surprised everybody who figured he'd be given a hero's welcome. Otherwise, nothing really notable about the show. Here's what you're looking for, 7:20ish you degenerates:

- The Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, which is part of the International Wrestling Institute & Museum, inducted several pro wrestlers. It's basically an amateur wrestling HOF, but they made a special pro wrestling section of it for pro wrestlers and Lou Thesz pretty much has the final say on who gets inducted. This time around, they inducted Danny Hodge, Dick Hutton, Earl Caddock and Joe Stecher. Dave gives a little history on each man.

- There are reports coming out of AJPW that the company will be splitting into 2 promotions soon. Motoko Baba, who owns 85% of the company (the TV network owns the other 15%) and company president Mitsuharu Misawa don't get along and aren't on the same page. Misawa is expected to resign as AJPW president at the end of the month. Misawa is upset because he says Motoko doesn't even come to the shows anymore, but she won't give up her decision making power and frequently overrules him on business and creative decisions. This split is expected to be ugly, because Motoko Baba isn't well liked and reportedly almost every single wrestler in the company is siding with Misawa and are expected to leave with him. Misawa wants to start his own promotion later this summer.

- At the next AJPW show, rookie wrestler Kenta Kobayashi will have his first singles match (that'd be Hideo Itami). Dave once again says this kid needs to change his name ASAP considering how similar it is to Kenta Kobashi in the same company.

- Billy Kidman and Juventud Guerrera from WCW were both booked for NJPW's Best of the Super Juniors tournament, but WCW has pulled them and are sending Elix Skipper and Alan Funk (later Kwee Wee) in their place. Needless to say, NJPW isn't thrilled and are refusing to put the new guys into the tournament and have replaced them with actual NJPW stars. Dave doesn't understand why they don't send talented guys they aren't using like Psicosis or Christopher Daniels. In fact, Daniels (as Curry Man) already has a name in Japan and is somewhat popular there so he would have been perfect.

- Lots of heat between FMW in Japan and Paul Heyman's ECW. For starters, ECW was supposed to send 2 people (Balls Mahoney and Tracy Smothers) to Japan for FMW's big show last week but Heyman ended up not sending them because he claims FMW still owes them money. FMW was pissed and reached out to Sabu to work the show. Well, as you might remember, Sabu is still in a contract dispute with Heyman, who claims he is still under ECW contract. That hasn't stopped Sabu from working for XPW in California, despite Heyman's legal threats, and Sabu even won the XPW championship, which he then went to FMW to defend. Heyman has spoken with FMW and told them he's okay with them using Sabu but said ECW won't have any cooperation or participation in any show that acknowledges XPW. So that's where things stand right now.

- Randy Savage has signed on to appear in 5 episodes of RollerJam on TNN (I think he does at least one, where he's announced as the new commissioner, but I don't know of anything past that and can't find any video).

- WWF is planning to send a lot of their developmental stars to MCW in Memphis and in particular are looking to get some of Shawn Michaels' students that they have under contract to work there. Everyone is especially raving about Spanky. Speaking of MCW, the Blue Meanie has been working there but he's planning to move back to Philadelphia because his grandmother lives there and she's sick so WWF is going to try to get him rehired by ECW (he works a few more ECW shows but that's it).

- ECW's Hardcore Heaven PPV is coming up this week and only a couple of matches have been announced. Heyman's hoping to get Gedo and Jado on the show, but with FMW relations falling apart, that's not a guarantee. Also, Super Crazy got detained at the Houston airport for not having the proper paperwork and it's possible he won't be allowed in the country in time for the show (indeed, he misses it). Dave doesn't acknowledge it here, but you can definitely see ECW starting to be pulled in all directions now. In the pasts, having PPVs booked weeks and even months ahead of time, with long-term storytelling, was always Heyman's strong suit. Now, by mid-2000, he's basically throwing together PPVs on a napkin at the last minute. The train is starting to come off the tracks.

- The trial regarding the ECW fire incident in 1995 was wrapped up this week and the jury ruled in favor of ECW, Mick Foley, and Terry Funk. Apparently it came out during the trial that the fan who was burned had his hand on the wrong side of the guardrail and thus I guess they felt it was his fault or something. I dunno. Either way, ECW dodged a bullet.

- Raven was thought to have suffered a concussion at the latest ECW on TNN taping after taking a bump out of the ring. He definitely cracked his head on the floor and was glassy eyed and threw up later backstage. But he's still been cleared to work the PPV. In fact, Raven has been badly banged up in general for weeks and is only working TV lately.

- For the first time ever in ECW history, Paul Heyman missed a TV taping because he was attending the funeral of a close friend out of town. He still called in and booked/produced the show over the phone, however.

- Sandman and New Jack got into a backstage fight and for once, it apparently wasn't New Jack who was responsible. Word is Sandman started the fight by repeatedly calling New Jack the, uh, word you're not supposed to say. New Jack tried to dismiss it as just drunk ass Sandman being Sandman. But he kept saying it and it eventually turned into a fight. A lot of people said the tension between the 2 has been building for awhile and even the next night at another ECW show, it was still tense between them backstage.

- Rob Van Dam had an appearance on this week's X-Files episode, though he had no dialogue (I had a video of this when I first wrote all this back in June, but the YouTube account has since been terminated for copyright reasons. Mulder and Scully got that shit shut down).

- Notes from Nitro: the show drew 3,388 fans paid to the TWA Dome in St. Louis. Considering the size of the venue and cost of running a show there, this ended up being the biggest money-losing event for WCW so far this year. They drew 29,000 paid during a blizzard to the same arena just 17 months ago. Dave trashes the angle with Ric and David Flair. During a promo, Ric pulled out his cell phone and told David he could call and get him a job with Vince McMahon and he could be on Raw next week, which got arguably the biggest pop of the show. WCW couldn't look more bush-league if they tried to right now. WCW is attempting to rebuild Tank Abbott after killing his momentum last week, which pissed off Goldberg since they are expected to feud when he returns. Hogan and Nash pretty much spent the entire show beating the shit out of New Blood members, even when outnumbered, just in case you actually thought that these guys are serious about putting over young stars. "It's so great to see how unselfish Hogan has become of late," Dave sarcastically writes after recapping how Hogan beat up 5 members of the NB group by himself. And even with all those complaints, Dave still says it was one of the better Nitros this year, which goes to show just how much all the rest have sucked.

- WCW injury notes: Goldberg is expected to be back around July or August. Scott Hall should be back from his neck surgery in about 8 weeks and will form a team with Nash when he returns (never happens, he doesn't come back). And Hogan's knee is said to be in bad shape.

- Juventud Guerrera was supposed to get a push but after his recent arrest for DUI and fleeing the police, WCW expects that he'll likely get deported. So they aren't doing anything with him until after that case winds up (nah, he manages to not get into too much trouble for this one. But in a few months, he gets all riled up on PCP and attacks some cops, and that gets him fired).

- Vince Russo apparently wanted to do an angle at the recent WCW PPV (in Kansas City at Kemper Arena) with Bret Hart up in the rafters. Needless to say, that got shot down pretty damn quick and Dave seems outright disgusted that it would even be considered.

- For what it's worth, the morale of the younger wrestlers in WCW right now is pretty good, because they feel like Russo and even Bischoff are serious about pushing them finally. As you might expect, there's a lot of skepticism from the older guys. In a pre-Thunder meeting with the entire locker room, Bischoff said everyone is going to be asked to do a job for someone at some point and said if you have a problem with it, hit the road. Word is Bischoff is barely involved in the creative aspect of the show, only occasionally making some minor changes, but WCW is 99% Vince Russo's vision right now.

- The Vampiro/Sting feud is not working. Part of it is because of Sting, who clearly doesn't want to work with him and has been phoning in every match and segment they have together. He also won't take most of Vampiro's offense. Another part of the problem is that WCW turned Vampiro heel with their big company reboot, and that was dumb because Vampiro was actually starting to break out from the pack and get over as a babyface before that happened. Speaking of Vampiro, a couple weeks ago he had a contract dispute with WCW and he reached out to WWF. But when WWF asked other wrestlers who knew and worked with Vampiro in WCW and Mexico, they all had a pretty negative opinion of him, so WWF decided they weren't interested. ECW had a little interest, if for no other reason than it would look good for them to steal a rising WCW star, but it never really went anywhere. So Vampiro stuck with WCW and they've worked out a new deal that he's expected to sign soon.

- Dustin Runnels is expected to debut a new Goldust-like gimmick, likely called Platinum (nah, but he's about to get suspended soon for talking shit about Russo in an interview, so there's that).

- Lenny Lane reportedly asked for his WCW release because he wants to go to WWF. His partner Lodi reportedly feels betrayed by it, saying Lenny broke up the team and that affects him too.

- Lex Luger has been upset with Vince Russo because Russo has been pressuring Elizabeth to wrestle matches, something that neither he or she is comfortable with.

- How about some more Vince Russo news? He did an interview this week saying all sorts of bullshit. First, he told some lies about his time in WWF, which Dave uses timelines and dates and facts and whatnot to disprove. Then he defended his decision to make David Arquette the champion, talking about how USA Today covered the story. Dave points out how the ratings after it happened plummeted so the "all publicity is good publicity" myth doesn't quite hold up. Word is virtually everyone in WCW realizes it was a bad idea that clearly flopped, but only Bret Hart and Mark Madden had the balls to say it publicly, while Russo is continuing to stand behind it.

- Early buyrate estimates for Backlash are in the 600,000 range, which would make it one of the top 5 largest PPVs in WWF history. Not bad for a minor, non-big-four event. The heavily-hyped return of Steve Austin surely played a big role in that.

- On the Raw after Rock won the title at Backlash, Vince, Shane, and Triple H were talking about trying to make Rock the shortest-reigning champion in WWF history. This leads Dave to spend an entire paragraph pointing out how that's impossible and listing other title reigns that were already shorter (like Yokozuna losing it 2 minutes after he won it at WM9, among like, 10 other examples). I just include this because it's funny to me the way Dave took a hyperbolic statement and spent a paragraph deconstructing the logic of it, because Dave is nothing if not extremely analytical.

- WWF is not giving up on this WWF New York restaurant in Times Square. They spent $23.5 million to buy out their business partners so now they have 100% ownership control of the location.

- Remember a week or two ago when Steve Austin showed up on Smackdown and dropped the big boulder on top of the DX bus, causing it to explode? Remember how it went terribly wrong and the crane wouldn't work but luckily they were able to edit it for TV so it looked good? Well, in case you're wondering, in real life, there was a 22 minute delay while they tried to fix the crane to drop the boulder. So even though it only took a few seconds on TV due to the magic of editing, the live crowd spent almost half an hour waiting for them to figure that shit out.

- Random WWF notes: The Rock is in Morocco for the next week filming his part in the Mummy 2. Rock is also going to be in a new Wyclef Jean video called "It Doesn't Matter." Tazz probably won't need surgery for his torn bicep and can rehab it in about 6 weeks.

- Davey Boy Smith was sent to rehab for drug issues (painkillers and morphine addiction) and was supposed to stay there until August. But after being there for 6 weeks, he left the facility due to some personal family issues. Even though he'd been doing well in rehab, they still advised him against leaving, but he did anyway. So since he's out of rehab and allegedly clean, WWF has already put him back on the road. Because of course they did.

I 'member It Doesn't Matter

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- We open with the death of Jumbo Tsuruta who passed away from complications after a kidney transplant in the Philippines at age 49. He was a household name in Japanese sports and his death was the lead sports story in the country. On a cultural level, the only Japanese wrestlers more famous are Rikidozan, Baba, Inoki, and Riki Choshu. He was a top star in Japan and arguably one of the best in-ring performers for most of the 70s, 80s, and even into the early 90s. But in 1992, he abruptly disappeared from wrestling for most of a year (later learned to have been due to Hepatitis B health issues) and when he came back, he was clearly unhealthy and had lost his stamina and a lot of weight. For the remainder of his career, he pretty much just worked undercard 6-man tag comedy matches on a sporadic basis because he could no longer compete at a main event level. And even in those matches, he'd usually only be in the ring for a minute or less. Shortly after Giant Baba's death last year, Tsuruta left his office job with AJPW and moved to the U.S. to take a teaching job in Portland. But while there, he got cancer, which he kept a secret from most people. He returned to Japan for treatment and then went to Australia where he had one surgery to remove the cancer from his liver. But he still needed a kidney transplant. Apparently transplant laws in Japan are a mess so he went to the Philippines when a donor was found there. He had the surgery in Manila but died afterward due to heavy internal bleeding.

- We get the usual massive obituary, detailing Jumbo's life and hall of fame worthy career, and these are always Dave's best writing, plus Jumbo's life story is really interesting. He was a great athlete in high school, where he was the star basketball player on the national championship team during his senior year. He went to college to play basketball, but then one day, he read a magazine article about amateur wrestling and decided, on a whim, he'd like to give that a try. So he quit basketball and started wrestling, which he had never done before. And literally just 18 month later, he qualified for the Olympics in Munich, where he went on to win his first 2 matches before losing his 3rd via decision and placed 7th overall. After the Olympics, he jumped into pro wrestling. He was a huge star from the Olympics and all of the promotions fought to sign him. Ultimately, he decided to sign with AJPW, which had literally just formed 10 days earlier, and Jumbo Tsuruta was the promotion's first major signee. He was first sent to the U.S. to work for the Funks, became a quick star there and was a big draw. Then he went back to Japan to begin his career there and yet again instantly got over and became a star. This guy's life story is that, basically everything new thing he did, he was instantly amazing at it. A lot of the older wrestlers resented that he came in with a big contract without having paid his dues and was getting a monster push, but he was so good that it was impossible to deny that he deserved it. By 1974, he was already considered the best technical wrestler in the world. At one point, the NWA was seriously considering having Harley Race drop the NWA championship to him. He had classic matches with Flair in the 80s. Spent a lot of the 80s also working the U.S., won the AWA title, headlined huge shows for the NWA title, etc. In the later 80s, a newer fast-paced style developed in Japan, and he adapted and changed his style and continued being one of the best in the world. He unified 3 different championships to form the AJPW Triple Crown title, which is still the top championship in AJPW to this day, and he was the first to hold that title. He helped usher in the era of Misawa and Kawada in the early 90s but then he got sick and that was pretty much it.

- ECW Hardcore Heaven is in the books and while it was a strong PPV, things don't look good for the company, as they're having more and more trouble holding on to talent. Obviously they lost Mike Awesome a little while back and after the PPV, it looks like they've lost Lance Storm also. After the show, Storm said his goodbyes and he's apparently agreed to a 3-year deal with WCW and should be starting soon. Plus, Raven is almost definitely leaving in August (he was only in ECW this last year because the terms of his WCW release prevented him from going to WWF until Aug. 2000). Super Crazy missed the PPV due to issues getting into the country that ECW apparently dropped the ball on, and now his future is questionable also because it's thought he might not be allowed back in the U.S. anytime soon (he eventually comes back in November but only works about 7 more shows before they go out of business). As for the PPV, it was a sold out crowd of 3,400 paid which is more than most WCW shows do these days. Every match was good-to-great but it was obvious that the show was being booked on the fly. As late as the day of the show, the main event still wasn't even finalized. The original plan was Justin Credible in a three-way match with Lance Storm and Tommy Dreamer. Then there was talk of making it a 4-way and adding Raven. Then Raven was pulled out of the show for whatever reason (Dave doesn't say) so they decided not to put Dreamer in either. The show also had a bunch of production miscues, with dead air and no commentary at the start, plus an angle that was being filmed live backstage (to explain why Dreamer wouldn't be on the show) didn't air on TV for whatever reason and Joey Styles just kinda had to tell fans it happened later on.

- Other notes from Hardcore Heaven: they did a dumb angle before the main event to get Dreamer out of the match and it killed the crowd, who spent a lot of the Credible/Storm main event chanting "We want Dreamer!" And during the second match, the lights in the arena went out for a bit and they had to use a single spotlight to light up the ring until the lights came back on. Steve Corino did an epic blade job, to the point that even his hair turned red. RVD made his in-ring return, losing to Jerry Lynn (also making his in-ring return from injury) in the best match of the show. And Lance Storm, who never blades and has gone on record saying he wouldn't, decided to do it in his final ECW match in order to try to get Credible over (to this day, I think it's the only time in his entire career that he ever did a blade job).

- Buff Bagwell was arrested last week after a show in Springfield, IL on battery charges. As a result, he was suspended for 30 days by WCW head Brad Siegel. Allegedly, a WCW ring crew member was carrying a roll of carpet through the back of the arena and ran into Bagwell, Luger, and Elizabeth who were apparently blocking the door. He asked them to move so he could get through and Bagwell told him they were "conducting business" and told him to fuck off. Words were exchanged and Bagwell punched the crew member in the neck. Bagwell was arrested and released after paying $100 bond. Another ring crew member reportedly also wasn't allowed through the doorway earlier by Bagwell. The version Bagwell told the cops is basically the same. The crew member asked him to move, but Bagwell thought he did it in a rude way and after words were exchanged, Bagwell admitted that the guy pissed him off so "I punched him upside the neck." Both Luger and Elizabeth gave statements to the police saying they didn't see anything (Luger and Liz ain't no snitches, apparently). Anyway, based on Bagwell's contract, his 30 day suspension is gonna cost him somewhere in the neighborhood of $45,000 in lost wages, plus whatever further legal implications come out of this. That's a pretty expensive punch.

- Ric Flair won the WCW title on Nitro this week (more on that later) and the match between he and Jarrett did a decent rating by current WCW standards. Of course, Raw still wiped the floor with them. And for those of you keeping count, WWF's ratings win streak is now up to 76 consecutive weeks, so they're only 8 weeks away from passing WCW's 83-week win streak that Bischoff used to gloat so smugly about.

- In Tijuana, Mexico, Rey Misterio Sr. lost a hair vs. hair match against Psicosis (wrestling under the name Nicho el Millonario). The show drew 6,000 fans with highest ticket prices for wrestling ever in Tijuana, which makes it the biggest indoor gate ever for wrestling in that city. It was a big deal because Misterio Sr. has never lost a hair match and it was said when he was pinned, it was one of the loudest pops ever. If you're wondering, he was paid $13,500 for losing his hair.

- Vader recently had elbow surgery and will be out for about 2 more months (he actually was out for about 4 months, and when he returned, it was for NOAH, not AJPW).

