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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jan. 28, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUSLY: The Complete Wrestling Observer Rewind 1991-2001
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002
  • NJPW was thrown into chaos this week when Keiji Muto, Satoshi Kojima, and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champion Kendo Kashin all abruptly quit the company, along with 5 of NJPW's front office employees, and are headed to AJPW. Needless to say, this immediately killed the working relationship between the two companies and NJPW is already attempting to forge a new partnership with NOAH. There's also said to be a significant power struggle within NJPW right now behind the scenes that will likely be straightened out whenever Inoki returns to Japan (he's in Los Angeles right now). Tatsumi Fujinami is NJPW president but in the wake of losing these big stars, and the disappointing TV ratings for the Jan. 4th show, it's rumored his days may be numbered. There's rumors that Inoki may take over the role for the first time since he was forced out of the position back in 1983 (long story, bunch of financial scandals, Google is your friend here). Muto is currently half of the IWGP tag team champions and they were scheduled to defend the titles next month and he volunteered to still work the show, but NJPW wasn't having that so that won't be happening now and the titles will instead be vacated, along with the Jr. title Kashin held. And of course, the IWGP title is also currently vacant due to Fujita's injury, so all of NJPW's top titles are vacant right now (the only other active title is the Jr. tag belts, held by Gedo and Jado).
  • Lots of rumors floating around about how this happened, but the gist appears to be that Hiroshi Hase was the architect (no Seth) behind this whole thing. Reportedly, Muto (and maybe some of the other people who left) may be purchasing a stake of AJPW from Motoko Baba so he'll have some ownership say. The long-term idea is that Mrs. Baba will step down in a few years and Muto, who by then should be ready to retire (lol) will take over the role as AJPW president. Of course, that was the original plan for Misawa after Giant Baba died, but he and Motoko Baba couldn't get along and Misawa eventually left and formed NOAH instead. It's also worth noting that Kashin in particular wasn't thrilled about doing shoot fights while working in NJPW, but felt pressured to by Inoki and he reportedly wanted out of the company even if the AJPW thing hadn't been an option. As for Kojima, he and Tenzan have been the best tag team pro wrestling has seen in years and from an in-ring perspective, may have been the best pure worker in NJPW so his loss is going to hurt a lot too. The office workers who left are mostly accounting and merchandising people who will be doing the same jobs for AJPW.
  • One bummer of a note here is that, before this, Muto had talked of putting together a dream match against Misawa. But as long as Motoko Baba is breathing air, an AJPW star isn't going to work with Misawa, so that's probably a dead issue (yeah, sadly we never did get that match).
  • One final note: Muto also tried to recruit NJPW rising star Hiroshi Tanahashi, who most believe has the most potential of anyone in the entire company, to jump ship with him but Tanahashi decided to stay (oh man, can you imagine how different things would be if he had gone).
  • On Raw this week, Vince McMahon teased the impending arrival of Hall, Nash, and Hogan, saying he's going to do something soon that even he will regret. Vince has reportedly caved on most of Nash's demands, including the reduced schedule. Hall will be making less money than Nash and will be given an even lighter schedule, because he's a single parent with custody of his children (and Dave questions how fucked up Dana Hall must be if SCOTT is the one who has custody). And of course, you gotta figure Hogan ain't working a full schedule, since he hasn't done that in a decade and probably ain't gonna start now. Of course, this puts WWF in the same position WCW was in a few years ago: having all the top stars working TV and not appearing on house shows, which is something WWF used to openly mock WCW for. Now they'll be doing the same thing, with the same guys. It's something that killed WCW's house show business long before the TV ratings started going down. There's also the issue of how they'll get along backstage, since many of the agents (Dave says Gerald Brisco in particular) were very vocally against bringing these guys back. And then there's John Laurinaitis, who has a lot of power backstage now and he and Nash used to butt heads constantly in WCW. So things are gonna be interesting.
  • In a bit of a surprise, Vince has also agreed to let them use the NWO name and gimmick, and that reveal was made later in the week on Smackdown when Vince talked about killing the WWF with the help of the NWO. As of now, there's no plans for Triple H to join the group. X-Pac will probably find his way into it, given his relationship and history with the group. Nash is reportedly pushing for Shawn Michaels to be involved, but Dave has heard that's unlikely because there's still some fences that need to be mended there between Shawn and some in the company. But then again, Nash has gotten his way on everything else he's asked Vince for so far, so who knows? Anyway, Hall and Nash have officially signed, but Hogan still hasn't finalized his deal as of press time, but the office has been told it's inevitable and to start making plans as if he's signed. It's expected all 3 men will probably debut at the No Way Out PPV next month.
WATCH: Vince McMahon announces the arrival of the NWO
  • The Royal Rumble is in the books and was a huge success. Critically, it was an excellent show, nothing MOTY-worthy or anything, but nothing bad at all and was a legit sellout. Coming out of the show, it appears Chris Jericho will be defending the WWF title against Triple H at Wrestlemania, though that can still change. Triple H winning the Rumble was expected but made the most sense. The Rumble match lasted just over 69 minutes (nice), surpassing the 1993 Rumble and, as far as Dave is aware, making it the longest mach in WWF history (a famous Pedro Morales vs. Bruno Sammartino match in 1972 was reported in all the newspapers as lasting 75 minutes, but it was actually only 65 so don't come at Dave with no "well actually..." bullshit)
  • The return of Mr. Perfect and him being put over like a major star (he lasted until the final 4) proves that WWF has no intention of letting any other competitor get off the ground and will nip that in the bud before it ever happens. Hennig has been available for more that a year (WCW released him before they folded) and WWF never seemed interested, but as soon as XWF came along and made him their featured star (with plans to make him the face of the company), suddenly WWF swooped him up. Hennig's appearance was meant to be a one-off but it was known they were likely going to offer him a deal if he was impressive, and they have. It may not be a huge get for WWF, but it's a massive loss for XWF and pretty much renders their entire first set of TV tapings meaningless now, and Dave says that was precisely the point. Vince left the door open for competition once before and it nearly killed him. He won't make that mistake again (not until 2019 anyway). Dave says to let this be a lesson to any new promotion trying to start up: make sure you have people signed.
  • Other notes from Royal Rumble: Goldust, who was also a one-off for the match, is expected to sign a full-time deal as well. FlaiVince street fight was way better than it had any right to be considering it was between two guys over 50, one of whom isn't even a trained wrestler and the other hasn't wrestled in nearly a year since the final Nitro. Jericho retained the title over Rock in an excellent match and Dave notes that no one in the history of wrestling with the kind of main event star power Rock possesses has ever done as many jobs as him. Maven dropkicking Undertaker out of the Rumble match was the biggest pop of the entire show. But then Undertaker spent the next several minutes beating poor Maven nearly to death, lest anyone think Undertaker was actually trying to get this kid over or anything. Overall, Dave thinks it was the best Rumble match in several years.
WATCH: Maven eliminates Undertaker from the 2002 Royal Rumble
  • The tradition of Memphis wrestling on WMC-TV has been revived! Sorta. The show, dating back to the 70s, has been off the air since last spring when the TV station refused to allow them to tape shows in their studio anymore. For the next few months, they aired a bunch of "Best of" shows but those eventually stopped in December and they've been airing infomercials in that time slot ever since. But this week, a show featuring Jerry Lawler and Brian Christopher in the main event, taped at a nearby casino in Tunica, MS aired on the channel in the usual Saturday morning time slot. Dave says the production quality was garbage and there was no local publicity for it, so it probably did a terrible rating, but it's something (pretty much just one last dying gasp, this doesn't lead to anything).
  • Carlos Colon said he's going to cut back on being an active wrestler because he wants to spend more time with his kids. Dave points out that most of his kids are wrestlers in his company, so maybe he's actually trying to get away from them.
  • NJPW star Minoru Tanaka announced his engagement to former women's wrestler Yumi Fukawa, who retired last year (did some research and they're still married to this day. Tanaka still wrestles in NOAH and Fukawa is an actress in Japan).
  • Atsushi Onita, who has been issuing grandstand challenges to Antonio Inoki for months with no response, has now challenged Naoya Ogawa for a match and wants it to be a benefit show in Afghanistan for the kids there. Dave says don't hold your breath for that one either. Onita says if he beats Ogawa, he wants the match with Inoki. Again, none of this is happening, just Onita trying to work his own angle. Neither Inoki nor Ogawa want anything to do with him.
  • Goldberg participated in a charity golf tournament this week and while there, he made some comments about going to the WWF. "I personally believe that everything I've stood for when I got into the ring would be compromised and succumbed to the circus-like atmosphere that's out there, and that's putting it mildly. I would be an imbecile if I gave up half my money to work for a company I didn't respect." Dave wonders if his tune will change when that WCW contract money dries up (yup). Also, at the same tournament, they did a funny little angle with Goldberg throwing his caddie into a lake.
WATCH: Goldberg torpedoes his caddie into the lake
  • Superstar Billy Graham has reportedly lost nearly 60 pounds in just 3 weeks, most of it water weight due to edema he's suffering from and all the other liver issues he's currently dealing with.
  • Bruno Sammartino did an interview talking about the role he has in a new low-budget movie called Saloonatics where he plays a mob guy with cancer. Sammartino talked about how uncomfortable he was with all the profanity his character had to say but he eventually got more comfortable with it and was able to put aside his personal feelings and eventually was okay with it. (No idea where the full movie is, but here's a trailer and yeah this shit is LOOOOOOOW budget).
WATCH: Saloonatics trailer
  • Former WCW announcer Mark Madden is in some controversy in Pittsburgh, where he hosts a daily sports talk show on the local ESPN radio station there. A few weeks back, the sports media in the city was swirling with rumors about NFL star Kordell Stewart's sexuality. Madden went on his radio show and criticized people who were spreading those rumors. A writer who works at the radio station then went on the air and accused Madden of being one of the main people who fueled those rumors and claimed Madden had said things in the past on his show implying that Stewart is gay. Madden denied ever saying that, demanded the guy find the tapes to prove he ever said it, and basically felt like the guy ambushed him live on the air with the accusations. The radio station apparently agreed because the writer was fired when he refused to apologize (for what it's worth, several people have made accusations about Stewart being gay over the years and he's always denied them, and even successfully sued someone a few years ago for claiming he had a relationship with him. Who knows and who cares? Not anybody's business anyway).
  • Jake Roberts was on a radio talk show in England recently and said some interesting stuff. Said he plans to stay in the UK for the next 2 years. Said he could walk back into the WWF and have a writing job tomorrow if he wanted it. Dave scoffs at that and says I guess he prefers wrestling in front of empty indie show crowds in England instead of earning a steady paycheck. Jake also talked about the scene in Beyond The Mat where the movie alleges that Roberts asked an indie promoter for crack cocaine as his payoff for working the show. Roberts denied it happened and said he doesn't trust a promoter with anything, so he wouldn't trust one to get him crack. Well okay then. Claimed he left the WWF last time because he wasn't comfortable with the angle he was doing with Jerry Lawler, feeling like they were exploiting his sobriety. Dave pretty much rolls his eyes at all this, because Jake was actually fired for going on a bender and no-showing a bunch of events (I'm glad we all love Jake now, but he was still 1000% full of shit and off the deep end during this period).
