Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 2001
#91
I heard Heyman talking about InDemand once and basically they told him that they knew he would have to file bankruptcy sooner or later so they flat out refused to pay him because they knew they could settle for pennies on the dollar once it went to bankruptcy court. Not very ethical but makes sense business wise. Sucks for ecw though
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#92
5-21-2001

- The XFL is no more. At a hastily thrown together media conference call last week, Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol announced that the league is shutting down after only 1 season. The news came shortly after UPN informed McMahon that they would not be picking up the XFL for a 2nd season, which was the final nail in the coffin and pretty much doomed it. NBC long ago decided they weren't going to do a 2nd season either. During the press conference, McMahon was surprisingly humble, blaming himself for the failure and admitting that his bombastic style of promotion hurt the league. It's estimated that WWF and NBC each lost somewhere between $35-50 million on the failed venture. Ebersol said that in hindsight, they needed more time to put the league together prior to launch. Dave thinks it was doomed from the start. Wrestling fans didn't gravitate to football just because Vince McMahon told them to, and football fans weren't interested in watching second-rate bush league football from players who weren't good enough to cut it in the NFL. The initial hype boosted it to monster ratings for the first game, but by the end of the season, ratings had fallen to some of the lowest in the history of network TV.

Here's an article from 2001 about the league folding, with a lot of quotes from Vince on the conference call
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-...story.html

- Mick Foley's newest autobiography, "Foley Is Good" has been released and Dave has read it. And proceeds to write the longest review in the history of written language. Holy shit. This review should have been published as its own book. Anyway, there's nothing really newsworthy to it. Just Dave giving his opinions about different things Foley wrote about, praising parts of it, criticizing others. All in all, Dave liked this book a lot but feels it's not quite as good as the first one.

- Dave has seen a tape of the recent NJPW show that got such terrible reviews. The main event (Naoya Ogawa & Kazunari Murakami vs. Riki Choshu & Manabu Nakanishi) was a disaster and now that Dave has seen it, he can see why: Ogawa was completely unprofessional and seemed to intentionally ruin the match by refusing to sell or cooperate with his opponents. Dave says he's never seen a legitimate legend like Choshu be made to look so bad by an opponent trying to upstage him and thinks the whole thing made NJPW in general look bush-league. Dave doesn't dismiss the possibility that this is another Inoki angle and that it was intentionally made to look bad for some reason. Dave gives the whole match negative 1-star and says it's possible that there have been worse matches this year, but none of them were as high profile as this, which Dave thinks has killed Choshu and any future angles they were planning with he and Ogawa. In Japan, the feeling is split. The wrestlers and bookers in NJPW are against using Ogawa again, feeling he's unprofessional. But the TV-Asahi executives and business people behind NJPW recognize that Ogawa is the key draw and he's the reason why NJPW has been getting these prime time live TV events with him in the main events so they want to keep using him (I posted this match in the last Rewind, but here it is again if you're curious).



- Raw ratings declined again this week, the 6th straight week in a row they have gone down. Just for reference, even WCW Nitro's ratings never declined for 6 straight weeks in a row. Raw's ratings have dropped a full 1.2 points in the last 6 weeks, which is also a bigger drop than WCW ever suffered in a single 6 week span. Smackdown ratings also tied their record low for the year. TL;DR - this Austin heel turn is NOT working.

- Follow up to the Perro Aguayo story from last week: turns out the neck surgery was legit. The belief is that he may be too old and beaten up to have much of a comeback, so this very well may be the end of the road for him (yup, pretty much).

- There have been rumors of both Hulk Hogan and Jerry Jarrett working on start-up wrestling projects and negotiating with USA Network. But USA reportedly has no real interest in getting back into the wrestling game, and it turns out FOX has lost interest as well (Hogan had been batting around some ideas with them recently). Hogan's also had talks with Universal about some ideas, but nothing definite yet. Jerry Jarrett has pretty much admitted that he's given up and probably not going to be starting anything new (give him another year or so...)

- An indie promotion that former WCW wrestler Stevie Ray is booking is doing some fraudulent advertising. They've been advertising tickets for an upcoming show as "WWF Wrestling presents WCW Wrestling Superstars!" Dave figures somebody has to keep Jerry McDevitt busy now since there's no more WCW for him to sue every week.

- Matrats.com, the teenage wrestling promotion that Eric Bischoff is involved in, is discussing running a PPV later this year to introduce the product.

- Wrestlemania buyrate finalized numbers are trickling in and it's looking like it may be the first non-boxing PPV in history to do more than 1 million buys. On the flip side, the Backlash PPV, only 3 weeks after Wrestlemania, is looking to be around 400,000 buys, which is the lowest WWF PPV since No Mercy 1999. It is STAGGERING how quickly WWF collapsed after the Austin heel turn and death of WCW.

- Dave reviews Raw and....oh god. He's reviewing it like Nitro. Just trashing bad parts left and right. Nothing particularly noteworthy, but Dave pointing out all the different ways this felt like an episode of Nitro is like having flashbacks to 6 months ago. Dave just shits all over this show. We are most definitely on the downturn now. The Attitude Era has peaked, the competition is gone, and complacency has set in. For the next 18 years (and still counting), it's all downhill from here.

- Prior to Smackdown, Brock Lesnar and Shelton Benjamin worked a dark match against the Disciples of Synn. Though it was a dark match for WWF fans, it was actually an OVW tag team title match, and Lesnar and Benjamin won, thus capturing the OVW tag titles. They got the pin with Lesnar hitting a shooting star press (here you go. Lesnar and Benjamin making their entrance to a Limp Bizkit song is worth the price of admission alone).



- There's several things holding up the WCW re-launch. For starters, TNN wants it to be a whole new show, with the major WCW stars (who aren't signed to WWF deals). They don't want Vince to just move a bunch of WWF guys over and call it a "WCW" show, they want the real thing with the real stars, and because of that, TNN is holding off the TV deal. Also, in the meantime....the WWF simply isn't ready yet. If there was a lesson learned from the XFL, it's that you can't start with a half-developed, second-rate idea. You only get one chance to make a first impression. They need to have all the pieces in place and a solid plan going forward from day one. They don't want to rush it. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done on putting together a new stage set, designing new logos, producing new music and video packages, hiring production crews and figuring out all the logistics and etc. etc. But the main holdup is TNN and WWF not agreeing on what the new product should be. TNN wants the Goldbergs and Stings. WWF wants to just move Rock or Undertaker over to the new brand, call it "WCW" and let them carry it while the rest of the roster is made up of the low-paid WCW curtain jerkers that they have under contract.

- Mick Foley has been losing weight because he's probably going to do a singles match against Vince McMahon soon. There had been talk of doing Foley vs. Vince at WM17 a few months ago, but they decided to hold off on it until later this year (never happens, Foley makes a few more appearances in the next few months, but he leaves the company before the end of the year).

- Scott Hall is not making any commitments beyond the end of this year because that's when Kevin Nash's WCW deal expires. Hall and Nash are going on the hope/assumption that when Nash is free, the two of them can sign with WWF or NJPW together and come in with a huge deal. Dave says it depends on where the business is by then, and it's hard to predict because things change so fast. But hey, if business is struggling by then, Dave can absolutely see Hall and Nash getting a pretty good offer to return to WWF (yup, that's pretty much exactly what happens. Literally almost everyone in WWF is against bringing in Hall and Nash, but business is in a slump and Vince does it anyway).

- WWF has had negotiations with Rob Van Dam and everyone on both sides say things are going very well, and it's expected RVD will likely be signing a WWF deal soon. Dave assumes he'll be brought in as one of the top stars of the WCW brand.

- This week at Raw and Smackdown, they were confiscating signs left and right. Any sign with a website URL was taken away ("about time" Dave says) along with pro-Hogan signs. Signs like "Hebner screwed Bret" were also taken away.

- All of the WCW wrestlers that WWF signed have been told to try and work as much as possible on the indies right now. WWF wants them to stay in ring-shape and also, several of those guys are still young and green and need as much in-ring experience as possible, so WWF is encouraging them to stay busy until they're ready to relaunch WCW.

- There are no longer any plans to bring Shawn Michaels back and they won't even consider it until he undergoes some type of rehab. If you recall, he was expected to get involved in the Triple H/Undertaker match at Wrestlemania, but a week before the show, there was an incident backstage at Raw. Michaels was sent home and written out of all future plans and hasn't been seen since.

- The July PPV has been given a name change, from Fully Loaded to Invasion. The name change is because former WCW wrestlers are expected to appear on the show in some form.

- A lot of talk regarding a Perry Saturn vs. Mike Bell match that took place at the Metal/Jakked tapings. Apparently Bell botched an arm drag that accidentally caused Saturn to land on his head. Saturn got back to his feet....and just fucking waylayed Bell. Hard punches to the face, and then threw him out of the ring hard onto his neck and then into the steps even harder, at which point he finally calmed back down. Following the match, Saturn was chewed out by management and sent home and told if it ever happened again, it would be the last time. Saturn has since apologized and admitted he was in the wrong. Dave points out that this is the kind of stuff guys like Rick Steiner used to do in WCW all the time, and it was laughed off there and sometimes even encouraged by management. In WWF, this sort of unsafe shit almost got Saturn fired (here's the video. Shit goes sideways at the 2:20 mark).



- Leviathan from OVW worked a dark match against Nick Dinsmore at last week's tapings. Leviathan got a ton of "Goldberg" chants since they have a similar look (muscular, shaved head, black trunks, and so on). Randy Orton also worked a dark match with Rico Constantino and both of them got lots of praise for the match. Former WCW trainee Chris Harris also had a tryout (the legendary Braden Walker's first WWF match!). Also, later in the show, something that didn't make the camera, a fan ran into the ring and got absolutely smoked by a spear....from Earl Hebner. After Hebner took him down, Triple H put the boots to him until security dragged the guy off. The whole thing got a huge pop from the crowd.


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#93
I can just see Earl Hebner tackling the fan while Paul Heyman screams GORE! GORE! GORE!
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#94
5-28-2001

- Less than 2 months ago, the biggest televised wrestling show in history took place, with the death of WCW and the simulcast of Vince McMahon buying the company. Now, less than 2 months later, the Monday night wrestling audience has dropped a scary amount. This week's Raw was yet another low rated show. Not only has the entire former Nitro audience vanished, but an additional 16% of Raw's own core audience has also disappeared in the last seven weeks. House show business is starting to show signs of weakening as well. And anyone watching the show for the last 2 months can see how stagnant and boring the product has become since WCW folded.

- All that being said, this week's Raw was a monumental show that featured Benoit & Jericho beating Austin & Triple H for the tag team titles in a match of the year-caliber bout and a performance that launched Jericho into the big leagues as a main event star, which is pretty good timing considering another main eventer, Triple H, just went down to a major injury in that same match (more on that momentarily). Dave gives the match 4.75 stars and calls it the best WWF TV match of the year.



- Triple H suffered a full tear of his quad in the final moments of the match and he will be undergoing surgery this week. Triple H is expected to be out for months, probably until October or November (ends up being longer than that) and now there's a lot of pressure on Austin to carry the company. That's pretty bad timing, considering he's a heel right now and his heel turn has been disastrous for business. Triple H gutted out the match, finishing the last few spots (including being put into the Walls of Jericho) and basically saved the match on one leg, in case anyone ever doubted that he's a tough motherfucker. The long-term plan had been for Triple H to turn babyface and feud with Austin for a match at Summerslam, but that's obviously out the window now.

- WWF's other big project, the WCW re-launch, seems to have been scrapped for the time being. With TNN pulling the television deal off the table, Shane McMahon cut a promo on Raw talking about WCW coming sooner than people think. It's believed some WCW wrestlers will start appearing on WWF TV as soon as the next couple of weeks. The July PPV was renamed "Invasion" and its expected there will be some inter-promotional matches done there to get the ball rolling on a WCW invasion storyline. Vince McMahon has said he is considering this something of a "soft launch" for WCW and he has cooled on the idea of relaunching WCW as its own separate promotion. It still may happen in the future but there are no longer any concrete plans for it. McMahon has talked about the hurdles that are in the way of launching WCW as a separate brand and getting the public to perceive them as equal to the main WWF brand. Expect major WWF stars to jump to the WCW side and the idea now is to try and springboard from the Invasion PPV and build off whatever happens there (Dave has later admitted that he was talking to Vince almost daily during this time, so a lot of this info is coming directly from Vince).

- There has also been a change of heart regarding WCW talent. In the past, WWF made it clear that they didn't want to upset their harmonious locker room by bringing in former WCW stars who were considered cancerous to the morale. But now, WWF is relaxing on that a little and they're willing to bring in anyone who has some star power. But on the flip side, WWF is making it clear that they won't let people get away with the kind of stuff they did in WCW and will be quick to get rid of anyone who rocks the boat. For example, Shane McMahon and Paul Heyman had secret negotiations with Scott Hall recently to bring him in but the negotiations fell apart after Hall and Shane had a phone conversation that didn't go well (Bruce Prichard has confirmed this on his podcast, apparently Hall said some things that rubbed them the wrong way). For now, Hall intends to work NJPW until Nash's deal expires at the end of the year and then the 2 of them together are hoping to go somewhere as a package deal, figuring they're worth more together as The Outsiders than they are separately.

