Wrestling Observer Newsletter Rewind Thread • 2001
11-19-2001

- In the first public acknowledgement that business is in a serious decline, the WWF laid off 9% of its front office staff, with 39 employees being let go. Company president and COO Stuart Snyder was also laid off in what amounts to the biggest mass layoff in WWF history. The cuts were across the board, but the internet department was the hardest hit, due mostly to the dot com bubble bursting and the internet economy tanking in the last year or so. Snyder's departure was officially a resignation and not "technically" part of the layoffs, but you know how that goes. Nobody believes he willingly left the company. Linda McMahon will take over many of Snyder's duties. Snyder had been in the role since June of last year and was heavily involved in the purchase of WCW (he was the one who negotiated the whole thing with WCW head Brad Siegel) and was also involved in the DirecTV negotiations which have reached a stalemate and is currently still costing both sides around $1 million per month. Linda claims the layoffs will save the company $9 million annually. At one point last year, WWF was looking at moving to a new location in Stamford because Titan Towers was pretty much full with 457 employees working in the offices. Now that the number is down to 417, plans to move out of Titan Towers have been scrapped (as I write this, in April of 2019, WWE just recently announced that they'll finally be moving to a newer, larger space next year with all their new FOX money). There were also layoffs at the Toronto office of WWF Canada and plans to open an office in London have been postponed, although not yet cancelled.

- Speaking of the DirecTV deal, due to their potential sale to EchoStar, Linda McMahon said she didn't expect any new negotiations to take place. The upcoming Survivor Series show will be the 2nd WWF PPV in a row to not air on DirecTV, which will again cost both sides at least a million dollars in lost revenue. With that kind of money on the line, Dave cannot fathom how they can't come to some sort of agreement, even it's just temporary while they figure things out.

-- WWF has had two other layoff periods in the past, during the 90s when business was bad. But they continued adding new front office employees during their massive growth in recent years. Dave examines the reasons for this round of cuts and it really comes down to a pretty simple answer: WWF is a creatively-driven business and profitability begins and ends with entertaining their fans first and foremost. And WWF simply hasn't been good for most of this year and creatively have been falling into many of the same traps WCW fell into near the end. Fortunately, WWF is a much better managed company than WCW was so they can survive this kind of downturn. But the death of WCW came from every revenue stream (TV, PPV, live attendance, merch, etc.) plummeting because they lost their audience. All of those same numbers are falling for WWF right now as well, for the same reason. We won't know the company's full financial situation until the next quarterly statements are released but the layoffs seem to indicate that WWF isn't expecting a profitable quarter, which if so would be the first time they've lost money since 1997. Linda told investors this week that they plan to grow revenue by running more shows internationally as well as expanding into movies and TV projects. Dave thinks more international shows is a great idea because there's a lot of wrestling fans overseas starved for live pro wrestling (as seen by the fact that WCW was drawing huge crowds there even in their dying days). But WWF pretty much *always* fails when they try to move beyond wrestling, so Dave isn't exactly trembling with excitement at WWF-produced movies.

- There have been no wrestler layoffs as of yet, but Dave expects there will be soon. Although there are still plans to split the rosters and run two separate brands, so they still need a lot of bodies. WWF has a total of 160 wrestlers under contract right now and Dave thinks a lot of those guys in developmental should probably start getting nervous. Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Ron Waterman, and Rico Constantino seem to be the safest developmental wrestlers (not quite. Waterman gets released in 2002 without ever debuting) because those guys are the ones the company is highest on right now. Then there's a lot of other names in developmental who have a ton of talent but they don't really fit the WWF mold. Nick Dinsmore, Shannon More, Rob Conway, Elix Skipper, Kid Romeo, Mike Sanders, Jamie Noble, etc. Some of them may make it, some won't, but odds are against them all. Then there's John Cena, who has a great look and cuts better promos than anyone else in developmental, but isn't that great of a wrestler and nobody within the company seems to really be talking much about him. But Dave thinks he has that special "it factor" that WWF always looks for, so he should be safe. There's other guys who have been in developmental for a long time, some for several years, and decisions have to be made sooner or later whether to do something with them or cut them loose. There's also the question of how seriously to take Jimmy Hart's new XWF promotion. The wounds from the Monday Night War are still fresh. It was only a few years ago that WWF thought guys like Hogan, Savage, and Piper were finished as marketable headliners. Then those guys went to WCW and proved otherwise. Vince doesn't want to leave that door open for anyone else ever again. On the flip side, WCW dropped young undercard guys like Steve Austin and Mick Foley and they went to WWF and became megastars. WWF doesn't want to make that mistake either and end up handing XWF the next megastar that they didn't see coming.

- Oh hey, speaking of XWF, just days before their first television taping which was written entirely around him, Hulk Hogan appears to have pulled out of the promotion. Hogan spent most of the last few weeks writing TV along with Kevin Sullivan but in the last week, he has been spending most of his time with his father, who is in poor health. But Hogan is also telling people there were insurance concerns because this company was *really* being built around him. The marketing and merch is labeled as "Hulk Hogan's XWF" and even the ring ropes were planned to be red and yellow. Hogan's lawyers advised him that if the company doesn't have proper insurance, anything that goes wrong could come back on him personally. With Hogan's name so prominent with the promotion, he was also concerned of being dragged into it if things went south and the promotion failed. Others involved think that's all bullshit and that really, Hogan can see the writing on the wall and simply doesn't think this thing is going to succeed so he's gotten cold feet. Hogan is said to be extremely careful with how he's perceived these days and doesn't want to be associated with a startup promotion failing. Despite plans to film 10 episodes this week, XWF still doesn't have a TV deal to air them on. For what it's worth, since this promotion started being planned months ago, Hogan has been wishy-washy on it and has agreed to plans and then backed out on them repeatedly, so he may still be angling for more money or something. You never know with Hogan. And of course, there's always the possibility that WWF may be interested in him.

- So on that note, XFW had their first tapings pretty much right as the Observer went to press. Dave lists all the wrestlers who were there and he has some results from the first day of tapings, but not the second day. Kid Kash won a battle royal to become XWF cruiserweight champion. Rena Mero debuted as on-screen CEO and cut a promo announcing Roddy Piper as the commissioner. Hogan was still at the show, helping out backstage, but apparently had no involvement beyond that and wouldn't take part in the on-screen tapings. Hogan also told people that he had spoken with Vince McMahon but they want him to work a full schedule in WWF, so he turned them down. Dave says take it with a grain of salt because, well, you know. Hogan did appear on a red carpet pre-show thing they taped, wishing the company well. It's said Hogan only agreed to do that in order to save the company some embarrassment over his pulling out, since it's being ran by his friends Jimmy Hart and Brian Knobs. Most of the roster was made up of former big names from WCW or 80s WWF stars. They largely ignored the fact that there's lots of really talented and hungry young guys working the indies right now, with only AJ Styles being brought in (losing to Josh Matthews). The taping was free to fans at Universal Studios and they were outside before the shows basically begging people to come inside and watch, which led to a mostly disinterested crowd that only popped for the more recognizable names.

- Dave has read Diana Hart's book and whew boy. Strap in lads, this is gonna be a ride. The only people who escape this book unscathed are Owen Hart, Dean Hart, Ellie Hart, and Vince McMahon. Everyone else gets ripped into and all their dirt exposed. Diana bemoans the fact that her parents only got $2 million from the Owen settlement while Martha got $16 million and that Martha then cut all ties with the rest of the family. Dave thinks Diana was outright cruel to Martha in this book and hopes Martha won't dignify it with a response because doing so will just bring more attention to it. There's just so much shit in this book. Diana claims Davey Boy got a groupie pregnant while they were engaged. Even her mother, Helen Hart, gets accused of being an alcoholic who battled depression her whole life. Dave also thinks Diana is delusional about "missing her chance" to be a star in the WWF during her involvement in the Bulldog/Shawn Michaels feud. She basically blames Bret and Davey Boy for blowing her big chance to be the next Sunny or Sable. From the very beginning of the book, she accuses Davey Boy of drugging and raping her and it only gets darker from there. She goes into a ton of detail of Davey Boy's drug problems, her own drug issues, and his alleged abuse of her. Bret Hart is portrayed as someone who can't let go of his vendetta against Vince McMahon and that he's the reason the family is torn apart. She sides 100% with Vince and the WWF when it comes to Owen's death. Overall, there were a lot of opportunities for Diana to paint an interesting picture of what was happening behind the scenes at some of wrestling's most pivotal moments, but instead, the book is little more than a collection of stories exposing everyone she feels has wronged her in her family. There's a million incorrect facts in the book. By the halfway point, the reader is numb to all the drama and drug stories. Many of the stories ring true, but Dave feels like some are clearly pure fiction. All in all, Dave seems unimpressed and sad that this was even written. He also thinks it's a legal minefield for anyone who wants to try to sue her over it because she makes some WILD accusations in here that are going to be difficult to prove when she inevitably gets sued for it (indeed, she did).

- Eddie Guerrero's career is in jeopardy once again after he was arrested this week for DUI and property damage after wrecking his car in Florida. Two days later, the WWF released him. Guerrero had just started wrestling again in HWA to get the ring rust off after being out for the last few months in rehab. According to police reports, Guerrero crashed into the gate at a slow speed at the apartment complex he's currently living at in Florida. Cops approached him and smelled alcohol on his breath and noticed him slurring his speech. He failed 2 breathalyzer tests and was arrested and released later that night after posting bail. Friends have said Guerrero has been depressed lately because his wife left him while he was in rehab and moved herself and their kids to Arizona. Guerrero has admitted to being manic depressive and has dealt with an addiction to Vicodin after being injured in a car accident several years ago while he was in WCW. With WWF already laying off employees, Guerrero's arrest came at the worst possible time. He had a 3-year contract with a $250,000 yearly downside guarantee. He's a big enough star that he can still make a decent living working the indies. And of course, he could go to Mexico and instantly be the biggest star there, but there's not really much money in that even if you are the top guy. NJPW could be an option, but they just recently gave another wrestler (Silver King) his old Black Tiger gimmick. Plus, NJPW has cut back on bringing in foreign talent so it's no guarantee he could end up there either. According to people with him before his arrest, Guerrero was at a bar close to his apartment. Two guys he's friendly with attempted to drive him home but when they got to his car, Guerrero jumped in the driver's seat and locked the doors so they couldn't get him out and started driving. They tried to stop him but he said he lived just down the street and it would be fine. Two cop cars happened to be parked at the apartments and Eddie didn't punch in the code to open the gate and instead drove into it. The cops saw it happen and the rest is history.