  • Iron Shiek missed an appearance on the Opie & Anthony radio show this week because he was detained for several hours at the airport. Turns out he wore his curly toed wrestling boots on the plane and because this is 4 months after 9/11 and only 1 month after the attempted shoe-bomber, and let's be honest, simply because Iron Shiek is Middle Eastern, people freaked out. And when they wanted to examine his boots, he initially refused to let them and, well, you can imagine how well that went over with airport security.
  • If WWA's PPV in Las Vegas happens next month, Bret Hart has agreed to reprise his role as the on-screen commissioner. As best Dave can tell, no one else has really been signed on for the show and the MGM Grand doesn't know anything about this alleged plan to hold the event in their arena and in fact, WWA hasn't even applied with the Nevada commission to get a license to run a show anywhere in the state and it's almost certainly too late to get one by the scheduled date. So Dave is skeptical that this even happens, and if it does, he can't see it being in Las Vegas. (Surprisingly, it does happen and it is in Vegas, but we'll get there.)
  • Speaking of the Nevada athletic commission, XWF brought a bunch of wrestlers and a wrestling ring to the National Association of Television Program Executives conference in Vegas, with hopes of putting on a live show and impressing all the TV execs and trying to secure a TV deal. But the XWF didn't get permission from the Nevada commission, so they weren't allowed to use the ring and do a show. Whoops.
  • Speaking of XWF, morale is in the dumps in that company right now. Losing both Hulk Hogan and Curt Hennig (neither of whom were signed but had been working with them) as well as Sting reportedly not being interested has killed a lot of the excitement about the promotion for people within it.
  • Notes from Raw: Flair cut an emotional promo about his history in wrestling and how he was on the road so much and put wrestling ahead of his family and not seeing his kids and all that stuff. During the promo, Lawler made a sarcastic joke about Flair needing to have his priorities in order, which Dave thinks is pretty rich coming from Lawler, who lived the exact same life and wasn't much of a father to his kids either (which Lawler has admitted, to be fair). They're continuing to tease a Triple H/Stephanie split, with him being annoyed at her nagging. Speaking of Triple H, Dave thinks he needs to lose at least 15 pounds because he's totally slow and lumbering since he came back.
  • Notes from Smackdown: AJ Styles worked a dark match, losing to Rico Constantino, but apparently he looked awesome in the match (yeah he hits an awesome shooting star to the floor late in the match). And the show ended with McMahon doing the big NWO reveal on the back of his chair during his promo.
WATCH: AJ Styles vs. Rico Constantino dark match - 2002
  • Regarding Triple H's match on Smackdown last week, where they gave away his return match on free TV 3 days before the Rumble. Remember how Dave was flabbergasted that they would be so short-sighted? Turns out Triple H felt the same way and fought hard against it, but Vince wouldn't budge.
  • Chris Benoit is telling people he expects to be back in the ring around June (yup).
  • Jim Ross answered some questions at a press thing last week and had lots of interesting stuff to say. He said the criticism WWF was receiving for bringing in Hall, Nash, and Hogan hurts, but they have to do what's best for the company and Vince feels this is it. Doesn't sound like JR loves the idea too much either. They've had no talks with Scott Steiner. When told of Goldberg's recent comments (mentioned above), he said he wanted to believe Goldberg hadn't really said that and thought it was a shame. Said there's heat on Jeff Jarrett for how he left the WWF last time so he probably won't be welcomed back anytime soon. JR also hinted that the brand split will come after Wrestlemania and implied that they will be reviving the cruiserweight division. Dave says he's convinced that Vince will never get behind pushing cruiserweights as major stars so he's not holding out hope for that. Said they may bring in Rey Mysterio if they decided to launch a cruiserweight division. Said they'd love to have Eddie Guerrero back but he has to get his personal issues straightened out first. Same with Shawn Michaels, plus they don't know if he could physically do it.
  • ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote an article reviewing Royal Rumble 2002 and Dave thinks it was great. In one piece, Simmons managed to pretty much sum up all of WWF's recent problems while still acknowledging that the show was entertaining. And the link Dave posted for it in 2002 still works!
WATCH: Bill Simmons reviews the 2002 Royal Rumble
  • Unless things change, Chris Jericho is gonna be in an awkward situation next week. Jericho is scheduled to play in a celebrity hockey game as part of NHL All Star Weekend. Who will his celebrity coach be, you ask? Goldberg. As of press time, most people in WWF don't seem to be aware of it and Dave wouldn't be surprised if Jericho gets pulled from it.
  • Booker T was on the Howard Stern show (after his comments last week saying he wasn't a fan of Stern, go figure) and talked about his time in prison and his plans to write a book. He also said he hopes to retire in 2 years which Dave ain't buying (yeah, still about 10 years away from that). He also said someone is suing him over the term "Spinaroonie" because apparently someone else thinks they own the rights to that name. Booker also mentioned that he's dating former Nitro Girl Sharmell Sullivan. Dave notes that they've been dating since WCW and Booker is the one who helped her get hired by WWF, where she's currently in developmental.
  • DDP has also said he plans to retire in 2 years, to become a motivational speaker. This one actually almost happened. He left WWF just 3 months after this and didn't wrestle at all for several years. Then he had a brief run in TNA but he's been mostly retired other than some one-offs ever since.
  • Randy Orton is moving up to the main roster. In his final OVW match, Orton lost clean to Prototype and Dave says it's clear they're grooming Prototype to be the next OVW champion.
WATCH: Randy Orton vs. Prototype - OVW 2002
WEDNESDAY: More on the impending arrival of the NWO, more on the upcoming brand split, cruiserweight division, and more...
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jan. 1, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
Hi everybody! Man, I missed y'all. So in case you missed my explanation for why I took the last 2+ months off, basically my whole life changed recently. Wife got a new job that required us to move to a new city. Which meant I also had to find a new job, we had to sell our house, find a new place to live, get settled in a new city, and all that fun stuff. It's been a really hectic and crazy couple of months, but everything has worked out great and we're all good now. A million thanks to everyone for all the nice messages and well-wishes during all this. You guys are awesome and SquaredCircle is by far my favorite corner of the internet.
In the midst of all this, I finally managed to get caught up on writing these things. My plan is to hopefully keep the usual M/W/F at noon EST schedule that has worked so well for the last couple of years. But full disclosure, that may not always be possible. My last job was pretty comfortable, I could sit at my desk and surf Reddit while working at the same time and it was never a problem. My job situation has changed so this will probably be posted during my lunch breaks and that might vary. So while I will always try to post at around the same time as everyone is used to, that may not always be possible. So just bear with me while we make this work.
That's pretty much it. And now, let us begin....the final year of the Observer Rewind!
Oh yeah, one other thing. I hate to come back after such a long absence and drop a turd. But this issue kinda sucks and there's almost nothing major happening this week. But don't worry, they get better from here!
  • Dave opens the first issue of 2001 with a look back at the top wrestlers of 2000. The Observer award votes are still being tabulated and whatnot but Dave decides to look at the top candidates and give his own personal thoughts.
Kurt Angle had a star-making year. One of the best talkers in the business and already one of the best in-ring guys after only really one full year. Dave says if he continues to improve at this rate in 2001, barring injuries, he may be the best in the world by this time next year (yup).
Chris Benoit is probably the best in-ring guy in wrestling today and his jump from WCW to WWF (along with the other 3) pretty much tore the heart out of WCW and they've never recovered. Benoit was going to be a main eventer and likely multiple-time world champion in WCW, headlining PPVs and TV, and who knows what may have been different if he had stayed. They almost certainly would have still self-destructed, but at least the matches would have been better.
Triple H is the likely Wrestler of the Year winner and Dave wouldn't argue it. He spent 2000 as one of the top guys (alongside Rock) in WWF and had numerous MOTY-quality matches, was a top draw for PPV, tickets, ratings, everything. Held the title repeatedly. An incredible feud with Kurt Angle that unfortunately fizzled out but was great while it lasted, etc. Hard to argue that Triple H had the best 2000 out of anyone in wrestling.
Toshiaki Kawada. Without him, AJPW ceases to exist in 2000. His star power and that alone is the only thing keeping that promotion alive and the feud with NJPW has put Kawada in a position of having dream matches that will sell out the Tokyo Dome. His match with Kensuke Sasaki was one of the biggest matches in the history of Japanese wrestling. And in ring, he's a Benoit-level worker. You could argue that other wrestlers were better this year, but nobody was more valuable to their promotion than Kawada was to AJPW.
Mitsuharu Misawa didn't really have the kind of amazing in-ring year that he's been known for in the past. But the importance of the NOAH split from AJPW is hard to overstate and was likely the biggest business story in wrestling all year in Japan (worldwide, Dave thinks the slow death of WCW is a bigger story in the long-term). If this award was for most influential wrestler outside the ring, Misawa would get it due to the successful start of NOAH.
The Rock should probably be the favorite. He's not the in-ring talent that Triple H has, but he's still pretty damn great and has had some classic matches this year. He was the top draw for WWF by far and kept the company afloat with Austin out injured for most of the year. Plus, his sheer celebrity and mainstream value to the company is huge.
Kazushi Sakuraba is a controversial pick and there's been a lot of debate over whether he qualifies, since he's MMA and not pro wrestling. Dave argues the case to why he should be eligible but it's hard to make a fair comparison to wrestling. But Sakuraba's historical legacy in MMA was cemented this year when he started beating members of the Gracie family one-by-one in PRIDE. Speaking of......
  • Kazushi Sakuraba added another Gracie head to his mantle last week, defeating Ryan Gracie at PRIDE 12. It was controversial because Gracie came into the fight with a shoulder injury suffered in training a few days earlier and doctors had told him not to fight. Gracie agreed to still do the fight but only if it was limited to a 10 minute time limit, which fans didn't find out about until the day of the show and booed the shit out of it. There may have been an agreement made before the match because though Gracie's injury was well-known (Gracie cut a promo about it before the fight, about how their family is tough and they don't listen to doctors and yada yada. Basically, giving themselves an out if/when Gracie inevitably lost), Sakuraba never went after it in the fight. But he dominated the match and won by decision after the 10 minute time limit. He has now beaten Royler, Royce, Renzo, and Ryan in the span of the last 13 months (and that's why they call him the "Gracie Killer").
  • The next major story is a recap of the recent RINGS show, and then a brief note that TV ratings aren't available and then....that's it for the top front page stories. We're already halfway through the bulk of the issue and there's not much on actual wrestling at all so far. Just a bunch of MMA recaps. Let's see what the second half brings us...
  • RVD will likely be appearing at the AJPW Tokyo Dome show in late January. No word if he'll work a match but he's at least hoping to be there for the Stan Hansen retirement ceremony, since Hansen helped him a lot in his earlier years when Van Dam worked for AJPW in the early 90s.
  • The biggest show in Pro Wrestling NOAH history took place last week, selling out a 12,000 arena. Shinya Hashimoto debuted, pinning Takao Omori. Kenta Kobashi beat Jun Akiyama in a match many are calling the best of the year. Hashimoto is expected to work a few more shows for NOAH but he isn't signed.
  • A couple of rookies in NOAH are getting a lot of praise. Takashi Sugiura is already being compared to Kurt Angle, because he's a former amateur wrestler who is making a good transition. And the other is Kenta Kobayashi (later KENTA and then Hideo Itami), who will actually main event a show next month, teaming with Kobashi (the names are SO similar) against Misawa and Marufuji.