- Hayabusa is reportedly looking to work with AJPW because FMW is having financial issues. But with all the rumors about AJPW possibly splitting off into a new promotion, he's not making any moves yet because everyone is waiting to see how all that is going to shake out.

- NJPW is planning to go public in the near future, similar to what WWF did. It would be the first Japanese pro wrestling company to have an IPO (didn't happen, but as of 2016, they're reportedly still considering doing it within the next 5 years. So who knows?)

- It was reported in Japan that NJPW plans to offer a PPV subscription service later this year. The idea being that fans could pay a monthly fee and watch all of NJPW's events on PPV as well as through the internet. If it ends up being available on the internet, then theoretically, American fans would be able to watch NJPW also, with the idea that all 100 or so NJPW shows, including house shows, would be available to view, although there's concern that broadcasting all the house shows might kill live attendance (This sounds like a whole world full of NJPW. An NJPWWorld, if you will). Anyway, Dave points out that "the video on the web isn't up to what most would consider enjoyable television viewing broadcast standards. No doubt that will change within a few years and I'd suspect it won't be that many years before all the major offices offer similar plans."

- A study on the effects of concussions on NFL players was released this week at a neurology conference. It was a survey of more than 1,000 retired NFL players that had suffered concussions during their careers and the study showed that those who suffered a concussion were more likely to suffer from neurological issues such as memory problems, speech or hearing impairments, numbness, and headaches. It was the first real study of its kind on the effects of concussions on football players and Dave suspects this might be an important issue in the future, not just for football players, but likely professional wrestlers as well (boy, I'll say).

- Atsushi Onita confirmed that he will be facing Terry Funk in an exploding ring barbed wire match next month for the CZW promotion, which had previously been announced by CZW but neither wrestler had confirmed until now.

- There's a bit of a promotional war brewing in Puerto Rico between WWC and IWA, which is ran by Juan Rivera, formerly known in WWF as Savio Vega. Turns out Vega wants to use his old gimmick name (TNT) in his own promotion, but WWC filed an injunction to prevent it. About a decade ago, Savio Vega got over huge in WWC using the TNT gimmick and WWC doesn't want him using it elsewhere, even all these years later.

- Yokozuna worked a tag match alongside Justin Credible at an indie show this past week and was said to look enormous, bigger than his WWF days. He only did one move in the match, a leg drop. Justin Credible got a much bigger pop than the former WWF champion (I think this might be his last match. All the usual sources--cagematch, wrestlingdata, etc.--list his final match as taking place in 1999 but those sites sometimes miss tiny little throwaway indie shows. So as far as I can tell, this was probably Yoko's final match. He dies about 5 months later).

- ECW filed lawsuits this week against XPW promoter Rob Black and Sabu. The lawsuit against Black is for contract interference (for booking Sabu) and for copyright infringement over the "Xtreme" part of their name, which ECW says causes confusion in the marketplace and also pointed out that the XPW logo is incredibly similar to the ECW logo. The lawsuit against Sabu is for breach of contract (for working the XPW show). That's all Dave knows as of press time.

- Masato Tanaka is hoping to sign a full-time ECW contract, which tells you all you need to know about the financial problems FMW is facing in Japan.

- WCW has not publicly released any official buyrate numbers for Slamboree because the number is such an embarrassment. Word is it was below an 0.2 which would make it one of the three lowest PPV buyrates in company history. So much for that David Arquette mainstream publicity. By all accounts, Arquette is an extremely nice and likable guy but the decision to make him world champion has clearly backfired in every possible way. Plus 7 years of shit-talking and internet hype from Shane Douglas didn't amount to anything when he finally got to face Ric Flair.

- Notes from Nitro: they introduced a new group called Misfits In Action. Tylene Buck is now going by Major Gunns. Chavo Guerrero is Lt. Loco. And Van Hammer is Major Stash. Hammer was originally going to be called Private Stash but he threw a fit because Private is the lowest rank and he didn't want to be the lowest ranked member of a comedy jobber group. Crowbar and Daffney somehow won the cruiserweight title in a tag team match from Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch in a match that ended with Miss Hancock dancing (that's the most WCW sentence ever). Dave recalls a recent interview where Eric Bischoff promised they were going to re-establish the cruiserweight title as a serious title with good matches. So much for that. Anyway, Crowbar and Daffney are now co-cruiserweight champs. Dave does give props to the angle with Ric and David Flair, which saw Vince Russo and David go to Ric's house to confront his family (featuring a cameo by 14-year-old Charlotte Flair). Dave thought Russo jumping up and down in Ric's bed and walking around his house wearing one of his robes was pretty great. Sid Vicious turned on DDP, making him like the 30th person to do so in the last month. Dave thinks they should bring in DDP's mom next so she can turn on him too. Hogan bounced Kidman around the ring like a ping pong ball, and Dave is pretty much done with people claiming that Hogan is "giving Kidman the rub" by working with him, when all he's done is treat him like any other no-name jobber. And Ric Flair, at 51 years old and working with one good arm (he needs shoulder surgery) and wrestling in street clothes won the WCW title from Jeff Jarrett. The WCW title changes hands all the time now, so Dave will be shocked if Flair gets more than a 2-week reign. The announcers weren't told of the title change beforehand because they wanted a "natural" reaction, and they got one: the announcers seemed confused, apparently thinking the referee messed up, and therefore didn't initially put over the title change with excitement and instead seemed lost. Anyway, in case you're wondering, Dave considers this to be Flair's 18th world title reign, although you could argue that its his 20th and you probably wouldn't be wrong.

- Mike Awesome did a couple of interviews (including with the Observer) regarding his decision to leave ECW the way he did. He said that due to legal reasons, he can't fully give his side of the story until next month (I guess there's a temporary gag order on the whole thing) but said he wasn't happy in ECW and after talking to Russo and Hogan, he was convinced to come aboard. Basically, he said Hogan convinced him that ECW was minor league and he should be in WCW. I assume we'll hear more on this once he can legally talk about it (we don't).

- As previously mentioned, Lance Storm is headed to WCW. Turns out they wanted to bring Dawn Marie in with him, but she still has 2 years left on her ECW deal.

- Since WCW can't draw in their normal markets anywhere, they're trying to run more shows in smaller markets where WCW and WWF usually never go, in hopes of drawing fans in towns they haven't already killed. They're also planning to run more international shows in England, South Africa, Australia, Germany, and Canada. The last WCW overseas tour actually did strong business even though everything in America is collapsing for them right now.

- Notes from Thunder: at one point, Dave mentions that David Flair is dating Miss Hancock, aka Stacy Keibler in real life, although on-screen he's with Daffney. They did the thing where blood was supposed to fall from the ceiling and land on Kevin Nash, but it mostly missed and instead splattered on a bunch of people in the front rows. And David Flair defeated Arn Anderson in a 2 minute match which was Anderson's first match back in over 3 years since retiring, but nobody seems to make a big deal of it and in fact, Dave doesn't even address it. What the fuck??

- In a backstage meeting with the wrestlers, Bischoff put over Kevin Nash and the Kronik tag team, basically saying they're the only ones getting over. Dave says until they start drawing an iota of money or moving TV ratings or buyrates in a positive direction, nobody is really "over" and you can't mistake a crowd pop as actually mattering. For example, Scotty 2 Hotty doing the worm gets the biggest pop of the show most nights other than The Rock, but nobody is tuning into Raw or buying a ticket specifically to see Scotty 2 Hotty. Nothing wrong with that, Dave clarifies. Prelim wrestlers are there to be entertaining, it's the main event star's job to put the people in seats. Don't mistake loud crowd pops for actually being a draw.

- Random WCW notes: Vampiro signed a new contract giving him a base salary of $250,000 per year, plus $1,300 per live show and $4,000 per PPV. For some reason, there's been a lot of confusion about Scott Steiner's real age online, so Dave clarifies that he's 37. Several wrestlers are working hurt at the moment: Hogan has knee and shoulder issues, Flair has a shoulder issue, Konnan has a neck injury, Juventud Guerrera has rib and elbow injuries. However, after WCW started cutting people's pay in half when they were out for awhile with injuries, nobody wants to stay home and let anything heal, so everybody's working hurt.

- Goldberg was on the cover of Sports Illustrated For Kids. The editors first approached WWF, wanting Rock in the magazine but when they were told that the story would also feature WCW stars, WWF turned it down because they didn't want one of their wrestlers in the same photo spread as a WCW wrestler. Plus, they don't want to do anything too obvious to make it look like they're marketing to children, since that's been a big controversy lately.

- Speaking of Goldberg, there's a lot of jealousy from some of the top guys about how hard Goldberg's being pushed right now even though he isn't even on TV at the moment. They've been heavily teasing him for weeks but he's still not expected to be back for several more weeks. As for the people who are complaining, Dave doesn't name names, but says if you think of the usual suspects, you'd be correct (in other words, Hogan, Nash, Luger, Bagwell, etc.)

- One of Godfather's ho's briefly won the hardcore title on Raw this week before Crash won it back immediately after, making him a 43-time hardcore champion in case you're keeping count, Dave jokes (actually it was only Crash's 8th reign). This is great, simply for Lillian's befuddled announcement of the winner.

- According to USA Today, there's talk of doing a remake of the Conan The Barbarian movies, with The Rock being the front-runner to play the role of Conan, which is the same role that catapulted Arnold Schwarzeneggar to movie star fame (never happened. Guess The Rock won't get a shot to make it in Hollywood after all).

- The Undertaker is expected to return at Judgement Day and his first match back will likely be at King of the Ring (Dave seems to have no clue as of yet that Undertaker will be returning with a whole new gimmick).

- Random WWF notes: Big Show is working with a hurt knee, reportedly a torn meniscus. There's a reference to Vince McMahon in the new movie Road Trip. Chaos Comics is releasing a Chyna comic book. Steve Austin is reportedly set to play a Hell's Angel member in a movie about Janis Joplin (far as I can tell, that movie spent years in developmental hell and never happened).

- Shawn Michaels filmed a lengthy shoot interview talking about his career (pretty sure this would be the RF Shoot, although Dave doesn't clarify). He maintained that he knew nothing about the Bret Hart screwjob ahead of time. He admitted that Vince had asked him 3 days before the show to lose clean to Bret and promised him that he would win the title a month later at the following PPV, but Shawn said he refused to lose to a guy who was going to WCW. It's interesting because McMahon told Bret at the time that he had asked Shawn to lose the match clean and but then called Bret back and told him Shawn had refused. But there was always doubt over whether that had actually happened or if Vince had ever really asked him. But this confirms that, in this case at least, Vince was telling the truth.

- WWF met with NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion Brock Lesnar again this week to talk about bringing him in. Lesnar has already been training for pro wrestling in Minnesota and people are raving about how quick he is for a guy his size. Verne Gagne also showed up to watch him train. Word is that Lesnar is an incredible athlete and he definitely has a great look, but they don't know if he has much charisma or personality yet. Lesnar's former college roommate Shelton Benjamin is already signed to WWF and working in developmental so it's believed Lesnar is leaning towards WWF. Both WCW and NJPW are interested in him also, but it's thought to be pretty much a lock that he'll be going to WWF.

- Dynamite Kid ended up not attending the WWF's UK Insurrextion PPV. He was going to be an invited guest of Chris Benoit, but because Benoit was flying in for the show and then had to leave immediately after, it was figured they'd have no time to hang out, so he decided not to go. Despite rumors, Davey Boy Smith being there had nothing to do with his decision not to attend.

I'm skeptical as to how much hbk's interview "proves" that Vince was telling the truth seeing as how hbk clearly lied in the interview about his knowledge of the situation.
True but if nothing else, it proves that Shawn and Vince had their stories straight on the minor details. And Shawn's memory is kinda well-known to be shot around this time. He always gets little details about things mixed up in interviews. Drugs are bad mmmkay.

So I dunno, that's something I actually figure Shawn's telling the truth about. Besides, he doesn't really have any reason to lie about that. He's not lying about anything that makes him look good. He's admitting Vince called and that he refused to put Bret over. I think Dave just pointed out that it kinda backs up what Vince had previously said.


- WWF's Judgement Day PPV is in the books and was capped off by The Rock vs. Triple H in an iron man match, which is extremely risky given the short attention span of wrestling audiences these days. But both men delivered and although it was by no means the best hour-long match in history or anything, it was still very good. Triple H won the WWF title in 60:08 because they fucked up the timing of the finish and panicked officials took the clock off the screen with only a few seconds left and didn't ring the bell until after the returning Undertaker tombstoned Triple H, thus causing the DQ for the final fall. But aside from that, it was a great match. In fact, the whole PPV was great, with Dave dubbing it the best PPV of the year so far.

- Other notes from the PPV: Rock hyperextended his knee and didn't wrestle the next night. Triple H also was banged up. Vince McMahon got a cut above the eye from Undertaker punching him. Chris Benoit vs. Jericho was a show-stealer that Benoit worked despite having the flu. Perry Saturn worked the show despite being hospitalized a day earlier for coughing up blood, possibly food poisoning, and still had his best match yet in WWF. Big Show worked the show but they did an injury angle to take him off TV for the next few weeks due to a knee injury (torn meniscus). There was a backstage skit where Gerald Brisco attacked some concession stand workers (OVW wrestlers Nick Dinsmore and Scotty Sabre). And of course, Undertaker's return got a monstrous pop and featured the debut of his new biker gimmick.

- The latest Super J Cup is in the books. The first two versions, in 1994 and 1995 were all-time classic shows and this one, put together by Michinoku Pro, wasn't anywhere close to those. NJPW has the best junior heavyweights in the world and they only sent Jushin Liger and Shinya Makabe who is still young and nowhere close to being in the same league as everyone else. And Liger, who won the whole thing, is past his prime and didn't look great. Dave recaps all the matches and they were all pretty average, with nothing reaching 4 stars.

- AAA in Mexico is planning a major California run of shows this summer. Dave talks about how AAA had a lot of success running shows in California about 5 years ago (in fact, those shows were the last non-WWF/WCW shows to sell 10,000 or more tickets until All In did it in 2018). But it's the year 2000 now and AAA is nowhere near as hot as they were then and don't have as much TV coverage in the U.S. Back then they had 5 hours per week on Galavision and a roster full of hot young stars. But then WCW signed all those stars away and squandered them and now AAA has no real marketable names and only 90 minutes of TV per week on Galavision. So don't expect them to do as well this time. Anyway, they have shows scheduled for Los Angeles, San Jose, and Anaheim but Dave says the night they claim they have the Staples Center booked is the same night the Democratic National Convention will be there, so obviously that date (or at least arena) is bullshit. Dave doesn't think AAA can even run profitable shows right now in the U.S. and seems skeptical that any of these shows will ever happen (nope, they didn't).

- Raw and Nitro didn't air head to head this week because Nitro was pushed up an hour earlier. Despite heavily pushing the earlier start time, the first hour of Nitro bombed. The 2nd hour was basically the same as what they usually do in that time slot. Raw, being unopposed, did a 7.07 making it the 6th highest rated episode ever. And the overrun segment did nearly 10 million viewers, making it the 4th highest rated segment on cable in pro wrestling history. Smackdown ratings were down slightly, which is actually good news because it was airing against the season finales of both Frasier and Friends, which both did monster ratings. So considering that, Smackdown actually held up pretty well.

- Jumbo Tsuruta's funeral was this week and was kept super private, with only close friends and family and people from AJPW. Tsuruta was always a reluctant celebrity so his wife kept the location and date of the funeral private to prevent the media from swarming it. But there is talk of having a more public ceremony eventually. A little more news on his death, he was undergoing a kidney transplant and the surgery took 16 hours (which is, needless to say, way too long and it really sounds like this hospital fucked up). During the surgery, he lost about 70% of his blood and needed almost 6 liters transfused into him to keep him alive but it didn't work and he officially died of hypovolemic shock (blood loss).

- Riki Choshu officially announced that he is coming out of retirement after more than 2 years to face Atsushi Onita in an exploding ring barbed wire match in July (and he still wrestles occasionally to this day).

- ECW has offered Raven a full release from his contract, which is set to expire in August anyway. Right now though, Raven can't sign with WWF until July at the earliest, per the terms of his previous WCW release. Raven has said he wants to stay with ECW and finish out the remainder of his contract, but Heyman apparently wants him gone now because Raven has an expensive contract and since he was leaving in August anyway, Heyman doesn't want to push him as a top star, just to have him leave as soon as it gets over. So he's basically just riding out the remainder of this hefty contract and Heyman is kinda trying to nudge him out the door a couple of months early (he sticks around for another month or so).

- The next few weeks may be the most important period in the history of ECW due to the situation regarding TNN and WWF. Currently, the USA Network is suing to attempt to block the deal that would move Raw over to TNN. It's expected that the lawsuit will likely be settled though and Raw is almost definitely moving to TNN later this year. So then it becomes a situation of what happens with ECW. Right now, ECW is not happy with TNN and it's clear TNN doesn't want to put any effort into promoting them, so the company isn't going to grow beyond where they're at right now if they stay on TNN. If Raw moves over, it's possible (though unlikely) that USA might pick up ECW. But as it stands, right now it's expected that TNN will probably dump ECW in September and from there, ECW's future depends on where they end up.

- Dawn Marie and Simon Diamond are engaged and scheduled to be married later this year (they never did. Stayed engaged for years but eventually broke up).

- Random WCW notes: Dave mentions offhandedly that Booker T may be joining the Misfits In Action group and that they may be changing his name to G.I. Bro. Fun trivia fact, Dave says, that was actually his first pro wrestling name back when he was working Houston indies before WCW. The WCW crew member who had an altercation with Buff Bagwell a few weeks ago that led to Bagwell's arrest is talking about filing a lawsuit over it. Juventud Guerrera goes to court this week over the DUI and fleeing police charges he caught awhile back and there's concern that he could be deported over it. Lance Storm and Norman Smiley have both signed a 3-year contracts.

- Kevin Nash reportedly won the WCW title from Jeff Jarrett on Thunder but Dave is just getting word about it at press time so he's got no more info, but more on that next week (the title will go back to Flair and then to Jarrett again between now and next week).

- Notes from Nitro: it was the worst show since the Russo/Bischoff era began and that's saying something. Daffney won the cruiserweight title and Dave once again reminds everyone how Bischoff promised to bring prestige back to that belt. Bischoff teased firing the MIA members but then said he couldn't because he has plans for them. Dave reminds us that the MIA group was supposedly fired on Nitro 2 weeks ago but they just came back, it was never acknowledged, and no one in WCW seems to remember it. Terry Funk cut a promo talking about having just signed a new WCW contract from Brad Siegel. This leads Dave to point out that Siegel has never been acknowledged on TV before and in kayfabe, Russo and Bischoff run everything, so WTF? A new interviewer named Pamela Paulshock debuted. David Flair put his 13-year-old brother in a figure four. The original plan was for David to give hum a brutal beating but the Turner standards and practices people didn't want to show too much of an adult beating the shit out of a child so they shot it down.