- WWF has also changed their mind on Marcus Bagwell. In the past, Bagwell was firmly on the we-don't-want-that-guy list. But his WCW deal expires in a few weeks and WWF needs name-value stars from WCW for this invasion angle to have a chance, so now they're reconsidering. Bagwell is only 31 and has a star look and, most importantly, he'll be available for TV in a few weeks if they need him. So they have been in talks to bring him in recently. No change on Booker T, Scott Steiner, Kidman, or DDP. They'll all probably show up in WWF eventually when their deals expire, but unless any of them accepts a buyout from Time Warner, it's going to be a little while. And WWF has all but given up on Goldberg or Ric Flair, who are probably the 2 names they need most as far as being seen as a major league brand.

- Dave gives an update to last week's review of Mick Foley's new book. He hopes he didn't give anyone the impression that he didn't like it, because he loved it. But I guess some of Dave's criticisms rubbed some people the wrong way. He still thinks it's one of the best wrestling books ever written, even if he thought Foley's first book was a little better. During his review, Dave criticized Foley for choosing to be nice rather than be honest in some instances. That was in reference to some parts where Foley changed the names of some people or refused to name certain people when telling stories. Well....Mick Foley himself wrote in and he has some thoughts on Dave's review. Let's see it, shall we?

---

Quote:I read with great interest your thoughts on my book "Foley is Good." I'm flattered that you thought enough of the book to dedicate so much space in the Observer to it, although I regret any sleeplessness it may have caused.

I was really quite surprised at all of the criticism and will look forward to discussing some of it, but until then, I just wanted to make a few points.

(1) I wish I had let you proofread the book. Really. Your insight would have been valuable and I may have changed, or at least reworded certain sentences.

(2) I clearly differentiated between cocaine use and crack use. I admitted to seeing crack being used in WCW, which is true, and said that I didn't honestly know of a single crack use currently in the WWF, which is also true.

(3) I really do resent the charge that "Foley is Good" is not an honest book. How much more honest could it be? I feel like I was honest about my career, my ability or lack thereof, the man I worked for, the people I worked with, the problems the business is faced with, and my responses to the criticisms I've heard, read or seen. The book's somewhat happy feel and humorous approach may seem to soften the criticisms I have for many of the people I wrote about and the things I've been involved in, but they are in there, nonetheless. In order of appearance a partial list includes Tony Schiavone, Eric Bischoff, The Rock, myself, Vince Russo, Vince McMahon, 20/20, the buildup to the empty arena match, the empty arena match itself, the decision to use a ridiculous camera shot in that same match, the publishing world including my own publisher, the Big Show vs. Mankind Wrestlemania angle, the Big Show himself, the Jacks commercial director, my ghostwriter, my punctuation and grammar, the teaching profession, the Al Snow-Big Bossman kennel from hell match, childrens fairy tales, WWF payoffs, Shawn Michaels, Judith Reagan, "Tuesday with Morrie," "Who Moved By Cheese?," the legal system, the people's elbow, big limousines, Roseanne, talk shows in general, book critics, Hulk Hogan, the New York Times, two teachers at Kennesaw State College, two national department stores (neither by name, or else they wouldn't carry my book), Rob Reiner, Jimmy Swaggart, Vince McMahon's critics, the Pat Patterson vs. Gerald Brisco evening gown match, Joe Frazier, Leon Spinks, Wrestlemania 1997, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Pillman (much of the Pillman commentary was edited out of the book for legal reasons), Clement C. Moore, the Stephanie-Test wedding, Test's acting skills, Bill Gates' hair, the X-Pac spends the holidays with Tori stipulation, Mike Hegstrand, Joe Laurinaitis, the Wrestlemania 2000 storyline, Vince's comparing my wife to Robin Givens, the Indiana University study, the PTC, Margaret Carlson, 37 different newspapers, the Mark Henry transvestite angle, X-Pac, the term "suck it," crotch chopping, L. Brent Bozell II, L. Brent Bozell III, Tom Johnson, Steve Allen, Pat Boone, Dean Jones, MCI Worldcom, Billy Graham, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Mrs. L. Brent Bozell II, Lionel Tate, Kathleen Grossett Tate, Tate's attorney James Lewis, Earl Rose, Jason Whala, Sen. Sam Brownback and last but not least, Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

I sometimes think that you and many Observer readers sometimes confuse bitterness and honesty as well as happiness and dishonesty. Tom Billington's book is extremely bitter. In places it is also extremely honest. But in all places? Come on. I called everything exactly as I felt it. I don't mind my opinions, matches, interviews, psychology, career or even my writing skills being questioned, but I will forever defend the integrity of that writing and of my book. I plead guilty to changing Lou Sahadi's name, not only because the WWF asked me to, but because I felt in my heart that Lou, despite his writing experience, was not a public figure, and that the tiny bit of legitimacy lost by not printing his name was not in proportion to further hurting a very nice 70-year-old man's personal feelings and professional pride. And if looking back at the people and events of the last 15 months of my active career with happiness instead of disgust is a crime, I guess I'm guilty of that too.

(4) There is not now, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be, any such thing as going overboard in getting in zingers at Test, Al Snow and the Mean Street Posse.


---

- WWF Judgment Day is in the books and was a solid show, but nothing special. Rikishi lost clean in the opening match to William Regal and Dave is amazed at how fast Rikishi has fallen, after being in a main event feud with Steve Austin just 6 months ago. Angle vs. Benoit was a 4-star match and the best of the show. Chyna beat Lita to retain the women's title (this ends up being Chyna's final appearance ever in WWF). During the match, Chyna's breast kept popping out of her top, at which point the crowd started going nuts, because, well.....titty. This is pixelated on the Network, in case you're wondering. Anyway, that's pretty much it. Completely forgettable show otherwise.

- Vampiro had his first matches back since suffering a series of concussions last year in WCW, working for Ultimo Dragon's Toryumon promotion in Mexico, and boy did that turn into a mess. During the first show, Vampiro was reportedly rude to fans to the point that it went beyond heel heat and he was just being an asshole. And then during the tag team match he was in, Vampiro literally just sat down on the ring apron while the match was going on and looked like he wanted to be anywhere else. The next day, he was booked for another show and arrived waaaaay late. The show had already been going for more than 2 hours before he walked into the building, which forced them to change the main event. So they were going to just have him do a run-in. However, instead of a big heated run-in at the climactic moment of the match, Vampiro casually walked out....and started posing with pictures for fans and whatnot rather than rushing to the ring to do the hot angle. Ultimo Dragon has since told people that Vampiro will never work for his promotion again (in case you're wondering, Vampiro did eventually wrestle a couple more times in Toryumon, but it was about 2 years after this).

- A promotion called XLAW in Mexico is running some shows next month and advertising Konnan and Norman Smiley among them. Dave says there's no interest from WWF for either guy so he figures both of them will probably end up working for XLAW full time, since they both have history and name value in Mexico (Smiley of course eventually ends up signed by WWE in 2007 and works as a trainer at the Performance Center to this day).

- AJPW ran their sham of a Jumbo Tsuruta tribute show this week at Korakuen Hall. As Dave has mentioned before, prior to his death, Tsuruta had made it clear that he sided with Misawa in his impending split from the company and he didn't get along with Motoko Baba. NOAH was going to run a Tsuruta tribute show next month and, not to be outdone, AJPW announced their own Tsuruta tribute show happening this week, to try and beat them to the punch. Nobody representing Tsuruta attended the AJPW event, but his entire family *is* expected to attend the NOAH tribute show next month. Dave thinks this whole thing looks pretty shitty for AJPW.

- Dave talks about NOAH wrestler Takashi Suguira, who is still a rookie, and talks about how he's had a rapid rise to the top already. Dave compares him to Kurt Angle, saying Suguira picked up the business in record time and is already main eventing NOAH shows only a few months into his career (yeah, Suguira eventually wins just about every NOAH title there is, including being the 2nd longest reigning GHC champion of all time. In fact, as I type this in Dec. of 2018, he JUST lost the title yesterday to Kaito Kiyomiya).

- Rena Mero is now appearing in a TV commercial for Fuccillo Auto, which is a car dealership that has a few locations in New York. She has a speaking part, but they make no reference to who she is or why she's famous, so if you don't know her from wrestling, she's just another nameless face in a commercial (can't find video of this anywhere).

- A 24-year-old in Lebanon, TN is the first person (that Dave knows of) to die from a backyard wrestling injury. He was taken to the hospital and kept on life support for 6 days after suffering a head injury in a backyard wrestling match before he was removed from life support.

- AAA ran a show in Los Angeles last week, the first time they've ran a U.S. show in several years. The show drew about 3,700 people which actually means that AAA is basically the #2 promotion in the United States now, since no one else other than WWF can draw 3,000+ fans to shows right now. Not that "#2 promotion in America" means a lot in the grand scheme of things these days, but still.

- CZW ran a show in New Jersey that had some people raving. In particular, brothers Jay and Mark Briscoe (ages 16 and 17 respectively) worked a match against each other and stole the show. Dave hasn't seen the tape yet and he'll comment on it when he sees it, but he had more than one person tell him it was the best indie match of the year. The Briscoes have been getting a lot of praise for how good they are, especially considering they're both teenagers, but there's also concern that they may injure themselves and burn out young before they make it big because they both take so many risks.

- Greg Valentine was booked to work an indie show, but he ended up getting a better money offer to work a different indie show the same night, so he no-showed the original one. They tried to tell the crowd that Valentine wasn't there because his daughter had been in a serious car accident, which of course wasn't true. Dave says that's an old school lie-to-the-fans technique and says, "When I was a kid, you have no idea how many wrestlers' mothers were on their deathbed" every time someone needed to miss a show.

- Bobby Heenan did an interview recently and talked about the failed Women of Wrestling promotion that he briefly did commentary for. Heenan blamed the failure of the company on TV time being too expensive and their one PPV flopping. He said he would never work for Eric Bischoff again, but would like to return to the WWF. Also said he'd like to work with Hogan some more and said he's bored to death in Florida while not working. Heenan also trashed Tony Schiavone, saying he hates wrestling and that he looks down on wrestling fans and that Schiavone hadn't spoken to either him or Mike Tenay since WCW folded. Said that Vince Russo's problem is that he only books for internet fans, which are a small minority and said he also thinks the internet in general has been bad for professional wrestling. Finally, Heenan ranted about how stupid it was for Kevin Nash to end Goldberg's streak and also talked about how WCW misused all the great Mexican wrestlers they had.

- Notes from Raw: as mentioned, this is the show with the classic Austin/Triple H vs. Jericho/Benoit match and Dave is pissed. The show took place 10 minutes from his house, but Dave didn't go and ended up watching it on TV instead and now he's kicking himself for not going. In other news, Shane McMahon cut a terrible promo teasing the return of WCW sooner than people expect and ended up getting booed for it, which shows you how much WWF fans care about WCW stuff. And of course, Triple H suffered a torn quad in the final minutes of the match.

- Mick Foley was the subject of an interview and news story in the New York Times. It was about his book and a lot of it was talking about how Foley's book didn't get a lot of mainstream coverage and wasn't reviewed by most media outlets because it's a "wrestling book", despite the fact that both of his books have been #1 bestsellers. They talked about other wrestlers using ghostwriters for their books, which prompts Dave to mention that Bret Hart is working on his own autobiography and is writing it 100% himself (I still think Foley's first book and Bret's book are the 2 best wrestling books ever written). Foley also talked about not liking the Austin heel turn, not liking some of WWF's past storylines (Big Show dad cancer angle and Hawk drug problem angle in particular). Foley seemed to recognize WWF was in a rut right now and said the company desperately needs to do something different. And finally, he mentioned wanting to write a fiction novel about an orphaned teen who is reunited with his abusive father and slowly realizes that he's not what he imagined (this is, roughly, the plot of Tietam Brown, which was Foley's first fiction novel that came out in 2003).

- Prior to Wrestlemania, WWF was in serious negotiations with Baltimore Ravens football star Ray Lewis to work a match against Triple H. The proposed idea was to be similar to the Lawrence Taylor angle at Wrestlemania 11. Lewis would have been sitting in the front row at Raw and get into a verbal altercation with Triple H, who would trash talk Lewis and even call him a murderer (look it up) to get heel heat. Lewis was on board for it and the deal was nearly finalized and Lewis had even flown in to the city for Raw, but then his lawyers and advisers stepped in and killed the deal at the last second. So then they changed the plan to Triple H vs. Undertaker and that's what we got (there's a slightly different version of this story out there. The Rock did an interview awhile back and said that the plan was for Rock/Ray Lewis vs. Triple H and somebody else in a tag match. Wouldn't surprise me if Vince told both of them something different. But yeah, this almost happened).