  • Dave saw NJPW's latest show (which aired on PPV in Japan) featuring an inter-promotional match against with AJPW's Masa Fuchi and Kawada against NJPW's Takashi Iizuka and Yuji Nagata and he gives it the full 5 stars. Which is funny because on most lists you find online, this match isn't listed. Most people thought NJPW didn't get a single 5-star match between 1997 and 2012 but in a throwaway paragraph reviewing this show, he calls it a definite 5-stars and potential MOTY. So there ya go: the lost 5-star classic.
WATCH: Masa Fuchi & Kawada vs Takashi Iizuka and Yuji Nagata - AJPW vs. NJPW inter-promotional match
  • Antonio Inoki will have a 5-minute "exhibition match" at his New Year's Eve show (Dave is seemingly unaware at this point that Inoki's opponent will end up being Renzo Gracie).
  • Legendary wrestler Johnny Valentine is on death's door. Back in August, he broke his back falling off his front porch, which nearly killed him. In September he nearly died from a lung infection. He's been in and out of comas throughout that time and now he's back in the hospital again for the same reason (he ends up hanging on until April).
  • Dave saw the latest TV taping from the UPW indie promotion in California. WWF sent the Hardyz and Lita to work the show. Juventud Guerrera, Christopher Daniels, and Michael Modest were on it as well. WWF developmental wrestler Nathan Jones recently started there. Of all the guys working for UPW, Prototype (real name John Cena) shows the most promise. He's got an incredible look and superstar charisma, but he's not that good in the ring yet. Dave hopes he won't be rushed to the big leagues too soon because he will be exposed and it's hard to overcome the rep as a bad wrestler. Lots of people have been comparing Cena to a young Sting. Either way, Dave thinks the guy has a ton of potential to be a star if they don't fuck it up.
  • RVD seems to have accepted the idea that he's not going back to ECW and has said at some point in the next few months, he'll decide whether he's going to WWF or WCW. His agent has had talks with both companies. WWF is interested but they're more interested in Jerry Lynn because apparently the wrestlers in WWF who have worked with both of them prefer Lynn (RVD kinda had a reputation for accidentally hurting people). WCW is interested but can't do anything because there's a hiring freeze right now. RVD is probably the most marketable free agent on the market right now but there's still no guarantees of anything for him.
  • Randy Savage will appear in the Spider-Man movie as villain named "Saw Bones McGraw" (close enough, Dave). They're filming scenes with him and Spider-Man in a cage match.
WATCH: Randy Savage as Bone Saw in Spiderman
  • ECW held a show at the ECW Arena that was said to be somewhat of a weird show. The crowd was down from usual, only about 1000 people, rather than the usual over-packed crowd. Everyone on the roster were given checks post-dated for the following Tuesday, which now leaves them 6 weeks behind on pay. But there's no more shows scheduled until the PPV next week. Super Crazy returned, even though his father died the night before. And during the main event, Sandman tried to recreate the famous chair incident from a few years ago, asking fans to throw chairs in the ring, which many thought was pretty negligent considering how dangerous that is for all the fans at ringside. Justin Credible caught a chair in the head that he wasn't prepared for and several fights broke out in the crowd during the incident also, due to fans getting hit by other fans. Then security ended up attacking fans and it was a whole mess for awhile there. (And that, folks, was the very last real ECW show ever at the ECW Arena. Pour one out for the end of an era.)
  • Notes from the latest ECW Hardcore TV: neither the Dudleyz match or the Tazz promo from the tapings aired. Dave assumes WWF wouldn't allow it. Joey Styles talked about Mikey Whipwreck having 17 documented concussions which Dave thinks is pretty scary. That's basically it.
  • Notes from Nitro: Kevin Nash, DDP, and Sid Vicious all returned and none of them were punished for walking out last week, nor was Scott Steiner punished for his off-script promo. Nor were he or DDP punished for their backstage fight. Eric Bischoff flew out the day before and basically sat down with everybody to hash out their problems. He gave everyone the impression that he'll be taking over the company in 2001 and is trying to start things with a clean slate. Needless to say, there was a lot of resentment from the undercard wrestlers about top stars being able to just walk out of live TV tapings, shoot on the mic, and get into fights and not only go unpunished, but be put right back on TV the next week in their same top positions. Lex Luger walked out earlier this year and came back in a stronger position than when he left. Buff Bagwell has been in and out of trouble all year, is hated by much of the locker room, but still gets significant TV time in the uppercard. Meanwhile, guys like Lance Storm and Mike Awesome are out there every night busting their asses (with Awesome fighting to overcome the career-killing 70s guy gimmick) and they're barely a focal point of the show. Some in management wanted to punish everyone who walked out, but with Bischoff expected to take control any day now, they were afraid to because it's no secret that DDP and Bischoff are close friends, as are Bischoff and Nash. So it was believed any punishment levied against them would just be overturned by Bischoff anyway. Anyway, this is the Nitro that isn't airing in the U.S. but was still taped for international markets. Not much in the way of storyline progression, mostly just matches.
  • Former wrestler Tom Zenk was on a radio show discussing the potential WCW sale to Bischoff, calling it "a fire sale to the arsonist" and saying Time Warner is selling the company because it's not profitable, to the guy who made it unprofitable to begin with.
  • Remember an incident last year where Bagwell punched a ring crew member and got charged for it? Bagwell plea bargained out of it and was ordered to pay a $500 fine, one year of probation, and perform 20 hours of community service. At the time, Bagwell was suspended for 30 days over it, which cost him approx. $45,000 in pay. A rare example of WCW actually punishing someone.
  • WCW sent a few guys (David Flair, Mark Jindrak, Sean O'Hair, and Jung Dragons) to work the NWA Wildside show, which is their developmental territory. Speaking of, wrestlers Air Paris and AJ Styles have been stealing the shows at the Wildside events lately.
  • Road Dogg was sent home from the Smackdown tapings and was suspended indefinitely without pay. At this time, there's no plans to bring him back. He showed up in bad shape to the tapings and had a match teaming with K-Kwik against Lo Down that was said to be an embarrassment because of his performance. WWF wants him to get his life in order before they even consider bringing him back. He's gone through rehab a couple of times but it never took. Dave says the difference between WWF and WCW is that chances are, you're not going to see Triple H and X-Pac going on TV for the next few weeks doing Road Dogg's catchphrases and trying to go into business for themselves on his behalf, unlike some people. (Here's the match. I dunno, doesn't seem any worse than Road Dogg's usual bad matches. But you do hear the commentary talking about Road Dogg looking out of it and hinting that maybe he has a concussion. And you can definitely tell that he's a little off his game, but if you didn't know to specifically look for it, I doubt you'd really notice. He was never Ric Flair in the ring to begin with.)
WATCH: Road Dogg & K-Kwik vs. Lo Down
  • Notes from Raw: they had a hardcore match with Blackman, Holly, and Raven that ended up outside in the 9 degree winter weather. Dave feels sorry for those guys out there in tights and no shirt wrestling in that. The RTC cut a promo talking about how bad the internet is. (I went on the Network and watched this and it's great. Bull Buchanan cuts a promo on the APA's "Always Pounding Ass" shirt and then Goodfather finished it off with this quote: "The internet has become a harbinger of nothing more than filth and decay. The world wide web is there to trap you until it slowly strangles all the goodness from each and every one of you!" Well, he's not wrong.)
  • WWF officially sold the hotel and casino they bought in Las Vegas a few years ago. The original plan was to remodel the hotel as a WWF theme hotel, with a TV studio and small arena so they could hold live shows. But they quickly realized that it just wasn't feasible and have spent the last two years trying to sell it. They finally unloaded it for $11.2 million which is about $2 million more than they paid for it in 1999, so at least there's that.
  • There's been talk of bringing Bobby Heenan back to WWF to do commentary on one of the B or C-level shows, but that discussion seemed to go nowhere. Larry Zbyszko will also be getting an announcing audition soon and has pitched himself to be the new WWF on-screen commissioner as well.
  • The Rock was supposed to be doing announcing for the Orange Bowl Parade but WWF pulled him out of it. The company is being extremely protective of Rock right now and want to make sure he looks good in any non-wrestling mainstream thing he does, and there was concern about him doing commentary on a parade since, I mean, wtf does Rock know about parades? They didn't want him to look out of his depth or put in a situation he wouldn't be good at.
  • Update on WWF possibly moving out of Titan Towers: right now, many of the employees are doubled up in offices because they've outgrown the building and are out of space. There's been talk that they may sell the building and move to a new location soon.
  • Davey Boy Smith had another hearing for allegedly making death threats towards Bruce Hart. He pleaded not guilty. Bruce's estranged wife Andrea is now living with Davey Boy. His previous charges stemming from threats against Diana Hart Smith and Ellie Neidhart were dropped. Smith now says he's been clean since July, that he wants to open a wrestling school, and that he's no longer in the WWF. In a Calgary Sun story, Smith said, "I was involved in that (Hart) family for 20 years and I'm sad to say it was the worst 20 years I ever had." That led Bret Hart to speak out to defend his family name, and he said, "If it wasn't for my family and the opportunities my father gave him, Davey would still be working in the Wigan mines. He's talking about a dysfunctional family at the same time he has taken off with my brother Bruce's wife--you're right in the thick of it, buddy." (It's amazing how much of the Hart family drama played out in the Calgary Sun over the years.)
  • The Chyna issue of Playboy reportedly sold more than a million copies, while the first Sable issue did around 800,000. Dave expects a lot more WWF women in Playboy considering those kinds of numbers.
WEDNESDAY: Paul Heyman in talks to sell ECW, Antonio Inoki's New Year's Eve show, Vince McMahon Playboy interview, WCW fires Mark Madden, and more...
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jul. 30, 2001

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-1-2001 1-8-2001 1-15-2001 1-22-2001
1-29-2001 2-5-2001 2-12-2001 2-19-2001
2-26-2001 3-5-2001 3-12-2001 3-19-2001
3-26-2001 4-2-2001 4-9-2001 4-16-2001
4-23-2001 4-30-2001 5-7-2001 5-14-2001
5-21-2001 5-28-2001 6-4-2001 6-11-2001
6-18-2001 6-25-2001 7-2-2001 7-9-2001
7-16-2001 7-23-2001

PROGRAMMING NOTE: There will be no Observer Rewind on Friday, because I expect to be recovering from a July 4th, 'Merica-induced hangover. Presuming I still have fingers left, we'll pick back up Monday.

  • The Invasion PPV is in the books and appears to have been a major success. As a show, it was nothing special. One great match, a good main event, and everything else was the usual decent, average, bad, forgettable undercard. Early signs are that this show probably did big numbers on PPV (yeah, that's putting it mildly). It ended with Austin turning heel again, after seemingly turning babyface just a week or two ago, and defecting to the WCW/ECW side. Dave talks about how Austin's brief face-turn seemed to reignite business. Raw ratings were the highest they'd been in 3 months, ticket sales for Invasion saw a major boost following the Raw angle with him, etc. Austin's heel turn at Wrestlemania led to an almost instant downturn in TV ratings and attendance so Dave seems kinda befuddled why they decided to do it again at Invasion, considering last week's babyface turn showed instant signs of improving business. Austin also worked the PPV with 3 broken bones in his back and 2 broken bones in his hand (suffered at King of the Ring). He has breaks in the L-2, L-3, and L-4 vertebraes in his back, but he gutted out the match anyway. Chris Jericho worked the show with a hyper-extended elbow and Kurt Angle has whiplash and a black eye.