- Flair collapsed after a match on Thunder and no one knows if it was an angle or not. Some in the locker room believe Flair's initial collapse was legit but that they've since turned it into an angle while others think the whole thing was a work all along, similar to the 1998 fake heart attack angle. Flair claims it's an inner ear issue that is affecting his balance. He had a similar issue back in 1992 when he worked for the WWF so who knows. Either way, whether it was a work or not, it's definitely turned into an angle now, since WCW is playing it up on their website. Flair is expected to lose a retirement match to David Flair at the PPV and then take a couple of months off for arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery. It's a minor injury, not a major tear or anything, so he's been working through it but it's prevented him from being able to lift weights at all. That, plus the obvious issue being that he's 51 years old, is why his physique has gotten so bad and he's been wrestling in dress clothes.

- Word on Slamboree is that it did a 0.14 buyrate which would be the 2nd lowest in history for any of the 3 major U.S. promotions on PPV. Yes, even ECW is doing better PPV numbers than WCW these days.

- Mark Madden was forced by the Turner legal department to apologize on the air to Bruno Sammartino on Nitro. A couple of weeks ago, when talking about Arquette winning the title, Madden talked about former world champions rolling over in their graves like Buddy Rogers, Pat O'Connor and.....Bruno. Needless to say, Bruno's not dead (2018 EDIT: well, he wasn't then) and in fact, Madden and Bruno have had heat for years based on some comments Madden made years ago about Bruno's son David. Anyway, Bruno was pissed about WCW claiming he was dead and actually threatened a lawsuit, so Madden had to apologize on Nitro, although he did so in the least sincere-sounding way possible.

- The WB Network announced a new show about a Las Vegas showgirl who marries a pro wrestler (that should would be "Nikki," which starred Nikki Cox back when she was the obsession of teenage boys everywhere. It lasted for about a season and a half before it was cancelled).

- Dave recaps a recent interview featuring Sonny Onoo and his attorney regarding the racial discrimination lawsuit with WCW. Nothing really notable from the interview but it gives Dave a chance to talk about the case. A lot of it stems from Vince Russo making a comment last year saying that a Mexican or Japanese wrestler will never get over in the United States and saying, "I'm an American and I like watching wrestling here in America. I don't give a shit about a Japanese guy or a Mexican guy because I want to see American guys." With Russo booking the company, that naturally led the Japanese and Mexican wrestlers to feel like they were being discriminated against since Russo obviously is never going to give any of them a chance. Then they did things like the "pinata on a pole match" and ended up releasing half of the Mexican wrestlers and the ones that are left are worse off than before Russo arrived. Dave points out how inaccurate Russo's claim is, since several Mexican and Japanese wrestlers have drawn big money in the U.S. throughout history. In fact, just this year, Tajiri, Super Crazy, and Tanaka have all been responsible for some of ECW's best ratings (and remember, they're drawing better numbers than WCW on PPV using those guys in high profile spots). Dave spends forever detailing the history of foreigners who were legit draws. Russo's argument is that guys who can't speak English can't get over but Dave points out that Goldberg became the hottest star in the world before he ever spoke a word on TV. Plus, there's always managers. You'll never know who can get over if you never give them a chance. He talks about how Rey Mysterio has the most potential as a unique attraction of almost anyone in the business, and WCW turned him into just another guy by never pushing him beyond midcard.

- Dustin Runnels was supposed to re-debut on Nitro this week under the name Platinum, doing a rip-off of his old Goldust character, but it was postponed at the last minute (never ends up happening, reportedly due to legal threats from WWF but I don't think Dave ever mentions that).

- Bret Hart did an interview with the Observer website and said it would probably be August or September at the earliest before he could wrestle again but also admitted that he may never be able to come back. He's been back on TV lately because his paycheck gets cut in half if he stays home. But isn't taking any bumps and is only doing what he can physically manage as an on-screen character. By the terms of his contract, WCW could have fired him by now because he's missed so much time so he said he's thankful that they haven't released him but he also said if a baseball or football player got hurt on the field, they wouldn't cut their paycheck in half while the guy is recovering. He also talked about the Screwjob, admitting that back then he took wrestling too seriously and may have overreacted to the whole situation. He said Vince McMahon always told him that WCW wouldn't know what to do with him and admits that McMahon was right and WCW dropped the ball with him when he joined the company. He thought his heel turn last November was stupid and meaningless. He said he stopped giving WCW booking suggestions because they never wanted to hear it. He said the only good angle he's done has been the one with Goldberg in Toronto (I think that's the steel plate thing?) and said he had to fight to get that done because otherwise, WCW would have bungled it and said he was pretty much sick of WCW's lack of logic and booking. Said he has no interest in watching wrestling these days because it's not wrestling anymore (man, the last 2 years just absolutely destroyed Bret's passion for the business).

- Notes from Raw: they had a funny skit with Rock beating the shit out of Vince McMahon backstage, hitting him in the head with garbage cans and other stuff. They were hard head shots and even though it was a funny segment, Dave once again sounds the alarm on people taking hard unprotected headshots and says concussions are no joke and Vince should probably not be scrambling his brains like that at 54-years-old. Lita turned on Essa Rios after catching him flirting with the Godfather's hos so that pairing is done (she joins the Hardy's the very next night at the Smackdown tapings).

- Latest on Steve Austin is that his neck is healing well but he's still at least 3 months away from even thinking about getting back in the ring, with the best guess being a Survivor Series return (ends up being 2 months earlier than that).

- Pat Patterson is usually the agent for big PPV matches and there was some concern at the last PPV over the Rock/Triple H ironman match because Patterson wasn't there to lay out the match. Patterson is considered the expert at that sort of thing, but he's moving from Tampa to Montreal and was busy moving that weekend. So Triple H himself ended up being the one to plan the match out, with a little bit of help from agent Jack Lanza.

- Randy Orton, the son of Bob Orton Jr., will be starting soon in OVW, which is the WWF's developmental territory.

- Sports Illustrated for Kids had a small article this week where they asked various famous athletes whether pro wrestling is fake. It's interesting because one of the responses was from NCAA amateur wrestling champion Brock Lesnar, who is likely going to be signing with WWF any day now. Lesnar said he felt pro wrestling was degrading to amateur wrestling because of all the hard work amateur wrestlers put into their sport (ol' Brock is about to find out just how much hard work this pro rasslin' business can be).

- This past week was the 1-year anniversary of Owen Hart's death and there was a lot of media coverage about it. WWF ran a show in Calgary a few days later and Martha Hart was quoted in the local paper saying she felt it was bad taste for WWF to come to Calgary almost a year to the day of Owen's death. WWF responded saying it was just a coincidence and said they would not be doing anything during the show in tribute to Owen because they worried that it might be taken the wrong way. Martha also wrote a column in the Calgary Sun and talked about the case, writing, "My husband Owen, waiting 10 minutes suspended six stories above a dark arena, trusting who he thought were top expert riggers with his precious life. Little did he know he was hooked up to a make-shift contraption which included a quick-release snap shackle clip meant for the sole purpose of rigging sail boats. Then it happened. The hook that was practically the equivalent of a paper clip released and Owen fell."

- Kid Rock will appear on Raw next week to promote his new album, History of Rock which comes out the next day.

- Recently, Jim Ross went on WWF.com and criticized WCW for the bump Kanyon took off the triple cage a few weeks back in Kansas City. It's the same arena Owen died in and Ross said he thought it was tasteless to have Kanyon do a big fall and bump like that. Someone writes in to the letters section, chewing Jim Ross a new asshole over that comment, saying how can he criticize WCW for doing a big bump in that arena while still working for the same company that continued the show right after scraping Owen off the mat and then showed video footage of his funeral against the family's wishes?

it's so weird how much of what I associate with WCW is stuff that happened in its literal dying days. Guys who have spent WAY more time in WWE than they did in WCW I associate as WCW guys, like Lance Storm.

Bret Hart is one of the great what ifs to me in wrestling. Like had he stuck around in WWE, the Owen shit wouldn't have happened, his career ending injury wouldn't have happened, he was the best heel in the world in 1997, a Bret/Austin rubber match would have been so great, but if he hadn't left we would never have had Mr. McMahon, but that also means we wouldn't have had the last 20 years of heel authority figures too
[Image: Chaos.png]

Yeah it's crazy to think about how wildly different things might be if just one small thing had gone differently.

Yeah, that and WM IV are two big ones I've thought about a few times. Like, if HTM hadn't refused to job to Savage, and DiBiase got the belt as originally planned. That would have been crazy, no mega powers, probably no major run for Warrior.
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I really think if Eddie hadn't of died, Benoit wouldn't have gone nuts.

- This is an interesting issue, since Dave evaluates the landscape of American wrestling and already sees the likely writing on the wall for both ECW and WCW. Raw is expected to move to TNN later this year and depending on what USA decides to do, it could be the biggest break ever for ECW or it could be their death sentence (anybody wanna take bets?). USA Network is still trying to hold up the WWF deal and they aren't happy about losing Raw. USA reportedly wants to stay in the Monday night wrestling business, but they don't want to be in a position of building up a product and then losing it again the way they are with WWF so if they do, they will want to own it. So it's possible that USA might start up their own promotion or, more likely, would buy ECW or maybe even WCW if Turner gets rid of them (more on that later). But that's unlikely to happen and Dave seems to think it's more likely that USA will just giving up on wrestling entirely, and that would be bad news for ECW because they would need to find a new network. As for WWF, there's concern over how ratings may be affected when they move to TNN but Dave thinks it'll be fine. TNN is available in almost the same number of homes as USA and Smackdown proved that WWF fans will follow them to a new station, so he thinks it'll be negligible. WWF has also proven to have the ability to completely turn a struggling network around, which TNN is desperately hoping will happen.

- And on the WCW end of things, Ted Turner is looking to leave the Time Warner/AOL conglomerate, which could be bad news. Turner has always fought to keep WCW when others wanted to get rid of it. If Turner leaves, WCW won't be protected. And it's the worst possible time for WCW, which has been in sale negotiations with a company called SFX, which owns a lot of the major arenas in the U.S. and does a lot of concert promotion. The two sides have been working together and have discussed various things like jacking up ticket prices and selling corporate sponsorships and things like that. And at one point earlier this year, SFX made a strong offer to buy WCW outright, but Turner execs shot it down immediately. It's still expected that SFX will handle promotional rights but they won't be buying the company. At least 2 other groups have also shown interest in buying either WCW and/or ECW. Plus, the Fox Network has been talking about doing a wrestling show for years so they're always in the running too. Last year, WCW lost more than $15 million even though buyrates and attendance were still strong for most of the year. This year, they're waaaay beyond that, with internal estimates suggesting that they are on pace to lose anywhere from $36 million to $80 million by the end of this year. Not a good time to lose Ted Turner's protection (nope, indeed it was not).

- On Thunder this week, Bischoff heavily hyped a major announcement taking place at Great American Bash and even went so far as to say there was nothing Vince McMahon could do about it, for whatever that means. It could be the SFX promotional deal, which the general public isn't going to remotely give a shit about, nor would McMahon. Or it could be a Goldberg heel turn, because he was reportedly asked to go heel this week. Goldberg is said to be against it and Dave thinks would be an astronomically stupid move right now. But hey, Hogan and Nash don't want to be bumped out of their #1 and #2 babyface spots, so that's why he was asked to turn. No idea why McMahon would give an iota of a fuck about any of this though, so who knows. Most likely just Bischoff using Vince's name to stir up curiosity (yup).

- In their desperation, WCW has actually broached the idea to ECW about working together. It's something Bischoff and Heyman actually discussed a little while back during the Mike Awesome legal battle, with Bischoff suggesting they turn it into an angle. But Heyman reportedly has zero interest in being involved in a WCW angle and shot it down immediately. Heyman has also insisted that he's not interested in selling a majority interest in ECW to anyone else, but he also recognizes that he can't compete on a national level without far more economic resources and a stronger TV deal. ECW's whole charm is based on being a small-time cult promotion and that just doesn't work on a national stage well enough to generate enough money to keep WWF and WCW from stealing all their top stars as soon as they get hot. Heyman has admitted that ECW is in a tough situation right now because of the TNN deal. If Vince McMahon allows TNN to keep ECW, then they may be okay. But if McMahon wants TNN to exclusively carry WWF, then they're going to drop ECW and Heyman is well aware that it would be disastrous for the company if they aren't able quickly land a new TV deal (and so it was).

- Pro wrestler-turned-MMA fighter Masakatsu Funaki announced his retirement from MMA this week and Dave does a big recap of his career. He started out in NJPW and then UWFI for several years before transitioning to Pancrase. His retirement came on the heels of a highly anticipated match with Rickson Gracie that everyone expected Funaki to win, but Gracie ended up beating him fairly easily and, despondant after the fight, Funaki announced that he's retiring. It was an interesting fight because Gracie had dictated all the rules beforehand and they were crazy for an MMA fight. No time limit and the only way Gracie could lose was to tap out. The rules were such that the referee, the corner, and not even the doctors were allowed to stop the fight on Gracie's behalf, he could only lose if he quit. Luckily for him, that never ended up being a factor because Gracie dominated the fight. Gracie injured Funaki's knee, which rendered him unable to fight effectively and then got him in a rear-naked choke, but Funaki wouldn't submit so his corner threw in the towel. But it would have been nuts if Gracie had been on the losing end. Anyway, Dave thinks this may lead to Funaki returning to professional wrestling (not until 2009 but yeah he eventually does and he still works in AJPW and and other indies to this day).

- The 3rd annual Brian Pillman memorial show was held this week, in conjunction with a benefit put together for Brian Hildebrand's widow. Wrestlers from all 3 major U.S. companies participated, as well as some indie guys. The show drew more than 2,000 people and raised over $36,000 for Pillman's family. The show was way too long (almost 6 hours) but most of the matches were good. During the show, Kevin Nash offered $20,000 to the Pillman family if Missy Hyatt were to strip down to her bra and panties for the crowd, which was mostly families with kids. This was unscripted and Hyatt wasn't going for it and kinda chewed Nash out for putting her on the spot like that, but she did do a little dance and flash her underwear briefly and Nash said he would donate the $20,000 anyway. As of press time, the check hasn't been written (it never does, and Dave occasionally briefly reminds readers about it months and months later). Later in the show, DDP tried to raise money from the crowd by getting a local female valet to take her dress off. The star of the show was Steven Regal, who had his best match in years with Chris Benoit and stole the show. Regal's career was pretty much dead not too long ago after being fired from WCW twice and WWF once due to drug issues but he and Benoit tore the house down in what many called one of the best matches of the year. Both men got a standing ovation afterward, with the crowd chanting loudly for Regal. These days, he's sober and acting as sort of a coach for people in the Memphis WWF developmental territory and is in the best shape of his life. Before the show, Regal called it the most important match of his life and boy did he deliver. Several people ended up bailing on the show. Ric Flair cancelled a few days ahead of time, no reason given. Terry Taylor cancelled due to a concussion suffered on Nitro a few days before. Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch missed the show, claiming their flight got delayed and they couldn't make it. Road Dogg, Al Snow, and Jim Cornette all bailed, no reason given, among others. (Here's the full show, or at least that I can find. Regal/Benoit at 1:12:00 mark. Nash/Missy stuff appears to have been cut from it.)

- Jim Rome's "Last Word" show on Fox Sports Net this week had 2 episodes that made waves. In the first, Rome trashed MMA, calling the sport an embarrassment and saying it wasn't a sport at all, calling it barbaric, dangerous, despicable, human cockfighting, a freak show, and more. A few days later, he had Bret Hart on as a guest and they talked mostly about wrestlers unionizing, which both of them agreed should happen. Hart pointed out that even rodeo clowns have unions. When asked about the Owen lawsuit, Bret was sorta mum for legal reasons but he did criticize McMahon for continuing the show after Owen died. As for the Raw tribute show the night after, Bret was also critical of that and especially about the ending with Steve Austin raising a beer to Owen. Bret pointed out that Austin had spoken publicly many times about how much he disliked Owen and blamed him for his neck injury, so to Bret, it felt fake and felt it was an example of WWF trying to milk the show for ratings, by putting Austin on and holding him till the last segment to make sure fans stayed tuned in. Hart was critical of WCW too, especially all the stunts they do and talked about how he participated in (after his concussion, when he was still living in a fog) a skit where he chased after Goldberg in a car and skidded on ice, nearly plowing through a production truck. It led to him having the "I'm a wrestler, not a stunt-man" argument and basically just shitting on how unsafe wrestling has become and how the pursuit for ratings leads to more and more dangerous stuff. Jim Rome, as he usually does, was completely disrespectful of wrestling in general (though he seemed to like Hart) and called WWF's decision to continue the show the most cold-hearted thing he's ever seen.

- Since being released from WCW, La Parka has been working far more frequently in Mexico, including working some shows for CMLL. During his initial glory days in Mexico, he was always an AAA guy so it's big news to see him in CMLL (he signs a contract with CMLL in 2003 that ultimately pisses off AAA president Antonio Pena so much that he sues over La Parka's name and gimmick, which ultimately leads to him becoming L.A. Park. Also, apparently La Parka got released from WCW? I don't remember Dave mentioning this before).

- Antonio Inoki spoke out against NJPW's planned Riki Choshu/Atsushi Onita exploding ring barbed wire match which is scheduled to take place next month. Inoki said the match will do long term damage to NJPW (well, he'd know about that better than anyone). He also accused Choshu of lying since he's not sticking to his promise to stay retired. Dave scoffs at the irony of Inoki having the gall to ever call anyone a liar.

- Canadian wrestler Biff Wellington was arrested by Tokyo police for attempting to smuggle drugs into the country by mail. No details on the drugs but apparently he got caught getting something from Thailand mailed to himself. Wellington has been working for Michinoku Pro but they cut him loose after the arrest and it made all the major newspapers throughout the country. Japan is extremely strict on drugs, so it was big news and it got him arrested and fired.

- Lionsgate has decided not to release Beyond The Mat in theaters in Canada. It did decently during its first week in the U.S. but fell hard after that. It'll be released on home video in August.

