Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 2000

- WWF's Summerslam is in the books and it was a fantastic show that raised the bar with crazy stunts. There was the show-stealing TLC match between Edge & Christian/Hardyz/Dudleyz that was full of insane bumps (remember, this is the first ever TLC match). Shane McMahon also took a crazy bump off the TitanTron (and Steve Blackman followed with an elbow drop). Dave worries about all the backyard wrestler type kids trying to copy all this dangerous stuff, because it's a given that it will happen. But backyard wrestlers don't have crash pads, doctors on site, and other safety precautions the way WWF does. Obviously, you can't legislate stupidity, but WWF is the industry leader and when someone dies jumping off a ladder from their roof through a table, people are going to point the finger of blame at them and use things like this show as an example. Dave just feels like the bar on crazy stunts is beginning to be raised too high. Anyway, the show was sold out and because of higher ticket prices, it was the 7th highest gate in the history of American pro wrestling and the first time they've done a gate of over $1 million for something other than Wrestlemania. The show was main evented by a Rock/Triple H/Kurt Angle three-way match that saw Angle get legitimately knocked loopy early in the match on a table bump when the announce table broke before it was supposed to. After the match, Angle couldn't remember anything that happened after the botched spot and he was taken to the hospital and kept overnight for observation. (Yeah, if you've never seen this, Angle is MASSIVELY concussed. He's so clearly out of it. Angle later said that when Stephanie came out for the end of the match, and they were outside the ring, Stephanie kept having to lead him through spots. "Throw him against the stairs. Okay now grab his leg. Okay, now do this..." He was absolutely GONE. Knowing what we know now about concussions, it's scary to watch.)

- Other notes from Summerslam: there was an ad during the show for a place called Vinnie's Restaurant in Raleigh, NC where the show was. That restaurant was actually started by one of Vince McMahon's close childhood friends and is actually named in honor of Vince (he helped originally finance the place), so that's why that was plugged during the show (the place still exists, but Vince's friend sold it to new owners way back in 2002). Chyna won the IC title by pinning Trish Stratus. Don't ask. Jericho/Benoit in a 2-out-of-3 falls match was good but rushed and was missing something. Dave predicts the TLC match will get a lot of votes for match of the year. Kat vs. Terri in a stink face match was what you'd expect, but Dave notes that Al Snow managed to grab a handful of both women's asses at points during the match. Undertaker vs. Kane never really got going and that whole storyline was thrown together at the last minute anyway after Big Show got pulled from the card. And Rock retained the WWF title in a match that was built around the Triple H/Angle/Stephanie love triangle. Fortunately, the match was already booked to have Angle disappear for a large part of it after the table bump, which is fortunate since he really did need that extra 15 minutes or so to halfway recover after being knocked loopy. When Angle was being carted out on the stretcher, Triple H went after him and was supposed to tip over the stretcher and beat Angle up some more. But by that point, they all kinda realized that Angle was seriously hurt so Triple H improvised and didn't really do anything to him other than hit him with a few worked punches while he waited for Rock to come interrupt and then they took Angle backstage.

- The latest PRIDE event is in the book and it featured Ken Shamrock losing his fight and Kazushi Sakuraba defeating Renzo Gracie, which is the 3rd Gracie family member in a row to lose to Sakuraba (he'll end up adding a 4th, Ryan, to that list in a few months). Shamrock's loss came at the hands of NJPW wrestler Kazuyuki Fujita. Shamrock was dominating the fight but his corner threw the towel in after about 6+ minutes when Shamrock seemed to start suffering heart attack symptoms and went pale. He ended up being okay after the fight and refused to talk about it with the press. It was said to be incredibly hot in the arena, over 100 degrees and probably even hotter under the lights and fighting. In the other big fight, Renzo Gracie suffered a dislocated elbow when he refused to tap out to Sakuraba and the referee stopped it. It was a close fight and Renzo is widely considered the best of the Gracie family, and he was gracious in defeat, which the other Gracies have not been. There was a bunch of wrestlers working the show and a seemingly worked wrestling-style angle to set up a future Naoya Ogawa/Masaaki Satake fight. Speaking of, Satake's victory over Kazunari Mirakami came across as suspicious to some and considering Antonio Inoki was one of the producers of the show and Satake's win set up the Ogawa angle, there was some suspicion that this fight may have been worked.

- ECW put on 2 shows at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC this week and many were calling it the greatest weekend in the history of ECW with 2 of the best shows the company has ever put on. The events even got front page coverage on the next day's NY Daily News. The two shows consisted of 5 hours of TV tapings, which will be the final shows for ECW on TNN, and it ended with Cyrus "cancelling" ECW on TNN. At the first show, Mikey Whipwreck and Tajiri won the tournament to crown new tag champions but lost them at the next show. Kid Kash became TV champion. Dawn Marie returned as Steve Corino's manager (who also came out with Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan, and he got involved as well). But it wasn't all good. Psicosis faced Tony DeVito in a match that was such a styles clash and so bad that it reportedly won't make television. But several other matches were great. It ended with Cyrus cancelling ECW, which brought out Paul Heyman and he laid out Cyrus, only to have Rhino put Heyman through a table and a huge brawl broke out (yeah this whole angle is great and the crowd is nuclear).

- Regarding the actual, *real* cancellation of ECW, there's a lot of hope that they will end up on USA and there's still a lot of talk about it being a 2-hour show on Saturday nights, although nothing has been finalized yet. The plan for a new 2-hour show would be for it to have a heavy focus on good in-ring matches (I love how Heyman was already beginning to toy with the idea of changing ECW into the type of promotion that ROH would later become. Paul Heyman seems to always be a few years ahead of the curve on where wrestling is going). USA is still appealing the Raw decision so that's one of the major hold-ups to them striking a deal with ECW.

- Must be a slow week because, with the 2000 Summer Olympics approaching, Dave decides to take a look at some of the Olympic athletes who have transitioned into pro wrestling or MMA or vice versa. I feel like we just did this a few months ago but this is waaaaaaaaay more in-depth, dating back to 1906. Man, I'm sure this is interesting to read, but fuck that. It's lunch time for me anyway. I think I'm going to go to Subway. I'll let y'all know how it goes when I get back.

- I'm back. Lunch was fine. Got the foot long spicy Italian with lettuce, cucumbers, banana peppers, salt & peper and sweet onion sauce. My sandwich artist put just a little too much sauce on there, but it was fine. I sat in my car and tried to read a book while I ate, but my wife kept texting me. Like, c'mon, of *course* I want to order pizza tonight. Are we going to have this conversation every time? Why would I want salad? Plants and carrots and shit? Am I a bunny? DO I LOOK LIKE A BUNNY TO YOU, SAMANTHA? HUH, DO I? REAL PEOPLE DON'T EAT FOLIAGE! And by this point, my wife was crying and was like "Stop yelling! What do you want from me?!" And I said, "I want about tree fiddy." Now it was around this time that she realized that I wasn't really her husband. I was 7 stories tall and was actually a crustacean from the Paleozoic era. "Dammit Nessie!" she exclaimed. That goddamn Loch Ness monster had gotten her again. "Dammit Monstah, I ain't givin' you no tree fiddy!" she yelled at me as I swam away.

- Dave talks about the death of Andy Hug, a kickboxer in Japan who died suddenly from acute leukemia to the shock of the entire country and Switzerland where he was a national hero. His funeral in Tokyo attracted over 12,000 people making it one of the biggest funerals ever for a professional athlete in Japan (second only to Giant Baba's funeral in 1999). Hug wasn't just a kickboxer, he was a mainstream celebrity in Japan, appearing in lots of TV commercials and was often courted for movie roles which he turned down to focus on fighting. His death was a total surprise, even to him, as he was admitted to the hospital only 6 days earlier because he felt like something was wrong. Then a few days later, he put out a statement saying he was in the fight for his life and vowing to return. Then 24 hours later, he went into a coma, was put on life support and never woke up.

- Speaking of, following Hug's death, NJPW star Shinya Hashimoto announced that he's coming back, and they tied it into Hug's death, with Hashimoto saying that about the moment Hug died is when he decided he needed to return and he went to the dojo where Hug used to train to talk about why he was inspired to come back and whatnot. Dave thinks turning Hug's death into an angle for Hashimoto's return is pretty tasteless.

- Raw was moved back 2 hours due to the U.S. Open tennis tournament this week and so it aired from 11pm-1am EST. And it still did an incredible 4.93 rating which is bonkers for that late of a time slot. It still destroyed Nitro, which aired unopposed in its normal time slot. As for this week's Thunder, it did a near record low 1.89 rating which is the 2nd lowest in the history of the show, although to be fair, it was going head-to-head against the finale of Survivor which did the highest rating of any show on television this year aside from the Super Bowl. So the good news is, there's a valid excuse for the low rating. It was a terrible show, but at least nobody saw it, so that's also good news in its own way.

- Atsushi Onita appeared at the latest AJPW show in an angle and had an exchange in the ring with Motoko Baba and Masa Fuchi. It's all leading to Onita's return to AJPW, because they're still desperately trying to bring in anyone that will keep them from collapsing.

- Fox News ran a segment on backyard wrestling focusing on a kid in Chicago who broke his neck after taking a tombstone wrong. The kid's mom was on the show and so was Mick Foley, telling kids that sending the WWF a tape of you doing backyard wrestling isn't going to even get you looked at, much less signed. Dave says that's all well and good, but the reality is, half the people in WWF probably started out wrestling with their friends in their backyards. Foley's history is well known, jumping off his roof and shit. The Hardyz, Shane Helms, Shannon Moore and that whole group trained themselves in a ring they bought when they were teenagers in their yard. And Dave is willing to bet that the vast majority of guys who get into the business in the next decade or so will probably have started that way also. It's not safe and kids definitely need to be careful and stop doing this shit, but the reality is, they won't. They're kids. It's the same as NBA players who grow up playing basketball in their driveway or NFL players started out playing football with no helmets or pads in their backyard with their friends. That's just the nature of sports and wrestling isn't all that different.

- Tajiri had to return to Japan for the next month for legal issues regarding his visa. ECW is hoping to have all the visa stuff worked out so that both Tajiri and Super Crazy can return for the Oct. PPV.

- Speaking of PPVs, ECW really loves the Hammerstein Ballroom and everyone in the company feels like it's the perfect building for ECW. It's likely they will hold a PPV there soon (the final 2 PPVs in ECW history take place there as well as the first 2 PPVs of the new WWECW a few years later).

- Neither ECW or XPW have filed lawsuits against each other over the incident that took place at the Heat Wave PPV, so that seems to be mostly a dead issue right now (yeah, it never went past this. XPW kept talking shit for awhile, but that was the end of the "feud". ECW was too busy trying not to die).

- Notes from Nitro: they held the show in a smaller arena that only holds 5,000 so it was actually close to full (still not sold out) but it made for a much better atmosphere than all the 3/4 empty arenas WCW has been performing in. He calls Tygress vs. Paisley vs. Major Gunns "the worst 20 seconds in the history of sports entertainment." Mike Awesome is now doing a retro 70s gimmick just in case he wasn't dead enough in this company. Nash cut a promo saying he was going to "eat a little Korean," which was apparently a reference to Nitro Girl Chae, who he is dating. Konnan returned to action, way sooner than he should have after his recent tricep surgery. Dave talks about how WCW cuts people's paychecks in half if they're out injured too long and how it just leads to worse injuries because people are returning before they're ready and get injured again. Dave knows that some guys in the company have a habit of milking injuries so they can stay home and collect a check, but Konnan had a very real surgery and they know that. So anyway, he's back. They did a big thing with Russo threatening to fire Goldberg, completely forgetting the fact that just 2 weeks ago on Nitro, the big storyline was about how Russo couldn't fire Goldberg because of some clause in his contract. But hey, who cares about plot holes? They had an angle where ICP and Vampiro destroyed the big screen over the entrance way. For a company that is frantically cutting costs everywhere, Dave questions the logic in destroying an expensive piece of the set for an angle no one cares about. Bret Hart came back and blamed the Montreal Screwjob on Russo, because we're still booking angles about that 3 years later. Hart then attacked Goldberg in a good angle, blaming him for ending his career. Dave thinks it was a great angle but the problem is it makes people want to see Goldberg vs. Bret Hart and, well, that's clearly not happening, so again.....why?

- Johnny Ace is said to be impressing people backstage in WCW with booking and production meetings. Oh, speaking of, Ace and Kevin Nash got into a heated argument backstage at Nitro. A lot of wrestlers have been fined in the last few weeks for being late and its believed the fines were Ace's idea. So Nash confronted him about it and it turned into such a heated argument that it almost got physical.

- Scott Steiner suffered an orbital bone injury during the brawl on Nitro last week when Goldberg accidentally potatoed him.

- Jeff Jarrett said in an interview that he would have stayed in WWF if the offer was right and said that Russo going to WCW didn't play a big part in his decision. But he said he felt the WWF's offer made by Jim Ross was insulting. He also said that he was pissed at Steve Austin because he took stunners from Austin several times on TV but when it was time for Austin to work an angle with Jarrett, he refused.

- Dave explains the story of Jacques Rougeau quitting recently and it's just a big bunch of mess about Rougeau wanting to be a bigger part of the Team Canada angle with Lance Storm and Bret Hart, but he was only offered a per-night deal and then Russo tried to book him to job to The Cat. Rougeau felt WCW only saw him as a jobber and he wants to be more than that, so he quit.

- They revealed the names for the 8 XFL teams at a press conference, and Dave uses this opportunity to point out the obvious wrestling connections. The NY/NJ Hitmen (Bret), Orlando Rage, Memphis Maniax, San Jose Demons ("my god, they named a team after Dale Torborg!"), Los Angeles Extreme (ECW), Las Vegas Outlaws ("oh you didn't know?"), Chicago Enforcers (Double A), and Birmingham Thunderbolts (Thunderbolt Patterson). Fun fact: the Birmingham team was originally going to be called The Blast but when rumors of the name leaked out, some people in Birmingham thought it might be seen as a reference to the infamous 1963 Birmingham church bombing and were advised against it. As for the Hitmen team, the Calgary Flames franchise in Canada owns a minor league hockey team called the Calgary Hitmen (and in fact, Bret Hart was once a partial owner of the team) and they're said to be exploring their legal options against the XFL, arguing that they have a trademark for the Hitmen name. Dave thinks the team logos are all pretty cool, but WWF excels at marketing, so he's not surprised.

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- Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler had a tryout to be XFL announcers and apparently did very well, but it's unknown if they'll get the gig. NBC is said to be uncomfortable with having them do the announcing since they want to at least *kinda* separate this whole thing from wrestling because the connection automatically makes people suspicious of the games. Dave says with NBC being 50% owner, there's no chance the games will be worked because NBC won't allow that type of scandal, but people will be suspicious anyway.

- Raven's ECW contract has expired and he has signed a deal with WWF, so that's finally official. No word on when he'll debut.

- Jim Ross sent a memo out to all the wrestlers and reassured everyone that WWF has had no meetings with any WCW wrestlers. He said the company is happy with the locker room they have, with little drama and everyone is cohesive and working together and they don't want to do anything to damage that morale, such as bringing in all the locker room cancers from WCW. That being said, both Steve Austin and Triple H have expressed interest in wanting to work with DDP, but unless he gets a release, WWF won't even talk to him.

- The current plan for the next few weeks is to heavily hype the return of Steve Austin to TV on the first episode of Raw on TNN. He may also get involved at this month's Unforgiven PPV now that he's physically able to deliver stunners. WWF has set up a ring at Austin's home in Texas and are sending wrestlers down there to work with him and get him back into ring shape. The October PPV is expected to be his first match back.
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(12-19-2018, 10:34 AM)Peezy Wrote: - I'm back. Lunch was fine. Got the foot long spicy Italian with lettuce, cucumbers, banana peppers, salt & peper and sweet onion sauce. My sandwich artist put just a little too much sauce on there, but it was fine. I sat in my car and tried to read a book while I ate, but my wife kept texting me. Like, c'mon, of *course* I want to order pizza tonight. Are we going to have this conversation every time? Why would I want salad? Plants and carrots and shit? Am I a bunny? DO I LOOK LIKE A BUNNY TO YOU, SAMANTHA? HUH, DO I? REAL PEOPLE DON'T EAT FOLIAGE! And by this point, my wife was crying and was like "Stop yelling! What do you want from me?!" And I said, "I want about tree fiddy." Now it was around this time that she realized that I wasn't really her husband. I was 7 stories tall and was actually a crustacean from the Paleozoic era. "Dammit Nessie!" she exclaimed. That goddamn Loch Ness monster had gotten her again. "Dammit Monstah, I ain't givin' you no tree fiddy!" she yelled at me as I swam away.

This is top quality journalism, keep up the good work Peezy
[+] 1 user Likes Zack T's post
Lol, my fantasy football team's name is Team Tree Fiddy
[+] 1 user Likes sanderz1's post
9-11-2000 (man, this is gonna be a rough date next year...)

- The pro wrestling industry has never been in a more tumultuous state than it is now. WWF is on fire and looks to only be getting stronger with the new TV deal looming and the return of Steve Austin next month. But for everyone else, shit is looking bleak. WCW is in the midst of severe cutbacks and there's not a single sign that things are improving anytime soon. Nitro this week did away with the opening pyro and more than a dozen wrestlers ended up having to pay for their own hotel rooms. In the past, WCW paid for everyone's rooms but it turns out that was more of a perk that was never really stipulated in contracts. It was just something Bischoff had promised to do for people and he did. But with all the new cutbacks, WCW is no longer honoring any verbal commitments that Bischoff made in the past, so half the roster got stuck paying their own hotels this week (a lot of the top guys *do* have it written into their contracts). Also, a flood of WCW front office employees have been putting in transfer requests to other divisions of the Turner empire, in hopes that they can still have a job if WCW goes belly up. The uncertainty in the company has never been greater.

- Speaking of Bischoff, he was in Atlanta for a meeting with Brad Siegel a few days ago, reportedly to discuss purchasing the company. Bischoff himself denied that was the case, but others close to the situation say it's been openly discussed. WCW has had talks with several companies in recent months about that topic, even though they've been denying it. Bischoff wants to be in charge of WCW without people above him to overrule him. Seigel has told people that the company is entertaining several offers but none of them are even remotely close when it comes to money. In the past, FOX has shown interest but that's only if they can have names like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage involved. Of course, there's the issue with Hogan's current lawsuit against them, plus the idea of trying to start a company built around Hogan and Savage in the year 2001 is pretty obviously not the answer, but the suits at FOX don't understand that of course. There's always the possibility of an inter-promotional angle, which WCW has indicated many times that they want to do with ECW. But Paul Heyman has steadfastly refused the offer every time. Dave says if an ECW/WCW angle ever happens, it will be a sign that Heyman has exhausted every other possibility.

- ECW, of course, has been down this road before. In 1999, they were probably only days or weeks away from folding before the TNN deal saved them. But the ratings never got close to what TNN expected and ECW, for their part, had a pretty stagnant product. Although to be fair, a large part of that was the mass exodus of ECW wrestlers jumping ship to WWF and WCW. But TNN certainly didn't do them any favors and a lot of ECW's complaints about how they were treated by the network are valid. It's hard to argue which company is in worse shape right now. If ECW gets this USA Network deal, they should be able to survive and maybe even thrive. But if they can't land a TV deal soon, then they're probably in even more danger than WCW.

- Things are similar in Japan. Right now, NJPW and AJPW are doing an inter-promotional angle, which should do good business for both companies, but it's a desperation move by AJPW and they wouldn't be the first promotion to come crawling to NJPW for a lifeline only to end up worse off than before when the angle ends. AJPW still has no TV deal and lost 98% of their roster. NOAH is a hot ticket right now, but they're still new and un-established and they're going to have to create new stars because Misawa and Kobashi are too broken down to carry the company long-term. NJPW looks to be stable for the long-term but even they are suffering creatively from the most boring year they've had in a long time.

- Speaking of the NJPW/AJPW angle, the first match between stars of the 2 companies drew a sellout crowd to Budokan Hall with Masahiro Chono vs. Masa Fuchi. The match had major heat and was described as one of those magical moments you never thought you'd see, even though Fuchi is 46 and past his prime and Chono is a broken down shell of what he used to be. Chono ended up winning, which sets up next month's Tokyo Dome show, which will likely have IWGP champion Kensuke Sasaki vs. AJPW's Toshiaki Kawada as the main event. Anyway, the Chono/Fuchi match made headlines throughout Japan and footage was shown on various TV shows (which is good for AJPW since they don't have their own show anymore). Dave talks about how both companies were formed in 1972. They worked together for one show in 1978, and then again for a few months in 1990, including a combined show with WWF. But after that fell apart, that was it until now. AJPW obviously needed this angle just to survive but Dave thinks NJPW needed it as well because business is down and the company is stagnant right now, so this is a much needed shot in the arm.

- Things I'm mostly skipping over this week: Dave recapping the latest PRIDE event because he actually saw it now. The Shamrock fight, Sakuraba beating Renzo Gracie, etc. There's also another big section about pro wrestlers/Olympic athletes, correcting some things from last week, giving more details, etc. Interesting stuff but not newsworthy.

- Each month, Dave usually has a business rundown where he looks at numbers from the month and compares them to the previous year. I usually skip past it because it's boring statistics but just for shits and giggles, I decided to read it this week and wow. It's amazing to see how far WCW has fallen in only a year. So this is comparing WCW numbers from July 1999 to July 2000. Average attendance is down 55%. Average gate down 53%. Monday night ratings are down 25% (although Dave points out that it's not a fair comparison because Nitro switched from 3 hours to 2. So if you account for that, it's even worse and would actually be about a 31% drop). PPV buyrates down 45%. In July 99, they sold out around 17% of their house shows. In July 2000, they sold out exactly 0% of them. A lot can change in a year. And while I'm pointing it out, it's worth noting that Vince Russo was in charge for probably 75% of that year.

- The Catch Wrestling Association promotion that operated in Austria and Germany is no more. Promoter Otto Wanz announced that he's closing up shop. The CWA was founded in 1973 and was once considered a major force in the business and many of the biggest names in wrestling worked there over the years when they worked in Europe.

- Image Comics has released a new comic called "The Tenth Muse" and the main character is based on Rena Mero (Sable).

- While talking about some indie show tournament happening in Florida, Dave mentions that Barry Windham was advertised but had to pull out because he works construction full time now and couldn't get off work.

- Dave gives 4.25 stars to a recent Psicosis vs. Tajiri match on ECW TV and says it was one of the best U.S. matches of the year. It leads to a small tangent about how WCW misuses their talent and the whole Russo thing about saying American fans don't care about foreigners. But at this ECW show, with no build-up or storyline, these 2 foreigners tore the house down while the crowd went insane for it.

- Since we're comparing the two companies, ticket sales for WCW's upcoming Fall Brawl PPV have sold approximately the same number of tickets as an ECW house show that is scheduled for the same building the week before.

- Notes from Nitro: there was a bit when Russo was running away from Goldberg and he veered left and got away from him, which leads Dave to quip, "I guess that explains why Goldberg never lasted in the NFL." Jeremy Borash did commentary, sporting a bald head because apparently he lost a bet with Russo last week about one of the quarter hour ratings. Ric Flair will be returning to Nitro next week but it was only mentioned once, in an offhanded way, in a backstage segment and the announcers never followed up on it at all. Considering Flair is one of WCW's only consistent ratings draws and given how desperate WCW is for every fraction of a point they can get, they should have been milking his return next week for all its worth. But nope. The show closed with a "War Games" match, except it totally wasn't. It was the big triple cage gimmick with a bunch of ever changing rules.

- All 3 companies, WWF, WCW, and ECW are reaching out and trying to put together a match featuring Sue Hawk and Kelly Wiglesworth from the show Survivor. (I never watched Survivor but evidently these 2 women were bitter enemies or some shit and the first season of that show was a MONSTER hit). Obviously, ECW doesn't have a chance but when the NY Post reported the story, they managed to get in a plug for ECW's PPV next month, which is probably all Heyman wanted out of it anyway. Dave says both ladies' 15 minutes of fame is ticking so if it's gonna happen, it should be soon (this never happens).

- Notes from Thunder tapings: Kronik faced Lance Storm and Elix Skipper and sold nothing for them, and this is actually becoming a common occurrence with Kronik. It's pissing a lot of people off because they're gaining a reputation for it. Also, Leia Meow is now doing a dominatrix gimmick where the Jung Dragons have to lick her boots if they lose.

- Regarding wrestlers being fined for being late, Kevin Nash has been fined twice (so much for him not being able to be fined). Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera, and Konnan have also each been fined twice (they travel together) and Kidman fined once. Nash complained about it so much that he has since been given a 1-hour grace period (oh, that's nice). Nash complained about not having time to train and called Johnny Ace a stooge, claiming he was the one who came up with the plan to fine guys. Johnny Ace told him his info was bullshit and it wasn't him, so who knows. Either way, after the argument, Nash arrived late the next day to Thunder and was fined again.