- Dave's new book Tributes is coming out next week. It's a collection of biography/obituaries he's written for wrestlers who have passed away. The pieces have appeared in the Observers over the years but this collection of all the best ones is updated and revised and all that fun stuff. Dave will be in Toronto next week doing promotional work for the book (including an appearance on TSN's Off The Record) so the Observer will be mailed out late for the first time in several years and will probably have a different format than usual. Dave has almost never missed a Wednesday deadline for mailing the newsletter and seems to really pride himself on that. You can tell it's eating him alive to have to do it next week, to the point where he says in the future, any and all book tours will be scheduled for later in the week so that this doesn't happen again. Anyway, the book is already available at all major bookstores in Canada and will be available at all major retailers in the U.S. soon, as well as amazon.com, if you're one of those weirdos that orders books on the world wide web.

Brief clip of Dave on Off The Record
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjCVVVY-xLY

- When recapping the latest ratings, Dave mentions that there has been one bright spot in all the doom and gloom. Smackdown is still doing pretty strong ratings. Everything is declining but out of everything in the company, Smackdown's numbers are holding up the best. In fact, Smackdown's biggest head-to-head competition this week was a little show on FOX called Temptation Island (my, how things change).

- Weird story regarding Blue Demon Jr. coming out of Mexico. Demon met a woman at a gym that he brought on to an online show he hosts. Oh yeah, apparently Blue Demon Jr. hosts an online web show. Anyway, the chick started stripping on the show. She was a stripper, you see. So I guess this got the rumor mill going that Demon was dating this woman. A few days later, the same woman appeared on a popular TV show there called Intimate Shanik. The show features strippers telling sex stories. The woman talked about having a boyfriend who sometimes beats her. The host of the show automatically assumed she was talking about Blue Demon Jr. and said it on the show. This led to a lot of promoters cancelling Demon's bookings because he's a babyface and now he's being accused of abusing a woman he's dating. Anyway, turns out they're not actually dating and she wasn't talking about him. The host of the show later apologized on the air to Demon. By the way, Demon is currently married but separated from his wife and needless to say, this whole thing didn't help them get any closer to reconciling.

- Helen Hart's funeral was held this week and it was a private ceremony with just family and close friends because they didn't want another media circus the way they had with Owen's death. Given all their past issues with each other, many were surprised when Bret Hart and Bruce Hart went up and delivered a eulogy together. Bret said "Let's not spend the second half of our lives trying to get over the first." And Bruce Hart called Helen the best there is, best there was, and best there ever will be. Several Alberta politicians, including premier Ralph Klein and others were in attendance as well as former Stampede Wrestling announcer Ed Whalen. No word if Diana was there. Speeeeeeaking of....

- Two days before Helen's funeral, the Hart family imploded publicly on a Calgary radio show. Diana Hart was on, promoting her book, and lashed out at Bret for all the usual stuff (he's a jerk who never liked her or Ellie Hart, shit like that). She said she hopes her son gets a job with the WWF some day (he eventually does but is in NJPW as of this writing) (Aug. 16, 2019 update: no longer with NJPW). She talks about Davey Boy Smith raping her and abusing drugs. She said she was in Toronto last week promoting the book and came home to find out her mother was about to die. She said she rushed to the hospital and when she got there, Bret and Keith Hart started berating her about her book and claimed they were going to have her committed to a mental hospital. She then talked about getting a movie made of her book and wanting Pamela Anderson to play her. At this point, Bret Hart called into the radio show and was seething mad. He said the book was full of lies and that their mother would have never approved of her publishing it. The foreward of the book is allegedly written by Stu Hart, but Bret says Stu never wrote that and in his current state of health, he wouldn't even be capable of writing it. Bret said the book is a cry for help and that Diana had lost her mind and talked of filing a lawsuit over it. Diana sarcastically thanked Bret for helping her sell more copies. Bret also berated Diana for her description of what happened before and after the Montreal Screwjob, claiming she had no idea what she was talking about and everything she wrote was wrong. Dave says this was the angriest anyone has probably ever heard Bret Hart be in public. Also, earlier this week, Stu Hart was interviewed mostly about Helen's death, but was also asked about Diana's book. Stu simply responded that he hadn't read it (I can't find audio of the Bret/Diana interview).

- Bret Hart wrote about the situation in his Calgary Sun column, criticizing Diana for writing the book and saying his accusations of Helen being an alcoholic hurt her reputation while she was on her deathbed. In regards to some of Diana's comments about Owen's death, Bret talked a lot about some of the issues of the case that are known publicly but noted that there's a confidentiality clause in the settlement and that some facts of the what happened and exactly what went wrong to cause Owen's death will unfortunately never be known.

http://web.archive.org/web/2016041300503...0-sun.html

- Missy Hyatt has also written an autobiography and Dave expects to have a copy of it to review in the next week or two. Roddy Piper also has one coming out soon.

- Bobby Heenan appeared on a Sacramento talk show this week and it didn't go well, because Heenan was, let's say, not exactly coherent. After Heenan left, the host made fun of him for being drunk but also said he was disappointed because Heenan was one of his heroes growing up and when he finally got the chance to interview him, Heenan showed up smashed.

- You may recall that Bret Hart lashed out at Jack Brisco a few weeks ago in an interview. Jack responded this week and said he stands behind his comments that Bret was in the wrong in the Screwjob situation, but otherwise he has the utmost respect for the Hart family, cherishes his time working with them and was saddened by Helen's death. Beyond that, he said he wouldn't say anything more on Bret's comments. Dave thinks this was pretty much the classiest way he could have handled the situation.

- The most talked about episode of Smackdown in a long time was taped this week. It hasn't aired yet but Dave has the details and it all revolved around a lengthy promo that Paul Heyman cut on Vince McMahon. Dave was told Heyman's performance here was incredible, with him talking about the history of the WWF, Vince pissing on the memories of on stars like Bruno Sammartino, the WWF sucks, even dissing the XFL, and more. He mentioned Hogan, Bret Hart, talked about Vince putting all the territories out of business after Vince's father promised the other promoters he wouldn't, said he stole all his ideas from other people, especially ECW, and said Vince turned "wrestling" into a dirty word. This was of course all a build up to Survivor Series, with WWF vs. The Alliance and the losing side has to disband. Heyman said the WWF would die on Sunday (yeah, this is arguably the best and most legendary promo of Heyman's career. And just think of what that covers).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wn9G3Onwjjg

- Steve Austin is pushing to turn babyface again, but it's not happening. Jim Ross is backing Austin, but Vince and everyone else wants him to remain heel. Austin is pushing to do a 97 Sting-type angle, where he's basically a lone wolf who doesn't side with either WWF or the Alliance and is basically him against the world. Austin has seen his merchandise numbers drop tremendously in the last year and that, along with the heel turn being a clear disaster, he's wanting to turn back. But Vince is committed to the heel thing for now. Dave also mentions that a few Austin promos have been edited down lately on Smackdown because the crowd doing the "what!?" thing is making things go long and derailing the show (for all the good he did, the "What" thing is by far Austin's worst contribution to the wrestling business).

- There's no firm decision yet about bringing Brock Lesnar to the main roster. Due to his big contract, there are some pushing to bring him up ASAP. Others are warning against it, saying that if he's brought up too soon and isn't well protected, he'll be exposed because they feel he's not main roster-ready yet.

- Chris Benoit is still training for a comeback and is said to be close to 100% of his usual training routine. Because he's had time off to rest his body, he's said to be in the best shape he's ever been in his career (he's still quite a ways from coming back).

- Dean Malenko has officially retired from wrestling to be a road agent, but they actually didn't have any agent openings at the moment. So for now, he's working as a trainer in HWA and has been told that when Jack Lanza or Pat Patterson retires, he'll take their place. Malenko is hoping to do one final match at next year's Brian Pillman tribute show, hoping for a 3-way with Benoit and Guerrero but who knows if that will be able to happen (it doesn't).

- Dave has seen Chyna's appearance on TSN's Off The Record and praises host Michael Landsberg's interview skills, who pushes guests for real answers. Chyna came off dismissive of the other women in the company, acting like they weren't in her league and that's why she wanted to wrestle men. In regards to the whole Triple H/Stephanie thing, she tried to be diplomatic about it and said she blamed Triple H for what happened, not Stephanie. But she did criticize Stephanie as well, calling her immature and saying that Stephanie being the boss's daughter obviously put her career in a tough position and admitted that she believes that was part of why she was let go. Chyna said Triple H lives and breathes wrestling 24/7 so maybe Stephanie is the perfect match for him (with 18 years of hindsight, yeah, seems like it. Here's the interview and it really is pretty good. Landsberg really is great at holding people's feet to the fire and getting something out of them and has a real good knowledge of the business. Wish he was still doing these kinds of wrestling interviews today).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXlVGLGHTaU

- There's been talk of Triple H returning on the Raw after Survivor Series but as of right now, Vince is said to be against the idea since Triple H still isn't quite ready to wrestle yet. If he doesn't return next week, then the plan is still for a return sometime in December or January.