- Jesse Ventura is doing Jesse Ventura things this week. There was a lot of coverage of a recent meeting between Ventura and former President Jimmy Carter, who told Ventura his mother was a huge wrestling fan and used to go to shows in the Georgia territory. Ventura, of course, claimed that he remembered meeting Carter's mother back when he wrestled there. But of course, during the time period Carter's mother used to attend shows, Ventura wasn't wrestling in Georgia in those days, so, ya know. Also, Ventura is meeting with Antonio Inoki for....whatever reason. And in a Washington Post interview, Ventura talked about entering the 2000 presidential race at the last minute, saying he feels he could win because Bush and Gore are too bland. Ventura's spokesman had to come out immediately after and clarify that Ventura is absolutely not planning to run.

- Sonny Onoo worked an indie show in Denver last week and was doing the stereotypical sneaky Japanese villain gimmick, complete with throwing salt. Not exactly doing wonders to help his racial discrimination lawsuit against WCW, in which he claims they forced him to play that exact same type of character against his wishes.

- The latest on Raven and ECW is that he's not in any hurry to leave before his contract expires in August. Paul Heyman is trying to gently nudge him out the door because they don't plan to do anything with him and he doesn't want to be paying Raven's large contract any longer than he has to. So Heyman's trying to get Raven to leave on a positive note, but if he doesn't willingly go, Dave expects them to just fire him before then.

- RVD is filming an episode of the Pamela Anderson Lee show VIP. He'll be playing an army major who has invented a bunch of radical new weapons or some such thing.

- Masato Tanaka has signed a full time contract with FMW in Japan. Paul Heyman had been hopeful of signing him to an ECW deal but it didn't work out. Tanaka's deal ended up being less than half of what he would have been paid in ECW, but he didn't want to spend so much time away from home and wanted to stay in Japan, so he chose to stay with FMW despite the pay cut.

- Juventud Guerrera ended up being sentenced to 2 days in jail and community service stemming from his DUI and fleeing police charges from awhile back. Luckily for him, he won't be deported which was a major concern among people in WCW. Speaking of, Guerrera and Konnan both were injured on a spot in a match they had on Thunder this week. Guerrera injured his ribs and will be out for a few weeks. Konnan was thought to have broken his arm but luckily it wasn't broken. They wanted to do an MRI on it to check for other injuries, but it was so swollen that they couldn't until it goes down. The belief now is that it may be a torn tricep.

- Tammy Sytch was pulled from Nitro this week after an incident backstage before the show. There's been lots of reports that she was fired but that's not true. At least not as of press time. Before the show, 2 other unnamed women (I think it came out later that one of them was Kimberly) found syringes in the women's bathroom with a vial of Nubain, which is a painkilling drug that has become popular with wrestlers. Somehow it was traced back to her. Tammy was said to be in very bad shape backstage before the show and others said she was in that bathroom for an eternity beforehand. She was supposed to do a catfight spot with Miss Hancock on the show, but after Bischoff was alerted to the situation, Tammy was pulled from the show and reportedly ordered to take a drug test (this of course ends with Tammy getting fired. To this day, I think she claims that someone drugged her drink but you know how that goes).

- Notes from Nitro: the show drew around 7,700 fans (only 4,000 paid) so naturally on TV, they claimed it was 12,000. Anyway, it was actually a decent show. Kevin Nash handed Ric Flair the title so he's the new champion again, and Dave says they may as well have just mailed him the belt through 4th class mail for all that title means these days. And for, like, the 2nd or 3rd week in a row, Dave says Rey Mysterio was booked for a match despite still not being recovered from his knee injury and once again, Mysterio had to remind them, "Hey I can't wrestle right now" so they changed the match. Apparently, someone in WCW just keeps forgetting and booking him for shit he can't do. David Flair inexplicably came out to save Miss Hancock from Chris Candido. Flair and Hancock are dating in real life and if you're watching Nitro, you're evidently supposed to know that even though it's never been referenced before. But Russo books for the internet fans, so there ya go. On TV, he was supposed to be with Daffney and they turned it into a big thing where Daffney is pissed because Flair is apparently choosing his real life girlfriend over his TV girlfriend. Booker T is now G.I. Bro. Goldberg finally made his big return and challenged Tank Abbott to a match next week on Nitro. Dave says it makes no sense to give away Goldberg's first match back on free TV, but on the other hand, nobody buys WCW PPVs anymore so it'd be a waste to put it there too, so whatever. Either way, word is Goldberg still isn't fully healed so his match with Abbott will be quick. Karl Malone was shown in the crowd and got involved in the DDP segment which got a big pop since they were in Salt Lake City. And finally, Jeff Jarrett won the title back from Flair in a match that was better than it had any right to be.

- Notes from the upcoming Thunder tapings: Terry Funk and Chris Candido were in a hardcore match that ended up in some horse stables and in a really dangerous spot, a horse nearly kicked Funk in the face (Funk talking shit to the horse afterward is still one of my favorite things ever). During the Russo/Flair segment, a fan threw a chair over the barricade towards the ring but it will be edited off TV. Before the taping, Lex Luger and Elizabeth had a real-life argument with Vince Russo over whatever angle they were supposed to do on the show and it's possible their matches for the upcoming PPV (Luger vs. Palumbo and Elizabeth vs. Kimberly) may not be happening now (indeed they do not and in fact, this was it for Elizabeth. Both she and Luger disappear off TV. Luger returns 5 months later but Elizabeth would never be seen in wrestling again. I'm sure we'll read more about it). And in a funny bit, Norman Smiley went to some kids' backyard wrestling group and pinned their champion and ran off with the belt.

- Remember a few months ago when WCW officials were worried about an incident that happened during WCW's spring break show? There was a wet t-shirt contest that ended up getting really explicit and there were unnamed WCW wrestlers involved. WCW officials were said to be scared to death that this would make headlines because at least a few people there had video cameras. Anyway, in case you were wondering, it finally made headlines. The Globe tabloid ran a story about it and apparently it was Buff Bagwell who was involved and was pulling both the bikini tops and bottoms off some of the women. None of the women filed charges but the mayor of South Padre Island, where it took place, was quoted saying that the city will take steps to make sure events like that don't happen anymore (can't find The Globe story but apparently Disco Inferno and Lash LeRoux were involved as well. Don't think any video ever surfaced).

- The famous Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco is adding wax figures of DDP and Bret Hart (can't find any pics of those. The museum closed in 2013).

- Random WCW notes: Lance Storm was backstage at Nitro in full gear doing promo pics. Disco Inferno and Kanyon are working backstage as road agents. Gene Okerlund has been taken off interview duties for Nitro and will be replaced by Pamela Paulshock, but he'll still be doing Thunder.

- Vince Russo did an interview with WCW Live on their website last week that made some waves. He basically said a bunch of stuff about how all the hotshot world title changes are good for business and talking about how people pay to see The Rock talk, not to see him wrestle, and things like that. It was a big topic of conversation at the Brian Pillman memorial show, with WWF and WCW wrestlers talking about it. The WWF feeling is that it just proves that Russo doesn't understand the business and proves how little he really meant to the overall success of WWF. A few WCW guys defended him, saying Russo is just working the internet fans to get over as a heel. Dave says that would be fine if that was all it was, but Russo's booking in WCW proves that he's not just saying those things, he actually believes them and that's how he books the company. Dave points out that the hotshot title changes have made WCW's world title less than meaningless. And as for the claim that people tune in to see the Rock talk, not wrestle, well....ratings prove otherwise, as far more people tune in to his matches than his promos. So yeah, Dave is pretty solidly on the side of Vince Russo doesn't grasp professional wrestling.

- Notes from Raw: Kid Rock's rapper/sidekick Joe C was all over this show in multiple segments and it dragged everything down. "There's nothing worse on wrestling than a third-rate celebrity being put on the show and having the wrestlers mark out for them like they are a big star," Dave says. Ain't that the goddamn truth. On the plus side, it ended with Edge & Christian putting him in a garbage can and then beating the can unmercifully so at least there was a payoff. Chris Benoit vs. Bob Holly was an incredibly stiff match and Benoit was insanely over (they were in Vancouver).

- Random WWF notes from their recent Canadian tour: 8 different women flashed the crowd during the Smackdown tapings and were kicked out. Lots of "We want Bret!" chants during the shows. WWF tried to get Stu Hart to accompany British Bulldog to the ring during the show in Calgary but needless to say, he didn't go for it. Speaking of Bulldog, he's in really bad shape and looks terrible in the ring and Dave says that if it wasn't for the Owen Hart lawsuit, he probably would have been released already.

- The daughter of Andre The Giant is writing a book about him along with her mother. Dave notes that Andre pretty much ignored his daughter throughout most of her life and at times even denied that she was his (yeah, this has been pretty well covered even in the HBO documentary, that Andre was basically an absentee father. Don't know if this book idea ever amounted to anything).

- Talk Magazine did a major story on Chyna that was really good. She talked about her personal life, saying her mother was crazy and her father an alcoholic and a con-man who claimed to be a doctor and said that her childhood was basically fucked up because of them. Her father was also interviewed during the piece and denied her claims. Talked about how she got into bodybuilding and says she never used steroids and Dave gives that a healthy dose of raised eyebrow. Talks getting into wrestling, meeting Triple H and Shawn Michaels at a bar while she was training and how Michaels suggested her as a bodyguard for Triple H (who at the time was seen as someone with a lot of potential but who wasn't getting over). She got the WWF job and says she broke up with her boyfriend to go wrestle (admitting she felt guilty about that). Talked about her surgeries. She said she initially had C-cup implants but didn't like how they looked so when she ended up popping one during a match and had to get them re-done, she went bigger and also said she'd had jaw surgery and talked about not fitting the normal stereotypical beauty standards. And finally, she talked about her relationship with Triple H and said she would like to marry him, but admitted that she doesn't think the feeling is mutual. And finally, she said she hopes to be a mother some day.

- Former announcer Todd Pettingill is claiming he's coming back to WWF soon. Pettingill worked there in the mid-90s but he got a lot of resentment from people because he was a successful radio DJ outside of wrestling and, due to that, he was able to command a high salary during a time when the company was losing money.

- Letters section has some people writing in to talk about Vince Russo's latest interview that we talked about earlier and it helps because it gives us some exact quotes from Russo said and other topics he addressed:


In regards to the Sting/Vampiro feud, Russo claimed that Vampiro losing all the matches doesn't hurt him, "I don't think anyone notices the losses."

In regards to titles changing hands all the time, he said: "The reality is every Monday or every Wednesday a title could change hands. The days of a guy having a title for six months to make it mean something is absolutely ridiculous. Those are the old laws of wrestling that just don't make sense in the year 2000. A champion defends his title a dozen times of TV and house shows. For him not to lose one of those dozen times is ridiculous."

In regards to in-ring wrestling vs. entertainment, Russo said he'd rather watch Norman Smiley vs. Ralphus any day before he'd ever watch a 20-minute cruiserweight match.

Claimed that Vince McMahon is rattled because he knows that Russo and Bischoff are a threat to him. Claims that's why they've maintained a good relationship with ECW and why they brought Mick Foley back at Wrestlemania (someone helpfully points out that Foley was brought back for WM before Russo and Bischoff ever got their power back).

Claimed that Mike Awesome never had an ECW contract, which is pretty silly since he most certainly did and WCW paid ECW 6-figures to buy him out of it.

Talked about becoming a TV character now instead of just the backstage writer and said he was doing it because he loves WCW and was putting his body on the line for the sake of the company and yada yada. The guy writing this letter is amazed at Russo's ego.

Still claims that ratings increased on his watch and that he was forced out of the company the first time due to politics (of course, Dave has repeatedly proven how misleading and false the ratings claims are. Business did not improve under Vince Russo, either the first or second time, and in fact, it got worse).

When asked about not pushing foreign talent, Russo basically buried them all. He said Silver King and Dandy have no talent and that he's never even seen the Jung Dragons (even though they're a tag team that works for his company). He said the reason he hasn't pushed the other foreign stars, he said that in order to relate to American audiences, you have to be able to entertain and you can't entertain American audiences if you can't speak English. When asked about Sonny Onoo's racial discrimination suit, he pointed out that he has pushed Normal Smiley, Booker T, and Ernest Miller.

Said he defies anyone to come up with anything creative that WWF has done since he left, aside from the Triple H/Stephanie wedding. (The guy writing this letter goes on to give a laundry list of examples). TL;DR: how does anyone still defend Vince Russo?


- And finally, somebody writes in and talks about why ECW's ratings have been stagnant for so long and says maybe ECW and its fans should be realistic and see that the company kinda sucks right now. He gives a lot of examples of things ECW is doing wrong creatively and makes some decent points. To be fair though, ECW only has less than a year to live and Heyman was holding on to his sanity by a thread at this point. He wasn't on top of his creative game.

I watched that episode of Thunder. Laughed hard when Norman Smiley pinned the kid.
I had a video of that when I first wrote this, but it has since been removed from YouTube and I can't find a video of it anywhere else. But yeah it's pretty hilarious.

I 'member E&C putting Joe C in the trash can, that was great

Never particularly cared for how hard the WWE would suck Kid Rock's dick back in the 2000/2001 era though.

- Paul Heyman had a surprise team meeting with the ECW locker room this week. Heyman had actually not been at a single ECW show for the past 3 weeks, since the PPV, because he's been constantly attending to other business matters. He missed the previous TV tapings as well as all the house shows but he surprisingly flew to Pensacola, FL this week to a house show for a lengthy meeting. It was largely described as a pep talk, since many of the wrestlers hadn't even spoken to Heyman in a month and with crowds dwindling and checks being late, morale is at a new low. Heyman talked about the USA/WWF situation, saying he expected that they would settle their lawsuit before it goes to court because both USA and WWF have enough dirt on each other that neither side wants to get into a public court battle where things would come out. As of press time, the trial is scheduled to start this week. In the end, Heyman expects WWF Raw will move to TNN and talked about how that will likely effect ECW. Heyman discussed the possibility that ECW could end up on USA or even FOX, but said he would want to be on Tuesdays so they wouldn't have to compete with WWF. He also said he would never sell controlling interest in ECW.

- Heyman also said there was a possibility of WCW going out of business soon due to all their money losses, which would leave ECW as the #2 promotion in the U.S. Dave thinks its more likely that Turner would probably try to sell WCW before folding it, possibly even to the USA Network if they want to stay in the wrestling game. But if WCW goes out of business, that would obviously lead to a lot of guys looking for work. Heyman put over everyone in the ECW locker room (with the notable exception of Raven) and said if it happened, he would only bring in big name WCW stars to put over established ECW stars. During the meeting, New Jack asked Heyman about PPV bonuses which they haven't gotten in a long time. Heyman said the money is on its way and in response, New Jack walked to a window, pointed at the sky and said, "Oh I can see it coming." (ha!) Heyman claimed the reason the budget has been cut back in recent weeks is because TNN broke promises to them and he's not going to spend money making the show look good on TNN. So the last few TV tapings haven't even had the expensive lighting necessary for a good-looking TV show. Heyman claimed there is no money trouble (pffft) but said that PPV payoffs being delayed is causing a cash flow problem (Dave kinda calls bullshit on this, saying ECW has been doing PPV long enough now that they shouldn't still be living check-to-check and depending on PPV money that comes in 3 months later. The fact that they are sounds like the money situation in ECW isn't as stable as Heyman would like people to believe). Almost no money is being spent promoting house shows anymore, which has led to a decline in attendance and Dave says you can't blame that on TNN. Local promotion is pretty much just Lou E. Dangerously and Jack Victory putting up posters in various cities and whatever free local publicity they can manage to drum up.

- Speaking of WCW, there's still negotiations with SFX about buying into the company. SFX requested detailed financial information, a three-year cash flow statement, and a list of all employees, contracts, and pending legal issues. Turner execs say WCW isn't for sale but other sources say that they are looking into ways to unload the financial burden on someone else while still keeping WCW on Turner television. According to one news story, WCW is projected to lose more than $61 million this year, and that's not even counting the millions Turner is losing on programming costs that they can't recoup due to declining ratings.

- The biggest news coming out of the latest Pride MMA show in Japan is that the company announced a partnership with Antonio Inoki, which will lead to more pro wrestlers stepping into the MMA ring. Dave talks about how the growth and success of shoot fighting has affected the wrestling business, particularly in Japan. A lot of wrestling shows in Japan are now depending on shoot fights to draw crowds and there's a big crossover audience there. This new partnership is expected to lead to NJPW star Kendo Kashin making his MMA debut against Renzo Gracie at Pride's next show (ends up being Ryan, not Renzo). They're also trying to get Shinya Hashimoto to work the show, probably in a worked match. Ken Shamrock is also expected to work that show. Anyway, Dave recaps the rest of the Pride 9 event, including an incident before the show where Johil de Oliveira was accidentally burned by the pyro and suffered 2nd degree burns over 40% of his body.

- In huge news in Mexico, CMLL and AAA are teaming up to put together a joint show later this month, with wrestlers from each company both teaming up together and in some cases, going against each other. Dave says it's expected to be the biggest show in Mexico City since the 1993 Konnan/Cien Caras match that drew almost 50,000 fans. News of the joint show was one of the top sports stories of the week in Mexico.

- Variety magazine is reporting that The Rock is in serious negotiations to star in 2 major movies that would net him nearly $5 million each. It was reported that he's negotiating to star in an untitled big-budget sci-fi movie produced by Joe Roth and directed by Glen Morgan and James Wong (this one never happens). He's also in talks to play the Scorpion King in a prequel movie to Mummy 2, where he has a small part playing the same role. Apparently Universal Studios was so impressed by his performance in Mummy 2 that they want to develop a Scorpion King spin-off for him to play the lead role. Vince and Linda McMahon would also be involved as producers for any movie starring him. Rock, probably the current biggest star in the business, just signed a new WWF contract, but even one $5 million movie is about the same as what he would make in a year of wrestling full-time. Dave says it's uncertain what a successful movie career would mean for Rock's future in wrestling but needless to say, there's a lot more money to be made in Hollywood for much easier work.