- There's been a major push to bring Scott Hall back (or, more realistically, Nash is pushing for it and no one else). Hall will be medically cleared to wrestle again in the next week or so following the neck surgery he had in February. While he's been out, his pay has been cut in half, to $16,000 per week. But when he returns, they'll have to go back to paying him $32,000 per week and the argument is why pay the guy that much if you're not gonna use him? Dave points out that Bagwell, Luger, Sid, and DDP are all sitting at home right now collecting big checks and not being used because Russo doesn't want them around, so that shouldn't matter. Brad Siegel is said to be 100% against ever bringing Hall back, for obvious reasons.

- WCW management asked Tank Abbott to take singing lessons, I guess for this 3 Count angle he's involved with. Abbott decided, nah, fuck that and didn't do it. But apparently, he has a no-cut contract, so they can't really do anything about it.

- Various WCW Notes: The Natural Born Thrillers nickname backstage among some of the wrestlers is "Gang Green." After all the recent releases, there are now less than 50 wrestlers signed to WCW contracts. Still hasn't made a dent in stemming the losses.

- Vince Russo wanted to do an angle where Goldberg would drag him behind a truck in the desert, but Turner higher ups nixed the angle because it's too close to the racial hate crime murder of James Byrd Jr. awhile back. Russo was furious about the angle being shot down.

- There was an altercation backstage at Nitro between Goldberg and Evan Karagis. It was apparently over some misunderstanding when Karagis went to shake his hand and Goldberg was cranky after having just flown in from England and it led to Goldberg grabbing Karagis by the shirt and ripping his necklace off in the process. Goldberg later apologized but Karagis wouldn't accept the apology (the best way to hear about this story is to hear ICP tell it because it's hilarious).

- At the Thunder tapings, Russo wanted Bret Hart to cut a shoot promo and trash Vince McMahon, but Bret refused to say anything about McMahon, likely due to the ongoing Owen lawsuit. Speaking of Hart, he's getting more tests done later this month to determine if he'll ever be able to return to the ring.

- Random note: on Nitro a couple of weeks ago, the "fan" who got involved in the Kronik vs. Harris Twins match was wrestler Chris Harris who is one of the rookies who has been signed recently and not really used in any way otherwise. (The debut of the legend, Braden Walker!)

- Remember, like, 4 years ago when WWF filed a lawsuit against WCW over trademark infringement and a bunch of other shit, stemming from the debuts of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall? WWF argued that WCW had tried to mislead fans into thinking it was a WWF invasion and yada yada. WCW later filed a similar lawsuit against WWF a couple of years later. Anyway, both lawsuits were finally settled out of court sometime within in the last few weeks. There are now no more pending legal issues between WWF and WCW. (That's all Dave says about it right now. But this is actually a HUGE development. Part of the terms of this settlement was that WWF would have the right-of-first-refusal to bid on WCW assets if the company were to ever sell or go out of business. This little news item right here is arguably the start of the biggest story in pro wrestling history. It's what allowed WWF to swoop in and buy WCW six months later).

- Notes from Raw: Steve Regal, Nick Dinsmore, and Rob Conway all worked dark matches and Regal in particular was so impressive that WWF wants to start him on the road and on TV as soon as possible (yup, he'd be on TV and winning the European title in less than a month). Foley slipped up and called Triple H the WWF champion (it's the Rock). Kane's pyro fucked up and didn't go off. Kane also accidentally dropped Benoit right on his head during their match which looked scary but Benoit was fine. Acolytes tossed Kaientai around like little kids again, leading Dave to say that being Japanese and being small is basically a double-whammy as far as ever being taken seriously in the WWF. Test decided, almost a year later, that he wanted revenge on Triple H for the whole Stephanie/wedding thing, so they randomly brought that back up this week and Triple H destroyed him (and Albert) and relegated them back to tag team jobber status. The RTC kidnapped Val Venis and Dave says he smells a Patty Hearst angle coming (yeah, pretty much). And Edge and Christian beat Undertaker and Rock in a tag team match, with Christian pinning Rock after they hit the conchairto on him. The crowd was super hot for this one and Dave appreciates the fact that Rock, at the level he's at, is still willing to help elevate new stars and put people over (yeah, Rock was always good and unselfish about that sort of thing).

- WWF held a publicity stunt press conference and invited George W. Bush and Al Gore to debate each other on Smackdown, with Jesse Ventura as moderator. Linda McMahon, Mick Foley, Lita, Chyna, and Kurt Angle were present and it got a ton of press coverage, which was the whole point. Needless to say, it's not happening.

- The DVD of Beyond The Mat was released this week and had bonus footage that wasn't in the original movie, including a scene with Mick Foley talking about being upset with The Rock for not coming to check on him and not seeming to be appreciative after their match at Rumble where Foley took all the chairshots.

- Kurt Angle got his noggin' rocked again on Smackdown 2 days after getting knocked loopy at Summerslam. Angle was facing Eddie Guerrero and got knocked out of it so much that he was foggy and forgetting spots and Guerrero had to walk him through it. There was a lot of criticism backstage within the company, saying Angle should never have gone back out to the ring at Summerslam after the first concussion. He spent the night in the hospital, then came to Raw the next night and, although he didn't work a match, he did take a bump out of the ring. And then he worked a match with Eddie on Smackdown, only to get concussed again. Dave knows the mentality in wrestling is to work through injuries, but he points out the current situation with Bret Hart as an example of why WWF should maybe start taking concussions seriously. There's a reason the NFL doesn't put players back in after a concussion and why boxing has lengthy mandatory suspensions after all knockouts (yeah, knowing what we know about concussions now, there's absolutely no way this shit would fly today).

- You might remember, awhile back the World Wildlife Fund filed a lawsuit against the WWF over the use of those initials, claiming that the WWF had violated a 1994 agreement about how they could use those letters in marketing. Anyway, nothing has really changed in the lawsuit but for some reason this week, it picked up a lot of steam and was covered in the media quite a bit.

- WWF has expressed some interest in Christopher Daniels, who was recently released by WCW (and to this day, the guy still hasn't made it there, despite how great he is).

- Latest notes from OVW: a wrestler named Leviathan (real name: Dave Bautista) is getting a monster push and Dave says he has an amazing physical look. They did an angle where Big Show (remember, he's there) choke slammed Leviathan and he popped right back up, no selling it and speared Big Show. Brock Lesnar hasn't made it to TV yet but will soon. Shelton Benjamin is still green but is very athletic.

- There's talk of bringing in Nora Greenwald (formerly Mona in WCW) as a member of the RTC, dressing very conservatively and basically being the opposite of all the other women (that role ends up going to Ivory, which is probably for the best. Molly Holly just seems too sweet in real life to convincingly pull off the icy bitch act).

- Terri wearing an orange dress on Smackdown last week was a subtle rib on Tazz. Apparently, Tazz recently had words with Victoria The Ho (she was one of Godfather's hos at the time *shrug*) about her wearing an orange dress because that's his color, which led to a lot of people rolling their eyes at him about it. So they sent Terri out on TV in an orange dress. Tazz is apparently the brunt of everyone's jokes backstage these days for a lot of reasons. As Dave expected, WWF was never going to let him get over as a bad ass the way he did in ECW because of his size. There's been talk of trying to do the total opposite and give him a gimmick of a small guy who gets beat up all the time but never gives up and hopefully gets over as a babyface like that, by being the underdog who keeps coming back for more when he gets his ass beat every week.

- John Madden was recently asked about the XFL and said he thinks it will make it because it's got 2 smart guys (McMahon and Dick Ebersol) in charge and they have an NBC deal."Some people say, 'Who is going to watch it? Well, who watches wrestling? There are a heck of a lot of people who watch that, not that this is going to be wrestling. They're not going up against the NFL or college football. I think the thing not only has a chance, I think it has a real good chance," Madden said. Welp.
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We back!


- This week had the closest head-to-head Monday night ratings all year. Don't get me wrong, it still wasn't even close. Raw won by nearly 3 full ratings points. But it ended up being a lower-than-normal rated night for Raw, likely due to being preempted to a later time-slot for the last 2 weeks so they had no momentum going in (Dave points out that this was a major complaint WWF had in the trial against USA a few months ago, about how the preemptions hurt their ratings). There was also a Monday Night Football game between the Jets and the Patriots, two teams that are from two of WWF's most heavily populated and strongest rated markets, so a lot of those fans were probably watching the game while WCW's fanbase might not have been so inclined. Plus, Nitro's first hour doesn't have competition from the MNF game. Basically, there were a lot of things working against Raw this night. Meanwhile, Nitro did its highest opposed rating since January, likely due to return of Ric Flair and the wedding angle. But don't go celebrating just yet if you're WCW. The show, featuring Ric Flair's return in Charlotte, NC.....had 1,657 paid tickets. And most of them were sold in the week before the show when it was confirmed Flair would return. If Flair hadn't been coming back, it's scary to think what the attendance might have been and Dave thinks the real test for WCW will be next week, when they don't have Flair's big return to boost ratings. If WCW is able to keep that momentum, it could be good timing because WWF is scheduled to move to TNN in 2 weeks and that's a lower rated network than USA, so it might be a chance for WCW to make up some ground. But Dave doubts it because higher rating notwithstanding it was a horrible episode of Nitro that isn't likely to keep viewers tuning in next week.

- A NJPW vs. AJPW match in the Tokyo Dome between Kensuke Sasaki vs. Toshiaki Kawada has been announced for next month. It's the top star of each company, in a non-title match (Sasaki is IWGP champion). Dave says a Kawada win is expected because Sasaki winning would kill the NJPW/AJPW feud too early. Needless to say, the top stars of each company facing off is a dream match decades in the making, but Sasaki has never been accepted by fans as the top guy even as champion and Kawada is only the top AJPW star by default because Misawa, Kobashi, and Akiyama all left. So this isn't quite the dream match fans may have wanted and ticket sales are already slower than hoped. The show will also feature Scott Norton vs. Steve Williams in an interpromotional match between some of each promotion's top foreign stars.

- Couple of new promotions starting up soon. Fox Sports Net is running shows from the World Sumo Wrestling League, with the idea of creating characters like pro wrestling and mixing in popular music. The other is a revival of the old GLOW called Women of Wrestling (WOW), headed by the David McLane, the guy who created GLOW and POWW (the sumo thing never went anywhere. WOW began, disappeared for years, came back for a minute, disappeared again, and now is scheduled to debut with a new weekly show on AXS in 2019. Still the same company, ran by David McLane and everything. Crazy shit).

- NJPW held a show at Korakuen Hall last week that only drew 1,359 fans which is the smallest NJPW crowd Dave can ever recall hearing about in that building. So they're pretty stagnant right now.

- Rookie young lion Hiroshi Tanahashi is out for the next few months after suffering some sort of broken bone. Dave doesn't have details.

- Atsushi Onita's latest "retirement" scheme is this: he wrestled what was allegedly his retirement match in Japan, saying he would never wrestle in the country again. But now he's trying to book shows featuring himself at U.S. Army bases throughout Japan, arguing that since the matches would take place on U.S. government property, he wouldn't technically be wrestling in Japan. Classic Onita.

- Dusty Rhodes is running his own indie promotion called Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling. The first TV tapings will be next month and will air on local TV in Georgia. Ray Lloyd (formerly Glacier) is champion and they sometimes have appearances by Rhodes himself and Barry Windham among others.

- Harley Race was arrested for boating while intoxicated at a lake in Missouri. In 1990, Race was involved in a boating accident and several people were injured and he was charged with negligence in that case (he was also drunk then too if I recall. Turns out Race likes to get shitfaced and go out on the water).

- ECW's long-discussed plan of running monthly PPVs is starting next month. Right now they run them bi-monthly, but they have events scheduled for Oct, Nov, and Dec. Looking ahead to next year, there's 52 weeks in a year and at this rate, 36 of those Sundays will have wrestling PPVs in 2001 (nah, ECW and WCW folding puts a big dent in that number).

- Wrestlers in ECW weren't paid again this week. Paul Heyman held a meeting at the latest TV tapings and told everyone that the company is essentially surviving week-to-week on a shoestring budget until they get a new TV deal. Heyman said everyone will be paid in a few days but since they ran a lot of shows in Canada recently, there's a bit of a delay in getting the money and having it converted to U.S. currency and deposited in the bank so he can send out checks. The wrestlers have been one pay-period behind for months now and recent checks have been post-dated until the following week. Heyman told the roster (and Dreamer backed up Heyman's account for those who thought he was lying) that he will be going to Los Angeles next week to close a deal and said he won't come back to New York until a deal is finalized. Most people feel an ECW/USA deal is almost final but it's being held up by the ongoing appeal of the WWF/TNN decision. If/when USA loses their appeal, then an ECW deal is expected to be finalized (not quite I'm afraid). Heyman also said there's a good chance next weekend's house shows in Des Moines, Omaha, and Sioux City will likely be cancelled. Ticket sales are weak for all 3 shows and ECW isn't in a position where they can afford to go on the road and do money-losing shows. Several ECW stars are said to have made inquiries to WCW about getting a job because the future of ECW is so uncertain.

- Speaking of the recent Canada shows, E.Z. Money and Prodigette were the only 2 stars who weren't able to cross the border into Canada, because one of them has a prior criminal conviction and they were travelling together. Dave says that was actually something of a shock because half the ECW roster has criminal records and a lot of them were surprised themselves when they managed to get into the country.

- Tommy Dreamer seems to have seriously injured his shoulder in Cleveland and there's concern of a torn rotator cuff, which would require surgery and take months to heal (not sure if that's what it was, but yeah, he ended up not wrestling for the next 2 months). He's definitely out of the PPV and most of the matches are now having to be re-arranged because the TV plans were to shoot angles leading to Dreamer & Corino vs. Anderson/Swinger/Diamond. Speaking of, CW Anderson's shoulder is injured also so that messes things up too. Justin Credible has a broken finger but won't miss any time. Kid Kash broke his nose but has continued working. Anton has bruised ribs. Mamaluke has hip and rib problems. Lots of people banged up in ECW right now, and it couldn't be at a worse time.

- Notes from the ECW Toronto taping: they drew a near sellout of 5,000 and the crowd was nuclear hot, because Canada. They sold every single piece of merch they brought with them, but the money isn't going to be as good as usual because there's a higher taxation rate and lower exchange rate. Overall, Heyman estimated that the company will only leave Canada with about $80,000 from the live gate, which is actually low for an ECW show.

- Paul Heyman has expressed interest in bringing in Michael Shane, who is a cousin of Shawn Michaels' and trained at his school. Heyman also wants to bring in Teddy Hart, who is, of course, Bret Hart's nephew and it doesn't take a genius to see how you could book a feud between those two. But Heyman is aware that he would need to establish them as stars first before leading up to that. Speaking of Teddy Hart, Bad News Allen, who works with Stampede, has said that he thinks Teddy will end up being the best wrestler ever to come from the Hart family. Dave says pretty much everyone who has seen him work has had unanimous praise for Teddy Hart's in-ring ability but on the flip side, almost nobody has nice things to say about his overall attitude and maturity, which is what cost him his WWF developmental deal awhile back (yeah, that never changed. Teddy Hart was a guy who probably could have been a huge star in wrestling, but he burned every bridge he came in contact with and is pretty unanimously disliked to this day).

- A fan in Raleigh, NC filed a lawsuit against Paul Heyman, RVD, and the owner of the Ritz Theater for alleged injuries he suffered at a house show there in Feb. of 1999. The lawsuit alleges that RVD did a flip into the crowd, which sent the fan to the hospital with permanent back and leg injuries. The lawsuit also alleges that RVD was under the influence of drugs and argued that ECW promotes the use of marijuana and LSD (RVD and Spike Dudley, specifically).

- Justin Credible was interviewed on the Observer Live show and talked about the XPW incident at ECW's PPV in July. Credible talked about it happening right as his match with Dreamer was about to start and said he tried to ignore it because he didn't want to "sell" what they were doing, but admitted it screwed up the planned main event because they ended the show early (due to the ongoing brawl happening in the parking lot at the same time with ECW and XPW wrestlers) and said he and Dreamer only got to do about 40% of what they had planned because of it.

- The upcoming WCW PPV has a scaffold match scheduled with Kidman/Madusa vs. Shane Douglas/Torrie Wilson. The word is that the plan is for both women to take some gimmicked bump from the scaffold, although that may change because neither woman is thrilled about it.

- Notes from Nitro: they were in Charlotte and the crowd didn't care about anything other than seeing Ric Flair, and they were none too thrilled by the fact that his appearance ended up being little more than a cameo. Konnan was on commentary for Kronik's match and joked about them not selling anything. Then of course, during the match, they didn't sell anything. Konnan got chewed out for the comments backstage afterward. Shane Douglas put Madusa in the STF, leading Mark Madden to say that the STF was invented by Lou Thesz, who was also known for beating up women. Thesz got wind of the comment and was none too pleased, as you can imagine. Mike Awesome, doing his 70s gimmick, came out with a Partridge Family bus and Dave points out that WCW long ago drove away any fans old enough to get that reference. For what it's worth, apparently Mike Awesome hates the gimmick even more than everyone else but he's going along with it, even though it's a career-killer. Flair came out for David's wedding, got a huge pop, but was dragged away for violating the restraining order and that was it for Ric. Crowd was PISSED. They had the wedding, but Stacy told David Flair he wasn't the father of her baby and stormed off. It was never revealed who the father is. The original plan was Ric but word is that has been changed. Dave predicts it'll probably end up being Russo (yeah it was gonna be but then they end up just abruptly dropping the whole angle anyway, because WCW).

- Russo has been telling people that, despite what both sides are saying publicly, Eric Bischoff did indeed meet with Brad Siegel last week to discuss purchasing WCW. Russo said Bischoff has been trying to buy it since April. Apparently a Japanese promotion is also said to be interested, those Dave isn't sure which one (although c'mon, in 2000, I figure NJPW is probably the only Japanese promotion that would even be remotely capable of even considering a purchase like that).

- Notes from Thunder tapings for next week: Hayabusa was there and was going to work a match on the Worldwide taping, but he didn't have documentation of a physical or blood test, since no one told him ahead of time that he would need it, so he wasn't allowed to work due to the Virginia athletic commission. There was a funny bit where a kid wanted a photo with Nash and Nash bullied the kid's dad into paying $50 for it, then Scott Steiner got in the picture and ended up flexing his bicep, completely blocking the kid's face. Dave thinks that was the best part of the show.

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- Notes from this week's actual Thunder TV taping: 3 Count was supposed to get a pinfall victory over Kronik, which was basically WCW's way of throwing a bone to Evan Karagias for not going to the Turner HR department to complain about Goldberg attacking him backstage last week. But Kronik, as they do, threw a fit about doing the pinfall job and ended up getting it changed to a count-out loss, in a match where they no-sold everything 3 Count did. Dave is amazed that these assholes still have jobs but....WCW. After the match, Tank Abbott came out and beat up all of 3 Count so Dave would hate to see what would happen if Karagias was actually being punished. Mike Awesome did a Piper's Pit rip-off segment called the Lava Lamp and got hit by Jarrett's guitar. He fell back and cut his hand pretty badly on the set, bleeding everywhere. Bret Hart came out and cut a promo, complaining about stuff. He talked about having 10% brain damage due to his injury (which is apparently what he was really told by doctors) and complained about not being able to buy a new house because his pay was cut in half (also real). Word is the wrestlers backstage were practically cheering Bret on backstage during the promo. It was basically a total shoot, with him even burying how they had just booked Mike Awesome a couple of segments earlier. ICP did commentary again for a Sting/Vampiro match and were really funny, although Dave thinks it got old by the end of the match. Shane Douglas got some heat because his promo was supposed to be about his angle with Kidman and Crowbar, but he spent half the promo talking about Goldberg, and many in the back felt he was trying to link himself with Goldberg so he can work an angle with him. And one final note: there was serious discussion earlier in the day about outright cancelling the Thunder taping due to the small crowd and airing a best-of show instead. It would have saved some money (WCW basically loses money on every taping now), they already had the crew there and everything was already set up. And cancelling would have been crushing to morale given all the current uncertainty surrounding the company and that all the wrestlers had already traveled to be there (more on the Bret promo in a bit).

- Various WCW notes: Bret Hart is the latest to be fined for arriving late to a show. There's believed to be a hiring freeze right now in WCW so don't expect anybody new anytime soon. Vampiro is out for awhile because his wife is going through a complicated pregnancy and could give birth at any moment. Several of Shawn Michaels' students worked dark matches at Thunder, including Michael Shane. Vince Russo suffered a concussion a few months back and got rocked again in the head when Cat potatoed him with a kick on Nitro. People keep asking about Dustin Runnels and Dave says he's still under contract, just not being used because they evidently don't have anything for him.

- There's some backstage debate on whether Johnny Ace should be put in charge instead of Russo. A lot of the better in-ring guys want Ace, since they figure he would book the show to better take advantage of their skills, while many of the young guys who are getting pushed for the first time in their careers obviously want to keep Russo in charge.

- The number 1 priority in WCW right now is budget cutting. Not ratings or attendance or drawing money. Just cutting costs. A lot of the top stars like Luger, DDP, Scott Hall, etc. are all sitting at home collecting big guaranteed contracts but WCW has decided not to use them because their deals also stipulate that they fly first class and their hotels and road costs are paid for. So by not using them, WCW gets to save on those costs at least.

- In his latest Calgary Sun column, Bret said he regretted cutting that shoot promo on Thunder because he doesn't want his real life health situation to be minimized for the sake of a TV angle. Hart talked about people praising him for using realistic concussion symptoms like stammering and losing his train of thought during the promo and Bret said it wasn't an act. He really is like that right now and said after the promo, he had a horrible headache and blurred vision and balance problems and said he's a long way from being able to return to the ring. Hart also criticized Bob Ryder, who wrote on his website that Hart should stop complaining about his pay getting cut in half since he's still making half his salary without having to do anything. This leads Dave to rant about how much he hates that policy because it's proven time and time again that it leads to wrestlers returning to the ring before they're fully healed. He talks about how it would never happen in any other sport, but if wrestlers won't ever get their shit together and unionize, this is the kind of things they can expect. (Here's the Bret promo, which turns out to be his final appearance in WCW.)

- Both Steve Austin/Debra and Jerry Lawler/Kat are expected to be getting married this month.

- The Rock has pulled out of a starring role in an untitled sci-fi action movie that would have earned him $5 million (so I looked up the movie studio and the only sci-fi action movie they produced that came out in 2001/2002 was "The One" which ended up starring Jet Li. So maybe that was it?)

- Shawn Michaels is telling people he's back to 215 pounds and has been training hard for the last few months because he's itching to get back into things. Whether he'll wrestle one last match or not is still uncertain (or, you know, 500 more).

- WWF revenue streams are almost perfectly balanced. Over the last fiscal year: $88 million from live events, $90 million from PPV, $94 million from licensing, and $89 million from TV deals and ad revenue.

- Rock had the weekend off from house shows and Dave notes that Rock has been working less and less of them lately. Kurt Angle also missed the shows due to still suffering effects from getting double-concussed over the last week.
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- The Delaware Supreme Court ruled against the USA Network in their appeal to prevent WWF from accepting the Viacom deal. The decision makes it official that WWF is moving to TNN next week and ends the 17-year WWF/USA relationship. The appeal process has been lingering for over a month and because of it, USA, Viacom, WWF and ECW were all pretty much paralyzed and waiting to see how things turn out. But now that it's all finalized, ECW's final TNN show will air on 9/22 and the first Raw on TNN will air on 9/25. It doesn't give Viacom much of an opportunity to promote the move. They had set aside $7 million to promote Raw's TNN debut but because of the lingering court proceedings, they kept having to delay it and now there's almost no time. On Raw's final show on USA, Jim Ross mentioned repeatedly that this was the last episode on the network and plugged the move to TNN (and hyping that Austin will be there live). But that's pretty much it so far. During the next few days, you can expect Viacom to bombard all media outlets with as much promotion as they can cram into the short amount of time, but it's going to be impossible to promote it as much as they'd hoped to. And considering they're moving from the #1 rated network to the #15 rated network, they need all the promotion they can get.

- Needless to say, this all gives WCW a golden opportunity to put their best foot forward for Nitro on 9/25 and hopefully gain some much-needed ground (in case you're want spoilers for next week, Russo uses this opportunity to make himself the WCW champion). In the short run, Raw's ratings will almost certainly fall, but in the long-run, being with Viacom is going to be hugely beneficial to WWF. As for ECW, this opens the door for them to continue negotiations with USA. They desperately need a TV deal, on a strong network, and most importantly, they need outside financial support if they are going to survive. Having a TV deal is useless if you can't afford the production costs. As mentioned last week, ECW missed payroll and has had to cancel several house shows due to the financial crunch they're under.

- Also this week, TNN announced that it's renaming itself The National Network (instead of The Nashville Network) and will be moving its base of operations from Nashville to New York. They're planning to debut a new logo and target their programming to a more diverse audience. Dave recaps the history of WWF on the USA Network, dating back to 1982 when they aired monthly WWF MSG shows. Then WWF got a weekly show called All-American Wrestling on the network in 1983, which then became Prime Time Wrestling and Tuesday Night Titans, the creation of Raw in 1993, the Monday night wars, and now to this.