- Mick Foley appeared on a radio show and criticized the company. "We've been losing viewers because they don't have faith in us to tell a good story anymore," he said. He also criticized WWF for not giving fair chances to WCW and ECW wrestlers who were brought in this year. "For some reason, guys who can wrestle, who I know can wrestle, are being told that they can't. One or two bad matches doesn't mean that somebody no longer has it," Foley said. In regards to a potential Hulk Hogan return, Foley thought it would only be a good short-term solution. However, he did say that earlier this year when Vince and Linda were doing their separation angle, Foley thought it would have been great if Hogan had been revealed as Linda's new boyfriend (that actually would have been fantastic, he's right). When asked about Hall and Nash, he had the same thought: good short-term fix, but questioned whether they'd be worth it in the long-term and said if he was in charge of the company, he'd offer them heavily incentive-based contracts to make sure they don't turn into the kind of locker room cancers they have such a bad rep for from their days in WCW. Dave thinks WWF should really listen to Foley's input on these sorts of things because somebody needs to be a voice of reason in that company right now.

- The Weakest Link episode with WWF wrestlers aired this week and was really funny. William Regal was clearly the best player, but most of the wrestlers wouldn't dare vote Stephanie or Triple H off and they pretty much even admitted it as much on the show. Some of the questions were ridiculously easy, especially some of the ones that Trish Stratus missed. Everyone was pretty much in character. Triple H and Stephanie said they were married (which they are on TV, but not in real life, can you imagine??). Triple H joked about his and Regal's lower backs hurting because they are wrestlers and were standing up for so long. Triple H ended up winning by beating Stephanie.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xy9l5h

- Some stories came out this week about WWF's attempts to sign Bill Goldberg and Eric Bischoff earlier this year. WWF's offer to Goldberg was nowhere close to what he was making sitting at home, so needless to say, the talks pretty much began and ended there. As for Bischoff, the idea was to bring him in for a short-term angle leading up to the Invasion PPV, with the idea of him losing a match to Vince McMahon. Dave says the idea of bringing Bischoff in and having him lose the very first match to Vince at the first PPV and blowing it off instead of holding it off to Wrestlemania and letting Bischoff have the upper hand for awhile is the perfect example of why this whole angle has been a failure. Anyway, negotiations with Bischoff never got serious either so it never really got past the discussion phase.

- Lots of letters this week about Diana Hart's book and how vindictive she comes across. There's a point in the book where she casually mentions that Ken Shamrock portrays himself as a family man but then would go to strip clubs and had girlfriends on the road, then he's never mentioned again. The letter writer wonders what was even the point of including that story in the book, other than to try and mess up Shamrock's life? Diana sides with Vince McMahon on pretty much every thing and shreds her own family apart on every other topic. Acknowledges that wrestling destroyed her family and then pushes the idea that she hopes her kids end up in the WWF. Lots of complaints about all the spelling, grammatical, and factual errors in the book. All in all, everyone thinks this book is trash, dirty laundry, shouldn't have been written, and was incredibly mean-spirited.....but everyone also seems to agree that they couldn't put it down. Everybody loves a messy car crash.

- Lots of other letters just complaining about the current WWF product, with one guy saying that it's clear Vince McMahon has a pretty great mind for the business and is responsible for some of the greatest moments and stories in wrestling history. But he doesn't want to hear Vince McMahon ever referred to as a "genius" ever again, because he had potentially the biggest and most profitable angle in wrestling history dropped in his lap and he blew it.

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So as you know, I also post these on Reddit and they're a pretty big hit over there.

For shits and giggles just now, I went to SCJerk (circle jerk subreddits are all basically the_donald of any topic on reddit) and searched "rewind" and holy shit, I had no idea they talk so much shit about me over there LOL

https://www.reddit.com/r/SCJerk/search?q...ance&t=all

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11-26-2001

- With the defeat of the Alliance at Survivor Series (more on that in a bit), the WWF basically reset the whole promotion and also brought back Ric Flair and Jerry Lawler, all of which led to the first positive ratings boost Raw has had in quite awhile. The Invasion angle, after being arguably the biggest flop of an angle in wrestling history, came to an end where WWF won in a confusing mess of a main event. With the exception of the one successful Invasion PPV, all the potential money in doing a WWF vs. WCW feud was completely squandered due to an incredible string of dumb booking and bad business decisions. But that's allegedly in the past now and Raw this week felt like one of those old WCW/Vince Russo company reboots, with the old storylines being dropped and everything starting fresh. Dave hopes this goes better than the 3 times Russo tried to reset WCW.

- So anyway, let's start with Ric Flair. He had verbally agreed to a deal with WWF on the night of Survivor Series to accept a buyout from WWF on the remainder of his Time Warner contract. The deal wasn't officially signed until about 3 hours before the Raw where he debuted, at which point Flair officially signed with WWF and Time Warner released him from his remaining WCW deal. It was a photo finish because WWF didn't know if Flair would get the release in time and they didn't really have a backup plan if he didn't. With WCW no longer in business and no more WCW office staff, the Time Warner people are left handling all the old WCW contracts and because of that, things were moving more slowly than normal. As seen on Raw, the plan is for Flair to play an adversary to Vince McMahon, with each of them owning 50% of WWF, which will ultimately lead to the long-talked about brand split, with Vince in charge of one side and Flair the other since they can't get along as co-owners. Flair has had on-and-off again talks with WWF ever since WCW folded back in March but the hold up was always Flair not wanting to walk away from his WCW contract, which guaranteed him big money until Feb. of 2003. In recent weeks, the XWF had also spoken with Flair about buying out his contract so there was some pressure there and ultimately, WWF apparently made a good enough offer for Flair to accept it. He will turn 54 years old in a few months and signed a 3-year contract. He's expected to work some matches, but only on big shows and his first match won't be for a few more months because he wants to get back in the shape he wants to be in, since he hasn't really wrestled in a long time. Flair's return, in Charlotte NC no less, got the huge pop you would expect and Flair later told Dave it was one of the top 3 or 4 biggest highlights of his career.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK94KEoFcjU

- Then there's Jerry Lawler, who had actually agreed to a deal with XWF and even worked their television taping last week. When the decision was made to blow off the Invasion angle, it meant Paul Heyman would be taken off television. They would need a new announcer for Raw and the natural choice was Lawler. He has been close to coming back several times over the last few months, but there was always opposition within the company from some people due to the way Lawler kinda nuked his bridges behind him when he left. If you don't recall, Lawler was extremely vocal with his displeasure over how WWF fired his now ex-wife Stacy Carter and the heat got so bad that WWF pulled their developmental deal away from Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis because of their Lawler connections. After Stacy Carter left Lawler (for former WWF developmental wrestler Mike Howell), he began mending fences with the company. They actually asked Lawler to come in a couple of weeks ago, but by that point, he had already agreed to do the first round of XWF tapings as well as appear on WWA's tour of England. Lawler actually signed a contract with XWF which has a non-compete, but his longtime friend Jimmy Hart asked Lawler to work the tapings and then if he still wanted to go to WWF, they wouldn't try to stand in his way. Lawler said the decision wasn't easy because he had committed to XWF and enjoyed working for them, but he also recognized that at this stage in his life, he needed to accept the job that was most stable for his future and XWF is anything but a sure bet. Much like Flair, there was some last-second contract wrangling and he didn't actually sign his new 3-year WWF contract until just before Raw went on the air. He's making roughly the same $250,000 per year he was making before he quit the company last time. Lawler went out on the air having not seen Survivor Series or really without having watched much WWF television at all this year and had zero knowledge of any of the current storylines so that was mostly left to Jim Ross to get over for most of the show while Lawler cracked jokes. Lawler's new deal still allows him to take independent bookings and coincidentally enough, Lawler will still be working with Jimmy Hart to promote local shows in Memphis, which will act as something of a developmental territory for XWF.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsF2l8c5Os8 

- Raw also saw the departure of Mick Foley. As noted in the past, Foley hasn't been happy with the direction of the company for awhile and a couple of weeks ago on Raw, he cut a promo alluding to all his issues with how the company has been dropping the ball, which was more shoot than scripted. Even though Foley seemingly left the company in kayfabe 2 weeks ago, Vince legitimately wanted to give Foley a real proper send-off, since he's literally never had the chance to do that with any of his top stars (most top guys who leave the WWF usually do so on bad terms behind the scenes). So they had a pre-taped segment on Vince's private jet, with Foley and Vince talking about everything Foley has given to the business and then when the plane landed and Foley walked off, in a sitcom-like goodbye, Vince smiled and said, "Have a nice day." Dave feels like it was a pretty clumsy goodbye and paled in comparison to how, say, NJPW for instance treats its retiring legends. But better than nothing, he supposes. It was long expected that after Foley retired from in-ring competition that he would stay with the company in an ambassador role, but turns out that is still pretty restricting. Foley wanted more control over his ability to do non-wrestling projects and the WWF contract meant they largely owned and controlled whatever he wanted to do. So Foley is off to go do....whatever he wants now. Dave says he can write more books, but without the WWF machine to help promote them, it's going to be a tougher hill to climb.