WATCH: Steve Austin turns on WWF and joins the Alliance
  • They were literally still constructing the stage during the show. During the Heat pre-show match, you could see crew members sawing plywood and hammering stuff to form the left side of the "V" ramp. Chavo Guerrero had to come down the "WWF" side of the ramp because the WCW/ECW side wasn't finished yet. WWF usually books an arena 2 days in advance to do all the setup necessary, but a WNBA game was booked the night before and it went long (due to an N'Sync album release party after the game) and the WWF crew wasn't able to get into the arena and start constructing stuff until the morning of the show.
  • Other notes from the PPV: Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy stole the show, with RVD winning the hardcore title from Jeff. Dave gives it 4 stars. Speaking of titles, if they aren't going to run 2 separate companies, they desperately need to get rid of some of the belts because with all the WCW titles, it has practically doubled the number of champions. X-Pac was booed even though he was a WWF guy and they're supposed to be the babyfaces. And of course, it ended with the Austin turn with him joining the Alliance.
  • WWF has reached a temporary agreement with the bankruptcy court to be allowed to use the "ECW" name through the end of July. The trustee argued that the ECW intellectual property is owned by the ECW estate they are managing and WWF had been using it without authorization and the court had received complaints from several creditors that ECW owes money too. A couple weeks ago, WWF offered the court $150,000 to buy the ECW trademarks and tape library and were turned down. WWF upped its offer this week to $250,000. In response, the trustee agreed to allow WWF to use the name for now while they figure this out. WWF appears to be the only party interested in purchasing the ECW name and library so it's likely they will make a deal. There's a lot more to this but it's all boring legalese about trademark law and shit like that. Besides, we have a follow up story on this later in this issue....
  • Last week, Dave had a pretty big obituary for Terry Gordy, but he mentioned that he wasn't able to write a full one by press time. And this week, whew. He's got an exhaustively long obit. But he has more news on it. Gordy died of a heart attack caused by a blood clot in his home. He lived his Freebird gimmick and was a wild partier during his younger days and would get wildly out of control. Dave has stories in here from Michael Hayes and Ted Dibiase about some of Gordy's wild ways. He also tells a story of the Freebirds pissing on somebody and then adds "literally, as the Freebirds in that era were known for giving people they liked--and sometimes didn't like as well--golden showers." Like it was some sort of initiation thing I guess. Well okay then. He also recaps a story about the Freebirds debuting in Memphis and in their very first match on live TV, Michael Hayes shit his pants and had to go backstage during the commercial break to change. There's actually a lot of really funny stories in this obit. But of course, the partying got to be too much and shortly after winning the Triple Crown title in AJPW, Gordy collapsed at a Roppongi night club in Japan from an overdose and his heart stopped beating. He was revived and survived but Giant Baba stripped him of the title and nearly fired him. He managed to keep his job but Baba never fully trusted him again and never again pushed him to the top of the company. In 1993, at the absolute peak of his career (he was making $10,000 a week in Japan and $200,000 a year from WCW), he overdosed again on a flight to Japan and once again fell into a coma. Again, his heart stopped and he had to be revived with CPR. He spent 5 days in a coma and suffered severe brain damage. When he awoke, he was never the same. He had to relearn how to talk, how to walk, and eventually, how to wrestle. He tried to make a comeback, working small indies here and there and even brief runs in ECW and WWF, but the overdose had destroyed his in-ring ability. Despite his success and all the money he made in his career, Gordy died with very little money in the bank and no life insurance. They played "Freebird" at his funeral. Michael Hayes is coming out of retirement next month to take Gordy's place at an indie show that he was booked for before he died. Just 6 days before he passed, Gordy was backstage at the Smackdown tapings and was said to be mentally more clearheaded than anyone had seen him in years and seemed mostly like his old self.
  • NJPW had their latest Sapporo Dome show and Dave is perplexed by the booking of this company. The show was booked around the idea of NJPW wrestlers facing a bunch of outside wrestlers and MMA fighters, and the NJPW side lost almost all of the matches. Yuji Nagata lost to PRIDE champion Mark Coleman. Former RINGS fighter Masayuki Naruse won the IWGP Jr. title from Minoru Tanaka. Another PRIDE fighrer, Gary Goodridge, beat Manabu Nakanishi, and so on and so forth. The whole thing just made NJPW look weak and this has been going on for months now, with the NJPW guys never getting their wins back and MMA stars basically running roughshod over the company (yeah, we've reached peak Inokism now. This shit damn near killed the company in the early 2000s).
  • The trustee in the ECW bankruptcy case has hired lawyers to facilitate the sale of the ECW estate to the WWF. Right now, the lawyers have to untangle some stuff, particularly the fact that video game company Acclaim is still making a stink about the fact that they own 15% of ECW and that they should have the rights to it all since Heyman has folded it. But long story short, the lawyers are pretty much just trying to untangle all the legal red tape so that WWF can swoop in and buy it up when they're finished. Heyman's team is still gathering all the records they can and Heyman has to appear before the trustee next week. Heyman himself filed for personal bankruptcy last week, which most people expected. Heyman claimed to have around $2.8 million in personal debt from the filing and is owed $128,000 in back pay for himself (turns out the wrestlers weren't the only ones not getting paid. He wasn't paying himself either). In his filing, Heyman listed the WWF as his current employer, as a television writer, at a salary of $4,000 per month.
  • NOAH star Kenta Kobayashi has returned from his recent injury and they finally gave him a new name! Since his real name is so similar to one of Japan's biggest stars, he is now going by simply KENTA (and in 6 days, he's going to start kicking heads off in the 2019 G-1).
  • Bam Bam Bigelow will return to NJPW for the first time since 1992 to work the next tour. He'll be part of the G-1 World tournament, which is basically like the G-1 Climax, but for foreign wrestlers (I can't find any actual details on this tournament so I had to research it by looking up show results. Turns out Bigelow isn't in it after all. Don Frye ends up winning the whole tournament. Scott Norton, Scott Hall, Super J, Giant Silva, and others were also in it).
  • The elections for the Japanese Diet (their version of Congress basically) will be taking place this week and if you recall, Atsushi Onita is running. Polls indicate that Onita is likely to win, due to his name recognition and certainly not because of his political acumen. Satoru Sayama (the original Tiger Mask) is also running for office but he doesn't have the same mainstream name value and his chances aren't looking as good. But for what it's worth, Sayama has been traveling around his district, with the Tiger Mask on, campaigning for votes. Dave says it's hard enough to trust politicians when you can see their face but he'd never trust one wearing a mask. After all, a vote for La Parka could end up being a vote for DDP!
  • There's a shoot-fighting show happening in Japan soon, and it's notable because Dos Caras Jr. will be fighting a guy named Kengo Watanabe. Caras Jr. was a top tier amateur wrestler in Mexico and hoped to compete in the 2000 Olympics but it didn't happen. Dave doesn't know if he'll be wearing the mask or not, but if he does, he'll be the first person Dave knows off to compete in an MMA fight while wearing a mask (that would be Alberto Del Rio, and yes he wears the mask. Spoiler: Del Rio wins this fight when Kengo suffers a GNARLY broken arm less than a minute in. They have a rematch in 2002 and Kengo chokes him out to avenge the loss).
WATCH: Alberto Del Rio vs. Kengo Watanabe - 2001 shoot fight
  • Remember the Atlanta Gold Club strip club that is on trial for a bunch of racketeering charges and alleged connections to the mob? Well, a former dancer named Jana Pelnis testified this week that she performed sexual favors for Eric Bischoff's wife after the couple came to the club and took her to a nearby hotel. Pelnis testified that Bischoff's wife slipped her $200 before they got to the hotel and that the club owner gave her another $800 when she returned. Pelnis also admitted to performing sexual favors for other athletes, such as NBA players Patrick Ewing and Dikembe Mutombo. Eric Bischoff was called to testify the next day and he admitted the story, but also claimed to have been very drunk and said the night in question was a blur. Bischoff said he didn't recall having intercourse with Pelis and said he only recalled his wife and the dancer performing sexual acts on each other while he watched. Bischoff claimed it was a spontaneous thing, not prostitution, and that he later gave her another $100 after dropping her off because he wasn't sure if she had been tipped for lap dances she had done earlier that night at the club. Oh Eric, you scoundrel.
  • We have another case of a child being killed while doing wrestling moves. A 9-year-old boy in NC died after he suffered a broken neck when his 16-year-old mentally handicapped step-brother tried to perform some kind of wrestling move on him. The case immediately got national headlines and was compared to the Lionel Tate case that has been central to the WWF's lawsuit against the PTC. On MSNBC this week, they had a segment debating wrestling's influence on children and WWF Corporate Relations VP Gary Davis appeared on the show to defend wrestling and talked about how kids always imitate what they see on TV, argues that it's the parents' responsibility to monitor what their kids do, etc. Just the usual stuff.
  • Hulk Hogan says his plans to start a new promotion are on hold for now, saying the major TV networks aren't interested in wrestling right now. Some of the names that have been attached to Hogan's idea were Jimmy Hart, Sting, Bret Hart, Roddy Piper, Kevin Sullivan, Sable, and Chyna. Some of them aren't legally able to do anything until their WCW deals expire and others (like Bret Hart), Dave doesn't believe for a second were even considering it. But either way, not happening for now.
  • Sandman went on a radio show and said he's going to be starting full-time with a new promotion in Evansville, IN. He said the promotion will also have Curt Hennig, Sabu, Public Enemy, and a whole bunch of other former ECW stars. They already have their first show scheduled for the ECW Arena in Philadelphia and a few cities in between (that would be a company called Main Event Championship Wrestling. That first show had all the big ECW names on it, plus Buff Bagwell, Chris Harris, Mike Rotunda, and more. And far as I can tell, they never ran another show after that).
  • At another indie show this week, a bunch of ICP fans were heckling all the wrestlers. Steve Corino worked the main event and got into a confrontation with one of the fans and it got physical. Corino ended up having to be pulled off the fan by a bunch of other wrestlers. Corino out here beating up juggalos, you hate to see it. (Here's an article I found on Deadspin where someone who was there writes in and tells the story of what happened).
READ: Deadspin Wrestler Run-Ins: Steve Corino beats up a juggalo
  • The state of Nevada unanimously agreed to sanction MMA as a sport and confirmed that UFC 33 will take place at the Mandalay Bay Casino (fun fact: this show sucked and to this day, Dana White still calls UFC 33 the worst show they've ever done). Anyway, now that UFC PPVs are available on cable providers again, UFC is likely going to be the closest thing to competition WWF will have anytime soon. Dana White played down the idea of competing with pro wrestling, saying they compete with boxing. But he said if UFC gets a TV deal, he believes they could give WWF a run for their money.
  • On Sunday Night Heat this week, Bob Holly pinned Mike Awesome clean. Dave thinks that's a pretty dumb decision and that none of the Alliance guys should be losing yet, especially to undercard guys, but apparently some WWF wrestlers (Undertaker specifically) that have worked with Awesome haven't been impressed with him as a worker and, well, here's the result.
  • Dave finally read The Star tabloid interview with Chyna, where she talked about her reasons for leaving WWF and the Triple H/Stephanie affair. In regards to the affair, she said she was suspicious that Triple H (her boyfriend at the time) was cheating on her with Stephanie and said they admitted it when she confronted them. Chyna said she was heartbroken and had hoped to marry Triple H some day. But despite all that, she says it was unrelated to her leaving WWF, saying she left because they couldn't agree on money terms in her recent contract negotiations.