- It was reported that WWF is looking to be more aggressive in marketing overseas. There's even talk of opening a separate WWF headquarters in the UK and possibly even doing an IPO on the UK stock market. Back in the early 90s, when WWF business was really bad in America, they toured extensively overseas, which helped prop up the business because they still did strong numbers over there. But these days, they rarely tour overseas because the U.S. business is so strong. But with early signs of business starting to weaken, Dave says it's smart to get ahead of the problem and start planning for more overseas business, which is what WWF appears to be doing. WWF shows in the UK tend to sell out super fast at high prices. Even WCW did strong business in both Europe and Australia during their last few months, because outside of America, Mexico, and Japan, the rest of the world is pretty starved for major league pro wrestling and they turn out in mass numbers whenever they get a show, no matter how shitty it is (the WWA will prove this later in the year also).

- WWF is attempting to negotiate a multi-picture movie deal with a major studio, most likely Universal. A news story quoted Vince saying that the movies will involve WWF wrestlers and storylines. Depending on how big of a star Rock becomes in Hollywood, his involvement is probably the key to making this deal happen. Dave hopes whatever they come up with is better than No Holds Barred or Ready To Rumble.

- Speaking of, the Rock was in the cover story of this week's Rolling Stone, the first wrestler ever to do so. The article mostly focused on Rock's Hollywood potential as a new top action star (here's the full article and interview. The headline is....something).

https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movi...rd-630333/

- UPN announced it will pick up a 6-episode season of the WWF-produced reality show "Manhunt." The show will feature WWF wrestlers and basically has the same premise as The Running Man (this show eventually happens, but the WWF's involvement in it falls apart. John Cena does end up in it though).

- Correction from a couple weeks ago: Rey Mysterio still has a year left on his WCW contract. WWF is said to be interested if he is willing to accept a buyout from Time Warner, but they're not aggressively pursuing him or anything. Mysterio's making way more money on this contract than WWF will offer, so he's not in any hurry to go there either, so he'll likely be sitting out the remaining year.

- Bradshaw is planning to write a book along with a sportswriter named Cody Monk (it's actually a finance book called "Have More Money Now: A Commonsense Approach to Financial Management" and it came out in 2003. That Cody Monk dude is an FBI agent now).

https://www.amazon.com/Have-More-Money-N...B001BS6VZI

- Ken Shamrock suffered a knee injury, to go along with his recent neck injury, and it appears he's through with MMA. He's started negotiating with WWF again to return there (the WWF return never happens and Shamrock wasn't finished with MMA by a long shot. He eventually returns to UFC, only to get knocked out 3 times by Tito Ortiz).

- Jim Ross went on WWF.com and talked about some of the contracts being finalized for the new WCW roster. He didn't give exact names, but it's expected that Kanyon and Rob Van Dam are the two key guys signed right now. Ross said some verbal commitments had been made but didn't name names because there might be some Time Warner contract buyout negotiations still going on with some people.

- In the ongoing WWF vs. PTC legal drama, the WWF is hoping to get PTC head L. Brent Bozell to publicly apologize and give a retraction for his comments blaming the WWF for the deaths of several children (yup, when the PTC loses this lawsuit, Bozell does indeed have to publicly apologize, and it is *oh* so sweet).

- WWF threatened to file a lawsuit against musician Wesley Willis because a logo on his most recent album cover is said to look too similar to the WWF logo. Willis has agreed to change the cover for the next pressing of the album (yeah, it was his punk band Wesley Willis Fiasco and they made a "WWF" logo that is pretty obviously a rip-off: https://i.imgur.com/8Vk3atz.jpg)

- WWF has registered trademarks for several names, which may end up being used for WCW TV shows or PPVs: Anarchy, After Hours, After-Hours, Climax, Defiance, Hard-on Saturday Night, Hard on Saturday Night, Hotbox, Late Night Appetite, Nailed, Primal Urge, Saturday Night Nitro, Saturday Nitro, Turned-on, Turned On, and Uprising.

- The plan for the Matt Hardy/Lita angle is for them to feud with Eddie Guerrero and Chyna. Apparently Chyna has been pushing for it a lot because she likes to work with the guys and knows this would give her the chance to wrestle guys like Eddie and Matt. A lot of people in WWF are kinda over the whole Chyna-vs-men stuff and don't want to do it (Bruce Prichard later said Chyna used to drive him crazy with this shit because she wanted to wrestle all the top men and be in world title matches and whatnot. Anyway, unbeknownst to Dave at this time, Chyna is already done. Her match with Lita at the last PPV was the last time she was ever in the company).

- The newest member of the WWF writing team is a guy named Alex Abrahantes (he's now the Spanish commentator for ROH).

- Regarding the issue last week where Perry Saturn beat the shit out of a jobber during a match, apparently he was given a pretty stern talking to by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross but everything is squashed now.

- A recent article talked about how Vince McMahon was rejected by pretty much every notable TV network when trying to secure a 2nd season for the XFL. He also made an offer to the NFL to sell them part of the league for use as a developmental league. The NFL not only turned it down, but reportedly thought the offer was laughable. Vince pretty much couldn't give the XFL away at this point.

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#95
(06-05-2019, 10:21 AM)Peezy Wrote: 5-28-2001
(4) There is not now, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be, any such thing as going overboard in getting in zingers at Test, Al Snow and the Mean Street Posse.


Classic Foley. Although I don't think he's getting zingers in on Test anymore, since he's dead and all.

Quote:- It was reported that WWF is looking to be more aggressive in marketing overseas. There's even talk of opening a separate WWF headquarters in the UK and possibly even doing an IPO on the UK stock market. Back in the early 90s, when WWF business was really bad in America, they toured extensively overseas, which helped prop up the business because they still did strong numbers over there. But these days, they rarely tour overseas because the U.S. business is so strong. But with early signs of business starting to weaken, Dave says it's smart to get ahead of the problem and start planning for more overseas business, which is what WWF appears to be doing. WWF shows in the UK tend to sell out super fast at high prices. Even WCW did strong business in both Europe and Australia during their last few months, because outside of America, Mexico, and Japan, the rest of the world is pretty starved for major league pro wrestling and they turn out in mass numbers whenever they get a show, no matter how shitty it is (the WWA will prove this later in the year also).


They never really end up doing this though, do they? I mean, not until we FINALLY get NXT UK in 2018 on TV. I haven't been watching that, is it worthwhile? I've wanted to, but I'm so bad about watching most things these days it's hard for me to make myself do it.

Quote:- WWF has registered trademarks for several names, which may end up being used for WCW TV shows or PPVs: Anarchy, After Hours, After-Hours, Climax, Defiance, Hard-on Saturday Night, Hard on Saturday Night, Hotbox, Late Night Appetite, Nailed, Primal Urge, Saturday Night Nitro, Saturday Nitro, Turned-on, Turned On, and Uprising.


Jesus christ the sexual innuendo here.
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#96
NXT UK is....fine. The matches are good because they have great talent but I can't really get into it. I only have so much time in my life to dedicate to wrestling. I ain't really watching the UK show. Their first Takeover show was good though, even though the main event went way too long.

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#97
That's where I'm at too. I have time to watch things, but it's the emotional energy. I am dedicated to NXT, I am going to dedicate myself to AEW (At least early on, I want to give them a chance). I have tried in the past to watch RoH, and I've always been interested in NJPW and now NXT UK, but I just can't bring myself to watch that much wrestling each week. Even without really watching Raw/Smackdown, that'd still be several hours of wrestling each week, way more when we're talking about PPV weekends (and watching that many different promotions, I imagine that every other week is a PPV weekend almost). Just can't do it man.
Reply
#98
6-4-2001

- PRIDE held their latest event, headlined by an inter-promotional match between 2 pro wrestlers (NJPW's Kazuyuki Fujita and NOAH's Yoshihiro Takayama). The show drew a sellout crowd and $2 million gate. Fujita, the IWGP champion, won via ref stoppage in the 2nd round. Because both are wrestlers, there was speculation that this fight may have been worked, but most people who saw it said it definitely seemed like a legit shoot. Yuji Nagata was at ringside along with Antonio Inoki and after Fujita won, Nagata got into the ring and did a stare down with him to build for their upcoming IWGP title match. It was clear that Fujita vs. Takayama is what drew the crowd and had the most heat, much to the chagrin of hardcore MMA fans who don't like fake pro wrestlers coming in and drawing huge numbers in their real sport (*laughs in Brock*). But Dave says, whether they like it or not, MMA and pro wrestling are intrinsically linked and while MMA fans might not like it, this is a business. And those 2 pro wrestlers drew more money with this fight than anyone else in PRIDE could have and that's why the show was a big success. After the show, PRIDE announced plans for an event in the Tokyo Dome later this year and they plan to run a Naoya Ogawa vs. Nobuhiko Takada match, which is another pro wrestler vs. pro wrestler match to annoy the MMA purists (didn't happen. Ogawa didn't work the show, but Takada went to a draw with Cro Cop in one of the most embarrassingly bad fights in MMA history, but we'll get there).



- Oh god, here we go. The complicated and messy relationship between the WWF and the Hart family got even uglier this week. For the first time ever, Raw was airing live from Calgary and they really leaned into the Bret Hart connection. Throughout the show, they teased that something would be happening with Bret and Vince McMahon and made numerous references to Bret. Furthermore, several members of the Hart family were at ringside, including Stu, which surprised many. But he's 86-years-old, in poor health, and is pretty much just being used as a pawn by family members at this point. Word is that Stu barely seemed to even know where he was. From what Dave has been told, Stu attended the show because his wife Helen thought it might help their son Bruce get a job or make a business deal with WWF. In the past, Bruce has repeatedly tried to get WWF to help him run an Owen tribute show, but other members of the family (particularly Martha) have publicly fought against it. Bruce met with Vince before Raw and apparently tried to pitch him on using Stampede as a developmental promotion, while Diana is hoping to get WWF to help promote her new book she recently wrote. Bret Hart, of course, was not there and was never supposed to be, despite how hard WWF hinted at it. Dave talks about how Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart and their wives Diana and Ellie were always on the WWF's side. Owen's widow Martha is pretty much estranged from the entire Hart family after Ellie tried to sabotage her lawsuit against WWF (by taking a legal document she found at Stu's house and secretly sending it to WWF lawyers, which ultimately forced Martha's hand and led her to accept an out-of-court settlement rather than take the issue to trial like she wanted. The out-of-court settlement still ended up being the largest of its kind in the entire United States that year, but if not for the settlement, Martha stood to gain significantly more in a trial if it had gone her way). And of course, Bret hates the WWF.

- So with all the Hart drama happening, we had Raw in Calgary and it was....something. In the Austin vs. Benoit main event, Vince was at ringside and they did a complete remake of the Montreal Screwjob, with Vince ordering them to ring the bell while Benoit was in his own submission hold. Right in front of Bret's family, in his hometown. Although, as Dave mentioned, aside from Stu, Bret Hart doesn't get along with any of the other family members who were at Raw, so they probably weren't offended by it. In fact, just 2 days before this Raw, Ellie left a message on Bret's answering machine, screaming at him to get over the whole Montreal thing and saying, "I hope you die." Martha Hart later told a reporter that she thought it was disgusting and disrespectful that the family would be there. Bret has made no public comment about it, but word is he was pretty unhappy about Stu being there. He had no problem with any of them meeting with Vince and trying to bury the hatchet with him, but thought it was a slap in the face for them to appear on WWF TV. Other siblings (the ones who also hate WWF) haven't commented publicly either, but the word is they're all pretty upset about the situation.

- Speaking of, WWF Canada exec Carl DeMarco has tried repeatedly to get Bret to attend a WWF show and meet with Vince to try to work everything out, but Bret has repeatedly shot down the offers. Bret has said that he would be open to the possibility of meeting with Vince privately and trying to bury their differences and discuss some outstanding issues (if I recall, I think Bret was really trying to get ownership of some likeness stuff that WWF owned or something like that). But after this most recent Raw, with Vince once again mocking the Screwjob, Bret has reportedly cooled on the idea. For what it's worth, after Raw, Benoit and Bret Hart did go out to dinner together, and Benoit apologized to him about the match, saying he was pretty much forced to do the Screwjob angle that night, and Bret was understanding about it and didn't blame him.

- Another bad news marketing study on professional wrestling. A Gallup poll was done ranking the popularity of 11 different sports and wrestling was among them. And of course, wrestling ranked dead last among adults. Worse still, wrestling fans skewed the lowest when it comes to both income and education level than fans of any other sport. These kinds of reports are what keeps advertisers from spending money on wrestling, despite its huge popularity. Dave also recaps 2 or 3 other independent studies that said basically the same thing. In response, the WWF commissioned their own study and you probably won't be surprised to hear that WWF's results were the total opposite, and as it turns out, wrestling fans are all rich geniuses who would love to buy anything advertised to them. But sponsors aren't taking WWF's word for it, they're paying attention to the other independent analysis, and that analysis pretty much tells advertisers that wrestling fans are dumb, poor, trailer trash, which is a stereotype the business has been fighting against for decades. But that's how advertisers see wrestling fans and WWF is going to have to keep fighting that battle.