- There was a frightening moment at WCW's Fall Brawl PPV with Paul Orndorff suffering a stinger that left him motionless in the ring. The good news is that it was only temporary paralysis. He was treated and released from the hospital that same night. It was reminiscent of the injuries suffered by Droz and Buff Bagwell in recent years, but fortunately for Orndorff, it didn't end up being as bad. There was immediate suspicion that the whole thing was a work, which Dave thinks is a pretty sad reflection of WCW these days. When Orndorff went down, everyone else in the match basically panicked and continued working the match on the other side of the ring, taking bumps that kept jarring the ring, all while the EMTs and trainer were trying to tend to Orndorff. Finally, almost 2 minutes after he collapsed, referee Charles Robinson finally took charge and ordered the match stopped. The match was scheduled to go several more minutes and run-ins were scheduled, but it all got scrapped when Robinson ended it. The injury happened when Orndorff tried to piledrive Mark Jindrak but Jindrak didn't go up correctly for the move. Orndorff had to deadweight lift him and when he did so, his hamstring went out. He completed the piledriver but landed awkwardly, causing something with his neck and spine to jam up and that was it. Dave talks about Orndorff's health problems over the year, specifically his arm injury that caused his right arm to atrophy severely and never recover. He retired twice before due to health issues (87 and 94) only to return both times when he probably shouldn't have. (This was his final match for 17 years. But it looks like he came out of retirement last year and worked a 6-man tag match at an indie show in Canada. But otherwise, this Fall Brawl match was the end of the road for Orndorff).

- This whole thing brings up questions about Nitro this week, which has a match scheduled between Booker T and Vince Russo. Just a few weeks ago, Russo suffered a concussion during an angle and has been dealing with headaches and such ever since, and it's probably not a good idea for him to be in the ring. They could probably work around it, but Dave thinks it's bad enough to have untrained people in there doing moves anyway, much less ones who are already injured. Dave notes the recent example of Kurt Angle wrestling on Smackdown 2 days after getting severely concussed at Summerslam, which he never should have done and led to him getting another concussion because you're always more susceptible to further concussions during the period after suffering one. Russo has openly claimed to have had 3 concussions in the last year and has only worked about 6 matches. If that's true, he probably shouldn't be in there taking bumps again. But maybe they'll book something safe that doesn't require it. Either way, Dave is just concerned about the overall safety of all these guys.

- Oh yeah, other notes from Fall Brawl: crowd was 8,600 although only about half of that (4,311) was paid, the rest were freebies. Dave notes all the excitement people in WCW had last week when the Nitro rating was higher than usual, and points out how it obviously didn't mean dick when it comes to ticket sales. TV ratings are nice but it's a vanity metric. The real numbers that matter are the ones that make money. Ticket sales and PPV buys. And, well, those are still horrible. There was a guy in the crowd facing the hard cam who was seen constantly throughout the show wearing a Destroyer mask. Destroyer was a famous wrestler back in 60s and 70s who wore a red and white mask. Anyway....turns out that was the real Destroyer (real name Dick Beyer), just sitting in the crowd at a WCW PPV at 70 years old, still doing his old gimmick. Kevin Nash cut a promo earlier on the pre-show claiming he was hungover from hanging out at the bar last night and essentially telegraphing that he was going to lose his match (he did). Right after the Orndorff match, Shane Douglas cut a pre-match promo saying Kidman would be joining Paul Orndorff at the hospital. Even his partner Torrie Wilson seemed to drop her TV smile and give him a "what an asshole" look for that one. The scaffold for the scaffold match was way wider than any other ones before and the area underneath was padded and safe, but Torrie still seemed legitimately terrified up there. After Madusa took a bump off the scaffold (which the crowd booed because it was clearly gimmicked for safety), the announcers also tried to compare her injuries to Orndorff's injury earlier in the night. Dave is just disgusted. Torrie never took a bump off the scaffold, which was the original plan but she refused, and good for her Dave says. It would have meant nothing for the match anyway. Negative 1 star. They did a segment with David Flair beating up a mailman in his yard and Dave says the whole segment was actually hilarious and more interestingly, it was all David Flair's idea. ICP did commentary on Vampiro's match again, which once again was funny. Mike Awesome came out with former child actor Gary Coleman. There's been a lot of news stories lately about Coleman working as a security guard for $6 an hour these days, so at least WCW probably didn't have to spend a lot to get him. Naturally, he got involved in the match and it was hilarious because he knew he was going to take a guitar shot from Jarrett. So he had a hat on with a towel folded up in it to cushion the blow. But during the chaos, his hat got knocked off. So just before the guitar shot, he picked up his hat, calmly put the towel back in, put it back on, and took the hit. Goldberg vs. Scott Steiner was a shockingly good match and Dave gives it 4.25 stars. And of course, Booker T won the title from Nash in the main event.

- We get the usual long obituary for Professor Toru Tanaka, one of the biggest heels of the 60s and 70s, who died at age 70 in California. Dave recaps his career and of course, he was a Hawaiian who got booked as a typical salt throwing Japanese heel. Worked for WWWF feuding with Sammartino, won titles in all the territories, etc. He also tells an interesting story from 1977 when Pat Patterson returned to the San Francisco territory after being gone for 8 months and was supposed to face Mr. Fuji in a show that ended up drawing 12,000 people. But Fuji had a falling out with promoter Roy Shire and left the territory 2 weeks before the match. So Shire brought in Tanaka and put him under a mask and tried to pass him off as the real Fuji. The crowd didn't buy it and the media got ahold of the story and started claiming fraud and the athletic commission got involved. Shire nearly lost his promoter's license but he claimed he didn't know and thought it was the real Fuji under the mask. Tanaka and Shire were both fined but the commission seemed to buy the story (others backed it up to protect Shire) and let them off with just the fine. The real Fuji caught all the heat and was legitimately banned by the commission for life from wrestling in California, but that was overturned in 1984.

- The current plan for AJPW's Triple Crown title is to hold a tournament soon, which is expected to be won by Toshiaki Kawada, who will then defend the title against NJPW champion Sasaki in a title vs. title match at the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show. And the plan from there is for Kawada to get the surprising win, since most people don't expect NJPW to book their champion to lose to AJPW's champion. But the way Riki Choshu (NJPW booker) sees it, AJPW is pretty much doomed and he's not too concerned about them as competition anymore, and he's well aware that this inter-promotional feud is the only thing keeping AJPW alive right now. But there's still money in an AJPW/NJPW feud and they want to prolong it, so Kawada will have to win. The idea is to keep Kawada strong because NJPW loves the gimmick of a strongly booked outsider coming in and shaking things up. In the past, that person has been Naoya Ogawa but Choshu is tired of the headache that comes with dealing with Antonio Inoki and Ogawa because Inoki is intent on making Ogawa an unbeatable superman and NJPW can never get him to put anyone over. Choshu is pretty much trying to do anything he can to get Inoki's influence as far away from the company as possible. So the idea is to keep Kawada strong and milk this angle for all it's worth.

- New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman officially signed into law the bill to regulate so-called "extreme wrestling." The bill bans children under 18 from attending extreme wrestling shows. It also adds an athletic commission tax to promotions running extreme shows, mandates an ambulance and 2 doctors must be on hand at every event, and even though it's a state law, the city officials where the show is to be held must specifically give permission for the event. This bill doesn't affect ECW, which was categorized as one of the 3 major companies which are exempt from the law. The bill is a not-so-subtle effort to drive Jersey All Pro Wrestling and Combat Zone Wrestling specifically out of the state, JAPW in particular. They're planning to still run shows but will be forced to get rid of bladejobs, no more light tubes or thumb tacks or barbed wire, etc. JAPW owner Frank Iadeavia has said they are considering legal action. But at this point, if they want to continue to run shows as they have, they're going to be forced to leave the state of New Jersey to do so.

- Raw did well in the ratings again, facing stiff competition from the Olympics and Monday Night Football. But they had one segment that was a major bomb. Mick Foley came out, cutting a promo once again trying to get George W. Bush and Al Gore to appear on Smackdown for a debate. The segment was right before the main event and caused a full 700,000 homes to change the channel, which is an unheard of drop for a Raw episode. That led to the Rock/Undertaker main event that followed to be the lowest rated Raw main event of the year.

- The Wrestling Observer Hotline has been officially killed off. 1-900 hotline numbers have been dying anyway and the numbers were down and Dave says more importantly, he needed to stop because he's so busy with the newsletter and the Eyada online radio show and wants to concentrate fully on those and the daily hotline stuff took up too much time.

- Motoko Baba threatened a lawsuit against Nippon TV over their decision to drop AJPW and start airing NOAH instead, and due to the lawsuit, NOAH currently isn't airing, which is a major blow for the fledgling new company. In the meantime, Misawa has started negotiations with TV Tokyo, which is another one of the major networks in Japan.

- Former WWF and ECW wrestler Nicole Bass made headlines after being arrested in New York after getting into an argument with someone on a street corner. It turned into a fight and when the police tried to break it up, she allegedly bit one of the cops. Bass was one of several people arrested.

- Notes from OVW: Jim Ross did announcing on some of the shows there this week, because he was down there scouting talent. Shelton Benjamin is showing a lot of promise and Jim Cornette says Benjamin is progressing even faster than Kurt Angle and believes he's guaranteed to be a big star. Brock Lesnar still hasn't debuted on TV there yet but Bob Orton's son Randy Orton recently did. They're also strongly pushing Leviathan (real name Dave Bautista) and Jim Cornette predicts he will headline Wrestlemania within the next 5 years. (yup, exactly 5 years later in fact)

- Ed Farhat, better known as The Sheik, is said to be in very grave condition. He's down to 150 pounds and can only communicate through blinking his eyes or lightly squeezing if you hold his hand (he ended up living another 2+ years after this. His Wikipedia page says he was working with a biographer and did extensive interviews before he died, with plans to have a book on his life released. But it says the interviews "provided a highly explosive look" into the business and as a result, the interviews and draft of the book were sealed at the time of his death and to this day it's never been released. Interesting. When I originally wrote this up a few months ago, I tweeted Dave about this and he responded saying he didn't know anything about it either. I'd love to find out more.)

- The latest revival of Stampede Wrestling is in bad shape. They have no more shows scheduled and have only done 10 shows in the last few months. Their TV show has been airing old tapes rather than new episodes lately.

- Ken Shamrock broke his silence on his recent PRIDE loss to Kazuyuki Fujita. Shamrock pretty much blamed himself and admitted he wasn't in proper shape to fight and said things happened which contributed to him not having time to train properly (he doesn't go into detail but I think Dave mentioned something in an earlier Observer but I can't find it right now. But I think Shamrock was going through some personal shit around this time. Something like a divorce or a custody battle or something. That doesn't get mentioned here, it's just something I vaguely remember reading awhile back, I might be wrong).

- Nobuhiko Takada has announced he's going to face Igor Vovchanchyn at next month's PRIDE show and that if he doesn't win, he'll retire. Takada had a reputation as a shoot fighter from his years as the founder and star of UWFi, which was a worked shoot promotion. But then he started doing real shoots and it's been bad news ever since, including 2 high profile losses to Rickson Gracie. He's had a couple of wins, but they were worked matches. His real MMA fights have all been losses and Dave says the real fighters in PRIDE have pretty much no respect for Takada as an actual fighter. He doesn't like Takada's chances next month (indeed, Takada gets punched into submission in the 2nd round. But he still didn't retire).

- Notes from Nitro: the building was mostly full, with not that many freebies. But only because it was a small arena that only holds about 5,000 people. It was also in Canada and the crowd was pretty much only there to see Lance Storm (who ended up jobbing to Jim Duggan in an undercard match) and Bret Hart (who wasn't there at all). They hated Goldberg with a passion, probably due to the Hart stuff, and booed him mercilessly.

- On his personal website, Mark Madden apologized to Lou Thesz for his comment on Nitro last week where he joked that Lou Thesz beats up women. Madden said he was only joking and that he has a ton of respect for Thesz.

- Pamela Paulshock apparently injured her ankle doing an angle on Thunder last week. Dave thinks it's bad enough when they have untrained wrestlers in there getting hurt, but now untrained ring announcers are getting hurt too.

- WCW is pitching an angle for Vampiro to team with singer Billy Idol in a feud against Mike Awesome and David Cassidy, of Partridge Family fame (Never happened but.....yeah. That was a thing evidently).

- Dave only has a couple of thoughts on this week's Thunder: he begs someone in WCW to PLEASE send Major Gunns to get acting lessons. He also wants someone to save Mike Awesome from a gimmick worse than the Red Rooster. And finally, I guess there's been a lot of commercials for the new Meet The Parents movie and Dave thinks it looks funny.

- Various WCW notes: DDP is likely being brought back soon, though Kimberly won't be. Nitro Girl Spice was released. She was being groomed to co-host WCW's Saturday morning show, but then the show got canned and they didn't have anything else for her. And after being world champion for a couple of months, WCW has finally decided to start making some Booker T merch. Seems like a good idea to finally get around to. The Harris Twins taped segments for both the Maury Povich and Jenny Jones shows, no word on what they are or when they'll air. Goldberg will be on an episode of The Daily Show this week. Gene Okerlund is expected to be given a grumpy old man gimmick where he swears a lot.

- Next month might be a surprisingly good month for WCW ticket wise. They have shows in Australia that are expected to do big numbers because Australia is so starved for wrestling that even WCW can do big business there. And they have a PPV in Las Vegas which will do good because the casinos are buying up a lot of tickets to give away.

- Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner are reportedly being total team players right now, because there's concern that a regime change could come at any time (a lot of people are pushing for Johnny Ace to replace Vince Russo) and they're basically being on their best behavior until they see who their next new boss might be. The only person right now who's really stirring up shit is Goldberg, who is said to be openly pissed about pretty much everything and isn't shy about expressing it (yeah, even Goldberg has since admitted that he was frustrated and probably wasn't very pleasant to be around back then).

- Scott Hall is expected to return to Nitro next week. Brad Siegel reportedly gave up on fighting with Nash about it and is willing to bring Hall back. Siegel and Hall spoke last week and Hall was basically told this is his last chance and if he fucks up one time, he's gone for good. Of course, Scott Steiner has been told that a dozen times in the past, so you know how that goes (Hall doesn't end up coming back. Not sure if it fell through or Dave got bad info or what, but it never happens).

- They held a Miss WCW Pageant in Las Vegas last week with Carrot Top as one of the judges and of course there was a bikini contest. Nitro Girl Chae ended up winning over Torrie Wilson, Major Gunns, Baby, Chiquita, Midajah and Stacy Keibler. Pamela Paulshock was supposed to be in it but no-showed due to her ankle injury (there's some good catty drama coming out of this in the next week or two).

- So the deal with Konnan is....pretty messed up. He had tricep surgery a few months ago and has no business back in the ring yet. But WCW cut his paycheck in half so....he came back and he's wrestling. But here's the problem. The doctors still haven't given him a medical release yet because, well, they're doctors and he's still fucked up. They're like, "Dude...no." Anyway, because he doesn't have his medical release, WCW is still only giving him half his pay. But they're still allowing him to wrestle. He's hoping to get a medical release this week so he can start getting full checks again. Dave just thinks this whole policy is so screwed up on so many ways.

- So apparently Disqo Inferno has been bringing out some plastic duck to the ring called the Disqo Duck. (I should stop for a second and explain something for the younger readers. R&B singer Sisqo had a HUGE hit called "Thong Song" around this time and WCW, in their infinite wisdom, capitalized by changing the spelling of Disco to Disqo.) Anyway, the duck is fucking stupid and apparently at Nitro this week, Konnan literally handcuffed himself to the duck backstage to try and keep Disqo Inferno from taking it out to the ring. Someone had to try to save him from himself.

- Jeremy Borash will be doing announcing at this week's Thunder tapings. Dave says there's a lot of heat here because Borash is close to Vince Russo, so he's getting a lot of chances to do things like commentary even though he hasn't really earned it yet and hasn't shown any real aptitude for it. Dave says if Borash ends up replacing one of the main announcers on Nitro, there'll probably be a meltdown.

- Steve Austin and Debra got married last week in Las Vegas (fun fact: same wedding chapel Triple H and a drugged out Stephanie McMahon got married in. Funner fact: also the same wedding chapel I got married in).

- The plan for Sunday Night Heat, now that it's moving to MTV, is for it to be more of a humor and skit type show, with a lot of Tom Green-style humor (oh man, 2000 was such a weird time). They want to bring in musical guests and celebrities for it and will do a lot of the stuff from the WWF New York restaurant as well as at MTV's Times Square headquarters.

- Notes from Raw: a lot of the show was built around trying to seemingly bury Kurt Angle, by turning him into a goofy heel character and implying that he's gay. They showed a lot of footage of him crying at the Olympics and had Triple H make fun of him and all that stuff. Dave thinks it's a pretty weird thing to do one week before the biggest match of Angle's career (he's got a No DQ match with Triple H at next week's PPV) and sure didn't do him any favors for people taking him seriously. Hugh Hefner was on to plug Chyna's upcoming Playboy appearance and Dave thinks it's nice that Playboy and WWF could come together again in the interest of making money after all the nasty legal issues they had with the Sable fallout. And finally, Steve Regal debuted.

- Since we were talking about WCW's injury policy, Dave decides to let us know what WWF's policy is. A WWF wrestler that is out with an injury receives their downside guarantee. WWF contracts give you a guarantee (say, $300,000 per year for example) but you can make a lot more money on the road because everyone gets a cut of house show gates and PPV revenue and whatnot. So if you're injured and not on the road, you won't get all that extra money, but you still make the $300,000 guarantee. Of course, that leads to the same incentive for guys to sometimes come back before they're ready, because they're losing money by being at home, but from everyone who talks to Dave, there's not nearly as much pressure from the WWF to hurry up and come back as there is in WCW.

- Various WWF notes: Big Boss Man will be out for a few weeks after having his knee scoped. Grand Master Sexay needed 14 stitches in his ear after getting legit cut from the belt shot on Raw. Tori should be back in Oct. or early November after shoulder surgery. Billy Gunn should be back in a few weeks. Road Dogg's wife had surgery for a collapsed lung so he's out tending to her. Davey Boy Smith was in a motorcycle accident last week and Dave says if you know how many times Smith has been in and out of the hospital this year, it would scare you to death.

- Four different wrestling promotions have videos in the Billboard Top 20 charts....and none of them are WCW. Of course, WWF is all over the charts with their various releases taking up 12 of the 20 spots. ECW has videos at #5 and #7. XPW, which currently isn't running new shows and doesn't even have a building to run shows in right now, has videos at #12 and #19. And Insane Clown Posse's JCW promotion has a video at #13. All that......but no WCW.

- Kurt Angle and Taka Michinoku worked a UPW show in California along with a few other WWF developmental signees who started out at the UPW school (I decided to look it up and see who else of note worked that show: Franie Kazarian, Simon Dean, Rocky Romero, Mike Knox, Vic Grimes, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, and John Cena were all on the card. 2000/2001-era UPW had a ton of future stars come through the doors).

- One of the XFL teams is already moving. The San Jose Demons have now been renamed the San Francisco Demons and will be playing in San Fran after negotiations with Spartan Stadium in San Jose fell apart. Dave thinks it might be a bad move. San Jose is a wealthier community with a large population and their hockey and soccer franchises do huge business. San Francisco already has a major team in every sport and he doesn't know if a B-level football team is going to draw as well there as it would have in San Jose. He also notes that in the spring, the weather is a lot warmer in San Jose at night than it is in San Francisco, and California isn't exactly the type of place where people want to sit out in the cold weather at night and watch football games. This isn't Green Bay or Chicago where freezing to death for football is almost a tradition (the cities are, like, an hour apart so I can't imagine the weather is that much different? Although I guess San Francisco is right there on the bay so maybe wind? I dunno. Anyone from the area care to chime in?)

- A New York newspaper reported that Vince McMahon tried to stop VH1 from airing an episode of "The List" because the show featured appearances by Kevin Nash, Booker T, Scott Steiner, Sting, and other WCW stars. VH1 is owned by Viacom, which now owns 3% of WWF's stock and McMahon decided to try to throw his weight around and get the episode canned. Didn't work and it actually was one of the highest rated episodes of the show ever. But he did succeed in getting VH1 to agree to not air reruns of that episode. A WWF spokesman responded to the story, saying, "It is highly unlikely that took place. It's not something we would do." But of course, you'll note that they didn't outright deny it and the idea that Vince McMahon wouldn't do something like that is laughable since he has a long history of doing exactly that sort of thing.

- The Slam! Wrestling website wrote an article criticizing the WWF policy of not allowing wrestlers to do interviews with other websites without company approval because they see all other websites as competition to their own WWF.com site. The article noted they had an interview with Gerald Brisco awhile back and Brisco told them he could talk freely about his pre-WWF years but if it has to do with WWF, he'd have to clear it with the office. Jim Ross responded on his WWF website column, saying not a single interview request has come across their desk from any other wrestling websites. Dave talks about when the policy was put in place and says WWF told him he could still get anyone he wanted to interview on the Observer website, but he would need to go through the office first. Since that time, Dave says he's talked to wrestlers who agreed to appear, but when he tried to get it cleared by the office, it stalled and has been pending approval ever since with no answer sooooooo......

- WWF is wanting Big Show to drop down to 400 pounds. At his heaviest in WCW he was 505 and currently weighs a legit 480.

- Someone writes in with a conspiracy theory. He thinks Shane McMahon's death-defying fall from the TitanTron at Summerslam was done to prove a point given the upcoming Owen Hart wrongful death lawsuit, with the idea being that the WWF side can point to it as an example that, "See! Even Vince McMahon's son is sometimes asked to perform stunts like this and they're usually done safely." Dave responds, saying that normally he'd think that's reading too much into things. But the day after Summerslam, several people in WWF as well as a couple of legal experts he talked to all had basically the same theory and said they wouldn't be surprised if it gets brought up in the trial. But time will tell, Dave says.

- Dave Lagana writes in, talking his experience working on "Friends" and talking about how most TV shows are written by writing teams and how stories are crafted in TV writing rooms and so on and so forth. Basically, it leads to the one big question every writer, booker, and performer should ask themselves: how will the audience react to the long-term story? Not how loud the momentary pop is or how much you were able to swerve the audience with a surprise that doesn't make any sense, etc. The point he's trying to make is that Vince Russo is basically doing literally everything wrong and he has no idea how to write television. He's also pretty fed up with Russo's constant everything-is-a-shoot booking, where they openly acknowledge scripts and bookers and shit in every segment. He's not the only one.

- Lots of letters talking about what a total trainwreck WCW is. Russo isn't the only problem. From management to marketing, the ball is being dropped everywhere. None of the stories are coherent. Characters change gimmicks or go from face to heel from week-to-week with no explanation, fans have no idea what's happening. Wrestlers themselves are out of control backstage. Merchandising is dead. Basically, the ship is sinking and the worst part is that nobody seems to care. Everyone is just drilling more holes in the ship. Even when they luck into something that works, they always manage to fuck it up immediately. So there's all that. But also, a lot of piling on Russo from a lot of people who think he's killing the company.
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- Raw made its debut on TNN this week and featured the TV return of Steve Austin. The rating was below Raw's average but was still a strong number considering it's the first week on a new channel and considering they didn't get to promote it nearly as much as they hoped for. Furthermore, WCW barely reaped any rewards, with their ratings staying about the same. It's a big blow to them, because the big talking point for weeks now within WCW has basically been, "Wait until Raw moves to TNN and that's when we'll be able to get back in the game!" But they didn't do that this week and Raw's rating is only going to improve as more fans get accustomed to the channel change and Viacom promotes it some more. Raw put on a monster of a show for their debut, with Austin's return, a Rock/Benoit title match and an E&C/Hardyz ladder match. Meanwhile, Nitro had Booker T vs. Vince Russo, an unadvertised Goldberg/Steiner match that bombed in the ratings, and a bikini contest which actually did do a strong rating but still not even in WWF's ballpark.

- Regarding the WCW ratings, there's a lot of feeling that Vince Russo's job is on shaky ground. He's said to be more aware of it than anyone, which is why he has booked so much of the show around himself in hopes of protecting his job. Hey, it's a lot harder to fire the star of the show than just firing a writer.

- ECW has been given a surprise stay of execution from "Governor McMahon." Vince agreed to waive his exclusivity deal and allow ECW to stay on TNN through the end of the year, apparently just out of goodness of his heart. If ECW finds a new TV deal during that time, they're free to leave. But as part of the agreement, TNN still isn't going to promote them (there were no ads for ECW during Raw, which would have been huge for them). But in reality, keeping their TV deal is the least of ECW's concerns right now. The company is still in serious financial trouble. Over the weekend, wrestlers who hadn't been paid in 4 weeks were given checks, but only for the previous 2 weeks so everyone is still behind on pay. Last year, ECW was in a worse position and was bouncing checks left and right, but they got saved at the last minute by the TNN deal and the Acclaim video game deal. Things aren't quite that bad this time around yet, but it's getting there. House shows were cancelled this weekend, which of course really sucks for the wrestlers who are on per-night deals. Many ECW stars, including top names, have reached out to WWF and WCW because they're beginning to see the writing on the wall with ECW. Confidence in the company is low and if Heyman doesn't produce a new TV deal quickly, it's only going to get worse. Negotiations with USA Network are still going on, but nothing is finalized.