  • Chyna did another interview on a Boston radio station and said she was scared and excited to try her luck in the entertainment world without being "Chyna." She also said she was surprised when WWF pulled out of their contract negotiations. She blamed the death of WCW and Vince having a monopoly as the reason she didn't get the money she was looking for. Dave says Chyna was asking to no longer work house shows so she could be off during the weeks to pursue acting roles, while still making top star WWF money, and they weren't going for that. Plus, ya know, the other stuff....
  • Chris Benoit will be using the song "Whatever" by Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace as his entrance music whenever he eventually returns.
  • Kane filmed a Chef Boyardee commercial last week, along with the one the Dudleyz filmed. (I can't find the Dudleyz commercial, but here's the Kane one).
WATCH: Kane's Chef Boyardee commercial
  • Jim Ross did a conference call or something recently and talked about a lot of things. He said ECW didn't have the same number of fans WCW had, but said that WCW had eroded its fanbase so much by the end and said the ECW fans were much more vocal and passionate about the product. Said that Sting is 42-years-old and wants to stay home with his family and said he likely wouldn't be coming to WWF. Admitted that they were interested in bringing in Ric Flair and Goldberg, but it doesn't make economic sense for either side right now, since they still have those WCW contracts. Said a lot of the undercard WCW wrestlers they have under contract will be sent to the developmental companies like OVW or HWA so they don't get rusty and can improve some more. Said the long term goal is still for WWF and WCW to run as 2 separate companies, each with their own prime time weekly show, but there's no word on when that will happen. Said they haven't given any thought about what to do with the women's title now that Chyna is gone from the company and she was the champ, but Ross assumed they'll probably do a tournament for it eventually. Said he expects Jerry Lawler to return sooner or later, but he's dealing with some personal issues right now (yeah, Stacy had just left him at this point). Ross admitted that the locker room situation has been tense and uncomfortable lately, with the WCW guys trying to acclimate to the WWF way of doing things but said that aside from all the Buff Bagwell drama, there's been no serious issues.
  • Speaking of locker room tensions, there's a lot of concern about job security among all the lower and midcard guys. With so much new talent lately and no other place in the U.S. to make a real living as a wrestler, a lot of guys are worried about not being used. If you're off TV, it's "out of sight, out of mind" and so a lot of wrestlers are hiding serious injuries so they don't get taken off TV and forgotten about. Also, because of the pressure to look good and stand out from the pack, sources tell Dave steroid use is making a big comeback lately.
  • In a column, Jim Ross wrote some veiled comments about people in the company leaking information to the internet and how those sources have hidden agendas and are liars and blah blah. (*laughs in Meltzer*) Dave says this is in reference to recent internet reports that WWF is planning to release a bunch of wrestlers soon. Dave says the stories aren't entirely true, but they're not entirely false either, as there are a lot of names who are on the chopping block right now due to the fact that there's just too many guys and not enough spots, so he expects to see some people gone soon. Dave also says there's major heat on some people in the office right now for these stories leaking out, but no names mentioned.
  • Triple H has been backstage at the TV tapings for the last few weeks, helping with the booking of the shows. He was told by doctors that all this extra travel was putting him behind schedule on his rehab time and to stop flying out to every TV taping if he wants to make a full recovery. Triple H has decided to listen to the doctors and won't be going to the shows as much.
  • There was some minor heat on RVD at the Invasion PPV because his airbrushed tights had a skull on it, and that's Austin's gimmick. Goddamn, this petty high school nonsense, I swear......anyway, there was a mixed reaction to RVD's match backstage. Obviously, RVD and Jeff Hardy stole the show and a lot of people loved it, but others criticized it, saying it was only good because RVD had the "right" opponent and wouldn't be able to have that kind of match with anyone else.
  • The storyline on TV last week with Kurt Angle hugging Vince was an inside joke on DDP. Apparently, when DDP first signed his WWF deal, Vince went to shake his hand and DDP grabbed him and hugged him instead, like they were longtime friends. Apparently they found it funny and decided to parody it with Angle on TV.
WEDNESDAY: WWF financial details revealed, more on WCW purchase price, Vince Russo planning to be involved in new Australian promotion, Atsushi Onita elected to government position, Acclaim wants ECW, and more...
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Nov. 6, 2000

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-3-2000 1-10-2000 1-17-2000 1-24-2000
1-31-2000 2-7-2000 2-14-2000 2-21-2000
2-28-2000 3-6-2000 3-13-2000 3-20-2000
3-27-2000 4-3-2000 4-10-2000 4-17-2000
4-24-2000 5-1-2000 5-8-2000 5-15-2000
5-22-2000 5-29-2000 6-5-2000 6-12-2000
6-19-2000 6-26-2000 7-3-2000 7-10-2000
7-17-2000 7-24-2000 7-31-2000 8-7-2000
8-14-2000 8-21-2000 8-28-2000 9-4-2000
9-11-2000 9-18-2000 9-25-2000 10-01-2000
10-09-2000 10-15-2000 10-23-2000 10-30-2000
  • Bret Hart officially announced his retirement this week due to concussions he suffered starting back at Starrcade from a Goldberg kick. Doctors actually speculated that Hart may have had a concussion going into the match, but the kick magnified the damage. Following the Goldberg match, Hart continued to wrestle for a couple of weeks and got rocked again several times, particularly in a hardcore match with Terry Funk. Doctors said he's suffered about 10% brain damage, some of which may be permanent. Despite the injury, there was always the possibility that he could have remained an on-screen character in some role. But Hart was fired by WCW last week, which basically left him with no real options, since he has no intention of ever working for WWF again and said he doesn't want to end his career by working his way down the minor league food chain like so many other wrestlers do. Dave says Hart will be remembered for many things, and while his career had no shortage of memorable moments, the name Bret Hart will always be mostly associated with what happened in Montreal 3 years ago and with the death of his brother Owen. The first was the most historically influential match in modern times and Owen's death was the biggest mainstream news story in wrestling history. The last 3 years of Bret's life have been hell, from a disappointing WCW run, injuries, and the utter destruction of the Hart family in the wake of Owen's death. Dave thinks it's sad because if this was Japan or Mexico, the wrestling culture there is different. If a star on the level of Bret Hart retired there, they would have elaborate retirement ceremonies and make a huge deal of it. But here in America, he was double-crossed out of the WWF to avoid giving him a fond farewell, and then he was unceremoniously fired from WCW rather than having a chance to officially retire in the ring or give a speech for his fans. Then again, with the state of WCW, nobody would have believed a Bret Hart retirement speech anyway, since everyone would just suspect an angle. But it sucks that he's having to hang up the boots while unemployed and with no outlet to be given the send-off he deserves.
  • Dave recaps Bret's career, starting as a teenager in the Amarillo territory with Dory Funk, his time in Japan, and then starting in Stampede and working his way up the ladder there (he started as an opening match jobber). Forming the Hart Foundation with Neidhart, their years together in WWF, his singles run, becoming IC and WWF champion when business was down and Vince needed someone who wasn't exploding with steroids to be the face of the company. As WWF champion, business was weak in the U.S. but Hart was a huge draw when WWF toured internationally (which they did a lot more back then because U.S. business was so bad). And then of course, Shawn Michaels, the Screwjob, and off to WCW where he was the hottest star in the business upon arrival. But from there, he was the victim of injuries and horrible booking and Hart in WCW never clicked. Dave goes on and on about the countless times WCW dropped the ball with how they booked Bret. Anyway, Hart has ruled out ever wrestling again, for fear of more brain damage and not wanting to live the rest of his life as a drooling vegetable. He also shot down the idea of ever being a manager because he's unhappy with the direction of the business and says he's leaving the industry entirely, not just the in-ring part. He plans to spend the next year working on a book about his life and doing some acting. Luckily, he should be well off financially. He earned north of 7 figures during his last four years in the business and has a Lloyds of London disability policy that will pay him the equivalent of 6 months salary, which will be another million or so.
  • Bret Hart announced his retirement in his Calgary Sun column and since you can't just easily find this online anymore, here's what Bret wrote:
There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That'll be the beginning." -- Louis La'Amour.
I'm really sorry to have to say that my professional wrestling career is over--forever. Although I've expected it to end for some time now, I could in no way ever prepare for it.
I suppose it doesn't do much good to speak negatively about how this or that has gone for me. I feel it is more fitting right now to remember the more positive aspects of my long and great career. I have not one regret. I'm proud of all my achievements, especially my seven World Heavyweight Championships.
I will miss the cities, the countries, especially the people--all colours, all religions, all ages, all languages. I've always tried my absolute best in every match, in every city, big or small, in countries all around the world.
I cannot begin to explain how proud I am to have touched so many people with the ability to wrestle. My heart is filled with memories. Like when I was mobbed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem by Palestinian children, tears in their eyes, kissing my hands. In Belfast, Ireland, being cheered on by both Catholic and Protestant fans, the emotions that poured out as I walked around the ring high-fiving our victory together. The time I was in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, where they waved Canadian flags and chanted O Canada! I could go on endlessly, but maybe it's easier to say I was privileged to be the only world champion who really travelled the world.
I hope that my fans who have kept the faith, believing in me, may in some small way take some lesson from me that will help them in their lifetime. I will never forget how touched I was in Rochester, N.Y. in one of my last matches, when a bunch of die-hard fans held up a sign that read: Parking $10, Program $5, Ticket $35, watching Bret Hitman Hart wrestle--priceless."
I'm forever grateful for the doors that opened bringing me to America. Thank you for having me, for giving me so much. I thank all my fans everywhere. I owe you all for everything I am.
As for the wrestlers, it would mean a lot to me to always be remembered as "one of the boys." I've made great friendships that will last my lifetime and look forward to an easier life filled with reminiscing.
To all of you who worked with me, carried me, and trusted me, those who allowed my success to continue while theirs did not, all from a deep sense of tradition and honour. I tried to always work hard to be champion in your eyes first. My greatest accomplishment is knowing that I never seriously harmed one wrestler. It may not seem important, but I want it remembered that in all the years I never, ever refused to lose to another wrestler--except once--and that was that fateful day in Montreal, where it's clear that I stood up for "the boys."
I could begin to list all the great wrestlers I either watched or worked with, but it would take forever. I will simply say that I'd give anything to climb into the ring with so many of you just one more time. To most people, wrestling is stupid, it's fake, it doesn't mean anything. When I think about it, I'm reminded of a quote by George Braque: "Art is a sound turned to light."
I drift back to a time when I was 23 years old, wrestling for my father, in Regina, making $150 a night. It looked like it was going to be a near full crowd on hand to see me take on my arch rival, The Dynamite Kid, in a ladder match. The title and a bag supposedly containing $5,000 dangled from a string above the ring. Whoever could climb the ladder and grab it first would be the winner.
We were both so young when I look back on it now, so intense, when the bell rang, we tore into each other, ferociously, eventually spilling out onto the floor. I went to slam Dynamite's head into a steel chair. He, of course, had his hands up for protection, but I had no idea he would hit it so hard. His head bounced back, I tried to turn, but our heads smashed. I split the back of his head open and shattered my face, one of those rare accidents.
I could tell it was bad. I could poke my finger through a gaping hole in the middle of my nose. The blood poured. We fought on. I remember Dynamite jumping up high, gripping that heavy steel ladder coming down straight down on my head. I didn't move. The crowd gasped. I dreamed a smile--because he never even touched me. He really was the best. Finally, I had him right where I wanted him, but the referee was down. That's when J.R. Foley crept up on the apron and whacked me across the back with his heavy walking stick. Down I went. The crowd was furious--so unfair. Dynamite began to climb to the top, his fingers reaching. Suddenly, I jumped up, throwing a perfect desperation drop kick, just like he asked me. "...just barely touch the ladder with your toes. I'll control how I go over."