- The ratings for Nitro this week were a huge disappointment for WCW. I mean, they're bad every week. But this week, they had heavily hyped Nitro in Atlanta, which had a PPV-quality lineup and the in-ring return of Goldberg. Within WCW, some people were predicting the show might do a 4.0 rating. Needless to say....nah. It did a 2.86 rating. There were some positives though. Goldberg's return match took a decent bite out of Raw, giving them one of the lowest-rated quarter-hour segments they've had in a while and proving yet again that Goldberg is pretty much the ONLY person that is still a ratings draw in WCW, but only barely. After 6 months off, Goldberg vs. a broom should have drawn big numbers but it was only a small boost. Dave says it goes to show just how deep a hole WCW has dug themselves and Goldberg is not going to be enough to fix it. And Dave warns that turning Goldberg heel will kill off what little drawing power he has left. (Quick, who wants to guess what WCW does next week?)

- Dave gives us an obituary on Lee Fields who was apparently a big name back in the 50s as a wrestler and the 60s and 70s as a promoter. Died of leukemia at 69. I'm always blown away by stuff like this because I consider myself pretty deeply knowledgeable (or at the very least vaguely familiar with) most wrestling history. But then we get a 9-paragraph obituary on a guy who I've literally never heard of, full of interesting stories and history with a bunch of other guys I've also mostly never heard of, and realize I probably don't know half as much as I think I do. That's why I love doing these so much.

- I guess since it's about the midway point of the year, Dave looks at some of his own ratings that he's given to wrestlers and does averages. The highest rated wrestlers of 2000 so far are Jun Akiyama, Toshiaki Kawada and Kenta Kobashi, all of whom are tied for first and averaging 4.25 star matches. Mick Foley is in 2nd place, averaging 4 stars but keep in mind, he's only a couple of televised matches this year. Highest rated tag team would be Kobashi & Akiyama.

- According to a letter that Vader wrote in the Japanese press, he suffered several injuries in his match with Misawa back in April. Among them: fractured jaw, broken nose, 30 stitches in his mouth, tooth knocked out, broken wrist, and most seriously, a torn elbow ligament that caused nerve damage and required surgery. Vader has been out since then and said his elbow injury was worse than originally thought and said it was questionable that he would even be able to return to the ring. Vader turns 44 this year and has had numerous injuries over the years. Given his age and physical condition, he's actually had an amazing last year or so and it was a bit of a career revival for him (Vader eventually returns to the ring in October, but it'll be for NOAH, not AJPW).

- Steve Williams and Erik Watts have been teaming together in AJPW. Dave says it's ironic because if Bill Watts' UWF territory hadn't gone out business in 1987, Williams and Erik Watts would have probably been the top stars of that company if it were around during the 90s. Williams was UWF world champion when they folded and Erik Watts is, well, Bill's son and lord knows he was over-pushed in WCW when Bill was in charge there, so it only stands to reason that he would have done the same in his own UWF if it hadn't died.

- NJPW has a stockholder meeting coming up and there's expected to be some changes in the hierarchy of the company. Speculation is that Antonio Inoki will end up with significantly more power when it's all said and done (yup, I believe he does. And NJPW will suffer because of it for most of the next decade).

- On this week's live Power Pro Wrestling show in Memphis, a wrestler named Havoc was legitimately injured and it held up the show. They showed a lot of videos of older matches to kill time while an ambulance was called and Havoc was taken to the hospital. They later said it was a neck injury but he was able to move his arms and legs, so that's good news at least. (Here's the whole episode. Injury happens at 14:44 when dude drops an elbow on him and his body just goes stiff. It's scary as shit. From what I can tell doing research, it wasn't a neck injury. The guy doing the elbow landed on his head and concussed him so bad he had a seizure. He recovered and was okay but apparently never wrestled again.)

- A magazine recently did a report on the demographics of today's wrestling fans compared to the past. Far more teenagers and children watch now than they did back in the 1950s, which had more of an adult fanbase. At one point in 1954, approx. 7.7 million people per week tuned in to watch wrestling on TV. Raw and Smackdown do similar numbers to that now, but considering the number of homes with TVs and the smaller U.S. population back then, the 1954 number is far more impressive. It also talks about the attendance numbers. In 1954, at the height of wrestling in that decade, somewhere between 20-25 million people attended live shows because, back in those days, every city in America was running weekly live shows, routinely drawing thousands of people. Compare that today, where the number is only about 3 million per year, mostly WWF, WCW, and ECW. Dave says all of this info really puts to bed the bullshit claim that Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan basically made wrestling mainstream and that it's never been more popular than it is today. Though WWF is by far the most successful company, the wrestling industry as a whole was a much bigger part of American life in the 50s.

- For those interested in the territorial days of wrestling, there's a new website called kayfabememories.com that covers the old days (that site still exists today!)

- There's an upcoming Broadway musical happening called Blitzkrieg. It's a comedy about a kid who believes he's on a mission from God to clean up pro wrestling but doesn't realize it's all a work (it's actually called Blitzkrieg: The Hasidic Professional Wrestling Musical and far as I can tell didn't become a big hit or anything but it looks like it ran for 4 seasons on Broadway. Sounds hilarious though).

- Nikita Koloff published a book called Breaking The Chains, which is his story about of his career and about finding religion.


- Sandman was pretty out of control at an ECW house show this week. He came out to the ring, clearly in no condition to be there (aka drunker than normal) and began cutting a slurring, mumbling promo while falling all over himself and barely able to stand. Then he said something about Raven being miserable because he'd been sober for 34 days or some such shit. Then he decided to start taking off his clothes and Tommy Dreamer had to frantically cover him up because he was literally pulling his dick out in front of the crowd. Then he went after Jazz and tried to pull her into the ring against her will. The whole thing was described as uncomfortable and embarrassing. In the real world, Dave says this would be grounds for termination immediately, but Sandman's whole gimmick is that he's a drunk and it's not really much of a gimmick or a secret, so Dave doesn't see this getting him in fired, although it should (it didn't). Heyman said afterwards that Sandman would be suspended for a couple of weeks and heavily fined (Sandman didn't wrestle again for 3 weeks after this so yeah, looks like he got suspended briefly).

- Notes on this week's ECW on TNN show: this was one of the shows where the TV lighting wasn't used and boy does it show. During the Mikey Whipwreck/Tony Mamaluke match, there was a spot where Mamaluke went for a moonsault out of the ring and spiked himself on the guardrail in a spot Dave says was the sickest bump of the year (yeah it's brutal). Later in the show, Paul Heyman cut a shoot promo, screaming at the TNN network. During a Joel Gertner promo, he also made a comment about TNN paying Vince McMahon $100 million. Gertner's comment was edited out and during Heyman's rant, the audio was muted and a scroll went across the bottom of the screen saying, "Please ignore this gentleman's temper tantrum. Could it be he's been through too many tables?" Later on during the show, they aired another crawl along the bottom saying "TNN harbors no ill feelings on ECW" and another saying "TNN fully supports ECW and all its redeeming qualities." It's not the first time they've gone after TNN directly. On last week's show, Joey Styles and Joel Gertner also ranted about their issues with TNN. Dave doesn't really say much more about this but it's pretty clear things aren't peachy between ECW and TNN right now (yeah, this one's pretty famous).

- Notes from WCW Nitro: they were in Atlanta and claimed the show was sold out. Not quite. There were 13,400 fans there which is still 6,000 short of capacity. Also, only 6,000 of the people there were paid so more than half the crowd was papered. Eric Bischoff won the hardcore title from Terry Funk, further proving his dedication to bringing credibility back to the titles. Vampiro tried to set Midajah on fire with a blow torch. Ric Flair vs. Vince Russo & David Flair was surprisingly watchable, although Flair put Russo in the figure four at one point and Russo is apparently tougher than every babyface in the history of Jim Crockett Promotions because he withstood the move forever without tapping out. And in the main event, Kevin Nash single-handedly pinned 5 members of the New Blood back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back, with the referee literally counting pins that Nash wasn't even making (Can't find it on YouTube so I went and watched this on the Network and yeah. It's beyond asinine). In other words, same ol' WCW.

- Goldberg gave an interview to the Miami Herald about his return and didn't seem confident. He admitted that he still doesn't feel mentally or physically ready to be back and said he felt pretty sore after doing his first run-in last week.

- Update from last week on Lex Luger and Elizabeth. They were sent home from the Thunder tapings for refusing to do the angles that were planned for them. Luger was supposed to do a run-in on a match attacking Chuck Palumbo but refused for whatever reason. As for Elizabeth, she was scheduled to face Kimberly at the PPV and she's been against it from the beginning because she never trained to be a wrestler and doesn't want to be one. Others in the company agree and there's a lot of people who feel Elizabeth was treated unfairly for refusing to get physical when that's never what she signed up for. There's a lot less sympathy for Luger. He basically feels like Palumbo isn't ready to be pushed to the level he's at. Which, to be fair, is true. He's super green but Dave says Luger was once in this same position early in his career, being given a monster push long before he deserved it, just because he had an impressive look and all the veterans at the time put him over strong to try to make him into the top star that Crockett hoped he'd be (and which he never truly became). So the general consensus in the locker room is that maybe Luger should shut the fuck up and go work with the guy like he's being told to.

- Random WCW notes: Daffney has tonsillitis and speaking of her, fun fact: at the age of 10 she had a small role in the 1985 Dudley Moore movie "Santa Claus" playing the bratty ballet kid. DDP may take some time off to heal up from some back injuries. Lance Storm is expected to start this week. Christopher Daniels is finally expected to work his first WCW show since signing with the company at the next WorldWide tapings. La Parka is gone from the company, no reason given. Meng has been given notice that he is being released (he ends up staying with WCW on a pay-per-appearance deal, and then WWF steals him away in 2001, while he's still the WCW Hardcore champion. Just for shits and giggles I guess. WCW was such a mess by that point that it didn't matter anyway). Shane Helms had long-needed reconstructive surgery to fix a broken nose.

- Great Muta will be on Nitro sometime in the next week or two. In NJPW, he's been doing an angle where the idea is that WCW stole Muta from NJPW. But since they started the angle, he hasn't actually appeared in WCW. So in order to get that angle over in Japan, Muta is expected to work a few Nitros.

- Bret Hart's doctors sent WCW a letter saying that the full extent of his injuries are unknown and they can't put a time frame on when or even if he will recover. The note explicitly ruled out Hart returning to the ring anytime in the next 6 months, which means it'll be December at the absolute earliest before he can wrestle again. His WCW contract expires at the end of November so his future in WCW is in major jeopardy. Legally, they could fire him right now if they want to but it would likely garner the company a lot of negative PR (especially in Canada). In the meantime, Hart is expected to pursue some acting gigs. Vince Russo has said they are dropping all angles involving Hart.

- Notes from Raw: Dave offhandedly mentions that Grandmaster Sexay (Brian Christopher) is really unpopular with a lot of the other wrestlers and wouldn't be surprised to see Too Cool get broken up, with Rikishi and Scotty being pushed and GMS being stuck on the C-shows (took a little while but yeah, pretty much). Undertaker worked a match and looked really old and out of shape, "like one of those old guys on top in WCW." Triple H got ENDLESS promo time and Dave says it's pretty clear who is in the ear of the people putting together this show. And he ended up beating Rock in the main event, which leads Dave to say that Rock has probably done more jobs than anyone else on his level with his kind of drawing power has ever done. Bob Backlund was running around the crowd during the show, drumming up support for his Congressional campaign, but the show was in Rochester, NY and Backlund is running in Connecticut so who the fuck knows with this guy.

- Parents Television Council honorary chairman and actor Steve Allen along with PTC board member C. Delores Tucker spoke at the MCI shareholders meeting and demanded the company pull advertising from Smackdown. The PTC has been pressuring MCI for months but MCI has resisted. Allen spoke about 4 children who had been killed mimicking wrestling moves and gave MCI 1 week to pull ads from Smackdown or the PTC would organize a national campaign against them. The PTC claims that more than 35 companies (and Dave lists them all) have pulled out of advertising on WWF programming (turns out this wasn't true and they listed several companies that hadn't pulled out and several others who were never sponsors to begin with. That was a major part of the defamation lawsuit WWF later filed against them).

- NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion Brock Lesnar has not yet signed a WWF contract but word is both sides have verbally agreed to most parts of the deal. Lesnar was being pursued by WCW and NJPW as well, but it looks like he's going with WWF (I love that, from the very beginning, Lesnar was pretty much fighting to make sure he got as good of a deal as he could and didn't just sign the first WWF offer that came along, the way so many other people do. Dude's been the smartest wrestling businessman from day one). When he starts, it's expected to be in OVW at first.

- There should be a lot of XFL announcements in the next few weeks regarding team names, stadiums, etc. Contrary to rumors, there are no plans to "WWF-ize" the names so there won't be any teams called The Rattlesnakes or The Smackdowners or The Rocks.

- After more issues with him last week, Davey Boy Smith was taken off the active roster and sent back to Calgary for rehab. Dave says Smith is dealing with a lot of personal issues, not just drugs. He's also lost some family members recently and has other personal stuff going on, plus he has tax issues that are causing him a headache. Basically just a shitty time for the guy right now.

- Paul Bearer is expected to be repackaged and taken away from Undertaker and Kane. He may come back in a different managerial role, like his old Percy Pringle character and may even use that name (nah. He pretty much just settles into a backstage role around this time).

- A 30-minute short film from Troma called Deadbeats is coming out which stars Mick Foley. It was filmed back in 1996 when he was still in WCW and he plays a bill collector (this was released as part of Troma's "Best of Tromadance Film Festival" video but unfortunately, I can't seem to find this anywhere online. Would love to see it though).

- Contract news: Crash Holly successfully renegotiated his contract for more money even though his existing one hadn't yet expired. Taka Michinoku and Funaki's deals expire soon but WWF plans to keep them. WWF is still deciding whether to renew Vic Grimes' developmental deal (he's currently working in ECW but on the WWF's payroll). Curt Hennig's WCW contract expires soon but WWF is said to have little-to-no interest in bringing him in (he returns in 7 months at the Rumble).

- Other random WWF notes: Chyna, The Rock, and Big Show are all on late night shows next week. Jericho, Tori, Rock, and Benoit are on the cover of the Canadian TV Guide. Kevin Kelly went on the WWF Byte This audio show and said Todd Pettingill was lying when he claimed he was coming back to WWF.

- On the Billboard video charts, the Insane Clown Posse's JCW Wrestling video debuted at #5 which is crazy considering not even WCW has ever had a video that charted that high.

- Lots of letters this week, mostly trashing Vince Russo. And once again, a couple of these letters actually have verbatim quotes from Russo's recent appearance on WCW's online show so let's take a look, shall we?


In regards to David Arquette's title run: "To say that David Arquette will have any negative impact on WCW is ridiculous. Let's not forget the WWF before Vince Russo. T.L. Hopper. The Goon. Who? Those characters were 100 times worse."

In regards to sending wrestlers to acting class: "We are going to start recruiting actors and teaching them how to wrestle. That's something that's never been done before. That shows you how much the business has changed. If I can learn how to work in the ring. I'm pretty sure anyone can. It's the changing business."

In regards to which product is better: "I've been criticized for criticizing the WWF. I'm daring the fans, asking them nicely, watch our show and watch their show. (Then) tell me right now which is the more creative show. The fresher show. Watch Nitro and Thunder. Give it a chance. See what Bischoff and Russo have brought to the table. I dare anyone to tell me the WCW product sucks right now. We just have to get more people to tune in. Sample the product. You'll get hooked."

In regards to the Goldberg return match doing a disappointing rating: "Goldberg was done by 9:03. From 9:03 to 9:15, Goldberg had nothing to do with the ratings. You can't pin that whole quarter hour on Goldberg. He was out there for three minutes. (People are) going to hold him responsible for the whole 15? That's absolutely ludicrous. The critics are gong to do everything to bury WCW. The fans need to ask themselves. Whose payroll are they on? Who's paying Wade Keller and Dave Meltzer?"


- The guy writing the letter absolutely crucifies Russo for these comments, especially the one about actors. He also says if Dave is on the WWF payroll, then WWF should probably ask for their money back given his coverage of them over the years. (I find it hilarious that now, all these years later, fans accuse Dave of being on the NJPW payroll because they're good and he praises them, and in 2000, it was WWF that was good and he was praising them and got accused of being on their payroll. Crazy thought: maybe Dave just likes good wrestling and isn't picky about where it comes from). Anyway, Dave responds to this letter and doesn't address much of it and doesn't even bother commenting on the payroll accusation. But he says Goldberg being put out there at the top of the hour was designed to pop a rating and keep people from changing the channel and bottom line, it didn't work.

- Another person writes in criticizing Russo for contradicting himself in 2 different interviews. In the first one, he said he never forced Elizabeth to do an angle she didn't want to do and, 5 days later, did another interview talking about firing her and Luger both because they refused to do angles he wanted them to do.

- Someone else writes in with a "waaaaah this ain't the wrestling I grew up on!" type of letter. Too many weapons, half naked women, cursing and sexual innuendos. "Whether you call it soft porn or hardcore porn, it's still porn. And that's what wrestling is now. I haven't watched since Bret Hart and Kevin Nash said shit three times within 20 minutes back in December. I've got better ways to waste my free time than being offended by nasty gyrating, naked bodies and being cussed at."

(11-16-2018, 10:44 AM)Peezy Wrote: 6-12-2000
Curt Hennig's WCW contract expires soon but WWF is said to have little-to-no interest in bringing him in (he returns in 7 months at the Rumble).

he actually reappears at the Royal Rumble 2002.
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Yeah about a dozen people immediately corrected me about that on Reddit LOL

I always thought that about The Rock. Dude sold crazy for everyone, to the point where as a young fan I sometimes questioned his toughness in character. And he legit lost so fuckin much that it's incredible he remained so over - I think the only reason he did is because he's so god damned charismatic. That's probably the only reason Triple H couldn't completely bury him too, although it seems like he sure as fuck tried during 2000.
[+] 1 user Likes Zack T's post

- The long-rumored split of AJPW has finally come to pass. Company president Mitsuharu Misawa resigned his position on on 5/28. All sides attempted to keep it quiet to ensure a smooth transition but when word leaked to the media a week or so later, an emergency board of directors meeting was called and 5 more members of the board (wrestlers Kenta Kobashi, Akira Taue, Mitsuo Momota, along with front office exec Yoshihiro Momota and AJPW managing director Kenichi Oyagi) all formally resigned as well. It confirmed that virtually the entire company has decided to leave Motoko Baba. It's strongly believed that will Misawa will be starting his own promotion, probably in September (ends up being August actually). Misawa had hoped to avoid a public promotional war with the wife of Giant Baba and had attempted to negotiate with her to use the AJPW name for his promotion to preserve the legacy and history of what Giant Baba built without it turning nasty. But Motoko Baba refused the proposal and refused to give up any financial control of the company (she owns 85% while Nippon TV owns the other 15%). Both Misawa and Motoko Baba are expected to hold separate press conferences this week to detail their future plans. According to sources, every single wrestler in the company with the exception of Toshiaki Kawada and Masa Fuchi have pledged loyalty to Misawa and pretty much the entire front office is going with him as well. Kawada will likely be named the new AJPW president this week. Kawada and Misawa have known each other since high school but haven't ever really fully gotten along, with Kawada feeling like Misawa was holding him down from being the top star in AJPW. With him in charge, it's expected he will become the top star and will attempt to form a working relationship with NJPW while also bringing in indie talent to fill out the now-empty roster to keep the company afloat.