- The Olympics are going on and Dave talks about American amateur wrestler Rulon Gardner defeating Aleksandr Karelin to win the gold medal. Karelin had a 15-year unbeaten streak and hadn't lost a match in any form of competition since he was 18 years old and his 300ish consecutive wins is arguably one of the greatest winning streaks in modern sports. Karelin did one "pro wrestling" match last year for RINGS, defeating Akira Maeda in a worked shoot. Karelin has said this will be his final Olympics. Dave thinks he could undoubtedly make huge money in the pro wrestling or MMA worlds based on his reputation of the greatest amateur wrestler of all time (he probably could have but he never did. He eventually got into politics and to this day is a member of the Russian Duma, which is basically the same as the U.S. House of Representatives and he's a big ally of Vladimir Putin).

- WWF's Unforgiven PPV is in the books and aside from the Austin return, it mostly felt like a throwaway show. The show sold out months ago in Philadelphia, and also saw the debut of Raven interfering in the Lawler/Tazz match, as they played up the "he doesn't even work here!" angle. Dave thinks Philly was a good place to debut Raven because the fans actually knew him. After months of build, the first Kurt Angle/Triple H singles match fell sorta flat. Dave points out how much Angle has been booked like a geek for the last month or so and says no one bought him as a legit main event threat to Triple H. Needless to say, the return of Steve Austin was what everyone was there for and he blew the roof off the place. Lawler/Tazz was a strap match where you were supposed to drag your opponent to all 4 corners to win, so Tazz ended up winning by choking Lawler out and the ref calling for the bell, which is some WCW-level bullshit. Matt Hardy bladed during the cage match with E&C and word is McMahon was against the idea but all 4 guys talked him into it and he ultimately allowed it. And during the Eddie Guerrero/Rikishi match, Rikishi attacked Chyna and it was really weird. Seemed like a heel turn, but no one was really sure if it was or not (not yet but give it a week. Just testing the waters).

- In other Olympics news, NJPW star Yuji Nagata's brother Katsuhiko won the silver medal in the Olympics for Greco-Roman wrestling in his weight class. Yuji was a former national champion who tried but didn't make the cut for the 1992 Olympics.

- The latest UFC PPV is in the books and the only thing really notable from a wrestling standpoint is that Dan Severn got soundly defeated in the first round by Pedro Rizzo from a kick to the knee. The whole build-up to this was the nostalgia of having Severn back in the UFC and Dave talks about how this sport is unforgiving to aging fighters and Severn is no exception. Sometimes, shit just passes you by and from the moment the fight started, Severn looked outmatched by Rizzo. It's worth noting that Severn is also the champion for World Extreme Fighting, which is UFC's biggest American rival, and he got smoked in a UFC fight, so that kinda buries WEF too. Same thing happened with Bobby Hoffman, who is champion in another company and also lost here. Neither man was allowed to wear the belts of the other promotion to the cage and it wasn't acknowledged on commentary. Mark Coleman, the current heavyweight champion for PRIDE in Japan, was interviewed and they didn't acknowledge that title either, even though they talked about him fighting overseas.

- AJPW announced that Genichiro Tenryu has signed a full-time contract. Tenryu was one of AJPW's top stars from 1976 through 1990 when he jumped ship to form the Super World of Sports promotion, which folded 2 years later. He's kept his name alive since but hasn't worked a full-time schedule in years. He's still got some big name value but he's also 50-years-old and not exactly someone AJPW can build the company around long-term. But AJPW isn't exactly concerned about long-term right now, they're just trying to survive until tomorrow. Tenryu vs. Kawada is the big money match and that will likely be the finals of the upcoming Triple Crown title tournament.

- Vader was expected to return next month from injury and make his debut for NOAH. But now with the AJPW vs. NJPW inter-promotional angle going on, Vader recognizes he has a chance to be part of a big money program, so he's apparently leaning towards returning to AJPW instead (didn't happen. He eventually went to NOAH after all).

- Speaking of NOAH, they're doing okay so far. Last week, they sold out a 1,400-seat building and the next day, a 1,800-seat building. So far, NOAH has sold out its first 8 shows, but they're all in small buildings. They have yet to run any major arenas.

- WWF announcer Kevin Kelly wrestled on an indie show, teaming with the Haas brothers. They aired a surprise video of The Rock, cutting a promo on Kelly and calling him "Hermie" and hyping the match (TIL Kevin Kelly wrestled).

- Notes from WCW Nitro: they debuted a woman named Marie who in storyline will be Big Vito's sister. They did an angle where Kronik got maced by security. Konnan, who was on commentary, openly joked that he was surprised that they sold for the mace. Mike Awesome went against Insane Clown Posse in a handicapped match and in one spot, he powerbombed Shaggy 2 Dope on top of the bus, but Shaggy slid off and fell to the floor by accident (still hilarious). They had a bikini contest which was won by Pamela Paulshock and it ended up being a source of major heat backstage. A few weeks ago, they had a similar contest in Las Vegas (un-televised) to hype ticket sales for a show there. Paulshock no-showed, claiming an ankle injury, but others claimed she no-showed because she found out she wasn't winning. So then they did it on TV this week and apparently Paulshock was promised to win, and all the other women were furious, feeling like she was being rewarded for no-showing the previous one. "Welcome to the wrestling business," Dave says. The Wack Pack from Howard Stern's show was involved in this whole segment and Brad Siegel was said to be upset about their involvement for some reason. They had an unannounced Goldberg vs. Scott Steiner cage match and Dave is baffled that they just gave that away on free TV with no buildup. At least when Bischoff did the Goldberg/Hogan free TV match in 1998, they heavily hyped it and drew a record crowd to the arena, even if they did leave a good $7 million or so in PPV revenue on the table. These days, WCW doesn't make nearly that kind of money on PPV because nobody's buying them. But then again....shit like this is why. That was arguably one of the biggest money matches WCW has right now and they threw it away. And of course, Russo vs. Booker T was the ultimate overbooked clusterfuck and ended with Booker T and Russo seemingly leaving the cage at the same time and went off the air not knowing who won (spoiler: it was Russo and he is officially recognized as a former WCW champion from this match. He vacates it next week).

- Lance Storm lost the U.S. title to Terry Funk during a Texas house show and regained it again the next night at another house show. Neither title change was recognized by WCW or acknowledged on TV, which is a good way to kill a town for those few fans in those 2 cities that actually paid to see the show (WCW never officially recognized the title changes but WWF does. As a result, Terry Funk is a 2-time U.S. champion and I'm pretty sure he holds the record for longest time between reigns. His first reign was in 1975 while the other was 25 years later, in 2000).

- On Thunder, they set up a Mysterio vs. Guerrera best-of-5 series of matches to determine the #1 contender for the cruiserweight title. But 2 minutes into the first match, Guerrera legit blew out his knee and they had to stop the match. Guerrera was supposed to win. It's believed the injury isn't as serious as first thought, maybe just a sprain or hyperextension (Guerrera would come back and wrestle in a tag match a week later and then......that was it. The best-of-5 series never happens. He goes on the Australia tour after that, gets high on PCP, goes on a rampage through the hotel, gets arrested, and WCW fires him. But we'll get there).

- There was a lot of heat on Mark Madden this week. It started with Madden and 1wrestling.com writer Dave Scherer writing some nasty emails back and forth. Scherer had recently criticized Madden's commentary. Dave notes that Scherer has a habit of writing childish and insulting things to try and goad people in the wrestling business into a response, and Madden is known to be thin-skinned enough to fall right into that trap. Scherer reportedly told Madden he was going to get him fired from WCW and Madden claimed that Scherer did indeed call WCW offices and try to make a case that Madden had said something racist (using the term "mamacita" on air, which is said every week on Raw already). Scherer denied calling WCW's offices but didn't deny claiming that he was going to get Madden fired. The emails went back and forth with both guys essentially trying to call the other gay or fat or other such silly bullshit. Anyway, Madden later made an unplanned call into the Wrestling Observer Live internet show and began trashing Scherer. That got Madden heat with Russo, who has recently decided that the Observer is now the enemy (despite the fact that Russo himself has appeared on the show several times in the recent past). But now he doesn't want any WCW people going on there, so he was pissed at Madden for calling in to the show. Dave has no time for either of these people and feels like it's all childish. He especially seems to have no respect for Scherer as a journalist.

- Various WCW notes: WCW's Nitro Grill in Las Vegas is closing because it's deep in debt. ICP no-showed the latest Thunder tapings. Ric Flair should be cleared to wrestle again in November. Eric Bischoff and Jason Hervey's new TV show Road Rage was picked up by UPN. Juventud Guerrera just signed a new deal this week (that certainly doesn't last long).

- Vince Russo and JJ Dillon reportedly got into an altercation in the WCW offices last week. The story that's been going around is that Dillon was on the phone to someone, talking about the 9/18 Nitro and how stupid various parts of it were. Russo walked by, overheard, and blew a gasket and they had a big argument.

- Update on the maybe/maybe-not return of Scott Hall. Contrary to rumors that Hall would be returning this week, apparently Brad Siegel still hasn't given the okay so until he does, no Scott Hall. But there have been discussions and apparently Hall has been told that if he returns, he'll be on a zero-tolerance policy. One screw-up of any kind and he's gone. Just to show you how much WCW has its shit together, on the WCW Hotline, last week, they plugged Hall and DDP both, hyping that they would be on Nitro. Needless to say, neither was.

- The word is Vince Russo wanted to make himself the WCW champion this past week on Nitro but was talked out of it because of how negatively it would be seen within the company. So that's why they did the cage finish where you don't know who won (it still happened and Russo is still technically recognized as champion so he got his way after all).

- Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch were backstage at Nitro looking to get back in to the company, as was Big Dick Dudley. Tammy is said to have lost a lot of weight and looks a little more like her old self, but WCW wasn't interested in any of them.

- You may have noticed Lex Luger is back on TV. He's basically been brought back to be fed to Goldberg, just to see if he'll complain.

- Many of the wrestlers, especially the younger stars, are still loyal to Vince Russo because they feel he's the first person to really try and push them since he took over. But everyone else in the company, all the non-wrestlers in particular, can't stand him. During production meetings when Russo is going over his scripts, it's basically all eye-rolls and head shaking from everyone else in the room, but he has the final say, so no one can do anything about it. Many people who have complained about Russo have pretty much been told to just be patient and it won't be a problem much longer, which of course, further fuels the rumors that Russo is on his way to getting shit-canned. But he's got his supporters, and apparently Konnan even went so far as to try to get a petition going among the wrestlers in support of Russo but it didn't gain much traction.

- DDP asked for his release but Brad Siegel refused. Russo has made it clear to DDP that he only wants to use him to put over younger stars, while DDP still wants to be in the main event picture as a top guy.

- Bryan Clark of Kronik did an interview burying the rest of the WCW tag teams, calling the division a joke and saying it's bullshit that they gave the 2 smallest guys in the company the tag titles, referring to Mysterio and Juvi. He also was upset about Konnan's repeated comments about them on commentary and claimed that his partner Brian Adams confronted Konnan about it backstage.

- Notes from WWF Raw: the Hardyz/E&C ladder match featured a spot where Edge did a spear off a ladder into Jeff who was hanging from the belts. It was a crazy spot and Dave figures it will be replayed endlessly for years (nope, but they did the spot again at Wrestlemania 6 months later and THAT one will likely be replayed until the end of time). They heavily pushed Chyna's Playboy issue. There was a segment where William Regal (no longer Steve) was reading Shakespeare and Austin came out and stunned him and left. Regal's timing and the facial expressions made this segment and Dave thought it was absolutely hilarious (yeah this is one of my all-time favorite Austin stunners).

- Taka Michinoku suffered a separated shoulder during the Sunday Night Heat tapings in a match with Dean Malenko. The show had to be held up and he was taken out on a stretcher.

- Vince McMahon has cracked the list of the Forbes 500 richest men in America. Vince McMahon was listed at #260, with a net worth of $1.1 billion. Just for comparison's sake, Ted Turner was #25, with a net worth of $9.1 billion.

- There's a lot of talk about splitting up Edge & Christian and pushing them as singles stars. Dave thinks it's a bad idea because they're one of the most entertaining acts in the company right now. He also thinks Christian would likely get lost in the shuffle unless they reignite the light heavyweight division and push him as the focal point of it.

- Billy Gunn and Big Show were both considered for the role of being the person who ran over Steve Austin. At one point, Gunn was the top candidate. But there's concern that he's not ready for that high up a position because the last time they pushed him as a singles guy, he did nothing to prove himself, which is why they reunited the Outlaws. With Big Show, they're concerned that it would be giving a bad message to the locker room to reward him by putting him in a feud with Austin after he had so much heat for letting himself get out of shape. It's being kept secret but within the business, most are speculating that it will end up being Mick Foley. Dave doesn't buy that, although he has no idea who it will be. He thinks they should use it to elevate someone new and points out that Chris Jericho isn't really up to much these days (yeah that probably would have been better than what we got).

- Jerry Lawler and Stacy Carter (The Kat) will be getting married this week in Las Vegas, on her birthday (fun fact: Charles Barkley paid for their wedding, true story).

- Steve Austin was said to be a little sore after delivering those stunners at the PPV, since it was the first time in awhile he's taken real bumps in the ring, but said his neck felt better than it had in a long time.

- Someone who just watched the Shawn Michaels RF Shoot interview writes in and tears Shawn a new asshole. "I would pay good money to get one of those doctors you find on news programs who can analyze when some one is lying by observing their facial movements, speech and mannerisms," he writes. Especially when Shawn is asked about the Montreal Screwjob (yeah, if you've ever watched this full shoot interview, it's painfully obvious at times that Shawn is completely full of shit and struggling to come up with blatant lies in response to some of the questions).

- Finally, someone else is upset that Chyna is posing nude for Playboy. He says that Chyna is different than all the other women in the company because she hasn't usually been portrayed as a sex object. She's someone who is often booked as equal to the men, a strong woman who commands respect and because of that, she has a lot of female fans. The writer says he works as a camp counselor and of course, all the kids there, including most of the girls, were WWF fans. While the boys ran around pretending to be Rock or Austin, the girls all wanted to be Chyna. He thinks Chyna being in Playboy is negating all the progress they've made by treating her as something more than just eye candy like all the other women.
[Image: jx9SHdi.png]

Man making rikishi the driver was SO stupid

At least we got “I did it fo da rawk” outta it
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- There's a lot of rumors swirling around about a potential WCW sale happening within the next couple of weeks but there's a lot of information floating around so who knows what's true and what's not. A source close to the situation says that Eric Bischoff, with financial backing from Mandalay Bay Sports & Entertainment and is expected to take charge of the company. Reportedly, if the deal goes through, Vince Russo is gone and many involved say he's well aware of that fact and is behaving like someone who knows he already has one foot out the door. Russo is not going to Australia with the rest of the crew this week, despite the fact that they will be doing several TV tapings there, which many found strange. Hulk Hogan called into the Bubba The Love Sponge show and talked about Bischoff and the Mandalay Bay Sports thing as if it was a done deal and that Hogan himself would have power in the company. Hogan implied that it would be the end of Russo in WCW and openly laughed about all the young WCW wrestlers he claimed were now sucking up to him after complaining that he held them down for years, because Hogan's kind of a twat if you hadn't heard. Anyway, if the deal goes through, it's expected Randy Savage will be brought back as well.

- For whatever it's worth, the Mandalay company purchased the domain names WCWextreme.com and WCWXtreme.com and a media trade magazine reported last week that Mandalay was in serious negotiations to buy WCW and that insiders expect a deal to be finalized by mid-October. The story quoted Jason Hervey, who, if the deal goes through, is expected to be a key business partner in the company. Several WCW office employees went to the Turner HR department asking questions and were basically told that if the company is sold or shuts down, they will receive severance pay. As of press time, most WCW wrestlers are getting ready to go on the Australia tour with no idea if they will still have jobs when they come back to America (obviously, this deal doesn't happen but we're officially in the beginning of the end stages for WCW now...).

- Things are weird for ECW right now too. They have meetings scheduled with TNN this week to discuss the terms of their ongoing relationship or to possibly end it. WWF agreed to waive its exclusivity clause through the end of the year and TNN is willing to keep ECW on the air until then, as long as they can agree on some terms. ECW is willing to stay under the condition that they are allowed to leave before the end of the year if they can strike a new TV deal. All the ECW wrestlers are about a month behind on pay, but no one has yet filed a breach of contract in writing, which would be required in order to get out of their contracts. As of press time, ECW is still negotiating with USA Network and it's said to be close but USA head Barry Diller still hasn't approved it.

- WWF released a profits report noting that profits would be about 8-10% lower than anticipated for the year, causing the stock to plummet from $19.75 to $12.75. The price steadied later in the week when the McMahon family announced it was making a stock buyback of up to $10 million to prop the price back up and stop the decline. I'm sure this all makes sense to somebody. That somebody is not me. The release talked about the XFL startup costs and predicted Steve Austin's return would boost business. The main reason for the lower profits was blamed on disappointing licensing numbers from the Jakks Pacific toys selling less than expected, among other things.

- Linda McMahon held a press conference to try and smooth over things with the stockbrokers and said that the WWF is considering legal action against the Parents Television Council, claiming the PTC has made false statements about how they allegedly forced advertisers to stop sponsoring WWF. Linda McMahon said that many of them pulled out of the WWF before the PTC started its campaign. She also said that the PTC listed sponsors who never had deals with WWF in the first place, saying it's misleading and harmful to WWF to claim that they pulled their sponsorships when they never existed in the first place. Speaking of the PTC, their latest target is ConAgra, the company which manufactures Chef Boyardee among other things. Chef Boyardee has a huge ad campaign built around the WWF, with Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, and The Rock all doing commercials for them (the PTC is going to get fucked SO hard in court over this in about 2 years and it's delicious).

- The Rock has reportedly signed a $5.5 million deal with Universal to play the lead role in The Scorpion King, a prequel to The Mummy 2 which he has a small role in. Vince McMahon will get an executive producer credit and it's expected to start filming next spring. Rock will be expected to spend about 6 months filming the movie. They may be able to work his schedule to allow him to do PPVs and some TVs during that period but for the most part, Rock is going to miss significant time away from WWF to film this. McMahon said the current plan is for the Rock to begin filming the movie after Wrestlemania, but with a looming possibility of a Hollywood strike being discussed, that could be moved up slightly.

- ECW's Anarchy Rulz PPV is in the books and was a typically good show. Drew about 4,600 fans to a 7,000-seat arena and saw Jerry Lynn win the ECW title from Justin Credible. In typical ECW fashion, the television production was terrible at times. The show ended with a Limp Bizkit video which appeared to be part of a promotional deal with Farmclub.com, which, despite the name, is not actually a website. Well, it is that too. But it's actually a TV show. The name of the show was "Farmclub.com" and it aired on the USA Network for one season back in the day. Even though it's a USA show, the deal was made separately from the network so don't read into it as a sign of anything between ECW and USA. Otherwise, really nothing much else to say about the PPV. Decent matches, but nothing that's going to attract casual fans or do anything other than placate their current fanbase. ECW is pretty much just coasting along and trying to stay above water long enough for someone to throw them a life preserver.

- Lots of questions regarding the futures of Vader and Too Cold Scorpio and their futures in Japan. This week, NOAH announced that both Vader and Scorpio would be appearing on its upcoming tour in October. But just recently, AJPW announced Scorpio would be on *their* October tour. Let's start with Vader first...he first made the decision to leave AJPW several months ago after he had elbow surgery, feeling like AJPW breached his contract and after seeing the split and realizing everyone was going to NOAH. But after seeing the potential for his role in the AJPW vs. NJPW feud, he started second guessing it, realizing that he could make huge money as the central focus of that feud if he stuck with AJPW. But then Vader met with Misawa in Hawaii 2 weeks ago and they made a deal, so Vader is now expected to sign a contract with NOAH that will keep him there through 2004. He's expected to return to action this week. His elbow surgery was considered nearly career ending, as he had torn ligaments and nerve damage as well as a broken wrist, which he had been working through. It led to his hand beginning to atrophy and his fingers curling up so he finally got surgery after the pain became unbearable. It was a 7 hour surgery and he was told there was less than a 50% chance he would regain full use of his hand. Vader's contract with AJPW stipulated that they would pay his medical bills if he were injured, but they didn't cover his surgery, so he claims they breached the contract. There's some question over that though and concern that AJPW could try to enforce their contract with Vader in order to prevent him signing with NOAH.

- As for Too Cold Scorpio, AJPW claims he's under contract while Scorpio denies it and said he never had a contract with them. Motoko Baba has threatened to take legal action against both men and against Misawa and NOAH for contract tampering (NOAH wins that battle also. Scorpio ends up spending the next 6 years as a full-time star in NOAH).

- On the flip side of that, AJPW shockingly announced that they plan to promote their own Tokyo Dome show in January, without the help of NJPW. Needless to say, that seems like madness right now for this company and Dave thinks they're out of their mind. They hinted that the main event would be Tenryu vs. Kawada and also talked about promoting it as a Giant Baba memorial show. And in that spirit, they also invited NOAH to participate in the show, since it's for Baba (and, let's be honest, since AJPW doesn't have a prayer of filling up the Tokyo Dome on their own. Anyway, yeah this show happens. NOAH turns down the invite but they ended up heavily depending on NJPW after all).

- More on amateur wrestler Alexander Karelin losing in the Olympics. It was actually his first loss in over 13 years. In fact, when his opponent (Rulon Gardner) scored a point on him in these Olympics, it was the first time in 7 years anyone had even scored a point on Karelin. Gardner's win is being called the biggest upset in Olympic wrestling history and some are even putting the "wrestling" part of that aside, with one historian saying it was an even bigger upset than the famous 1980 Miracle on Ice. That being said....the truth is Karelin kinda lost on a technicality, due to a relatively new rule. Karelin only lost the deciding point because he broke his grip a moment before Gardner did in a position where doing so cost him a point. Or some such shit. I dunno, I don't understand amateur wrestling. Anyway, Dave thinks it's an unfortunate way for Karelin's unparalleled streak to end. Anyway, Dave expects Gardner to get several pro wrestling and MMA offers, especially in Japan. WWF talked about it on Raw and even Rock put it over in a promo, leading Dave to think there's interest there. They struck gold with Kurt Angle and have high hopes for Shelton Benjamin and Brock Lesnar, but Gardner doesn't really have a good pro wrestling look (he never got into pro wrestling but he did have 1 fight in PRIDE a few years later, which he won).

- More on Yuji Nagata's brother winning a silver medal in the Olympics, it was the lead story all over Japan and Yuji was interviewed by virtually every newscast. More than 70 reporters camped outside the NJPW dojo along with Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Wataru Inoue, and Hiroshi Tanahashi, to watch the match on television. It's expected that NJPW will have big interest in bringing in the younger Nagata as a possible junior heavyweight star (never happens. Dude makes one NJPW appearance, standing in Yuji's corner, and that's it. He never becomes a pro wrestler. He does dabble in MMA for awhile though).

- One last bit of Olympics news just because I thought it was funny. If Karelin had won that match, he would have only been the 4th athlete in history to win 4 consecutive gold medals in that event. But British rower Steve Redgrave just won his 5th consecutive gold medal as part of the men's coxless team. "Can you imagine him being asked by someone in the general public what event he won his five gold medals in?" Dave quips. In case you're wondering (I was too, so I googled it), "coxless" is apparently some boat rowing shit.

- Antonio Inoki recently had a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori. Dave notes that before he was prime minister, Mori was a big political figure during Inoki's peak years and would often attend shows and meet with Inoki backstage.

- A sitcom called "Nikki" about a Las Vegas showgirl who marries a wrestler debuts this week. It stars Nikki Cox in the title role. Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan, and Fabulous Moolah have all filmed guest spots for the show (this didn't last long).

- Olivia Walker, a woman who was the most famous robe maker in the business, passed away this week. Throughout the 70s and 80s, she designed and made those big beautiful robes for all of the top stars, including Ric Flair, Greg Valentine, Buddy Lanel, Mr. Wrestling II, and Tommy Rich.

- City officials in Gorham, ME cancelled an indie show there last month. Why, you ask? Because one of the heel wrestlers cut a promo, trashing the city and calling it the "bunghole of Maine." City officials were so upset that they shut the show down. The local paper later published an article, ripping on the city officials for not understanding that talking shit about the town you're in is a classic wrestling trick to get heat. The promotion is now running shows around the city, promoting themselves as the company that's banned in Gorham.

- Paul Heyman finally got all the paperwork and visa issues fixed up for Super Crazy and Tajiri to return, so expect them back soon.