- During the WWF quarterly investor call, Linda McMahon surprisingly made very few excuses for WWF's current business struggles and basically admitted that they just haven't been producing good television. Dave runs down all of WWF's business declines over the recent quarter, the company projections for the first quarter of 2002, profit and revenue numbers, comparing quarters from this year to last year, merchandising and licensing, and all that fun business/stock shit. If numbers are your thing, this story is for you. One interesting thing to note is that, due to the decline in PPV buys and the increase in TV rights fees, that means that television is now the top priority and the company's leading source of revenue (it remains that way to this day). Because of that, WWF has to be careful not to alienate sponsors anymore, which is why things aren't nearly as risque now as they were in, say, 1999. Because TV is now the top priority and they can't afford to take too many risks. During the call, Linda first talked about the business being cyclical and made some other excuses for low attendance (9/11), the failing WWF Times Square restaurant (9/11) and things like that. The usual excuses. But then she admitted that the WCW Invasion angle had been a failure and blamed that for much of the company's recent issues. Which, well...yeah. However, when talking about why the angle failed, she first blamed it on a skill level difference in the performers (basically saying that the WCW wrestlers weren't as good as WWF stars) and poor audience response to the WCW stars (specifically the night of the infamous Buff Bagwell/Booker T match on Raw). She also blamed "creative confusion" behind the scenes (in other words, the fact that plans were changing on a daily basis, which is something that falls squarely on her husband). Linda used a football analogy explaining why they dropped the angle, basically saying it failed and they had to back up and punt. With the exception of RVD and Stacy Keibler, all the other members of the WCW/ECW group have been temporarily written off television. Many of them are understandably nervous about their futures. Some will be fine but Dave thinks some are right to be worried. Aside from Booker T, almost none of them would be that terribly missed if they were released. But with the plan still being to do a brand split and running 2 touring groups simultaneously, they are going to need a lot of wrestlers. Most of them are still working house shows, despite being "fired" on TV after the Survivor Series loss.

- Oh yeah...Survivor Series is in the books. It was pretty much a one-match show with the WWF vs. The Alliance main event being the only reason anyone cared and the storyline is that everyone's jobs were on the line. For the undercard Alliance wrestlers, many of them really did feel that way. With all the big stars in one match, the rest of the show wasn't great. But the main event delivered and then some. Edge beat Test to unify the Intercontinental and U.S. titles, thus ending the history of the U.S. title, which was dropped. Dave talks briefly about the history of that title (it comes back about 2 years later). The Dudleyz beat the Hardyz to unify the WWF and WCW tag titles, which is also the end of those belts and their history dating back to 1975. Matt Hardy was legit injured in the match when his face slammed into the cage and nearly knocked out his front teeth and he ended up needing a brace put in to keep his teeth in place at the dentist the next day. There's also a chance he suffered nerve damage from a deep cut to the gums. Trish Stratus won the WWF women's title that has been vacant ever since Chyna left the company months ago. Chyna was never acknowledged on commentary and it was never really explained why the title was vacant. Former ECW women's wrestler Jazz debuted in the match and Heyman put her over huge on commentary. And the main event was a 4.5 star show-stealer that was wild, out of control, and just crazy enough to be riveting. Now, 10 months after ECW really died and 8 months after WCW really died, their names were "officially taken off life support and allowed to die with no dignity after a branding manslaughter," as Dave so eloquently puts it. And with that, WCW and ECW are finally, truly dead.

- Speaking of truly dead, the XWF television tapings are complete and it's uncertain what their future is. They filmed 10 episodes of TV and the situation with Hogan is still confusing. After initially pulling out of the XWF, Hogan showed up as a surprise and wrestled Curt Hennig at the tapings, which was Hogan's first match in over a year (since he left WCW). The match was said to be about what you'd expect from those 2 at this stage in their career wrestling in front of a few hundred fans in a free theme park studio. Hennig was managed by Bobby Heenan, who even took a bump for the first time in years. Hogan did a promo after saying he's planning to win the XWF title but it's unknown if any of this will ever air even if they do get a TV deal. Hogan reportedly did the match as a favor to longtime friend Jimmy Hart, who is hoping to use the Hogan footage to dangle in front of TV execs to secure a TV deal. Hogan is said to be torn because he wants to be back in the spotlight and wrestling again, but he also doesn't want to be associated with another failure and XWF is by no means a sure thing. XWF is planning to film more TV shows in January and are claiming they want to run a full 145-date house show schedule in 2002. Attempting to do that without viable TV is suicide though. They're also hoping to get guys like Sting, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash when they're available, but that's not a sure bet either. They're also filming segments with celebrities like Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper, and Willie Nelson who will appear on the show. So that's basically where we're at with XWF (amazingly, I can't find footage of this Hogan/Hennig match anywhere. Looks like it may have never aired).

- Martha Hart threatened a lawsuit this week against Diana Hart over Diana's new book "Under The Mat." Martha's lawyers demanded a public retraction, apology, and for the book to be removed from print and taken off bookstore shelves no later than Nov. 28th or else a lawsuit would be filed. Her lawyers also demanded that Diana Hart and her co-author Kirstie McLennan and the companies that published and distributed the book negotiate an out-of-court settlement. Martha is alleging the book is "filled with distortions, misstatements, and unjustified slurs that attempt to destroy the reputation of my family and me, and undermine the memory of Owen. I have no choice but to deliver a formal libel notice." Dave notes that Diana Hart has pretty much alienated herself from the entire rest of the Hart family, including members of the family who have usually been on her side. Diana responded to the lawsuit threat calling Martha a rich bully who is trying to silence her. "Martha has the money to fight me on it and I don't," she responded in an interview. "Maybe she thinks that's how she'll win this but I know what I've written is true." Dave says the book negatively portrays Martha throughout the whole thing and also painted a negative portrayal of Owen's marriage to her. As mentioned last week, Diana recently appeared on a late night talk show to promote the book in Canada and seemed totally out of it, which drew comparisons to the infamous Farrah Fawcett/David Letterman interview a couple of years ago. This week, Chyna was on that same talk show and the host mentioned Diana's recent appearance and joked that he didn't think Diana could have even read her own book, much less written it. Anyway, Dave wouldn't be surprised to see Diana get hit with more lawsuits because the book is just outrageous and full of obviously libelous material and he's shocked any publisher dared put it out to begin with.

- Dave wants to take a moment to thank all the people involved with helping to promote his new "Tributes" book. He spent the last week in Toronto doing promotion on all the news stations, radio appearances, several TV shows, Off The Record, some afternoon talk shows, book signings, Q&As, and more. He thanks all those people, the publishers, the readers, etc. The book is available at most major bookstores throughout North America now as well as Amazon. In its first week, the book outsold both Diana Hart's book and Kurt Angle's book in Canada. To be fair, Dave admits that Angle's book has been out for a couple of months already, but it was still on the bestseller list until just a week or two ago. But still, Dave's pretty proud of how this all turned out and is eternally grateful to everyone who helped and yada yada.

- The voting is open for the 22nd annual year-end Observer Awards. Needless to say, 2001 was an interesting year. The wrestling bubble burst, ECW and WCW went extinct, and WWF went from being the most successful company in the world to...well, still the most successful company in the world, but they had the greatest angle of all time handed to them and fumbled it and as a result, business collapsed. Anyway, Dave breaks down all the categories and what they mean and all that fun shit. Cast your votes now!

- Carlos Colon's younger brother Noel Colon was shot and killed in San Juan, Pureto Rico last week in his office. Noel worked as the president of a transportation company and had just fired an employee. That employee left and then returned with a gun and shot Colon 4 times in the head and chest. Colon was rushed to the hospital but died there (no word if Carlos helped cover this one up too).

- Hayabusa is still hospitalized. He was expected to be moved to a rehab facility but got sick with pneumonia in the hospital, which apparently isn't uncommon for people who basically can't move for long periods of time.

- Lots of drama coming out of the King of the Indies tournament a few weeks ago that was held by APW in California. For starters, APW lost more than $10,000 on the show so that's bad news. And then there was a lot of arguments over who should win. APW owner Roland Alexander at first wanted Low-Ki to win the tournament but then Christopher Daniels pushed for Donovan Morgan to win because he's the local guy who has to help carry APW. So Morgan was going to win. But then, the owner changed his mind again and decided American Dragon should win (which he ultimately did). This, along with some bickering over who would run APW's training school, led to Morgan and Michael Modest apparently quitting and planning to open up their own wrestling school and promotion.

- Chyna was scheduled to play the starring role in a stage production called My Darling Judith, but the play was cancelled just before its opening. No reason given, but Dave suspects poor ticket sales.

- Hey, the XWF has its own section now! Anyway, a bunch more notes from the recent tapings: Nasty Boys became the first tag team champions. Rena Mero is the commissioner and with Roddy Piper running the show and they teased friction between them, which is supposed to lead to a Piper heel turn eventually. Piper also hosted a Piper's Pit segment, which they called "In Your Face with Rowdy Roddy Piper" because they can't legally call it Piper's Pit. Low-Ki worked the tapings, using the name Quick Kick. Juventud Guerrera won the cruiserweight title. They also set up a mixed tag storyline with Jerry Lawler and a new valet named Kitten against Simon Diamond and Dawn Marie, but with Lawler now back in WWF, who knows what will become of that. Former WCW women Leia Meow, Gorgeous George, and Nitro Girl Chiquita are doing a Charlie's Angels gimmick. Buff Bagwell was supposed to come in as one of the top babyfaces, but the crowd brutally booed him and chanted "Bagwell sucks" and "You got fired!" so on the taping for the next episode, they had no choice but to turn him heel. And then they did a promo thing referencing his being fired from WWF and the rumors of his mom calling in sick for him and all that shit. Dave says that's fine for the internet crowd, but this is a company that is allegedly trying to land a national TV deal and compete with WWF, and Dave doesn't like that they're referencing obscure stuff like that which most wrestling fans know nothing about (much less a crowd of tourists that were mostly just looking for somewhere to sit down for a little while and got begged into being part of a wrestling audience). Booking for the minority of internet hardcore fans is Russo-type shit and Dave hopes they don't make a habit of it (XWF isn't around long enough to form any habits). Vampiro appears to be getting pushed hard as one of the top stars. And a couple of matches sucked so bad that they re-taped them the next day.