- Misawa and Motoko Baba have never gotten along since Misawa took over as company president following Giant Baba's death. A lot of the problems stem from Baba wanting to maintain the status quo in a company that has been floundering, while Misawa wanted to make major changes, push younger wrestlers, and things like that, only to find himself often overruled. Dave notes a specific show last year when Misawa booked Budokan Hall and put Jun Akiyama vs. Takao Omori in the main event, which Baba was adamantly against, feeling a Budokan show shouldn't be headlined by wrestlers who weren't yet established main eventers. Misawa also wanted to modernize the contracts, with wrestlers having medical coverage if they're hurt, full pay while out injured, and things like that. Usually every year at the end of March, the wrestlers get raises but that didn't happen this year and as a result, nobody re-signed, so currently the entire AJPW roster of wrestlers are free-agents right now, which is why they're all able to up and leave with Misawa. As much as everyone loved Giant Baba, his wife has always been notoriously unpopular in Japanese wrestling circles and was nicknamed "Dragon Lady." Shortly after Giant Baba's death, she forced Jumbo Tsuruta out of the company after he had worked there for 27 years.

- Needless to say, there's some potential legal hurdles here. It's believed Misawa may have a non-compete clause in his previous contract that hasn't run out yet. There's also the possibility that Baba will file a lawsuit claiming that Misawa had started working to set up his new company while still employed as AJPW president. During the meeting where Misawa resigned, Baba didn't attend, instead sending her lawyer with a note saying that she wasn't going to be there. The key to this whole thing is Nippon TV, which has been broadcasting wrestling weekly since the Rikidozan days. Dave says this whole thing is really similar to the 1972 situation when Giant Baba left the old JWA promotion (Rikidozan's company) and started AJPW, and Nippon TV went with him. 7 months later, JWA was dead. Publicly, Nippon TV isn't saying anything but it's believed that they are likely going to side with Misawa also, so AJPW's days on television may be numbered. If for some reason that doesn't happen, the Fuji Network in Japan is interested, so Misawa's promotion will surely end up on TV one way or another. All in all, this is pretty devastating for AJPW.

- The situation with AJPW's foreign wrestlers is uncertain. They all ride on the same bus and were told to clean out all their stuff. They also checked to see if their hotels were booked for the upcoming July tour only to find out they haven't been booked yet (they usually are by now) so the foreign stars are said to be pretty concerned that they suddenly might not have jobs. Many of the foreign wrestlers are closer to Mrs. Baba since, well, she writes the checks and the money's never late. But they've all been told not to worry, although they haven't been given any details of what their futures hold. Steve Williams and Johnny Ace are the closest to her on a personal level. Stan Hansen, the highest paid foreign star in AJPW, is staying out of the situation. He's just about ready to retire anyway and has saved his money well, so he's just chillin' and waiting to see how this whole thing shakes out.

- Things are only slightly less chaotic in the United States. The WWF vs. USA Network trial began this week and the futures of both WWF's Raw and ECW as a whole probably depend on what happens. USA Senior VP David Brenner testified during the first 2 days and revealed that USA pays WWF $42,000 per episode for Raw. Last year during negotiations, USA had offered to increase the payment to $80,000 per episode in 2001, $85,000 in 2002 and $90,000 in 2003 as well as offering increases in payments for the other three weekly shows on USA but Vince McMahon turned them down. USA then increased the offer but McMahon again turned it down and began negotiating with Fox.

- More talk about the future of WCW also. The SFX talks to purchase WCW have seemingly gone nowhere so far but are still ongoing. Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan have been meeting with Fox about a deal. The idea being that Bischoff and Hogan would go to Fox to start a "new promotion," which would then do a big inter-promotional angle against WCW. Meanwhile, WCW is also still reaching out to ECW about possibly working together, but Heyman has once again refused because he wants no part of anything to do with WCW.

- Oh yeah, speaking of....ECW is pretty jolly well fucked up right now too. Heyman has also had discussions with Fox but they haven't gone anywhere. Even though WCW is suffering financial losses the likes of which have never been seen before in professional wrestling, ECW is actually the company in the most danger right now. They're in a major financial crunch and wrestlers are weeks behind on getting paid. Several sources are said to be willing to loan ECW money or to buy a stake in the company, including WWF, which has offered several times to bail Heyman out. But the loan would come with certain conditions that Heyman isn't willing to accept because they would basically give WWF too much control over his company. Furthermore, the situation with the WWF/USA lawsuit is precarious because it's entirely possible and likely that TNN will boot ECW off the network if/when they get WWF Raw, which would leave ECW sitting on a mountain of debt without a national TV deal. Heyman is hopeful that they can survive on syndicated TV, just as they did before they had TNN, but things have changed a lot since then. If TNN ends up getting Raw, ECW's best hope is that they will be picked up by USA but that's by no means a guarantee. Given the state of the company, Dave says they're going to need a major network deal and a much larger production budget from that network if they hope to survive or be competitive.

- WCW's Great American Bash is in the books and after a heavily-hyped build-up that something game-changing would happen, the big surprise ended up being the heel-turn of Goldberg. Dave says the show was a huge let-down. Endless run-ins, 3 big "stunt" spots which meant none of them stood out, predictable swerves, and the 3rd straight PPV with the same finish. Goldberg's heel turn got a lot of heat but Dave says it's way too soon in Goldberg's career, plus he just came back after being injured for 6 months and the fans have been dying to see him back. But Russo was determined to turn him heel immediately because "omg swerves are awesome!" so....here we are. Needless to say, Dave thinks this is just about the dumbest thing WCW could have done. It also re-solidifies Hogan and Nash as the top 2 babyfaces in the company, because this company just refuses to fucking learn. Coming out of the PPV, it seemed like the obvious direction for the next PPV would be Hogan vs. Jarrett for the title and Goldberg vs. Nash, but in their infinite wisdom, they went ahead and gave away both matches for free on Nitro the very next night, which, to be fair, it's not like anyone buys WCW PPVs anymore anyway so it probably doesn't really matter. To show just how far WCW has alienated its fans, both Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan were in matches on this PPV where their career was at stake if they lost. Two of the biggest names in history in potential retirement matches should be an instant sellout and monster buyrate but needless to say, they only drew 4,600 paid (in Baltimore, a city where both Flair and Hogan have been huge draws during their careers) and the buyrate is expected to be among the lowest ever. Dave says try to imagine a scenario in Mexico with El Santo and Perro Aguayo in retirement matches only selling 4,600 tickets to Arena Mexico, or Inoki and Riki Choshu putting up their careers and drawing 4,600 to the Tokyo Dome. It would be unthinkable, but welcome to WCW in 2000.

- Other notes from the show: the opening cruiserweight match ending got screwed up because the guy who plays Rection's dad came out 5 minutes early and since his run-in was part of the finish, they had to rush to it early. How does that even happen? Kanyon turned on DDP, making it 3 PPVs in a row that DDP lost because someone betrayed him. In the words of Raylan Givens, "If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole." I'm just saying, maybe we should start asking *why* all of DDP's friends keep turning on him. Hogan vs. Kidman was about what you expect: Hogan overcoming all the odds and beating Kidman like a jobber. Ric Flair's entire family got involved in his match with David Flair, including his daughter Ashley (Charlotte) attacking Russo. Vampiro beat Sting in an inferno match, with "Sting" (a stunt double) being set on fire and knocked off the top of the video screen and Dave hated this. And of course, finally, the Goldberg heel turn.

- WWF is planning to slowly enact a new rule banning all moves in which a wrestler might land on his head (aside from tombstones and DDTs). The details are still scarce but it would essentially ban all forms of piledrivers, brainbusters, and other back and overhead suplexes. It won't be an immediate change, and wrestlers who use those moves will be asked to move away from them and gradually change their moveset. The idea, of course, is to try to lower the injury risk of guys dealing with neck issues who are working 4 shows a week. Dave talks about major injuries that have happened, particularly the Masa Chono and Steve Austin neck injuries which both came from botched piledrivers and nearly ended the careers of both. No word on why exactly this was decided, but Dave talks about a crazy looking DDT from the top rope that Dean Malenko did to Scotty 2 Hotty at Backlash that scared a lot of people backstage. And of course, there's also the issue with Droz being paralyzed (although that was a freak accident) and things like that. Tazz had already been told to limit his suplexes and wasn't allowed to use some of his more dangerous ones. And Perry Saturn was told to change his brainbuster finisher so he's using an elbow from the top now as his finish.

- The New Jersey state assembly passed a bill to regulate "extreme wrestling." It's a bill clearly designed to shut down Jersey All Pro Wrestling and Combat Zone Wrestling, while not applying to other promotions that operate in the state, like WWF, WCW, or ECW. The bill still has to pass the state senate and the governor (who has come out in support of it) before it becomes law. There's a lot of direct quotes from the bill in here that tries to distinguish between WWF/WCW/ECW and promotions like JAPW and CZW and it's pretty bullshit. Most of the things that are listed as being banned in CZW and JAPW happen regularly in the main promotions too. Dave talks about Jeff Hardy doing dives off ladders in WWF, or New Jack jumping off balconies in ECW. Those would still be fine on those shows, but Jeff Hardy or New Jack went to an JAPW or CZW show and did the exact same thing, it would be banned. Any "extreme wrestling" promoter or wrestler that allows someone under 18 into a show would be subject to a $5,000 fine. Other wrestling promotions can run shows without a license but "extreme" promotions (only CZW and JAPW) have to not only get a license to operate, must notify the public safety director 20 days beforehand to get permission in writing, and a bunch of other shit. It's also subject to a bunch of taxes that the other companies aren't. And the biggest thing is that "extreme" shows must carry medical insurance on all the wrestlers and have 2 doctors and an ambulance on site at all times. For these small companies that only draw a couple hundred fans, that's an expense they can't afford. In short, the entire purpose of this bill is to run JAPW and CZW out of business, or at least out of the state, and it looks like it's likely going to become law.

- A&E aired a Biography special on Hulk Hogan and I can already tell this is going to be good. Dave's itching to point out the lies and inaccuracies. In an interesting note, after the show finished filming, they got a negative response from an early screening because they never acknowledged Hogan's role in the current downfall of WCW. So they tacked on a thing at the end mentioning that WCW had declined in popularity due to promoting wrestlers who were too old. Anyway, the rest of the documentary was basically Hogan and his friends and family telling a wonderful tale of fiction. Some of it is nitpicky stuff but others, like Vince McMahon's role in Hogan's success and the 80s boom of wrestling, was completely downplayed. He told a bunch of lies about his past steroid use, basically just that he dabbled in them when it was legal. Of course, none of that's true and Hogan's own testimony in Vince's 94 steroid trial contradicts it, but whatever. Overall, it doesn't sound too bad compared to the tall tales Hogan usually tells, but Dave always delights in nitpicking Hogan's conveniently selective memory.

- This week's ratings fun: on Raw, the Crash Holly vs. Gerald Brisco match did double the rating of Nitro's Nash/Goldberg main event, which was Goldberg's first match since turning heel the night before. As soon as Nitro ended, 40% of fans switched over to Raw, which is much higher than the usual number.

- NJPW experimented with selling tickets online for a show this week. It was a 17,000 seat arena but since this was an experiment, they only put 2,000 of the tickets online for sale and they sold out within an hour, so needless to say it was a success and they'll probably start doing that more often. Watching the business slowly begin implementing technology and taking advantage of the internet is one of the more interesting parts of doing these Rewinds to me.

- There was a big news story in Japan due to a recent incident where RINGS president and former wrestler Akira Maeda attacked Pancrase president Masami Ozaki at a hotel. Ozaki ended up pressing charges against Maeda for the attack. From reports, apparently Maeda lost his temper for some reason and punched Ozaki and threw him into a table. Around the same time, a newspaper article ran with Maeda talking about having a friend in the Yakuza, which seems like a pretty thinly-veiled threat.

- A newspaper in Sydney Australia reported that promoter Andrew McManus would be running some shows, including a major show headlined by Dennis Rodman vs. Brutus Beefcake at a 19,000 seat arena. The largest crowd for wrestling in Australian history is around 12,000 for an Andre the Giant match several years back. Word is Rodman will work several shows and will be making 7-figures. Dave is skeptical of this to say the least (turns out it was sort of true. Rodman did end up wrestling one show, headlining against Curt Hennig but I'm sure we'll hear more about it when the time comes).

- The FX Network is airing a toughman contest featuring wrestlers against football players. Most of the wrestlers are no named indie guys. The biggest names are XPW's Damien Steele and Mustafa from the Gangstas. The Fox Family channel is currently casting roles for a show called Los Luchadores about a group of Mexican wrestlers (this was a kid's show, only lasted 1 season).

- Memphis Championship Wrestling has been taping shows at the nearby Sam's Town casino but because no kids are allowed in the casino, the shows have been basically empty so they're moving them back to an all-ages venue in Memphis. Several of Shawn Michaels' students are expected to start working there soon.

- Sable is on the cover of the new Muscle & Fitness. In the article, it described her as "the most popular female athlete in wrestling history" and Dave supposes you could make a case for it. The story also said she can bench 225 and squat 405, to which Dave says he hasn't laughed that hard in weeks.

- Dave notes 2 promotions that are apparently starting. One is called Urban Wrestling Federation and is gonna be based on hip-hop and target Spanish audiences and they're bringing in Koko B Ware to build it around. On the other end of the spectrum is the Christian Wrestling Federation, which is wrestling without the vulgarity and sexual stuff and at the end of the show, all the wrestlers return to the ring for a big group prayer. I'm absolutely baffled that neither of these clearly brilliant ideas are still around today.

- ECW's Heat Wave PPV will take place in Los Angeles which is the first time the company will attempt a west coast show. Dave thinks it might be interesting since that's XPW territory (boy, I'll say....)

- Regarding the incident mentioned last week with Sandman being drunk at a show in Florida and making a scene in the ring, word is it got heated backstage afterward. First, Tommy Dreamer and Sandman got into it physically but were quickly broken up. Then shortly after, Jack Victory and Sandman got into a fight that left Sandman bleeding from a cut above the eye.

- Notes from WCW Nitro: we're starting out at peak stupid this week. Commentator Scott Hudson did the entire show shirtless because on Nitro last week, Vince Russo got his shirt torn off and all 3 announcers made jokes about his physique. So Russo thought it would be great to order all 3 announcers do the entire broadcast without shirts to get him over as a heel. Mark Madden and Schiavone apparently refused but Hudson went along with it. They showed Vampiro talking to a mystery man in a robe in a smoke-filled room, who is expected to be revealed as Christopher Daniels. They wanted to name him God or Lord but the Turner standards and practices people shot that down and he still has no name (this ends up going nowhere but yes, it was indeed going to be Daniels before it got forgotten). They also had an idea for Vampiro to set the dressing room on fire and Asya would get burned, to set up a feud with Vampiro vs. KISS Demon (who is Asya's real life fiance). Also, the Millionaire's Club group has been rendered pretty much dead because most of the guys are out. DDP and Flair are on the shelf with injuries. Sting is out ("another vacation, what a great job he has," Dave says) and Luger is, of course, gone after walking out last week over creative differences. They had a bit where Kevin Nash's fake 8-year-old nephew Hunter (3 guesses why they picked that name) gets left with Scott Steiner to babysit and Steiner just leaves him with one of his half-naked women. They did an angle with Vince Russo shaving Ric Flair's head and Dave admits it was a really great angle and really well done (including another run-in by daughter Ashley, aka future Charlotte). But much like everything else in WCW, they left money on the table. This is Ric Flair's trademark hair that he's had for 30 years. They could have turned it into a huge deal on PPV or built up to it or something. Instead, just shaved his head with no notice on free TV. It was a great angle, but it puts all the heat on Russo and the end game is still Flair vs. Russo, which isn't exactly going to sell out arenas. Dave suspects Flair went along with it because he's trying to help David Flair get over but the kid just isn't any good and he's being pushed way beyond his capabilities.

- Goldberg was quoted in an AP news story criticizing the direction of WCW. "We are farther away form the kids and closer to pornography. It bothers me. Absolutely. We have a show that has a girl in a bikini in every single segment. I'm not in favor of that. I voice my opinion on everything I have a problem with. We can't shut our eyes on the kids who watch. There is a time and a place for segments where kids can watch with their parents, and we don't have it."

- WCW head Brad Siegel called both Bischoff and Russo in for a meeting regarding the 6/7 Nitro rating because everyone was hyping that show up and it was expected to do a bigger rating than it did, but it pretty much flopped and Siegel wanted answers. This Russo/Bischoff team isn't exactly doing great things for WCW, you see.

- Christopher Daniels made his WCW in-ring debut at a World Wide taping, losing to Chris Candido in a decent match.

- Regarding the incident a couple of weeks ago when a horse almost kicked Terry Funk during a hardcore match, turns out the horse had been traquilized beforehand (Dave believes it had been given PCP) and had also been harnessed. But it still lashed out and kicked Funk when he got too close. Dave points out how we could have seen a tragedy on live TV if the horse had kicked Funk in the head (let's be honest though: getting kicked to death by a horse in a hardcore match would be the most Terry Funk way to die possible).

- Random WCW notes: WCW is once again considering bringing Dennis Rodman back in for some matches, in hopes of getting some publicity out of it. Elix Skipper was in a serious car accident and will be out for a few weeks. Lance Storm's debut has been delayed due to visa issues.

- WWF has hired a guy named Stuart Snyder to be the President and COO of WWF. That position used to belong to Linda McMahon but she has been given the new title of CEO while Vince remains Chairman of the Board. Snyder used to work for USA Network and will be helping lighten the workload on Linda. He'll handle more of the day-to-day stuff while Linda will focus on Wall Street and stockholder business. He will report directly to Vince and Linda (not sure how long he was with WWF, but he later became the head of Cartoon Network I believe).