- Notes from Nitro: they started an angle with Goldberg saying that he has to start a new undefeated streak. If he loses before he beats his previous record (173-0, although that's not actually a legit number), then he will be fired. If he beats that number, only then will he get a world title match. Dave points out that WCW only runs 5-8 shows per month now so it'll probably be 2003 before Goldberg hits 173. But WCW can't keep an angle consistent for more than 2 weeks, let alone 2 years, so don't hold your breath. Actor Chuck Zito was there to plug his TV series Oz (still one of the most underrated and greatest shows of all time. At least for the first 4 seasons...). Russo vacated the world title and they had a match with Booker T and Jarrett with 4 poles around the ring and a box on each poll. The title was in one of them. A blowup doll, a coal miner's glove, and a framed picture of Scott Hall were in the other 3 (the match that gave us this classic gif: https://i.imgur.com/hq3vHMy.gif). Dave points out other gaping plotholes in this match (like the referee doing the classic arm-drop-3-times bit in a match that could only be won or lost by getting the title out of the right box) and says it's sad because Booker T and Jarrett had a damn good match otherwise, but all the nonsensical on-a-pole gimmickry just killed it. Oh yeah, did I mention Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern show got involved in the finish? Because he did. Blowup dolls and Beetlejuice in a world title match? Just Russo things. Anyway, Booker T defeated Jarrett in this catch-as-catch-can mat classic so he's the champion again. Also, Mike Tenay was originally booked to wrestle Midajah on this show but it got scrapped for some reason.

- The March PPV has been moved to Jacksonville, FL. It was originally scheduled for the Skydome in Toronto which would have been a disaster of epic proportions (and that, as it turns out, would be WCW's final PPV ever. Tick-tock...)

- Bill DeMott (Captain Rection) did an interview with the Observer's website and noted that he had suffered 6 concussions in 3 weeks from doing hardcore matches against Fit Finlay and Brian Knobs and said he was told by doctors last October that he should retire due to brain damage. He said he can't read street signs anymore, gets nauseous, and sometimes loses his balance, but he decided to come back anyway and is still wrestling. He said he wants to finish out the year he has left on his contract and then retire (nope. Went to WWE, continued wrestling until 2003ish and still did a handful of indie shows after that before finally retiring into a career of bullying trainees).

- Insane Clown Posse quit WCW again. Apparently they were asked to do a job to somebody at Thunder, so they no-showed. Dave thinks it's almost comical that he's having to write these words yet again.

- At a WCW house show, a 5-year-old child in the front row punched Great Muta in the face. So for the rest of the match, he was selling the punch, including going back to where the child was sitting and then backing off like he was scared of him. Awwww! Wholesome Muta. Shoulda misted the kid.

- Juventud Guerrera's knee injury last week wasn't as serious as believed, only hyperextended. He should be back in action by the time you read this. He just signed a new 2-year deal last week (he'll be fired by next week).

- Meng has been telling people that he is retiring after this week (nah)

- There was a rumor going around that WWF was going to buy WCW and the rumor was fueled by none other than....Antonio Inoki. After leaving Los Angeles this week, Inoki arrived home to Japan and was met by reporters and he told them that WWF would be buying WCW. Dave says Inoki likely doesn't have any inside knowledge of anything and is probably just talking out of his ass, as he's apt to do. But since it's Inoki, it got a bunch of coverage over there anyway. (Turns out Inoki knew a little bit more than Dave did at this point. WWF was indeed secretly negotiating to buy WCW already.)

- TNN President Brian Hughes was interviewed on the Observer website also and mostly discussed the concerns over the content of Raw, saying that there may be some changes in what kind of language is acceptable on TNN as opposed to what they could get away with on USA, but otherwise, he trusts that WWF won't cross the line. He also said ECW will be on the air through Oct. 6th, but they haven't discussed anything past that, and that he couldn't legally discuss WWF's decision to waive their exclusivity clause to allow ECW to stay through the end of the year (Oct. 6th ends up being the final ECW on TNN show).

- Billy Gunn returned on Raw (looking huge) and they eliminated him as a suspect in the Austin running-over but Gunn said he did see the driver and said they had blonde hair. So Dave figures Debra is now the likely suspect.

- WWF filed a lawsuit against the William Morris Agency over some financial issues. WWF and WMA had a partnership and the agency is now demanding money for deals that WWF claims they had no part in making, in particular the Viacom deal and the XFL/NBC deal, among other things. The WWF argues that the WMA had no part in putting those deals together and thus isn't entitled to any commissions from it. WWF also claims that they terminated the partnership back in 1999 due to being unsatisfied with the relationship so WMA can fuck right on off (not sure what ever becomes of this. Decided to do a little research. It looks like WME counter-sued and it dragged on for a few years. Best I can tell from vague SEC filings, there was a settlement in 2003 and I don't think it went in WWE's favor).

- Chyna was on Howard Stern's show to promote her new Playboy issue and he told her that in the photos, she looked kinda like she had a guy's body, but said she looks more attractive in person. But otherwise, he mostly went easy on her, at least by Stern-standards. He asked a lot of questions about her sex life, which seemed to embarrass her. She said she lives with Triple H and said he's her boyfriend. She denied ever taking steroids (....) and said she eats lots of red meat. She ripped on Nicole Bass, saying she couldn't wrestle and scoffed at her sexual harassment lawsuit. She also talked a lot of shit about both of her parents, saying her mom kicked her out of her home at 15. She admitted to breast implants but danced around the questions about ever having facial cosmetic surgery. She said she had jawline surgery to correct an underbite but wouldn't cop to anything else. Even though Chyna was there to promote herself in Playboy, Stern spent a lot of the time fawning over Marissa McMahon, who is Shane's wife and works as WWF's publicist and who accompanied Chyna to the studio. Marissa tried to downplay it and put the attention back on Chyna, but Stern wasn't having it (I can't find clips of this particular appearance, but Chyna appeared on there several more times over the years, often in tragically sad condition).

- Various WWF notes: Undertaker has another groin injury and may be kept out of the ring until the PPV later this month (he ended up missing it). Jim Ross is negotiating contract extensions for Al Snow, K-Krush, and Lita. Charles Barkley was a guest at Jerry Lawler and The Kat's wedding (came out later that he actually paid for it, according to JR).

- Mick Foley did a speaking engagement somewhere and was asked if he was going to be the driver who ran over Austin. Foley said McMahon approached him about it, but he turned it down because he has a Christmas book coming out marketed for kids and he doesn't want to be a heel when it does.

- Big Show, British Bulldog, Ken Shamrock, and Lillian Garcia have been removed from WWF's upcoming video game. The games has an 80-person roster that includes Earl Hebner, Linda McMahon, and "a ho" so needless to say...a little weird. But there seems to be a lack of confidence that Big Show or Bulldog will ever really return to the company, Lillian isn't a wrestler, and of course, Shamrock is already gone (man, they *really* didn't have a lot of faith in Big Show around this time).

- 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal has reportedly signed a deal to be a cheerleader for the XFL and appear in commercials for the league. (She's a bit more famous these days for other reasons...)

- A Philadelphia newspaper ran a story on Darren Drozdov, noting that he's still paralyzed from the chest down and that he needs others to feed him. He said he was told by doctors that he may get some feeling back a little at a time or it may never happen at all, and now it's just a waiting game. Droz got married to a WWF seamstress about a month after the injury and they bought a new home where Droz spends most of his time. The WWF paid to have a $180,000 elevator installed in the home to allow him to go between the first-and-second floors of the house. Droz said even though it's been a year since the injury, he's still in shock from it and wants to eventually help people with similar injuries and do charity work, but admitted that he's not ready mentally to be doing that (becoming paralyzed is one of my biggest fears in life. I can't imagine. Ugh, poor guy).

- Both the Calgary Flames of the NHL and DC Comics have threatened lawsuits over the XFL team name for the New York Hitmen. The Flames own a minor league hockey team called the Hitmen, while DC Comics claims to own a trademark for the "Hit Men" name.
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Not sure if this is accurate by maybe AKi/Yukes may not have had the rights to use big show or British bulldog in game because they were on the nWo Revenge game and their engine was the same pretty much.
They did leave all their moves in though, so it was easy to create them. That was for No Mercy I believe. On my original copy, I created a metric fuckton of CAWs. I made Hogan, Hall, Nash, Goldberg, Big Show, RVD, myself of course, and who knows who else. I used up nearly all of the CAW slots and that thing had like 30 of them, it was nuts.

I still own the game but not my original copy, sadly.

- More major sale rumors regarding WCW this week. Pretty much all the media reports listed Eric Bischoff and Mandalay Sports as the most likely potential buyer, but long-shot rumors of the WWF buying out WCW are picking up steam after a recent news report talked about it. No deal has been finalized yet but several companies are involved in negotiations with Turner to buy the company and expect something to be finalized in the next 2 weeks. Due to all the uncertainty and questions from wrestlers, Terry Taylor called Brad Siegel to get some information and then held a meeting with everyone in Australia. Taylor said 4 companies are looking into buying WCW: Mandalay Sports, along with 3 different companies in Japan, Germany, and France respectively. WWF was never mentioned as a potential buyer and Taylor said a sale is not a definite, only that they're entertaining offers. Neither Vince McMahon or WWF sources would confirm or deny that they had interest in buying WCW or that there had been discussions.

- The belief is that the Bischoff/Mandalay group will have other outside financing and would create a new company, headed by Bischoff, to run WCW. Bischoff has reportedly sold them on the idea that there's a lot of money to be made in PPV, merch, and licensing of a well-run wrestling company. Reportedly, no matter who buys WCW, Turner is insistent that they retain the prime time TV rights for the shows. Basically, Turner wants to reap the ratings rewards and advertising profits of WCW without incurring anymore of the financial burden that comes with owning it.

- Many in WCW have mixed feelings on Bischoff possibly taking things over again, especially those who were around to remember how difficult he was to deal with during the glory years. There's also a lot of the young talent who fear that Bischoff coming back will mean Russo is out the door and that Bischoff will go back to pushing guys like Hogan, Savage, and DDP ahead of those who are just now getting a break for the first time under Vince Russo.

- And now, the most important sentence in wrestling history: "It has also been rumored throughout wrestling, and reported in the Multi Channel News article, that WWFE has the right to match any purchase offer as part of its settlement with Turner Broadcasting and WCW in the copyright infringement lawsuit." Dave says the lawsuit settlement is sealed, so no one knows for sure, but that's the rumor (rumor was indeed true and the rest is history, but we'll get there). Dave also offhandedly mentions that back in the early 90s, WCW repeatedly approached WWF about doing an interpromotional angle and even offered McMahon full control of booking it, but that Vince turned it down. I've read every single word of every issue of the Observer for the entire decade of the 90s. This is the first time he's mentioned this. Wtf Dave??

- With the XFL starting in February and a million other things happening, Dave thinks WWF already has enough on its plate without trying to rebuild a dying brand. On the other hand, if McMahon purchased WCW, he'd have the satisfaction of defeating Ted Turner, who he's long had a hatred of and he would basically own a monopoly on North American wrestling (since he pretty much has a working relationship with ECW already and, realistically, he could wipe them out of existence tomorrow if he wanted). He could move Nitro to a new night, which should theoretically boost Raw's ratings since Nitro wouldn't be competition anymore. He would also have more hours of TV time to sell since he'd be running Nitro and could do an inter-promotional angle (although Dave thinks he'd need to wait a year or so to rebuild WCW first because the current state of WCW makes it look like a pretty one-sided battle).

- There are negatives to a potential WWF sale also: they would have to write and produce several more hours of TV per week. There's also an issue with WCW contracts because many of the top WCW stars are contracted to Turner, not WCW, and they are big guaranteed money deals with fewer dates. Guys like Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan are making WWF-main eventer level money and only working a fraction of the dates and Dave doesn't see WWF catering to that kind of shit if they're in charge. He also thinks a lot of locker room loyalty from both sides could create tension among wrestlers, and WWF's locker room is the most peaceful and united it has ever been. Bringing in a lot of known locker room cancers who are used to making more money for less work might rock the boat.

- It's also believed that the odds of Vince Russo remaining with WCW if either Biscoff or McMahon take over are slim-to-none. Russo has appeared on WCW Live on their website a few times this week and gave the impression that he realizes his days are numbered. In one of the interviews, he was desperately kissing up to McMahon, which many saw as an effort to get a job back with WWF in the event that's how things turn out. Dave thinks it will be very unlikely that Russo returns to WWF after the way he left and after the things he has said about them since then. A lot of people in WWF don't like him and have been gleefully enjoying watching him repeatedly fail in WCW for the last year. Russo didn't go on the Australia trip with the rest of the crew, reportedly because he expects the company to be sold in the coming days and figures he wouldn't have a job when he came back anyway (yeah, we've pretty much reached the end of the Vince Russo era of WCW. *pours out a Four Loko in his honor*).

- The AJPW vs. NJPW angle packed the Tokyo Dome last week for a match pitting AJPW's Toshiaki Kawada against NJPW's Kensuke Sasaki. It was a non-title match and Kawada won. But in a surprise, Sasaki vacated the IWGP title after the match, saying that since he lost cleanly, he didn't deserve it. The plan going forward is for Kawada to win the AJPW Triple Crown tournament later this month and then headline the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show in a rematch against Sasaki to crown a new IWGP champion, with Kawada potentially winning that as well and becoming the first person to ever hold both AJPW and NJPW's top titles at the same time. Anyway, as for this show, Kawada vs. Sasaki was said to be a really good match and delivered on the "dream match" hype, with some calling it the match of the year (Dave hasn't seen it yet so he can't judge but for those of us here in 2019, he eventually gives it 4.25 stars). The show ended up being the 14th largest verifiable crowd in wrestling history, with an overflowing 64,000 fans packing the Dome for a $5.8 million gate. There were 2 other interpromotional matches. AJPW's Steve Williams pinned NJPW's Scott Norton and NJPW's Masahiro Chono and Tatsutoshi Goto beat AJPW's Fuchi and Koshinaka (who is actually a NJPW wrestler but for storyline purposes, he "jumped ship" to AJPW in this feud because AJPW needs all the wrestlers they can get).

- Juventud Guerrera's career in WCW is in serious jeopardy after he was arrested in Brisbane, Australia the morning before the Nitro taping for going berserk during a drug-induced rage at the hotel. Guerrera had stripped himself naked and was throwing chairs and screaming obscenities near the hotel restaurant and screaming about killing himself at 10:30am. The restaurant was full of other hotel patrons eating breakfast and several other wrestlers tried to restrain him, including Mysterio, Konnan, Terry Taylor, and Disqo Inferno but they all failed to be able to keep him down. Taylor finally called the police, which led to him getting a lot of heat from other wrestlers who felt they should have handled it among themselves and gotten him back to his room without involving the cops. But there was concern that even if they got him to his room, he might jump out the window and kill himself. So police showed and ended up having to pepper spray Guerrera to subdue him (one cop ended up getting accidentally pepper sprayed in the exchange when Guerrera ducked, which everyone later joked about, saying it looked exactly like a pro wrestling spot). The media got there as well and the Ch. 7 news in Brisbane actually aired footage of police dragging a naked Guerrera out of the hotel. Before they could fully restrain him, Guerrera was violently throwing kicks and punches at the 6 cops who were trying to take him down and one of his punches broke the rib of a female officer. Guerrera was reportedly screaming about dying and tried to get Mysterio and Konnan to take off their clothes too. When they wouldn't, he started taking his off, saying, "This is how I came into this world and this is how I want to go out." When Mysterio and Konnan tried to stop him, he attacked them.

- When they got Guerrera to jail, police found 2 ecstasy tablets in his sock but they don't believe that caused the reaction. Dave says ecstasy is popular among the wrestlers but it's speculated that he likely smoked marijuana that was unknowingly laced with PCP. Guerrera later admitted to smoking something at a night club a few hours earlier and was said to be embarrassed by his behavior when he sobered up. There was a hearing the next morning where Guerrera pleaded guilty to 2 counts of assaulting police as well as disorderly conduct, indecent exposure, and possession of a dangerous drug. But his court-appointed lawyer begged his case, saying a conviction would threaten his career and prevent him from traveling and said he's the sole provider for his wife and child in Mexico and wrestling is all he knows how to do. Guerrera was ordered to pay $2,050 in fines as well as $1,400 in compensation to the officers he attacked. WCW sent him home afterward and there's a lot of speculation that he's going to be fired but as of press time, it hasn't happened yet. Dave talks about the history of wrestlers fucking up every time they leave the country. Vader's arrest in Kuwait for attacking a TV host, Sid Vicious stabbing Arn Anderson with scissors, and earlier this year, Scott Hall missing Nitro because he wasn't allowed on the plane to leave the country after going on a bender in England. This is the 2nd time Guerrera has been in trouble recently. Earlier this year, he got a DUI and was arrested trying to flee the police in a car chase, but his lawyer bargained it down and he was able to keep his job. Last year, Guerrera and Psicosis were goofing around in a parking lot before a TV taping, driving wildly in their car and accidentally hit Brad Armstrong, causing him to get knee surgery. Guerrera kinda has a bad history on the road and, on one hand, WCW needs to do something about this sort of behavior. On the other hand, look at someone like Scott Hall, who should have been fired dozens of times for all the shit he's done. WCW isn't really known for disciplining people.

- There's another interpromotional angle happening and this one is between Memphis Championship Wrestling and Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis. If you remember awhile back, Jerry Lawler started with PPW but then he jumped to MCW instead and he took the WWF-affliation with him, which led to MCW becoming the WWF developmental territory and left PPW struggling. Anyway, the 2 companies have been running head-to-head on different channels on local Memphis TV ever since but now they've decided to work together. Lawler returned to PPW this week and cut a promo trashing the company, which led the PPW guys to come out and attack him and throw him out of the building. It's expected Lawler will return next week with some MCW guys and maybe even some WWF developmental names to get revenge.

- There was a press conference in Japan for Vader when he arrived at the airport. When asked about his contract status, he said, "no comment" but then talked about going after Misawa for injuring him (which is the angle they used to explain Vader's injuries in AJPW before everyone left). He also said AJPW breached his contract. So it's pretty obvious Vader is going to NOAH. Meanwhile, Motoko Baba claims Vader never once complained about his contract not being honored (Dave has talked to people who dispute that) and is threatening to file a lawsuit against him, claiming he's the one who breached.

- Last week, when AJPW announced they were holding their own Tokyo Dome show in January as a tribute show for Giant Baba, they invited NOAH wrestlers to be involved. Most of the wrestlers in NOAH got their first breaks in the business from Baba but in reality, this was just a grandstand play to make NOAH look bad when they inevitably refused to work the show honoring him. Misawa flipped it on them and responded to the invitation saying NOAH would not participate and said it was well known that Baba didn't like Genichiro Tenryu or Atsushi Onita and had vowed to never allow them back in his company. And since AJPW has them booked for the show, how are they really honoring Baba?

- Correction from last week: Hulk Hogan has not actually filmed a guest spot on the new WB sitcom "Nikki." He was hanging around on the set because he was filming a guest spot on Suddenly Susan and both are filmed in the same studio. Glad we got that cleared up.

- Beyond The Mat director Barry Blaustein is now working on a movie called The Ringer, about someone who pretends to be handicapped in order to win at the Special Olympics (I had no idea that was the same guy. Talk about two wildly different films).

- David Arquette made good on his pledge to donate all off his WCW earnings to the families of Brian Pillman, Brian Hildebrand, and to Darren Drozdov. Meanwhile, Kevin Nash still hasn't made good on his pledge to donate $20,000 to Pillman's family, as he said he would during a promo at the most recent Pillman Memorial Show.

- Everyone in ECW got paid this week, so now they're only 2 pay periods behind, rather than a full month. Progress?

- Various ECW notes: RVD was backstage at WCW Thunder last week since it was in his hometown of Long Beach. Psicosis appears to already be done with the company. He only worked about a dozen matches and reviews weren't great. There's a lot of heat on Masato Tanaka because he has agreed to work an XPW show that he got booked on through Sabu (turns out Tanaka never worked for either ECW or XPW again). Sonny Onoo was backstage at the Anarchy Rulz PPV trying to work with ECW as a liaison to Japan.

- WCW Thunder this week was taped in Sydney, Australia and drew what is believed to be one of the largest crowds for wrestling ever in Australia. It was the largest crowd since WWF's 1986 show there. Show still basically sucked though.

- Christopher Daniels' WCW contract ended on Oct. 1st. His deal was on a cycle where they could renew it or drop it every 90-days and at the end of the most recent cycle, they opted not to renew. They never used him anyway. In the week after he was released, he worked an indie show, then flew to England for a show, then flew back to work a dark match on Raw.

- Scott Steiner's valet Midajah filed a $2 million lawsuit against the Los Angeles Weekly for using her photo in an ad for a phone sex line. The newspaper is blaming it on the advertiser that bought the ad but claims not to know who purchased it.

- Nitro moved to a new network in the UK and now airs on an 11-day delay (it used to be a 4-day delay). The new network is heavily editing the show. For instance, this week, when the crowd started chanting asshole, they simply muted the audio and put a message on the screen saying, "We apologize for the loss of sound." Thunder, meanwhile, no longer airs in the UK at all.

- Nitro Girl Chae has confirmed that she is dating Kevin Nash, which everyone already knew, but just in case you were wondering about Nash's comment on TV a few weeks ago about "eating a little Korean" after the show, there ya go (the last time this was mentioned, a few people commented that Nash has been married to the same woman since the 80s. That's true, but according to Wikipedia, they separated for awhile in 2000 and later reconciled, so that's where this fits). Speaking of Nash, he's expected to get knee surgery soon.

- Kaz Hayashi of the Jung Dragons flew back to Japan just to see the AJPW/NJPW Tokyo Dome show live in person because it was such a historic event. Vampiro's wife gave birth to a daughter so he should be back on the road soon.

- DDP made a post on his website, confirming that he went to Brad Siegel and requested a contract buyout. He said Siegel gave him permission to speak with WWF. DDP says he had a great conversation with Jim Ross but never met with him or McMahon in person. He said he went back to Siegel, who was willing to release him but didn't want to buy out his contract. DDP wasn't willing to just accept a release and walk away from that much money. He even went so far as to propose WCW buy out his and Kimberly's contracts for .55-cents-on-the-dollar. Between the two of them, they would still be leaving nearly $1 million on the table. But WCW turned that down. So basically, DDP isn't willing to walk away from a 7-figure guaranteed contract and WCW isn't going to buy it out, so he's pretty much stuck there. He said he expects to return to WCW after Halloween Havoc.

- Booker T's title win on Nitro last week was the 20th WCW world title change in the last 35 weeks. That's the same number of world title changes during the entire 31-year period of 1949-1980, just in case you're into fun little stats like that.

- Undertaker is apparently needing surgery to remove his gall bladder, which will keep him out of action for a bit. He's already out with a groin injury now. As of press time, he's still scheduled to be on this month's PPV but that's looking less likely by the day.

- Notes from Raw: Shawn Michaels returned and has clearly been training. He's also been openly talking about working another match. Nothing is set in stone yet but there's been talk of a match between him and Triple H at Wrestlemania (yeah they've both confirmed that was the plan until everyone realized Shawn was still fucked up on pills). They openly acknowledged that Debra and Steve Austin were recently married, which surprises Dave since being married to a blonde bombshell doesn't seem to fit with the Austin gimmick. Al Snow vs. Test was funny enough because Al Snow was hilarious, but it also had William Regal on commentary, which was even funnier and Dave loved it for the comedy. They aired GTV footage (yes, that's still going on) of Eddie Guerrero with the 2 hos in the shower, which proved he was cheating on Chyna. It was supposed to make him a heel and Chyna played it like she was heartbroken, but the majority-teenage male crowd thought it was the coolest shit ever and cheered Eddie like crazy.

- And finally, Raw ended with the reveal that Rikishi was the one who ran over Steve Austin. Rikishi claimed he did it on his own to help The Rock, because the top WWF stars have always been white guys like Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan, and Austin. Rikishi said that by taking out Austin, it would allow The Rock—"an island boy" like himself, Samu, Afa, Sika, etc.—to become the new star of the company. This whole thing got mixed reviews from people Dave talked to, with people unhappy that WWF "played the race card" with this angle. There's also a lot of people who felt like it didn't really have much of an impact because while Rikishi is popular, nobody really buys him as a main eventer. Dave still thinks Jericho would have been the best choice.

- Speaking of Rikishi, he's dealing with knee problems and has been taking anti-inflammatory drugs to get through the next few weeks because needless to say, he's got some big matches coming up with Steve Austin now. Dave says given his weight and age, Rikishi's knees and ankles are probably going to be a problem for the rest of his career.

- Olympic gold medal winner Rulon Gardner has had negotiations with WWF but they already fell apart because he was asking for a $2 million-per-year guaranteed contract as well as a $1 million signing bonus. As you might expect, WWF told him to hit the bricks. Dave thinks he'd have better luck in Japan, although they're not going to give him that kind of money either. He could take his chances in MMA, since he already has a great wrestling base, but he'd have to learn some new skills to defend against other martial arts. But because of his name value, he could probably make good money doing that.