- As for the XWF in general, the reports have been mixed. Everyone involved had nothing but great things to say about how well-run and organized things were and everyone was treated well. The matches were said to be pretty bad considering most of the roster are either green bodybuilders or washed up 80s stars. Jerry Lawler was said to be fantastic on commentary while Tony Schiavone was, well, Tony Schiavone (people these days tend to forget how much 2001 Tony didn't give a single iota of a fuck about wrestling anymore). Of all the wrestlers, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels reportedly impressed people the most, which doesn't surprise Dave at all. Roddy Piper was more coherent than he ever was in WCW, while Rena Mero got shockingly little reaction, to the point that even people backstage were surprised at how not over she was.

- Notes from Raw: as mentioned, Heyman was "fired" from commentary and replaced by Lawler. It was a way to totally write Heyman off as an on-screen character, and he will continue to work backstage as a writer. Dave says they should bring him back eventually as a heel manager because good lord, can that guy cut a promo (they do indeed bring him back about 6 months after this, as Brock Lesnar's manager). Trish vs. Lita was arguably the worst 2:44 of wrestling in a major promotion that Dave has seen all year. Then a Dudleyz vs. RVD handicap tables match went sideways when the table didn't break as originally planned and they had to improvise some spots to finish the match. Then they had a segment with Vince firing Shane and Stephanie. First Shane came out, said he lost to a better man, and walked out. The original plan was for Shane to be humiliated and dragged out kicking and screaming, much like Heyman and Stephanie were, but Shane didn't want to do that and Vince ultimately agreed. Also, among the wrestlers privately (because no one dares say it publicly), there was some heat on Shane because he took everyone's finishers the night before and was carried out of the arena, but showed up on Raw not selling anything. Then they did do the kicking and screaming and crying gimmick with Stephanie being dragged out. Shane will be strictly behind the scenes for now, but Dave expects Stephanie back on-screen sooner than later since Triple H is returning soon. Then, Vince McMahon made William Regal literally kiss his ass (the debut of the Kiss My Ass Club) with Vince actually showing some of his bare ass and Regal kissing it. Dave found this whole thing pretty awful and he apparently wasn't alone, as viewers tuned out of this segment in massive numbers according to the ratings. And then the Flair debut to end it.

- Notes from Smackdown: they hyped up the December PPV with Michael Cole reading lines that were clearly edited into the show during post production where he teased that they would have a unification match and crown the first ever undisputed champion in the 100-year history of professional wrestling. For starters, that's obviously not true. But even if it was, Dave is just amazed that WWF actually acknowledged that pro wrestling existed prior to 1984. Sharmell Sullivan debuted on the main roster after shockingly little time in developmental as a backstage interviewer. Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle was a really good match and for once, Undertaker actually went out of his way to sell for Angle and treated him like someone who is on his level.

- Dave also reviews Smackdown from the previous week since I guess he didn't get a chance before because he was out of town doing book publicity tour shit. Anyway, he says the much-talked about Paul Heyman promo was indeed one of the best promos he's seen in a long time. In regards to the entire Invasion storyline, Dave also says, "Got a feeling this angle will historically be looked at as the single greatest botched angle in wrestling history." (18 years later and....yup. I don't think there's even a close 2nd place) Dave thinks it's sad to imagine how great this angle could have been if they had Heyman delivering these kinds of promos the whole time and really building the Alliance up as equals to WWF, but alas. Dave also seems to think the "What?" chants are getting annoying and notes that people were even doing it at the XWF tapings.

- Remember how company president and COO Stuart Snyder was fired a few weeks ago? Dave has more details. Snyder was actually brought in to help WWF expand into other forms of entertainment, such as WWF-produced movies and the failed WWF casino idea in Vegas. Snyder actually didn't have much knowledge of the wrestling business, but Vince wants the WWF to be an overall entertainment conglomerate, not just wrestling. But with business plummeting right now, they decided it might not be the right time for that kind of expansion and Snyder was let go. Also, Snyder was said to be pushing hard for WWF to settle their conflict with DirecTV, but Vince refuses to budge on that issue and refuses to settle and that was a touchy issue with them. Vince has never been good about backing down from a fight publicly, even when it's the smart or right thing to do.

- Torrie Wilson appeared on the Howard Stern show this week. She mentioned that she recently got engaged to Billy Kidman. Dave says that's gotta be rough on Kidman, because the WWF sees Torrie as a potential megastar while they clearly don't have any plans for him. That sort of thing can put a lot of pressure on a relationship. Anyway, that's all Dave seems to know. He didn't actually see or hear it. But DDP was also on the show with Torrie. Here's the full interview and it's basically what you'd expect when Howard Stern has a hot chick in front of him:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgd_xzW2HTI 

- In OVW, Rico Constantino lost a Loser Leaves Town match to Prototype, which means Constantino is finally going to be moving up to the main roster. He got a standing ovation from the crowd afterwards and thanked them for their support. Dave thinks it's going to be interesting to see how his run in WWF goes. Constantino is already 40 years old and that's a tough age to be starting out in the WWF, but he's also really good and well-rounded at all aspects of the business, so who knows.

- Mike Awesome suffered a torn ACL and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Awesome says he's trying to avoid needing surgery and is getting a second opinion but with all the rumors of Alliance guys being let go soon due to all the company layoffs, it's a pretty bad time to be sidelined with an injury. Wrestlers in the past have continued working with torn ACLs so it's not unheard of, but it's definitely not the best idea.

- The first major review of the upcoming Scorpion King movie starring the Rock is in and it's very negative. Ain't It Cool News reviewed the film calling it a "sad, cliched, poorly acted, horribly written and sadly directed piece of garbage." So.....not great. The movie comes out next year.

- Lita was on the cover of TV Guide in Canada and was interviewed. She said her worst injury in wrestling was a dislocated collarbone and shoulder blade from being power bombed by Eddie Guerrero outside the ring.

- On his website, Kurt Angle made a post saying that his wife's recent comments about RVD (that he was too dangerous and keeps hurting her husband) were just her opinions as a fan and not his. However, for what it's worth, Kurt Angle was on ESPN a few weeks ago and mentioned a wrestler who had broken his nose in a match recently and then said he would refuse to dignify the guy by even saying his name on the show. But he was clearly talking about RVD. Definitely seems to be some heat between him and Angle.

- You may have noticed that William Regal has been suffering bloody noses pretty much every time he wrestles lately. His nose is smashed and infected and bleeds with pretty much any physical exertion and he now needs surgery on it to fix it. But he can't get the surgery until they treat the infection.

- DDP was on a radio show and admitted that he ended up missing out on about $500,000 by taking a buyout and signing with WWF rather than sitting home and collecting the rest of his WCW contract. Given how his WWF run has gone, probably not the wisest decision in retrospect.

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Oh shit I remember Regal's nose problem, that cost him a couple years of his career I think.

Shane's always had a bit of a superman complex.
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12-6-2001

- In the most interesting and riskiest booking decision Dave has seen in a long time, NJPW has decided to allow Yuji Nagata to face K-1 fighter Mirko Cro Cop at Antonio Inoki's New Year's Eve show. The event will be carried on national television and Nagata vs. Cro Cop will likely be the main event of the show. If this fight ends up being a legit shoot, it will be the biggest risk any wrestling promotion has ever made with one of its top stars. Nagata is a full-time NJPW top star, winner of the most recent G-1 Climax tournament, and a surefire future-IWGP champion. He's clearly been groomed as NJPW's future ace. Nagata does have a strong amateur wrestling background, but he's 32 years old and hasn't competed in nearly a decade and has never done an MMA match. Putting him in a position to possibly get massacred by a top-level K-1 fighter seems risky to say the least. Regardless, the hype around this event is insane and it's expected Inoki's show will draw the largest TV rating of any pro wrestling event in years in Japan. A win over Cro Cop will make Nagata an overnight megastar, but a quick loss could completely derail his career (spoiler, since we won't actually get the results before I finish the Rewinds: Nagata gets annihilated in 21 seconds. He still won the IWGP title 4 months later but it definitely hurt his credibility and was yet another example of how Inoki nearly destroyed NJPW during the coming years).

- With the Invasion angle finally over, WWF has essentially hit the reset button on the company and part of that seems to be a return to the risque days of 1999 with Raw this week. In the last two years or so, WWF has toned down significantly due to the pressure from the PTC. But WWF is currently suing the PTC and over the course of the lawsuit, it has become clear that the PTC was pretty dishonest in their claims against the company. So the PTC is kind of neutered right now and WWF sees the opportunity to go back to pushing the envelope. So this week on Raw was essentially an episode full of McMahon's favorite kind of television: bathroom humor and employee humiliation, culminating in Jim Ross being forced to join McMahon's Kiss My Ass Club, in his hometown no less. As you might expect, Ross was extremely upset about the angle and fought against it, but he's the VP of Talent Relations and felt like, in his position, he had to set an example of going along with it. So we got Vince McMahon, the 56-year-old owner of a publicly traded company parading around the ring in front of a sellout crowd with his bare ass exposed while Undertaker forced Ross's face into it, in an angle that the real-life performer REALLY wasn't comfortable with doing. Earlier in the show, we also had William Regal accidentally peeing on Big Show, a bra and panties match that was much more revealing than most, and a bunch of other shit. TSN in Canada attempted to edit the show as it was airing live but they kept messing up the timing and every time they tried to cut away from Vince's bare ass, they ended up accidentally showing it instead. And of course, the Undertaker heel turn was yet again another illogical turn that made no real sense. In the last 8 days, Jericho, Austin, Vince, Undertaker, and Kurt Angle (twice) have done heel or face turns. Keep in mind, Ric Flair made his big return to the WWF last week and this week, he wasn't even on the show. He was there. They brought him out in front of the live crowd and he made a match during a commercial break. But that was it. All in all, this company is a complete mess right now.