- Judgement Day is looking to be around a 1.05 buyrate which will be the lowest WWF buyrate this year (but still, like, 10x the numbers WCW is doing on PPV).

- Triple H fought Chris Jericho in probably the best Raw match of the year and Dave actually says that Triple H put on a master class in how to get yourself over, get your opponent over, protect the integrity of the title, and entertain fans all at once. Dave says with a match this good, it's an easy thumbs up for the entire show, even if everything else sucks. Luckily it didn't because Benoit vs. Matt Hardy was really good too. But Dave really heaps the praise on Triple H for this one (yeah, 2000-era Triple H was absolutely on fire before injuries slowed him down and paranoia led to him burying everyone).

- Jim Ross sent all the wrestlers a memo saying they can't do anymore media appearances or interviews without office approval. Vince McMahon apparently feels that doing interviews with other media outlets is basically competition for their own website and they want to be in control of when WWF wrestlers talk to the media and what is said publicly.

- Random WWF notes: Chyna is doing a fitness video that will be released soon. Billy Gunn is expected back from injury in September. Shawn Michaels may still be used sporadically, but there are no real plans to bring him back for any weekly role.

- NCAA heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar signed a WWF developmental deal this week and will start in OVW this summer. Lesnar will be the 3rd NCAA wrestling champion under contract, with the other 2 being Kurt Angle and Sylvester Terkey. Dave talks about the history of NCAA champs in pro wrestling and starts listing names like Verne Gagne, Dick Hutton, etc. He doesn't know about Lesnar or Terkey, but he predicts Angle is going to end up being a top star in this business sooner rather than later (yup).

- Giants Stadium in New York and Soldier Field in Chicago have officially been named as 2 of the home fields for upcoming XFL teams.

- Curt Hennig's WCW contract expires soon and it's thought that WWF isn't interested. At 42 years old, and after years of being a big star, there's doubt that he would even want to come in and accept a lower card role. They have no plans of pushing him as a focal point of the company and think he might not be easy to work with if they want to use him to put over others. There's also the question of whether WWF would accept Lex Luger back if his current WCW issues lead to him being fired. Henning is still a good worker and while he left WWF on bad terms, they weren't unfixable. Luger, of course, left on the worst terms possible, literally walking out of a WWF house show on Sunday and showing up on WCW Nitro 24 hours later. So it's more likely that Hennig will end up in WWF than Luger, but Dave doesn't seem to think either guy has much of a shot (Hennig returns at the 2002 Rumble. Luger, to this day, hasn't stepped foot back in WWF or even gotten a HOF induction, although he has done a couple of DVD interviews and things like that).

Luger at least gets shown in video packages if appropriate and they made fun of him on Camp WWE too. But yea, it seems like he's not ever going to get the hero's welcome back like Ultimate Warrior finally got.
I was just trying to remember if Lex had made it to the HOF (I stopped watching/paying close attention about 5 years ago). Back in 93 and 94, I was a total mark for Luger and the Lex Express! Vince really pulled the rug out from under him by not giving him the belt at Summer Slam or at Wrestlemania. The amount of people he shit on and pissed off and way he must have conducted himself is impressive considering how no one will really touch him. He should have inducted Sting into the HoF...and then turned on him.
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Terkey ended up doing nothing
It's 2:45am and I'm awake still so fuck it, Monday's post is going up now. I'm off tomorrow and I may not even be awake at the normal time, so KBC gets it now and Reddit will get it on time if they're lucky.


- The situation with AJPW pretty much exploded this week, with Misawa announcing the formation of his new promotion and Nippon TV officially cancelling AJPW's TV show in the wake of the company splitting up. Misawa held a press conference and spoke about why he split from left, saying he was unable to modernize AJPW because Motoko Baba wouldn't allow him to make the changes he felt needed to be made for the company and compared it to when Giant Baba left JWA in 1972 to form his own company. The issues were both creative and financial, with Mrs. Baba resisting making any of the changes Misawa wanted. He also wanted to increase the wrestler's pay and give them medical benefits, which she also refused to do. Even though the company was struggling somewhat last year, they were still profitable, but Misawa felt the money wasn't being reinvested in the company properly. As for his new promotion, Misawa didn't reveal the name but it's believed the company will be called NOAH and will debut in August, with its first major tour scheduled for October. As expected, almost the entire AJPW roster as well as nearly all of the office employees sided with Misawa and left with him. Occasional AJPW star (and Japanese senator) Hiroshi Hase wasn't at the press conference but word is he is siding with Misawa as well. In the meantime, Kenta Kobashi is taking these next couple of months off to get long-needed knee surgery and hopes to be back in time for NOAH's debut (here's the press conference, just in case some of you understand Japanese).

- Only Toshiaka Kawada, Masa Fuchi, one of the referees, and 2 members of the board of directors chose to stay with Mrs. Baba. And really, it's believed that Kawada only stayed because NJPW reached out to him and he realizes he only has a limited amount of time left in his career and wants to work a few big money cross-promotional matches against NJPW stars rather than become a midcard guy in NOAH. There's a lot of money in Kawada defending the AJPW Triple Crown title in Tokyo Dome matches against NJPW guys like Muto, Chono, and Hashimoto and in fact, those matches are already being discussed. In return, NJPW may step in and help keep AJPW afloat during these trying times. Plus, Kawada and Misawa have never really gotten along, which is another reason he chose to stay with AJPW.

- Motoko Baba held her own press conference announcing that several foreign stars (Stan Hansen Steve Williams, Johnny Ace, Too Cold Scorpio, and others) will be on the next tour so it seems the foreigners are sticking with her. Vader is out of action injured but it's believed he will stay with AJPW as well (nope). Most of the foreigners are taking a "wait and see" stance since they have no real dog in this fight and haven't been around or privy to all the backstage drama and their loyalties have always been to Giant Baba so for now, they're choosing to stand by his wife's side. But without a TV deal, it's unknown how long AJPW can afford to pay all these big salaries that the foreigners get. And if the money starts to fall, you can bet all the foreign stars will run to Misawa quick. Mrs. Baba claimed in her press conference that Misawa had not worked hard as company president over the last year and that he had been planning to leave for a long time (the last part is true, more on that in a moment). She asked for all the wrestlers who left to come back to at least work the upcoming July tour but so far, Misawa hasn't responded to that proposal and really, it's just an attempt by Baba to save face with AJPW fans. But it does present a problem for the company because advertising for the July shows is already out all over Japan, with Misawa's face all over the posters and tickets were already being sold. Kawada has pretty much said that anyone who wants a refund will be able to get one. AJPW is also reaching out to NJPW and Michinoku Pro wrestlers to try to fill up the roster for some shows. As of press time, they have 11 confirmed wrestlers working the July tour and are hoping to get at least 16.

- As mentioned, Nippon TV announced that it was cancelling AJPW after airing it for 28 years. It's actually been known for almost a year that if Misawa left, NTV would go with him. Misawa wanted to leave Motoko Baba a year ago and he got word even back then that most of the roster and NTV would go with him. But it was so soon after Giant Baba's death that it wouldn't have looked good publicly. NTV wanted to wait, so as not to appear disrespectful to Baba's legacy, which is largely why Misawa stuck with AJPW for as long as he did. But it's been over a year since Baba's death and enough time has apparently passed now. Misawa's new promotion will take over AJPW's weekly time slot when they debut. Once again, this is very similar to what happened in 1972. NTV was the station that aired JWA and when Baba split off to form All Japan, NTV went with him, just like they are following Misawa now (it's an absolute miracle that AJPW survived and still somehow continues to exist to this day, although they never truly recovered from all of this).

- The USA Network vs. WWF trial is just about all wrapped up but there was still no verdict at press time. The judge ordered the 2 sides to try to negotiate a settlement because one side probably wouldn't like his decision. Most news reports seem to suggest WWF is likely going to win this one. If you recall, USA is suing because they had a right-of-first-refusal clause in their contract with WWF stating they could match any offer for Raw, LiveWire, Superstars, and Heat. So Viacom then swooped in and offered WWF a huge amount of money for those shows, plus another $3.5 million for additional TV specials, another million or so for scripted TV show development, an $8 million budget to promote the move to TNN, some book deals, and a bunch of other shit. USA felt that they shouldn't have to match Viacom's offer on that extra stuff, they only want the original 4 shows and shouldn't have to bid against Viacom for anything other than that. Anyway, in a side note, Dave offhandedly mentions that WWF and Viacom have discussed airing regular special events on CBS (pretty sure that never happened). During the trial, Vince McMahon testified that the USA Network did virtually nothing for WWF, complained that they underpaid for WWF programming, and admitted being upset about USA pre-empting the show every year for the U.S. Open and the Westminster Dog Show (you and me both Vince), claiming it was stupid because nobody watches those shows. Dave points out that, up until the last few years, the dog show routinely did bigger ratings than Raw and was much more valuable to advertisers, which is why USA always bumped Raw for it. The US Open never beat Raw in the ratings, but it was also more valuable to advertisers and USA made more money from it, so same thing. McMahon also said that USA Network execs laughed at him because he asked to buy an ownership stake in the Sci-Fi Channel. In a related note, it came out during the trial that USA had proposed starting a new network called the Man Cable Channel that would have heavily featured WWF and XFL.

- Vince Russo reportedly quit WCW this week, although others dispute that. Russo hasn't returned anyone's calls but he has a meeting later this week with Brad Seigel to discuss his future. Reportedly it was over a disagreement with Eric Bischoff who wanted to bring Kimberly, Lex Luger, and Elizabeth back. All 3 reportedly quit recently because they didn't want to go along with his scripts and Russo doesn't want to bring them back. Kimberly and Elizabeth both walked out for a variety of reasons but mostly because they aren't trained wrestlers and don't want to take bumps (more on Kimberly's situation in a bit). Dave notes that neither woman was very popular backstage. Elizabeth was reportedly making $300,000 a year which, needless to say, is ridiculously overpaid for someone who mostly just stands in the corner and rarely even talks. And Kimberly wasn't well liked because she'd gained a reputation of having a big head with people saying she was turning into the next Sable. But she looks good and is a better actor than most of the people cutting promos and thus she was given a lot of TV time. And in the case of Luger, he was complaining about how he was being used, eventually refusing to do an angle Russo wrote for him. Dave argues that Russo is in the right when it comes to Luger. If you're the guy in charge, you can't just have guys refusing to go along with the script and allow that to go unpunished. But WCW management felt otherwise because Luger has several years left on a very lucrative guaranteed contract and felt that as long as he's healthy, they have to find a way to use him to justify it. But the problem is, that basically neuters Russo's authority, which is a necessity when you're the booker. That being said, others have pointed out that Hogan and Nash routinely do the same thing and both have been a way bigger problem in the locker room than Luger. This all leads Dave on a rant about how Hogan and Nash try to give the appearance of putting people over while not actually doing them any favors, and specifically talks about the recent Hogan vs. Billy Kidman feud, where Kidman allegedly got the rub from working with Hogan (even getting a pinfall or two at times), but in reality he got treated like a jobber through the whole storyline and probably came out of it worse off than he was before he worked with Hogan. Anyway, Russo is also unhappy with the Turner standards & practices people editing a lot of this week's Thunder episode and all of this led to Russo reportedly quitting.

- Publicly, WCW has stated that Russo is just taking a few days off due to a concussion but lots of sources in WCW have confirmed that he quit. Bischoff has been wanting to get away from all the crazy Russo angles and focus more on wrestling anyway. Most people feel the issues will get worked out and Russo will probably return. He's notoriously hot-headed but he just bought a home in Atlanta and has a wife and 3 kids and Vince McMahon ain't taking him back, so it's unlikely that he's going to walk away from an extremely lucrative contract and more likely, this is more of a power-play. Terry Taylor and Ed Ferrara wrote Nitro and Thunder this week and it was a better show, with no run-ins and actual focus being put on the matches, as opposed to Russo's formula of quick 90-second matches with run-ins on every one of them, sandwiched in between poorly-acted skits. It also saw Booker T drop the GI Bro gimmick and go back to Booker T, which was a relief to everyone in the company who hated what Russo was doing with Booker. The newly-heel Goldberg got a huge ovation, which once again had people second-guessing Russo's decision to turn the most popular money-making act in the company heel and a lot of people think it's only a matter of time before they're forced to turn him face again and pretend like the heel turn never happened (yup). Most people feel Russo is right in regards to Luger, but also feel his storming out and quitting over it was immature, but it's not the first time Russo has thrown a temper tantrum and pretended to quit. Since Russo wasn't at Nitro, it also led to them barely acknowledging the Ric Flair head-shaving angle, which is the hottest storyline WCW has going right now and Russo walking out basically stopped it in its tracks since he was such a big part of it.

- A public funeral was held for Jumbo Tsuruta in Japan, drawing an estimated 5,000 people. Aside from Giant Baba and El Santo, it was the largest crowd to ever attend a pro wrestler's funeral. Despite the AJPW/NOAH split, basically everyone from both groups attended the service, along with several NJPW stars like Tatsumi Fujinami and Shinya Hashimoto.

- The first ever AAA/CMLL joint show took place and, as you might expect, most of the news comes from behind the scenes. The show was pretty much ordered by Televisa which airs both promotions and forced them to do a show together. The show drew around 40,000 fans and was heavily pro-CMLL, with even the top AAA babyfaces being heavily booed. Both AAA head Antonio Pena and CMLL head Paco Alonso were there but Alonso refused to come to the ring with Pena at one point. Wrestlers were kept in separate dressing rooms with intermediaries passing messages between them to work out finishes and whatnot. There's a lot of heat between the wrestlers also, with CMLL feeling like AAA makes a mockery of Lucha Libre by doing hardcore matches and using celebrities and other American-style things while AAA wrestlers argue that CMLL stars are old and out of touch and stuck in the past. During some of the matches, CMLL stars in particular almost completely refused to sell for the AAA guys. At one point, a legit fight broke out between Cibernetico and Pierroth Jr. leading to a lot of wrestlers from both sides running out to the ring to break it up and doing some pushing and shoving of each other also. So not a good start to the working relationship between the two companies (yeah that was the last of that for awhile. Anyway, here's the full show. And yes, I'm also noticing a pattern of all the videos in today's post being in non-English languages).

- MCI WorldCom announced that it's pulling all advertising from Smackdown in the wake of the PTC harassing them about it. PTC spokesman Steve Allen and board member C. DeLores Tucker spoke at an MCI WorldCom stockholders meeting recently and both went hard at MCI for continuing to advertise on Smackdown. The week after their speech, Smackdown was significantly toned down, to the point that PTC even admitted so on its website, but it wasn't enough to keep MCI from being scared away. The PTC claims more than 30 advertisers have pulled out of Smackdown due to their efforts, which is misleading because some (like Wrigleys) pulled out of all wrestling advertising long before the PTC started their campaign (that claim comes back to bite the PTC later in court. Turns out some of the advertisers the PTC claimed had stopped sponsoring WWF never had ads on WWF to begin with. They were lying to pad their list and that plays a big part in the later lawsuit). Dave thinks the WWF made a mistake when it comes to the PTC. When this all started last year, WWF defended themselves by making it personal with the PTC and attacking the group's leader L. Brent Bozell personally. In that time, Smackdown has actually toned down quite a bit overall, but because they went so hard after Bozell personally, he's holding a grudge long past the point where he probably would have let it go had WWF simply toned things down (like they ended up doing anyway) and not tried to get into a mud-slinging contest. But by turning things personal, the battle has continued and advertisers have continued pulling out and WWF stock has fallen as a result.

- Bad sponsor news for WCW also. Some sponsor (it's unsure who...either Burger King or Toy Biz depending on different sources) pulled their ads from WCW which is said to be a $500,000 loss for the company. Which isn't great news considering they're already hemorrhaging money at record pace. It was due to concerns over content, because Russo has pretty much turned WCW into a trashier copy of WWF and the same sponsors who are nervous about WWF now feel the same about WCW.

- Dave decides to take a look at who the real PPV draws are in wrestling. This is basically taking statistical data from Sept. 1995 through May of 2000 (basically the entirety of the Monday Night Wars) and crunching the numbers to see who moves the needle on PPV, which is where the big money is, to determine who the real draws are. It's based on the number of PPVs the wrestler headlined, the average buyrate, and other little things. It gives a lot of interesting info. Needless to say, the numbers for Austin and The Rock are off the charts. Rounding out the top 5 are Hogan, Triple H, and Mick Foley. Guys like Kane, Undertaker, and Vince McMahon are in the running too, but that can usually be attributed to the fact that the PPVs they headlined were against Rock or Austin. On the WCW side, Hulk Hogan was undoubtedly WCW's biggest draw during the earlier years. Surprisingly, Sting and Lex Luger both were stronger draws on PPV than Flair, Nash, or Hall. Goldberg's numbers are impressive but his main event run coincided with the beginning of WCW's downfall, so he's only 4th on the list. But when you consider the time frame and the people he headlined against, Goldberg's numbers are actually more impressive than anyone in WCW other than Hogan. And on and on. Man, this is actually a lot longer than a thought and full of interesting analysis. Austin was a bigger PPV draw than Hogan. Ric Flair is consistently one of WCW's top TV ratings draws but only an average draw on PPV. Scott Hall was average. Jeff Jarrett's a flop. Bret Hart was slightly more of a PPV draw than Shawn Michaels. DDP's numbers look good but are artificially inflated due to the 2 matches with Rodman and Karl Malone, which are celebrity flukes. If you subtract those 2 matches, DDP was a below average draw. Kevin Nash was average. Roddy Piper was way up there but that's mostly due to his WCW matches being against Hogan. Undertaker's numbers were inflated by working with Austin so much and if you take Austin matches out of the equation and recalculate the averages, Undertaker is actually a pretty bad PPV draw. Same for Vader and Sid. And on and on and on. Dave notes that, overall, The Rock is the most impressive PPV draw of modern times. There's a LOT more here if you're interested in these sort of stats but this already feels like the longest Observer Rewind I've ever typed and I'm not even out of the top stories section yet.

- Next month's Onita vs. Choshu exploding barbed wire match will air on PPV, which will be the first live PPV ever for NJPW. In Japan, PPV is still in its infancy and hasn't really caught on the way it has in the U.S. so there's never really been a drive to push towards running PPV because there's not a lot of money in it. But Choshu coming out of retirement after more than 2 years is expected to be a big draw so they decided to give this PPV thing a whirl. In the future, NJPW hopes to run more PPVs and also wants to air all house shows on the internet.