- There was a magazine article in Canada talking about wrestling that came out and Dave says it's so bad and incorrect that it just has to be seen to be believed. So let's see this article, shall we?

---

Quote:"There will be a new champion crowned at this year's King of the Ring. The eight-man elimination tournament is one of the World Wrestling Federation's most popular pay-per-view shows. Last year, The Rock slammed his way to the title with three convincing wins but you can expect such WWF stalwarts as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, and The Undertaker to play the prominent roles in this year's show, June 24, at East Rutherford, NJ. The Rock? He's a victim of his own popularity. The official word from WWF headquarters in Stamford, CT, is that The Rock, whose real name is Chris Jericho, has been suspended. The WWF, which surpasses the best soap operas for creating outrageous situations and larger-than-life heroes and cads, has pitted The Rock against WWF boss man Vince McMahon. As we all know, the boss isn't always right but he's always the boss.

But the real reason for The Rock's vacation is that he's taking care of business. Jericho considers himself an entertainer and he has branched out in recent years. His credits include an autobiography that appeared on the New York Times best-seller list and a CD that was less successful. He has also made his mark in Hollywood with a feature role in The Mummy 2, which is expected to be a box-office hit this summer.

Jericho declined an invitation to defend his King of the Ring title because he's being paid $45 million (U.S.) for another regal role as The Scorpion King in the film of the same name. The Rock did stick around long enough to take Break Down The Walls for the WWF fanatic series, available on pay-per-view to Bell Express Vu subscribers."


---

- Remember the news stories last week about Vampiro working some shows in Mexico and being all unprofessional and shit? Vampiro denies it and says the story is embellished because the reporter who wrote it has had heat with Vampiro in the past (considering Vampiro pretty much got blackballed from Toryumon for the next few years by Ultimo Dragon, I tend to believe the reporter).

- Dave talks about how MMA promotion RINGS appears to be in bad shape, with top star Kiyoshi Tamura reportedly leaving (yeah, Tamura goes to PRIDE and that was pretty much the end of them. RINGS limped along for a few more months before folding in early 2002. They've tried to revive it a couple of times since but it never clicked).

- Brian James, formerly known as Road Dogg in WWF, was arrested last week at an indie show. It started with Road Dogg signing autographs in the ring during intermission for a show and his line was long. The promoter asked him to finish up signing in 10 minutes because the intermission was running long. Road Dogg got on the mic and responded to the promoter in, well, vulgar fashion and refused to stop signing. Eventually he was talked into leaving the ring and he agreed to continue signing autographs in another part of the building. But for some reason, that still caused them to delay the show and he was asked again to wrap it up. Road Dogg was belligerent and angry and was asked to leave by police and I guess he got too rowdy and they ended up arresting him for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. He paid a fine and was only held for an hour or so, but it prevented the main event (Road Dogg vs. Barbarian) from taking place, which the fans weren't thrilled about.

- Roddy Piper worked an indie show, and it's the first time he's wrestled since his last WCW match. Anyway, Piper injured his wrist in the match.

- Tully Blanchard got totally screwed over in a celebrity golf tournament. The sponsor had promised a $23,000 Volkswagen Passat to anyone who could hit a hole-in-one on the 15th hole. Blanchard, on his first swing of the day, walked out there to the 15th hole........and hit a hole-in-one. However, they later discovered that they had somehow "mistakenly" marked the distance wrong from the starting point or something. I dunno, I don't know golf. Blanchard's hole-in-one was 141 yards and apparently it was supposed to be from the 175 yard marker or some such bullshit. Anyway, point being, the sponsor ruled that it didn't count and Blanchard was not given his Volkswagen Passat, which as you can imagine, led to some controversy (sounds to me like they never expected anyone to hit a hole-in-one and when it happened, they had to make up some bullshit to get out of giving away a $23,000 car. Anyway, here's an article about it from 2001, featuring quotes from Blanchard).

http://www.mikemooneyham.com/2001/05/20/...ace-award/

- The PTC attempted to get the WWF's lawsuit against them thrown out, but a judge denied the motion. PTC tried to argue a bunch of First Amendment stuff as to why they should be allowed to say all the negative things about WWF as a public company. The judge basically said, "Hey dicks, just because they're a public company doesn't mean you can just make up lies about them." The court seemed particularly unhappy with the PTC's repeated attempts to tie the deaths of 4 children to the WWF. So anyway, big defeat for the PTC and the lawsuit will continue to move forward (unfortunately, this story doesn't come to an end until 2002 so we won't get to cover it, but WWF will get sweet delicious revenge. The PTC ultimately loses the case and are forced to pay the WWF $3.5 million in damages and issue a public apology and retract all their previous statements. WWF absolutely wiped the fucking floor with these guys).

- Grandmaster Sexay has been fired by WWF. When the crew was traveling to Calgary for last week's TV tapings, Sexay was stopped at the border and caught with illegal drugs. WWF lawyers got involved and he was ultimately allowed into the country, but as soon as he got to the arena for Raw, they fired him (Dave doesn't give details, but it was meth and cocaine, if you're curious).

- When running down the plans for the upcoming King of the Ring PPV, Dave notes that Kurt Angle will be facing Shane McMahon and apparently, Al Snow is helping to train Shane for the match (I wonder if Al Snow taught him how to do that whole land-on-your-head-on-concrete spot).

- Notes from Raw: it was Calgary so Vince was *hated* while Benoit and Jericho were cheered like megastars. The WCW angle finally kicked off, with Lance Storm becoming the first WCW wrestler to debut in WWF, running in and causing Saturn to lose a match, which also got a huge pop (later in the issue, Dave notes that this wasn't part of a long-term plan and, in fact, the idea to have Lance Storm do a run-in was something they came up with earlier that same day just before the show). They also started an angle with Undertaker's wife where someone was spying on her with a camera through a window (Dave calls it "the Black Scorpion angle"). Dave says the original idea behind this angle was for Steve Austin (and Debra) to be behind it, which would lead to an Austin vs. Undertaker match at King of the Ring. But Undertaker missed TV this week because his mother is having a serious surgery done, so the plan has changed. Now it's expected that Undertaker will stay off TV for a few weeks while this peeping tom angle plays out and then face whoever the mystery man is at King of the Ring. They showed footage of Triple H having surgery. In the video package, the doctor said he expected Triple H to be back in about 4 months, but others are saying that the injury was way worse than the video leads fans to believe. It's thought that it could be as late as November before he's back (ends up being even longer than that). Benoit vs. Austin was a hell of a match up until the rehashed Screwjob ending. After the show was over and the cameras were off, Benoit and Jericho went to Stu Hart and raised his hand (https://imgur.com/DsXLgLe). Jericho cut a promo saying that the crowd that night was the best he's ever performed in front of, and also talked about Owen Hart (who was never mentioned during the actual broadcast).

https://www.wwe.com/videos/lance-storm-b...ay-28-2001


- Notes from Smackdown: Dave says it was one of the best episodes of the show ever and the TLC main event was the most spectacular match in Smackdown history. Benoit/Jericho vs. Hardys vs. Edge/Christian vs. Dudleyz in a TLC match was the main event and Dave gives it 4.75 stars. He gives WWF a ton of credit for giving these guys the ball and gives the wrestlers props for running with it the way they have. Basically the kind of stuff WCW should have been doing 2 or 3 years earlier, creating stars by giving them a main event platform to shine.



- Various WWF notes: David Flair is expected to sign a developmental contract and go to OVW. Nathan Jones and Jon Heidenreich from UPW are also signed and headed to OVW soon. Tommy Dreamer is also expected to be signed to a WWF deal soon. Rikishi is getting shoulder surgery. Christian got married (he's still married to her to this day) and so both he and Edge missed Raw (because Edge was at the wedding).

- It's believed that both DDP and Booker T are willing to take buy-outs on their WCW contracts and are ready to go to WWF whenever WWF is ready for them. DDP is actually still owed a large sum on his WCW deal and is mostly willing to take a buy-out only if he is featured in a key role in WWF rather than starting off on the relaunched WCW show. WWF has also been negotiating with Torrie Wilson to come in.

- As part of the buyout, WWF now owns the rights to 127 original songs that were owned by WCW (theme music, PPV themes, other random tunes Jimmy Hart produced for them, etc.). In fact, Jimmy Hart is helping with all of that now, cataloging old WCW music and whatnot.

- Paul Heyman has been cast in a role in the upcoming movie Rollerball, where he plays an announcer (there's been a lot of rumors about this over the years, with people accusing Heyman of flying to L.A. and filming his scenes for this movie when he was supposed to be there negotiating a deal to keep ECW alive. Heyman has had to set the record straight on it before. He didn't film his scenes for the movie until after WCW had already filed for bankruptcy: http://www.heymanhustle.com/full-transcr...as-filmed/).

- There's a ton of letters this week, and they're all pretty much the same. Half of them are praising Mick Foley's new book, writing their own reviews, things like that. The other half is people who think WWF is already bungling the WCW angle and predict that the wrestling boom is over and it's all downhill from here. They weren't wrong.

Reply
#99
Quote:The official word from WWF headquarters in Stamford, CT, is that The Rock, whose real name is Chris Jericho, has been suspended.


HAHAHAHAHAH

Quote:Road Dogg was belligerent and angry and was asked to leave by police and I guess he got too rowdy


GET ROWDY

Quote:- Notes from Smackdown: Dave says it was one of the best episodes of the show ever and the TLC main event was the most spectacular match in Smackdown history. Benoit/Jericho vs. Hardys vs. Edge/Christian vs. Dudleyz in a TLC match was the main event and Dave gives it 4.75 stars. He gives WWF a ton of credit for giving these guys the ball and gives the wrestlers props for running with it the way they have. Basically the kind of stuff WCW should have been doing 2 or 3 years earlier, creating stars by giving them a main event platform to shine.


And this match is where Benoit suffered his neck injury if I remember right. Absolutely horrible timing for both Triple H and Benoit to go down with lengthy injuries in the same week. Even worse for Benoit, who was on the cusp of breaking into the main event at this point...him and Jericho were massively over. Then again maybe not though, they did just saddle him and Jericho with the tag titles so who knows what the plan would've been if Benoit hadn't of been injured.
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I think Benoit made it til KotR. It believe it was a triple threat match between Benoit, Austin, and Jericho
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Yea he does make it til KOTR and they have that wicked Triple Threat, but I believe his neck actually was injured in the TLC match and he just hangs on a little longer. I could be wrong, but I think that's how it went down.
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Yeah he goes into the KOTR match injured. We read all about it soon.

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See? Don't ever question me again.
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My bad Mr T. I pity the fool who questions you!
[+] 1 user Likes sanderz1's post
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6-11-2001

- The issue opens with a big examination of whether or not WWF will sign Bill Goldberg and why or why not. Right now, the "official" word is that his existing WCW contract is ridiculously high and they have no intention of making him an offer. On the other hand, pretty much everyone in the company realizes that for this WCW angle to work, they need Goldberg and other big WCW stars like him. Goldberg has more than 2 years left on his WCW deal and stands to earn around $6 million from it just by sitting at home, and Dave says he's "not a mark for being a wrestling star" the way a lot of guys are and doesn't seem to give a shit one way or another if he wrestles again or not. So it's unlikely that he'll take a buyout from Time Warner that would cost him millions of dollars just so he can go be in the limelight again. WWF obviously doesn't want to spend $6 million to get him, but aside from Hogan, Austin, and Rock, nobody has as much potential drawing power as Goldberg in the last 15 years. And wrestling is a star-driven business and sometimes, making big lopsided deals with major stars is necessary to make big money in the long run. When Hogan went to WCW in 1994, people called Bischoff crazy because Hogan's contract gave him 25% of PPV revenue. But Hogan was such a huge draw that it ended up being the smartest deal Bischoff made at the time and more than paid for itself several times over in the years after (of course, Hogan's drawing power eventually died off and his big contract eventually became an albatross, but that's another story).

- So does Goldberg deserve preferential treatment? Should he have a guaranteed contract with limited dates and huge money that everyone else in WWF would be jealous of? Of course it's not fair, but this isn't about fair, it's about business. If WWF can rebuild Goldberg to even half of the star he was in 1998, then yes, they absolutely should. Properly promoted PPV matches with Goldberg/Rock and Goldberg/Austin will earn them that money back and then some. But that's dependent on whether or not WWF can truly rebuild him. Dave points out Big Show as an example of someone who was a top star in WCW, came to WWF with a huge guaranteed contract, and has been a total flop who spent much of the last year in OVW. If Goldberg comes to WWF and becomes "just another guy," then no, he wouldn't be worth the money and Dave gives a long list of guys who were big stars in NWA/WCW, only to jump to WWF and find out Vince had no clue how to get them over with his audience (Dusty Rhodes, Flair, Lex Luger, Vader, Big Show, Road Warriors, Steiners, etc). They also need someone to anchor the new WCW brand, and if they relaunch WCW and it becomes successful with Goldberg at the helm, that's another huge revenue stream that would offset the cost of bringing him in. And when business is good, everybody makes more money, not just Goldberg. Dave even breaks down the math and talks about how a Goldberg vs. Austin match might work out. A very conservative estimate Dave thinks is 600,000 buys on PPV, which would net WWF a good $2 million in one night, which would cover a full year of Goldberg's salary. A few rematches with Austin, some big matches with Rock, and even if he doesn't earn them a dime in any other way, he'd already have paid for himself. Once you add in Goldberg merch, other PPV matches, licensing deals, added gate revenue from the extra tickets he'll surely sell, ad revenue from ratings boost, etc. and it's kind of a no-brainer. Financially, it makes all the sense in the world for them to buy out Goldberg's contract and bring him in ASAP. But again, that depends on WWF's ability to get him over (which Dave thinks they'd have to be stupid to fail at) and also, you can't rule out the possibility of him getting injured which is also something to be considered. In the end, a lot of people in the locker room will be upset about it, but from a business standpoint, Dave thinks they should do it.