Sure enough, the ladder wobbled and tipped, he grimaced, over they both went, with amazing timing. Dynamite leapt off, straddling the top rope, bouncing up and out right on top of J.R. Foley. But the ladder hit the top rope with such force, bouncing all the way back, heading right toward me. I was lucky I saw it. I rolled and rolled as fast as I could. It crashed with a thud, missing my head by only inches. I sat up, checking to see if Dynamite was hurt. He appeared to be all right, but still both of us knew we'd be going for some stitches.
He was riding with me, so he had to duck down when we drove past the fans on the way to the Pasqua Hospital. From there, we drove back home, all night, so that we could wrestle the following night, too tired to say a word to each other.
But if I can stop right somehow try and explain just what it is that I will miss the most about wrestling, I loved it all so much. I stood that big steel ladder up, one step up, climbing higher and higher, the crowd soaring with me, louder and louder, the blood dripping off my nose...reaching...I pulled that belt down and there it was--it happened. The crowd exploded.
We blew the roof loud I could not hear a single sound except the beating of my own heart. If you're lucky enough to find a way of life you live, you also have to find the courage to finally say goodbye.
I'll put my guns in the ground. I can't shoot them any more.
  • The WWF/Owen Hart lawsuit was verbally settled out of court, pending a court approval scheduled later this week. Various sources have pegged the settlement at $18 million. It's believed Stu and Helen Hart will receive somewhere between $2-3 million, with the rest going to Martha Hart and her two young children. Martha told the Calgary Sun that the whole ordeal has been a nightmare and she can't say much more for legal reasons but that she's satisfied with the settlement. It's believed that WWF may file suit against the company that manufactured the rigging equipment, but Vince McMahon would only say that they are exploring their options on that. Martha Hart had previously vowed she would never settle before the case went to court, but those close to her say she was tired of the stress and was particularly upset that the case had torn the Hart family apart. Stu and Helen in particular were eager to settle and get it over with. The first round of settlement talks went poorly, with McMahon reportedly offering $17 million and refusing to budge, while Martha's initial asking price was said to be $32 million. It ended with Martha "cutting a promo" on Vince (oh Dave...) and talks broke off. The case was made more complicated by different Hart members' inability to stop talking to the media against lawyers' advice. At one point, Ellie Neidhart (Nattie's mom), who has sided against her parents and with WWF in the case, took a document from Stu Hart regarding all of the Hart children getting money out of the case and passed it on to WWF's lawyers, which engulfed the Hart lawyers in a storm of controversy and nearly blew up their whole case. The original Feb. 2001 court date was postponed indefinitely following that and with no new court date in sight so it was likely to continue dragging on for months and maybe even years. So ultimately, Martha decided to settle (yeah I think to this day, Martha blames Ellie for almost destroying the case and that's why she was forced to settle). As of press time, Bret Hart hasn't yet commented on the settlement, but he knew it was coming. He was on the Observer Live online show the day before it was finalized and said he understood Martha's position and would support whatever decision she made.
  • The downward spiral of Davey Boy Smith hit a new low this week when he was arrested on 2 separate occasions for allegedly threatening the life of his estranged wife, Diana Hart-Smith. Dave talks about Smith's worsening drug problems in recent years along with all his health issues in between and how he's been in and out of the hospital constantly in the last two years. He also had a motorcycle accident a few weeks ago, multiple rehab stints, etc. Anyway, Smith was arrested on Oct. 25th and again on Oct. 26th. The first time, it was on 2 counts of threatening to kill his wife and her sister Ellie (again...Nattie's mom). After being released the next day, he allegedly threatened his wife again and was arrested again. She thought he was still in custody and went back to the house and was surprised to find him there and that led to the second arrest. Police have been to their house several times in the last few months for domestic disputes. There was also an incident a while back with Smith getting into a fight with Diana's new boyfriend, a Stampede wrestler who wrestles under the name Dick Butkus Jr. during which 85-year-old Stu Hart had to get involved and help break it up. Anyway, Smith spent this past weekend behind bars in Calgary, spending his time signing autographs for other inmates, but was released on the 30th on bail. But he faces 5 charges related to all his threats. Part of the conditions for his release were paying a $10,000 fine and he's not allowed to have any contact with Diana, Ellie, Bruce Hart, or Diana's new boyfriend. (Dave later mentions that Davey Boy is shacking up with Bruce's estranged wife Andrea now. Man, this fuckin' family, I tell ya...) He's also not allowed to drink or take any non-prescribed drugs and is ordered to stay away from where his wife is staying, along with staying away from Bruce Hart's home and Stu Hart's home. He was also ordered to enter rehab, even though he denied in court that he still has a drug problem.
  • Davey Boy is still under WWF contract, though he hasn't wrestled a match in months. But the WWF has suspended him pending the company's own investigation of the charges. In the past, he blamed his drug issues and back problems from taking a bump on Ultimate Warrior's trap door in the ring when he was in WCW. Dave recaps the series of events that led to him getting rehired by WWF and talks about how they hired Jim Neidhart back as well and it was no secret that Smith, Diana, and Neidhart's wife Ellie were all planning to testify against the family in the Owen Hart case if it had gone to trial. So it wasn't exactly a coincidence that both Smith and Neidhart got jobs that neither of them really had any business getting (Neidhart was hired as a trainer, which everyone knew he wasn't qualified for and Smith was brought back as a wrestler despite a crippling back injury and more crippling drug problem). Neidhart was quietly released a few weeks ago and with the Owen Hart lawsuit finally settled, it probably doesn't look good for Smith (indeed, he never stepped foot in the WWF again).
  • WCW Halloween Havoc is in the books and was possibly the worst wrestling PPV of the year. At this point, you'd think everyone in WCW would be putting their best foot forward to impress potential buyers, especially if that buyer ends up being the WWF and Vince becomes their new boss. But it was almost all bad matches and abysmal booking. The only bright side is that it was in Vegas and a lot of the tickets were sold to casinos for giveaways, so the show ended up being one of the biggest live gates WCW has had in awhile, even if the crowd wasn't exactly all wrestling fans. Russo is now out of the picture (claiming post-concussion syndrome and stress), but the show was booked by guys like Ed Ferrara and Bill Banks, who are basically mini-Russos and are just keeping his chair warm. So it wasn't quite the same scattershot chaos as most Russo-booked shows, but it still had the same lack of understanding about what makes a good wrestling show that Russo has perfected. Everyone involved (Ferrara, Banks, Terry Taylor, Johnny Ace, etc.) were told to continue Russo's stories rather than changing direction so everything mostly stayed the same.
  • Other notes from Halloween Havoc: the opening tag title three-way match was the best and really only good match on the show., due to Mysterio, Kidman, and Alex Wright's performances. In typical WCW fashion, they had a top notch snafu showing Palumbo and Stasiak in their street clothes backstage, just seconds after being in their gear and doing a run-in on the previous match. So they put up a thing on the screen that said "taped earlier in the day" to cover for it, but then during the segment, Palumbo and Stasiak were talking about what they just did in the ring minutes earlier. David Flair looked totally lost in his first blood match with Bagwell and even though he's been a midcard star in WCW for over a year now, Dave says if he went to OVW, he'd still be the worst guy on the roster. David Flair is just not ready for the big leagues and it shows. Negative star. Mike Sanders vs. The Cat in a kickboxing match was a total clusterfuck that Cat apparently refused to do the job for since it's "his" gimmick match, so he lost by count-out instead, even though the time limit for the last round had already expired and it was just a mess. Negative half star. Mike Awesome vs. Vampiro is negative 2.5 stars. That's three matches in a row in the negatives, with 2 DUD rankings book-ending them. Dave expected Awesome/Vampiro to actually be good but it had more blown spots than any match he's seen on PPV in years. They were apparently supposed to do a table spot to end the match but they couldn't find any tables under the ring and the match fell apart and Vampiro ended up taking a top rope powerbomb that gave him a concussion and shook him up badly (didn't stop WCW from having him take another powerbomb at the Thunder taping the next day, even though he told them beforehand about the concussion, but we'll get there). And babyface world champion Booker T was booed by a good chunk of the crowd during his match with Scott Steiner.
  • The latest PRIDE event in Japan drew a sellout crowd mostly due to so many pro wrestlers being involved. It also saw Naoya Ogawa defeat Masaaki Satake in a match most people believed was worked. Ogawa is Antonio Inoki's protege and he's keeping Ogawa protected. Dave says it definitely helps Ogawa keep his name and star power in a highly publicized match, but it doesn't say a lot for PRIDE's credibility. There's also suspicion that Nobuhiko Takada's fight against Igor Vovchanchyn was somewhat worked. Takada lost, but Igor is one of the top ranked heavyweights in the world and Takada went nearly 2 full rounds with him. Most people suspect the finish wasn't worked, but that Igor was told to take it easy on him because Takada is still a big draw and they wanted him to look strong in defeat against a guy he had no chance with. There were several other wrestlers on the card as well. Inoki came out at intermission and announced he was putting together his own show at the Osaka Dome for New Year's Eve (this ends up being the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye show, which also sees Inoki come out of retirement for his final "match" ever. More on all this in a bit).
  • Genichiro Tenryu, at age 51, defeated Toshiaki Kawada to win the tournament and be crowned AJPW's newest Triple Crown champion, filling the vacancy left over after previous champion Kobashi left for NOAH. This complicates the AJPW/NJPW angle. There's 2 Tokyo Dome shows coming up in January. The first is NJPW's Jan. 4th show and there's another one near the end of the month that's an AJPW show, but will have some NJPW involvement. But Motoko Baba wants to protect the champion because she's hoping AJPW will still survive after the NJPW angle is over. In the past, companies like UWFI and WAR were desperate to survive and started working with NJPW, only to be devoured by NJPW's booking and left to die after the angle ran its course. Mrs. Baba is hoping to avoid the same fate, so she's not going to let Tenryu work a NJPW show and lose (remember, at the last show, NJPW's champion Kensuke Sasaki lost to Kawada and they won't let that happen 2 times in a row). Now that he's not the champion, it frees Kawada up to have a rematch with Sasaki, where he will presumably return the favor and do the job, but it won't be to unify the titles anymore.
WATCH: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Toshiaki Kawada - AJPW Triple Crown Championship match
  • Let's look at some various poll results. Every issue has results for the polls they run online every day or so. Usually I skip over these because they're boring but they're kinda interesting this week. "How should WCW handle the situation with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall" got 55% of voters saying Nash should be suspended for going off script on live TV. As for the future of ECW, 30% of voters think it won't last much longer, while most everyone else thinks it will struggle but continue to survive. Whoops. And finally, Bret Hart's greatest match was 35% for the match with Owen at WM10 and 33% for the match with Austin at WM13.
  • Stan Hansen has an autobiography that was released in Japanese that is selling like crazy in Japan. Hansen is near the end of his career, but he's probably the most popular American wrestler in Japanese history and has been a top star there since the 70s. (Hansen had an English autobiography released in 2012 called The Last Outlaw. I'm not sure if it's the same book translated to English or if there's another one out there in Japanese from 12 years earlier).
  • NOAH will hold tournaments early next year to crown their first heavyweight, tag team, and junior heavyweight champions.