- Dave lists all the wrestling books on Amazon's bestseller list and notes that his own book, Tributes, is in 2nd place (behind the paperback version of Mick Foley's 1st book) and thanks everyone. But there's a lot of books here. Both of Foley's books, Rock's book, Angle's book, Missy Hyatt's, Gary Michael Cappetta's, Chyna's, Dynamite Kid's, DDP's, etc. 2001 was kinda the boom period of wrestling books.

- NJPW is planning for their upcoming 30th Anniversary show in March of next year, and they're hoping to get Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi to come out of retirement and work exhibition matches for the show. Inoki and Sakaguchi were the two biggest stars for NJPW during the company's early years in the 1970s. NJPW is also pushing to bring Hulk Hogan back to work the show. Hogan was NJPW's top foreign star in the early-80s and he also is the first ever IWGP champion (that belt's lineage was later abandoned in 1987 and a new IWGP title was created, which is the one that we still have today in 2019). Hogan eventually left NJPW around 1985 because he was making so much money as WWF's top star that he didn't have the time or need to continue working in Japan. Hogan did return briefly in 1994 before going to WCW and he was pushing to win the IWGP title then, but it ended up not happening).

- Taka Michinoku returned to Japan this week and announced he's opening his own promotion called K-Dojo. Michinoku recently had shoulder surgery and will be out of action for several more months. He stated that his WWF contract expires in June of 2002 and didn't seem hopeful that it would be renewed. But regardless, he praised the WWF for paying for his surgery and continuing to pay him while he recovers, which a lot of promotions won't (and can't afford to) do.

- WWA's tour of the UK and Ireland began this week and after all their hype about Scott Steiner being there...he wasn't. They even had merch for him and everything, but nope. No Scott. The show was said to be a pale imitation of WWF. Jerry Lawler obviously isn't with the group anymore now that he's returned to WWF and so his son Brian Christopher went in his place. All the former WWF stars were way more popular than all the former WCW stars. Bret Hart, as commissioner, gave the same anti-Vince McMahon speech that he did in Australia, once again talking about how he never was beaten for either the WWF or WCW world titles and about passing the torch on to the next WWA world champ. In the main event, Jeff Jarrett beat Road Dogg in a match that was said to be bad, with both guys out of shape, and Bret Hart putting Jarrett in the sharpshooter after the match.

- Diana Hart has said she won't retract anything she wrote in her book. In a statement, she said, "I'll stand by my book and let the courts decide. I'm not prepared to back down on this." Martha Hart is still planning to file a lawsuit this week if the book isn't taken off shelves and Diana doesn't publicly retract the things she wrote about her. In somewhat related news, all the criminal charges against Davey Boy Smith from his issues with Diana and Bruce Hart from a few months ago have recently been dropped.

- Fresh off his firing from WWF, Eddie Guerrero is looking for indie bookings. He reached out to NJPW but they said the earliest they would have a spot for him would be in March.

- Chyna was on Howard Stern's show this week and he was absolutely brutal to her. Stern treated her like Nicole Bass, with all his usual mean comments. Stern demanded she pull her pants down and prove she didn't have a penis and called her "John" Laurer when he introduced her. He said Playboy must have airbrushed her penis out of the photos. Then he talked about her voice being weird, saying it was due to steroids, which Chyna denied and said it was from being hit in the throat. Chyna also went into more detail than ever on the Triple H/Stephanie situation. She said when she first suspected something was up, she confronted Triple H and he denied it. But then she went through Triple H's stuff and found love letters that Stephanie had written him. Chyna said she found these right before a show and then still had to go out afterward and perform in front of the crowd. She said she then confronted Stephanie about it, in front of Vince, which probably wasn't a great career move. She said she hasn't spoken to Triple H since she found out. She also said Triple H is in a tough spot because if he breaks up with Stephanie, his own job would likely be in danger (worked out well so far). Anyway, Chyna was on Stern's show a lot of times over the years but I can't find video of this particular one.

- Notes from Raw: after a strong Survivor Series and one of the best Raws of the year last week, WWF immediately squandered all that goodwill by dropping a big ol' Raw-shaped turd this week. Full of the usual sophomoric Vince McMahon humor. We had William Regal peeing on Big Show in a backstage segment. A Rock promo full of gay jokes about Vince and never even bothering to try and get over the unification match at the PPV they have coming up in 2 weeks. Lance Storm was shown working as a janitor at the WWF New York restaurant, since he's "out of a job" now that the Alliance lost at Survivor Series. And of course, the big angle at the end to humiliate Jim Ross in his hometown and force him to kiss Vince's ass. Dave hated every bit of this.

- Booker T is the latest guy to get busted up by RVD in a match. Booker got a concussion and was busted open from a Van Daminator at a house show in Tulsa.

- The plan to split the roster into two brands is still a go, but the timetable is up in the air. May be as early as January, or may be after Wrestlemania. Because they need enough wrestlers to fill both rosters, Dave doesn't expect any large talent cuts anytime soon. Midcard guys like Val Venis, D-Lo Brown, etc. will probably get renewed pushes when the roster splits and there's talk of bringing up some developmental names to fill some spots. Rico Constantino, Randy Orton, Ron Waterman, and Brock Lesnar are the 4 being talked about, since all 4 are already working full-time house show schedules on the road. But that's still a long time off. Dave figures of the 4, they'll probably delay Orton the longest because he's still young and they have plenty of time to let him keep developing in OVW.

- Jerry Lawler's return to WWF came right down to the wire. He was contracted to XWF and they agreed to let him out of his deal so he could return to WWF, but the lawyers and Jimmy Hart were in negotiations with WWF about his release up until about 3 hours before Raw went on the air that night. But they eventually signed off on everything just before showtime and he was allowed to re-debut. XWF doesn't want to make enemies with WWF because that's like showing up to a bazooka fight with a water gun.

- Dave lists all the latest injuries and there's a lot of them. Regarding Triple H, due to the advice of Dr. James Andrews, it looks like he won't be returning to the ring until January. The marketing for the Dec. PPV is all built around Triple H and it's too late to change it now. There's a chance he might appear and do an angle, but he most definitely won't be wrestling until next month at the earliest. He has been living in Birmingham and they sent a ring down there for him to train in. He's said to feel great and is ready to go as soon as they'll let him.

- Paul Heyman has taken on a bigger role backstage on the creative team now that he's no longer on TV. There's talk of bringing him back down the road as a heel manager, but not for a little while.

- There was a backstage promo filmed for the Thanksgiving episode of Smackdown that never aired. It apparently involved Rock and RVD in a funny bit. But the segment implied that RVD was stoned on the reefers (*gasp!*). The segment got a laugh from the live crowd but then Kevin Dunn decided the marijuana reference was too much and it got axed from the show before it aired on TV (would love to see this end up in the Hidden Gems section someday on the Network).

- Mick Foley is no longer under WWF contract, as he was granted his release a few weeks ago. Under his WWF contract, any outside projects he wanted to do had to be cleared through them and that was a big sticking point with him. Foley has hired a couple of agents to negotiate deals for him now. Now that he has two #1 bestsellling books under his belt, he's probably as hot as he's ever going to be and he's attempting to negotiate some literary deals. Foley is almost finished with a novel he's been working on and has been kicking around some ideas for children's books as well. Foley was unhappy in WWF because he wanted to do more outside projects. He also didn't like that he couldn't book himself to do things on Sun-Tues. in case he was needed for PPV, Raw, or Smackdown even though he never was. It was decided that giving Foley his release was the best thing because neither side wanted the relationship to become strained and it felt like it was going that direction. So now, everyone parts on good terms and there's hope that he could come back in the future if they want to work together again. Foley has made it clear he doesn't want to wrestle anymore unless it's a one-time comedy match against Vince. They almost booked that idea for this month's PPV before deciding against it and gave Foley his release instead.

- The hold up between WWF and Kevin Nash is still over the fact that Nash doesn't want to work a full schedule. He's talked about working short programs. For instance, he works full time for 2-3 months for a storyline, then takes a few months off, then back again for another big angle, etc. Nash is adamant that he isn't going to go back on the road full time working the typical 180+ day WWF schedule. There haven't actually been any negotiations between them in recent weeks and it's said that Hall and Nash coming to WWF is a dead issue right now. After the recent firing of Eddie Guerrero, who was the 3rd guy they've released for substance issues in recent months, it's believed bringing in Scott Hall would be a bad idea. There have been no talks with Hogan at all.

- Of all the free agents out there, the only ones WWF seems halfway interested in right now are Scott Steiner and Sting. It's believed that Steiner will probably be brought in whenever he's healthy enough to work. There have been talks with Sting recently, but he's not interested in working a full-time schedule.

- Although indie wrestlers were allowed to tryout for Tough Enough this season, no notable names were selected. They didn't want anyone with too much experience, feeling it would give them an unfair advantage. WWF had a lot more leeway in picking people this season. Last year, MTV made a lot of the picks because they wanted good looking people for the TV show.

- Bobby Eaton is no longer working for WWF as a trainer for developmental. This release actually happened awhile ago but Dave's just now learning about it I guess. Eaton was dealing with both personal family issues as well as IRS tax problems and apparently the wrestling gig wasn't working out for him.

- Dave saw the latest HWA wrestling show (the other WWF developmental territory) and it was bad. He thinks all the ex-WCW guys have lost whatever charisma they may have once had. The Jung Dragons were repackaged as square dancing rednecks (Jamie Noble pretty much kept that gimmick forever). Brian Adams was working with some guy named Medic 8 who looked to be maybe 140 pounds and it was just awful.

- A list about the most warped and offensive Christmas toys has been released and a WWF-released action figure pack with Lita and Bubba Ray Dudley was listed as the #4 most twisted. The warning says, "The male figure has tongue hanging out, with his head between female action figure's legs" and called it sexually suggestive. Dave notes that Lita is doing a hurricanrana and Bubba's tongue is out because that his gimmick with the "Wazzup" spot. But it does look a little questionable when you think about it.