- The buyrate numbers for WWF's recent Judgement Day PPV are coming in and the show did better than expected. Because of that, Steve Austin has now moved past Ric Flair into 2nd place on the list of PPVs he's headlined that have done a 1.0 buyrate or higher. 1st place is Hulk Hogan, who is still 3 PPVs ahead of Austin. But unless something goes tragically wrong, Dave expects Austin to break that record before the end of 2001. But then Dave starts explaining why this is kind of a useless stat. A 1.0 buyrate in 2001 is completely different from a 1.0 buyrate in 1987, due to the way the PPV industry has grown. Plus, there's monthly PPVs now, so that skews the numbers. Things like that. You can always tell when it's a slow news week because the major stories are mostly just Dave examining numbers and business trends and things like that. Even the first main story about Goldberg has no news, it's just Dave doing a deep dive into the pros and cons of bringing in Goldberg from a business standpoint. So yeah, this stuff is all interesting and in fact, it's probably the kind of stuff I've learned the most from reading, but it's not "news" so...

- Jushin Liger won this year's Best of the Super Junior's tournament, the first time he's won it in 7 years. At age 36, Liger is in the midst of something of a comeback angle, going undefeated in the tournament and pinning IWGP Jr. heavyweight champion Minoru Tanaka in the finals. Tanaka is seen as the man to take the aging Liger's place in the Jr. division so the rivalry has that aspect going for it also, with Tanaka representing the future while Liger represents the old guard (in other words, this was basically the Omega/Tanahashi feud from late-2018).

- We get an obituary for Tex McKenzie, who was a big star in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. McKenzie was a legendarily bad wrestler, but he was damn near 7 feet tall, so he had no problem finding work. He was always booked as a happy-go-lucky babyface and was never really a main eventer because he sucked so much, but was always well-liked and had a star presence due to his size.

- Observer note: the mail service sucks and Dave apologizes. He's been getting lots of reports about people getting the Observer later than usual and he doesn't know what to say. Blame the post office. They go into the mail every Wednesday and how long it takes from there is out of his hands, but if you don't get your issue, contact him and he'll get another one mailed out to you. Or, you know, try out this fancy internet thing. I know it's still kind of new and there's a lot of warning signs about the dotcom bubble, but I have a feeling it might stick around.

- Raw's scary 8-week declining ratings trend finally came to an end this week, with the rating increasing slightly. Dave credits the fact that the last two weeks of Raw have been some of the best weeks of the show ever, with some MOTY caliber matches. The ratings are still down significantly from just two months ago but at least the dangerous downward pattern has been broken (the downward trend resumes soon, don't worry).

- God this is seriously a slow week. Now Dave is going back and looking at random shit from 1 year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago....I guess just to show how much things change? I don't know, there's no explanation here. 1 year ago, Paul Heyman held a backstage meeting and predicted the future of the industry. He predicted WWF would end up on TNN (it did) and that ECW would end up on USA or FOX (it didn't). He predicted WCW would soon be out of business (he was right). Things like that. 5 years ago, Nitro began its 83-week ratings winning streak. 10 years ago, Sid Vicious debuted in WWF as Sid Justice. Just shit like that, with no rhyme or reason to it. This is a filler issue if I've ever seen it, Dave is pretty desperately stretching to fill space here. If this Observer was a 3-hour Raw, this section is a 30 minute Baron Corbin match.

- Kenta Kobashi was cleared to resume training this week. He's had 6 surgeries in the past 18 months on his knees and Dave thinks it's going to be scary as hell to see him get back in the ring, but he's Kobashi so of course, he's going to. With Vader and Misawa getting older and no other big stars to work with Jun Akiyama, Dave says Kobashi feels the pressure to return because NOAH needs him (we're still 8 months from him returning to the ring....and immediately blowing his knee out again).

- Because NJPW and NOAH have a cordial relationship, Tatsumi Fujinami has talked about working a match with Mitsuharu Misawa at some point (they teamed up once in NJPW in 2005 and worked opposite sides of a tag match in NOAH in 2007 but that's the closest it ever got to happening).

- UPW wrestlers Nathan Jones and Jon Heidenreich, who are signed to WWF developmental deals, were pulled from an upcoming Zero-1 show in Japan. They will be replaced by Samoa Joe and some other guy. Apparently Jim Ross didn't feel like Jones and Heidenreich are experienced enough to go to Japan and work a show for another promotion they don't have a relationship with and against wrestlers they don't know.

- Eric Bischoff has been implicated in the Atlanta trial surrounding the infamous Atlanta Gold Club, a strip club that was a famous hangout for many big name athletes, including WCW stars. The government has a major racketeering case going on against the club and it's owners, involving credit card fraud, prostitution, loan sharking, and funneling money to the Gambino crime family. The former club manager this week testified that he arranged sexual favors for high profile athletes like Dennis Rodman, Terrell Davis, Jerry Stackhouse, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, and others. Eric Bischoff was among those named as having received sexual favors from strippers as arranged by the club management (Bischoff ends up testifying in this case later on and we learn that his wife is pretty fun).

- Ric Flair is still working on an autobiography, which will be partially ghostwritten by Mark Madden. The project has been on-and-off-again for awhile but the success of Mick Foley's 2 books has given them the green light again. Flair is not planning to accept a buyout from his WCW contract, which still has 2 years remaining, so unless something changes (and Dave says it probably will because Flair can't stay away from wrestling), then Flair is going to be MIA from the wrestling scene until 2003 (sure enough, Flair couldn't stand being on the sidelines. He takes a buyout and will be in WWF before the end of this year).

- UPW ran a show this week that saw Shinya Hashimoto make an appearance, along with several other Zero-1 wrestlers. Hashimoto didn't wrestle but got involved in an angle with several UPW guys, most notably Samoa Joe. Former WCW wrestlers (and now WWF wrestlers) Sean O'Haire, Chuck Palumbo, and Chavo Guerrero Jr. also worked the show.

- Hulk Hogan has still been in negotiations with Universal about doing some sort of wrestling show and it looks like the tentative plan is to film a pilot episode in August at Universal Studios in Orlando. Jimmy Hart is reaching out to other wrestlers to get involved and they're hopeful to bring in guys like Roddy Piper and Bret Hart to make appearances, along with Hogan's usual buddies (Beefcake, Nasty Boys, etc.) and celebrity friends like Jay Leno, Shaq, and George Foreman. There's still a long-term plan in discussions for a Hogan-themed restaurant and for the wrestling to possibly be a theme park attraction. There is no TV deal in place for any of this, so the plan is to film the pilot to try and shop around for a TV deal. The whole thing has been described to Dave as basically a Hogan tribute show more than a new pro wrestling company (this eventually morphs into some shit called the Xcitement Wrestling Federation. Hogan only wrestles one match for it and they only do a handful of shows before disappearing).

- Ric Flair was contacted about facing Steve Corino at this year's Brian Pillman Memorial Show. The idea is to put over Corino, who is the current NWA champion, in order to help give that title a boost. Flair didn't shoot down the idea, but of course, he can't wrestle anywhere due to his existing WCW contract without breaching it, although it's possible Time Warner may allow it, since it's a charity show (this never happens).

- Bruno Sammartino was recently in a serious car accident and spent 3 days in the hospital but is expected to be okay.

- Missy Hyatt is releasing a book about her life in wrestling soon and Dave promises to review it when she does. Although she said she had some help with the structuring of the book, every word was written by her.

- Hey, so apparently Kevin Nash and Honky Tonk Man got into a shit-flinging contest on the internet, talking trash to each other about who is a bigger star and who drew more money and yada yada. Dave says it must be a slow news week (clearly) and tells people to always remember that when you see this stuff, keep in mind that these guys are workers and try not to take it seriously. Anyway, for what it's worth: HTM drew far more money in WWF than Nash ever did, while Nash drew far more in WCW than HTM ever did. Nash made more money overall due to his huge guaranteed contract, though that's irrelevant to the argument. HTM called out Nash for not donating the $20,000 to Brian Pillman's family charity that he promised he would at last year's memorial show. Nash said he hasn't paid because no one has proven to him that it's a non-profit organization because he wanted to be able to write it off on his taxes and said he'd still be glad to donate the money if he could get proof of that. To his credit, Dave says Nash really has been trying in the last week or so to get the word out that he wants to donate the money as long as he can verify that it's a non-profit charity and has been trying to get clarification on it. Nash then said he worked a different show for Les Thatcher (who promotes the Pillman shows) and was never paid a $10,000 fee he was promised. Thatcher then chimed in, saying this is the first he's heard about Nash not being paid for a show and yada yada yada. Just internet drama between a bunch of carnies. Anyway, Dave says let this be a lesson about carelessly promising things. If you recall, what happened is Nash was trying to get Missy Hyatt to take her top off and promised to donate $20,000 if she would. Hyatt, who was put on the spot (this wasn't planned), refused to do it because there were kids in the crowd and it was a family show. So Nash, caught up in the moment, said he would donate the $20,000 anyway. But he never did, HTM called him out on it, and here we are.

- Jacques Rougeau ran a show in Montreal that drew an estimated 3,000 fans, featuring himself in the main event against King Kong Bundy. Pretty much the entire rest of the card was filled with Rougeau's students at his wrestling school, including Rougeau's 12-year-old son who worked the opening match (I only mention this show because a young Kevin Steen was one of those students, defeating somebody named Pascal Brisson in the 3rd match on the card).

- There's rumors going around that Bill Goldberg is being considered for the role of Crusher Creel in the next Incredible Hulk movie which is being released in 2003. So far, none of the movie has been cast (nah, he doesn't end up in it). Also in movie news, former MMA fighter and WCW developmental wrestler Sam Greco will be playing a masked wrestler in the upcoming Scooby Doo movie starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah-Michelle Gellar.

- Sitting home and collecting on these WCW contracts might be the best thing for the health of some of the former WCW wrestlers. Scott Steiner is said to have no control over one of his feet, which has gone completely numb, stemming from back problems he's had in the last year. And Rey Mysterio, who is planning to sit out the next year, is getting some much needed time off to recuperate his body, especially his knees, and Dave thinks having a year off to recover will probably add years to Mysterio's future career.

- Random WWF notes: Judgment Day did a 1.13 buyrate, which is phenomenal and up big time from last month's PPV. It's weird because every other aspect of WWF business (TV ratings, live attendance, etc.) is down right now, but this PPV was a mega hit. Kurt Angle was inducted into the Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame, joining only 3 other pro wrestlers (Dick Hutton, Earl McCready, and Danny Hodge). David Flair has an OVW developmental deal. Al Snow is said to be the show-stealer on the new Tough Enough show they're doing. Kurt Angle's autobiography will be out in September. Ken Shamrock still under contract with PRIDE but it's expected he'll return to WWF at some point sooner or later (nope).

- Jerry Lawler had a meeting with Kevin Dunn and Jim Ross at WWF headquarters this week. They want Lawler to come back to announce Raws and PPVs and perhaps even be the commentator for the new WCW, but they couldn't reach an agreement, because both sides are refusing to budge on the issue of Lawler's wife Stacy. Lawler refuses to return unless Stacy is given her job back because they feel she was unfairly fired. And WWF refuses to hire her back. All parties involved had agreed to keep this meeting a secret and it was said to be an embarrassment when word got out about it. As for Paul Heyman, who currently does commentary on Raw, the belief is that he's better suited for the backstage TV writing role (especially since he's been the one behind the last few weeks of TV that have been so well received).

- More details on the situation with Grandmaster Sexay being fired. He was arrested at customs at the Calgary airport for possession of cocaine and methamphetamines. Police reportedly found a tenth of a gram of meth and half a gram of coke on him. He later pled guilty to the coke possession and the meth charge was dropped. He paid a fine and a donation to a drug charity and the arrest won't go on his record, but he was still fired by WWF. A lot of people in the locker room were upset about it because they're afraid that the publicity from this could cause a crackdown. Right now, WWF doesn't drug test and as long as it doesn't affect your work, they pretty much take a hands-off approach to drug use. Needless to say, a lot of people in the locker room would prefer it stayed that way and they were mad at Sexay for being stupid enough to try to bring stuff like that across the Canadian border, which everyone knows is risky.

