Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 2000
I can’t wait for it to be realized that it was officially over. Had to be before Greed.
Jesus stabbed John Cena

Never forget attempted murder

"What's Lance Storm doing in the Nitro zone?!"
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(11-26-2018, 08:49 AM)DangPlex Wrote: I can’t wait for it to be realized that it was officially over. Had to be before Greed.

By Greed, yeah everyone knew. But only about a week or so before that. Up until then, it was still believed that Bischoff/Fusient was going to buy it. The actual death of the company and sale to WWF came about relatively quickly and surprisingly.

Not sure it would’ve done any better either. Bischoff proved he was a one trick pony.
Yeah it would have been an uphill battle. Even if Bischoff had gotten control, they still had such a deep hole to dig themselves out of. No matter whether they stayed on Turner networks or especially if they moved to another TV network, if Bischoff couldn't turn ratings around quick, they probably still wouldn't have lasted through 2001. Without Turner funding it and without a super hot star/angle to turn things around, they would have ended up losing TV or Fusient would have decided they didn't want to keep losing millions of dollars and would have pulled the plug.

There's always a chance Bischoff could have turned it around, but I doubt it. He's talked about a lot of his intended plans. RVD was going to come in. Joey Styles was going to be the new announcer. Basically, a few of the old ECW castoffs were going to end up there, along with all the same people who were still signed to WCW (Nash and DDP and Goldberg and whatnot). Everything was going to be built around Goldberg, but by then, even his drawing-power was basically dead. And of course, Hogan was still tight with Bischoff and surely would have ended up back in a top role. It likely would have just ended up as the same ol' WCW with a fresh coat of paint and a few familiar ECW faces never making it past the midcard.

No matter what, they were pretty well fucked anyway. The hole was just too deep to get out of.

I have been reading sporadically so I have missed a lot but according to WOR from the other day, Dave said WWE was trying to purchase WCW for a while but because of their deal with Spike, they were exclusive to them. That meant they couldn’t run on TBS, TNT, or anywhere else. Even if they called it WCW, they couldn’t buy it and do anything with it. He also said their was some weird stuff going on around this time and kind of speculated their might have been secret meetings to get Turner execs to terminate their tv deal.
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Yeah, Dave mentions that shit offhand like it is no big deal. That the WWE guys knew the fuscient shit was never going to happen and that Nitro was basically cancelled in 2000. Once new owners took over, whether it was the WWF or Fuscient, they were only getting Thunder.
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The TBS only shit was something I had never heard and found very interesting. Wrestling always seemed a little weird on TNT and felt more at home on TBS anyway...but ultimately it didn't matter.
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Yeah we get into all of that in detail later on. But yes, WWF came *very* close to buying WCW in fall/winter of 2000. But Turner wanted to keep the TV rights, they still wanted to air it on their channels. And TNN/Viacom had just paid millions of dollars for exclusive WWF rights. They weren't gonna let Vince produce another wrestling show for a competing network, so it all fell apart.

And yeah, there's also some fishy stuff about the way this Bischoff deal falls apart. It kinda looks like Turner might have been leading Bischoff on. Up until the very end, he thought they were still buying the company but there's hints that WWF and Turner may have been hammering out all the sale details behind the scenes for months before that. All this time Bischoff was working on finalizing the sale and it's entirely possible that Vince was quiety sabotaging it the whole time. But I don't think there's ever been any confirmation of it.

(11-26-2018, 03:24 PM)Peezy Wrote: There's also some fishy stuff about the way this Bischoff deal falls apart. It kinda looks like Turner might have been leading Bischoff on. Up until the very end, he thought they were still buying the company but there's hints that WWF and Turner may have been hammering out all the sale details behind the scenes for months before that. All this time Bischoff was working on finalizing the sale and it's entirely possible that Vince was quiety sabotaging it the whole time. But I don't think there's ever been any confirmation of it.

there will never be confirmation about any of this crazy shit until someone kidnaps Vince and convinces him to tell the honest truth of the history of the WWF. now THAT would be appointment TV. of course, we'll never see that happen.
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- The judge in the WWF vs. USA Network lawsuit ruled in favor of the WWF this week meaning the path is clear for WWF to leave USA and move their shows to Viacom stations. The WWF/Viacom deal not only moves Raw and other shows to TNN and MTV, but it also included advertising on Viacom-owned radio stations, billboards, theme parks, book publishing deals, CBS prime-time network specials, a scripted drama series, cable deals for the XFL, and a bunch of other stuff. Anyway, in September, Raw, Live Wire, and Superstars will be moving to TNN while Sunday Night Heat will go to MTV. They expect ratings for Raw to decline initially, since USA is the #1 cable network and TNN is #15. But it's believed that WWF fans will quickly follow them to the new channel so it probably won't be a big decline and the addition of Raw is going to immediately boost TNN to becoming one of the top cable networks. Where this leaves ECW is still unknown and, according to Paul Heyman, "A week from now, I'll either be a champ or a chump." As of press time, USA has not officially made an offer to ECW but they did reach out to Heyman immediately after losing the trial, so there is interest there. ECW and WCW both have also had discussions with FOX.

- WWF also released their quarterly stock reports this week. TL;DR - just take all the numbers from last quarter and increase them a whole bunch, because WWF is booming right now. There's a bunch of figures and Dave breaks it all down, but nah. I ain't trying to fall asleep at my desk summarizing boring financial details today, just take my word for it, WWF is doing pretty decent. Despite all these big numbers, it wasn't quite the most financially successful quarterly report ever because WWF spent a lot of money on XFL startup costs, legal fees from the USA Network lawsuit, and the out-of-court settlement with Ultimate Warrior from that old lawsuit.

- King of the Ring is in the books and on paper it should have been a strong tournament, but it ended up feeling more like a WCW show. The best 3 wrestlers (Benoit, Guerrero, and Jericho) were all eliminated in the first round, while Rikishi was depended on to work 3 matches and made it all the way to the finals. Dave says that Rikishi is over because of his dancing, not because he's someone that fans want to see wrestle 3 lengthy matches in one night. Edge & Christian regained the tag titles. The Patterson vs. Brisco evening gown match was arguably the worst match of the year, full of gay jokes on commentary and the crowd booing the whole thing out of the building. Dave ponders whether or not Russo has secretly returned to WWF. He gives the match -3 stars. Well then, we can't not watch that. Kurt Angle won the King of the Ring tournament in a bad match with Rikishi. And Rock's title win felt secondary since he won it without even pinning Triple H.

- OVW held a big 30th anniversary show at the Louisville Gardens featuring several WWF stars as well as developmental guys signed to OVW, plus some other nostalgia acts. Dave talks about how bringing in big WWF stars for independent shows usually ends up being a bad thing for the indie companies, because it attracts a bunch of fans, but those fans only come to see WWF stars. So the local indie has trouble drawing on their own and fans only attend the shows that feature the big WWF stars because the ones that don't are seen as unimportant. It's the same mistake Smoky Mountain Wrestling made earlier in the 90s when they got to a point where they couldn't draw fans unless a WWF star was on the show. Dave says this is why Paul Heyman has been smart to reject WWF's offers to send stars to work ECW shows in the past, because then you become dependent on them. That was basically the case with this show, as it drew around 3,000 people, most of whom came to see Mick Foley and Kane rather than homegrown OVW stars. Dave recaps the show. The Fabulous Ones were there, Kurt Angle, Mark Henry, Al Snow, D-Lo Brown, and more.

- Dave talks about a recent study that looked at racism and stereotyping in professional wrestling, looking at various ethnicities and gimmicks, and things of that nature. The short version of it is that Vince McMahon has a record of promoting heavily stereotypical and horribly racist characters. WCW's overall attitude towards race was also termed "horrible" while ECW's was "good" but still had room for improvement. It looks at the racial makeup of the U.S. (74% white, 13% black, 10% Hispanic, 4% Asian) and how that's represented in the 3 companies. In WCW, almost 95% of people in PPV main event matches during the last 5 years were white. The remaining 5% can pretty much be attributed multi-man main event matches like War Games or battle royals. If it was just singles matches, WCW's numbers would pretty much be 100% white. For WWF, it was 91.5% of PPV main events, while for ECW it was 96.6% (the other 3.4% is basically all D-Von Dudley). The story is the same when looking at who has held the world title in those companies. ECW got a big bump in the Asian category due to Masato Tanaka being champion for a bit. As far as stereotypes go, it talked about groups like Kaientai or the black guy playing a pimp in WWF, or the FBI group in ECW being an Italian stereotype and a bunch of other stuff like that. Long story short, despite The Rock's success, racism still exists in wrestling and aside from the occasional exception, non-white performers still aren't pushed or promoted fairly by any of the big 3.

- Hiroshi Hase won an election to the Japanese House of Representatives, making him the first pro wrestler to win a seat there. Hase was previously a member of the Diet (basically their Senate), as was Antonio Inoki a few years back. The workload in the House is a lot heavier and it's believed Hase won't have nearly as much time to wrestle, if at all, with his new position. Hase was one of the best in the world during his prime in the early 90s and has wrestled sporadically in AJPW while working in the Senate. During his victory speech, he acknowledged the AJPW drama, saying he's been so busy that he's not really familiar with the situation, and thanked several wrestlers who campaigned for him, such as Hashimoto, Masa Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and others.

- The bill to regulate "extreme" wrestling in New Jersey passed the state Senate and will be signed by the governor this week, and it effectively prevents Jersey All Pro Wrestling and Combat Zone Wrestling from running their typical hardcore shows in the state. JAPW and CZW now have to get approval from local officials 3 weeks before any show, ban people under 18 from attending, pay a tax on the profit they make, carry medical insurance for every wrestler, and have 2 doctors and an ambulance on hand at every show. Needless to say, this is all cost-prohibitive for 2 fledgling indie companies and of course, none of these rules apply to WWF, WCW, or ECW which is obviously unfair bullshit. But this was never about fair regulations anyway. Just some local politicians decided they wanted to ban JAPW and CZW from running in their backyard and since they didn't have any legal recourse of doing so, they basically created a law that effectively does it. So anyway...not good news for those companies.

- Speaking of CZW, they had announced a show that would be taped for PPV with Atsushi Onita vs. Terry Funk in an exploding barbed wire match, but the show has been cancelled. They're claiming the athletic commission forced them to shut the show down, but Dave's not buying it. It was scheduled for Philadelphia, not New Jersey and as of a few days before the show, there were still 2nd row tickets available. The cost of the gimmicked ring, flying in Onita and Funk, and things of that nature means it was an expensive show and it clearly wasn't selling. They're planning to move it to a new location and try to save it, but Onita and Funk have since both backed out of working with CZW so this won't be happening.

- Misawa has agreed to let his wrestlers work the upcoming AJPW shows that they had already been advertised on, since tickets had already been sold. But the stipulation is that Misawa will make the matches for his people and none of his guys will face Masa Fuchi or Toshiaki Kawada (the 2 wrestlers who stayed with AJPW rather than leave with him). Misawa's guys will all face each other or face foreign stars. AJPW must also provide Misawa's wrestlers with a different hotel than Fuchi or Kawada and they won't travel on the AJPW buses either. So needless to say, things are tense right now. And speaking of Onita, he reportedly called Mrs. Baba and offered to work some AJPW shows and Dave talks about how Onita actually started his career in AJPW in the 70s as a normal wrestler before retiring for awhile and then returning as the bloodbath psycho wrestler he's known as today.

- Kenta Kobashi had knee surgery and is hoping to be back in time for NOAH's debut show in August. Dave thinks that may be pushing it (indeed, turned out it was way too soon and he ended up re-injuring himself even worse. We'll get to it, but yeah, Kobashi's knees are shot by this point).

- It's unknown what AJPW will do with their championships. Every single champion they have has left the promotion, including triple crown champion Kobashi. Speaking of this whole situation, there's been another defection. Long-time referee and front office exec Joe Higuchi, who has been with AJPW since the company started in 1972, announced he was siding with Misawa and is also heading to NOAH. This brings the total number up to 25 wrestlers and 18 office employees who have jumped ship to Misawa's new company. NOAH will be operating out of the new Diffa Ariake arena in Tokyo. Not only will they run shows there, but they are opening the company offices and a dojo there, so it's basically NOAH headquarters. Misawa said they will continue using Budokan Hall for major shows and are hoping to continue many of the traditions of AJPW, since this new company basically *is* AJPW in everything but name only. The new promotion will have a green ring with silver ring posts, since green and silver are Misawa's trademark colors.

- Antonio Inoki is pushing for NJPW to send Shinya Hashimoto to work some AJPW shows to help save that company. The idea of course is to eventually do an AJPW vs. NJPW angle, but right now, since AJPW has literally almost no one, there's no point in doing it now until they get new stars. Still no word on if NJPW is going to send Hashimoto or not.

- Next week's issue of Sports Illustrated is scheduled to have a small story about Dave and the Observer (found it).


- Bill Watts did an interview basically trashing today's wrestling, especially the way they use women, the steroids, and the language. Dave points out the Watts' old Mid South promotion had a lot of similarities to modern day Raw in some ways, certainly when it comes to violence. He also says Watts used women like Missy Hyatt, Sunshine, and Dark Journey on his shows and, for their time, they were also dressed provocatively, although they look tame by today's standards. But the principal is still the same. Also, even though Watts was openly critical of steroid use back in the 80s, he never did anything to quash it in his own company and often pushed roided up stars to the top just like every other promoter. So really, this is just another "old man yells at cloud" situation.

- Shawn Michaels students Spanky and American Dragon have started working for Memphis Championship Wrestling. That would, of course, be Brian Kendrick and Daniel Bryan.

- New Jack suffered an ankle injury doing a balcony dive on a recent ECW show. Apparently a fan bumped up against him or pushed him, which messed up his trajectory and he fucked up his ankle somehow and ended up leaving on a stretcher. He also was put in a neck brace, although the ankle injury is thought to be more serious. No word how long he'll be out.

- Randy Savage's ex-girlfriend (they broke up) Gorgeous George appeared at the latest ECW tapings, only to get laid out by Francine with a kendo stick and then came back later in the show to attack Francine again. Word is she's going to be sticking around for awhile (yeah, she's there a few months).

- Random ECW notes: WCW women's star Mona (Nora Greenwald) was backstage at the ECW taping but wasn't used because she's still under WCW contract (she'll be in WWF soon). The ECW Arena has a "for lease" sign out front. And Paul Heyman is still negotiating to bring in Psicosis to debut at this month's PPV.

- Vince Russo is apparently sitting things out and waiting for WCW to come crawling back to him. Russo feels like last week's Nitro (which he didn't write) had too much wrestling and feels ratings will drop if they stick with that formula and they'll come begging for him to come back. A lot of the top (older) WCW stars are said to be against Russo returning, mostly because he wants them out. Russo is apparently trying to get rid of Hogan and DDP but needless to say, they have no interest in being forced out of their spots. There's also complaints about Russo making himself too much of the focal point of the shows, which Dave agrees with. For now, Terry Taylor is the main person booking WCW.

- Speaking of Hogan, the plan right now is for Bash at the Beach to be headlined by Jarrett vs. Hogan for the WCW title, with Hogan winning the belt. (Heh, yeah something like that...)

- After 27 years, WCW Saturday Night is no more. The show has been moved to 11am and is now pretty much just a morning recap show. This has been planned for months due to declining ratings.

- Ric Flair's father passed away this week from complications from bowel surgery (holy shit, considering what eventually ends up happening to Flair 17 years later, that's awfully ironic).

- Dave reviews Thunder and shits all over it. Goldberg came out cutting a promo that 99% of the crowd didn't understand, talking about hating Scott Hall for being unprofessional and a bunch of other silly shit dating back to a real life incident back in December where Hall apparently cut some promo that Goldberg felt like buried him. Dave says if you don't closely follow all the insider gossip, then you probably had no clue what he was talking about. He also blamed Scott Hall for his arm injury and Dave says that, last he checked, Scott Hall wasn't a limousine window. He also rambled about Nash being a backstage politician and a bunch of other nonsense. Dave says this promo epitomizes WCW's problems. Booker T came out using his old music and the announcers went nuts talking about how they haven't heard that music in forever. Dave points out that Stevie Ray has been using it all along so it's really only been a week since they heard it. There's SO much more but if I wrote about every negative thing Dave said about this show, I might as well just copy and paste the whole review.

- Hulk Hogan has been appearing on the Bubba The Love Sponge radio show talking about trying to get a deal with FOX and claimed that FOX had offered him a $150 million talent budget and that after the July PPV, he was leaving WCW (true, as it turns out, though not quite how he intended) and going to start up a new promotion on FOX (obviously didn't happen). Hogan also said the Vampiro/Dale Torborg angle is terrible, which Dave agrees with.

- Lenny Lane appeared on the Observer radio show and talked about his status. His WCW contract expires next month. Lane said Paul Heyman told him he would give him an offer, but then never got back to him. And he said WWF has refused to talk to him until his WCW deal expires.

- Mick Foley has finished writing a screenplay for a movie based on his book. The process was basically the same as with his book. WWF wanted to bring in professional scriptwriters to do it, but Foley insisted on writing it himself. Foley has also written a bonus chapter for the paperback release of his book, which talks about his retirement and choice to come back only 6 weeks later, and he defended it by saying he was serious about retiring but Vince asked him and wore him down until he couldn't say no.

- The New York Times wrote a story about Brock Lesnar signing with WWF. It noted that he will start first in OVW in August. Jim Ross was quoted in the article saying that they don't plan to rush things with him but hope to have him on the main roster within a year. They credited Gerald Brisco with getting him to sign and said that he had turned down offers from WCW and NJPW and talked about his amateur wrestling credentials. The story said he's 270 pounds with 9% body fat and looks sort of like Dolph Lundgren.

- Raven has not yet signed a WWF contract but the two sides have reached a verbal agreement and for now it's basically just a matter of him getting out of his ECW deal (which Heyman has been wanting to get out of anyway). His ECW deal expires in late-August, assuming he doesn't get his release sooner. Unlike a lot of stars from other companies who come in and are pushed immediately, Raven has a lot of known baggage and has some enemies, so it's expected that he's going to have to come in and prove himself to some people in WWF. He had a meeting with Jim Ross this week at Titan Towers and will be doing the same Raven gimmick.

- USA Today ran a fun little story comparing wrestling to baseball, with The Rock and Mike Piazza trading joking insults back and forth and discussing which of the two is the real national pastime. This led to a columnist in the NY Daily News throwing a fit because wrestling is so horrible and yada yada. She was especially upset that Piazza said he would take his 8-year-old nephew to a WWF show, writing, "readers are left to presume that Piazza would then explain that not all women are meant to be dragged by their hair while wearing G-strings, and steroids can lead to death, and hitting each other with steel-enforced chairs is not playground fun."

- The Winnipeg Sun ran a poll where readers could vote on Manitoba's sexiest man, and Chris Jericho won first place. Apparently I don't know Chris Jericho like I thought I did, because this seems like something he would have mentioned in promos for years after.

- WWF has hired identical twin models named Diane and Elaine Klimaszewski to developmental deals. They are dancers (not strippers, Dave clarifies) and have been training in wrestling for a few months (never became anything).

- WWF held a house show at Madison Square Garden and Donald Trump was at ringside. He was interviewed by Jerry Lawler and was heavily booed by the crowd when he began talking. But then he said his favorite wrestler was The Rock, which got a big pop, but then they started booing Trump again.

- Someone writes in and takes issue with the recent Lenny Lane interview on the Observer show. Lane defended his gay character in WCW, implying that it was representative of gay people and that they should take pride in the character. The person writing the letter points out that the gimmick was a total gay stereotype meant to incite homophobia from fans and get beat up by babyfaces and says that analogy is the same as saying black people should take pride in Virgil's WWF gimmick.

It's 5am but I can't sleep so here's today's post early.


- Now that WWF is officially going to TNN, the future of ECW is now in question, both as a television show and the existence of the promotion itself. As expected, TNN officially announced this week that ECW's show is being cancelled, with the final episode scheduled to air in September. ECW and USA Network have had talks in the past week but no deal has been reached and its unknown if USA intends to even keep airing wrestling at all. As far as FOX goes, word is FOX is looking to have more of a show aimed at young people (kids and teenagers) and ECW by no means fits that mold. Word is FOX is mostly interested in doing something with WCW or with Hulk Hogan independently. In their press release announcing the cancellation of ECW, TNN said, "ECW has failed to meet some of the criteria of the agreement, including ratings performance targets. We appreciate the efforts ECW and Paul Heyman have made to bring wrestling fans to TNN." When the deal first started, TNN had publicly been expecting ECW to draw ratings in the 2.0 range and sold advertising presuming that number. ECW never really came close to the 2.0 mark but they were still the highest rated show every Friday night on TNN. There's been a lot of back-and-forth bitterness between ECW and TNN during their relationship and especially now that ECW has been cancelled. Heyman has long complained about TNN failing to give ECW any significant promotion but in hindsight, it seems like they didn't bother promoting ECW because they knew all along that they were pursuing WWF. It's interesting because the deal ECW had with TNN stipulated that they could only cancel the show based on poor ratings if the number averaged 0.6 or below over the course of a month. ECW ratings never fell that low for even one week, much less for a month, so legally, they shouldn't really be able to claim they are cancelling it due to ratings.

- Now that WWF has signed NCAA heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, it leads Dave to go on a looooooooooong story about the history of other decorated amateur wrestlers going pro. Lesnar is the 3rd NCAA champion currently under contract to WWF (the other 2 being Kurt Angle and developmental wrestler Sylvester Terkey). Dave says Lesnar was probably the most highly-recruited athlete to go into pro wrestling since Ken Shamrock several years ago (like Lesnar, Shamrock also turned down offers from WCW and NJPW to go to WWF). There's been 16 NCAA champions to make the jump and most of them have been successful. 5 of them were HOF-level stars (Earl McCready, Leroy McGuirk, Verne Gagne, Danny Hodge and Jack Brisco) and several others were major stars or had long careers, and after only one year, Kurt Angle has established himself as a big time star also. Only 4 of the 16 can be considered flops who washed out of the business. And those are only the champions. There's a lot more who excelled at amateur wrestling despite never winning an NCAA title, such as Gorilla Monsoon, Steve Williams, Dan Severn, Bob Backlund, etc. From here, Dave basically writes a big paragraph or two for every single one of these guys, telling their history in the business. It's interesting stuff, but it's pretty much just Wikipedia for amateur-turned-pro wrestlers. He notes that Kurt Angle initially turned down a WWF offer back in 1996 but eventually decided to give it a shot and excelled at it beyond anyone's expectations. Dave thinks that, barring an injury, Angle is almost certain to become one of the biggest stars in the business in the next 5 years (yup). Lesnar has the look and the physical athletic skills, but whether he can put it together in the ring and get over as a personality is the big question.