- Naoya Ogawa announced he will be vacating the NWA title so he can train for a shoot fight against Rickson Gracie (he does indeed vacate the title soon but the Gracie fight never happens because Rickson's son dies and he basically retires after that).

- Antonio Inoki recently made a trip to Minnesota to meet with Jesse Ventura and while he was there, he also stopped by a training camp where both Don Frye and Brock Lesnar were training. In Japanese magazines, they had a photo of Inoki wrestling with Lesnar and in the photo, Inoki is in a dominant position, on top of Lesnar and pinning him. Dave thinks it's hilarious because the photo was obviously staged. In a real grappling session, Lesnar would eat Inoki for breakfast (I can't find this picture anywhere so I'm gonna need one of you internet sleuths to come through for me on this).

- There was a big interview with Bruno Sammartino in a Charleston newspaper this week. Sammartino talked about Mark Madden's recent comment about Bruno turning over in his grave after David Arquette won the title. Sammartino and Madden don't like each other and the comment led to Sammartino threatening a lawsuit against WCW and Madden apologizing. Bruno admitted he was pissed by the comment because Madden said it purposefully and said he doesn't want to be associated with the garbage that either WWF or WCW is doing these days. He said he wants to be done with wrestling completely and only recently made an appearance at an indie show because he had already committed to it, even though he didn't want to do it. He also talked about his son David's use of steroids, which Bruno had been very publicly against for years and said he didn't know for sure that David was using them until he had a health scare and nearly died in Japan in 1989. The drug issues led to Bruno and David being estranged and they haven't spoken in years.

- Dave talks about the most recent RF Video "shoot interview" with Bill Watts and says it's the most interesting interview of that kind that he's ever seen. This was still in the early days when RF Video had only done a handful of these. They would go on to release probably hundreds of shoot videos in the future but they were still a new novelty at this point.

- Dave himself will be interviewed on Superstar Billy Graham's new website superstarbillygraham.com (and guess what? I dug through Web Archive and actually found the damn thing! Enjoy this Dave Meltzer interview from 2000. And be sure to click "Continue" at the bottom of the page for more):


- Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst recently appeared at an Incredibly Strange Wrestling event in California. Yes, that promotion is somehow still around and no, I can't find footage of this.

- There was an article in a sports medicine journal about the injuries suffered by pro wrestlers, and they spoke to Dr. James Andrews, the most famous sports doctor around. Andrews talked about how he's been treating wrestlers dating back to the territory days in the 70s and said he's seeing more injuries now because the style is more demanding. He said he also sees a lot of retired wrestlers with degenerative knee issues that are becoming disabled. Herniated discs and should subluxations are frequent, and rotator cuff injuries are becoming more common along with muscle and tendon tears and ACL injuries. He said rib fractures are so frequent that most wrestlers don't even bother seeking treatment for them. He also talked about how much wrestlers work hurt or push themselves too hard while still recovering or go back to wrestling too soon. There was also a lot in the article about how doctors are seeing more children with those kinds of injuries due to mimicking what they see on TV.

- Paul Heyman gave a big pep talk to the ECW locker room again this week. Dave says that, "He did his entire speech without talking about money, apparently to see if anyone would speak out about it. Nobody did. He then paid everyone, so checks are caught up." Anyway, Heyman basically said that they're pretty much just in a wait-and-see situation until the USA Network vs. WWF trial finishes up because that will determine the future of what happens with Raw/TNN and, in turn, what happens with ECW. Regardless of how it turns out, Heyman wants out of the TNN deal and had lawyers send a notice to TNN accusing them of breaching their agreement. So even if the judge rules against WWF in the trial and they don't end up going to TNN, Heyman is still pushing to get out of it so they can get a TV deal somewhere else.

- Various ECW notes: they've had talks with both Bobby Eaton and Psicosis and hope to have both signed and debut at the next PPV but neither has signed as of yet (Psicosis does and spends about 2 months in ECW. Eaton never does). Super Crazy is expected to be back in a few weeks. Sandman will be back from his suspension this week.

- After Justin Credible became the ECW champion and Lance Storm went to WCW, the ECW tag titles were vacated and have pretty much been forgotten. But there's talk of doing a tournament or something for them in August at the New York TV tapings to crown new champions (it wasn't a tournament but yeah).

- Speaking of TNN and ECW, the back and forth war continued on this week's episode of ECW on TNN. Right at the end of the show, during the finish of the Credible vs. Jerry Lynn title match and show-ending angle, TNN filled almost the entire screen with a huge promo for the Arena Football League game that was starting next, so the finish of the match and all the post-match stuff couldn't be seen. Dave says ECW has occasionally seemed whiny in all their complaints about TNN, but in this case, they're right because what TNN did was totally unnecessary and it was clearly an intentional "fuck you" to ECW and to everyone watching the show. In this case, Dave says ECW has a pretty valid complaint against TNN.

- Notes from Nitro: the show opened with Horace Hogan challenging Goldberg because he was standing up for Hulk Hogan, who was injured. Dave points out that Horace and Hulk have turned on each other a million times in the last few years, including just a few weeks ago, but hey, who gives a shit about continuity anymore? Lance Storm debuted in a big angle with the announcers doing the whole "What's he doing here? He doesn't even work for us!" schtick. Dave notes that WCW announced Lance Storm's signing on their website and even already had his profile page up on the site. Dave thinks this is pretty stupid, especially considering all WCW does these days is book the show for internet fans and now they're pretending to those same fans that Lance Storm is some sort of outsider. Booker T dropped the GI Bro gimmick which is good because Dave says it was a career-killer, just like Terry Taylor and the Red Rooster, so it's good he got out of it before it could last long enough to really damage him (he'll be WCW champion in less than a month). Goldberg, the heel, got the biggest babyface pop of the show, by far. Ernest Miller was in the crowd and at one point it looked like he attacked a fan. Dave thought it may be a plant, but the cameras cut away real quick and it wasn't acknowledged so it may have been real. A week ago, David Flair was Vince Russo's psychopath sidekick hitting people with a crowbar. This week, with Russo not around, his whole gimmick changed to smooth talking ladies man and they had him making out with Miss Hancock. And on and on and on. Picking apart Nitro is just shooting fish in a barrel at this point, it's too easy.

- Various WCW notes: Johnny Ace was backstage at Nitro helping out with some things (he quietly retired when the AJPW/NOAH split happened and gets hired as an agent in WCW around this time). Chris Candido has a broken wrist. Bash at the Beach has only sold 2,000 tickets so far. They're scaling down capacity of the building to 5,000 so it may have a chance of actually selling out. Great Muta was supposed to be on Nitro but had visa issues and should be there next week. Sting is out for the next month for....reasons, I guess. They want him to come back with a new look but he's against it. Goldberg has a concussion. Ric Flair is having rotator cuff surgery this week and should be out 2-4 months. Jimmy Hart has been off TV because back in March, during the Mancow match, he tore some knee ligaments. Kidman and Torrie Wilson missed Nitro because they're moving in together and were busy handling all the moving stuff.

- The story with Kimberly quitting WCW is apparently because something happened between her and Scott Steiner. The previous night, when Steiner found out she wouldn't take a bump in an angle with him, he reportedly called her a nasty name and she overheard it and demanded an apology. He refused, one thing led to another, and she walked out. Dave says there's rumors that it might be a work but he doesn't seem to think so. For what it's worth, others in the locker room have been comparing Kimberly to Sable, saying she's gotten too full of herself and thinks she's the big star of the show but no matter what her attitude may or may not be, for Steiner to be calling her names is uncalled for (Kimberly has spoken about this since. TL;DR - Steiner called her a "cunt" and got in her face about some other stuff and that was the final straw for her, but she was unhappy before that too).

- Notes from Thunder: Candido and Bigelow vs. Kronik had to be re-done after the taping because they botched the finish when Candido couldn't get the turnbuckle pad off. Candido, Bigelow, and Shane Douglas reformed their old Triple Threat group from ECW because Douglas assured WCW he owned the "Triple Threat" name, not ECW. They had a thing where Nash was supposed to call Scott Hall and his voice was going to air during the show but when it was time to do the skit and they called him, Hall didn't answer the phone so they had to pretend, which is just some peak WCW shit. Anyway, Hall is expected to return in a few weeks (nah). There was a Daffney/Miss Hancock angle but the cameras cut away to crowd shots a couple of times because Daffney's breasts came out of her top.

- One of Scott Steiner's "freaks" Shakira was released. She had heat because she refused to go to the Power Plant to learn how to take bumps, saying that she had signed with the company to be a valet, not a wrestler. Apparently, she was working on the advice from Steiner and Nash, who had told her she should fight to get a raise if they wanted her to take bumps, so she did and, well, it didn't work out and Terry Taylor called her and fired her instead. Steiner was said to be especially upset with her being canned.

- La Parka, Psicosis, Silver King, Dandy, Lodi, Barbarian and Los Villanos were all released by WCW this week. As mentioned before, ECW is interested in Psicosis. With the racial discrimination lawsuit still ongoing, this might not be the smartest time to, you know, fire almost every Mexican wrestler they have. Dave says some of them are expected to join the lawsuit. But word is WCW is pretty confident about their chances in the suit and aren't worried about it, which is why they made the decision to release all those guys anyway.

- They did a thing where Vampiro hit his finisher on Asya. Word is Vampiro was strongly against doing the angle because he's got a history of women being physically abused in his family and didn't want to do anything on TV that glorifies attacking a woman. But Bischoff convinced him to do it to be a team player and he eventually went along with it, though he wasn't happy. 'Member when Bischoff was against all this man-on-woman violence kind of stuff and criticized WWF for it? I 'member.

- Torrie Wilson is expected to return as Hulk Hogan's valet ("what a shock" Dave says). He also notes that Torrie seems to be the hot new fitness cover girl because she's currently featured in or on the cover of several different fitness magazines that are all on newsstands right now, although it's not like you would know because WCW hasn't mentioned it once. Yet again, one of those little things that WCW always drops the ball on. If this was WWF, they would have hyped the magazines on their TV show, they would have sold record-breaking numbers, and that would lead to other media outlets wanting to put more WWF stars on their magazine covers. See how that works? Because WCW sure doesn't.

- Several WCW front office employees have made inquiries about transferring to new departments within the Time Warner family because there's concern that WCW may get sold or shut down and they don't want to be out of a job if it happens. We're at the point now where people are actively trying to get off the ship before it sinks.

- Dave gives more thoughts about the Russo/Flair angle with Flair's head getting shaved last week. Dave says they shouldn't have had Russo do the shaving. Instead, it should have been Russo ordering one of the wrestlers to do it. Russo vs. Flair isn't going to do any kind of business and Russo isn't a wrestler. But, hypothetically, what if they'd had Goldberg do it? Then you get Goldberg more over as a heel and you set up a feud that can actually pay off in a real match that might actually draw money (plus Goldberg could probably learn a thing or two from working a program with Flair). Ric Flair getting his famous hair shaved was probably the last great angle they could do with him at this point in his career and they wasted it on Russo. Plus, with Russo possibly gone from WCW, it looks like Flair may have gotten his head shaved for an angle that can't even pay off now. If it had been a wrestler, it could still be going and wouldn't have been ignored on Nitro this week (yup, it went nowhere).

- There's a lot of complaints and confusion about the Turner standards & practices rules. On Thunder, Nash cut a promo quoting several famous lines from the movie Deliverance ("purty lips" and "squeal like a pig" for instance) but for whatever reason, Turner standards and practices edited it out, which infuriated Russo, who argued that the movie Deliverance airs on Turner networks all the time and those lines are never edited. I mean...he's not wrong. S&P argued that since the scenes in the movie regard sodomizing someone, they didn't want to portray that on a wrestling show. Everyone in WCW had also been told not to use the word "ass" on TV and yet, somehow on Thunder it was used 11 times, which was basically just Russo's way of rebelling apparently.

- Ultimo Dragon was in Atlanta working on an out-of-court settlement with WCW due to his career-ending injury from the botched surgery he had. Those who know him have said that his physical condition hasn't improved and he still has no feeling in his hand, so his career is still over (he eventually gets another surgery in 2002 that fixes some of the problems and allows him to return to the ring but yeah, until then, he was done).

- WCW merch, like everything else in WCW these days, is doing poorly. There was hope that Goldberg's heel turn would lead to an increase in New Blood merch but that didn't happen at all. Goldberg himself is still the top merch seller by far, with nobody else even a close 2nd, and turning him heel naturally hurt his merch numbers also.

- Rey Mysterio is only about 70% healed up right now. He returned about 5 weeks early from his most recent surgery and can't do any crazy moves or anything yet, but he was asked to come back to do as much as he could. And if you're out injured for too long, WCW has started cutting people's pay in half, so Mysterio chose to come back, but he really shouldn't be in the ring at all yet.

- Konnan got hurt and the MRI was worse than expected. Turns out his tricep was almost completely torn from the bone and only hanging by a thread. He'll have surgery soon and will be out 3-6 months which means the Kidman/Konnan match scheduled for the next PPV is off.

- Bret Hart underwent a bunch of tests in Montreal with brain specialists to see if they can figure out exactly what's wrong with him and whether he'll be able to wrestle again.

- WCW took out a full page ad in USA Today to promote Goldberg's return to Nitro, which Dave says was "a nice waste of $50,000."

- Notes from Raw: Eddie Guerrero gave Chyna a puppy during the show, which leads Dave to say, "Whenever you see a cute puppy on wrestling, you know he's either going to be stolen or eaten." He's not wrong (http://i.imgur.com/yuAAA.jpg). Pat Patterson pinned Brisco to win the hardcore title, giving him "his first title belt since his legendary tag team with Pierre Lefebvre during the Carter administration."

- Expect Birmingham and Memphis to be 2 more of the cities named this week to get XFL teams.

- Sky Sports in the UK has decided that WWF programming is the network's #2 priority behind Premier Division soccer. During a staff meeting, it was specifically ordered that WWF be focused on ahead of boxing, rugby, golf, and everything else because it's the highest rated weekly show on Sky Sports. They will also no longer edit the shows for content unless it's just WAY too far over the top. Swearing, sexual content, and man-on-woman violence was all explicitly okayed. The only thing they may come down on is anything of a "Satanic nature" because the ITC, which regulates all television there, apparently really doesn't like that sort of stuff.

- There hasn't been any official memo sent out regarding banned moves or anything. Mostly it's just been wrestlers being pulled aside and told not to do certain things. McMahon specifically told Eddie Guerrero not to do the frog splash anymore, which is why he's using the hurricanrana as his finisher. Eddie actually wants to keep doing the frog splash but they're worried he might injure his elbow again like he did when he debuted (obviously he eventually gets it back).

- Random WWF notes: Bart Gunn was backstage at Raw, apparently trying to get back into the company since it looks like AJPW is going down the drain. Steve Regal is expected to start with WWF again in about 6 weeks and probably be in a European title feud. Expect Kurt Angle to start being a slightly more serious character and to tone down the comedy because they want him to be taken seriously as a top star. Dean Malenko, Tazz, Godfather, and Eddie Guerrero are all dealing with various injuries.

- There was a big Licensing Fair event in New York last week with people from different companies and networks doing all their publicity stuff. Various wrestlers from both WWF and WCW attended and appeared at separate booths. Anyway, this all led to Goldberg and Triple H getting into a bit of a confrontation. Last year, Triple H made a fairly dumb comment, basically calling Goldberg a one-hit wonder who wouldn't last and said that McMahon probably wouldn't even want to sign him if he was available, which is obviously laughable because McMahon would snatch Goldberg up in a heartbeat if he could. Anyway, Goldberg hasn't liked Triple H since. At one point during the event, they got close enough to each other that Goldberg began yelling at him and was clearly pissed, but Triple H just laughed and ignored him (here's what Triple H said about the incident at the time).


- WWF is experimenting running Raw and Smackdown back-to-back in the same building on 2 consecutive nights in Phoenix and it seems to have been a success. The shows aren't until September, but Raw sold out in 90 minutes and Smackdown sold out later that day. Dave expects them to try this more in the future because being able to run 2 nights in the same city has major advantages. Saves money on travel and set up costs, less travel for the wrestlers and crew, etc.

- Contrary to rumors, there were never any plans to have Stu Hart accompany Davey Boy Smith to the ring at the recent WWF show in Calgary. The actual plan was for Smith's wife Diana to accompany him, but she and her husband are having some marriage issues at the moment so that didn't happen. Bruce Hart (that fuckin' guy...) had claimed Stu was coming to the show and apparently the family was concerned that he might talk Stu into doing it. Stu Hart is named in the Owen Hart lawsuit against WWF so needless to say, for him to show up to a WWF event and appear in the ring wouldn't have looked good for the Hart case.

- Jim Neidhart is still on the WWF payroll. He was recently working as a trainer in Memphis Championship Wrestling, which is basically a WWF developmental company, but apparently Neidhart wasn't doing a good job of it, so they pulled him out of Memphis. But they're not firing him, because they basically want as many Hart-adjacent people under contract as they can. Same reason Davey Boy hasn't been let go despite being nearly immobile and dealing with repeated drug issues.

- Big Show has been out injured but is expected to return soon. He'll be sent down to OVW for a few weeks to get his conditioning improved and train with the wrestlers there.

- Mick Foley recently shaved his head. He's expected to eventually return to WWF as commissioner. He's also writing a kid's Christmas book that will have artwork by Jerry Lawler.

- WWF signed several new wrestlers to developmental deals this week. Basil Bozinis, Aaron Aguilera, Justin McCully, and some guy named John Cena. The Aaron Aguilera dude later becomes Jesús on Smackdown for a few months in 2005. The other 3, never heard from again.

- At a WWF house show in Minneapolis, Jesse Ventura was at ringside for the main event and played heel. By the end of it, the entire arena was booing him. They also brought out Brock Lesnar and introduced him to the hometown crowd.

- Letters this week seem to be about unions. One guy suggests wrestlers should be part of the Screen Actor's Guild. Someone else who's apparently anti-union argues that it's a bad idea. And one last letter about someone who works with horses and thinks WCW was out of their fucking minds for allowing Terry Funk and Chris Candido to wrestle into a horse stall on live TV a few weeks back, even if the horse was allegedly sedated. But the fact that it still tried to kick Funk means he clearly wasn't *that* sedated and was clearly agitated. In the wake of Owen Hart's death, he's astounded that WCW could be so stupid because if that horse's kick had hit Terry Funk in the head instead of the arm, he very well might be dead right now.


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