- Speaking of drugs, Eddie Guerrero was sent home after he arrived at Raw in the dreaded "no condition to perform." He was scheduled to face Matt Hardy in a King of the Ring qualifying match. Eddie has pretty much been given the same ultimatum as Shawn Michaels: go home and don't come back until you're clean. As a result, the Eddie/Matt/Lita angle has since been dropped. Dave says that Eddie has had a lot of pain and injury issues because he returned to the ring way too soon following a New Year's Eve car accident in 1998 and never really recovered fully (this is it for Eddie for awhile. He stays under contract for a few more months but he eventually gets a DUI later in the year and gets fired. But then he gets clean, works the indies for a bit, returns in 2002, and goes on to have the best years of his career).

- Notes from Raw: Jesse Ventura made an appearance, since they were in Minnesota, and Dave is flabbergasted that they didn't promote it ahead of time for maximum mainstream coverage, since they knew a week ago that Ventura would appear. They also had Hugh Morrus run in and attack Edge, to continue the WCW invasion angle and it also gave us our first brief glimpse of the new WCW logo on the TitanTron.

- There's a good article about Mick Foley in this week's People Magazine, where he talks about both his wrestling and writing careers. Hey, I found the article!

https://people.com/archive/man-of-letters-vol-55-no-23/

- Booker T has completed the buyout on his WCW contract with Time Warner so he should be ready to head to WWF any day now as soon as he finalizes a contract with them. Dave says that Kevin Nash tried to talk Booker T out of it, saying that WWF is on a down-turn right now and if Booker would wait until all their deals expired next year, they could all go in together as a package deal and get more money from Vince, who would be more desperate at that point. It's the same reason Scott Hall has said he's not interested in WWF until Nash is free. (Nash ended up being right. By early 2002, Vince was indeed desperate enough to throw big money at the NWO guys while Booker T ended up coming in earlier, for far less than he was making in WCW).

- It's expected that DDP and Billy Kidman are also likely taking buyouts soon and would be WWF-bound. DDP in particular will be giving up significant money by taking a 50-cents-on-the-dollar buyout from Time Warner, but he's apparently decided to do it anyway. And once Scott Steiner is medically cleared from all his injuries, he is said to be considering it also. Buff Bagwell is expected to sign with WWF soon as well. Dave notes that there are definitely people in WWF who weren't exactly in love with the idea of hiring Bagwell, but Johnny Ace went to bat for him. Bagwell had a bad reputation in WCW for throwing a fit every time he was asked to do a job or no-showing house shows and things like that. But Johnny Ace blamed that on Bagwell being friends with and under the influence of Lex Luger and argued that without Luger around, Bagwell would behave. So we'll see (lol).

- When reviewing Smackdown, Dave talks about how Benoit was practically wrestling Austin with 1 arm because his right side has been really week ever since last month's TLC match. It's believed to be a pinched nerve in his neck that has gotten progressively worse. He's working through it and had an MRI that didn't show any ligament issues or anything, but he basically can't do anything with his right arm at the moment (turns out this is way worse than a pinched nerve but we'll get there).

- Rob Van Dam has verbally agreed to terms with WWF and has his contract in hand, but hasn't signed it yet. Same with Tommy Dreamer. Both will have probably signed by the time you read this. Dave expects them to end up on the WCW side of the invasion angle.

- Speaking of the WCW angle, the hold-up is securing a TV deal for it. WWF is contractually locked in to Viacom, so TNN is really the only realistic option to carry a WCW show, but TNN and WWF can't agree on details. TNN is willing to give WWF a Saturday night time slot for WCW, but only if they have more big names like Goldberg, Sting, and Flair. WWF, as we've discussed, doesn't want to spend millions of dollars to buy those guys out of their WCW contracts and upset their salary structure. Dave thinks the clock is ticking on this and the longer it takes to get the new WCW off the ground, the less likely fans are to still care about it whenever it eventually does happen.

- Regarding video tape libraries: WWF owns all of the WCW footage ever taped from 1988 onward. Regarding the Crockett or GCW tape libraries from before that, Dave isn't entirely sure yet (yes they owned that also). They do not own the old Bill Watts Mid-South library (they ended up getting that one in 2012). They also do not yet own the ECW footage, although it's expected that they will purchase the rights to those in the bankruptcy proceedings for ECW (yup).

- Triple H is spending the next 4 weeks in Birmingham to rehab his torn quad. Dave says to say whatever you want about Triple H, but the guy is dedicated to the business 24/7 and his success is earned. Wrestling is a business where the smart prosper and Triple H is as smart as they come and works just as hard (he spent way more than 4 weeks there. He pretty much moved to Birmingham and lived there for the rest of 2001 to do his rehab).

- So far, almost no one aside from the wrestlers and Johnny Ace have been hired for the new WCW. No writers, production people, agents, referees, etc. Basically, all of that is on hold until they can figure out the TV situation. A lot of former backstage WCW employees were expecting to have jobs soon, but now they're all just kinda sitting around waiting and hoping and there's a lot of people getting nervous that this thing might not get off the ground at all, and their severance package money is slowly running out.

- Regarding the videos of the stalker who is stalking Undertaker's wife....the voice is being done by Vince McMahon, with a voice distorting effect. Some website reversed the distortion to reveal that it's Vince. Dave says if you've heard Vince talk enough, you could already tell anyway. Dave says that doesn't mean that Vince is going to be revealed as the stalker, just that he's doing the voice. Same way Ole Anderson used to do the voice for the Black Scorpion angle.

- In case you missed it, at the recent Raw in Calgary where they re-enacted the Montreal Screwjob with half of the Hart family in the front row, Dave points out that Vince was dressed pretty much identically to the way he was dressed at the actual Montreal Screwjob (yeah, I looked back to compare this and see if it's true and yup. He's pretty much wearing the exact same suit jacket and shirt).

- Notes from OVW: Dave says Randy Orton has shot past everyone on the roster and is improving by leaps and bounds every week. Dave thinks Orton is the closest one to being ready the move to the main roster and he has real star potential. On OVW TV, they had Jim Ross on and Ross said he was so impressed by Orton that he predicted that he would some day main event Wrestlemania (indeed). Rico Constantino is another one who is ready for the big time but Dave thinks he might get lost in the shuffle on the WWF roster. Dave thinks he'd be a great fit in the new WCW. Brock Lesnar and Shelton Benjamin are also connecting with the crowd and getting over. They worked a dark match at the Minnesota Raw tapings (since they were both college wrestling stars there) and even had Jesse Ventura come out as their manager (how is there no video of this?!). Lesnar also gets a big pop for his shooting star press that he does.

- The Austin vs. Benoit and Jericho feud isn't just for TV. They've been wrestling long 25+ minute main event matches against each other at house shows also, with reports that they're just as good or better than the TV matches. Dave gives Austin a ton of credit for going out there and having these grueling, fast-paced and long main event matches considering his neck history (yeah, anyone who says Austin was a shitty wrestler who only knew how to punch and kick, I defy you to watch his matches in 2001 and still have that opinion. Austin was having near-classics almost weekly at this point).

- Ellie Hart (mother of Natalya, sister of Bret and Owen) writes in to talk about the "divide" in the Hart family. Let's just read her letter and Dave's response in full:

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The family isn't as divided as you think. It's really just my brother Bret, who bears this grudge and is trying to compromise the rest of our family because of Montreal. Bret always said it was about Owen, but it was more about his ego and Montreal. Vince McMahon made Bret a superstar and this was truly a case of the tail wagging the dog.

We all felt Owen's loss deeply. I feel sad that Bret and Martha feel that they were the only ones who lost a loved one. My parents have been through more hell than anyone. They've unselfishly tried to accommodate all of us. Bret has made this very difficult for them. I thought Stu appearing on Raw was long overdue. A meeting with Vince McMahon was long overdue. Stu is the patriarch of our family, not Bret. If he had been able to speak his mind as he should have been able to after Owen died, maybe this family would still be whole.

Bret, Vince was just giving you a receipt (Calgary finish) for the black eye in Montreal. I think it's more fitting that Vince chose this route rather than suing the hell out of Bret, which he positively could have. Just as Bret is allowed to voice an opinion, so should Bruce and I be allowed to stand up and be counted for in the wrestling business. I hope that we have a long and prosperous friendship with the McMahons and I'm sorry if anybody is opposed to this.

Contrary to what you said about our family being sad and having issues, most of the sadness we've been dealing with has been brought on by Bret's obsession with Vince. Bret was more than unhappy that my dad was at the matches. He was livid. He showed a total lack of respect toward my father, who was the man responsible for making wrestling what it is in Western Canada. If anyone is entitled to the respect that the people in Calgary demonstrated, my father is. My father is an 86-year-old man who has very few positives to look forward to these days. Having the wrestling world behind him was like a shot of adrenaline to him and meant a great deal to him and my mother both.

Shame on Bret and Martha for trying to make my parents feel like they were compromising Owen's death. This has nothing to do with Owen at all. My dad earned that right running a wrestling business for 50 years and supporting the kids who aren't supporting him.

My poor father paved the way with Stampede Wrestling for Bret and others. Bret wasn't working on his book on Monday. Rather, he was at the big house, screaming obscenities at my poor beleaguered mother, who was caught in a very difficult position with Martha and Bret against the rest of us. Bret portrays himself as a martyr and a hero. He's a self-serving bully who doesn't know when to quit. It's time for this family to move on to better things and maybe even enjoy life again. Bret, get over Montreal.

Ellie Hart

Dave Meltzer's response: I think everyone should get over Montreal, particularly in any discussion that involves Owen Hart. Once Owen Hart died, any issues regarding Montreal were so trivial that to even be bringing them up nearly four-years later after everything that has happened since is pitiful. The fact they are constantly brought up and used to cloud any real issues, from anyone who uses them to do so, does more to trivialize the life of Owen than almost anything else.


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- Someone else writes in and talks about whether WWF should sign Goldberg and says the obvious answer (as mentioned earlier) is yes. Business-wise, it clearly makes sense. So 20 years from now, does Vince McMahon want to be seen as someone who took a risk on some big money investments and managed to resurrect WCW and was running two successful promotions at the same time? Or does he want to be known as the guy who had the biggest storyline in the history of wrestling handed to him on a silver platter and he bungled it because he was too cautious and wouldn't spend the money to bring in the big names to make it work? (Vince bungle the biggest storyline in the history of wrestling? Impossible. Perish the thought!) Someone else writes in with basically the same thought and talks about how Vince's ego never allows him to get behind a wrestler or a concept that he didn't create. He's afraid Vince is going to wait too long and will refuse to admit that he needs Goldberg in order for this WCW angle to succeed.

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(06-10-2019, 09:35 AM)Peezy Wrote: 6-11-2001- Rob Van Dam has verbally agreed to terms with WWF and has his contract in hand, but hasn't signed it yet. Same with Tommy Dreamer. Both will have probably signed by the time you read this. Dave expects them to end up on the WCW side of the invasion angle.


Geez I hope so, I'm waiting with baited breath to see RVD in WWF



Man if only they had brought in Goldberg. At the very least, the Invasion storyline would've been more impactful. They could've turned Austin back face and left him team WWF and let Goldberg lead team WCW and had those 2 face off. Or they could've re-launched WCW with Goldberg and Booker T as the 2 premiere WCW talents on top of it, plus DDP and maybe even Bagwell if he had kept his shit together.

Also, I feel bad for Booker now Frown I was figuring he took a buyout as we read these, but I didn't know he could've just waited to come in later in 2002 for more money with the nWo. Poor guy Frown Though if he had waited, the WCW Invasion Angle would've been even more starved for star power. I mean that would've put DDP as the defacto top WCW guy they had.

Just look at Team WWF vs Team WCW 5 on 5 match from Invasion that year. Team WCW had Booker T, DDP, The Dudleyz, and Rhyno. So we had 2 WCW Main Eventers, the last ECW World Champion, and arguably the best/most well known ECW team against Stone Cold, Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle. It was a mismatch and the only reason WCW won that match is cause Austin flipped.

Move forward to the final WCW vs WWF match at Survivor Series, team WCW had Booker T, Stone Cold, Rob Van Dam, Big Show, and Shane McMahon. At that point only Booker T and RVD are non-WWF guys at that point. I mean Big Show had been in WWF for over 2 years at that point, Austin made his fame in WWF, and Shane's not even a freaking wrestler. Can you imagine a proper 5 on 5 with Team WCW having Goldberg, Sting, Booker, DDP, and Flair?
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I think Goldberg and Flair would have made all the difference. The wcw side had a good upper mid are lineup with a couple fringe main eve terms in Booker T and DDP. And in two bonafide maineventers like FlairBerg and you've got a good lineup to get started with. When things start cooling off, you've got Steiner and the nwo waiting in the wings to keep things fresh. The people just didn't buy Booker and DDP as the "main eventers," and they sure didn't buy Bagwell. With a couple more big names Bagwell wouldn't have looked so out of place.
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Sting was refusing to sign back then, he hated WWF's content. He took a lower offer from NWA-TNA than what WWF offered him because of that. Which is weird because fucking Russo was their booker.
[Image: Chaos.png]

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Plus Sting wasn't gonna sign with anybody until his Time Warner money ran out. He didn't show up in TNA until 2003 after WWA went belly up
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6-18-2001

- We're halfway through "one of the most unique years in the history of pro wrestling" so Dave has decided to take a look at his thoughts on who would win all the usual year-end awards if the year ended now. Dave talks about how, with the deaths of WCW and ECW, there are less full-time wrestlers working in the U.S. than ever before so the choices are kinda limited. Anyway, this is just for fun, it's just Dave's opinion, not the actual awards.