- The E! network aired a one hour True Hollywood Story episode on Jesse Ventura that heavily focused on his wrestling career. Ventura came off great on the show and it featured interviews with Vince McMahon, Jimmy Snuka, Billy Graham, and others. Dave especially likes the fact that Adrian Adonis was finally given his due for his part in Ventura's success, because most biographies of him (including Ventura's own book) always downplay that part. The only part that Dave really takes issue with is that it spun the story of why Ventura fell out with McMahon, attributing it to Ventura trying to start a union. That happened in 1986 but Ventura stayed with the company until 1990 and left due to dispute over a video game deal Ventura had gotten for himself. McMahon once again confirmed that Hulk Hogan was the one who snitched Ventura out to him, which is also what McMahon testified to during the lawsuit with Ventura. For his part, Hogan still denies that he was the one who ratted out Ventura. The show ended with Ventura saying he wants to have a match against McMahon after he leaves office, which McMahon seemed open to.

- Genichiro Tenryu made a surprise return to AJPW and will be working the upcoming tour. It's especially interesting because it was thought Tenryu would never return to AJPW. He left the company back in 1990 to head up his own promotion, Super World of Sports, and when he left, he took several AJPW stars with him. Until his death, Giant Baba never forgave him for the betrayal. Many have said that if Baba were still alive, he never would have brought him back, no matter how desperate AJPW's situation is. But Motoko Baba apparently felt differently and, well, AJPW needs all the help they can get right now. So she made the deal and Tenryu has returned to AJPW, along with hell freezing over.

- Speaking of, AJPW and NJPW officials met this week to discuss a possible interpromotional deal but nothing was agreed to. NJPW expected AJPW to be more desperate than they were, but AJPW wants to have everything booked equally and evenly, but NJPW wasn't going for that. Considering AJPW only has one or two name stars left, NJPW felt they don't have the depth to be booked evenly with all of NJPW's stars. Kawada is the only real top star AJPW has, and if they go out of business, he'd almost certainly end up in NJPW anyway, so they aren't in any hurry to help prop up the company. It's also going to be interesting to see if this pans out because Giant Baba legitimately hated Antonio Inoki for decades, so it shows how desperate Mrs. Baba is right now to keep her company afloat.

- Pride is said to be interested in bringing in Steve Williams and Bart Gunn to do some MMA fights. Dave thinks this is a bad idea and that both men would get slaughtered (Williams ended up doing one fight in 2004 for K-1 and...yeah, he got destroyed. Bart Gunn had 2 fights, both in 2006. He won the first one on a fluke technicality and lost the second by decision).

- Just before the start of the latest AJPW tour, Johnny Ace informed the company that he won't be coming back and has taken a backstage job with WCW. Ace has been with AJPW since 1988, who only hired him because he was Road Warrior Animal's brother. But in the years since, Ace went on to become a bigger long-term star in Japan than his brother and played a big role in behind-the-scenes stuff for the company, helping to book foreign stars and things like that. Word is he's been ready to get out of AJPW for awhile because the physical style was taking a toll on his body. About a year ago, he had a tryout with WWF but they weren't interested. Most of the foreigners were said to be leaning towards staying in AJPW but with Johnny Ace, who was the closest to Mrs. Baba, leaving the company, it has a lot of them second-guessing. During an interview this week, Steve Williams claimed that Vader would be joining Misawa's new promotion.

- Jumbo Tsuruta's gravestone is a 6'4 tall circular headstone listing his career history and featuring a photo of him wearing the AWA title.

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- Other random Japan notes: everybody in NJPW is injured. Scott Norton's arm, Saito's broken collarbone, Kenzo Suzuki with a back injury and Katsuyori Shibata and Don Frye with neck injuries. Tenryu worked a match against female wrestler Shinobu Kandori and it was a stiff worked-shoot style match, with Tenryu beating the shit out of her. Even in a worked environment in a match she agreed to, Dave is really uncomfortable seeing a woman getting the hell beaten out of her like that. Atsushi Onita is claiming again that he's retiring this year.

- Naoya Ogawa officially vacated the NWA title this week so he can focus on training for an MMA fight against Rickson Gracie next year. He was originally supposed to drop it to Gary Steele, but he has an arm injury right now and instead of waiting for him to heal, they decided to just have him vacate it "due to injury" and do a tournament later to crown a new champion.

- Dave saw a Discovery Channel show about Ultimate Pro Wrestling School in California. The highlight of the show was a guy named John Cena (Dave spells it "Sena" here) who has the look of a young Sting and does a gimmick called The Prototype. Dave says he has tremendous delivery in his promos. "Until you see him wrestle in the ring, he looks like a can't miss. Watching him wrestle, you see that he needs a lot of work, but if he gets that down, he has a shot at being a genuine star." Cena has a bodybuilder physique and they showed him stocking up on groceries for the week, buying 40 pounds of meat, 35 pounds of chicken, seven dozen eggs and several gallons of milk. Overall, Dave thinks the documentary was good because it showed how hard the road is to making it as a top star. He said the show features a lot of people you'll probably never hear from again and one or two people that may be big stars in 5 years.

- Shawn Michaels must be almost as good a teacher as he is a wrestler. Dave has seen a few episodes of Michaels' TWA promotion that airs locally in San Antonio and says it's the best indie show around, due to the great in-ring wrestling and compares it to 80s-era Stampede. The top star is a guy named Spanky who is fun and has a lot of charisma but he's small (that'd be THE Brian Kendrick). Another guy there is American Dragon, who is a little larger than Spanky and has a lot of potential (and of course, that'd be Daniel Bryan). He does a lot of high flying moves, but hits them like a pro. Dave thinks he tries to do too much in every match but for as new as he is, he's a great worker. The other one who impressed Dave is a bigger guy named Lance Cade, who reminds him of a young Barry Windham, but not nearly as good yet.

- Random ECW notes: Psicosis is expected to debut at the PPV. Bobby Eaton is also expected to debut soon. At the upcoming ECW Arena show, they're planning to have a going-away party for Raven since he's heading to WWF. Speaking of the ECW Arena, there's a lot of concern that this could be the last show there, but ECW has another one booked for August, if they last that long. A guy named Red Dog debuted (that'd be Rodney Mack). Vic Grimes' WWF developmental contract wasn't renewed because they felt like he hasn't improved enough. He's still technically with ECW but since money is tight right now, they aren't flying him in to shows (he lives in California).

- At a Kansas City house show, RVD debuted a move where he did a springboard dropkick from one corner of the ring to the other, into a chair in his opponent's face. He also did it at the house show the next night and is expected to debut it on the PPV against Scotty Anton. Nearly everyone who saw it said it was one of the most amazing spots they've ever seen in professional wrestling (that'd be the Van Terminator, which Shane McMahon later stole as his finisher).

- Vince Russo is expected to be back this week and, speaking of, the upcoming Bash at the Beach PPV is expected to be headlined by Hogan vs. Jarrett but rumor is there's problems with the finish. Take it with a grain of salt, of course, because the story involves Hogan, Bischoff, and Russo and anything they say or do always has to be considered a possible angle. The plan is for Jarrett to win but Hogan, who has creative control in his contract, is balking at putting over Jarrett. Hogan was supposed to be on Nitro this week to shoot an angle to build to the match but due to arguments over the planned PPV finish, Hogan refused to come to Nitro. Again, Dave says you can never be sure if this is an angle given the people involved.

- Notes from Nitro: Johnny The Bull was injured during his hardcore match with Terry Funk, with Bull doing a springboard legdrop outside the ring and it's believed he may have suffered a broken pelvis. He immediately told Funk to pin him to end the match, but Funk wasn't supposed to win and he felt this match was getting Johnny over (the crowd was really into it) so instead of pinning him, Funk kept it going for another minute or so despite Johnny being in obvious pain. After the match backstage he was throwing up and had blood in his urine. Dave says people backstage had warned Johnny not to do the move earlier in the day. He ended up having to be carried backstage after the match. Jeff Jarrett brought out a bunch of fat women to sing the for the end of Hogan's career, and it was one of the worst segments on Nitro in months, and that covers a lot of ground. To make it even worse, they did this at 9pm, right as Raw was starting, because WCW. It ended with a fake standards & practices guy coming out and Jarrett laying him out with a guitar shot. The guy doing the angle was an actor but he used the real S&P guy's name and it turns out they asked the real S&P guy to do it, but he refused. "You know things are bad when guys who have never even been on TV are refusing to do your angles," Dave says. He also thinks it's hilarious that WCW keeps blaming S&P for their failure to write good television, meanwhile WWF is dealing with the PTC going after advertisers, toned their show down, and still manages to put out a good product most weeks (and in fact, Smackdown ratings went up after they started toning down the content). Yet WCW (particularly Russo) continues to whine about S&P being the reason WCW can't dig themselves out of their hole. Pretty much everything else also sucked.

- Backstage at last week's Thunder tapings, Scott Steiner reportedly threw a fit when asked to put over Mike Awesome. Steiner threated to beat up Terry Taylor, who responded saying he'd sue if Steiner touched him, and Steiner cursed him out and called him a bunch of names for threatening to sue. This isn't the first time Steiner has had a temper tantrum at management backstage and even on TV awhile back, he cut an unscripted promo on TV against Ric Flair that led to him being suspended. Dave thinks this sort of behavior will continue as long as WCW refuses to grow a spine and actually punish wrestlers for unprofessional behavior. Dave also makes a not so subtle reference to roid rage and points out the obvious steroid issues still prevelant in WCW. Anyway, Steiner was pulled from the Thunder tapings but he's still scheduled to work the PPV and Dave says that's surely going to send a strong message about what happens when you threaten to beat up your boss. Steiner isn't the only person making waves lately. Kevin Nash also got into a bit of a verbal spat with Terry Taylor (who has been booking the shows in Russo's absence) and Nash allegedly said "If you're so smart, how come you never drew a dime?" And finally, Goldberg has been unhappy about his heel turn and is said to have a pretty short fuse lately also, and has been heavily pushing them to turn him back babyface.

- The Great American Bash did a 0.19 buyrate. Just a reminder, that PPV featured both Hogan and Flair in loser-must-retire matches, plus a heavily hyped announcement that was supposed to change the face of the wrestling industry. And they got about the same number of viewers as a poorly-lit low rated ECW TV episode.

- They've been doing an angle for weeks where Kevin Nash is trying to bring Scott Hall back. Goldverg is facing Nash at the PPV and if Nash wins, Hall returns. One big problem though: Brad Siegel has made it clear that he doesn't want Scott Hall back. Of course, the issues all stem from Hall's behavior and the last straw was several months ago in England when Hall was so trashed that he wasn't even allowed on the plane to fly back to the U.S. with the rest of the crew, which caused him to miss the go-home Nitro for a PPV he was main eventing. He got back the next day but threatened JJ Dillon over something and ended up being pulled from Thunder that week also. He did show up and main event the PPV but he suffered a legit neck injury in that match. Hall was expected to be fired after that PPV but the neck injury and subsequent surgery basically saved his job and he's been sitting at home earning $16,000 a week while he recovers. There was a lot of talk that Hall faked the injury to save his job, and in any other case, Dave wouldn't be surprised. But Hall legitimately had neck surgery for the injury, so it's pretty unlikely that he faked it. There's an added wrinkle to this because Hall was dating Brad Siegel's neice Emily Sherman and they had a very stormy relationship and apparently had a big public altercation with each other during the England trip. Anyway, considering they've already started the angle on TV to bring him back without ever consulting the head of the company to see if he would even allow him to come back, Dave says WCW is even more incompetent than he previously thought (indeed they were. Seigel sticks to his guns. Hall never comes back, thus rendering this storyline meaningless).

- Various WCW notes: Curt Hennig's contract has expired, no word on his future. Rey Mysterio's knee is in bad shape yet again because WCW keeps putting him in the ring before he's healed and he keeps doing more than he should. There's talk of making Stevie Ray a commentator. Ric Flair is hoping to be back in the ring by September after undergoing shoulder surgery.

- Chris Candido is apparently done in WCW. He suffered a broken wrist a few weeks ago and Bischoff was said to be unhappy about it since they just reformed the Triple Threat group with Candido, Douglas, and Bigelow and then a week later, Candido showed up injured. Bischoff also was unhappy with Bigelow, feeling he's out of shape. Candido is still under contract until September and hasn't been released but they aren't planning to use him anymore.

- Shane Douglas is dealing with a neck injury but no one knows how bad because he refuses to seek treatment. He was injured on Thunder initially and then 6 days later again on Nitro and was clearly shaken up and unable to lift up his opponents to do his moves. But when told to get checked out, he's been insisting that he's fine. Dave says that's the attitude of a lot of people in WCW now because the company has started cutting people's paychecks in half when they're out injured, so no one wants to take time off.

- Dave takes a look at WCW's money losses. After 27 years on the air, WCW Saturday Night has pretty much been cancelled. It was renamed WCW Saturday Morning and moved to a morning time slot and it's just a recap show nowadays. But Dave notes that the ratings difference amounts to about a 64% drop in ad revenue from what the show was doing in the evening time slot. And of course, Nitro has theoretically suffered a 42% drop so far this year due to cutting the show from 3 hours to 2 but in reality, production costs have gone up significantly so odds are they have lost even more money than that. Dave says the cutback to 2 hours was probably a necessity, for the sanity of everyone working there if nothing else, but it was a major factor in WCW's staggering losses so far this year. Plus, the idea of cutting back to 2 hours is that it would improve the ratings, which it should have and did in the short-term, but now they're back down to lower than ever. Not to mention PPV buyrates are in the toilet, no one goes to WCW house shows anymore, and merch sales are basically flatlined. TL;DR - WCW is still hemorraging money.

- Hulk Hogan tried to lend his name to a political endorsement but it backfired. An ad aired on TV and had Hogan telling voters in Clearwater, FL to vote for a $300 million downtown revitalization project that they claim will create 2,000 jobs. In the commercial, Hogan claimed he and his family had lived in Clearwater for 12 years and said he was going to vote for the bill. Turns out Hogan doesn't actually live in Clearwater (although he is close to it) and isn't a registered voter there. The sponsors behind the ad called it a mistake and have since pulled the ad from TV.

- Vampiro is apparently recording an album with ICP. According to Violent J, the band's label Psychopathic Records plans to release a Vampiro album later this year called Thrillkill, and Vampiro will go on tour with ICP around then as well. ICP is also hoping to get back into WCW because they love doing pro wrestling and neither WWF or ECW will bring them back (Vampiro album never happens).

- Roddy Piper is still under WCW contract but there's no plans to bring him back to TV right now. But he's still contracted for several more PPV matches so it's bound to happen eventually (nah, WCW goes out of business before then, but I think Piper ends up suing them over not honoring the contract).

- The New York Times ran a story about the WWF's victory in the lawsuit with USA. In the article, USA president Stephen Chao tried to downplay the loss, saying it would have a negligble effect on the network's ratings (which Dave says is a pretty stupid comment given how WWF is by far the highest rated product on USA) and basically acted like they didn't care. If USA wasn't that concerned about WWF leaving, they wouldn't have gone to such extreme legal lengths to try and stop it. Chao also claimed that it would have a positive effect on the network's profits because wrestling isn't as profitable to advertisers. But during the actual trial, USA execs testified that the WWF was highly profitable and touted Raw as the crown jewel of USA's schedule. So needless to say, they're trying to save face publicly but make no mistake, USA is taking a big hit by losing WWF.

- There's also concern about how WWF moving to TNN will affect Canada. Right now, WWF is broadcast on TSN in Canada because the USA Network isn't available there. But TNN is. The belief is that TSN is probably going to be screwed in the long-run because they often pre-empt Raw for other sports and also heavily censor it, neither of which WWF is happy about. They still have 3 years left on their deal with TSN but for now, it's going to air on both channels. TSN has talked about picking up Nitro if they end up losing WWF.

- WWF's after-tax profit for the first quarter of 2000 was $12,773,000 which is slightly down from last years first quarter profits. The reason is that WWF had lower expenses last year and this year they have already spent some money on legal fees and XFL start-up costs.

- Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle are all going to be in high profile matches on the upcoming Fully Loaded PPV, with Benoit main eventing against the Rock for the WWF title, Jericho against Triple H, and Angle against Undertaker. There's a lot of pressure for this show to do a good buyrate because if it doesn't, those 3 guys are going to be blamed. Dave seems to think it's a little unfair that Benoit and Jericho just got eliminated in the first round of last month's King of the Ring PPV and haven't had any major wins on TV and now they're expected to draw a big PPV buyrate in main event spots. That's practically being set up to fail.

- Notes from Raw: Dave thinks was the funniest wrestling show he's seen in forever and says whoever came up with the Mick Foley segments deserves a raise and that Foley should be working in sitcoms. The wrestling was really good too. Basically, WWF is still kicking ass right now while WCW is struggling to string together a single good segment on Nitro. Also, Stevie Richards is now Steven and is doing a censorship gimmick where he runs out and covers up half naked women and things like that, which is a riff on the whole PTC thing.

- Various WWF notes: when it moves to MTV, Sunday Night Heat will likely feature less first-run wrestling matches and become more of a recap show with more music included. Bob Holly had surgery on a broken arm stemming from Kurt Angle landing badly on him doing a moonsault. Holly ended up needing plates and screws put into his arm and will be out for about 3 months. Tori has a separated shoulder and may need surgery also. Dean Malenko is working with a shoulder injury. Kurt Angle's 1996 Olympic victory celebration is being shown in NBC commercials for the upcoming 2000 Olympics. Big Show should be back on TV soon. Perry Saturn is dealing with a lot of back problems but is working through them. WWF has had talks with Kurt Angle's brother Eric Angle but he hasn't been signed as of yet. And on eBay this week, someone is auctioning off photos that he took live in the arena of Owen Hart's death.

- It was made clear to Raven during meetings that he is being brought in to the WWF on probation. He's getting a relatively low downside guarantee compared to most contracts and has been told that he has to prove he's moved past all his known issues and that he's basically coming in with a zero tolerance policy. So if he screws up, he's gone, but if he doesn't, he'll be given a fair chance just like everyone else. A lot of guys who worked with him in WCW and ECW went to bat for him to help get him hired.

- Just to show you how much things have changed in the business, The Rock is now a 5-time WWF champion in less than two years, which already ties him with Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart for most all time. Triple H is a 4-time champion in an even shorter period of time. Basically, world titles are passed around like hot potatoes nowadays.

- Letters section this week. One guy writes in ranting about Vince Russo, blaming him for booking the match that led Terry Funk and Chris Candido into a position where they could have been killed by a horse on live TV and says clearly Russo has learned nothing from the dangerous stunt booking that led to Owen Hart's death. He also argues that Russo is racist for his comments about Japanese and Mexican wrestlers, comparing it to the statements Bill Watts made that got him fired from WCW back in 1993.

- Someone else writes in, criticizing Jim Cornette for kissing Vince McMahon's ass during a recent interview. In fact, this is the guy who interviewed him. Cornette spent the interview trashing Vince Russo (whaaaa? No way, that doesn't sound like the Cornette I know...) and portraying McMahon and the WWF as ethical and honest. He says when he pushed Cornette on the way Vince gobbled up the territories, Cornette claimed that Vince never stole away anyone's stars without letting the promoter know first, which is obviously bullshit. When he challenged Cornette on the way McMahon handled Owen Hart's death ("they pried Owen's dead body off the canvas without hesitation and continued on with the PPV"), Cornette said that was distasteful. The guy writing the letter says that the only thing distasteful is the way WWF handled that situation. Cornette complained that WCW and Vince Russo had ruined the integrity of wrestling while ignoring what WWF has turned pro wrestling into. And on and on and on. Basically, he says Cornette is right when he talks about how awful Vince Russo is but he says Cornette has blinders on when it comes to Vince McMahon. It's a long letter and the guy makes a lot of good points, but hey, Cornette was still on the WWF payroll at the time so, ya know. What'd he expect him to do, badmouth his boss in an interview?

- NFL reporter (and, in 2018, SiriusXM radio host) Alex Marvez writes in with a brief letter to address something Dave wrote recently about steroids in the NFL as compared to wrestling. Marvez says that he's never seen rampant steroid abuse in the NFL or even minimal steroid abuse, and feels that the NFL's current testing process is effective.

- And finally, comedy writer and Observer reader Desmond Devlin writes in with another long and hilarious letter that is once again worth reading in full:

Quote:Please, my tortured mind is whirling and only you can save me. Please answer my questions.

Is pro wrestling really a good match for The Nashville Network? I mean, when you think about all that drinkin' and shootin' and car crashin', and incest and broken marriages, the WWF could end up being a really bad influence on country music.

Do you think Saddam Hussein's troops in the last war appreciated that they were "getting the rub" from the U.S. Army?

Looking back, don't you agree that Sid Vicious' consecutive win streak was underrated? Personally I thought it was the greatest sports accomplishment since Joe DiMaggio hit in 2,814 straight games.

WWF offered the public stock by saying, "Get a piece of the Rock." Considering what a fine investment it has turned out to be, shouldn't they have name dropped "Crash" Holly instead?

By the way, did Eddy Guerrero's wallet ever turn up?

Why were protesters upset over Lodi and Lenny's fellatio act, when, in fact, they sucked far less than most WCW wrestlers?

Why do people constantly complain that Vince Russo buries all non-English speaking wrestlers? Scott Steiner gets a push every week.

Why do people say wrestling is bad for children? It teaches us science (silicon is one of the 109 elements), math (Mark Henry showing Mae Young how many times 450 goes into 77), history (every PPV is the greatest PPV in history) and religion (do unto others, preferably with a kendo stick).

Since Samuel L. Jackson is over 50 years old, shouldn't he be in WCW vying for the "Rookie of the Year" award?