- On Raw last week, they had an "In Memory" graphic for someone named Dennis Dunn. He was the executive producer of WWF television during the years when Vince Sr. owned the company and continued until the mid-80s under Vince Jr. Until his death, Dennis still worked as a consultant for the company. Dennis' son Kevin is the current head of TV production (yup. Kevin Dunn is 2nd generation, just in case you wondered why he's such a lifer in that company).

- The Rock's father Rocky Johnson is under police investigation for theft and harassment. Johnson is accused of making improper comments and hugging women at a community center in Florida where he works. He's also accused of stealing a $200 boxing dummy from the center but says it was a misunderstanding and that he was told to take it home and transport it to another fitness center across town the following morning (this gets a lot messier eventually).

- The William Morris Agency responded to the WWF's lawsuit saying that the deal they signed in 1997 stipulated WMA would get a percentage of revenue from every new WWF project, which includes the Viacom deal. WWF argues that they don't owe WMA anything. WMA disagrees and says WWF is trying to get out of paying what they owe. And that's basically it.

- Big Show now has a shaved head and is feuding with Leviathan (Batista) down in OVW. Speaking of OVW, they've started airing vignettes to introduce Brock Lesnar and did an angle where Lesnar ran in and saved Shelton Benjamin from a beatdown. During the ensuing brawl, he launched ("and I mean launched into orbit" Dave adds) one of the guys with a double underhook suplex. Admittedly, the guy only weighs about 185 pounds, but still (wish I could find video of this).

- Charlie and Russ Haas have signed WWF developmental deals and will start in Memphis in January. They both have amateur wrestling backgrounds and have been impressive as a tag team in dark matches.

- Forbes Magazine ran a big story on the WWF and Vince McMahon and it couldn't have been more glowing and positive. The story talked about the Owen Hart lawsuit and said WWF expects it to be settled out of court soon. It acted like Vince came up with the idea of action figures because he said he saw 4-year-old Shane playing with G.I. Joes and had the brilliant idea to make wrestling figures. Dave says wrestling action figures were popular in Mexico and Japan years before Shane was even born but why let facts get in the way of the Vince-invented-everything narrative? It also featured a quote from PTC head L. Brent Bozell, who called Vince McMahon despicable and said he makes Larry Flynt look honorable.

- You may have heard that the Boston Red Sox were recently put up for sale. Well the Boston Globe reported that 30 different bidders made offers for the team and one of them was Vince McMahon (holy shit, how have I never heard that Vince once tried to buy the Red Sox??)

- The Rock recently filmed a guest spot on the show DAG which stars David Alan Grier and Delta Burke.

- Taka Michinoku was also in attendance at NJPW's Tokyo Dome show and was reportedly visibly depressed, telling people that he needs shoulder surgery and that doctors have told him his career is in jeopardy, and he's only 26 years old.

- Mark Henry and Big Show are both being weighed every Friday in OVW. Most recently, Mark Henry weighed in at 360, which is down from 415 when he was sent down to OVW. They want him at 325 but if he gets down to 340 or so, they'll be satisfied. Big Show is currently at 470lbs, and they want him down to 375. He was given an ultimatum that he will never be brought back until he gets down to at least 400. Big Show has a 10-year guaranteed contract for just under $1 million a year but there's a clause in both men's contracts requiring them to stay in top physical condition so WWF may have an out if they wanted to use it. With Mark Henry, the belief is that he's making a real effort to lose weight, while Big Show isn't really doing anything to dispel the reputation he has of being lazy.
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- Taka Michinoku was also in attendance at NJPW's Tokyo Dome show and was reportedly visibly depressed, telling people that he needs shoulder surgery and that doctors have told him his career is in jeopardy, and he's only 26 years old.

Well, Takas been on a few of these now. Looking at 90s Taka, its crazy what a great heel he is now. His promos are so good.
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Choppy choppy your pee pee
(01-12-2019, 11:34 AM)Ceallach Wrote: - Taka Michinoku was also in attendance at NJPW's Tokyo Dome show and was reportedly visibly depressed, telling people that he needs shoulder surgery and that doctors have told him his career is in jeopardy, and he's only 26 years old.

Well, Takas been on a few of these now. Looking at 90s Taka, its crazy what a great heel he is now. His promos are so good.

He’s still rasslin?
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Yes, hes a member of Suzukigun in NJPW and is ZSJs mouthpiece.
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I thought you didn’t Reddit? Hmmmm...
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Was on my google suggested
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Dangprice82 confirmed.
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[+] 2 users Like Chris's post

- There has never been a scarier time to be a full-time pro wrestler in the United States, as the futures of WCW and ECW are both up in the air. The possibility of WWF purchasing WCW became a lot more likely this week after reports that Eric Bischoff and his Mandalay Sports group had pulled themselves out of the running. If WWF buys WCW, the belief is that they will run it as a separate company for awhile and ultimately do an inter-promotional feud at some point down the road. But there's a lot of roadblocks in the way of a WWF/WCW deal, much of it to do with contracts. A lot of WCW wrestlers are on contracts that are re-evaluated every 90 days, which means they could be terminated and Vince, who would have all the negotiating leverage, could re-negotiate deals for a lot less money. With ECW being unable to afford anyone, Dave suspects there's going to be a lot of high-paid WCW wrestlers who might be about to undergo a major change in their lifestyles if this deal happens. Then there's the top stars who have major guaranteed deals without the 90-day clauses like Kevin Nash or Sting who are making more in WCW than everyone in WWF. Vince isn't going to want to bring them in under those terms and upset the pay scale within WWF. Same with Goldberg, who has a huge guaranteed deal with 3 years left on it. Dave speculates that TBS might help buy those contracts out in order to quickly facilitate the sale but that's just a guess. Anyway, Bischoff and his group had months of negotiations with WCW but they seemingly fell apart this week for reasons unknown. WWF CEO Stuart Snyder and some WWF lawyers had meetings with TBS officials this week and those close to the negotiations tell Dave they figure it's a near-certainty that McMahon will buy the company. So far there haven't been any meetings or discussions between McMahon and Ted Turner themselves and it's not expected that there will be.

- In the midst of all this contract discussion, Dave casually mentions that WCW released Scott Hall a couple of weeks ago, claiming breach of contract due to his unprofessional behavior from the overseas tour back in February. And he never mentions it again in this issue. Soooo...right on. Seems like a big deal to gloss over after months of "will-he/won't-he be brought back?" but whatever I guess.

- There's a lot of unrest in the WWF locker room about all these WCW rumors. Everyone realizes that competition is good for the wrestlers and if Vince buys WCW, that kills all the negotiating leverage for everybody when contracts come due. There's a very limited number of top spots within a single company, and if Vince owns everything, that creates a lot more competition for those top spots. The key to this is that TBS and TNT want to retain the prime time programming no matter who buys WCW and McMahon seems like the obvious choice if they want someone who can rebuild WCW and deliver ratings. So while this might end up sucking for the wrestlers, selling the show to Vince might be the best business move for Turner. At least in the short term. In the long-term, Dave thinks Vince owning everything is nothing short of disastrous for the industry. It also kills any chance of anyone ever starting a union (which never had much of a chance anyway).

- If this deal happens, it will give McMahon a near-monopoly on the wrestling industry in North America, which is something he has been striving for since he took over the company from his father nearly 2 decades ago. It almost happened in 1988, when Jim Crockett Promotions was on the verge of bankruptcy, but even then, there were a couple of fledgling territories still hanging on (much like ECW is now). This time, Turner is trying to drop WCW because the AOL/Time Warner merger is looming and they need to get WCW off the books because it's a huge money-loser. Dave thinks if Vince buys WCW, it will solidify his position as the most powerful man in the industry and that will probably go unchallenged for many years. With WWF's market share and and leverage, it will be virtually impossible for any new company to start over from scratch and actually become any kind of competition to WWF. In fact, he compares it to how difficult it would be for a start-up football league to try to compete against the NFL. You'd have to be crazy!

- Then you have to consider the futures of some people in particular. Certainly, Bret Hart and Lex Luger's careers would be in grave jeopardy. Bret is under WCW contract through Nov. 2002 although his career is already questionable anyway if he ends up having to retire due to his head injuries, which is heavily rumored. As for Luger, he left the WWF with no notice in 1995 and almost certainly won't be welcomed back and, at 42 years old, his options are limited. Same for Vince Russo, who isn't likely to be welcomed back into the WWF fold. What about Hogan or Bischoff? They might end up being under contract to Vince McMahon if he buys WCW, since they still technically have contracts. WWF is likely not going to incorporate much of WCW's office staff, so all the advertising, licensing, marketing, and merchandising people would probably be looking for new jobs. Do they keep Nitro on Mondays or move it to a new night so it doesn't cut into Raw ratings anymore? And on and on. Long story short, if WWF buys WCW, there's a million questions that will need to be figured out.

- Despite WWF's offer to waive their exclusivity deal through the end of the year, ECW and TNN couldn't reach an agreement. As a result, ECW has now been cancelled on TNN. Heyman held a meeting at a house show with the talent and told them the news. He said the PPV schedule will continue as planned. It's believed some house shows that don't have strong advance ticket sales may be cancelled. Heyman explained his difficulties in getting the company a new TV deal, saying there are offers on the table that he could take, but that just getting on TV is the least of their problems. They need someone willing to pump money into the company, not just put it on TV and he said that signing a bad TV deal would doom the company. Needless to say, the ECW roster is worried and many of them have privately reached out to WWF and WCW. But right now, WCW is in a hiring freeze and WWF has told people that they won't negotiate with anyone without Heyman's approval. So there's really nowhere for the ECW wrestlers to go. Obviously, the odds of Heyman pulling this off and keeping the company alive look bleak, but he's been in this position before and managed to save ECW from what appeared to be certain death at the last minute. As for why the ECW and TNN negotiations fell apart, there were lots of things. For starters, there's obviously bad blood on both sides. TNN feels entitled to a percentage of ECW's PPV revenue, while ECW obviously disputes that. ECW has also bitterly complained that TNN never promoted them well. ECW also wanted more commercial time during the 1-hour show to sell ads to make more revenue, but TNN wouldn't go for that. Lots of things added up to all this basically. So finally, talks broke off and TNN officially canceled ECW without warning.

- To make matters worse, the day after TNN pulled the plug on ECW, the Parents Television Council decided to get involved, issuing a press release regarding ECW's ongoing negotiations with USA Network and declaring that ECW is even worse than WWF when it comes to inappropriate content. That really sucks because USA president Barry Diller is known to be concerned about the political climate surrounding television content and the PTC turning their attention towards USA is likely to give them serious reservations about making a deal with ECW, especially after all the headaches they have caused WWF for the last year.

- Dave has finally seen the NJPW/AJPW Tokyo Dome show with Toshiaki Kawada defeating Kensuke Sasaki in the main event. Even though he lost, Dave thinks it's the first time Sasaki has truly come across as the star NJPW wants him to be. Sasaki has headlined the Tokyo Dome before and was the IWGP champion, but he was never over the way guys like Muto, Hashimoto, or Chono are. He also doesn't have a reputation as a great worker and has never really been accepted as the top star. But in this, the biggest match of both of their careers, Sasaki delivered and then some. Both men practically killed themselves with a brutally stiff match that got over huge. In-ring wise, it wasn't the best match of the year but for drama and emotion and storytelling, it was up there with Foley/Triple H and Atlantis/Villano III. Dave gives it 4.25 stars which honestly feels low considering how heavily he praised it. Probably would have been 5 if it happened in the Toky.....oh. Never mind.

- Raw this week did its lowest regular time slot rating since 1998. Nitro didn't pick up the difference though, with Nitro also doing its lowest rating since the early days of the show back in 1995 with a 2.33 rating. The total number of homes watching wrestling this past Monday was 7.6 million which is the lowest non-holiday total in years. Dave doesn't know what to blame. The Monday Night Football game rating was below its usual number too, so it probably wasn't that. Raw is obviously suffering the effects of recently moving to a lower-rated network but still. The Olympics are over so you can't blame that either. A Mets/Cardinals playoff game did a bad rating too. So who knows. Basically, everything was down on Monday, not just wrestling. Well, everything but Everybody Loves Raymond which did monster numbers. But Dave does give some details on demographics, in case you're curious. The average Raw viewer is a 26-year-old male, while the average Nitro viewer is a 35-year-old male. Another fun fact, when Raw began, a staggering 44% of Nitro viewers changed channel and flipped over to Raw. One other interesting stat, network and cable ratings are figured differently because of the availability. So even though Smackdown's ratings numbers are lower than Raw, it turns out Smackdown actually gets more viewers. So in case you were wondering, Smackdown is WWF's most watched show, not Raw.

- Mitsuharu Misawa has started to show how Pro Wrestling NOAH is different from other companies, and this week, the promotion started doing classic American-style booking, with run-ins, blading, and DQ finishes. AJPW pretty much banned blading back in 1990 (although Abdullah The Butcher was still allowed to do it occasionally since that's his entire gimmick) so it was a big deal to see it come back in NOAH. One of Misawa's big complaints in AJPW that led to friction with he and Motoko Baba was because Misawa wanted to modernize the promotion, while Mrs. Baba wanted to keep things the same old traditional way they had always been.

- NOAH is still trying to get their Nippon TV situation worked out. NTV dropped AJPW and planned to start airing NOAH when the split first happened, but then AJPW started making a bunch of legal threats and everything got put on hold while that gets sorted out. So for right now, neither promotion has a network TV deal.

- Akira Maeda talked about Alexander Karelin's upset loss at the Olympics and actually tried to take credit for it in a recent interview. Remember, Maeda and Karelin had a "shoot" (*ahem*) fight in RINGS back in 1999 and Maeda said that the damage to Karelin's legs from Maeda's kicks in that fight may have contributed to his loss in the Olympics this year. Hey, might as well try to get yourself over, I guess.

- Speaking of Karelin, the guy who beat him, Rulon Gardner has said he likely won't do professional wrestling after all. He says he's been getting offers every day, including a $1 million contract offer and $250,000 to work 1 PPV, but turned them down because he feels he can still do more for amateur wrestling and wants to stick to that. Dave talks about how pro wrestling is frowned upon by most people in the amateur wrestling world and how even Kurt Angle's history is almost ignored by many amateur wrestling publications because of his decision to go to WWF.

- In Abruzzo, Italy, the place where Bruno Sammartino was born, they are renaming an arena there as the Bruno Sammartino Coliseum. They are also declaring the house he was born in to be a historical landmark, meaning it can't be torn down.

- A documentary called Wrestling At The Chase, about the history of St. Louis wrestling, won a Mid-American Emmy Award for best special program or something. Dave says if you're a fan of old-time wrestling, you should go out of your way to see this. I posted it in one of the issues last year, but here it is again.

- Randy Savage filed a lawsuit against a Seattle porn producer because he's marketing a tape of Savage's ex-girlfriend Stephanie Bellers and advertising it under her WCW name of Gorgeous George. Turns out Savage bought the rights to the Gorgeous George name years ago, originally to give to his brother Lanny, but ended up using it for his girlfriend instead. Savage feels like using the name to promote porn damages the value of the trademark he owns (it sounds like this is different from the masturbation video she later did around this same time, but who knows). Speaking of Bellars, after a short-lived stint in ECW, she is back to working as a stripper, which she used to do before meeting Savage and going to WCW.

- All Pro Wrestling in San Francisco debuted a wrestler named Dalip Singh who is said to be around 7 feet tall and 400 pounds, with a body like Lex Luger (that would be Great Khali. And yeah, early in his career, he was shredded).

- Ted Dibiase's son is the starting quarterback for his Clinton, MS high school football team. The team is undefeated and ranked #1 in the state (that would be Dibiase Jr., prior to becoming a wrestler himself after leaving college his freshmen year).

- Now that Juventud Guerrera has been fired by WCW (more on that in a bit), the natural expectation is that he would go to ECW. But Paul Heyman says he loves Guerrera's talent but right now, they aren't in a position to bring in new stars. If they get a new TV deal and influx of cash, then maybe, but with most of the current roster behind on pay, Heyman feels it would be a slap in their face to sign anyone new.

- RVD had the weekend off because he was filming a movie in Thailand (the movie was some shit called Black Mask 2). RVD is also expected to miss shows this coming weekend (he'll be missing a lot more than that, but we'll get to that soon). Speaking of missing shows, ECW had a couple of shows in Virginia and couldn't afford to fly everybody in. So they asked the crew to drive in, but told them it was optional and wouldn't be held against them if they didn't go. Big Sal and Balls Mahoney are the only ones who didn't go.

- WCW officially fired Juventud Guerrera after the incident in Australia last week. Dave agrees with the decision. As talented as Guerrera is, you can't have guys doing PCP, stripping naked, and fighting the police. There's a lot of people in the company who feel like there's a double standard because there's lots of wild shit that goes on on the road that top stars are never punished for, but Dave says while that may be true, you still can't defend Guerrera here. ECW can't afford to hire him and Dave doubts WWF is going to bring him in considering why he was fired from WCW, so his American prospects look pretty dim right now. He can work in Mexico and probably be a big star but there's no money in it there, not compared to what he was making in WCW (and he had just signed a new contract). He could probably get some tours of Japan, but again, not even in the same ballpark moneywise. Dave thinks his best bet is to sit out for 6 months, behave himself and maybe WCW will take him back if he stays out of trouble. But if WWF ends up buying the company, that probably won't work either. No matter how you slice it, Guerrera really screwed himself out of a lot of money.

- Notes from Nitro: it was the show in Melbourne, Australia and was fine, but it felt like watching a lame duck promotion. Johnny The Bull somehow broke his foot on a monkey flip spot right at the beginning of his match. They immediately went to the finish. He'll be out for about 6 weeks. Scott Steiner did commentary at one point but Dave has no idea what he said because 60% of it was bleeped out. He also spent half the time making a lot of mean-spirited comments about Torrie Wilson that were ridiculously unprofessional and says that's the difference between the 2 companies and that Scott's behavior would never be tolerated in WWF.

- WCW is doing an angle with stars from the TV show Battledome. It started with WCW wrestlers like DDP, Buff Bagwell, Rick Steiner and Ernest Miller showing up to the Battledome set and doing some stuff. Battledome stars are expected to appear on Nitro soon to continue the angle (this is only important because it gives us Terry Crews in WCW).

- At a talent meeting at Nitro, the wrestlers were instructed on things they could no longer say on TV. Specifically, Konnan had a lot of his act taken away. No more references to tossing salads, Richard Gere and gerbils, etc. Basically, they don't want anymore homophobic comments on the show.

- There were settlement talks in the Owen Hart lawsuit this week in Kansas City with Vince and Linda McMahon and their lawyers meeting face-to-face with Martha, Stu, and Helen Hart and their lawyers. Both sides made settlement offers but they were far apart. They tried to negotiate, but Martha's anger was evident and she ended up going off on Vince and the whole thing broke down from there. It appears that this case is probably going to end up going to trial.

- Undertaker had gall bladder surgery and will be out for several weeks. They hope he'll be back by Survivor Series though he'll likely be on TV before then.

- Notes from Raw: Eddie Guerrero got injured in the opening match on....yup, a monkey flip, much like Johnny The Bull on Nitro. Jericho was trying to keep the match going and Eddie rolled out of the ring to buy himself some time and then back in to get away from Jericho when he came after him, clearly not ready to keep going. He seemed to have somehow injured his leg on the ropes and the referee stopped the match when he saw Eddie limping badly. After what happened with Paul Orndorff a few weeks ago, Dave is glad to see them not take chances with injuries (Eddie ended up missing, like, 2 weeks but he was fine). Also on the show, the 2 guys playing the Los Conquistadores were actually Christopher Daniels and Aaron Aguilera.

- Vince McMahon attended a Hollywood luncheon event and made some news when he talked about Hollywood needing to fight back against people like Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman in regards to their complaints about Hollywood marketing adult entertainment to children. Vince also talked about the rumors of buying WCW, saying it was a possibility, which is the first time he has publicly acknowledged the issue. He also said WWF will be producing a TV series called Manhunt.

- A follow up on the story from last week about Rock's father Rocky Johnson and things look a lot worse this week. Johnson was the subject of an investigation by the town's parks & recreation director at the youth camp where Johnson worked. This whole thing is complicated though because apparently Johnson is tight with the town's mayor and the town administrator kept taking information out of the report or some such shit. It's all confusing mess. Anyway, Johnson was suspended from his job and the investigation was turned over to police. But then, some of the people involved in the investigation ended up getting fired I guess? I dunno, Dave's explanation of all this is convoluted as hell. Anyway, one female camp employee claims Johnson groped her ass on 2 occasions, as well as asking her to take her shirt off. He also had another woman who didn't work there hang out with him in a back room, apparently having sex while on the job and was once interrupted by another employee while he was getting oral sex from the woman. A 16-year-old girl saw him shirtless and getting a massage from the same woman. And he's accused of asking a 12-year-old girl to play strip poker. He wore a t-shirt that said "Puta" on it (Spanish for "bitch") in front of children and apparently made a comment about the size of his dick in front of some kids. He also left several children unsupervised in a training room while they wrestled and boxed, and some kids got hurt. Johnson of course denies it and those close to him say he didn't do anything to or around any kids. As far as the women, Johnson was described by a friend as "one of the good ol' boys" who grew up in a different time and thinks it's still okay for him to talk to women in a certain way. This whole story is a mess. There's some other shit about town officials covering up some money deals, the mayor's involvement, etc.

- Various WWF notes: Stephanie McMahon is now heavily involved in writing the TV shows. Brock Lesnar made his TV debut in OVW in a tag team match with Shelton Benjamin against Sean Casey & Chris Michaels. Nora Greenwald (Mona from WCW) debuted in a dark match at the Raw tapings.
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- We begin this week with a long obituary for Yokozuna, who passed away at age 34 at a hotel in Liverpool, England. Yoko was a member of the famous Anoa'i family of Samoans and held the WWF title twice in the early 90s. It's thought that he may have been the heaviest wrestler in the world at one point although that's difficult to prove. In late-96, he's believed to have weighed close to 800 pounds and he was definitely the heaviest in the history of WWF. Yokozuna was found by a tour bus driver in his hotel room when he didn't answer the door when he was supposed to be picked up for a show later that night. It's believed to have been a heart attack (turns out no, it was something to do with fluid in his lungs). He was said to be drinking heavily the night before and just a day earlier, it's known that he'd had a lengthy phone call with his cousin Rikishi. In recent years, Yokozuna hadn't wrestled in the U.S. because he couldn't get cleared by any state athletic commissions due to his size and the potential for heart problems. He was believed to weigh anywhere from 600-750 pounds and was practically immobile in the ring during his recent indie appearances. On Raw, they acknowledged his death with Vince McMahon calling him the greatest big man in the history of wrestling. On Nitro, the announcers mentioned him and basically gave him the same praise. WCW wasn't going to mention it since he never worked there, but Yoko was well-liked within the business and other wrestlers who knew him pressured them to give Yoko a shout out, so they did.

- Dave runs down Yokozuna's life and career, all his connections and relationships with the Anoa'i family, his early Great Kokina gimmick, wrestling in USWA, Mexico, NJPW, and the dying days of AWA before making his way to WWF in 1993. He had a successful run there but eventually got so large that WWF sent him to the Duke University weight loss program but he failed at that so they took him off the road completely and he never returned. He had talks about returning plenty of times over the last few years, including just in the last few weeks, but because he could never get his weight under control, it didn't happen. His final appearance in WWF was the 1996 Survivor Series in a throw-away 8-man elimination match in which he did almost literally nothing but stand there. At that point, for all intents and purposes, his career was over. He made a couple of indie appearances and his last major appearance was in the main event of the embarrassing Heroes of Wrestling PPV in 1999.

- Negotiations for WWF to buy WCW are continuing this week and are going slower than expected. There's issues on both sides that neither seems willing to budge on, reportedly over what happens to WCW front office workers as well as who gets the PPV money that WCW is still owed (naturally, Turner and WWF both want that money). There were allegations that Vince McMahon and WCW head Brad Siegel got into an argument during the negotiations, but people close to the situation denied that to Dave. WWF lawyers have also denied the rumors that they have a right-of-first-refusal deal as part of the lawsuit settlement a few months back. The big hold up appears to be over existing WCW contracts, not just with wrestlers but in all facets of the business (licensing and merchandising contracts that WCW has with other companies, for example). It's also believed that there is some hold up with Viacom, which is now paying WWF $28 million per year for exclusive WWF programming. But if you recall, one of the things Turner isn't willing to budge on is that they still want WCW programming on their channels. So if WWF buys WCW, they would be producing shows for TBS and TNT, which are rival networks to the Viacom-owned channels that WWF is currently on. So there's all sorts of legal red tape that has to be sorted through if this deal is actually going to happen and it's said to not be as much of a sure thing as everyone thought it was last week (spoiler: that Viacom stuff is what ends up killing this whole deal).