---

WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: With all of last year's top 4 guys MIA for some reason this year (injuries, Rock filming movies, etc.), Dave gives the nod to Steve Austin. Even though the ill-advised heel turn has been devastating to his drawing power, he still headlined the biggest money making show in history (before turning heel) and has been having some of the best matches in WWF this year, despite his injury history.

MOST OUTSTANDING WRESTLER: Chris Benoit, Dave doesn't even question it. In-ring, nobody is better this year (Benoit's year is just about over though).

BEST BOX OFFICE DRAW: Really nobody right now. Austin would probably win by default since he's the top star and WWF is the only company really even making money at the moment, but as mentioned, his heel turn has been hemorrhaging viewers and money. Rock could probably win whenever he comes back from filming Scorpion King (nah, Rock's return only spikes numbers for a couple weeks before they continue plummeting downward again. Even Rock couldn't save the sinking ship that was WWF in 2001).

FEUD OF THE YEAR: Rock vs. Austin maybe? WWF vs. WCW *should* be good if handled correctly, but it hasn't really started yet. AJPW vs. NJPW wasn't very good, despite the historical significance. Dave doesn't really settle on anything.

TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR: Dave narrows it down to 4 teams: Hardyz, Dudleyz, and E&C from WWF. And Kojima & Tenzan in NJPW. After some debate, Dave settles on Kojima & Tenzan. The WWF teams all had that huge show-stealing match at WM17 but they've been stagnant ever since. Kojima & Tenzan are all around better wrestlers and have carried a lot of bad teams to great matches consistently throughout the year, even if none of them were as good as the blow-away TLC match at Wrestlemania.

BEST INTERVIEWS: Rock has been gone too much so Dave thinks it's between Austin and Angle and gives it to Austin because Angle hasn't really had the chance to carry big segments on his own yet.

MOST CHARISMATIC: Rock now and unless Rock goes deaf, blind, and mute before the end of the year, that ain't changing.

BEST TECHNICAL WRESTLER: It's between Benoit, Angle, and Minoru Tanaka. Dave doesn't make a definitive pick but seems to lean towards Benoit.

BEST BRAWLER: Foley is retired. Triple H is injured. Benoit is doing technical wrestling. ECW is dead. Dave says this is a wide open category, but says that Kazunari Murakami vs. Shinjiro Otani in Zero-1 was the best brawling he's seen this year.

BEST FLYING WRESTLER: The style has pretty much died off in both the U.S. and Japan right now, so this most likely goes to somebody in Mexico. Ricky Marvin or Tzuki & Octagoncito maybe.

PROMOTION OF THE YEAR: Despite the recent decline, there's still no one even touching WWF, business, creative, or otherwise. They're still the best promotion in the world right now, even if they're not nearly as good as they were a year ago.

MATCH OF THE YEAR: Dave lists a bunch of different options and then chooses the Benoit & Jericho vs. HHH & Austin match from Raw back in May. Not just because it was an awesome match, but all the significance of it. Elevating Benoit and Jericho to becoming made men in one night, the tag title change, and the long-term impact of the injury Triple H suffered during it. In fact, Dave says part of Triple H's legacy will always be that he finished this match even after tearing his quad, which was one of the toughest finish-the-match-despite-an-injury moments that Dave can ever recall.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Dave says Takashi Suguira of Pro Wrestling NOAH is the definite pick. If you want to pick an American, Dave says this Randy Orton kid in OVW is pretty great.

BEST NON-WRESTLER: William Regal. Yes, Dave knows he's a wrestler, but his best work has been as the on-screen commissioner.

BEST MAJOR SHOW: Wrestlemania 17, easily. But he names a few others that were really great but none of them will leave the legacy that WM17 did.

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- Hey speaking of matches of the year and best feuds, the NJPW vs. AJPW feud is still going and this past week, Keiji Muto became the first non-AJPW wrestler ever to win their Triple Crown title. Muto defeated Genichiro Tenryu in what many are calling a likely match of the year winner. It sounds shocking since they're both, yanno, old as dirt by wrestling standards (Muto is damn near 40 and half crippled while Tenryu is 51) but word is both men discovered the fountain of youth for this match. Muto now joins Tenryu and Vader as one of only 3 men in history to win both AJPW and NJPW's top titles and is the first to win it while still with NJPW. Dave runs down the rest of the show, which featured several AJPW vs. NJPW inter-promotional matches but he hasn't seen it yet so he doesn't review it (Muto vs. Tenryu does indeed end up winning Match of the Year for 2001 and yeah, it's a classic).



- Pro Wrestling NOAH held their own Jumbo Tsuruta tribute show this week. If you recall, NOAH originally announced the show a month ago. But then AJPW decided to announce their own Tsuruta tribute show and did theirs first, just to be dicks. But Tsuruta left AJPW on bad terms (Motoko Baba basically forced him out soon after Giant Baba died) and Tsuruta had made it clear he was on NOAH's side in the split before he died. Anyway, none of Tsuruta's family went to the AJPW show, but a bunch of them attended this NOAH ceremony.

- My god this is a slow issue.

- When reviewing the latest NJPW TV show, Dave offhandedly notes a couple of things. For starters, the last 6 weeks or so of NJPW booking has been WCW-level bad. And secondly, there's still talk of bringing in Minoru Suzuki.

- Kevin Nash is the latest name to come up in the Atlanta Gold Club trial. The former manager of the club testified that Nash was one of the celebrities for whom they arranged strippers to have sex. The gist of the trial is that the government is accusing the club of using strippers as prostitutes (paid by the club) to have sex with famous celebrities and athletes in order to make the club a more hip, happening place in order to attract more celebrity clientele. And then they allegedly funneled those profits to the Gambino crime family.

- Former WCW wrestler Dale Torborg, who wrestled as the KISS Demon, is now working as a strength and conditioning coach for the Montreal Expos baseball team. His father Jeff Torborg is the team's manager.

- Matrats, the teen promotion in Canada that Eric Bischoff is involved with, is going to get a name change and they're hoping to do a PPV in October. Bischoff says for it to work, it has to be 180 degrees different from WWF, so they're planning to eliminate all the bad language, sexual innuendos, violence, etc. (That's gonna put some butts in the seats.)

- Diana Hart Smith's new book is coming out in October and is called Under The Mat (whew lord, just wait until we get to all the drama coming out of this book).

- Occasional wrestler Shaggy 2 Dope of the Insane Clown Posse was arrested after a bar brawl along with 2 other rappers (Monoxide from Twiztid and Marz, if you're juggalo enough to know those names). Apparently they were asked to leave a bar at 2am as it was closing and it led to a fight and they beat up some guy.

- Scott Hall was hospitalized after suffering a seizure at the mall while he was with his kids, no other details given.

- Scott Steiner has been sued in Knoxville by a woman over an incident that took place last year. According to the lawsuit, she says she was sitting inside a parked vehicle when Steiner reached in the window without consent and groped up her skirt and told her, "Take it off baby," "Show it to me," and "Oooh you have gold panties on." The lawsuit doesn't state much more than that.

- Randy Savage is the latest name to say he's planning to start up a new promotion, talking about trying to get investors and TV time. Dave says until that stuff is locked down, none of these stories are anything. Getting money and TV is the key and if you don't have either, you're just flapping your lips. (Yeah, this obviously doesn't happen).

- CZW wrestler Ric Blade was seriously injured at that company's latest show, suffering back and neck injuries and a compound leg fracture that will require major surgery. Basically he did a dive off a balcony, kinda missed, and there ya go.



- Holy shit, we're already in the final WWF section. This really is a slow issue. No specific notes from Raw other than Dave hated damn near all of it. The Angle/Benoit cage match was good but everything else was a WCW-esque shit-show. Dave just tears it apart and he can't seem to understand what has gotten into WWF since WCW folded (spoiler: complacency) but aside from a brief 2-week period last month, they've been consistently awful for the last 2+ months.

- Eddie Guerrero will only be allowed to return to WWF if he successfully completes rehab. Guerrero has reportedly developed quite a nasty painkiller addiction, stemming from his 1998 New Year's Eve car accident injuries that he never fully recovered from before returning to the ring in WCW. Regardless, it hasn't gone unnoticed within WWF that there's been several drug-related issues lately (Eddie, Grandmaster Sexay, Road Dogg, etc.), but according to Jim Ross, the company still has no plans to resume company-wide drug testing the way they did in the early-90s. "We do drug tests upon cause or we take appropriate action upon cause. We had a situation where in our view Eddie Guerrero was unfit to work and we took action. He's in therapy. I don't know what else I could do with him," Ross said in an interview.

- Dean Malenko has talked about retiring and becoming a backstage road agent (indeed, Malenko only wrestles maybe 6 or 7 more matches before retiring at the end of 2001 and spent the next 18 years as an agent for WWE before recently leaving to go become an agent for AEW).

- As if the injury situation in the main event scene of WWF isn't bad enough already, Chris Jericho has a herniated disc in his lower back. Chris Benoit got a cortisone shot for his shoulder this week and showed significant improvement, which made everyone breathe a sigh of relief because it looks like he's going to be okay (that sigh of relief ain't gonna last long). It's thought it'll take about 2 months for his arm to regain full strength but he's finally able to do push-ups again.

- Jerry Lawler posted on his website, saying he was shocked by his son Brian Christopher's (Grandmaster Sexay) arrest. Lawler said he truly thought his son was one of the guys in the company who was drug free and admitted being disappointed to find out that wasn't true. For his part, Brian has released his own statement on Lawler's website saying that the drugs weren't his, which of course, no one believes because that's what everyone says when they get caught with drugs. When Brian was first confronted about it by Jim Ross after his arrest, he admitted the drugs were his. After he was fired, he has since changed his story. (I dug through the archive of Lawler's old site and found both statements):

Lawler's statement (last paragraph)
http://web.archive.org/web/2001080204332...60601.html

Brian Christopher's statement
http://web.archive.org/web/2001081116563...60701.html

- Tommy Dreamer has come to a verbal agreement with WWF and will be starting whenever they decide to bring him in. But in the meantime, he's still working indies.

- DDP was in Stamford last week talking to WWF. They're trying to keep the story quiet and DDP has been telling people he hasn't agreed to anything with WWF yet, but Dave says that's not true. His deal is in place and they already have storyline plans for him. They're just trying to keep it quiet so his debut can be a surprise. Dave notes that Booker T, Kanyon, and Buff Bagwell have all signed as well but WWF is keeping that hush-hush for now also.

- Former WCW announcer Scott Hudson is in a position where he can either return to his regular full-time job or continue to work part-time, which would allow him to work for WWF as an announcer, but he has to inform his current employer one way or another soon. So he reached out to WWF basically saying, "Hey, am I getting hired or nah?" and he never got a response. In fact, a lot of former WCW office and backstage employees are pretty annoyed with WWF right now. They were all led to believe that they would end up with jobs when the new WCW relaunched. The TV situation has, of course, caused that to be put on hold. Everyone is understanding of that but feels WWF has been terrible at communicating with the former WCW employees about what the situation is. So right now, a lot of people are still out of work with no idea if or when WWF is going to bring them in.

- Still no word on where Wrestlemania 18 will be. Currently, they're looking into the Georgia Dome in Atlanta or the Skydome in Toronto. Dave is kinda surprised they would consider the Skydome because, for starters, the acoustics there for wrestling aren't good and also because the exchange rate for the money is a killer and would cut into their profits (it does indeed end up being Skydome).

- Dave offhandedly ponders whatever happened to the Chyna/Lita storyline. Ever since their match at Judgment Day, the angle seems to have been dropped and Chyna hasn't been seen since (unbeknownst to anyone, Chyna's already done and will never be seen in WWF again).

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Chyna takes the actual title with her right?
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Ah yes Angle/Benoit in a cage featuring the headbutt and the moonsault from the top of the cage. Those crazy guys. Absolutely bonkers. That's another match that is a career highlight that can't be shown anymore. Frown
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(06-12-2019, 10:59 AM)DangPlex Wrote: Chyna takes the actual title with her right?


She was champion when she left, yeah. As for the actual belt, I dunno. Obviously they got it back at some point if she did.