When you started the Observer, did you ever think the business would progress to a point where you would type the words, "Disco attacked Iaukea with a loaded fish" or "salad tongs to the groin?"

Why do people write the term, "Triple-HHH?" Wouldn't that make him HHHHHHHHH?

Is it true the next inductees to the WCW arm of Misfits in Action will be General Confusion, Major Screwup, Corporal Punishment and Private Vendettas?

Why is Stephanie McMahon still WWF womens' champion? We all saw The Rock give her the rock bottom and get a clean pin on her at the end of Wrestlemania.

Why should Rock get big money to star in "Mummy 2" when the true originator didn't make a dime. If I were Ron Reis, I'd be mad.

Is it true that Tazz walked past a Toys R Us register and it rang up a sale for a Hulk Hogan action figure?

A while back, Jim Hellwig offered to do a shoot match in ECW with the proviso that if he lasted 30 seconds, he'd own the company. Was Heyman afraid to agree to his terms because he thought Warrior might spend the entire 30 seconds speaking one sentence and leaving everyone in the arena unconscious?

If you turn up the sound on Nitro really high and see Reid Fliehr watching his father, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Terry Funk all running around, can you hear the kid whisper, "I see dead people?"

Everyone wonders who the toughest man in wrestling really is, Meng, Ken Shamrock or Tank Abbott? Isn't it obvious the answer is Jim Ross? One week after Helmsley broke his arm, it was already 100% healed and forgotten.

Will the XFL be suing the NFL to regain control of some of the franchise names that pro football owners stole from wrestlers? I'm thinking of The Patriots (Del Wilkes), The Giants (Paul Wight), The Oilers (Lex Luger), The Redskins (Brother Love), the Browns (Pat Patterson's underpants) and the 49ers (everyone who gets a push in WCW).

Those Linda McMahon segments are dynamite. Is she getting speech lessons from Stephen Hawking?

Does Steve Borden have any trouble getting a car loan or a mortgage after those 25 evil Stings, fake Stings and stuntman Stings ruined his credit rating?

And wasn't the Vampiro-Sting "set your opponent on fire" match nothing but a blatant attempt to recreate the kind of fan excitement the WWF had when the Undertaker set fire to Vince McMahon's teddy bear?

Is it true that WCW, always on the lookout for fresh faces, is looking into stealing away the promising WWF newcomer whose contract ran out, Fabulous Moolah?

Tank Abbott comes out to Goldberg's music. Sean Stasiak does Curt Hennig's act. Kanyon copies DDP's routine. Big Show imitates Hulk Hogan. Prince Iaukea acts like Prince. Terry Funk disguises himself as Ralphus. Everybody does the Rikishi dance. And every big match ends with a ripoff of the Bret Hart-HBK Survivor Series finish. I guess what I'm wondering is, how do we know you're the real Dave Meltzer?

Desmond Devlin
Battle Creek, Michigan

That letter LOLLLLL
[+] 1 user Likes DangPlex's post

- WCW Bash in the Beach is in the books and Dave opens the issue by talking about....Brian Pillman. He recaps the history of Pillman's loose cannon angle where he and Bischoff worked everybody, even behind the scenes and even the other wrestlers, and in the end, Pillman even worked Bischoff and got out of his contract. He rolls this story into how WCW followed it up with more and more "worked shoot" angles, each with diminishing returns. But Bischoff loves to "work the boys," apparently believing that if you can fool the boys then you can definitely fool the fans too. And of course, Russo's love for worked shoots is obvious in everything he does. Which leads us to this PPV, with Vince Russo allegedly double-crossing Hogan and Jeff Jarrett laying down for him. All week, stories were leaking out about Hogan, Bischoff, and Russo arguing over how this match would go, with Hogan not wanting to put over Jarrett and using his creative control clause to get out of doing it and things like that. Dave's talked to tons of people in WCW and nobody seems to know what was a shoot and what was scripted. For now, Dave is pretty convinced it was all a work and lists a million reasons why, but he says it was actually a really well done angle which is rare because this sort of stuff is usually pretty lame. If it was a work, the only ones who were in on it were Hogan, Bischoff, Russo, and maybe Brad Siegel. Both Jeff Jarrett and Booker T knew they would be having a match later in the show and that Booker T was winning the belt but they don't appear to have known the Hogan stuff would happen earlier. Also, Hogan appeared on Bubba The Love Sponge's radio show the next day and talked about it, but we'll get there in a minute. This issue is kinda all over the place.

- Other notes from Bash at the Beach: it drew 4,400 paid and another couple thousand papered, so a total of 6,572 people in the building. They still announced it as a sellout of 16,000 on the show, which is one of the bigger exaggerations WCW has made recently. Mike Awesome is apparently being given a gimmick where he tries to seduce fat women. Daffney vs. Miss Hancock gets a negative star. Vampiro vs. Demon in a graveyard match gets negative 2 stars. Then the Hogan/Jarrett "match" happened. WCW developmental wrestler Chris Harris was in a backstage segment dressed as a fake Sting and hit Vampiro with a bat and Hogan could be seen walking out of the building with his son Nick in the background. Russo came out and cut a bad, obscenity-laced "shoot" promo on Hogan with the crowd not having a clue what he was talking about because most wrestling fans aren't hardcore newsletter-readers. Russo talked about why he came back, due to his loyalty to WCW. "As everyone in the WWF will attest, if nothing else, Russo is loyal." Ha! Anyway, Dave enjoyed this well enough because he understood it, but the live crowd couldn't have cared less. Goldberg beat Kevin Nash which means Scott Hall's contract won't be reinstated because, as it turns out, WCW really doesn't want to bring him back, so that whole angle was for naught. And finally, Booker T won the new WCW world title (not the one Hogan walked out with) in the main event. (I can't find a video of Hogan laying down for Jarrett, but here's Russo coming out later and doing the shoot promo).

- Hulk Hogan went on Bubba The Love Sponge's radio show the next day and told his version of the story. Hogan claimed he was willing to put over Jarrett, but then when he found out Russo had no plans to use him again after that, only then did he insist on winning the title, which made Russo go nuts and said Russo was cursing him out, while Bischoff was apparently on Hogan's side and was arguing with Russo over it. Then they all called Brad Siegel who agreed to Hogan winning the title and so that was settled and they (along with new agent Johnny Ace) worked out a match and finish, which involved Russo running in but Scott Steiner coming out and chasing him off and leading to Hogan winning the belt. Hogan said he knew something was up when Russo came out at the beginning of the match. After it all went down, he said he went looking for Russo backstage but WCW security head Doug Dillinger told him not to risk a lawsuit and escorted him out of the arena. Hogan also claimed that Russo had someone watching his back (reportedly Steiner) in case Hogan tried anything. Hogan said he wants to show up on Raw this week but he can't due to his WCW contract but said he's going to call up Vince McMahon and see if they'll let Hogan's son Nick come out on Raw and hand Vince the WCW title (that actually would have been hilarious). Hogan praised McMahon repeatedly during the interview. When Bubba asked if this whole thing was a work or shoot, Hogan responded, "I don't do works on your show." Most people in WCW are still under the impression that it's a work, but Russo continues to insist it's not and says you'll know it's a work if Hogan ever comes back and Russo doesn't quit. Dave openly ponders why, if Russo really had gone against Brad Siegel's orders and had really screwed over Hogan, why wasn't he punished? This whole thing seems to be leading to the company splitting with Russo feuding with Bischoff and each side having their own factions. It was announced this week that Russo will be in charge of Nitro and PPVs while Ed Ferrara will be booking Thunder, which would give them the perfect loophole to bring Hogan back to Thunder while Russo still "wouldn't have to work with him."

- Backstage, everyone is torn on whether it's a work. Some believe it is, others think it's a shoot. Some pointed out that Russo seemed nervous after it happened, as if he was worried he may get fired which, I mean, yeah if it was a shoot, why wouldn't he? Needless to say, Dave is still pretty sure this whole thing is a work (well, partly yeah. This story still has a long way to go and to this day, there's varying accounts of what happened from all 3 men. But if I'm not mistaken, the TL;DR is that it was mostly a work that turned into a shoot at some point, which led to the lawsuits. Who knows. Anyway.......that's it. The Hogan era has ended. He never returns to WCW).

- Lots of legal threats surrounding the USA/WWF/TNN/ECW drama. After losing in court, the USA Network is expected to appeal the decision to try to keep WWF's Raw on their channel. Because Raw is the highest rated show on the channel and USA has to show stockholders that they're doing everything possible to keep from losing its franchise show. Without Raw, USA is in grave danger of losing their spot as the highest-rated prime time cable network. But the appeal hasn't been filed at press time and as of now, everything is still a go for Raw to debut on TNN in September.

- Following TNN announcing the cancellation of ECW (effective in September), ECW is now threatening legal action against the network, claiming TNN violated their contract by not properly promoting ECW as was part of their deal. TNN is arguing that ECW failed to meet the expected 2.0 average rating that was expected, but Heyman argues that the contract stipulated that they couldn't be cancelled due to ratings as long as they didn't fall below a 0.6 rating, which they never did. A big part of it seems to be TNN's unhappiness with Heyman repeatedly bashing the network on his show. TNN claims that the whole anti-TNN stuff was just an angle to try and turn the fans against the network because Heyman knew they were likely going to get cancelled when/if the WWF deal got worked out. By portraying it as TNN vs. ECW, Heyman could make fans believe they were cancelled because the network had a grudge against them and because of WWF, rather than because of low ratings. Dave points out that despite not meeting the hoped-for 2.0 number, ECW has always been TNN's highest-rated Friday night show and if the WWF deal hadn't gone through, TNN almost certainly wouldn't have cancelled them. So claiming it's due to low ratings is clearly bullshit. And ECW probably has a decent argument about TNN not really doing anything to promote them, which Heyman claims is why they never hit that 2.0 mark. But Dave has consulted with a contract attorney about this whole situation and the wording in the contract (that TNN only promised to supply "promotion, publicity, and exposure" without any specifics) is so vague that ECW would have a hard time proving that TNN didn't live up to their end of it or that it made a significant ratings difference. Long story short: ECW is probably in the right here, but proving it in court would be difficult. And an expensive legal battle with a major TV network isn't exactly something they can afford. Anyway, if ECW isn't able to land another national TV outlet soon, it's going to be a huge blow to the company (yeah, that's putting it mildly. This was the death blow. ECW is on borrowed time from here on out).

- In brief MMA news, Royce Gracie had a big interview where he talked about various opponents he's faced. He trashed Ken Shamrock, basically calling him a UFC creation and paper champion. When asked about Wallid Ismail, who beat Gracie in 1998 in a 5 minute match, he made excuses about coming into the fight injured. When asked about Kazushi Sakuraba, who beat Gracie in a 90-minute match recently, he made a bunch more excuses, claimed Sakuraba tapped out earlier in the fight but the ref didn't see it, claimed Sakuraba spent the fight running from him, and that he was a dirty fighter and all that shit. Dave responds and says that early in his career, when Gracie was winning all the time, he was a very gracious winner and thinks it's a shame that Gracie can't be as gracious in defeat.

- Dr. Pepper is the latest company to pull their advertising from the WWF (and in fact, all wrestling programming) in the wake of the PTC's campaign. Even though WWF has heavily toned down their content in recent months, the PTC hasn't let up on them, likely because WWF decided to turn it into a personal feud which did nothing but piss off the PTC. The Steven Richards character is clearly a riff on the PTC and while Dave finds it funny, all it's doing is giving the PTC more reason to keep harassing their sponsors. UFC has proven that there's a domino effect to bad publicity like this and it's now happening with WWF, as sponsors continue dropping like flies due to PTC pressure and it probably would have been in WWF's best interest to work out a peaceful compromise when this all started. But Vince McMahon isn't exactly known for backing down from fights and instead he decided to antagonize the PTC and, well, here we are. The WWF was a sitting duck for this kind of thing to happen, given the raunchy product they were putting out combined with the fact that so much of their audience is children. They lost their first major sponsors before the PTC even got involved. When they lost Coca-Cola sponsorship, they started bashing Coca-Cola on the air. This just isn't the way a publicly traded company should act while sponsors continue dropping like flies and it's not helping the stock price.

- Kenta Kobashi is still saying he'll be back for next month's NOAH debut show, after undergoing double knee surgery 3 weeks ago. Doctor have told him there's no way he will be ready to wrestle that soon. (If you know Kobashi, you already know how this goes. Of course he wrestled.)

- The guest house next to Stu Hart's famous Hart House caught fire last week and the case is being investigated as arson. Indie wrestler Teddy Hart had been staying in the house for the last month and the fire began in a pile of trash and old mattresses that Hart had thrown out while renovating it. The damage was estimated at $100,000-$150,000. Three people were in the house when it started and one of them reported seeing someone running away when it happened. The house has historically been where many of the most legendary wrestlers in the business often stayed when working for Stu Hart over the years. Even legendary boxer Jack Dempsy briefly lived there. It was destroyed once before by an electrical fire back in 1979 when Jim Neidhart lived there and was later rebuilt.

- On the latest OVW TV taping, they debuted Shelton Benjamin in a short match against The Collector. It was a shoot-style amateur wrestling type match and Benjamin (who was portrayed as just some jobber) got the surprise pinfall. Benjamin is a really good athlete but this was his first real match and he was still obviously green, but he has potential.

- Paul Heyman apparently didn't think too highly of Raven during his most recent ECW run. Heyman says he felt like Raven did nothing for the company this past year and spent his time there partying and getting out of shape and says he didn't clean up and start trying to get back in shape until only recently, when he realized that WWF wasn't going to take him otherwise. As of this week, Heyman has not yet given Raven his release but he's expected to soon and Raven's already got his WWF paperwork in hand. Either way, his ECW deal expires next month so he's gone from the company soon one way or another.

- There was a weird incident with Bob Backlund at an ECW show and apparently it's not an angle. Backlund showed up to the ECW event in Poughkeepsie and was hanging out backstage before the show. Later, during a Kid Kash/CW Anderson match, Backlund went out into the crowd and started doing his usual gimmick, being wacky and arguing with fans and whatnot, right in the middle of the match, which distracted the crowd and pissed off some people backstage. Security ended up taking Backlund out of the building.

- Random WCW notes: Great Muta finally made his return to Nitro and got a shockingly huge pop considering his last major run in the U.S. was in 1989. Ric Flair and Konnan both had surgery from Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham on the same day, Flair for a rotator cuff and Konnan for a torn tricep. Flair hopes to be back in September while Konnan won't be cleared until October. Bret Hart is hoping to find out in a few weeks if he has any chance of returning to the ring. It's believed he suffered multiple concussions in a short period of time. Eric Bischoff's father passed away. WCW is planning a Nitro taping in London in November. Former wrestler and current ring crew guy Klondike Bill is in bad health and on a respirator, suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease (he dies in October). An ad for WCW's upcoming Australian tour listed Goldberg as "current world champion" but of course, he hasn't held the title since losing it in December of 1998 and isn't expected to win it anytime soon. And Kid Romeo has been released.

- Bob Ryder of 1wrestling.com wrote a big story on WCW and Goldberg which was a major topic of discussion in WCW this week. The basic gist of the article was about how WCW needs to get their house in order, stop letting the inmates run the asylum, punish people for misbehavior, don't reward bad attitudes, etc. But the part that made waves was Ryder suggesting that WCW should fire Goldberg to set an example, and accusing Goldberg of milking his arm injury to take extra time off during the first half of the year. For what it's worth, Dave says Ryder isn't the first person to suggest that about Goldberg's recent injury. Apparently a lot of people think he was milking it. Anyway, people warned Goldberg not to take the bait because if he threw a fit about it, it would just prove Ryder's point that Goldberg has become difficult to work with and has a bad attitude. Didn't work. Goldberg was furious about it and wasn't shy about making it known backstage.

- In similar news, Bill Banks wrote a story on WCW's own website talking about the current sad state of WCW. The general gist of the story was "Hey, WWF sucked in 1997 and they put all their faith in Vince Russo and look at them now. So we should do the same. Trust the almighty Russo." For what it's worth, Dave says it's clear WWF has continued succeeding beyond their wildest dreams after Russo left, and in fact, they never missed a beat, while WCW has continued to plummet with him in charge, so the claim that Russo is the main one who deserves credit for turning around WWF in 1997 doesn't really hold up that much. He also says you can't compare 1997 WWF to 2000 WCW because WCW is on pace to lose 10x the amount of money that WWF lost that year. Dave also goes into ticket sales and buyrates and all that other shit. Basically, WCW right now is in waaaaay worse shape than 1997 WWF ever was. Anyway, the article didn't last long as someone in WCW stepped in and ordered the story removed from the website.

- Remember Johnny The Bull getting injured on Nitro last week? He suffered a ruptured bladder and some other pelvis injuries and "a torn up buttocks" (whatever that means) and is expected to be out of action for about 2 months (turned out to be a torn urethra).

- Vampiro is pushing to work an angle with Great Muta and Dave thinks that's actually pretty smart because a history with Muta would make him more valuable to NJPW if/when he ever leaves WCW.

- WCW is planning to make a big push in September to try to bring in fans because they're hopeful that WWF's ratings will drop when they move to TNN. Dave doesn't see that happening and notes that Viacom is spending $8 million on an ad campaign to hype the switch to TNN so he doesn't think Raw's ratings are going to take much of a hit and fans will ultimately follow them to the new channel.

- Bam Bam Bigelow recently made news for saving several children from a house fire and suffered second degree burns on his body (Dave doesn't have more info on that at the moment and never really follows up on it, but yeah. He was burned on more than 40% of his body and was hospitalized for 2 months. Real hero shit there).

- Kevin Nash hasn't been shy about telling people that he plans to return to WWF in 15 months when his contract expires. He hopes to have a final run of matches with top guys like Austin and Rock and then retire from wrestling and hopefully become a booker. Dave thinks McMahon would take Nash back, but most people in the WWF offices are said to be very negative on the idea of bringing him back because of his locker room reputation. Dave also notes that Nash could be saying all this to use as leverage to negotiate a new WCW deal. On WWF's website, Jim Ross wrote an article about old, injury-prone wrestlers using WWF for contract leverage and saying WWF has no interest in them. Dave doesn't see any good reason to bring guys like Nash, Hogan, or Luger back to the WWF. Sure, there's short-term money in all of them (especially Hogan) but in the long-run, what purpose do they serve? WWF has a winning formula right now and he doesn't think it's a great idea to mess with what works just for some short-term gains that come with a lot of baggage.

- Hogan's WCW contract calls for him to work 2 more PPV shows, one before the end of this year and another before April 2001. He also has creative control in regards to the match finishes as well. He could conceivably ask for his release before then if he wanted it and WCW could grant it but if they don't, then they're required to make those PPV matches happen.

- There was a weird situation with Roddy Piper's daughter Anastacia who went missing last month from their home at 3am, having either ran away or been kidnapped. Piper's wife reportedly saw the daughter getting into or being pulled into a small red truck and managed to get the license plate but lost the truck. Police didn't have any luck and Piper himself went out looking for her, and spent days doing his own investigation. They eventually found her a week later in a mall parking lot in Eugene, OR so she's back home and safe. But that's all Dave knows (wtf. No idea, we never find out anymore about this).

- Dave was at the latest Smackdown tapings and The Prototype (real name "John Sena") beat Damian Steele in a dark match (and that right there folks is the very first time John Cena steps into a WWE ring). Dave says the match was really bad but Prototype "showed a ton of charisma and is going to make it some day."

- Steve Austin is said to be getting in great shape but he's still at least another month or two away from returning. And he still has to meet with doctors to get an idea of just how much he'll be able to do when he does. Austin has been telling people that he wants to return but if he can't perform at the level he wants to be at, then he won't because he doesn't want to come back and just live off his name value like Hulk Hogan while not being able to deliver in the ring. If he can't wrestle, Dave says there's plenty of demand for him in Hollywood, including the still-possible Nash Bridges spin-off series based on the character he's played on that show several times.

- Davey Boy Smith and his wife Diana are getting divorced. Smith was also hospitalized again this week, no reason given.

- Lots of letters about the Hogan/Bash at the Beach situation. Most people saying they think it's a work but admitting that they aren't sure. Also the general consensus that "worked shoots" suck and that Bischoff and Russo's constant reliance on them is becoming tiresome. "Imagine if during an episode of Friends, Courtney Cox breaks her Monica character and starts complaining about her contract and the executives at NBC," someone writes and points out that most of the audience would be confused and annoyed because none of them give a shit about that stuff. They want to be entertained by the TV show, they don't care about behind-the-scenes contract disputes and politics. You want to suspend your disbelief and when they constantly interrupt that suspension of disbelief, it ruins everything else on the show. Why admit Hogan has creative control and that all the matches are predetermined? Sure, everyone knows it but you don't want to be told about it during the show.

I'm sitting here shivering and dying from flu, but the show must go on!


- Before getting into coverage of ECW's Heatwave PPV, Dave decides to look at just how scary the pro wrestling landscape is right now. WWF is the only company that appears stable and has a bright looking short-term future. The stock is up, their new TV deal, record profits, etc. Everyone else's futures look uncertain. WCW due to their staggering money losses, ECW due to money losses and the loss of their TV deal. AJPW and NOAH due to the still unknown fallout of the split. NJPW has become stale and boring by not creating new stars and business is down. Focusing on WCW, Dave goes on a rant about their failure to create new stars. 3 years ago in WWF, nobody knew or cared about Edge, Christian, Rock, Kurt Angle, or Triple H. Now they're among the biggest stars in the company. When WCW was hot and doing big business 3 years ago, they never planned for the future or created new stars and now it's biting them in the ass. But WCW's problems are beyond bad booking or creating new stars now. Their major problems are financial. How long will Time Warner and AOL put up with tens of millions of dollars in losses? If they sell, will anyone else even want it? This all goes

(Hi there. Did you notice how that last paragraph seemed to just trail off in mid-sentence? Yeah, me too. No idea where that sentence was going or why I never finished it. I originally wrote this issue up back in July and I don't have an explanation, so........whoops?)