- Bret Hart was officially fired by WCW this week. To say his 3 years in WCW was a disappointment would be the understatement of the century, Dave says. He came into WCW as arguably the hottest star in the business after the Screwjob and WCW pretty much fumbled him right from the start and never recovered. Throw in the death of his brother, several injuries, and countless heel/face turns, and it was just a bad 3 years, both personally and professionally for Hart. His contract ($2.5 mil per year) was the second highest in the company behind Hulk Hogan and it wasn't a surprise that they released him. WCW is deep in debt and there's huge pressure to cut costs. Hart hasn't wrestled since January and it's unknown if he'll ever be able to again. Per Hart's contract, if he was unable to wrestle for more than 90 days, they had the right to terminate the deal and so they finally did. It's very likely Hart's in-ring career is over, as he's still not recovered from the concussions he suffered in December and January, which started with an errant Goldberg kick at Starrcade and were worsened in the weeks after, most notably during a hardcore match with Terry Funk. Hart has been noticeably bitter following what happened in Montreal and lashed out not only at WWF, but often at WCW and all the changes in the wrestling business that he didn't like. Hart's criticisms of WCW led to a lot of heat and resentment from higher-ups in the company, even though most of the wrestlers usually agreed with him.

- In the termination letter that Brad Siegel sent to Hart, he wrote, "At this point in time, we have been unable to utilize your wrestling services for over nine months and according to your doctor, you remain incapacitated. Based on your ongoing incapacity, WCW in exercising its right under paragraph 8 (e) to terminate your independent contractor agreement effective Friday, October 20, 2000. Your contributions to the wrestling business are highly regarded and we wish you only the best in the future." Hart responded in his weekly Calgary Sun column, writing, "Yeah right," and added that he'll be taking time to think over his options. Dave says those options are pretty limited. Even if he can wrestle again (which is doubtful), where? Dave says that even if Bret can't wrestle, there's obviously a big money angle waiting for him in WWF between him and McMahon, but there's so much hatred there that it's pretty clear neither side wants that. Most likely, Hart's short-term plan is to write a book about his life in the business.

- WWF's No Mercy PPV is in the books and was a good show, built around the in-ring return of Steve Austin. It also saw Kurt Angle become only the 2nd Olympic gold medalist to win a major pro wrestling world title (the first being Henri DeGlane who won the world title from Strangler Lewis back in 1931, y'all remember that? Oh man, good times...). Dave says Angle has had one of the quickest rises to the top of any performer in history. Big Show won his first WCW title 6 months after his debut and Salman Hashimikov won the IWGP title only a month after his debut in 1989, but otherwise, that's it. Nobody has catapulted to the top the way Angle has. But of course, the big selling point of the show was Austin's return. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a match and it left more questions than answers about Austin's health, since he didn't really take much in the way of bumps and mostly just brawled around with Rikishi for a bit before doing an angle to get arrested. The big focal point of the title match and whole show really was Stephanie McMahon and Dave basically compares her to a Von Erich daughter considering the way her father is building the company around her lately.

- Other notes from No Mercy: during the opening tables match, Grandmaster Sexay accidentally broke a table with his feet, which should have eliminated them from the match but the referee just ignored it while the crowd chanted "You fucked up!" Dave mentions that Victoria, who is one of the Godfather's hos, will be going to Memphis to train and will become a wrestler. They did an angle backstage to write the Acolytes off the show and their scheduled match didn't happen. It was done because Bradshaw recently suffered a broken rib and Faarooq needs knee surgery. They made a point of showing Steve Austin chugging a beer while driving his truck away from the ring, which Dave finds pretty classless from the company's top star who so many teenagers think is cool. Edge/Christian (as the Conquistadores) vs. the Hardyz was a bad match, which Dave didn't think was possible for these 2 teams to have together. Christian suffered a stinger when doing a dive to the outside and half his body went numb but he's expected to be okay (I remember on an episode of their podcast, Christian talked about this and said it was the scariest moment of his career). Triple H vs. Chris Benoit was a great match and would have been a near-classic if the crowd wasn't so dead for it. And the Rock/Angle match was even better, with Angle winning the title and getting a big face pop for it.


- We have another obituary, this one even longer than Yokozuna, for the death of Leo Nomellini, a part-time wrestler and NFL player who died this week. Nomellini wrestled during the off-season in the San Francisco territory in the 1950s and Dave goes into a ton of detail about this dude, I guess because this is the region where Dave grew up and he knows a lot about the local wrestling history in the area. As a football player, Nomellini was pretty great and was even inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

- The vacant IWGP title will be decided on the Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show with an 8-man one-night tournament featuring Toshiaki Kawada, Shinya Hashimoto, Keiji Muto, Manabu Nakanishi, Kensuke Sasaki, Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Genichiro Tenryu. For name value and star-power, it's probably the biggest one-night tournament in Japanese wrestling history and it's notable that Kawada and Tenryu, who are AJPW stars, will be involved. Apparently, NJPW reached out to NOAH as well, hoping to get Misawa and Kobashi in the tournament, but Misawa turned it down. (Holy shit, can you imagine this tournament if they had somehow managed to get Misawa and Kobashi also? My god...)

- Nitro did a near record-low rating this week while Raw did its best numbers on TNN so far. The first hour of Nitro was the 2nd lowest rated unopposed hour ever, while the second hour was the lowest rated second hour in the history of the show. Raw's numbers were up, but still not to where they were before the move to TNN, but its inching that way.

- Hiroshi Hase has avoided picking sides in the AJPW/NOAH split until now. This week he announced that he will work shows for AJPW in January. Hase is a member of the Japanese Diet (the equivalent of the U.S. Senate) and they will be on break in January, which will allow Hase the free time to wrestle again. So chalk up a much-needed win for AJPW on this one.

- Scott Hall apparently reached out to NJPW about working some shows, since WCW fired him and WWF doesn't want him.

- XPW in California held a press conference to announce an Atsushi Onita vs. Sabu match taking place in December. Onita cut a promo saying Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman promised they'd do exploding ring matches with him but they backed out. Sabu then came out and it turned into a brawl between them. Onita and XPW promoter Rob Black then set an American flag on fire and tried to throw Sabu on it. Oh. Well then. Onita then went back to Japan and when he was interviewed by the media there, he challenged Terry Funk and Antonio Inoki, vowing to retire afterwards because he needs a knee replacement. Dave thinks Onita is trying to compete with Funk for how many times a guy can say he's retiring and then not do it.

- Big Dick Dudley was involved in an accident when his motorcycle was hit by a truck and he reportedly spent 2 days in a coma.

- Shawn Michaels is scheduled to appear at a Memphis Championship Wrestling show next week.

- ECW's December PPV is already sold out, two months in advance. But it's only 2,500 tickets at Hammerstein Ballroom, so it's not like that's a huge financial boon for the company or anything.

- Dan Severn was backstage at an ECW show recently, looking for work. Dave doesn't see it happening because for starters, Severn is all wrong for this company now. Back in the day, they tried to bring Severn in to get him to put over Taz when he was doing the shooter gimmick, but that didn't happen and nowadays, the style of the company has changed. Plus, ECW isn't in a position to be hiring anybody new right now.

- Other ECW notes: they had a house show in Battle Creek, MI which seems like a no-brainer to have RVD there, but he wasn't. They offered free tickets to the PPV in Chicago next month to anyone who wanted them to make up for RVD not being there. Paul Heyman was in attendance at both weekend house shows, which is the first time he's been at those shows in awhile. Joe C, the little guy who raps with Kid Rock, worked the MI show and was in the corner of Sandman and Whipwreck for their match.

- Notes from WCW Nitro: this continues to feel like a lame-duck company, with all the shows pretty much just in a holding pattern. Kevin Nash cut a promo talking about Scott Hall again and Dave is just flabbergasted. Hall was fired by WCW a couple of weeks ago, leading Dave to say "WCW is run by total chowderheads." Dave says if this was WWF and someone got on a live mic on Raw and started shooting and going off-script by putting over a guy that Vince McMahon had just fired in real life, that guy would probably be joining him in the unemployment line as soon as he got backstage. But there's pretty much no discipline or rules in WCW. Nash has been talking about Scott Hall in his promos for months now, and it was never part of an angle. It was just Nash politicking on live TV for them to bring his fuck-up buddy back. In fact, online, Mark Madden wrote about how Scott Hall gets bigger pops than most of the roster, because Nash has been working his own angle to bring him back and the fans are all excited and hyped up for something that's not going to happen. Meanwhile, the entire rest of the roster doesn't get half the build-up that Nash has been giving Hall on his own. And Nash realizes that nobody in WCW has the balls to discipline him, so he just goes into business for himself. Oh, and just in case you didn't get the message the first time, Nash had another interview segment later in the show and he once again made it all about Scott Hall. In other news, Goldberg is supposed to be building back up his winning streak. On Nitro, they announced him as 12-0. On Thunder last week, he was 7-0. WCW hasn't had any shows in between, so somehow Goldberg added another phantom 5 wins to his record over the previous 4 days. But putting all that stuff aside, it was kind of a solid show, with some good matches and one of the better Nitro main events they've had in awhile.

- Also, this was the first of the new joint-tapings WCW is doing, so after Nitro, they taped Thunder for the same crowd. This is the plan going forward, so WCW will only be running 5 shows-per-month from now on (4 Nitro/Thunder tapings and 1 PPV, no house shows).

- One final note from Nitro: Scott Steiner came to the ring with a live tiger. In case you're wondering, no one knows why they did this. Just some idea somebody came up with so they went out and got a tiger on the spur of the moment. Because WCW. Backstage before the show, Rey Mysterio was trying to take a photo with it and the tiger nearly took a bite out of him (can you imagine the liability issue of bringing a tiger to ringside, with only a little barricade standing between the fans and the tiger? If you watch it, the tiger is struggling to get away when they first bring him out. Obviously the handlers are there, but still, if that tiger decided to go full-tiger, all bets are off).


- Various WCW notes: Terry Taylor, Bill Banks and Ed Ferrara are apparently the main guys writing television this week. No explanation given about why it wasn't Russo but he wasn't involved this week (never would be again, he's done). Goldberg's book "I'm Next" comes out next week. E! Network will air a Women of WCW special. In a Pittsburgh poll, Mark Madden finished 3rd in a poll for which local radio personality you'd most want to punch. Hulk Hogan has been telling people that he wants to end his career in the WWF.

- WCW has changed the names of several of the 2001 PPVs. January's PPV will be called Sin (instead of Souled Out). February's PPV will be called SuperBrawl Revenge (instead of plain old SuperBrawl) and March's PPV will be called Greed (rather than Uncensored). And unbeknownst to anybody at the time, these will be the final WCW PPVs ever.

- Time Warner's stockholder report estimated $10-15 million in losses by WCW over the last 3 months, which is actually a good thing. They were expected to lose more than that, but all the cost-cutting in recent months helped stem the tide somewhat. The company was on pace to lose $80 million this year, but it looks like now it'll be a little less than that (though it's still expected to total well over $50 million).

- CNN ran a special on Goldberg last week. It talked about his parents divorcing 13 years ago, with Goldberg saying he's still angry about it. They also showed Vince Russo and Goldberg discussing an angle where Goldberg would attack Scott Steiner backstage and pour bleach down Steiner's throat. Dave notes that never actually happened, but here they are discussing it on the CNN special, so it was obviously a plan at some point that got scrapped. Russo also took a shot at Hogan during the show, saying it took Hogan 15 years to make a name for himself in wrestling while it only took Goldberg 3 months. Dave points out that Hogan started in late-1977, was a superstar in Japan in 1980, and by 1981, he was the biggest drawing star in the U.S. when working for the AWA. So, uh, the 15 years thing isn't exactly true. (I can't find video of this segment, but weirdly enough, CNN has a written transcript of the entire episode so scroll through this link and you can find it if you really want.)


- There's expected to be another settlement meeting this week between the McMahons and the Hart family and all the lawyers. The last meeting fell apart after Martha Hart snapped and began yelling at Vince.

- Notes from Raw: Ivory debuted as the newest member of Right To Censor. The role was originally considered for Mona from WCW, but she'll apparently be doing something else. They showed Christian backstage laying in the remnants of a shattered table, implying that the Dudleys did it. This was a way to write Christian off the show after the stinger he suffered at the PPV. The ho's were also written off TV by a Chyna beat down and Dave says it's no coincidence that the pimp, the porn star, and the ho's are all gone from TV within the first month of moving to Viacom. Those were all central complaints of the PTC.

- Various WWF notes: Austin is scheduled to wrestle on most upcoming house shows, even in smaller markets, which is something of a surprise considering he just came back and it's unknown how well his neck will hold up. On the WWF's website, they stated there was nothing to the story of McMahon attempting to buy the Boston Red Sox, as the Boston Globe reported last week.

- A 14-year-old boy in Romulus, MI was charged with assault and battery after he attacked his mother because she wouldn't let him watch Sunday Night Heat. He pushed her, threatened to break windows in the apartment, and shattered a cinder block and began threatening her with it. The boy is awaiting trial on 2 previous assault charges also.

- Lots of letters about the potential WWF/WCW sale and how WCW is such a dead company at this point that some people don't even know why Vince would want it. Lots of doom and gloom predictions for WWF too, with people thinking it's getting stale, Rock is stagnating, Austin is yesterday's news, etc. Predictions that if Vince buys WCW, he'll eventually just shut it down rather than run it as a separate promotion, things like that.
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- A 14-year-old boy in Romulus, MI was charged with assault and battery after he attacked his mother because she wouldn't let him watch Sunday Night Heat. He pushed her, threatened to break windows in the apartment, and shattered a cinder block and began threatening her with it.

This is what i would do if someone tried to force me to sit through a 3 hour raw today
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[+] 1 user Likes Ceallach's post

- Bret Hart officially announced his retirement this week due to concussions he suffered starting back at Starrcade from a Goldberg kick. Doctors actually speculated that Hart may have had a concussion going into the match, but the kick magnified the damage. Following the Goldberg match, Hart continued to wrestle for a couple of weeks and got rocked again several times, particularly in a hardcore match with Terry Funk. Doctors said he's suffered about 10% brain damage, some of which may be permanent. Despite the injury, there was always the possibility that he could have remained an on-screen character in some role. But Hart was fired by WCW last week, which basically left him with no real options, since he has no intention of ever working for WWF again and said he doesn't want to end his career by working his way down the minor league food chain like so many other wrestlers do. Dave says Hart will be remembered for many things, and while his career had no shortage of memorable moments, the name Bret Hart will always be mostly associated with what happened in Montreal 3 years ago and with the death of his brother Owen. The first was the most historically influential match in modern times and Owen's death was the biggest mainstream news story in wrestling history. The last 3 years of Bret's life have been hell, from a disappointing WCW run, injuries, and the utter destruction of the Hart family in the wake of Owen's death. Dave thinks it's sad because if this was Japan or Mexico, the wrestling culture there is different. If a star on the level of Bret Hart retired there, they would have elaborate retirement ceremonies and make a huge deal of it. But here in America, he was double-crossed out of the WWF to avoid giving him a fond farewell, and then he was unceremoniously fired from WCW rather than having a chance to officially retire in the ring or give a speech for his fans. Then again, with the state of WCW, nobody would have believed a Bret Hart retirement speech anyway, since everyone would just suspect an angle. But it sucks that he's having to hang up the boots while unemployed and with no outlet to be given the send-off he deserves.

- Dave recaps Bret's career, starting as a teenager in the Amarillo territory with Dory Funk, his time in Japan, and then starting in Stampede and working his way up the ladder there (he started as an opening match jobber). Forming the Hart Foundation with Neidhart, their years together in WWF, his singles run, becoming IC and WWF champion when business was down and Vince needed someone who wasn't exploding with steroids to be the face of the company. As WWF champion, business was weak in the U.S. but Hart was a huge draw when WWF toured internationally (which they did a lot more back then because U.S. business was so bad). And then of course, Shawn Michaels, the Screwjob, and off to WCW where he was the hottest star in the business upon arrival. But from there, he was the victim of injuries and horrible booking and Hart in WCW never clicked. Dave goes on and on about the countless times WCW dropped the ball with how they booked Bret. Anyway, Hart has ruled out ever wrestling again, for fear of more brain damage and not wanting to live the rest of his life as a drooling vegetable. He also shot down the idea of ever being a manager because he's unhappy with the direction of the business and says he's leaving the industry entirely, not just the in-ring part. He plans to spend the next year working on a book about his life and doing some acting. Luckily, he should be well off financially. He earned north of 7 figures during his last four years in the business and has a Lloyds of London disability policy that will pay him the equivalent of 6 months salary, which will be another million or so.

- Bret Hart announced his retirement in his Calgary Sun column and since you can't just easily find this online anymore, here's what Bret wrote:


Quote:There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That'll be the beginning." -- Louis La'Amour.

I'm really sorry to have to say that my professional wrestling career is over--forever. Although I've expected it to end for some time now, I could in no way ever prepare for it.

I suppose it doesn't do much good to speak negatively about how this or that has gone for me. I feel it is more fitting right now to remember the more positive aspects of my long and great career. I have not one regret. I'm proud of all my achievements, especially my seven World Heavyweight Championships.

I will miss the cities, the countries, especially the people--all colours, all religions, all ages, all languages. I've always tried my absolute best in every match, in every city, big or small, in countries all around the world.

I cannot begin to explain how proud I am to have touched so many people with the ability to wrestle. My heart is filled with memories. Like when I was mobbed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem by Palestinian children, tears in their eyes, kissing my hands. In Belfast, Ireland, being cheered on by both Catholic and Protestant fans, the emotions that poured out as I walked around the ring high-fiving our victory together. The time I was in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, where they waved Canadian flags and chanted O Canada! I could go on endlessly, but maybe it's easier to say I was privileged to be the only world champion who really travelled the world.

I hope that my fans who have kept the faith, believing in me, may in some small way take some lesson from me that will help them in their lifetime. I will never forget how touched I was in Rochester, N.Y. in one of my last matches, when a bunch of die-hard fans held up a sign that read: Parking $10, Program $5, Ticket $35, watching Bret Hitman Hart wrestle--priceless."

I'm forever grateful for the doors that opened bringing me to America. Thank you for having me, for giving me so much. I thank all my fans everywhere. I owe you all for everything I am.

As for the wrestlers, it would mean a lot to me to always be remembered as "one of the boys." I've made great friendships that will last my lifetime and look forward to an easier life filled with reminiscing.

To all of you who worked with me, carried me, and trusted me, those who allowed my success to continue while theirs did not, all from a deep sense of tradition and honour. I tried to always work hard to be champion in your eyes first. My greatest accomplishment is knowing that I never seriously harmed one wrestler. It may not seem important, but I want it remembered that in all the years I never, ever refused to lose to another wrestler--except once--and that was that fateful day in Montreal, where it's clear that I stood up for "the boys."

I could begin to list all the great wrestlers I either watched or worked with, but it would take forever. I will simply say that I'd give anything to climb into the ring with so many of you just one more time. To most people, wrestling is stupid, it's fake, it doesn't mean anything. When I think about it, I'm reminded of a quote by George Braque: "Art is a sound turned to light."

I drift back to a time when I was 23 years old, wrestling for my father, in Regina, making $150 a night. It looked like it was going to be a near full crowd on hand to see me take on my arch rival, The Dynamite Kid, in a ladder match. The title and a bag supposedly containing $5,000 dangled from a string above the ring. Whoever could climb the ladder and grab it first would be the winner.

We were both so young when I look back on it now, so intense, when the bell rang, we tore into each other, ferociously, eventually spilling out onto the floor. I went to slam Dynamite's head into a steel chair. He, of course, had his hands up for protection, but I had no idea he would hit it so hard. His head bounced back, I tried to turn, but our heads smashed. I split the back of his head open and shattered my face, one of those rare accidents.

I could tell it was bad. I could poke my finger through a gaping hole in the middle of my nose. The blood poured. We fought on. I remember Dynamite jumping up high, gripping that heavy steel ladder coming down straight down on my head. I didn't move. The crowd gasped. I dreamed a smile--because he never even touched me. He really was the best. Finally, I had him right where I wanted him, but the referee was down. That's when J.R. Foley crept up on the apron and whacked me across the back with his heavy walking stick. Down I went. The crowd was furious--so unfair. Dynamite began to climb to the top, his fingers reaching. Suddenly, I jumped up, throwing a perfect desperation drop kick, just like he asked me. "...just barely touch the ladder with your toes. I'll control how I go over."

Sure enough, the ladder wobbled and tipped, he grimaced, over they both went, with amazing timing. Dynamite leapt off, straddling the top rope, bouncing up and out right on top of J.R. Foley. But the ladder hit the top rope with such force, bouncing all the way back, heading right toward me. I was lucky I saw it. I rolled and rolled as fast as I could. It crashed with a thud, missing my head by only inches. I sat up, checking to see if Dynamite was hurt. He appeared to be all right, but still both of us knew we'd be going for some stitches.

He was riding with me, so he had to duck down when we drove past the fans on the way to the Pasqua Hospital. From there, we drove back home, all night, so that we could wrestle the following night, too tired to say a word to each other.

But if I can stop right there...to somehow try and explain just what it is that I will miss the most about wrestling, I loved it all so much. I stood that big steel ladder up, one step up, climbing higher and higher, the crowd soaring with me, louder and louder, the blood dripping off my nose...reaching...I pulled that belt down and there it was--it happened. The crowd exploded.

We blew the roof off...so loud I could not hear a single sound except the beating of my own heart. If you're lucky enough to find a way of life you live, you also have to find the courage to finally say goodbye.

I'll put my guns in the ground. I can't shoot them any more.


- The WWF/Owen Hart lawsuit was verbally settled out of court, pending a court approval scheduled later this week. Various sources have pegged the settlement at $18 million. It's believed Stu and Helen Hart will receive somewhere between $2-3 million, with the rest going to Martha Hart and her two young children. Martha told the Calgary Sun that the whole ordeal has been a nightmare and she can't say much more for legal reasons but that she's satisfied with the settlement. It's believed that WWF may file suit against the company that manufactured the rigging equipment, but Vince McMahon would only say that they are exploring their options on that. Martha Hart had previously vowed she would never settle before the case went to court, but those close to her say she was tired of the stress and was particularly upset that the case had torn the Hart family apart. Stu and Helen in particular were eager to settle and get it over with. The first round of settlement talks went poorly, with McMahon reportedly offering $17 million and refusing to budge, while Martha's initial asking price was said to be $32 million. It ended with Martha "cutting a promo" on Vince (oh Dave...) and talks broke off. The case was made more complicated by different Hart members' inability to stop talking to the media against lawyers' advice. At one point, Ellie Neidhart (Nattie's mom), who has sided against her parents and with WWF in the case, took a document from Stu Hart regarding all of the Hart children getting money out of the case and passed it on to WWF's lawyers, which engulfed the Hart lawyers in a storm of controversy and nearly blew up their whole case. The original Feb. 2001 court date was postponed indefinitely following that and with no new court date in sight so it was likely to continue dragging on for months and maybe even years. So ultimately, Martha decided to settle (yeah I think to this day, Martha blames Ellie for almost destroying the case and that's why she was forced to settle). As of press time, Bret Hart hasn't yet commented on the settlement, but he knew it was coming. He was on the Observer Live online show the day before it was finalized and said he understood Martha's position and would support whatever decision she made.

- The downward spiral of Davey Boy Smith hit a new low this week when he was arrested on 2 separate occasions for allegedly threatening the life of his estranged wife, Diana Hart-Smith. Dave talks about Smith's worsening drug problems in recent years along with all his health issues in between and how he's been in and out of the hospital constantly in the last two years. He also had a motorcycle accident a few weeks ago, multiple rehab stints, etc. Anyway, Smith was arrested on Oct. 25th and again on Oct. 26th. The first time, it was on 2 counts of threatening to kill his wife and her sister Ellie (again...Nattie's mom). After being released the next day, he allegedly threatened his wife again and was arrested again. She thought he was still in custody and went back to the house and was surprised to find him there and that led to the second arrest. Police have been to their house several times in the last few months for domestic disputes. There was also an incident a while back with Smith getting into a fight with Diana's new boyfriend, a Stampede wrestler who wrestles under the name Dick Butkus Jr. during which 85-year-old Stu Hart had to get involved and help break it up. Anyway, Smith spent this past weekend behind bars in Calgary, spending his time signing autographs for other inmates, but was released on the 30th on bail. But he faces 5 charges related to all his threats. Part of the conditions for his release were paying a $10,000 fine and he's not allowed to have any contact with Diana, Ellie, Bruce Hart, or Diana's new boyfriend. (Dave later mentions that Davey Boy is shacking up with Bruce's estranged wife Andrea now. Man, this fuckin' family, I tell ya...) He's also not allowed to drink or take any non-prescribed drugs and is ordered to stay away from where his wife is staying, along with staying away from Bruce Hart's home and Stu Hart's home. He was also ordered to enter rehab, even though he denied in court that he still has a drug problem.