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6-25-2001

- Dave has a bunch of details regarding the plans WWF has for the relaunched WCW. The plan is for WCW to have its own TV show ("far sooner than most expect it") and create 2 separate but equal promotions and there will likely be a lot of WWF guys moved over to the WCW brand to help prop it up, but of course, that somewhat dilutes the whole inter-promotional aspect of it. Currently (and this could change), the plan is for Kurt Angle to become the top star and anchor of the new WCW. It was originally going to be Triple H but his injury wrecked that. A lot of these plans have been kept super secret, because TV negotiations are still ongoing, and it's led to a lot of speculation that the WCW TV show might not happen at all, and instead WCW will simply be a rival faction that appears on WWF shows. John Laurinaitis (Johnny Ace) was officially hired by WWF this week and is likely to be one of the main bookers for the new WCW if/when it happens. Arn Anderson, David Finlay, and Ricky Santana were also hired to be part of the new WCW as backstage agents. The same WWF backstage and front office employees are expected to be stretched thin to handle all the extra WCW duties, so a lot of people are about to see their workload increase. Same with the creative staff. Instead of having their own writers, the plan is to just expand the current creative team, which means WWF and WCW will be shaped pretty much by the same people, rather than ran totally separately. Dave seems to think that's a mistake.

- Dave thinks this whole WWF/WCW story might be the most important angle in the history of the business. Pro wrestling is on the decline, which isn't a surprise, but the speed of the decline is. Particularly TV ratings, which have been in a total free-fall since WCW died, but ticket sales are down significantly also. Fortunately for WWF, they're in the best financial shape they've ever been in and should have no problem riding out the decline, but it's still not good news. A strong WWF vs. WCW angle, if done correctly, should be able to bring back a lot of fans, at least for awhile. WWF doesn't want 2 huge, high-profile failures in a row. The XFL was already a bust and if WCW is a bust too, Dave thinks it'll be terrible for the industry as a whole.

- Word is WWF has signed every one of the former WCW stars they're interested in except for Goldberg, Scott Steiner, and Ric Flair. Everyone else, if they're not already signed, it's because WWF doesn't want them (I don't buy that for a second). They have had talks with Goldberg, but he's not walking away from millions of guaranteed dollars from Time Warner and WWF ain't buying him out. The Flair situation is similar, they want him but he's got a lot of money coming to him that he's hesitant to walk away from. Steiner will likely be signed when he's physically able to perform, but he's still dealing with a serious back injury that has caused nerve damage that has left him with no physical control of one of his feet. Joey Styles had a try-out to be an announcer for WCW (Dave mentions that Paul Heyman was strongly against the idea of bringing in Styles, because apparently the two had a big falling out during the dying days of ECW) but Styles reportedly wanted too much money so he's no longer being considered. Mike Tenay and Scott Hudson are still being considered. And there's also been talk of Jerry Lawler returning, with the gimmick being Shane McMahon rehired him and using Lawler's real-life falling out with Vince and WWF as a storyline explanation. Problem there is that they're still at the same impasse in regards to bringing back Stacy Carter.

- More bad news on the business front. A new survey came out showing Smackdown had lost 34% of its teenage viewers over the past year. It declined across every age group, but teens were the biggest drop, again showing that WWF is no longer the "cool" thing it was a couple of years ago. This all leads Dave to look at other major historical business declines and what caused them and what they have in common with business today. Jim Crockett Promotions decline in late 1987 due to blowing the UFW angle, making Ronnie Garvin the NWA champion, things like that. WWF in 1992 due to the steroid scandal. And WCW in 1999 due to literally every bad decision a single company could possibly make (Dave doesn't even bother to explain it in detail, saying if you're interested, go back and read the Mar. 26, 2001 Observer because he has no interest in trying to recap the last 2 years of WCW's stupidity all over again). And for what it's worth, Dave wants to clarify that WWF business isn't bad by any means. Even though things are declining, business now is still better than damn near any time in history before. But the suddenness of the recent decline is a scary warning that needs to be heeded because even in the 3 cases listed above, none of those declines happened nearly as quickly as the current one seems to be happening.

- Masahiro Chono has replaced Riki Choshu as the head booker of NJPW. Choshu had been the booker and main person in charge since 1989 but he resigned this week, under duress, in the wake of a power struggle over the direction of the company. Choshu's 12-year reign saw him become one of the most successful bookers in the history of professional wrestling, alongside Vince McMahon. During those 12 years, NJPW drew more than half (24 of the top 40) of the largest crowds in the history of wrestling, 50,000+ to various domes in Japan. In 1993, they legit sold out a staggering 70% of their shows. NJPW's last 2 Dome shows drew poorly and they haven't really created any new stars or hot angles lately. In fact, a lot of the biggest moves in NJPW lately have been put into motion by Antonio Inoki, who has his hands in PRIDE and Zero-1 with Shinya Hashimoto and has been working angles with them and Naoya Ogawa. When they had a tag match a few weeks ago at the Fukuoka Dome, Ogawa intentionally disrespected Choshu and ruined their match, which made Choshu look bad and ruined future plans for an Ogawa/Choshu feud, which is one thing Choshu was upset about. Choshu was also vehemently against the idea of trying to turn Kazuyuki Fujita into a Japanese version of Goldberg. Right now, Fujita is currently being groomed (by Inoki) as the ultimate shooter, having won fights in PRIDE as well as winning the IWGP title. Choshu is responsible for a lot of the stuff in NJPW that still exists to this day (even now in 2019) such as the emphasis on clean finishes, dividing everyone up into factions, created the G-1 Climax tournament, etc. But at this point, it seems as though Inoki has gained more power in NJPW than Choshu and he had enough. And with business declining and Choshu seemingly losing his midas touch over the last year or so, he was basically forced out (I'm sure we'll get more details on this in the coming weeks).

- A Legends of Memphis Wrestling show was held in Memphis and drew around 4,700 paid fans. It's likely to be the largest indie gate of the year. OVW actually drew a larger crowd for a show back in January, but that was entirely due to an appearance by Steve Austin and he can hardly be called an indie star, so Dave doesn't count that one. The show featured many of the biggest names in Memphis wrestling history. Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Hart, Jackie Fargo, Sputnik Monroe, the Road Warriors, Rocky Johnson, Jimmy Valiant, Curt Hennig, and more. As you'd expect, the in-ring work was pretty terrible because everybody's old now, but it was said to be a fun nostalgia show. Lawler and Co. were hoping that they could springboard this show into relaunching the territory and running new shows in the Memphis area, but this nostalgia-type show is the kind of thing that will only draw a crowd one time. Dave doesn't see any way to build a future on this legends idea.

- Kenta Kobayashi (Hideo Itami) suffered a broken foot during the latest NOAH show and will miss the rest of the tour (18 years later, I'm looking forward to him kicking ass in this year's G-1).

- Mikey Whipwreck has pretty much said that he plans to retire this year due to the physical toll wrestling has taken on his body, going so far to say he would even turn down WWF if they called him right now. He has a few indie bookings left this summer and then he's allegedly done. After retiring, he plans to get long-needed surgery on his shoulder and both knees and said he thinks the surgeries will be too much to come back from (we've all been reading long enough to know how this story goes, right? Of course he didn't retire. He did take some time off though, pretty much all of 2002. But he was back to regularly working indies by 2003 and has continued working a handful of matches per year all the way up to now).

- Jake Roberts was arrested for DUI and leaving the scene of an accident after an incident in Niles, OH. Roberts was in town to be a celebrity guest judge for a local rib tasting contest and then got into a hit-and-run accident the next day. He pled not guilty to all charges and will have to return for trial at a later date.

- New York state senator Tom Libous introduced a new bill called the "Professional Wrestling Health & Safety Act." If it passes, the bill would require a doctor to examine a wrestler before every match. They also tried to sneak a line into the law that no one under the age of 16 can attend a wrestling show without a parent or guardian and no children under the age of 8 can attend at all. The bill also stipulates that anyone who runs more than 6 shows per year in the state must have a drug testing program in place that can be examined by the state athletic commission. Needless to say, WWF ain't one bit interested in having this bill pass, so expect a fight on that.

- The father of a 16-year-old kid was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine from an incident earlier this year where the 16-year-old jumped off the roof of his house through a flaming table during a backyard wrestling event. The kid's clothes caught fire and he suffered serious burns on 20% of his body. The courts found the father liable since he was aware of the event (his son had been promoting it all over town beforehand) and because he was even hanging out watching at the time. He was found guilty of child endangerment.

- Western Canada Extreme Wrestling held a show last week. What, y'all ain't up on your WCEW knowledge? And you call yourselves wrestling fans.... Anyway, WCEW is actually the competition for Stampede Wrestling up there in Canada. So in typical Hart-family drama style, Diana Hart worked for this weeks WCEW show. Apparently her current boyfriend works for them (remember, she's going through a divorce with Davey Boy) and she was his manager on the show, apparently just to stick it to the rest of her family over in Stampede. Anyway, it didn't go well. Her boyfriend injured his knee and had to get surgery after the match. Show drew a crowd of less than 100.

- Chris Benoit is considering surgery for a pinched nerve in his neck. If he gets the surgery, he will be out the rest of this summer. It couldn't come at a worse time. WWF is severely lacking depth right now and Benoit is in the midst of the biggest push of his career. If he doesn't get the surgery, he'll take some time off and try to rehab it but hopefully won't be gone long. He'll have some tests done this week and then decide (turns out the injury is way worse than a pinched nerve. Benoit's about to miss the next 13 months or so).

- Filming for Scorpion King should wrap up in the next few weeks. The original idea was to keep Rock off TV until the end of July, so as not to interfere with the ongoing Invasion PPV buildup that has already started without him. But given the lack of depth, that could change and Dave wouldn't be surprised to see Rock brought back as soon as they possibly can.

- Notes from Raw: Dave says WCW has indeed invaded WWF, except it seems like they invaded the writing and production crew more than anything because this show sucked. Dave is baffled at how much time has been spent on the Spike Dudley/Molly Holly romance angle instead of on the actual King of the Ring tournament or even on the Austin vs. Jericho/Benoit main event. It wasn't all bad. Even though turning Steve Austin heel has proven to be a terrible business decision, he's absolutely crushing it in the role. During this and the Smackdown recap, Dave talks about how hilarious Austin has been as this weirdo who keeps hugging Vince and berating Debra about her cookies and whatnot. The rest of Raw was pretty blah, with a lot of dumb stuff and glaring production mistakes, but from a performance standpoint, Austin is singlehandedly carrying the show on his back these days.

- DDP was revealed as the stalker who has been filming Undertaker's wife Sara. The reveal got a huge pop. But then DDP cut a long promo that kinda petered out and didn't get a great response the longer it went on. He never mentioned WCW but afterwards, JR and Heyman talked it up big, like this was a huge shot from WCW in the war. Dave notes that Kidman, Torrie Wilson, Mike Awesome, and Kanyon were all backstage also, but they made the decision to only debut DDP on this night.



- Chyna hasn't been around because she had surgery to remove an ovarian cyst. She has gotten a lot of media coverage lately because she has a role in a new Scott Baio/Dolly Parton movie called Frank McKlusky C.I. that's coming out next year (Scott Baio ends up getting replaced). Chyna recently did an interview and hinted at a future after wrestling, saying she's at a crossroads in WWF and is happy with what she's done but feels like she's run out of things to do. "I don't mean this in a bad way, but so many women are not in the same league as me. I have been training and wrestling men for five years. Now it is very difficult. I can't go through the top guys--Rocky would never let me beat him. It is very difficult for me to develop a program with the women right now, too, so the best part about the Chyna character now is she is more of an attraction than anything." Dave says she's been pushing to work with the top male stars for awhile now, but WWF decided against it. And in fact, the neck injury angle last year was a way to give her a "weakness" so she could more realistically sell for the other women when she wrestles them and make her opponents seem more evenly matched. But Chyna was against that and pretty much never sold the injury when she came back. Dave expects her to drop the women's title to Lita whenever she returns and mentions that her contract expires soon and she may be phased out (she's already gone).

- On Raw, they showed Eddie Guerrero taking a bump and said he had injured his knee, which is why he isn't on TV. In reality, it's because he's been taken off TV and ordered to go to rehab. His knee is fine. The only purpose of this was to give closure to the storyline with Matt Hardy that had started before he was sent home.

- Regarding Scott Hudson being part of the WCW relaunch, Jim Ross contacted him this week and wished him good luck but said WWF is not interested in him right now. Ross also went online and said a lot of progress has been made in the last week in regards to the WCW re-launch.

- Various WWF notes: Forbes Magazine ran a list of 10 major monopolies in the U.S. and the WWF was #10 on the list. Dean Malenko is expected to remain a wrestler a little while longer but will ultimately retire soon and settle into a backstage agent role. Mick Foley did an interview on Off The Record that's scheduled to air in a week or so and Dave heard it's fantastic. WWF writer Brian Gewirtz played the role of the waiter in the Malenko/Saturn/Terri vignettes on Smackdown this week.

- There are plans in place to split up Edge and Christian. This idea has been batted around many times in the past but always shot down because there's a lot of people who think they're stronger as a team than they would be individually and hey, why mess with something that's not broken? A lot of people remember how hot the New Age Outlaws were as a team and how trying to split them and push them both as singles stars ended up being a huge bust. But as for now, the plan is still to move forward with it and split them (yup, happens soon after this). Dave also says they've talked about splitting the Hardyz and that's another one that has been discussed before and always shot down.

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