- ECW's situation is even sadder. They keep doing all the right things, hot shows, wrestlers working hard, and they have created more new stars in the last 5 years than both WWF and WCW. The style of wrestling that's so popular today in WWF, with tables breaking, female catfights, 3-way matches, etc. were all popularized in ECW first. But no matter how hard they try, shit just keeps going wrong for them and they can't dig out of the hole they're in. They've never had the economic resources they needed to compete with the big 2 and have repeatedly had to take out high interest loans just to stay financially afloat. Times are scary for ECW. Checks are late again and everyone is owed money. Many of the wrestlers in ECW have been reaching out to WCW and WWF, hoping for a way out. And now they've lost their TV deal and are in desperate need of getting a new one if they hope to survive. And even if they do get a new deal, it doesn't guarantee anything. Their last 10 months on TNN didn't really do them any good or help them grow. Buy rates have stayed stagnant, magazine and toy sales flopped, ECW merch hasn't been doing great numbers lately, etc. Without a new TV deal, ECW flat out cannot survive at its current level. It's life or death for ECW right now if they don't get a new deal. They've had ongoing negotiations with USA and other networks like FX and E! have shown interest but no agreement has been reached and ECW is quickly running out of time. They need more than just a TV exposure, they need a partner that is willing to shoulder some of the financial burden, which is something TNN was never willing to do.

- Which brings us to Heatwave, ECW's latest PPV, and it's a shame because this was a really good show but the only thing anyone is talking about is XPW's attempted publicity stunt at ECW's expense. Ever since it was announced that the PPV would take place in Los Angeles, there have been rumors that XPW, headed by porn mogul Rob Black, would try to cause some sort of disturbance. XPW even teased as much on their website, which led to a lot of concern from ECW officials. As people were being let into the building, security was ordered not to allow any XPW signs, no blank signs, and no XPW t-shirts allowed. Jasmine St. Clair, the former porn star who used to work with XPW and now works in ECW (because she's dating Blue Meanie) was helping ECW officials by pointing out the XPW wrestlers in attendance, all of whom were thoroughly searched as they entered but were allowed in and ushered to their seats since they bought tickets fair and square. Some actually had front-row tickets, which should have been a warning sign. Prior to the show, Rob Black had promised his guys wouldn't cause any problems, but ECW didn't believe him and were keeping an eye on the XPW guys during the show but for most of the night, they behaved. ECW actually fired the first shot when, after the Rhino/Sandman match, Rhino grabbed a beer, chugged it, and then threw the can at the XPW guys in the front row. But then just as the main event was starting, XPW valet Kristi Myst, in the front row, took her top off, which got a big pop from the crowd (she was still wearing a bra). Francine got in Myst's face at this point, since there was an angle later in the match where Francine was to lose her top and she felt Myst was trying to upstage them. According to reports, Myst shoved Francine, who shoved her back. At that point, XPW wrestler Supreme got shoved by a security guard and all hell broke loose. Joey Styles didn't acknowledge XPW on commentary, only saying it was a drunk fan. Chaos broke out as security rushed over along with half the ECW locker room, everyone looking for a fight. Kid Kash was throwing punches over the railing at the XPW guys. Fists were flying everywhere while fans were getting knocked down. Tommy Dreamer, even though he was in the match that had just started, got out of the ring and ran to get involved.


- Security finally got all the XPW guys out of the building and at that point, a big brawl broke out in the parking lot which was said to be extremely violent. Also, many fans realized what was happening and ran out of the building to watch, which killed the main event on TV. According to witnesses, the ECW group greatly outnumbered the XPW group and it was said New Jack, Sal E. Graziano, Roadkill, Jack Victory, Chilly Willy, Mikey Whipwreck, and even Paul Heyman were in the parking lot throwing punches at XPW guys, who eventually escaped in a limo. But not before most of them took a beating, including one XPW ring crew guy who was thrown to the ground and was punched and stomped repeatedly by (who else?) New Jack. No arrests were made or police reports filed though. Paul Heyman refused to comment on the situation after the show because he expects it to turn into a legal issue. ECW is considering legal action for XPW attempting to disrupt a live PPV broadcast, while XPW outright threatened a lawsuit, claiming the attacks on them (both inside and outside the arena) were unprovoked. XPW posted an article on their website claiming that their plan was only to reveal their XPW shirts during the main event as a way to promote themselves and that no one from XPW got physical until they were attacked first by Francine. Later in the week, Rob Black posted another letter online challenging ECW to send 5 of their wrestlers for a UFC-style shoot fight against XPW stars, saying that the only people ECW wrestlers beat up were ring crew guys and not any of the wrestlers. He also plugged Kristi Myst's porn videos.

- Oh yeah, there was other stuff from the PPV: Kid Kash and Tajiri stole the show in their respective matches. Jerry Lynn vs. Steve Corino saw a sickening spot with Lynn taking Corino's blood and scrawling "DIE" on his own stomach with it. Vic Grimes wasn't on the show, even though he lives in California. Allegedly he wasn't being used on previous shows because ECW didn't want to spend the money to fly him in, but they did an angle with New Jack and Da Baldies and Grimes wasn't among them even though they were in his hometown, so there's obviously something going on there. Psicosis made his return to the company to a huge pop. And RVD debuted his new Van Terminator move, where he jumps from one end of the ring to the other, which blew everybody's minds.

- AJPW held some recent shows and it was the last time that all of the NOAH wrestlers worked for the company. As mentioned before, since AJPW had previously advertised all these wrestlers for their upcoming tour, Misawa agreed to work the shows and allow his NOAH guys to work them as well, as long as they had their own dressing room and didn't have to work against, well, the only 2 guys AJPW has left. Even though the fans were clearly there to see Misawa, his match ended up happening in the middle of the card and all the other NOAH guys were relegated to undercard matches as well. Masa Fuchi of AJPW did visit the NOAH locker room backstage and shook hands with everybody, but new AJPW president Toshiaki Kawada refused to do so and didn't associate with any of the NOAH guys.

- Speaking of NOAH, tickets for their first 3 shows in August went on sale and all 3 shows were sold out within 45 minutes. Several hundred fans camped out the night before to buy tickets as well. The shows will be held at the new 2,000 seat arena that will double as NOAH's headquarters.

- Dave reviews a recent NJPW match featuring Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka and gives it 4.75 stars and says it's the best match he's seen so far this year. This is the closest NJPW will get to a 5-star match until Tanahashi and Suzuki end the drought in 2012.

- Shawn Michaels' TWA wrestling TV show has been cancelled due to production costs. It was a 30-minute show that aired locally in San Antonio and Dave says it was one of the best indie shows going and did decent ratings, but they didn't have sponsorship to pay for all the production costs. The show initially cost $2,500 per week to produce and then jumped up to $3,000 and Michaels was paying for it himself out of pocket. But as the costs kept increasing and it got to be $3,500 a week, Michaels decided to cancel. Even though the show did decent ratings, live attendance was poor and the wrestlers' nightly pay had recently been cut in half. Michaels plans to keep the training school going and run 3 live shows per week, but there won't be anymore TV. His most promising students, like Spanky and American Dragon, have already moved on and are working in Memphis for the WWF's developmental group there.

- That Urban Wrestling Federation that Dave wrote about a little while back is starting in the fall and apparently has a pretty decent number of syndicated television deals throughout the country. It'll mostly be based around black wrestlers and will also feature hip hop music.

- SFX, the company that was at one point in talks to buy WCW, will be co-promoting ECW's next PPV in October. SFX owns many of the major arenas and venues throughout the country. In the past, when negotiating with WCW, they were also in talks to take over the promotion and live event business for WCW but that didn't pan out either.

- Raven still hasn't gotten his release from ECW and Heyman is apparently in no hurry to give him one. Raven's contract expires on its own next month and for now, Heyman is up to his eyeballs in negotiations to try and save ECW so he's not too concerned about dealing with Raven right now.

- Various ECW notes: Bob Backlund reportedly apologized to Heyman after making a scene at a recent ECW show. Psicosis is working on a $1,500 per week deal. RVD will be on an episode of TNN's "18 Wheels of Justice." Raven has trimmed down considerably, losing close to 40 pounds, now that he's got one foot out the door and is headed to WWF.

- Notes from Nitro: it was a really good show, highlighted by a U.S. title tournament which was won by Lance Storm. Johnny Ace laid out the matches and the whole thing had an AJPW-style feel to it, which went really well. ICP is back in WCW, alongside Vampiro who has changed his look due to lawsuit threats from punk band The Misfits. Mike Awesome is now doing a Fat Chick Thriller gimmick. All in all, Dave says Nitro was actually a better show than Raw this week.

- Ric Flair had a 2-and-a-half hour rotator cuff surgery. He can't do any lifting for 3 months. They're hoping he'll be back in time for Halloween Havoc, but Dave's not sure what the angle will be since they dropped the Flair/Russo angle after Flair's head got shaved because Russo quit the company, then came back, and has now decided to take himself off TV as a character (that doesn't last long).

- Eric Bischoff is reportedly telling people that FOX has agreed to a 13-week commitment to whatever new wrestling venture he and Hogan are apparently working on but Dave can't confirm that from anyone else.

- A trial date has been set for next month in the case of Buff Bagwell punching a WCW ring crew member. Bagwell's lawyer entered an innocent plea on his behalf. But Bagwell already admitted punching the guy to police in the initial arrest report so, yanno.

- The Miami Herald ran a big story on Goldberg, documenting his meteoric rise and success. Dave points out that while the stuff in the article was true....that was in 1998, which might as well be a decade ago in WCW years. The article didn't point out how much WCW has totally misused Goldberg for the last 18 months and didn't point out his his drawing power is meaningless now and that his career has plummeted along with the rest of the company since 1998.

- Random WCW notes: Kid Romeo was released for unprofessional conduct after he no-showed several house shows he was booked for (he eventually returns right at the very end of the company). Dave thinks Sean O'Haire has a ton of potential and says WCW needs an OVW-like developmental territory like WWF has so that these guys can go work there and learn in front of crowds before being put on Nitro. There's talk of bringing in PG-13 to feud with 3 Count and the Jung Dragons.

- Hulk Hogan once again went on Bubba The Love Sponge's radio show and this time he said it wouldn't surprise him if Vince McMahon sent Russo to WCW to ruin the company. Dave is still calling bullshit on this whole Hogan/Bash at the Beach thing since Russo would have been fired immediately if it was really a shoot. Then again, WCW is known for turning a blind eye to things that would get anyone else fired from any other job (see: Steiner, Scott). Hogan's contract expires next June and it requires WCW to use him in a minimum of 6 PPV shows per year at a cost of $675,000 per match (it's worth noting that the recent Uncensored PPV, which featured Hogan vs. Flair, did the lowest buyrate in history and WCW only grossed $644,000 from the show, so the entire PPV didn't even make enough money to pay Hogan to work it). Hogan also gets $25,000 per TV or house show appearance. Anyway, Hogan hasn't worked 6 PPVs yet this year so Dave expects him back sooner or later (nope). Hogan's contract also forbids WCW to do anything to besmirch his good name without his permission and of course, he has creative control and is fully in charge of his own angles and storylines.

- Speaking of this Hogan/Russo angle, a lot of guys in the company are upset at how far Russo and Bischoff are going to try and fool everybody. After the PPV, Russo even went to the bar with all the wrestlers (which he never does) to say his goodbyes and was acting like he expected to be fired. Bischoff is making a big stink about quitting the company in disgust over what happened. WCW has a long history of trying to "work the boys" which has pretty much never drawn money and only pisses off the rest of the locker room and makes them distrustful of management. Everyone involved continues to claim the whole thing was a shoot, but nobody else in the company believes it (funny enough, this was the one time it actually WAS a shoot...well, part of it anyway. But WCW had cried wolf so many times by this point that nobody believed it).

- After WCW completes their currently booked shows, the plan is to no longer run house shows because of how poorly they're doing. From a business perspective, it makes sense because at this point, they're losing money on house shows because of poor attendance. But for the wrestlers, it sucks because a lot of guys have incentives built into their deals based on how many dates they work which will mean significantly less money for those guys. With house shows cancelled, that leaves only TV and PPV which, at most would only be 9 shows per month.

- Despite Kevin Nash repeatedly mentioning Scott Hall on TV, nothing has changed. Brad Siegel is steadfastly refusing to bring Hall back to the company.

- A lot of people in WCW feel Tony Schiavone should be removed from his position because he isn't exactly great at it these days (I have a lot of nostalgic appreciation for Schiavone, but yeah. He clearly didn't give even half a fuck during the last year or so of WCW). But he has so much political power that he's basically untouchable. Some thought Stevie Ray did a good job on commentary last week and with the racial discrimination lawsuit still lingering, the company is pushing to include more black stars in prominent positions. Jeremy Borash and Chad Damiani also got announcing try-outs this week (Borash's history is well known. This Damiani guy is a different story. After WCW folded, he ended up becoming a Hollywood writer and producer and, more importantly, there's this story about him which, judging from context clues, I'm guessing either had to be Stacy Keibler or Molly Holly) http://www.baltimoresun.com/bs-mtblog-20...story.html

- A group called Wrestling Fans Against Censorship is fighting back against the PTC. You see, the PTC has a list of merchants on its website that they have partnerships with where you can buy stuff and the PTC gets a cut. These fans have started writing to these organizations, threatening a boycott as long as they continue associating with the PTC. So far, they've gotten 2 companies to pull out of their PTC partnerships, so giving the PTC a dose of their own medicine seems to be working.

- Various WWF notes: Billy Gunn should be back in late September. Big Show is expected to return either at the PPV or on the Raw or SD after. Undertaker is getting married this week (and will soon be getting a rather unfortunate throat tattoo to go along with it).

- Unbeknownst to anyone, apparently Chyna posed for a Playboy photo shoot this week, which means WWF and Playboy have evidently squashed their beef over last year's Sable lawsuit. The Chyna issue will be out later this year.

- Crash Holly was fined after an incident where he passed out while doing a PR appearance for the company at the Times Square restaurant. Apparently it's the 3rd such incident Crash has had and along with a fine, he was also basically given the riot act and told one more such incident would be the end of him in WWF (I don't know the details here, but considering how he died 3 years later, this probably should have been a warning sign).

- Davey Boy Smith has been in and out of the hospital for weeks stemming from an apparent overdose earlier this month. Smith has been battling an addiction to morphine and is going through a divorce from his wife Diana. He's still signed to WWF but hasn't been used since May when he showed up to a couple of shows clearly in no condition to perform. Not long ago, he was in rehab in Atlanta but checked out early against doctor's orders to go home and deal with his marriage issues.


- Rare good news for WCW: tickets went on-sale for their upcoming October tour of Australia sold like hotcakes. Nitro in Melbourne sold out a 10,000-seat venue in less than 3 hours. Thunder also sold out a 10,000-seat arena in one day, plus 3 other house shows all doing big numbers. In fact, considering the high ticket prices for the Nitro taping, its possible that the gate may even break $1 million, which WCW has never done even at their hottest (they had 3 shows that came close during '98 and early '99). WCW doesn't really have a strong television presence in Australia and local promoters priced tickets well above what most people thought would sell. But Australia is a country rich with pro wrestling heritage and the WWF hasn't toured there in over a decade and evidently the country is starved for major league pro wrestling. Word evidently hasn't reached them yet that WCW sucks now (as I type this, it's July 24th. WWF has an Australia PPV coming up soon in a 100,000-seat stadium. Stuff like this makes me wonder if WWF actually has a chance of packing that place) (12/7/18 UPDATE: ended up being 62,000ish thousand according to Meltzer).

- WWF Fully Loaded is in the books and for what seemed to be a throwaway show on paper, it ended up being arguably the best PPV of the year. Most of the show was fairly average but the final 2 matches were off-the-charts awesome. Dave says Triple H has made a strong case for wrestler of the year and notes that he went into the match with Jericho with a sciatic nerve issue causing pain in his lower back and numbness in his leg and was in pretty bad shape in the days leading up to the event. But he and Jericho stole the show with a MOTY-contender main event that was also probably Jericho's best all-around singles match he's ever had in America. Rock vs. Benoit was almost equally as good and even though he lost, Benoit came out of the match looking like a bigger star than when he went in. In fact, the whole PPV was built around Benoit, Jericho, and Angle being in high profile matches against established top stars and even though all 3 lost, it's hard to say that Jericho or Benoit really *lost*. Angle, on the other hand, gained nothing from his match, getting treated like a jobber and easily beaten by Undertaker.

- Other notes from the PPV: Hardyz/Lita vs. T&A/Trish was good and Dave thinks Lita has real potential to be a star and hero to the teenage girl audience since she's not portrayed in the same stereotypical way as the other divas, plus she's exciting in the ring and does some really cool moves. And Trish has real limited experience but she's clearly working hard to learn and isn't afraid to take some serious bumps and the whole thing was better than anyone could have hoped for her to be. Rikishi did a giant splash off the top of the cage and Dave suspects it may have damaged the ring because there was a slight metal clanging sound on every bump afterwards for the rest of the show. Undertaker treated Angle like a jobber and pinned him clean in a short, bad match and Dave is dumbfounded as to why they'd book Angle like such a geek after pushing him so hard up recently. And of course, as mentioned, Triple H/Jericho and Rock/Benoit were both fucking awesome. They teased a Dusty finish in the title match, with Benoit seemingly winning the title and the crowd started pelting the ring with garbage until Foley came out and restarted the match.

- Dave talks about the Urban Wrestling Federation doing their first TV tapings next month and talks about how difficult it's going to be for a new promotion, with no stars of any name value, to get off the ground. Dave lists most of their top "stars" and of course, they were all nobodies back then. But a few of them went on to have some fame. Orlando Jordan, Jimmy Snuka Jr. (Deuce), and Jorge Estrada (worked in TNA in the early days).

- There's a warrant out for the arrest of Jim Cornette for aggravated assault and disorderly conduct stemming from an incident last week in Knoxville. Cornette has had a longstanding beef with local Knoxville promoter Terry Landel dating back to the SMW days. Cornette was in town working a show for Ron Fuller's promotion and found out that Landel was running a free show just down the street in an effort to compete and hurt Fuller's show. So Cornette drove on over to Landel's show to let him know what he thought about it, as only Cornette can. Witness reports are varied but some said that Landel tried to spray Cornette with pepper spray, so Cornette went after him with a baseball bat. During the ensuing scuffle, Cornette reportedly hit someone else with the bat, while Cornette's girlfriend was attacking Landel. Then Cornette and his girlfriend tried to flee in their car and, half blind from pepper spray, Cornette apparently hit someone with his car on the way out. So as for now, cops are looking for Cornette but he's presumably already left town.

- Monday ratings were more of the same, except even better for WWF. The Rock/Kane vs. Benoit/Angle main event drew almost 10 million viewers, making it the 6th most watched match in the history of cable TV.

- We're going meta! Dave has a few notes about the future of the Observer newsletter. Much like people in wrestling companies struggle under the workload of so putting out much weekly material, Dave is in the same boat. Between putting out this weekly long ass newsletter, doing a daily online radio show, building the new Observer website and whatnot, his workload has gotten insane. He's been relying on other people to help him out with some of these things but he hints that a lot of people don't seem to have it in them to put in the long hours and work that the job entails. So he's been asking around to see what people like and dislike the most about the Observer so he can make some changes. He notes that the thing everyone seems to enjoy most about the Observer is the business analysis. You can get the news by itself anywhere, but the analysis and historical knowledge is the strongest stuff (and Dave admits it's the part he enjoys doing the most). He also notes that the Observer is available weekly online and Dave figured most subscribers would have switched to the online version by now since you get it instantly without worrying about the post office screwing it up or paying extra for postage, but it's been far fewer than he expected. Most people he's spoken too have said it's because they like collecting the old issues. The multiple pages of show results or detailed TV rundowns...those are probably going away since you can get that info anywhere and it's time consuming to write. He also says he may cut back on some of the MMA coverage since really, PRIDE is the only promotion in the world doing much of anything in that sport. If UFC ever gets back on their feet, he'll cover them more thoroughly but basically, Dave seems to be saying he's burned out and isn't going to waste time detailing every little trivial thing that ever happens. He wants to devote more time to analyzing the major stories since he often finds himself constrained by the 18-page limit. This is all still experimental, so if you have any suggestions, Dave is all ears.

- At the final AJPW show featuring all the NOAH wrestlers, Steve Williams (on behalf of AJPW) cut a promo challenging Misawa to a match. It was a grandstand challenge that Misawa was not privy to or involved with and obviously didn't happen. Afterwards, Williams tried to shake Misawa's hand, but Misawa refused and walked away. Anyway, needless to say things don't look great for AJPW right now. Their upcoming Korakuen Hall show isn't selling well at all and there's still tons of tickets left for such a small venue. Motoko Baba is hoping to just keep the company alive, at least until the 30 year anniversary which would be in 2002.

- Vader has picked his side and signed with NOAH. He will start with the company in October. For now, he is the only formerly-AJPW foreigner to choose NOAH.

- Dave saw a tape of the recent Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinobu Kandori match. In case you're not aware, Kandori is female. It was a man vs. woman match and it was basically booked as a shoot. Tenryu mercilessly beat the shit out of this poor woman and Dave says it was really uncomfortable to watch. I can't find a video of this and frankly I'm not sure I even want to, but here's a (tiny) pic of Kandori afterwards and it's not pretty.

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- Legendary announcer Gordon Solie is in rough shape lately due to throat cancer which has since spread to his brain. Dave notes that Solie is one of only 5 announcers in the Observer Hall of Fame. Several of his friends such as wrestlers Jack Brisco, Steve Keirn, and Brian Blair, along with baseball star Wade Boggs (may he rest in peace) went to visit him this week, pretty much to say goodbye. (Yeah, we get the Solie obituary in the next issue.)

- In the "Where Are They Now?" dept., Bob Orton Jr. is now 49 years old and says he's retired from wrestling for good after his match at the Heroes of Wrestling PPV last year. He's selling used cars near St. Louis. He says he doesn't like today's wrestling but noted that his 20-year-old son Randy has recently signed a WWF developmental deal (Bob, of course, returned to the ring for a few matches in 2005 and hasn't really stopped since. As I write this, he just worked a match on an indie show last month).