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- At recent house shows, Crash Holly has been kissing Molly Holly after their match. Neither of them uses the "Holly" name anymore so Dave doesn't know if they're just ignoring that they used to be kayfabe-cousins or if this is testing the waters for some incest angle (Vince will get an incest angle over one of these days or die trying).

- Also at a recent house show, Booker T, Lance Storm, and Justin Credible worked. Since all those guys allegedly "lost their jobs" when the Alliance was defeated at Survivor Series, they had Bradshaw cut a promo saying that they were just fulfilling their final contractual obligations as a way to explain it. Bradshaw really got into trashing WCW, saying there used to be a company called WCW that tried to steal everything from WWF and said "they even stole a certain jackass writer." Dave mentions that Bradshaw has apparently never been shy about his feelings towards Vince Russo.

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(08-21-2019, 08:42 AM)Peezy Wrote: - Notes from Raw: after a strong Survivor Series and one of the best Raws of the year last week, WWF immediately squandered all that goodwill by dropping a big ol' Raw-shaped turd this week. Full of the usual sophomoric Vince McMahon humor. We had William Regal peeing on Big Show in a backstage segment. A Rock promo full of gay jokes about Vince and never even bothering to try and get over the unification match at the PPV they have coming up in 2 weeks. Lance Storm was shown working as a janitor at the WWF New York restaurant, since he's "out of a job" now that the Alliance lost at Survivor Series. And of course, the big angle at the end to humiliate Jim Ross in his hometown and force him to kiss Vince's ass. Dave hated every bit of this.

- Booker T is the latest guy to get busted up by RVD in a match. Booker got a concussion and was busted open from a Van Daminator at a house show in Tulsa.

YAY BOOKER GOT INJURED IN MY CITY Heart Heart Heart

Also, while I recognize there were a crapton of random heel turns happening, I REALLY enjoyed Undertaker's. It was so unexpected, and his Respect gimmick was fantastic. The Kiss My Ass segment is horrible, of course, but the turn itself led to some really great stuff. I was just posting about that not too long ago.
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These updates got really slow after WCW died
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(11-13-2010, 11:51 PM)ASP Wrote: peanuts gonna peanut
(02-21-2013, 02:01 PM)jabroni Wrote: If peanut would let me I'd make peanut butter out that nigga.
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12-10-2001

- WWF has once again set a date for the planned roster split and now it's set to take place on the Jan. 7th edition of Raw at Madison Square Garden. Ever since buying WCW, the company has talked about splitting the roster and they have repeatedly made plans for a "draft" only to postpone those plans over and over again. At this point, the idea has been booked and then scrapped so many times that people within the company are doubting whether this Jan. 7th draft will actually happen (nope, it gets scrapped yet again and doesn't happen until March). Of course, at this point, any value that "WCW" or "ECW" had as brands has been totally squandered, which was the whole point of trying to run separate shows anyway. Dave goes through the history of how WWF botched the whole angle, and how the original plans for a separate company to "compete" with WWF kept changing as the angle kept failing, how WCW was going to be its own touring brand, etc. The current plan is still for Raw and Smackdown to run as separate entities, with Rock on one show and Austin heading up the other. One owned by Vince, the other owned by Ric Flair, and eventually each would run its own monthly PPV (thus doubling the number of WWF PPVs in a year). Dave breaks down how all this will completely fuck up the company's touring schedule for house shows. Especially if it happens in January, with lots of arenas already booked that would have to be changed. Dave seems to think they're rushing into this whole thing without really thinking through the logistics of it (yeah they thought so too, which is why they end up scrapping it).

- Dave also goes in depth on how various revenue streams might change with a brand split. He doesn't expect too much of a change in house show business. PPV is the big one. By doubling the number of PPVs each month, some people feel like that's too much and people won't spend that much money, Dave disagrees. Not too long ago, both WWF and WCW were running monthly PPVs, often within a week of each other, and both were doing big numbers. And that's not counting the occasional ECW PPVs at the time also. If the product is hot, people will pay for it. So if done right, this could greatly increase WWF's PPV profits. And of course, if done wrong, it could sink all their PPVs. TV ratings will be interesting. By splitting the roster, they're diluting the top stars and spreading the roster thin. Dave could see ratings for both shows going down since they'll only have half the star-power on each. But with more people getting TV time, it gives them a chance to create new stars and if they can do that, then hey, good news! Of course, that depends on WWF creating new stars. And they haven't been so great at that lately.

- Former Stampede Wrestling announcer Ed Whalen passed away this week at age 74 after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in Florida. Dave briefly summarizes his life and career, dating back to 1952 when Stu Hart first hired him to be a ring announcer. He talks about how Whalen loved the athletic aspect of wrestling and the goofy funny stuff, but he hated hardcore, violent wrestling and very publicly quit Stampede on 3 different occasions when he felt it had gotten too violent, only to be talked into coming back. He also had a lot of power with the local TV stations and whenever a match got too bloody or violent, he would order the cameras turned off, which frustrated Bruce Hart (who was booking the shows) because these were his most heated angles and matches and they often didn't air on television because Whalen would have them pulled. Whalen was well liked by most people in the company but they also realized he was often bad for business because he was well known for not allowing heels to get heat in interviews if he didn't like what they were saying by just taking the microphone away mid-sentence and leaving them there looking stupid on live TV or saying things on TV that completely went against whatever angle they were doing (how did this guy keep his job?!). By his later years, he was regarded as a pretty terrible announcer (he even won Worst Announcer in the 1989 Observer Awards). But Stu Hart loved him and never even considered firing him, no matter how much it frustrated Bruce. Anyway, Dave promises to have a much longer and more detailed story on Whalen in the next issue.

- Not much news this week so far. I've already gone through the top stories section, Mexico, NOAH, AJPW, etc. and it's mostly just show results. No real news to any of it.

- NJPW is still trying to put together plans for both Inoki's New Year's Eve show and the upcoming Jan. 4th Tokyo Dome show. The problem is, the main decision makers are Tatsumi Fujinami and Antonio Inoki and they can't agree on anything. So far, they've only agreed on 2 matches total between the two shows. The company is pushing Inoki to work a match at the Jan. 4th show because they (as well as TV-Asahi) want Inoki to come out of retirement to pop a big rating and ticket sales. Others are urging Inoki not to do it because they made such a big deal out of his retirement in 1998 that they don't want him to tarnish his reputation by coming back. Inoki worked a short "exhibition" match with Renzo Gracie last year but NJPW wants Inoki to work a real match, not an "exhibition" (doesn't happen. To this day, Inoki has remained retired and at age 76, I doubt that'll change anytime soon).

- Former NJPW referee Pete Takahashi wrote a book this week that is stirring up some controversy because he openly talks about wrestling being fake (in Japan, kayfabe is still pretty strongly protected). Takahashi also wrote about how Andre The Giant was the hardest wrestler to work with because he would never agree to lose to Inoki (he eventually did in 1986, as he was on his way out of the company). He also talks about Inoki doing his own angle where he allegedly almost swallowed his tongue and almost died during a match with Hulk Hogan in 1983, which resulted in Inoki being legitimately rushed to the hospital. The story was carried by all the major news outlets at the time and it was believed Inoki had legitimately suffered a severe injury, but the referee revealed that it was all a work by Inoki.

- Mick Foley has been appearing on the Celebrity edition of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire for the last couple of weeks. On the latest episode, he was up to $125,000 (to be donated to the New York Police & Fire Departments). Time ran out so he'll be back on the show next week to continue. Foley answered some fairly difficult questions correctly and came across much smarter than all the WWF stars that appeared on the Weakest Link a couple months ago (he ends up topping out at $125,000, doesn't get any higher than that).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipV7ADyPmjA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km2uFMJTN4c

- Scott Steiner worked his first match since WCW folded, appearing in Birmingham, England for WWA. Steiner attacked Konnan and Brian Christopher, which led to commissioner Bret Hart coming out and putting Steiner in the main event in a triple threat against Jeff Jarrett and Road Dogg. Word is Steiner didn't do much because he's still really messed up from all his injuries. He mostly stayed out of the way or helped Jarrett double team Road Dogg.

- WWA is currently touring all over Europe right now. They're also still having the announcers do commentary live over the house microphones so the crowd can hear it. During a Psicosis match, Konnan was doing commentary and joked that Psicosis "looks like Michael Jackson without the little boys" which got a laugh from the crowd. Other notes from the tour: Brian Christopher, doing his Too Cool gimmick with the glasses and dancing, has been super over because it was such a popular act in WWF and people still love it. Disco Inferno has gotten lots of praise for his commentary. When they were in Ireland, Stevie Ray was supposed to cut a promo bashing U2 (since they're from Ireland) but when he got the mic, he actually forgot the name of the band. In London, Scott Steiner started making fun of former Beatles member George Harrison, who literally died only 4 days earlier. Dave thinks that's pretty scummy even for pro wrestling. Anyway, all of the shows drew fairly well and because of their success in Europe and Australia, they're reportedly looking at running in the U.S. sooner than originally planned. Dave thinks that would be a big mistake and they will get humbled and brought back down to earth pretty quickly if they try. Europe and Australia are starved for major league pro wrestling with top American stars so those shows can still draw there. But Dave can't see this promotion, with this roster, drawing flies in the U.S. right now.

- Big Japan Wrestling held a PPV that was apparently shown in America and I only mention it because Missy Hyatt and Joel Gertner did the commentary for it. Dave has gotten a handful of reviews from people who saw the show and apparently their commentary (especially Missy's) was horrifically bad. I'm bummed because I can't find this show. But Missy Hyatt and Gertner doing commentary on death match wrestling is something I kinda need to see.