  • Shinya Hashimoto was pulled out of upcoming NJPW shows because they're apparently doing an angle where he is starting his own promotion, in order to do a feud with NJPW (turns out this wasn't an angle at all. Hashimoto really did get fired from NJPW around this time and started Pro Wrestling Zero-One. The real story there is murky and no one seems to know for sure exactly what led to his firing. I think he ended up doing one or two more matches for NJPW over the next year or so, but otherwise, this is the end of Hashimoto in NJPW).
  • Dave recently had a chance to read the book "Bodyslams!" by former WCW ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta and liked it. It's not better than Mick Foley's book or anything, but Dave gives it credit for accuracy. Mostly it glosses over a lot of the scandalous stuff and is more about Cappetta's personal experiences rather than giving much detail on what was happening in the business at the time. Dave thinks the book could have gone into more detail on the things going on behind the scenes in WCW during pivotal periods like when Jim Herd, Kip Frey, or Bill Watts was in charge. Overall, definitely better than The Rock's farce of a book but still lacking what made Foley's and Dynamite Kid's books so fascinating.
  • Steve Allen, the famous comedian and first ever host of the Tonight Show, died last week at age 78. This is only relevant here because most recently, Allen has been one of the lead spokespeople for the PTC and has been one of the most vocal opponents of WWF programming. Ironically enough, early in his career, Allen worked on TV as a wrestling announcer in the 1950s, though he never took it seriously, and in 1990, he appeared at Wrestlemania 6.
  • The documentary "Gaea Girls", which is about a young woman trying to get into Japanese women's wrestling, has been winning some awards and been admitted to some film festivals.
WATCH: Gaea Girls documentary
  • "Walker: Texas Ranger" this week did an episode loosely based on Owen Hart's death. It's about a wrestler, in costume, who fell from the ceiling during a show. Although in the case of this show, it was a murder ordered by a ruthless promoter trying to take over the territory of another promoter, who's a kind, older guy. The obvious parallels were a more evil version of Vince McMahon and a gentler version of Stu Hart. Dave thought the episode sucked and also got really sad by it. Dave says he hasn't watched Over The Edge again since Owen's death and seeing it fictionally re-enacted for a TV show was really depressing.
WATCH: Walker: Texas Ranger re-enacts Owen Hart's death
  • Scott Hall was arrested this week for probation violation while he was already in court for a child custody hearing. This charge stems from some 1998 case where he keyed up a limo outside a strip club in Orlando. At the time, Hall had been given probation and ordered to complete a bunch of community service by April of 2000. He never completed the community service, so....probation violation. Hall was in court with his estranged wife Dana and he filed for sole custody of their 2 children, claiming Dana is "emotionally and mentally unstable and an unfit parent" but then Hall got arrested at the courthouse and the hearing was postponed. Speaking of, Dana herself has had 2 contempt-of-court charges against her recently for refusing to let Hall have visitation with their kids when she was supposed to.
  • PPV news: CMLL in Mexico is holding a big year end show in December and are negotiating for it to air on PPV in the U.S., which would be the first Lucha Libre PPV to air here since When Worlds Collide in 1994. And remember a few months back when a promoter in Australia brought in Dennis Rodman and a bunch of other kinda big name stars and ran a show? Well it will also air on PPV in the U.S. and Canada and Mexico next month. That show was headlined by Rodman vs. Curt Hennig which ended in a double-count out because apparently Rodman refused to do the job. Word is that show was terrible, like this year's version of Heroes of Wrestling, but Australia is so starved for live wrestling that the crowd heat was still off-the-charts.
  • Juventud Guerrera worked an indie show in Puerto Rico and right now, he's trying to get hired in WWF, or at least stay out of trouble long enough to get rehired by WCW. Guerrera has reached out to WWF through friends he has there, but after what happened with him last month in Australia, WWF apparently isn't interested.
  • The latest OVW show saw Nick Dinsmore win the OVW title from Rob Conway. On the same show, Brock Lesnar wrestled a dark match against former UFC fighter Ron Waterman. Lesnar won and hey, who knows, maybe he's got a future in beating up UFC fighters.
  • Ted Dibiase and Nikita Koloff are on a church tour together where they wrestle matches against each other and then preach sermons or something.
  • The lines between wrestling and MMA got blurrier this week when Atsushi Onita went to the PRIDE offices and met with their promoter. Onita then issued a challenge to Antonio Inoki for a match, saying he wants to retire (of course) and his last match has to be with Inoki. PRIDE officials put out a statement saying they wouldn't promote one of Onita's exploding barbed wire matches, but that they would gladly promote Inoki vs. Onita under PRIDE rules in their ring. Inoki responded, telling reporters that he's retired. There's rumor that Onita will be appearing at Inoki's New Year's Eve show to set up some kind of angle.
  • Paul Heyman and Sabu have a court date scheduled for later this month over their issues. If you remember, Sabu left ECW to go try to go to WCW but his contract prevented it. Heyman then sued Sabu for breach of contract when he started working other shows (particularly for XPW). Meanwhile, Sabu has also filed some legal paperwork to try to get out of his contract, so hopefully that will all be settled soon.
  • Speaking of ECW, there doesn't seem to be anything new happening on the TV front. Negotiations with USA have apparently stalled. So....not great news. The latest episode of ECW Hardcore TV shows the signs of how things are going. The in-ring action was good but the show is beginning to look more and more low-budget by the week, as the company continues struggling to stay afloat. The announcers weren't flown in (it was dubbed in later in post-production) and the lighting was terrible.
  • Still nothing new on the sale of WCW but rumors are flying like crazy because everyone is paranoid. For the first time, in an interview, Linda McMahon acknowledged that it's true that WWF is in discussions to purchase WCW but word is no substantial progress has been made yet.
  • Notes from Nitro: it was a sad episode because the crowd was tiny and it almost felt like a bad indie show, especially because the small crowd was pretty dead. It was a disaster, with a total of 1,454 fans in the building and only 768 of them paid. Even worse, they tried to paper it but only 33% of the free tickets that were given out were used. WCW literally can't even give this shit away. Ric Flair returned as the new CEO of WCW and got almost no pop at all from the crowd, then cut a boring promo. Dave thinks it's sad that this is where things have gotten for him. The greatest of all time, cutting middling promos in front of a small crowd for a dying company. Then Jarrett came out to talk and the mic went dead. The fans chanted for Scott Hall all through the Kronik/Palumbo & Stasiak match. Kevin Nash was on commentary but after last week, he was finally ordered to stop talking about Hall. So instead of mentioning Hall himself, when the crowd started chanting, Nash kept asking, "What are they chanting?" but the other announcers wouldn't acknowledge him.
  • Thunder was taped immediately after Nitro and the only notable thing there was a Lance Storm vs. Norman Smiley match that was apparently so bad that Storm went on his website afterward and pre-emptively apologized to the fans for the match. As of press time, it hasn't aired yet so I guess we'll see (the 2000 Thunders aren't on the Network and I can't find this online, so no idea how bad it was or wasn't).
  • Backstage morale in WCW isn't great, which probably goes without saying. Word is much of the crew, wrestlers and backstage employees alike, are so drained by all the negativity and sale rumors that everyone has pretty much mentally quit. They're all just going through the motions every week now while waiting to see what's going to happen with their jobs.
  • Buff Bagwell did an interview with the Observer website a few days before the Halloween Havoc PPV and had plenty of interesting things to say. He ripped on Vince Russo for the way he booked himself along with guys like Luger and DDP and basically just how awful Russo's booking is. He also complained about WCW fining people for showing up late. He complained about not getting a big raise like everyone else got back in 1998 because he was out with a neck injury when Bischoff was giving raises and complained about being underpaid compared to all the other "A-talent" like himself. Talked about how screwed up WCW is, saying Lex Luger is being paid $1.3 million a year to do jobs for Hugh Morrus. "Are you kidding me? Hugh is a great guy and all that, but he's not A-talent. I love him to death, but he's never going to draw a dime. We're talking about drawing money and he's never going to draw a fuckin' dime. And Luger is putting him over at house shows? Nothing is adding up. I know for a fact that if they try to get me to job for (David) Flair at Havoc, I'm going to walk out the door. I'm not doing it." In response to all this, WCW put Hugh Morrus over big on Nitro while they had Bagwell job to Luger in 2 minutes on the same show. Well, at least someone in WCW gets punished for the shit they say.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For only the second time ever in writing these Rewinds, I have hit the 40,000 character limit. So once again, the rest of this Rewind will be posted in a comment below, so keep scrolling. Upvote it for visibility I guess?

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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Nov. 10, 1997

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE: 199119921993199419951996
1-6-1997 1-13-1997 1-20-1997 1-27-1997
2-3-1997 2-10-1997 2-17-1997 2-24-1997
3-3-1997 3-10-1997 3-17-1997 3-24-1997
3-31-1997 4-7-1997 4-14-1997 4-21-1997
4-28-1997 5-5-1997 5-12-1997 5-19-1997
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8-18-1997 8-25-1997 9-1-1997 9-8-1997
9-15-1997 9-22-1997 9-29-1997 10-6-1997
10-13-1997 10-20-1997 10-27-1997 11-3-1997
  • Bret Hart officially gave notice to WWF this week that he's leaving and has agreed to a 2-year deal with WCW. Hart has reportedly been unhappy with WWF's new, more crude direction and that, more than money, is reportedly why he chose to leave, but of course, money played a big part also. But Hart is reportedly so embarrassed by the current WWF direction that he doesn't even let his children watch the show and of course has been upset at having to deal with Shawn Michaels. Both Hart and WWF tried to keep the story under wraps until after Survivor Series but that's impossible these days. Once the story leaked, WWF released a statement admitting that they were giving Hart the opportunity to explore other options. On Nitro, Eric Bischoff teased that he would have a big announcement next week, which would be Hart coming to join the NWO (which would probably be turned into a storyline with him deciding if he's with WCW or NWO). For now, Bret is scheduled to work all his WWF booked events through the end of November and then one final PPV show in December. Hart and Bischoff have reportedly been negotiating for about 6 weeks, and very few people knew. They met in person 3 weeks ago and at that point, they were pretty sure Bret was coming to WCW but he didn't make the final decision until this weekend. During his WWF negotiations last year, Hart got Vince to agree to a clause in his 20-year contract that allows him to quit with 30 days notice and another clause that gives him creative control over his character during those final 30 days.
  • All that is known about Hart's WCW deal is that it's similar to the contract he turned down last year, although slightly less money because Hart insisted on working fewer dates (around 125-140 per year) due to a bad knee that never really healed last year and a wrist injury that he's long needed surgery on. It also has the same deals with Hart getting movie roles for Turner. Bret will likely be used to help prop up the new Thursday TBS show as well as help WCW grow in Canada. Dave recaps the last year, saying Bret quickly became unhappy in WWF after signing his new deal, and pretty much came up with his own angle for the double-turn with Steve Austin and with forming the Hart Foundation. He also has well-known heat with Shawn Michaels dating back to last year but got much more heated this year with Shawn's "Sunny days" comment followed by a legit backstage fight that led to Shawn walking out of the company. Neither man was punished for the fight and in fact, WWF basically begged Shawn to return. Eventually they agreed to co-exist and leave personal lives and families out of their promos, but Shawn then did an interview talking about Stu Hart. Shawn later apologized for that one, saying he got carried away in a promo. Shawn has been on a self-destructive path the last year and his immaturity and antics on TV are seemingly encouraged by Vince McMahon, which upset Bret. And the final straw appears to be Vince deciding that Bret will drop the title to Shawn at Survivor Series.