- XPW held another show in Los Angeles and were extremely paranoid that ECW fans in attendance might try to mess things up. Fans were told that any pro-ECW chants would get them ejected but they did hand out a bunch of pre-made anti-ECW and anti-Heyman signs. Four fans trying to start an ECW chant were indeed ejected. Rob Black cut a promo on Paul Heyman, saying they were going to sue ECW for what happened and ranted on for 10 minutes shooting on Heyman and ECW. Then they tried to get the crowd to chant "ECW sucks." Terry Funk was booked for the show and he's a pro so he went and worked it. But when he was in the ring, they tried to get him to participate in the anti-ECW hoopla and he refused, just standing in the corner and not saying a word. Many people who attended felt like it was a bad show and that the company was more concerned with bashing ECW than putting on a good product of their own.

- Tickets for ECW's Anarchy Rulz PPV in October are already on sale because WCW will be running Nitro in the same city the very next day. So ECW is trying to get an early jump on ticket sales to get ahead of WCW.

- At the latest TV tapings, ECW did an angle with Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan, who is a big wrestling fan. Corgan ended up smashing a guitar over Lou E. Dangerously's head and then Tommy Dreamer and Jerry Lynn came out to save Corgan from being attacked by the other heels. Corgan later got involved in the main event match and counted the pin. Speaking of the taping, New Jack, Da Baldies, Balls Mahoney, Dawn Marie, Mike Whipwreck, Sinister Minister, and others weren't flown in for the show due to budgetary reasons. Basically, they only flew in the handful of people they knew they needed to use.

- Early Bash at the Beach estimate put the buyrate at 0.19 which is, obviously, pretty bad. That number would net WCW around $1.2 million and more than half of it goes to Hogan, who as mentioned last week, gets $675,000 per show for working PPVs.

- WCW's 2-week streak of good Nitros ended with this week's episode. The only good match was Lance Storm winning the hardcore title, so now he has 2 belts. Dave recaps all of the show and man it just sounds so terrible. He also notes that Booker T is not getting over as champion, with fans only giving him a lukewarm response plus he got tossed around like a jobber by Goldberg in the main event which didn't help him any and pretty much established that Booker isn't in Goldberg's league.

- Thunder wasn't any better. It opened with Nash doing a "shoot" promo, breaking the 4th wall and talking about not putting people over and things like that, because WCW spends far too much time booking for the 2% of hardcore fans rather than the other 98% who don't understand all this insider bullshit. Nash is also still mentioning Scott Hall every week which leads Dave to believe that the Hall/Brad Siegel drama must be a work because if he's not coming back, why keep talking about him? (Nope, not a work. WCW was just....like that.) Dave also speculates that it might just be Nash going into business for himself, talking about Hall in all his promos in order to create a demand and force Siegel to bring him back (yup that's exactly what it turns out to be. Didn't work). Anyway, Dave says Siegel is in a tough spot here. If it's a work, he probably loses respect for being involved in an angle like this while once again working the boys and trying to pretend it's a shoot. And if it really is a shoot, then Siegel has to stay strong and stick to his guns, because if he relents and lets Hall come back, it sets the precedent that the wrestlers can walk all over him. Also on Thunder, Tank Abbott beat Great Muta clean in 90 seconds. Dave wonders how WCW would react if they sent Nash or Goldberg to Japan and NJPW had them to do a clean job to one of their lower card guys in 90 seconds. Muta clearly wasn't happy about it either, since he immediately got back up to his feet right after the pin. In other news, Kronik nearly killed Disco Inferno with their finisher and Konnan was on commentary for the match. Brian Adams was pissed at Konnan for something he said about them while doing commentary and the 2 almost got into a fight backstage. Dave blames Russo because he tells guys to go out there and get on the mic and shoot. And so they do, and then the people who are getting talked about get upset because they know it's a shoot and it's all just stupid and WCW is just stupid and Dave can't even anymore.

- WCW is hoping to *only* lose $30 million this year and if that happens, it will be considered a huge success. But as it stands, they're on pace to lose around $60 million if not more. Aside from Australia and UK tours, there are no other house shows booked from October onward.

- Remember Scott Steiner spazzing out backstage on Terry Taylor a few weeks ago? Well, he was suspended for 2 TV shows (so basically one week) with pay. His suspension earlier this year after the promo where he trashed Flair was also short and paid. "And people wonder why WCW has so many problems." Steiner has reportedly been warned that if they have one more problem out of him, he's gone but given how big of a push he's getting, Dave doesn't buy that for a second.

- With Hogan and Bischoff gone (remember, Bischoff left with Hogan), morale backstage was said to be the best it's been in awhile among the younger wrestlers, although there's still concern about guys like Nash or even Hall coming back. But that morale came crashing down quick with this week's house shows, with the crowds being so small that most of the wrestlers complained that they should have been cancelled instead of the guys having to go on the road to work in front of tiny crowds. Dave understands how they feel but says that in order to rebuild those markets, it's going to take WCW going there, doing shows, and putting in hard work in front of nothing crowds in order to regain fan trust. Complaining about performing in front of small crowds isn't going to make it better. Dave says if guys like Flair, Funk, Hogan, Piper, or Sammartino had balked at working in front of the occasional small crowd, they wouldn't be where they are today.

- The red-headed woman with Kiwi is Kathy Dingman, who used to be B.B in the WWF until recently getting released. She's engaged to Bob Holly and WCW is planning to try and make a play for him when his WWF contract expires. They were going to use April Hunter in the role, who was one of the NWO Girls earlier this year, but she has a website and apparently some of the pictures of her on it are so risque that people in WCW got cold feet about putting her on TV and went with Dingman instead.

- Random WCW notes: lots of rumors that Bobby Heenan's contract may not be renewed when it expires. Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels are expected to start on TV soon as cruiserweights. Bret Hart was asked to appear at Nitro, but they didn't tell him until the last minute and he had already booked an acting gig for that day (he's taping a show called The Immortal starring Lorenzo Lamas) so he didn't go.

- Speaking of Bret, still no word on his medical tests but doctors believe he suffered as many as 5-7 concussions during a 2-week span which are the cause of his problems and it's still unknown if he'll ever wrestle again.

- Notes from Raw: Mick Foley came out and heavily put over the 2 big main events from the PPV the night before, calling them some of the greatest matches in WWF history, which leads Dave to point out how that's one of the differences between WWF and WCW. During their glory years, WCW occasionally had better matches than either of those WWF PPV matches, but they never emphasized it at the time, never followed up after, and thus nobody got over because it wasn't treated as important. "Does anyone recall the Juventud Guerrera vs. Blitzkrieg match?" Dave asks. That was one of the best WCW matches in years and those guys basically disappeared from TV without a mention immediately after. Anyway, back to Raw...a Saturn/Crash Holly match that was announced earlier in the show ended up never happening due to time constraints. Godfather lost a match against Bull Buchanan who is part of the Steven Richards censorship group and therefore he can no longer bring the hos to the ring, which is a clever way to eliminate that controversial part of the show and put the heat for it on a heel. Lita is really over and came across as a big star. Dave also randomly notes that he's a huge fan of Edge & Christian these days.

- Dave got a look at some OVW tapes and is here to give his thoughts on some of WWF's developmental talent. Shelton Benjamin, in his first 2 matches, was green but clearly has tons of athletic potential. Mark Henry is in OVW right now after being told to lose another 50 pounds and Dave feels like they're trying to get him to quit so they can get out of their 10-year contract with him. They debuted a new wrestler named Leviathan, who's real name is Dave Bautista. He's actually been in OVW for months but had a torn bicep and just really started wrestling again. Dave thinks he looks like Warlord but hopes for his sake that he's a better worker (he is).

Peezy... in second last post, what context clues make you think its molly holly or Stacy keibler? All I got was that it was a blonde who went from wcw to wwe, why couldn’t he torrie Wilson for example?
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(12-07-2018, 08:05 PM)tehgiftofgab Wrote: Peezy... in second last post, what context clues make you think its molly holly or Stacy keibler? All I got was that it was a blonde who went from wcw to wwe, why couldn’t he torrie Wilson for example?

i believe Torrie Wilson was dating Billy Kidman for almost her entire WCW run.
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Yeah, that ^^

What a lucky p.o.s.
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- We open this week with the death of legendary commentator Gordon Solie from cancer at age 71. Considered by many to be the greatest announcer of all time, Solie had been in bad health for several years after retiring in 1996. He had lung and liver problems from a lifetime of smoking and heavy drinking (if you hadn't heard, Gordon Solie was actually kind of a legendary high-functioning alcoholic). After the cancer and throat surgery robbed him of his voice, he gave up smoking after 55 years. But the surgery didn't work and the cancer spread to his brain. Solie didn't want people to know and asked his closest friends to keep his impending death quiet and until the last couple of weeks, no one outside of his inner circle knew how bad his health had become. Following the death of his wife in 1997 from cancer, Solie had been depressed and was scared of going through the same kind of suffering and had looked into assisted suicide but decided against it. Solie wasn't much of a fan of modern day wrestling but he considered Jim Ross his successor as the best announcer in wrestling and was high on Mike Tenay also. Ric Flair called Solie shortly before his death and is thought to be one of the last people to talk to him. Dave covers his career, from the days of Georgia Championship Wrestling and the Florida territories and eventually becoming the voice of the NWA. The term "crimson mask" is believed to be a Solie creation. He went back to WCW in the early 90s as the Dean of Announcers where he would film little segments here and there (I just recently read Jim Ross' book and he talks about this and basically, they didn't bring Solie back as an announcer full time because he was such an alcoholic that they couldn't depend on him. They'd bring him in early in the morning to do voice-overs because if they waited until afternoon, he'd be too drunk. Ross also tells stories of Solie drinking vodka at the announce table while calling Clash of the Champions shows with him). He was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame in 1995 but he was unhappy about some of the other inductees and it led to a fight with Eric Bischoff that led to him leaving WCW. There's a LOT of really good historical info about the early GCW and Florida territory days and this is a must-read if you're a fan of that era.

- There's a whole mess of news coming out of the Owen Hart family lawsuit and related to the typical Hart family drama. This gets a little complicated so follow along. In a wrongful death case, only Owen's parents, wife, and children stand to gain any financial rewards. However, the Kansas City lawyers representing Martha Hart have been accused of entering into an agreement with some of Owen's brothers and sisters for them to receive Stu and Helen's portion of any award, assuming they both die before the case is settled. 5 of the 10 surviving Hart family children signed the agreement. Ellie Hart (married to Jim Neidhart, Natalya's mom) has been the most loyal to WWF in this situation and she's the one who exposed the agreement by sending it to WWF lawyer Jerry McDevitt. The lawyers argued that they did nothing wrong and argued that the document was priveliged information and that WWF lawyers obtained it improperly. The agreement required the siblings who signed on to agree not to communicate or cooperate with the WWF in the case and noted that doing so would make them ineligible to share in any awards if Stu and Helen pass away before the case is over. Some legal experts have said it's arguably witness tampering because it gives potential witnesses a financial incentive to testify the way the prosecution wants.

- A big part of this case is getting family members to testify to determine how much longer it's believed that Owen would have continued wrestling which will determine what the lost earnings compensation might be. Hart's lawyers have argued that Owen, who was 34, would have continued wrestling for another 8-15 years, meaning a lost income of anywhere between $6-11 million over that time. Of course, that contradicts what many Hart members stated in the past, that Owen had grown to dislike the business and planned to retire when his contract was up. Of course, everyone in this business always says they're retiring but then they stick around because the money is too good, so who really knows what Owen may have done. Anyway, this could all lead to the lawyers being kicked off the case and possibly even disbarred if it's ruled to be witness tampering. As of now, the agreement that the siblings signed has been rescinded (Martha Hart later said these shenanigans really fucked up their case and was a big part of why she eventually took a settlement and cut the rest of the Hart family out of her life).

- The WWF has entered into the world of national politics, starting a voter registration campaign and announcing that The Rock will appear at the Republican National Convention. WWF was already planning to do a voter campaign when they got an invitation for The Rock to appear on behalf of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert as a way for the Republicans to portray themselves as hip and cool to younger voters as the 2000 presidential election looms. WWF claimed to have 14 million eligible voters as fans, which is not true. They're basing that number on the number of 18-and-older fans who watch their shows and arrived at that number by counting all the shows separately, and even that number is inflated. In reality, most fans who watch Raw also watch Smackdown. They're not separate fanbases that you can total up, so once you start factoring in all that stuff, the real number is probably closer to 5.5 million and even that might be a stretch. But hey, if they can encourage that many people to get out and vote, that's nothing to sneeze at and as WWF has proven, if you go out in the media and repeat a lie long enough, people will believe it so the 14 million number is what's being widely reported. WWF is claiming that this will be a bipartisan effort and they plan to have a presence at the Democratic National Convention as well. Dave says there's a history of wrestling fans affecting elections. Obviously, Jesse Ventura and Antonio Inoki rode their wrestling fame to election victories and there's records saying that Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign, in which he barely beat Hubert Humphrey in one of the closes elections on record (just wait 2 months), targeted wrestling fans in the south with heavy campaigning because they were thought to be an easily manipulated audience (whaaa? Wrestling fans easily manipulated? Perish the thought!)

- This isn't the first appearance by a wrestler at one of these. Gorgeous George was a guest at the 1952 or 56 Republican convention and Fritz Von Erich attended several of them in the 70s and 80s. Ric Flair was invited to this year's as well but he won't be attending. The announcement of Rock at the RNC immediately drew the ire of the PTC. The PTC chairman L. Brent Bozell III put out a statement talking about how Rock uses obscene language on TV and uses weapons and makes demeaning comments about women. "It is unconscionable that one of America's major political parties would give a prime time platform to someone who encourages young children to behave in such a violent and vulgar manner," he said. The PTC urged presidential candidate George W. Bush to withdraw Rock's invitation and is pressuring Speaker Hastert to dis-invite him as well.

- NJPW ran its first ever PPV event this week and as of press time, there's no PPV number details so who knows if it was a success. PPV is a much smaller business in Japan than the U.S. As a live show, it was a huge success, selling out the 18,000 seat arena and doing a near $2 million gate. The show was built on Atsushi Onita facing Riki Choshu, who came out of a near-3 year retirement, in an exploding barbed wire typical Onita match. It was a terrible match, with Choshu not taking any big bumps and basically throwing Onita around the whole time. Onita ended up needing 43 stitches in his arm and 6 in his back, bringing his alleged career stitches total to 1,322 (remember, he was trying to go for a world record on that at one point). Onita also came into the match really banged up and needed painkiller injections in his arm and knees just to go out to the ring. After the match, Choshu cut a promo saying this was his one and only comeback match and he's going back to being retired but nobody buys it and due to how quick this show sold out and how much money there is to be made, he'll almost definitely keep wrestling (yup). Meanwhile, Onita is claiming he will retire at the end of this year (lol) but wants to do one of his exploding ring matches in the U.S. first, probably for XPW in October. In the opening match on the show, young lion Shinya Makabe beat young lion Hiroshi Tanahashi with a boston crab.

- The Rock/Lita vs. Triple H/Trish main event of Raw did a near record number of viewers, 9,965,000 people, which makes it the 5th most watched match ever on cable TV. Several segments and matches on Nitro (particularly the women's hardcore match and the infamous Viagra-on-a-pole match) did near record-low numbers.

- CMLL wrestler Dr. Wagner Jr. has apparently agreed to lose his mask before the end of the year against Rayo de Jalisco Jr. which would be one of the biggest matches of the year if he does it (doesn't end up happening and Wagner keeps his mask all the way up until 2017 before losing it and unmasking to reveal himself as the most interesting man in the world).

- In a bit of a surprise, Motoko Baba named herself as the new AJPW president rather than Toshiaki Kawada.

- A promoter in Australia put together a Superstars of Wrestling tour that featured the in-ring return of Dennis Rodman, along with all the typical chaos that comes along with booking Rodman. He flew to Australia a week in advance to do publicity but partied so much that he missed all his scheduled media appearances the first day, no-showed an autograph signing on another day, etc. He was supposed to appear at one show to set up an angle with Curt Hennig which would lead to a match at the next show but he showed up late, at the very end of the show, and ended up doing a run-in after the match was over right after his arrival. But the next night, Hennig and Rodman had a match that was said to be surprisingly good in Brisbane and another the next night in Sydney that was the best match of the show.

- Update on the Brian Pillman benefit show from a few months back. Kevin Nash still hasn't sent the family the $20,000 he claimed he was donating. David Arquette also hasn't yet donated what he said he would, but that's because he's still waiting on some big PPV money from WCW to come in, but he has said he is donating all his WCW profits to the Pillman, Hildebrand, and Droz families (Arquette does indeed pay up as soon as those checks come in. Dave will periodically remind us for the next year that Nash still hasn't).

- Indie wrestler Shark Boy will be appearing on a show during the Discovery Channel's Shark Week but Dave doesn't know what he'll be doing.

- Not much new on the ECW TV situation. Viewers Choice in Canada may no longer air ECW PPVs there since, as of next month, they will no longer have TV in Canada after TNN cancels them. They've basically got 8 weeks left on TNN. Heyman is still deep in negotiations with other networks but the problem is, ECW needs more than just a TV deal right now. They need a TV partner that is also willing to pump significant money into the company to help them stay afloat and a lot of these TV companies see that ECW is struggling to survive and they're hesitant to invest in it (and thus, the crux of why ECW went out of business. They were a dying company who desperately needed someone to throw them a life preserver and nobody wanted to do it because no one wants to invest millions of dollars into a desperate, dying company. Catch-22'd right out of business).

- Notes from Nitro: Lance Storm won the cruiserweight title, and now he has 3 of WCW's championships. Then just to show how much it means when a guy in WCW holds 3 titles at once, Kevin Nash came in and disposed of him like garbage before cutting another lame "shoot" promo about the time Pierre Oulette refused to do a job for him when they worked in WWF together, which Dave says only about 10 people in the world probably had a clue what Nash was talking about. He also brought up the idea of bringing Scott Hall back again, because Nash apparently isn't going to let that one go even though Brad Siegel has already said it's never happening. The Shane Douglas vs. Kidman Viagra-on-a-pole match happened and the less said about it the better, other than Mark Madden on commentary being hilarious, jokingly referencing past "famous" Viagra-on-a-pole matches such as Gagne vs. Bockwinkel.

- Notes from Thunder: the taping was delayed about 30 minutes due to a bomb threat in the building. Vince Russo cut a "shoot" primo talking about taking himself off TV, which Dave predicts will last 3 weeks tops. Goldberg also cut a "shoot" promo basically turning himself babyface again. and talking about guys who draw money and yada yada. Dave thinks its probably the best promo Goldberg has ever done but it's still more of the same that the casual fans (which is most of them) have no idea what he's talking about. The problem with this and everything else Russo is booking is that the whole gimmick seems to be "Everything else you see is part of the show but *this* part is real." But if you do that multiple times per show in nearly every storyline, it kinda loses its impact.

- Ric Flair is due back around October and is said to be really excited because for the first time in over a year, he's able to train his chest and shoulders again and he hopes to get back into the best shape a 52 year old man can be in. He'll also be able to throw punches and chops again without pain. Word is Brad Siegel actually doesn't want Flair back in the ring, because in keeping with tradition, everybody who's ever ran WCW has tried to push Flair out and they always fail. Russo does want Flair back in the ring, so there ya go. Speaking of Flair, he's currently working on an autobiography.

- Bret Hart has been working on an autobiography as well. Speaking of, he wrote another Calgary Sun article this week talking about wrestler deaths and acknowledging Davey Boy Smith's current addictions and said, "quite frankly, Davey's situation scares me."

- WCW contract news and releases: Roddy Piper has been let go, but Dave doesn't have any details. Kathy Dingman, formerly BB in WWF and who appeared on Nitro last week as Kiwi's valet, is already gone from WCW. People in the company are claiming that Bob Holly (her fiance) didn't want her working there. And finally, Nora Greenwald (Mona) has been released (she turns up in WWF soon as Molly Holly). Bobby Heenan has been taken off TV and will only do studio voice overs from now on and his contract expires soon.

- Goldberg and Booker T pretty much injured each other last week on Nitro. During the match, Goldberg suffered a separated shoulder while Booker T has some sort of knee injury from the match. For what it's worth though, a lot of people in the locker room are said to be skeptical of how hurt Goldberg really is (he was also accused of milking his arm injury awhile back too so he could stay home longer).

- I'm just going to copy and paste this one because I don't really know what this means or what half of this is in reference to and Dave doesn't really explain. So here goes: "There was an interoffice memo that went around WCW on 7/31, which I guess shows just how respected Russo is these days internally. The memo was entitled "Top Ten Questions Not Asked of Vince Russo." 10) Would you like to take this opportunity to claim credit for the return of Cake Day?; 9) If the Possum is going to wrestle for us, what reoccurring Saturday Night Live character will he be ripping off?; 8) How much did SFX front you for decreasing the value of the organization?; 7) Are you going to let Bill hyphenate his name to Banks-Russo?; 6) Can you funnel the unwanted talent to the Marketing Department? The New VP of Marketing has numerous openings with lots of opportunity for advancement; 5) When is Hulk coming back?; 4) What does the second "W" in WCW stand for?; 3) How many "young and hungry" employees does it take to screw....up an entire company?; 2) "WCW Creative" -- is it a misnomer or simply a contradiction in terms?; 1) Would you know an original idea if it jumped up and bit you on the ass, or would you just think it was the Possum."

- Fully Loaded looks to have done around a 1.04 buyrate which is better than expected with the unproven guys like Benoit and Jericho in top matches. It's also the Rock's 8th PPV main event to do a 1.0 or higher buyrate which puts him 5th place all time between Hogan, Flair, Austin, and Bret Hart.

- Notes from Raw: the show was clearly built around pushing Lita and Trish Stratus. The company really has something with Lita and they recognize it. She has sort of a tomboy appeal that is likely to get over big with teenage girls whereas others like Trish or Sable in the past are mostly there to appeal to guys. Steven Richards and Bull Buchanan are now going by the name Right To Cencor (RTC, an obvious spoof on the PTC).

- Speaking of, the PTC plans to start monitoring Raw, Nitro, and ECW as well along with Smackdown. Dave thinks WCW will back down immediately because the higher-ups at Turner aren't going to fight back against them the way Vince has. And ECW is in an even tougher situation because they can't tone down their product without alienating their fanbase but they also can't afford to start losing advertisers.