- Davey Boy is still under WWF contract, though he hasn't wrestled a match in months. But the WWF has suspended him pending the company's own investigation of the charges. In the past, he blamed his drug issues and back problems from taking a bump on Ultimate Warrior's trap door in the ring when he was in WCW. Dave recaps the series of events that led to him getting rehired by WWF and talks about how they hired Jim Neidhart back as well and it was no secret that Smith, Diana, and Neidhart's wife Ellie were all planning to testify against the family in the Owen Hart case if it had gone to trial. So it wasn't exactly a coincidence that both Smith and Neidhart got jobs that neither of them really had any business getting (Neidhart was hired as a trainer, which everyone knew he wasn't qualified for and Smith was brought back as a wrestler despite a crippling back injury and more crippling drug problem). Neidhart was quietly released a few weeks ago and with the Owen Hart lawsuit finally settled, it probably doesn't look good for Smith (indeed, he never stepped foot in the WWF again).

- WCW Halloween Havoc is in the books and was possibly the worst wrestling PPV of the year. At this point, you'd think everyone in WCW would be putting their best foot forward to impress potential buyers, especially if that buyer ends up being the WWF and Vince becomes their new boss. But it was almost all bad matches and abysmal booking. The only bright side is that it was in Vegas and a lot of the tickets were sold to casinos for giveaways, so the show ended up being one of the biggest live gates WCW has had in awhile, even if the crowd wasn't exactly all wrestling fans. Russo is now out of the picture (claiming post-concussion syndrome and stress), but the show was booked by guys like Ed Ferrara and Bill Banks, who are basically mini-Russos and are just keeping his chair warm. So it wasn't quite the same scattershot chaos as most Russo-booked shows, but it still had the same lack of understanding about what makes a good wrestling show that Russo has perfected. Everyone involved (Ferrara, Banks, Terry Taylor, Johnny Ace, etc.) were told to continue Russo's stories rather than changing direction so everything mostly stayed the same.

- Other notes from Halloween Havoc: the opening tag title three-way match was the best and really only good match on the show., due to Mysterio, Kidman, and Alex Wright's performances. In typical WCW fashion, they had a top notch snafu showing Palumbo and Stasiak in their street clothes backstage, just seconds after being in their gear and doing a run-in on the previous match. So they put up a thing on the screen that said "taped earlier in the day" to cover for it, but then during the segment, Palumbo and Stasiak were talking about what they just did in the ring minutes earlier. David Flair looked totally lost in his first blood match with Bagwell and even though he's been a midcard star in WCW for over a year now, Dave says if he went to OVW, he'd still be the worst guy on the roster. David Flair is just not ready for the big leagues and it shows. Negative star. Mike Sanders vs. The Cat in a kickboxing match was a total clusterfuck that Cat apparently refused to do the job for since it's "his" gimmick match, so he lost by count-out instead, even though the time limit for the last round had already expired and it was just a mess. Negative half star. Mike Awesome vs. Vampiro is negative 2.5 stars. That's three matches in a row in the negatives, with 2 DUD rankings book-ending them. Dave expected Awesome/Vampiro to actually be good but it had more blown spots than any match he's seen on PPV in years. They were apparently supposed to do a table spot to end the match but they couldn't find any tables under the ring and the match fell apart and Vampiro ended up taking a top rope powerbomb that gave him a concussion and shook him up badly (didn't stop WCW from having him take another powerbomb at the Thunder taping the next day, even though he told them beforehand about the concussion, but we'll get there). And babyface world champion Booker T was booed by a good chunk of the crowd during his match with Scott Steiner.

- The latest PRIDE event in Japan drew a sellout crowd mostly due to so many pro wrestlers being involved. It also saw Naoya Ogawa defeat Masaaki Satake in a match most people believed was worked. Ogawa is Antonio Inoki's protege and he's keeping Ogawa protected. Dave says it definitely helps Ogawa keep his name and star power in a highly publicized match, but it doesn't say a lot for PRIDE's credibility. There's also suspicion that Nobuhiko Takada's fight against Igor Vovchanchyn was somewhat worked. Takada lost, but Igor is one of the top ranked heavyweights in the world and Takada went nearly 2 full rounds with him. Most people suspect the finish wasn't worked, but that Igor was told to take it easy on him because Takada is still a big draw and they wanted him to look strong in defeat against a guy he had no chance with. There were several other wrestlers on the card as well. Inoki came out at intermission and announced he was putting together his own show at the Osaka Dome for New Year's Eve (this ends up being the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye show, which also sees Inoki come out of retirement for his final "match" ever. More on all this in a bit).

- Genichiro Tenryu, at age 51, defeated Toshiaki Kawada to win the tournament and be crowned AJPW's newest Triple Crown champion, filling the vacancy left over after previous champion Kobashi left for NOAH. This complicates the AJPW/NJPW angle. There's 2 Tokyo Dome shows coming up in January. The first is NJPW's Jan. 4th show and there's another one near the end of the month that's an AJPW show, but will have some NJPW involvement. But Motoko Baba wants to protect the champion because she's hoping AJPW will still survive after the NJPW angle is over. In the past, companies like UWFI and WAR were desperate to survive and started working with NJPW, only to be devoured by NJPW's booking and left to die after the angle ran its course. Mrs. Baba is hoping to avoid the same fate, so she's not going to let Tenryu work a NJPW show and lose (remember, at the last show, NJPW's champion Kensuke Sasaki lost to Kawada and they won't let that happen 2 times in a row). Now that he's not the champion, it frees Kawada up to have a rematch with Sasaki, where he will presumably return the favor and do the job, but it won't be to unify the titles anymore.

- Various poll results. Every issue has results for the polls they run online every day or so. Usually I skip over these because they're boring but they're kinda interesting this week. "How should WCW handle the situation with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall" got 55% of voters saying Nash should be suspended for going off script on live TV. As for the future of ECW, 30% of voters think it won't last much longer, while most everyone else thinks it will struggle but continue to survive. Whoops. And finally, Bret Hart's greatest match was 35% for the match with Owen at WM10 and 33% for the match with Austin at WM13.

- Stan Hansen has an autobiography that was released in Japanese that is selling like crazy in Japan. Hansen is near the end of his career, but he's probably the most popular American wrestler in Japanese history and has been a top star there since the 70s. (Hansen had an English autobiography released in 2012 called The Last Outlaw. I'm not sure if it's the same book translated to English or if there's another one out there in Japanese from 12 years earlier).

- NOAH will hold tournaments early next year to crown their first heavyweight, tag team, and junior heavyweight champions.

- Shinya Hashimoto was pulled out of upcoming shows because they're apparently doing an angle where he is starting his own promotion, in order to do a feud with NJPW (turns out this wasn't an angle at all. Hashimoto really did get fired from NJPW around this time and started Pro Wrestling Zero-One. The real story there is murky and no one seems to know for sure exactly what led to his firing. I think he ended up doing one or two more matches for NJPW over the next year or so, but otherwise, this is the end of Hashimoto in NJPW).

- Dave recently had a chance to read the book "Bodyslams!" by former WCW ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta and liked it. It's not better than Mick Foley's book or anything, but Dave gives it credit for accuracy. Mostly it glosses over a lot of the scandalous stuff and is more about Cappetta's personal experiences rather than giving much detail on what was happening in the business at the time. Dave thinks the book could have gone into more detail on the things going on behind the scenes in WCW during pivotal periods like when Jim Herd, Kip Frey, or Bill Watts was in charge. Overall, definitely better than The Rock's farce of a book but still lacking what made Foley's and Dynamite Kid's books so fascinating.

- Steve Allen, the famous comedian and first ever host of the Tonight Show, died last week at age 78. This is only relevant here because most recently, Allen has been one of the lead spokespeople for the PTC and has been one of the most vocal opponents of WWF programming. Ironically enough, early in his career, Allen worked on TV as a wrestling announcer in the 1950s, though he never took it seriously, and in 1990, he appeared at Wrestlemania 6.

- The documentary "Gaea Girls", which is about a young woman trying to get into Japanese women's wrestling, has been winning some awards and been admitted to some film festivals.

- "Walker: Texas Ranger" this week did an episode loosely based on Owen Hart's death. It's about a wrestler, in costume, who fell from the ceiling during a show. Although in the case of this show, it was a murder ordered by a ruthless promoter trying to take over the territory of another promoter, who's a kind, older guy. The obvious parallels were a more evil version of Vince McMahon and a gentler version of Stu Hart. Dave thought the episode sucked and also got really sad by it. Dave says he hasn't watched Over The Edge again since Owen's death and seeing it fictionally re-enacted for a TV show was really depressing.

- Scott Hall was arrested this week for probation violation while he was already in court for a child custody hearing. This charge stems from some 1998 case where he keyed up a limo outside a strip club in Orlando. At the time, Hall had been given probation and ordered to complete a bunch of community service by April of 2000. He never completed the community service, so....probation violation. Hall was in court with his estranged wife Dana and he filed for sole custody of their 2 children, claiming Dana is "emotionally and mentally unstable and an unfit parent" but then Hall got arrested at the courthouse and the hearing was postponed. Speaking of, Dana herself has had 2 contempt-of-court charges against her recently for refusing to let Hall have visitation with their kids when she was supposed to.

- PPV news: CMLL in Mexico is holding a big year end show in December and are negotiating for it to air on PPV in the U.S., which would be the first Lucha Libre PPV to air here since When Worlds Collide in 1994. And remember a few months back when a promoter in Australia brought in Dennis Rodman and a bunch of other kinda big name stars and ran a show? Well it will also air on PPV in the U.S. and Canada and Mexico next month. That show was headlined by Rodman vs. Curt Hennig which ended in a double-count out because apparently Rodman refused to do the job. Word is that show was terrible, like this year's version of Heroes of Wrestling, but Australia is so starved for live wrestling that the crowd heat was still off-the-charts.

- Juventud Guerrera worked an indie show in Puerto Rico and right now, he's trying to get hired in WWF, or at least stay out of trouble long enough to get rehired by WCW. Guerrera has reached out to WWF through friends he has there, but after what happened with him last month in Australia, WWF apparently isn't interested.

- The latest OVW show saw Nick Dinsmore win the OVW title from Rob Conway. On the same show, Brock Lesnar wrestled a dark match against former UFC fighter Ron Waterman. Lesnar won and hey, who knows, maybe he's got a future in beating up UFC fighters.

- Ted Dibiase and Nikita Koloff are on a church tour together where they wrestle matches against each other and then preach sermons or something.

- The lines between wrestling and MMA got blurrier this week when Atsushi Onita went to the PRIDE offices and met with their promoter. Onita then issued a challenge to Antonio Inoki for a match, saying he wants to retire (of course) and his last match has to be with Inoki. PRIDE officials put out a statement saying they wouldn't promote one of Onita's exploding barbed wire matches, but that they would gladly promote Inoki vs. Onita under PRIDE rules in their ring. Inoki responded, telling reporters that he's retired. There's rumor that Onita will be appearing at Inoki's New Year's Eve show to set up some kind of angle.

- Paul Heyman and Sabu have a court date scheduled for later this month over their issues. If you remember, Sabu left ECW to go try to go to WCW but his contract prevented it. Heyman then sued Sabu for breach of contract when he started working other shows (particularly for XPW). Meanwhile, Sabu has also filed some legal paperwork to try to get out of his contract, so hopefully that will all be settled soon.

- Speaking of ECW, there doesn't seem to be anything new happening on the TV front. Negotiations with USA have apparently stalled. So....not great news. The latest episode of ECW Hardcore TV shows the signs of how things are going. The in-ring action was good but the show is beginning to look more and more low-budget by the week, as the company continues struggling to stay afloat. The announcers weren't flown in (it was dubbed in later in post-production) and the lighting was terrible.

- Still nothing new on the sale of WCW but rumors are flying like crazy because everyone is paranoid. For the first time, in an interview, Linda McMahon acknowledged that it's true that WWF is in discussions to purchase WCW but word is no substantial progress has been made yet.

- Notes from Nitro: it was a sad episode because the crowd was tiny and it almost felt like a bad indie show, especially because the small crowd was pretty dead. It was a disaster, with a total of 1,454 fans in the building and only 768 of them paid. Even worse, they tried to paper it but only 33% of the free tickets that were given out were used. WCW literally can't even give this shit away. Ric Flair returned as the new CEO of WCW and got almost no pop at all from the crowd, then cut a boring promo. Dave thinks it's sad that this is where things have gotten for him. The greatest of all time, cutting middling promos in front of a small crowd for a dying company. Then Jarrett came out to talk and the mic went dead. The fans chanted for Scott Hall all through the Kronik/Palumbo & Stasiak match. Kevin Nash was on commentary but after last week, he was finally ordered to stop talking about Hall. So instead of mentioning Hall himself, when the crowd started chanting, Nash kept asking, "What are they chanting?" but the other announcers wouldn't acknowledge him.

- Thunder was taped immediately after Nitro and the only notable thing there was a Lance Storm vs. Norman Smiley match that was apparently so bad that Storm went on his website afterward and pre-emptively apologized to the fans for the match. As of press time, it hasn't aired yet so I guess we'll see (the 2000 Thunders aren't on the Network and I can't find this online, so no idea how bad it was or wasn't).

- Backstage morale in WCW isn't great, which probably goes without saying. Word is much of the crew, wrestlers and backstage employees alike, are so drained by all the negativity and sale rumors that everyone has pretty much mentally quit. They're all just going through the motions every week now while waiting to see what's going to happen with their jobs.

- Buff Bagwell did an interview with the Observer website a few days before the Halloween Havoc PPV and had plenty of interesting things to say. He ripped on Vince Russo for the way he booked himself along with guys like Luger and DDP and basically just how awful Russo's booking is. He also complained about WCW fining people for showing up late. He complained about not getting a big raise like everyone else got back in 1998 because he was out with a neck injury when Bischoff was giving raises and complained about being underpaid compared to all the other "A-talent" like himself. Talked about how screwed up WCW is, saying Lex Luger is being paid $1.3 million a year to do jobs for Hugh Morrus. "Are you kidding me? Hugh is a great guy and all that, but he's not A-talent. I love him to death, but he's never going to draw a dime. We're talking about drawing money and he's never going to draw a fuckin' dime. And Luger is putting him over at house shows? Nothing is adding up. I know for a fact that if they try to get me to job for (David) Flair at Havoc, I'm going to walk out the door. I'm not doing it." In response to all this, WCW put Hugh Morrus over big on Nitro while they had Bagwell job to Luger in 2 minutes on the same show. Well, at least someone in WCW gets punished for the shit they say.

- Bagwell also talked about the New Blood Rising PPV with the Judy Bagwell on a Forklift match. Bagwell said the plan was for Kanyon to go over and have Judy Bagwell be his valet. It was Russo's idea and nobody liked it, but Bagwell was willing to go along with it. But he said he worried for what it might do for Kanyon's career and went up to him before show and said, "Are you sure you want my mother as your fuckin' valet?" They agreed to go along with the plan and Bagwell thought he was losing but then when they got to the arena that day for the match, Russo changed the finish. Bagwell wanted to lose because it was the only way the storyline would make sense, but Russo had made up his mind. Since Bagwell was now booked to win, Kanyon thought he was getting fired. Then after Bagwell got the strong win, Johnny Ace told him he was going to be off TV for the next 2 weeks. Bagwell was pissed, so he called his agent to try to get him a new contract or to just get his release from WCW. They agreed to give him his release but he turned it down because they wanted him to sign a 30-day non compete clause. But Bagwell's contract is pretty lucrative, and 30 days off means a loss of about $50,000. So he decided to just stick it out until his contract expires in March and then go to WWF. But now he says WCW has changed their mind and are trying to renegotiate to get him to stay. But Bagwell says he has no interest and made it clear he's leaving when his contract expires. Needless to say, Dave isn't so sure about that. He says Bagwell didn't do himself any favors with this interview and has a ton of heat in the WCW locker room. And his attitude on display here isn't going to endear him to the WWF either (yeah, Bagwell had a pretty over-inflated sense of his worth and got knocked back down to earth real quick when WWF became his only option). That being said, Dave says there's validity to Bagwell's complaints about Russo's storylines lacking long-term planning and basic common sense.

- Correction from last week: Scott Steiner's tiger didn't almost bite Rey Mysterio. It was overblown. Actually, he was in his cage backstage (the tiger, not Mysterio) and the tiger growled at him when he got close, but there was no danger and Mysterio never was close to being bitten. Well okay then, glad we got that corrected.

- In case you were wondering why Stevie Ray did commentary on the Halloween Havoc PPV instead of Scott Hudson....it's because Stevie Ray simply went to Ed Ferrara and asked if he could. So they did. Hudson was backstage at the show but wasn't used.

- Scott Hall is reportedly hinting to friends that he's headed back to the WWF to return to his Razor Ramon gimmick (nah).

- Dave hasn't read Goldberg's book yet but he's heard some things. Apparently, Goldberg totally buries Scott Hall and criticizes Chris Jericho for trying to work an angle for himself using Goldberg's name to get over when there were never plans for them to work together. Dave will have a real review in a few weeks when he actually reads it.

- The original plan for Halloween Havoc was for Sting to revert back to his old bleached blond surfer gimmick. It's been delayed for now but is still scheduled to happen. For a long time, Sting was against the idea of going back to it, but has opened up to the idea recently, although he wants it to be part of a strong storyline and not done just for no reason. But this is WCW, so you know how that goes.

- The WWF No Mercy buyrate, which featured the in-ring return of Steve Austin, is slightly lower than last month's PPV. But to be fair, the decrease is likely due to No Mercy competing with game 2 of the World Series. It's Yankees vs. Mets this year so needless to say, New York especially didn't give a fuck about a wrestling show that night. New York is probably WWF's strongest market and the PPV buys were down 30% in that market. In fact, in the rest of the country, the PPV did about the same or above last month's numbers, so the decline is almost entirely due to people in New York choosing to watch the World Series rather than WWF.

- Notes from Raw: Dave thinks Ivory is tremendous in her new role as RTC member, but he feels sorry for her having to go out there and try to do athletic moves in a long skirt. But he says she's knocking it out of the park and seems to be having a blast with her gimmick. The show was in Boston so William Regal cut a promo ripping on the city for the Boston Tea Party, leading Dave to get off a great line: "Goddamn, it was 230 years ago. I wonder if Russo's ancestors will still be writing lame angles about the 1997 Survivor Series in 227 years?" During a commercial break, Undertaker's motorcycle stalled going up the ramp and a bunch of officials had to come out and push it to the back. Edge and Christian were hilarious, particularly when they were imitating other wrestlers' entrances while Christian played the kazoo. Steve Austin worked his first real TV match since returning and was okay but not as good as before his injury, but he's still shaking the ring-rust off. Debra was made the new Lt. Commissioner to Mick Foley. Dave points out that it's a conflict of interest, since she's married to Austin. Just call him Kayfabe Dave!

- Notes from Smackdown: the RTC cut a promo talking about the presidential election coming up, urging fans to vote for the politician that supports censorship, which then led to Undertaker coming out and saying he hates politicians that like the RTC (Dave doesn't pick up on this, but in case you're wondering...Al Gore's VP candidate Joe Lieberman was a member of the PTC board at this time. This entire angle right here and especially on next week's Raw which is the night before the election, is basically just Vince subtly urging WWF fans to vote for George W. Bush without coming right out and explicitly saying so. This, after months of their "non-partisan" Smackdown Your Vote campaign to get WWF fans registered).

- When discussing Yokozuna's funeral details, Dave gets to talking about how Yoko was technically the youngest WWF champion ever. His little 2 minute title reign at Wrestlemania 9 happened when he was 26 years and 5 months old. When Rock won his first title at Survivor Series 98, he was only about 2 weeks older than Yoko was. So even though they always talk about Rock being the youngest world champion ever, it's actually Yokozuna, even if it was only for a few minutes. He also talks about how both Bruno Sammartino and Big Show won their first world titles at 27 years old and what a different path they've taken. Sammartino went on to become a legend, while Big Show went from champion, to the main event of Wrestlemania, to OVW jobber within 1 year.

- Vince McMahon once again has threatened to file a lawsuit against the PTC and their leader L. Brent Bozell. Of the 37 companies that the PTC claims to have gotten to not advertise on Smackdown, Vince says that 25 of them were never national sponsors in the first place. Some had bought local ads, and some flat out never have had an affiliation with WWF at all. The PTC has been careful to word it by saying that the list is for companies that have pulled ads or refuse to advertise on the show, so it's possible the PTC simply got assurances from other companies that they never would. But it's still pretty misleading. After the threat, Bozell responded saying, "I guess the WWFE has learned the hard way just how painful it is to be smacked down by responsible corporate advertisers. As the Chairman of the PTC, I claim full responsibility for an educational campaign that tells the truth about Smackdown's raw sexual content and violent programming that is marketed directly to the children of our nation. Vince and Linda McMahon can malign the PTC and me personally all they want. They can make all the legal threats against our organization they wish. And their supporters can continue their death threats against us. But, the PTC will continue its campaign to convince corporate America that it has a national responsibility to turn away from such violent and sexually explicit programming aimed at children. The fact that yesterday we convinced Chef Boyardee and Slim Jim to pull their ad dollars from Smackdown shows that we are not going to let the McMahons intimidate us with their threats." Dave notes the loss of Chef Boyardee is a big one, since they had a major ad campaign with commercials starring WWF wrestlers.

- USA Network head Barry Diller talked about the loss of WWF programming during the release of USA's latest financial report, downplaying it as no big deal. But more importantly, he also indicated that USA doesn't have interest in any other wrestling programming on their network, which is basically the worst news possible for ECW. Diller also said that they have no interest in buying WCW and said he believes wrestling's hot streak is over and it's all downhill from here. "I don't want to be misunderstood about WWF. Yes, we would have liked to renew it. It gave us great claiming rights because it had a huge audience of young males. That audience came for a couple of hours--they weren't there before wrestling went on, and they immediately left thereafter. I also think wrestling has been at its high. I think it is on a long decline."

- Chyna made some waves during an appearance on TSN's Off The Record. She ripped on Trish Stratus, saying she had no talent and was only hired based on her looks. Needless to say, a lot of people were quick to point out that Chyna's unique look is the only reason she was hired 3 years ago and she's not exactly Ric Flair in the ring herself. In regards to Stephanie McMahon, Chyna was the complete opposite and was full of praise for the boss's daughter (Yikes. At this point, Triple H and Stephanie were already hooking up behind Chyna's back although I'm assuming she doesn't know it yet).

- Speaking of Stephanie McMahon, apparently she's being considered for a major role in an upcoming movie called "On Angel's Wings" which is scheduled to begin filming next year (obviously this didn't happen and the only movie with that title I can find came out in 2014).

- Random fun fact: aside from losing to the Rock, the last time Triple H lost a singles match via pinfall on PPV was more than 4 years ago, all the way back to Oct. 1996 when he lost to Steve Austin in an opening match at the Buried Alive PPV. So for all the people who complain about how Hulk Hogan or Kevin Nash never put anyone over, Dave lists more examples of them taking clean pins in recent years than Triple H has.

- The Rock is off all the November house shows. He has done so many P.R. and media appearances on what were supposed to be his off-days that WWF evidently felt sorry for him and decided to let him spend some time at home for a few weeks. With Austin and Undertaker back on the road, they're not as dependent on him to draw house shows so he's getting a much-deserved break this month.

- Mark Henry's latest OVW weigh-in saw him trim down to 340 pounds, which is right about where they want him. He was at 405 when he arrived. There's talk of bringing him back to the main roster, but they want him to stay in OVW a little longer and improve his in-ring work. As for Big Show, he's down to 451, which is still not where they want him to be.

- WWF ran a short 1-hour show just across the street from the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the stock being added to the NYSE. People jammed the street during lunch hour to see the show. Rock, Austin, Triple H, Hardyz, all the big names were there. It was the first non-televised match Austin has worked since his return and he took a few bumps and looked okay. Everyone is being extra careful while working with him right now because no one wants to be responsible for re-injuring the company cash cow (no video of the whole show, but here's some clips).

- Letters section time. Someone writes in looking back at the last year of WCW under Vince Russo (aside from the multiple times in between where he threw temper tantrums and quit only to come back a few weeks later) and wondering what he actually accomplished that was positive. It's easy to trash Russo so this guy wants to try to find something good the focus on. He says Russo established Jeff Jarrett as a guy who can stand on his own as a top guy. Maybe not real main event quality, but he's been at that level in WCW and has done well enough. So there's that. And he gives Russo credit for giving Mike Sanders a chance, saying Sanders is still green in the ring, but he's got great mic skills and has a chance to go far (yeah, WWF hired him when they bought WCW but they never did anything with him. I actually remember being a Mike Sanders fan at the time and wondering why he never got a shot after WCW closed. He was a hell of a talker, especially for being as new as he was). But those are pretty much the only 2 things he can come up with.

- Legendary wrestler Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer writes in just to say that he loves the Observer and it's the only source that keeps him up to date on everything. He also talks about how when he sees The Rock on TV, he tells friends that he wrestled his father Rocky Johnson and his grandfather Peter Maivia, but nobody believes him.
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