- Ted Turner was part of a big press meeting this week where he said that if he knew then what he knew now, he never would have sold Time Warner in the first place. The Time Warner deal with AOL essentially stripped Turner of all his power in the company. Anyway, this is only notable because Turner said nothing at all about starting a new TV network. A lot of people in the wrestling industry had been quietly hoping that Turner would start a new network with hopes that he would bring back wrestling on it. But it doesn't appear that Turner is interested in getting back into that game anymore at this stage of his life.

- Kevin Nash is reportedly looking to work tours with WWA starting in February. The idea is that he would get paid $40,000 per tour, with WWA doing 5 tours per year. Each tour is 2 weeks. That comes out to $200,000 per year for only 10 weeks of work, plus they pay all his travel expenses. It's believed WWF offered Nash a $400,000 per year deal, but they don't pay travel expenses and they obviously want him to work more dates. But that was all just preliminary talks, there haven't been any real serious negotiations between Nash and WWF yet because he can't do anything until his WCW deal expires in January anyway. Ultimately, it's Vince McMahon's call but everyone in the company is said to be pretty negative on the idea of bringing in Nash.

- Chyna appeared on the latest Celebrity Fear Factor and it ended up being the highest rated episode in the history of the show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUuwbLM-TSM

- A 16 year old in Florida is in stable condition after a backyard wrestling stunt gone awry. They poured rubbing alcohol on him and set him on fire. The match was being taped and on the video, you can see that the kid doesn't want to do it and he even tries to call a time out and stop it midway through but they ended up doing the stunt to him anyway. Another teenager, who lit the fire, is facing possible criminal charges (backyard wrestling was such a big thing around this time and man, people were doing some dumb shit).

- RF Video, the company that sold all of ECW's old videos, is getting into the wrestling promotion game. They're holding a show in February at the Murphy Rec Center in Philadelphia. The promotion will be called Ring of Honor. Dave says these guys have an advantage over other indie companies because they have the infrastructure in place already to sell and distribute videos of their shows. They're planning to bring in hot indie stars like American Dragon, Spanky, and Low-Ki as well as Eddie Guerrero (and with that little paragraph, ROH is officially born).

- XWF booked their first house shows and whew boy. They booked the 12,000 seat US Cellular Arena in Milwaukee and then the cruel reality hit. Tickets went on sale and they sold less than 250 the first day. It's important to note that these days, the first on-sale date is when the most tickets are sold. Suffice it to say, they're probably not gonna fill up this arena. At this rate, they'll be lucky to fill up 2 rows of it. It was the same story in the other cities as well (Green Bay, Hammond, IN, etc.). The advertising for the shows lists Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine, Nasty Boys, Buff Bagwell, and the Road Warriors as the top stars. It's 2001. Dave has no idea what this company is thinking.

- Roddy Piper was on the Mancow radio show and trashed the WWF. He said the WWF isn't wrestling and criticized the Vince McMahon "kiss my ass club" angle they've been doing. He said the wrestlers in WWF are afraid to stand up for themselves and refuse to participate in humiliating angles. He also claimed Rena Mero was fired because she refused to take her shirt off at a show. Dave points out that's not exactly true. She actually quit the company, she wasn't fired. But in her later sexual harassment lawsuit, she did mention that she had been asked to take her top off at a show and had refused. But she wasn't fired for it, nor did she quit until long after that incident.

- XWF has had interest in both Jeff Jarrett and especially Road Dogg. The talks with Jarrett fell through but they may still come together down the line. As for Road Dogg, they really wanted him but there's issues with him. On top of his well-known drug issues, which got him fired from WWF, he has also developed a reputation in recent months for no-showing indie events that he was booked for. XWF is trying to steer clear of anyone who might give them bad publicity or won't show up. But if he can get his shit together, they'd love to have him.

- Eric Bischoff is meeting with UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta later this week, but Dave doesn't have any details on why.

- Notes from Raw: the show opened with Jericho cutting a promo and for a moment there, Dave almost got his hopes up that they might be trying to elevate him to be a top star. But he's been down this road too many times to fall for that trick again. Big Show is really packing on the pounds and has to be a legit 500 at this point. Dave remembers last year when the company was adamant that Big Show wouldn't be brought back from OVW until he got down to 375. Oh well. Austin beat Jericho clean in 7 minutes, which does nothing to make him look strong going into the PPV, considering Jericho desperately needs it. There was nothing wrong with the match itself under normal circumstances, but Jericho is a big part of the main event angle at the PPV and he looked like a total geek here. During the main event (Rock/Trish vs. Vince/Angle), Vince ended up getting a bloody nose from some stiff shots by Trish. I bet he loved that. Jericho interfered, hit Rock with the lionsault, and Rock still kicked out. Once again, Jericho is heading into this PPV looking like a schmuck (this all works out okay for Jericho next week).

- Dave has spoiler notes from the upcoming Smackdown tapings. For starters, Undertaker cut all his hair off. But the other main thing is Jericho was once again beaten clean (tapping out to a sharpshooter from Rock) and then was beaten up after the match by his own partner, Kurt Angle. Dave has no idea why they're going out of their way this week to make Jericho look like a total bitch right before a PPV where he's in the matches to determine the first undisputed champion (again, this all works out okay soon, but it *is* questionable booking). Also, the "What!?" chants from the crowd during people's promos is fun for the audience, but it absolutely kills the promos that the guys in the ring are trying to do.

- In regards to Jerry Lawler's recent return to WWF, he was offered a 3-year contract by both the WWF and the XWF. And in fact, the XWF's offer was for more money. But Lawler decided to play it safe on the assumption that WWF will still be around in 3 years, whereas XWF might not be (didn't even last 1 year, so Lawler definitely made the right call on that one).

- A Yokozuna Memorial Show was held last week that drew a sellout crowd of 1,000 fans and a lot of WWF wrestlers worked the show. Afa Anoi'a (Yokozuna's uncle) promoted the show and a lot of that family was there. Rock wasn't able to make it, but Rikishi worked. It was Rikishi's first match in months following some recent surgeries. Undertaker & Kane beat the APA. Kanyon appeared on crutches (he had agreed to work the show months ago but he's injured now, but he still wanted to appear) as well as Kidman, Shannon Moore, Jamie Noble, and some other indie guys.

- Dave lists all the injuries everyone has and there's a lot. Randy Orton suffered a shoulder injury in a pre-Smackdown dark match with Brock Lesnar and it was feared that he might have had a torn rotator cuff, but fortunately it's not that serious (this would be the start of years of shoulder injuries for Randy). Booker T suffered a concussion after an errant kick from, you guessed it, RVD. Rhyno recently had the same major neck surgery that Austin and Benoit had and it's looking to be at least a year before he can return. And the list keeps going. Edge, Christian, Tommy Dreamer, Stacy Keibler, Scotty 2 Hotty, William Regal, Shawn Stasiak, Hugh Morrus, Test, X-Pac, Crash Holly....everybody's got various injuries. Some need surgery, some are working through them. In better news, Triple H is expected to finally return in January. Benoit should be back around March (not quite).

- In OVW, Leviathan is now working as a babyface and recently won the OVW heavyweight title (he later loses it to Prototype).

- Following his recent heart attack, Russ Haas has been cleared to start training again in about a week. He's been doing therapy and every cardiologist he has seen has given him positive reviews and he's expected to be back in the ring by January (not so much, I'm afraid. He dies about a week after this from another heart attack).

- ESPN columnist Bill Simmons criticized the WWF's writing this week in his latest column, writing, "Even Clark Griswold's kids haven't changed as often as the WWF storylines over the past three months. You need to watch three shows a week and keep a scorecard just to be able to follow everything. It's bad enough that wrestling is fake. Don't make us work at following it too." (Man, if he thought 2001 didn't make sense, I wonder if he's still watching these days.)

- John Laurinaitis is heading down to OVW and HWA later this week to get rid of some people. It's been known for awhile that roster cuts were coming and he's heading down there to fire everyone in person. Needless to say, lots of nervous folks in developmental right now.

- Jim Ross is meeting with Rey Mysterio when they're in town for the PPV next week, so it looks like there is some interest there, despite previous comments Ross has made.

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I think the questionable booking about Jericho was because didn't they originally plan to make Kurt Angle the first undisputed champion, but Kurt insisted it be Jericho instead? I bet leading up to it, they were planning on it still be Kirk Angel.
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- Former Stampede Wrestling announcer Ed Whalen passed away this week at age 74 after suffering a heart attack while on vacation in Florida. Dave briefly summarizes his life and career, dating back to 1952 when Stu Hart first hired him to be a ring announcer. He talks about how Whalen loved the athletic aspect of wrestling and the goofy funny stuff, but he hated hardcore, violent wrestling and very publicly quit Stampede on 3 different occasions when he felt it had gotten too violent, only to be talked into coming back. He also had a lot of power with the local TV stations and whenever a match got too bloody or violent, he would order the cameras turned off, which frustrated Bruce Hart (who was booking the shows) because these were his most heated angles and matches and they often didn't air on television because Whalen would have them pulled. Whalen was well liked by most people in the company but they also realized he was often bad for business because he was well known for not allowing heels to get heat in interviews if he didn't like what they were saying by just taking the microphone away mid-sentence and leaving them there looking stupid on live TV or saying things on TV that completely went against whatever angle they were doing (how did this guy keep his job?!). By his later years, he was regarded as a pretty terrible announcer (he even won Worst Announcer in the 1989 Observer Awards). But Stu Hart loved him and never even considered firing him, no matter how much it frustrated Bruce. Anyway, Dave promises to have a much longer and more detailed story on Whalen in the next issue.



So, growing up and seeing Stampede Wrestling as I was a kid I can kind of speak to this. Whalen was a fucking hero in Calgary. He did what he wanted, when he wanted and people loved him. I do recall him treating the heels like dogshit but I don’t recall him quitting multiple times.

There is some fantastic clips on twitter of him and his interviews.
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