- Both the Undertaker and Chris Jericho injury angles this week were done to write them off TV fo a week or so because they're both taking off for their honeymoons. Jericho's wedding was front page news in the Winnipeg Sun the next day noting that Manitoba's sexiest man (which he was recently voted in a newspaper poll) was now off the market. In attendance at Jericho's wedding were Don Callis, Billy Kidman, Lance Storm, Edge, Christian, and Disco Inferno. In unrelated news, Jericho is also filming a Chef Boyardee commercial next month in the Bahamas.

- Jim Cornette basically isn't planning to return to Knoxville until if/when the charges against him are dropped.

- Steve Austin is still training like a madman for his comeback and they're optimistic that he'll be okay to at least come back in a limited role later this year. His legs are reportedly huge because for most of the time he was out, that's the only training he could really do.

- A recent news story came out noting that the XFL is having trouble attracting advertisers because all the major companies are being cautious because no one knows what this whole XFL thing is gonna be yet. No one knows if this is going to be closer to NFL football or WWF wrestling and basically, sponsors are hedging their bets until we get a better idea of what exactly the XFL is going to be. Some people are already predicting failure, with one sports marketing expert quoted saying that he thinks the XFL will make a splash in the beginning, but won't last in the long run.

- Raw on TNN begins on Sept. 25th. The final WWF show on USA will be Sunday Night Heat the night before that.

- The Haas Brothers (Charlie and Russ) appeared as extras during the Edge & Christian and Acolytes skit on Smackdown along with wrestlers Patty O'Brien and Billy Reil, all of whom wrestle for Jersey All Pro Wrestling (the Haas brothers end up getting signed eventually but sadly Russ dies while they're still in OVW. Charlie went on to have a pretty decent career).

- Regarding rumors that Eddie Guerrero, Saturn, and Dean Malenko are regretting their decision to jump to WWF, Dave says there's no truth to it. Eddie and Saturn are both working through nagging injuries right now which has taken a told mentally and physically, and Malenko is said to not be thrilled with his current storyline of wrestling against women, but all that said, all 3 men are said to be very happy where they are and glad to not be in WCW anymore.

- There's been some talk of doing a Benoit vs. Triple H match at Wrestlemania next year, with Triple H expected to be a babyface by then. Rock vs. Austin would still likely headline the show. Of course, things change hourly in this business now and Wrestlemania is still many months away so don't hold your breath.

- In its annual SEC report, the WWF revealed that the World Wildlife Fund has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit relating to a contract both sides signed back in 1994 regarding the WWF initials. The suit claims that the WWF violated the contract by using the WWF logo in places it had agreed not to use it, such as internet domain names like wwf.com and wwfshopzone.com as well as using the term "WWF" in foreign broadcasts. WWF argues that the current WWF scratch logo was created after the 1994 agreement and thus not covered under the deal they signed. In the SEC report, WWF noted that if the court rules against them, it could "have a material adverse effect" on company operations. Yeah, just a tad. I'm sure this doesn't turn into a big deal or anything......

- At a recent house show in Pensacola, Mick Foley came out beforehand and talked about the last time he was in that city, he worked for a different company (meaning WCW) which got the crowd to boo. Foley then said they weren't booing loud enough so of course, they booed even louder. Then he pulled a great rib on Al Snow, saying that when Snow comes out to wrestle his match later that night, the fans should chant for Foley. Needless to say, that's exactly what happened and Al Snow wrestled a match while the entire crowd chanted "Foley! Foley!"

- A few letters this week trashing Vince Russo and talking about how he's so obsessed and into the hardcore internet fanbase reaction that he assumes everyone else is too, but they're not. Someone writes in about the recent "shoot" promos and how most people at home were probably scratching their heads going, "Who is Brad Siegel?" since he's never been a character or mentioned on TV before until that promo. Someone else points out that by pretending *this* match you're seeing here is a shoot, it kills the credibility of the rest of the show and all the worked matches, which is the business that WCW is in.

Double post omg

Stone Cold doesn't skip leg day

I'm sad to hear Booker wasn't really over as WCW Champion near the end of WCW. I do remember switching over to Nitro briefly before Raw started one time and seeing Lance Storm for the first time, holding like 3 maybe 4 titles and I was like "Oh wow he must be really good" and then he came to WWF and yea he became Intercontinental Champion and Tag Champion for a bit, but most of the time they didn't really use him for much of anything.
Double post fixed.


- The future of WCW is in question this week, as the company lost an estimated $7 million dollars during the month of July, which is by far the most money lost in a single month by any wrestling company in history. Right now, WCW is on pace to lose a staggering $80 million over the course of this year. Meanwhile, there's a lot of talk about a possible merger between AOL and Time Warner and the need to get the company's losses under control. Rumors are flying everywhere that WCW is looking to get rid of its most high-priced talent. Hulk Hogan, DDP, Scott Hall, Lex Luger, Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, Sting, and even Goldberg...none are said to be safe. If the cuts are made, it will likely come from above Brad Siegel's head and would be the decision of Turner management. Meanwhile, at least 17 undercard wrestlers, making $150,000-and-below yearly, were all released this week. Dave only lists Horace Hogan and the tag team Disorderly Conduct and says pretty much any lower card wrestler who even remotely causes a problem will be let go. High salaries are a problem in WCW for sure, but Dave points out that even if every single wrestler worked for free, they'd still lose $40 million this year. Ad revenue, merchandising, licensing, etc. is all way down, PPV buyrates have bottomed out, and house show business is all but dead. When all that stuff was strong, WCW had no problem paying those big salaries, and had millions left over to spare. But now, because fans have mostly given up on the company, suddenly they don't have the money to pay all these enormous guaranteed contracts and still be profitable. And the worst part is, this was all predictable years ago. Hell, Dave was pointing out the writing on the wall as far back as 1998, with WCW failing to make new stars and never planning for a future because they were too focused on the present. Meanwhile, even when they were losing the war at the time, WWF was quietly creating new stars and laying the groundwork for where they are today.

- Eric Bischoff's position in WCW was officially changed to "consultant" and he's still under contract, but nothing much is happening with him. He's still trying to get back into power, but is also looking into attempting to put together a group to outright buy WCW. Brad Siegel has apparently decided to give Vince Russo his 100% support to take full control over the direction of the company. Younger wrestlers love it, because Russo is finally giving them a chance to shine and he has mostly pushed out guys like Hogan who were hogging the top spots. But under Russo, things haven't gone well. Average attendance is down significantly since he was hired 10 months ago. In a big locker room speech this week, Russo told everybody he doesn't care about TV ratings anymore, which Dave thinks is a good idea because WCW needs to just accept that they're not going to be winning this war anytime soon and just focus on rebuilding. But Turner isn't happy about the millions of dollars in losses and they're not going to let WCW's debts get in the way of one of the biggest corporate mergers in history with AOL. So who knows how much time WCW will even be given in order to rebuild.

- Russo also did an interview recently talking a big game about how WCW had to rebuild around young stars and that the wrestlers are the stars, not him, etc. Then, in the same interview, he challenged Atlanta Braves baseball player John Rocker to a match on PPV in New York. If you don't remember, Rocker is the Braves player who caught a lot of shit a little while back for saying some pretty hateful things about New York and basically every ethnicity that lives there. For a guy that talked about not making himself the focal point of the company, Dave thinks it's kind of silly for Russo to try to book himself in a match on a WCW PPV against one of the most controversial celebrities in sports right now, with himself in the hometown babyface position (Rocker is HATED in New York). Dave also notes how it would have been better for an actual wrestler to shave Ric Flair's head awhile back rather than Russo himself so that they could put the heat on a heel that can actually help carry the company (don't worry, within a month, Russo books himself to win the WCW world title). All this aside, it's also doubtful that the Braves would allow Rocker to participate. But anyway, that's where WCW is right now: the ball is in Russo's hands. The AOL/Time Warner merger is looming. And Turner execs are really concerned about the tens of millions of dollars the company losing. I'm sure this all turns out fine.

- The Observer Hall of Fame is coming up so Dave decides to list the candidates and give his personal thoughts on them and tell who he voted for and why. Since the voting deadline has already passed, this won't influence anyone else's votes. There's a lot of people who are eligible this year, but you're only allowed to cast votes for up to 10 people, so here's the 10 Dave voted yes on, and why.

Quote:Steve Austin - Dave says this is an obvious and easy pick. Austin is the biggest merch seller in the history of the business, has headlined some of the biggest money shows ever, great worker, great talker, one of the biggest stars ever, etc. But he admits that there's a longevity issue here because Austin only became a top star in early 98, with the Tyson angle, and less than 2 years later, he was out with a neck injury that he still hasn't returned from. Dave says they did an internet poll just for shits and giggles and Austin actually fared pretty poorly among fans. Dave figured Austin would be an automatic sure thing, but I guess since he's only been a top star for less than 2 years, fans don't think he deserves it yet. But to Dave, it's a no-brainer.

Bob Backlund - Dave actually wasn't going to vote for Backlund at first because he never really did much before or after his long title reign back in the late-70s/early-80s. Never a great worker, not good on the mic, etc. But then, when he started looking into the history of Bruno Sammartino's sellouts at MSG, he learned that Backlund had sold out MSG almost as many times as Bruno. In fact, even though Bruno sold out the Garden more times, he also worked almost twice as many shows there as Backlund. So on average, Backlund's MSG numbers are actually a little more impressive. Dave says anyone who can lay claim to that many MSG sellouts pretty much has to be a surefire Hall of Famer.

Chris Benoit - Obviously, he's not a top star and never really has been anywhere he's gone. But he's arguably one of the best in-ring wrestlers of all time and in fact, if you add up all the votes for Most Outstanding Wrestler that were cast throughout the decade of the 1990s, Benoit is 4th all time, behind Kobashi, Misawa, and Manami Toyota. Dave admits that Benoit probably won't get many votes based on the fact that people still see him as a rising star rather than a top guy, but he's got Dave's vote.

Mick Foley - another easy yes. Dave is pretty flabbergasted that he didn't get in last year, and his credentials have only gotten better this year so this is a no-brainer.

Fabulous Freebirds - both Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy have been eligible individually for awhile now but neither would make the cut. But as a team, they've got Dave's vote.

Hiroshi Hase - barely made the cut as Dave's final pick. Great booker, top star in Japan, successful politician, great worker, etc.

Shinya Hashimoto - has headlined 12 shows that drew more than 30,000 fans, including some of the biggest live gates in wrestling history. Only Hogan has done more. For that alone, he's an instant yes even if he was a terrible worker. But he's actually really good and was the best IWGP champion NJPW has had during the years that they were hottest....no brainer.

Akira Hokuto - top star in her prime, one of the best women's wrestlers ever, etc. Didn't quite have the longevity since she retired fairly young but Dave gives her the nod.

Shawn Michaels - Dave says this is a controversial one. People who grew up in the mid-to-late 90s see Shawn Michaels as the greatest in-ring performer in the U.S. but people who dislike him point out to his unprofessional behavior, lack of drawing power, lack of longevity, etc. But his talent can't be denied and for that, Dave voted for him.

Bull Nakano - for her size, she was easily the best woman wrestler's ever. Had great matches, top star in multiple promotions, world champion in Mexico, Japan, and the U.S. She makes the cut.

- Dave also notes that they had a category for non-wrestlers. This is mostly for announcers, promoters, office people, etc. Same criteria, must get 60% of the vote. Only 2 people are eligible this year. Eric Bischoff and Jesse Ventura. And yes, Ventura was a wrestler but he was never much of one and not a great draw, but as an announcer, he's remembered as one of the all-time best. Anyway, Dave....doesn't really give an answer on Ventura. He gives his credentials and talks about why people might vote yes or no for him, but he doesn't give a firm answer but it sounds like yes, Dave probably voted for him. As for Bischoff....no. Promoters need longevity. "Bischoff did turn around a company that was a big money loser, but also turned it back around a few years later." So no, for now, as revolutionary as his influence on the business was, a promoter has to be successful for the long haul and Bischoff only had a few good years before tanking the company. But again, these are just Dave's personal votes. The winning inductees will be announced later.

- Misawa's new NOAH promotion held their first 2 shows and they were a huge success. Tickets to both shows sold out in minutes and they even erected a huge screen outside the building for the 1,300 fans who gathered outside to watch the show. In order to try to make a historic first impression and get over a new star, Jun Akiyama cleanly beat Misawa, Taue, and Kobashi in matches during the shows. The first show had a 2-out-of-3 falls tag match where Akiyama made Misawa submit in the first fall in only 2 minutes. And then in the 2nd fall, he pinned Taue, so he won 2 falls straight. The next night, he turned heel and cleanly beat Kobashi, who was the last AJPW Triple Crown champion before the split. Dave runs down the rest of the results, but make no mistake, the debut of NOAH was used to make Jun Akiyama a megastar.

- Dave finally saw NJPW's latest big show, which was the first NJPW show to air on PPV in Japan, and does his usual review. The opening match was Shinya (Togi!) Makabe vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. Dave thinks this Tanahashi kid has a great look and a ton of potential, but he's still a little green. Makabe is pretty good too.

- An Austin, TX newspaper ran a story about the death of Bobby Duncam Jr. and Dave thinks it might be the most important mainstream article on wrestling in a long time. It was built around Rob Van Dam, who has had 3 close friends (Duncam, Gary Albright, and Louie Spicolli) all die in the last 2 years. It talked about how many of the more than two dozen wrestling deaths in the last few years can be attributed to the physical demands of the business. Duncam's wife was interviewed, Brian Pillman's wife (talking about Pillman's use of HGH), and on and on. Steroids, painkillers, etc. The usual story on this subject, basically. RVD talked about how he used to have to physically carry Spicolli through airports sometimes and how he couldn't do it and still make his own flights, so sometimes Spicolli would miss shows because RVD couldn't carry his dead weight through an airport and how they tried to get him to get clean but of course it didn't work. There's a lot more to this story that's really interesting, lots of quotes, but it's the same story about how wrestling is a drug infested mess, with half the industry addicted to painkillers and muscle relaxers and how steroids have led to long-term problems and wrestlers are dropping dead in their 40s with no one doing anything to stop it.

- Remember the story a couple issues ago about the Hart family lawyers who got some of Owen's siblings to sign documents entitling them to a Helen and Stu's share of any potential settlement money if Helen and Stu died before the trial is finished? Well if you recall, someone in the Hart family (Natalya's mom actually) turned over these documents to WWF lawyers who complained that it was witness tampering. The Hart lawyers claim the documents were stolen and WWF had no right to them. Anyway, a judge ruled in favor of the Hart lawyers for now and has ordered the documents sealed. The judge ruled that ethically, WWF lawyers should not have had access to the paperwork (which they said was an allocation agreement that is common in estate law) and that they should have immediately notified the court of these documents that they had obtained wrongfully. The Hart lawyers said that the siblings who signed it aren't expected to be called as witnesses and thus, it's not witness tampering and was just an attempt to encourage the family to stick together and fend off WWF officials, who they claim are trying to turn members of the family against each other (for instance, that's literally the only reason Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart are still under WWF contract).

- The funeral service for Gordon Solie was held in Tampa. Spoken eulogies were given by Brian Blair and baseball superstar Wade Boggs, may he rest in peace. Boggs was a lifelong fan of Solie's who grew up watching him and in his speech he said the first time he met Gordon Solie, he was just as nervous as the first time he stepped up to the plate in a major league baseball game. WWF also sent videotaped tribute speeches from Dean Malenko, Pat Patterson, and Jim Ross. Also at the funeral were tons of others from the wrestling world. Jack and Gerald Brisco, Bobby Heenan, Lou Thesz, Scott Hall, Dory Funk Jr., Jimmy Hart, and others. One person conspicuous by his absence was Dusty Rhodes. On TV over the years, Rhodes was basically synonymous with Gordon Solie as they spent decades in the same territories together. But while they came off as the best of friends on TV, in real life behind the scenes, it was the opposite. Shortly before his death, friends had been planning a final party for Solie and he had specifically requested that Dusty not be invited. But (as we'll see in just a moment) he had since made peace with everyone in his mind and wanted to let bygones be bygones before he died.

- In the final days before his death, Solie worked on a final letter that he wanted put out to the wrestling world and Brian Blair read it for him at his funeral. Here it is:


Quote:There are times when words cannot properly define one's thoughts or emotions. With all that has happened in my life over the past several months, this is certainly one of those times.

First and foremost, I want to thank those of you who have passed along your well wishes. They are deeply appreciated. And considering the reason I have decided to deliver this statement, it is quite comforting to know during my final days here that I have had such a positive effect on so many of you.

With that said, I also want to thank each of you for allowing me to be a small part of your lives, even if it might have been for just a few hours each week. And I want to thank you for allowing me to tell you a story; a story that I never got tired of... a story that could be told 10,000 times...a story that could have a different ending each and every time it was told.

To be quite honest, when my wife "Smokey" passed away more than two years ago, it could have been very easy for me to throw in the towel. But that wasn't me. Then the throat cancer came, and again it could have been very easy to give up. But again, that wasn't me. The bottom line is that I've never been a quitter. As a matter of fact, at one point I thought I had this damn disease beat. Obviously I didn't.

While only the good Lord knows how much time I actually have left here, in my final days, I ask that you not grieve for me, but rather remember me fondly as you would an old friend. In my eyes, I lived a full and satisfying life that some only dream of fulfilling.

Over the years I've had my share of heat with some people. How insignificant all that seems today. So being reflective, I hold no grudges and I have no ill will toward anyone. Let bygones be bygones.

Well, I suppose there's not much more to say here, except for a line that I once made famous and is now more appropriate than ever.

So long...for the Sunshine State. Peace to all.



- CMLL has introduced its own version of the Nitro Girls, who dance between matches (this continues still to this day during CMLL shows).

- Roddy Piper is planning to write a book about his life and career (that would be "In The Pit With Piper" released in 2002).


- A Canadian magazine called The Report ran a big cover story on the Hart family, mostly talking about all their recent problems. It noted that Stu Hart was recently hospitalized for pneumonia while Helen Hart had a blood clot. Plus the recent guest house fire and Bret Hart's injuries. Helen Hart was quoted in the story about Bret saying, "The doctors all seem to think he should step out of wrestling permanently." Regarding the Owen Hart lawsuit, the story did have a new bit of news. It noted that the clasp that was used to suspend Owen above the ring was built for sailboats and would open with only 7 pounds of pressure. The guy who invented the clasp was interviewed by lawyers in regards to the case and was apparently shocked to learn that it had been used to suspend a human being in mid-air. It was made to quickly release the sail on a sailboat when the winds change and definitely not suitable for holding a 200-ish pound man. Anyway, the story also noted that Stu and Helen are on the brink of bankruptcy.

- FMW is releasing videotapes in the U.S. of some of their famous crazy death matches. But the English commentary was written and done by 3 TV scriptwriters in California who don't know anything about wrestling. But FMW wanted these videos to reach mainstream audiences so they hired the TV writers to come up with storylines for all the matches and characters. So for instance, Horace Boulder is depicted as a wrestler named CPA, a former accountant for the Puerto Rican mafia. The women's wrestlers were given lesbian storylines. Things like that.

- Notes from the latest ECW TV taping: they're planning to do a one-night tag title tournament later this month at Hammerstein in NYC. Several of Shawn Michaels' students were at the show. The only one who wrestled was Michael Shane, who was said to be impressive (he ends up sticking around until the end of ECW). Lou E. Dangerously cut a promo running down the city (Huntington, WV) so much and got so much heat that the ring was pelted with garbage.

- Payroll in ECW is currently being made, but everyone is still 1 check behind. But they're trying to catch up. In order to save money, Jerry Lynn, Da Baldies, Cyrus, Joel Gerner, Joey Styles, and others were not flown in for TV this week.

- Lots of drama in WCW with Goldberg right now. Apparently, Russo laid out his future plans regarding the world title and guys like Goldberg, Booker T, Kevin Nash, and Scott Steiner. Long story short, it ends with Goldberg losing at this month's PPV in a 3-way match and then losing again to Scott Steiner next month and, well, Goldberg said no thanks. It led to a meeting with him, Russo, and Brad Siegel and right now, Goldberg's position in WCW is considered up in the air and there's rumors that they may be trying to get rid of him. He still has 3 years left on his contract. Some in the locker room have begun to see Goldberg as one of those top stars who doesn't want to do jobs or go along with plans. But those close to Goldberg say he has no problems putting people over but he wants to know what the long-term plans are and he wants to do angles that make sense and if he is going to do jobs to people, he wants it to mean something.

- This week's Thunder was an amateur hour production mess. They had filmed a big interview with Vince Russo but then decided not to air it because the interview was Russo talking about Hulk Hogan and trying to get the whole thing over as a shoot and I guess there's some issues there (yeah, just a little bit). So that meant they had to edit all of Thunder to edit out the announcers talking about the interview after it happened. But they didn't edit out the stuff before the interview was scheduled, so much of the show was spent hyping up this Russo interview that never actually happened. In case you're wondering, in the interview that didn't air, Russo talked about quitting if Hogan was brought back and said he left WWF because there was nothing else to accomplish. He also complained about being forced to work with Bischoff and said that Hogan's lawyers had served him legal papers over the Bash at the Beach situation.

- A different version of basically the same Russo interview aired on Nitro and in it, Russo talked about WCW ratings increasing when he debuted which leads Dave down a deep rabbit hole about comparing Russo's ratings to the months that Kevin Sullivan was booking earlier this year. Basically, ratings were already trending downward and have stayed mostly identical since Russo took over. But once you start accounting for the fact that Russo faced a lot less network TV competition (it's summer, aka re-run season), that actually looks worse for Russo. During the 11 weeks that Sullivan was booking, he averaged a 2.80 rating. In the 18 weeks since Russo took over from Sullivan, he's averaging a 2.66. Before Russo took over, the all-time low-rating record was 2.52. Since Russo took over, they have fallen below that number 7 times. More importantly, house show business and PPV numbers have absolutely flat-lined under Russo's watch, and that's where the real money is and those numbers are way more important than TV ratings. It's a big part of why WCW is on track to lose $80 million this year. (Long story short, Russo really needs to stop repeating the "I increased WCW's ratings!" lie. Because he didn't. At all.)

- DDP is ready and wanting to come back but for now, they're not planning to bring him back because Russo doesn't want to use him, since he's trying to basically get rid of anyone they deem as "old." Anyway, DDP has since asked Kanyon not to use the diamond cutter and to stop copying his mannerisms, since it's looking unlikely that DDP will even be coming back. Kanyon agreed, but then Russo told him to keep doing it and, well, gotta do what the boss says. Speaking of Kanyon, he again asked for his release a few weeks ago but was denied. He has tried repeatedly to get out of the company in the last year.

- Vader was backstage at Nitro, but don't read anything into it. He was just visiting friends since it was in his hometown of Denver and he still plans to return to NOAH when he heals up from his surgery.

- Random WCW notes: The new woman who is playing Papaya (the wife of Kwee Wee) is actually a stripper from Pittsburgh who got the job through Mark Madden. They're planning to do an angle with Gene Okerlund and Pamela Paulshock. Johnny Ace is currently handling all the finishes to WCW matches. Van Hammer has been released. Bam Bam Bigelow is still suffering from burns he got from saving some people from a fire and will be out for awhile.

- Eric Bischoff and Jason Hervey are developing a show called Road Rage for FOX that combines pro wrestling with demolition derby....somehow. I dunno. Discussions are serious and FOX is close to picking up the show for a 13-episode season (doesn't look like this ever happened).

- Lance Storm has been re-naming the 3 titles he holds with Canadian names. Currently, the WCW Hardcore title has been dubbed the Saskatchewan Hardcore International title. The original idea was to name it the Stu Hart International title and they even asked Bret Hart if it was okay with him to call it that and Bret gave them the okay but it never happened for whatever reason.

- Scott Hall is still officially on the injured list and is not medically cleared to wrestle due to his neck surgery. He could still be brought back for angles if they wanted but he hasn't been asked, no matter how hard Nash keeps trying.

- The political situation regarding the WWF and the upcoming presidential election got a lot more interesting this week. Sen. Joe Lieberman was announced as Al Gore's running mate and its notable because Lieberman has come out strongly about television content that is marketed to children and he's also a member of the executive committee of the PTC. Speaking of, after The Rock appeared at the Republican National Convention, he and PTC head L. Brent Bozell had a brief face-off on a CNN show. Bozell went after Rock, talking about him attacking a woman on TV earlier in the week (a spinebuster he did to Trish Stratus). Rock basically responded with the ol' "fuck-off-and-change-the-channel-if-you-don't-like-it" argument. They also bickered about how many people watch WWF programming, which Dave thinks was pointless on both sides because the numbers they were arguing over were WWF's worked numbers which, as always, are inflated bullshit. Rock then resorted to name calling (Dave doesn't clarify and I can't find this video) which kinda made him come off looking bad. But Bozell also seemed unprepared and really, neither man came off well. Also, Dave notes that Rock just registered to vote for the first time this week, which several media outlets picked up on and made fun of him for, since he's been out there for the last few weeks on behalf of WWF talking politics and trying to get other people to register to vote when he wasn't even registered until now.

- Hey speaking of inflated bullshit numbers, Vince McMahon did an interview with the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter and admitted that the figures quoted about WWF viewership ("22 million people watching every week!") were done by counting up the same viewers multiple times. So adding up all the millions of people who watch Raw, plus all the millions who watch Smackdown, when in reality, most of those are the same people watching both shows. McMahon even admitted that estimating the number at 10 million would be generous.

- The Republican party in general caught a lot of flack for having Rock speak at the RNC. Jesse Ventura was on Meet The Press complaining about Republicans being so critical of him for doing Summerslam and then turning right around and sucking up to The Rock.

- NBC is promising advertisers that the XFL games on NBC will average a 5.5 rating for the season, while UPN games will do 3.0 and games on TNN will average 2.5. (Just in case you're curious, I crunched the numbers. Week 1 om NBC did a huge 9.5 rating. After that? 4.6 for game 2 and they continued plummeting downward from there. XFL on NBC ended up averaging a 2.9 rating for the season, and if you subtract that first game (since it's kind of an anomaly), the average drops to 2.3. So not even half of what NBC was promising. Same for UPN and TNN games. Aside from the debut week, they never even came close to getting what was promised).

- On Raw, the Godfather (now going by Goodfather) powerbombed one of his ex-ho's through a table. Dave informs us that the ho's real name is Lisa (that would be the future Victoria).

- The whole Triple H/Stephanie/Kurt Angle storyline has been going on for a couple of weeks now and Dave is all about it. He says this is the perfect example of slowly pacing out a storyline and he thinks that when they finally pull the trigger on Angle vs. Triple H, it's going to be big money (yeah this storyline was great. And we haven't even gotten to the part with Angle kissing Stephanie yet).

- Former WCW women's wrestler Mona (real name Nora Greenwald) has reached a deal with WWF. She's 22 and has a gymnastics background and is a pretty good wrestler, but in-ring ability is irrelevant here because WWF doesn't treat women's wrestling as anything more than T&A anyway.

- As of now, there's no plans for Steve Austin to be involved in Summerslam. They should be getting a medical update on him soon and it's possible he may never return as a full-time worker, but maybe he can wrestle safely and smart enough and cut good enough promos to maybe work a toned down style for bigger shows. But they won't know more until his next medical report.

- Various WWF notes: Bob Holly and Tori have recently started rehabbing their injuries. Big Show was sent to OVW for additional training before they bring him back on a full-time basis. Steve Regal should be returning soon and he's been helping Bruce Prichard scout wrestlers at UPW shows in California. Triple H has a badly bruised bicep which is why his arm has been heavily bandaged lately. Dave Hebner suffered a minor heart attack and is hospitalized but should recover.

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Woo!! Good timing peez
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- Steve Austin was given word that he'll be able to return to in-ring action in 8 weeks, most likely at the October PPV. Austin has been out since last November and had neck surgery in January. While he's been out, his knees (which were in rough shape) have also had a chance to heal and are the strongest they've been in years but he's been very limited in upper body exercises since the surgery. Austin's next exam will be at the end of September, at which point he's expected to get full clearance. They're discussing having Austin return to TV on the debut Raw episode on TNN on Sept. 25th which would obviously be a good way to get the most hype to the channel switch. It's unlikely that he'll ever return to a full-time schedule but they're hoping for one last big short-term storyline as a career send-off, and hoping he can at least hold up until Wrestlemania. The hope is that he can be at all TVs, wrestle on all PPVs and maybe occasionally work a TV match or a major house show but it all depends on how his body holds up. Austin has said he doesn't want to be like Hogan and hang around living off his name value, but Dave says you can count on zero fingers the number of people who have walked away from the business while still being a huge draw and Austin is still among the biggest of all time. But he does have offers on the table for starring roles in 2 different TV series and at least 1 major movie, so who knows?

- Remember how Viacom was going to buy UPN? Well in a big surprise, NewsCorp, which is run by Rupert Murdoch and owns FOX, swooped in and outbid them for it and purchased the parent companies that own UPN. This is sure to affect Smackdown in some way. This all gets weird and complicated with UPN losing its coverage in major markets like New York and Los Angeles. Before this sale, UPN was on track to lose $150 million this season. They were also getting ready to undergo a name change to The Paramount Network (Spike just recently changed their name to that. Weird). UPN is expected to lose even more after losing their coverage in those markets and most experts think UPN is doomed. Smackdown is a strongly rated show, so even if UPN goes under, they'll easily find a home on some other Viacom-owned channel. But unless they move it to CBS, it will lose the prestige of being on a broadcast network. On the other hand, if they move it away from broadcast TV, it might help get the PTC off their ass (none of this happens for awhile).

- More major cutbacks in WCW, with the announcement that starting in late October, all Thunder TV tapings have been cancelled. WCW is cutting back to 1 TV taping per week to save on costs. Thunder may still exist on TV. There's talk of pre-taping Thunder after Monday night's live Nitro taping ends in front of the same crowd. Meanwhile, the weekend WCW WorldWide show is expected to become a recap show with no more first-run matches. All of this will save the company enormously on production costs and building expenses, but it's likely going to lead to dead crowds and probably a lot of people leaving after Nitro ends and not sticking around for the Thunder taping. With the Tuesday tapings cancelled, that leaves WCW running just 5 shows per month (4 Nitro tapings and 1 monthly PPV). Cutting back on shows isn't the only major cost-saving move. At this week's Nitro and Thunder tapings, pyro was limited and ring entrances were less elaborate. At the recent PPV, they only had 1 big screen on the entrance way rather than the usual 3. As for rumors of big name wrestlers being released or contracts being renegotiated, that hasn't happened yet....

- ECW and USA Network are still in the midst of very serious negotiations. The talk now is for ECW to get a late-night 2 hour time slot on USA that would combine elements of pro wrestling with MTV's Real World (wtf?). It's not a unique idea, as California-based UPW has toyed with the idea in the past, and the recent Discovery Channel special that aired featuring UPW was partially a pilot for the idea. If it happens, Bunim-Murray Productions, the producers for the actual Real World show on MTV, are expected to handle production of the ECW show. The initial talk was giving ECW a Saturday night time slot of 6-8pm, which is basically the same time slot that WCW (and NWA before them) had on TBS for decades and was traditionally the highest rated time slot for pro wrestling before the Monday night wars. But USA execs are said to be squeamish at giving ECW a show that early in the evening, so that's why they're leaning towards a more late-night time slot (it's heartbreaking to read how close ECW was to pulling off yet another last minute save during this time, knowing that it all eventually falls apart).

- IWGP champion Kensuke Sasaki was the winner of this year's G1 Climax in NJPW, beating Manabu Nakanishi in the finals in the most lackluster G1 tournament in history. It was also a flop at the gate, with only 2 of the 6 shows selling out. The first night at Sumo Hall only drew 8,500 which is the smallest crowd for wrestling in that arena in years. Sasaki is only the 2nd time the current IWGP champion has won the tournament but he thinks the company missed a golden opportunity to strap the rocket to Yuji Nagata and elevate him as a top star because he's the best worker in the company and has the most potential to be the top star. The biggest news of the tournament was the arrival of AJPW star Masa Fuchi, who stepped into the NJPW ring and said that the doors that have been closed for 30 years are opening and called out Riki Choshu and shook his hand. This led to Masahiro Chono coming out and ordering Fuchi to leave the ring and of course, all this is expected to build up to some inter-promotional matches between AJPW and NJPW in the next few months.

- WCW's New Blood Rising PPV is in the books and Dave sums it up in two words: "overbooked crap." Aside from the first and last matches, which were good, everything in between was bad. And even the main event wasn't that good. It leads Dave into a rant about how WCW doesn't understand that their fanbase is different from WWFs and they've continually made the same mistake of trying to be a bad copy of whatever WWF has done in the past. WCW was hopeful of strong ticket sales for this show because it was in Vancouver, BC and the first week of sales were good. But then they stalled out, so there were only 5,300 paid fans in the building. They handed out a ton of free tickets but more than 50% of people who were given free tickets didn't even show up. It was a pretty bad and embarrassing turnout for a major PPV in a new market that WCW has never run in before.

- Other notes from the PPV: The 3 Count/Jung Dragons match was the best of the show. There was a "Judy Bagwell on a Pole" match which was really just her tied to a forklift in the corner. Miss Hancock vs. Major Gunns gets -2 stars although nobody was watching it for the actual wrestling and it ended with Hancock apparently doing a miscarriage angle, stretchering her out as she held her stomach while David Flair freaked out. Sting beat Demon in a match only notable for Sting coming down from the ceiling again because WCW is still doing that. Lance Storm vs. Mike Awesome is a match that has potential to steal the show on most nights but it was so overbooked that it turned into a mess. Storm got a huge babyface reaction since they were in Canada but the match was horrible. But it did lead to Bret Hart coming out and getting easily double the pop of anyone else on the show, although he looked embarrassed to even be involved in the angle. Vampiro and Muta won the tag titles. Nash/Goldberg/Steiner was more typical Vince Russo-style "shoot" stuff. First they announced that Goldberg had been in a motorcycle accident the day before (true, which is why he was all bandaged up because he had bad road rash) and wouldn't be there. Goldberg eventually came out and they did an angle where Goldberg wouldn't go up for Nash's powerbomb and they played it as if he had gone against the script and wouldn't do the job with the announcers playing it up big. Goldberg then walked out and Nash ended up winning when Steiner taking the powerbomb and the announcers selling it like he was being professional and doing the job unlike Goldberg. Ugh. Dave just can't. And finally, Booker T beat Jeff Jarrett to retain the title in a decent match that the announcers started screaming was an all-time classic after the first 5 minutes. It wasn't. (Look at this shit. They even aired commercials hyping Fall Brawl talking about how Goldberg "didn't follow the script." Vince freakin' Russo, everyone.)

- AJPW announced plans to revive the Triple Crown title that was vacated when champion Kenta Kobashi left the promotion to join NOAH. AJPW only has 2 wrestlers (Fuchi and Kawada) under contract so they'll obviously have to bring in some big names from other promotions, which is likely where NJPW fits in. AJPW is publicly claiming that they want NOAH stars in the tournament but Dave thinks that's just an attempt to save face. What AJPW really needs is for IWGP champion Kensuke Sasaki to enter the tournament to give it some world title credibility, but Dave is skeptical about whether NJPW will allow their champion to enter another promotion's world title tournament, especially if he's not going to win.

- Of the 19 weeks since Russo took over the booking from Kevin Sullivan, eight of those weeks have seen Nitro do lower ratings than Sullivan's all-time low. This week was the lowest rated Nitro in the history of the show since it expanded to 2 hours in 1996. The show opened with the Goldberg/Russo "shoot" angle which did a 2.0 rating, making it the lowest rated unopposed segment in Nitro history.

- Road Warrior Hawk was hospitalized for several days in Melbourne, Australia for cardiac problems and fluid in his lungs before flying home to Florida and apparently he's okay now.

- Dave got a copy of Gordon Solie's 1947 high school yearbook. He was awarded Best Line, Biggest Flirt, and Most Talkative. Dave says he can just imagine Solie picking up girls in high school by saying, "look at the development in his quadricep femoris and spinae erector muscles!"

- Eric Kulas, aka Mass Transit, will be wrestling at an indie show in the same building in Revere, MA where the incident happened. It's the first time Kulas has had a match since New Jack sliced his him open in one of the sickest things in wrestling history. The advertising for this show is, "Will history repeat itself?"

- ECW notes: crowds have been chanting "USA" (as in the channel, not the country) during the segments with Cyrus pretending to be a TNN Network exec. New Jack will probably be out awhile longer after complications from his recent ankle surgery. Psicosis is back in ECW now but they're said to be kind of disappointed in him because he's nowhere near the wrestler now that he was back in 1995 when he and Mysterio lit the company on fire.

- Notes from Nitro: there was a ton of vulgar language, to the point that it lost all shock value within the first 5 minutes. Russo came out with Tank Abbott and they did some lame shoot deal with Russo acting like Abbott was gonna kick Goldberg's ass and Dave can't seem to find the words for how dumb all this is. So Goldberg comes out and he and Abbott start fighting and using unrealistic moves like Irish whips and clearly calling spots even though they're supposed to be "shooting" on each other, or Abbott selling a kick that clearly missed, etc. Miss Hancock is now going by her real name Stacy and told David Flair she's pregnant. Lance Storm voluntarily gave up 2 of his titles, giving the Cruiserweight title to Elix Skipper and the Hardcore title to Carl Oulette. just in case WCW hasn't devalued their titles enough, now Lance Storm just hands them out to people like Halloween candy. Kevin Nash cut another promo doing nothing but pushing WCW to bring Scott Hall back. Dave thinks this is dumb because if Hall does return, it just proves that there's no rules in WCW. And if they don't bring him back, after months of Nash doing nothing but talking about it on TV, it basically makes all that valuable TV time wasted. Dave seems to wonder why WCW is continuing to push this angle (because it wasn't an angle. WCW was out of control at this point, it was nothing more than Nash going out there and saying whatever he wanted every week and trying to get his friend rehired. And no one ever stopped him.)

- When recapping the Thunder tapings, Dave notes that during this current tour of Canada (PPV, Nitro, and Thunder), Lance Storm was HUGELY over. So naturally, he lost or was made to look stupid in every single city on the tour. Dave isn't surprised, since this is basically the same dumb shit WCW did with Ric Flair that essentially killed the Carolinas. So hey, why wouldn't they take their hottest Canadian star and bury him on every show in Canada? Speaking of, Storm was supposed to appear on TSN's "Off The Record" show but he was pulled from the show at the last minute and no one knows why. It would be smart to let Storm get some national prime time exposure in Canada considering WCW just signed a new 5-year deal with TSN but hey, if WCW made smart decisions, they'd still be in business.

- Konnan is the latest WCW wrestler to get his pay cut in half while he's injured. He's been at almost every TV taping and has appeared on TV. But since he's not wrestling....salary cut in half. Dave seems to think that's some pretty unfair bullshit.

- Random WCW notes: there were some raised eyebrows at Jeff Jarrett calling Booker T "boy" several times during the PPV. There's talk of doing an angle with Vampiro kidnapping and torturing one of the announcers. Jim Duggan and Brian Knobbs are the latest names to be cut. Juventud Guerrera is expected to be let go when his contract expires soon. Bret Hart is getting more brain tests done in September.

- WCW's upcoming Australia tour and TV tapings have been scaled back significantly as a cost-cutting measure. There was originally going to be 80 people being sent, but now it's down to less than 40 and probably only 2 announcers instead of the usual 3.

- Russo recently filmed a sit-down interview that didn't air (it was covered last week). One of the big reasons that it's believed to have been cut from the show is because Russo made several references to Booker T being held back and never getting a chance. WCW, still in the midst of a racial discrimination lawsuit, didn't feel like going on TV and having someone admit that they held one of their black stars back would be a good look.

- Speaking of lawsuits, WCW filed one against AWA Superstars of Wrestling claiming trademark infringement among other things. The lawsuit claims that AWA advertised that WCW talent Lenny and Lodi "might appear" at their TV taping (they didn't, nor were they ever booked to). The AWA also referenced the Nitro Girls and named another wrestler, who isn't even signed to WCW and never has been, as a "WCW rookie sensation." This is the same fake-AWA with the guy who even changed his name to Gagne. I think WWE eventually sues him into irrelevance in a few years.

- Brad Siegel had a big meeting backstage with the wrestlers and one of the things he announced were fines for wrestlers arriving late to shows. $500 for first offense, $1000 for the second, $2000 for the 3rd, 30-day suspension for the 4th, and termination for the 5th. Kevin Nash was said to be bragging that the rules don't apply to him because apparently he has a clause in his contract that says he can't be fined for anything.

- Summerslam will feature an Undertaker vs. Kane match that was thrown together at the last moment this week after the Big Show was sent home for disciplinary reasons. There's several reasons, but the biggest seems to be that he's terribly out of shape and giving him a major push would be setting a bad example. He was sent to OVW awhile back to get in shape and threw up during training and never really got in shape. At a house show this week, he was teamed with Benoit in a match because they figured Benoit could do most of the work and Big Show could do his few spots, but he still blew up quickly. He was scheduled to main event a house show the next night but he showed up claiming back spasms and they ended putting Albert into Big Show's spot, teaming with Kurt Angle in the main event against Taker and Kane. But apparently after the show, he was out and about and his back spasms had magically cleared up and he was fine. But then the next night he showed up for Raw claiming back spasms again and they finally had enough. Vince made the decision to send him home and do an emergency Kane/Undertaker angle on Raw to set up that match. Once his "back problems" subside, Big Show's going to be sent to OVW full-time and that's where he'll stay until he decides to stop being lazy and gets into better shape.

- On Raw, they did a bunch of segments with the Acolytes taking Kaientai out drinking and Dave thinks a lot of it was just outright racist, the way they treat these Japanese adults like dumb little kids and whatnot. Speaking of the Acolytes, Dave points out how they have all these ads on Raw telling kids not to smoke, and then they have the Acolytes, who are cool, beloved babyface characters, smoking cigars in every segment.

- Dave Hebner underwent an angioplasty to clear some blocked arteries after suffering a mild heart attack a couple weeks ago. He was initially released from the hospital but had to go back in after a staph infection.

- In case you're wondering, Brian Gewirtz is the writer who deserves the credit for scripting the awesome Triple H/Kurt Angle/Stephanie McMahon storyline that is currently going on.

- The ho that took the table bump from Goodfather a couple weeks ago is named Lisa Marie Varon who wrestles for UPW in California.

- The Rock and Chyna are both scheduled to appear at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, which comes on the heels of Rock's recent appearance at the Republican convention. Speaking of...

- A panelist on CNN's Capital Gang show made headlines this week when talking about The Rock appearing at the Republican convention, when she referred to the Rock as a "white skinhead hateful wrestling guy." Needless to say, Rock is none of those things other than "wrestling guy" and Dave thinks it was pretty shitty and unfair of her to say that about Dwayne Johnson, who is simply playing a character (and not a white skinhead one, by the way) on TV. Anyway, she's one of those people who is all in with the PTC and she put out a statement calling Rock the star of WWF's "awful show Smackdown that celebrates anti-women, anti-gay, anti-black sentiments with language so coarse and vulgar I can't repeat it here. He loves violence and takes metal chairs, shovels, sledge hammers to his opponents. The Rock appeals to a growing group of white, working-class youths, and you would think the Republicans would rage against his rage theatrics, like AT&T, Coca-Cola and MCI, which have withdrawn their advertising. Instead, they legitimized him."

- 2000 NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion Brock Lesnar made his professional in-ring debut in front of about 60 fans at an OVW show in Louisville. Lesnar had only been in the training camp for 2 weeks before being put in the ring and was said to look very good in his debut against B.J. Payne (in case you ever needed an answer to the trivia question of who Brock's first ever opponent was). Lesnar did a nice bit of chain wrestling and was described as very quick and agile for someone his size but was noticeably blown up after 4 minutes in the ring, so he'll need to work on that. He threw a good dropkick, sold well, and showed lots of charisma. Lesnar's parents and grandparents were also at the show. He's expected to start appearing on OVW television in the next week or so which is amazing because Cornette usually doesn't rush to put anyone on TV before they're ready and WWF hasn't pressured him to, but they're really high on Lesnar.


- It's the Observer Hall of Fame issue and this year, 7 new wrestlers made the cut and were inducted. As always, remember this is voted on by a large panel of people within the business, not just Dave. Other wrestlers, promoters, historians, journalists, and more all cast their votes. This year, more than 130 people within the business cast their votes and Dave explains how they break it down, how the votes are calculated, what the criteria is, etc. Due to the political nature of the business, all the ballots and voters are kept confidential. So your Observer Hall of Fame class of 2000 is:

Mick Foley - finally made the cut this year after just barely missing it the last 2 years. But this year, he had 2 classic matches with Triple H, his whole retirement, a massively successful autobiography, starred in Beyond The Mat (arguably the best wrestling documentary ever), and more, which was clearly enough to get him over the hump in the eyes of voters.

Shinya Hashimoto - should have been in last year (only missed the cut by 1 vote) but he made it this year and is basically a no-brainer.

Steve Austin - inducted on his first year of eligibility which is again a no-brainer. But Dave is actually kinda surprised that Austin didn't get more votes. Jushin Liger holds the record (when he was inducted, he got voted in by 95% of the voters) and Dave expected Austin to get close to that number, but he didn't. He figures longevity may be the issue. Austin is a massive star, but he's only really been a top star for 2 years. But he's the key to WWF's turnaround and no wrestler in history has sold merch or drawn money like he has, not even Hogan. Even if Austin was terrible in the ring (and he's not), he'd still be a shoe-in.

Akira Hokuto - it was her first year eligible and Dave is actually kinda surprised that she made the cut. But she definitely has the credentials, with Dave saying she may be the #2 best women's wrestler ever (Manami Toyota of course being #1).

- So that's the first 4 inductees. The other 3 were actually inducted in a different way. Bill Longson, Sandor Szabo, and Frank Sexton were all major wrestling stars in the 1940s who shouldn't be overlooked. But obviously, nobody is voting for these guys to be inducted because most people alive today don't know about them. But Dave runs down their credentials and says that those 3 are basically being inducted retroactively after heavy lobbying by some of the historians and longtime journalists who have covered the business. So remember when the Observer started back in 1996 and they inducted, like, 100 really old stars from the golden years? This is like that, 3 guys who should have been inducted back in 1996 finally getting their due.

- Other interesting HOF notes: Shawn Michaels is going to be the most controversial issue. Last year he was 1 vote shy of induction. This year, he was 7 votes shy. Being away from the ring for the last 2 years has clearly started to erase him from people's minds as far as his legacy. The Fabulous Freebirds, Hiroshi Hase, and Lizmark all had strong showings but not quite enough to make the cut. Anyway, from here, Dave writes looooong biography pieces on each of the new inductees that are great reads. Dave's biography pieces are pretty much always a highlight.

- Lots of new drama in WCW as the company continues to circle the drain, starting with a Vince Russo interview on WCW Live on their website where he said all sorts of wacky shit. First he mentioned that he has 60 weeks left on his contract and said if he somehow lasted that long (which he doubted he would), then he would leave pro wrestling forever when his contract was up. There have been rumors of him leaving for awhile and they got stronger this week after some in WCW were upset about the poor Canada tour with a bad PPV and bad TV shows. Basically, WCW execs are looking at Russo and realizing that every facet of the business (ratings, buyrates, attendance, revenue, etc.) is down and not getting better under his watch and they're starting to ask questions. There's also some critical eyes on Booker T, who has not been getting over well as champion and getting a lukewarm response in most cities. But most of the heat is on Russo, with many in the company losing confidence in his constant claims of how he's going to turn everything around without producing results and are growing tired of his weekly excuses for why it's not getting better. During the interview, Russo also pushed for moving Nitro back an hour so that it can go head-to-head with Raw for the full 2 hours. Considering football season just started back and WWF is still on fire, Dave says a move like that would be suicidal and apparently WCW knows it because they're not even considering it. Russo blamed the failure of WCW to recover on a lack of advertising to publicize to fans that this is a new product compared to the old WCW of a year ago. Dave calls bullshit again, noting that Russo came into the company with enormous hype and several of their publicity stunts have resulted in curiosity ratings jumps, but they never stick and ratings end up plummeting even further after fans tune in and actually see what WCW has become. Russo also said WCW needs a celebrity angle similar to the WWF/Tyson angle a couple years ago. Dave says that'd be a nice idea if the company had some momentum but they don't. WWF was already surging upward before the Tyson angle and that boosted their momentum, but even without the Tyson angle, WWF would still be exactly where they are right now because they've been consistently putting out a hot product for the last several years. WCW has done celebrity angles in the past, with diminishing returns every time because the company was faltering. Russo also vowed that, by January, WCW would only be 1 ratings point behind WWF (lol). He also claimed that Kurt Angle is the only new star WWF has made since he left last year. And finally, he said that Midajah will be the next Sable.

- WCW also abruptly cancelled the Saturday show this week and, for the first time since the early 1970s, there was no weekend wrestling programming on TBS. WCW World Wide, which is set to become a compilation show soon, is also in grave danger of being cancelled.

- The new taping schedule for WCW is expected to be a nightmare. The plan is to start tapings at 7pm ET. First, they tape a 2-hour Nitro that will air on a one-hour tape delay. They won't schedule any commercial breaks in the taping, just going to rush through it and then they will insert pre-taped backstage skits and whatnot to pad it out before it goes on the air. Which means the production crew will still be editing the 2nd hour of Nitro while the first hour is airing on TV. Anyway, immediately after Nitro ends, they will tape Thunder and then have the next 2 days to insert pre-taped segments in to pad out that show. Considering WCW's notorious production issues over the last year, putting the production crew under even more of a stress and time crunch is a scary thought.

- Hulk Hogan has filed a lawsuit against Vince Russo and WCW, which has many questioning just what exactly happened at Bash at the Beach. Many feel that the fact that Hogan filed a real lawsuit proves that everything that happened was a shoot. If that's the case, it really makes one question just WTF is happening in this company with Vince Russo and, even more importantly, Brad Siegel. If it was a shoot, that means Russo screwed paying fans at the arena and on PPV out of a heavily promoted match by double-crossing a star on live TV and putting WCW in the cross-hairs of a lawsuit by cutting his childish promo after. And that Brad Siegel, head of the company, allowed it to happen without punishing Russo. Hogan's lawyer says that Russo's promo on Hogan wasn't part of the script and that his comments were defamatory and a breach of contract, since Hogan's deal stipulates that WCW can't do anything to damage the character of Hulk Hogan. The lawyer insisted that this lawsuit is not a publicity stunt, which Dave sure hopes not because a lawyer can be disbarred for filing a fake lawsuit and this lawsuit really was filed in a Fulton County court. Naturally, some in WCW still believe this is all a work, because a lot of people in the business are conditioned to believe EVERYTHING is a work. And to be fair, WCW has given their wrestlers plenty of reason not to trust management, given Bischoff and especially Russo's obsession with trying to work everybody backstage. Dave is leaning towards this being legitimate, but he also wouldn't put it past WCW to be stupid enough to file a real lawsuit to get an angle over because that's how out of control and ignorant this company is these days. That being said, Dave thinks this lawsuit is pretty dumb because talking shit about a wrestler on a wrestling show is basically every promo ever. And if Russo's promo really was a shoot, well, he didn't really lie about anything. He really was playing politics with Hogan over his contract and his criticisms of Hogan and the problems with him in WCW weren't wrong. Dave really doesn't seem to pick a side. It definitely smells like a publicity stunt but he's having trouble believing they'd go far enough to make it a real legal issue just to trick people with an angle that isn't going to draw money anyway (final verdict: it was originally a work that turned into a shoot and the lawsuit was legit).

- More roster cuts in WCW this week. Aside from Rey Mysterio and Juventud Guerrera, every single Mexican wrestler on the roster was let go. Most of them hadn't been used lately anyway. Alex Wright, Curt Hennig, Lenny Lane, Christopher Daniels, Jim Duggan, Brian Knobs, Elizabeth, and Mike Rotunda were all released as well. And Marcus Bagwell's future is said to be in doubt. He has 6 months left on his contract but he's been in the doghouse for awhile because he throws a fit every time he's asked to do a job and is just generally not well-liked. Prince Iaukea also is on the chopping block. His contract is due up in November and he was trying to negotiate a better deal and WCW instead decided to just bench him for the rest of his deal and not re-sign him. Dave actually doesn't know why they decided to cut Christopher Daniels. WCW is all about pushing their big new youth movement and Daniels is a great worker who was only making $75,000 a year which is peanuts compared to most everyone else in the company. Daniels is the exact kind of wrestler that should be on TV getting pushed, not getting released. More than anyone, Dave thinks this shows a lack of an eye for talent by the people making the decisions.

- Lots of wrestlers in WCW have been trying to put feelers out to WWF to see if they can jump ship. But no discussions have taken place because everyone is still under contract and WWF won't talk to anyone for fear of catching a contract tampering accusation. Word is WCW is looking to slash the talent budget anywhere from $12-20 million and in order to do that, they're going to have to start releasing some of the bigger name stars. Cutting all those undercard contracts doesn't even make a dent in the losses WCW is trying to recoup. A lot of speculation that guys like DDP, Kimberly, Lex Luger, Kanyon, Bagwell, and Juventud are the bigger names that may still be in danger of being released soon in order to cut costs. WWF is said to have zero interest in Luger, for obvious reasons. As for the others, there's interest but WWF realizes that they're in a position where they don't *need* any of those people so if they want to jump ship, they're probably going to be offered less money than what they're making in WCW now. Several of the top stars have contracts that stipulate that they can't be fired, so in order to release them, WCW would have to buy out the remainder of their contracts, which defeats the purpose of releasing them to save money. And once again, Dave points out that even if every single wrestler in WCW worked for free, they'd still be on pace to lose $40 million this year.

- Dave writes a big obituary piece for Tony "Cannonball" Parisi who was a well known star in the 60s and 70s, including several runs in the WWWF where he was often billed as the babyface cousin of Bruno Sammartino. He was 58-years-old and suffered a heart attack at a coffee shop. Dave recaps his entire career, including this nugget here: "Perhaps his most bizarre moment in wrestling was being on the phone with the late Dave McKigney, an area independent promoter known as the Bearman for training wrestling bears, which at one point was something of an attraction in pro wrestling. Parisi was on the phone with McKigney when one of his bears got loose and killed McKigney's wife and he heard the entire incident."

- Mil Mascaras said in an interview that he plans to run for office in the Mexican Senate in the 2003 election. He said he would unmask when he begins campaigning but wouldn't commit to retiring from the ring if he won. Dave notes that this isn't the first time Mascaras has talked about running for office but he's still never done it (he never did and, to this day, at age 76, I don't think he's ever been seen unmasked).

- NJPW star Masahiro Chono will debut in AJPW next week in a match against Masa Fuchi, the first in a series of matches planned between the two promotions. It will be followed by by a Chono/Tenzan vs. Kawada/Fuchi tag match at October's NJPW Tokyo Dome show, and then NJPW will send people to work in AJPW's upcoming title tournaments. Assuming this whole AJPW vs. NJPW angle takes off, AJPW is hoping to run another Tokyo Dome show in May, probably headlined by Kawada vs. Muto or Hashimoto.

- Masahito Kakihara abruptly quit NOAH this week and is expected to jump to either RINGS, Pancrase, or PRIDE so he can work shoot matches. Dave doesn't think it's a great idea and thinks he'll be better off sticking to wrestling. (Kakihara ended up only ever having 1 MMA fight, in 2004. His opponent, you ask? Rocky Romero. Kakihara won.)

- NOAH will hold a tournament in December to crown the promotion's first ever champion (this doesn't end up happening until several months into 2001).

- NJPW star Shinjiro Otani has been sent to go work abroad in Canada for a few months to bulk up and return as a heavyweight. Word is there's legit heat between Otani and booker Riki Choshu and at one point, Otani nearly quit the company (Otani eventually returns for a few months before leaving NJPW. Otani and Shinya Hashimoto then formed ZERO-1).

- Dos Caras Jr. made his debut at a small indie show in Japan, teaming with his father. Caras Jr. is 23 and had been training to compete in the Sydney Olympics as an amateur wrestler but Mexico isn't going to be sending a wrestling team this year, so that's not happening. He had been holding off on going pro to try his luck at the Olympics but he'll be 27 the next time they roll around and he feels he can't wait another 4 years just for the chance to do it again, so he decided to finally follow in his father's footsteps. Word is he looked very good for his first match (that would be Alberto Del Rio. I can't find footage of this and in fact, I can't even find reference to it on cagematch.net or wrestlingdata.com so who knows).

- Rena Mero (aka Sable) was on Inside Edition this week, mostly plugging her book. Apparently she has a book. She also mentioned that the TV series she was scheduled to star in with Dennis Rodman, called The Consultants, never got past developmental and is no longer happening.

- Tammy Sytch said on her website that she was in a car accident recently, rolling her Jeep over twice and cutting her face and neck up.

- The latest on the ECW/USA Network negotiations is that they're possibly looking at putting the show in an 11pm-to-1am time slot on Saturday nights, which would mean there wouldn't be nearly as many concerns over content. But it's far from a done deal.

- Notes from Nitro: they continued the Russo/Goldberg angle, and Dave points out a bunch of plot holes as to why this whole thing wouldn't make sense even if it wasn't stupid. They also had a bit where Russo offered to pay Goldberg his contract and give him his release so he could go to the WWF, but Goldberg ripped it up. It's funny, because in real life just a little while back, Goldberg was asked about that exact scenario (if he could get out of his contract, still collect the money, and go to WWF) and Goldberg said he would absolutely accept that chance. Real-life Goldberg wants out of WCW just as much as everyone else. Vampiro and ICP came out and Vampiro was holding the title belt from ICP's JCW promotion, which Dave notes out sells a ton more videos than WCW ever could (for weeks now, JCW videos and DVDs have been charting high up on the Billboard sports videos list alongside WWF videos, while WCW is never even in the top 20). They even tried to play it off as a JCW invasion angle but of course, nobody outside ICP's fanbase even knows what the fuck a JCW is. Mike Sanders cut a hell of a promo and impressed Dave. Although once again, the gist of the promo was yet another wrestler acknowledging how much WCW sucks nowadays and how much turmoil the company is in. Which, yeah, we all know it but maybe it's best not to acknowledge it every week on your own show. And ICP came back out later in the show to do commentary on Vampiro's match, which Dave says was amusing (man, fuck amusing. ICP on commentary is HILARIOUS).

- The Stacy Keibler/David Flair wedding angle is expected to happen in October, which coincides with the expected return of Ric Flair. Lots of rumors that the story will end up being that Flair is the father of Stacy's baby.

- At the Thunder tapings last week, Lance Storm wrestled twice and there was a long delay during the taping. The reason is because The Cat was supposed to pin Jacques Rougeau clean, but Rougeau refused to do the job and ended up quitting the company over it. So that threw plans in chaos backstage and they had to change things on the fly. Rougeau said in a newspaper interview in Montreal this week that he didn't come back to WCW to be a jobber and that you can't be a big money player in this business if you're doing clean jobs on TV. A lot of people backstage kinda scoffed at that considering, well, he's 43 years old and he's Jacques Rougeau. He's never going to be a big money player and everyone but him knows it.

- WCW Injury Report: Billy Kidman did some angle where he was hanged by Shane Douglas awhile back and it apparently really did injure his larynx doing the spot and will be out for a few weeks. Shawn Stasiak is believed to have torn his ACL.

- Kevin Nash has been pushing to be given the WCW title at Fall Brawl, arguing that Booker T isn't getting over as champion and that every time the two of them have been in confrontations on TV recently, the crowds have been cheering for Nash more. Dave says.......he's right actually. Not necessarily that Nash should get the title. A lot of people think his motives for that are, of course, just looking out for himself, as Nash tends to do. But it's true that the fans really haven't taken to Booker T as champion yet and Nash is definitely more over.

- Super Crazy is interested in coming to WCW. He's been out of ECW for awhile with visa issues but that's all cleared up and he's just not being used right now because ECW isn't flying people in for most shows unless necessary to cut down on expenses. Dave says WCW is in need of good talent, Super Crazy has already proven in ECW that he can get over with American fans, he's an incredible worker, he has some name value, and by WCW standards, they could probably get him for fairly cheap. But WCW is said to have zero interest in him. Given Russo's well-known opinions about Mexican wrestlers, Dave offhandedly ponders if the situation would be different if Super Crazy was white.

- They started doing an angle with Mark Madden where he would feud with and wrestle women, starting with backstage announcer Pamela Paulshock, but the angle has been dropped. Russo actually wanted the Madden vs. women matches to be a shoot, similar to Andy Kaufman's famous women's matches, many of which really were shoots.

- WCW has offered Juventud Guerrera a new contract and while Dave doesn't have the exact numbers, it's said to be a very low guarantee compared to what the rest of the roster is making. His contract came up for renewal at a bad time, since WCW is in massive cost-cutting mode. The new deal is around $2,000 per show which would be good money if WCW was working a full schedule. But they're only doing 5 shows a month now and there's no guarantee that Juvi will be booked on all, or even any, of them. ECW is also interested in him, but they're offering even less money. No word if WWF is interested, but because of his size, Dave doubts it. And even if they did sign him, Dave can't see WWF doing anything with him.

- WCW valet Leia Meow (formerly Kimona in ECW) hasn't been used on TV in months but she hasn't been fired. Apparently awhile back, she filed a complaint to Turner's HR dept. over an unnamed wrestler's alleged inappropriate behavior and so the Turner execs feel like they can't fire her right now (we never find out who this is, but I'm curious).

- There were rumors recently about Kevin Nash wanting to leave and apparently Booker T was asked about it in a recent newspaper interview and he had this to say: "Let him go. You think he can go up there and run with those young guys? You think he could run all around the building with Triple H like they do up there and take suplexes on the walkway? These guys aren't capable of doing that stuff anymore. These guys have nowhere to go, and if they can keep working WCW like they can, WCW is stupid. And that's the bottom line. If they want to go, let them go." This leads Dave to talk about how WCW can't stop kicking itself in the dick. Booker T and Nash are scheduled to face each other at the next PPV and what does it say for WCW as a whole if Booker T is burying Nash as someone who can't hang with their competition? He says a big part of the negative stigma around WCW right now is because WCW keeps putting it out there. On their own shows, people come out weekly and cut promos buying the company and portraying it as a fledgling, failing company. Which, yeah it is, but shhh! WCW still has some fans, and Dave doesn't see the point of making them feel stupid for supporting the company by always telling them how much it sucks. Or, in cases like this Booker T interview, punish the people who do. If a WWF top star went and did an interview trashing the company and burying other wrestlers, they'd be punished severely. In WCW, no one gives a shit anymore.

- In 2001, WCW plans to change the names of many of their PPVs. Starrcade, Halloween Havoc, and Bash at the Beach are expected to remain the same but the others will be given new names (we only get 3 PPVs in 2001 before they fold).

- Kohl's (the department store) did a back-to-school poll asking teenagers what celebrity they'd want to be their substitute teacher. For boys, The Rock won 1st place, followed by Britney Spears and Tiger Woods. As for the girls, no wrestlers made their list. The top 3 for girls was N'Sync (Kane would agree), Julia Roberts, and Joshua Jackson.

- Big Show recently underwent an MRI that shows he has a herniated disc in his lower back so he's going to be out for a while recovering from that. But when he's ready to go again, he's still going to be sent to OVW to get back into shape and won't be brought back to WWF until they feel he's where they want him to be.

- The USA Network is still appealing the court decision they lost awhile back to try and keep Raw from going to TNN. This is actually a win-win case for WWF. If the judge upholds the ruling, then WWF gets to jump to TNN, like they want to. And if the judge does overturn the original ruling, then that would re-open negotiations with both sides and WWF will be back in the middle of a bidding war. Even if they stay on USA Network, USA will have to match Viacom's offer. So no matter what happens here, WWF is going to make a whole bunch of money regardless.

- With all the talk of UPN going under or getting bought out (there's some Rupert Murdoch/FOX/Viacom discussions happening), WWF is in a good position there too. Smackdown gets great ratings and if UPN goes away, Smackdown would become a "free agent" show and would likely have a lot of networks, stronger ones than UPN, bidding for it as well. Everything's coming up Milhouse for WWF right now.

- Raw will be pushed back 2 hours later than normal for the next 2 weeks because USA will be airing the U.S. Open tennis tournament. These yearly pre-emptions and time slot changes are one of the things McMahon complained about on the stand during the USA trial.

- Steve Austin and Debra are expected to be getting married in the next few weeks.

- The Rock made headlines by saying he was thinking of running for President some day (he still occasionally floats that idea out there these days). Access Hollywood also named Rock as one of the 10 biggest celebrities of 2000.

- TV Guide ran a big cover story on WWF and quoted Vince McMahon talking about the decision to admit wrestling is fake and how that helped them position themselves as entertainment and opened a lot of doors. This leads Dave to recount a conversation he had with McMahon in 1992, in which McMahon accused Dave of "telling the public that there's no Santa Claus."

- Lots of letters regarding the WON Hall of Fame, with people debating about the latest inductees. One guy's letter takes the cake though. He says Steve Austin shouldn't in, saying he hasn't shown any athletic ability. "Dirty talk doesn't make a wrestler. In the ring, all I've seen him do is stomp, kick, punch, and drink beer." He says that if Austin and "Dwayne Johnson" didn't cuss constantly, they would be as big a stars as Paul Jones and Manny Fernandez were. Well, Mr. Bobby Yates from Randleman, NC.....I've seen some pretty bad takes in my day but that's up there.

We all know it was Scott Steiner in the HR complaint
Its wild how high WWF were riding in 2000 and how bad they would fuck it all up in 2001 between overstretching with the XFL, turning Austing heel when people didnt want it and booking an invasion at a time when it was impossible to do it effectively.
[Image: Chaos.png]

I'm in the middle of writing the mid-2001 stuff now and yeah man, it's nuts. From the moment WCW goes out of business and Austin turns heel, WWF's business just drops off a fucking cliff. Ratings plummet, house shows stop selling out, etc.

And it all happens almost overnight. Literally in the 8 weeks after the final Nitro and WM17, it just nosedives. And continues to slowly do so for the next 17 years, and has never recovered since.

Turning Austin heel and botching the Invasion angle was just about the worst decisions they ever made in retrospect.


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