  • There's been speculation that Vince McMahon actually wants Bret to leave because he doesn't want to honor the 20-year contract that Bret has because he has buyer's remorse. McMahon fought hard to keep Bret from WCW last year and many think he was only thinking in the short-term when he made the deal. Long-term, it's a very expensive contract that doesn't make good economic sense for WWF which has led to people questioning whether or not Vince is actively trying to push Bret to leave. Asking him to drop the title to Shawn was sure to upset him and Vince knew it. Dave says no one knows exactly what will happen in Montreal at the PPV. Most people will expect Bret to drop the title, but they may try to swerve fans and do it at another time. But either way, Bret will have to drop the belt sometime very soon. As for guys like Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith, they're both locked into 5 year contracts and it doesn't look like any of this will affect their status with the company.
  • And on a final note, just a few days ago, Bret Hart wrote a column in the Calgary Sun paper which is designed as a "letter" to Shawn Michaels that was meant to seem like a shoot in order to promote the Survivor Series match. But knowing what we know now, it takes on a whole new meaning (I'm sure Bret meant every word of this):
"Shawn Michaels, you are a disgrace to professional wrestling. It amazes me that there was a time I actually thought you'd be the guy who could come up behind me and carry the ball when my time comes to retire. Now when you're behind me, I have to make sure I don't bend over. I am a second generation wrestler. Like a lot of second generation wrestlers, I've paid my dues. The way you are degrading the business makes me sick and breaks my heart. That's not what Heartbreak Kid was supposed to mean. I told you, and Vince told you, to leave our families out of this. So you got on RAW and said that my father is dead. This time you're so far over the line that there's no coming back. Every so often, after you shoot off your mouth, you come to me backstage with a lame apology and a limp handshake. "Oh Bret, my mouth always gets me in trouble when I get goin' out there. You know I didn't mean nothin' by it."
Don't bother this time, I'm not buying it. I would not embarrass my father--who is not only very much alive but is still tougher today at 83 and more of a man than you will ever be--as you have embarrassed your father with your degenerate behavior. How humiliating for your poor mother to have to explain your lewd gestures to her friends. You don't respect anybody, do you? What does Jose Lothario think of how you've made pornography out of what he taught you? Shawn Michaels, you are nothing more than a whore for this business.
You called me a paper champion because it bothers you that my contract is worth more than you and the whole Degeneration X put together. You said I wrestle because I need the money, but you wrestle because this business needs you. You are a festering cancerous tumor in this business. After Wrestlemania XII, I went home for a while to give you the chance to become "the man" because as long as I'm around you'll never be "the man." You were so bad at being "the man" that the WWF and WCW had the biggest bidding war in wrestling history to get me to come back. You'd have the World championship belt. But you don't. What do you have, besides a big mouth and a bad attitude?
Shawn Michaels, you said that beating the Undertaker makes you an icon. Not taking anything away from 'Taker, but you weren't the first guy to beat him, you just did it too late. You said you're the only icon that can still go, not like the fossils. You're so beat up from taking completely overdone bumps like a Mexican jumping bean that you can't even work a full schedule like the older guys. You only wrestle about once a month and you're proud of that? Then people who think they know more about this business than they actually do, write about what a hard worker you are. Anyone can work hard once a month. You've barebacked your way to main event matches and they give you the best guys in the business to make you look good.
So you and your boyfriend, Hunter, think I'm too old. Hunter said he's bigger than me in more ways than one, and then you pointed at Hunter's crotch and said he could put an eye out with that thing. Thanks for admitting that you know what Hunter has in his pants. So how come I have four kids and all you two have is each other? I'm not the one shooting blanks. By the way, you both looked very comfortable eating bananas together on Raw. Lots of parents tell me they won't let their kids watch the shows anymore because of you and they don't watch either because you're such an asshole. People are shutting the show off because of you! It took so long to make wrestling into family entertainment. Thanks for setting the business back 50 years! You are the one who is confusing expansion and destruction, not me. You, Shawn, are the destruction of this business. You make me sick. You said you're the best sports entertainer in the world. Don't even think about saying you're a wrestler. What I do is an art form and what you do is...what do you do, anyway, cause it's not pro wrestling anymore?
You called the WWF world championship a "tin title" but you're only saying that because you don't have the belt. When you did have it, you treated it like garbage and then threw it away! So now you want to try to win the title at Survivor Series? You'd better reconsider that because when I get my hands on you it's going to make the beating I gave you in the locker room last June look like a warm up. After that little scuffle, you went running to Vince, complaining that the work conditions in the WWF are unsafe. The only thing unsafe about the working conditions in the WWF is you, Shawn. You've gotten in the ring so "pilled up" lately that you can't even talk straight on TV. You'd better shake the cob webs free before you get in the ring with me at SS. This business has been my mistress for my whole life and I love her. You are raping her and taking her dignity away. Don't count on my reputation for professionalism saving your ass at SS. You're the one who threw the rule book out the window. The 17 stitches you got at Hell in the Cell are nothing compared to what's coming at Misery in Montreal."
  • Ric Flair has also agreed to re-sign with WCW which is a win for them because WWF was very interested and Flair had strongly considered it for awhile. But he'll be staying with WCW.
  • The official cause of death for Brian Pillman has been released and the verdict is heart attack due to natural causes. Reportedly, after a month of tests, the coroner was stumped for a cause of the heart attack, although his heart did show an unusual amount of damage for someone his age. It could be hereditary or due to outside factors such as cocaine or steroids, both of which it's no secret that Pillman had used and abused during his career. Toxicology results didn't show any drugs in amounts that could have killed him. He had painkillers in his system but not at dangerous levels. No steroids or illegal drugs were found in his system, nor any alcohol. He had blood pressure medication in his system, which he didn't have a prescription for but again not at a dangerous amount. On a WCW internet radio show a couple of weeks ago, Gene Okerlund claimed to have an inside scoop with sources with the police in MN that cocaine was the cause of death, which got rumors going. But when toxicology showed no cocaine in his system, this naturally led to a ton of heat on Okerlund and upset a lot of people.
  • Gorilla Monsoon's condition improved over the weekend but he's still hospitalized and listed in serious condition. Monsoon was on a respirator and receiving kidney dialysis for most of the last week. Doctors are hoping to perform a bypass surgery on his heart soon, but it no longer looks as though he needs a transplant for now. Monsoon had been a top heel back in the day and was part owner of Capital Sports (parent company of the old WWWF) before selling his share of the company to Vince McMahon Jr. in 1982. Ever since then, he's remained with the company as an announcer, figurehead authority figure, and backstage office roles as well as giving time cues at TV tapings from the other side of the curtain.
  • NJPW "only" drew around 40,000 to their latest stadium show in the Fukuoka Dome, which is the smallest crowd ever for a NJPW stadium show. The number disappointed many, and it seems to be a reality check about the long-term future of NJPW, which has been the most successful promotion in the world for the last few years, but is starting to see the peak fading. Right now, they're being carried by the final retirement shows of Riki Choshu which are doing big business, but after he retires on Jan. 4th, NJPW doesn't really have anything exciting on the horizon for 1998, which has some in the company worried.
  • Two incidents with fans at wrestling shows made news this week and led to near riots. The first was at a Promo Azteca show in Tijuana. A bunch of wrestlers were in the ring having a big post-match brawl. Among them were Rey Misterio Jr., Psicosis, Konnan, and others when a fan hit the ring and did a dropkick on Misterio. Then another fan ran in and hit Mistero with a chair, but Misterio got the chair away from the fan. At this point, fans in the crowd all started throwing chairs at the ring and, sensing a riot about to break out, others in the crowd panicked and began running. All in all, it was a scary situation but nobody was hurt. For what it's worth, WCW doesn't want Misterio wrestling in Mexico anymore because they don't want him to get hurt, especially at a non-WCW show.
  • The other incident took place in (where else?)....ECW at a show in Plymouth, PA. This situation was different. According to several witnesses, a small group of fans showed up, all big tough looking guys, and they were there looking for trouble right from the beginning. They were harassing the wrestlers all night from the front row and during the first match, security came and told them to stop leaning over the rails and stop spitting at wrestlers, but the security guard was shouted down by the group. Why they weren't removed then and there, no one knows. The ECW wrestlers mostly tried to avoid wrestling near them. But then Axl Rotten, Balls Mahoney, John Kronus and (who else?) New Jack came to the ring for a match. And then trouble began. When Balls Mahoney got too close, 2 of the fans started punching him. Mahoney turned around and started throwing wild punches back and then the ECW locker room emptied as everyone ran out to join the brawl. "Reports are the Dudleys were going through the crowd like buzzsaws" and it took nearly 20 minutes to bring order back to the show. After it was over, several hundred fans were outside the building trying to escape the near-riot. Several fans were injured, although none seriously. 40 police officers, some in riot gear, and even a police dog showed up to the scene. The story made all the local news outlets. Balls Mahoney and New Jack were brought to the police station for questioning. The 2 fans who threw the initial punches were arrested and charged with assault, disorderly conduct, and harassment. New Jack surprisingly didn't do much during the fight because as soon as it started to break out, Paul Heyman ran out and pulled New Jack away from it because given the Mass Transit legal situation, Heyman didn't want him getting into more legal trouble that could reflect on the company.
  • Speaking of fans getting involved, WWF ran an angle on Raw with a "fan" getting into the ring who then started doing martial arts and kicking people's asses. He is former Stampede wrestler Steve Blackman and he's expected to officially debut in his first match at Survivor Series, replacing The Patriot on Team USA.
WATCH: Steve Blackman's WWF debut
  • Dave reviews a recent FMW show and says the show-stealer was Masato Tanaka vs. The Gladiator (Mike Awesome) and says usually they're both decent workers at best but they really clicked in this match. (Indeed they did. Those 2 had the best chemistry together and they went on to have legendary matches against each other in ECW and even revived the feud years later at the first WWECW One Night Stand PPV). Anyway, this FMW match even has their famous powerbomb-outside-the-ring spot at about the 18 minute mark.
WATCH: Masato Tanaka vs. The Gladiator (FMW)
  • The Dallas Sportatorium got a new lease on life after reports came out that it would be torn down. Enough die-hard wrestling fans who still attend the occasional indie show there made enough noise that they extended the lease on the building and it won't be torn down for now.
  • USWA is dead, but Jerry Lawler had a contract to run weekly shows at a casino in Mississippi, so he's continuing to run indie shows there each week so as to not to violate the contract. In Louisville, Ian Rotten's IWA is trying to take over the TV deal and arena dates that USWA had. And Bert Prentice's Music City Wrestling is trying to take over the Memphis and Nashville deals and they'll be running their first show in Memphis next week on the usual USWA date at the same building.
  • A few weeks ago, Billy Jack Haynes emerged from hiding (reportedly because he had some bad gambling debts and was kinda on the run) and tried to make amends with people he had screwed over. He admitted having a gambling problem but said it was all behind him now. He borrowed some money from a few people to get his life back in order.....but has instead disappeared again after borrowing the money.
  • The rap group Insane Clown Posse will be wrestling at a show called Stranglemania Live in Detroit next month. The show will also feature a women's thumbtack death match. (The video below is part one. Part 2, 3, 4, etc. should start automatically after you finish the previous one).
WATCH: Stranglemania Live 1997 - Pt. 1
  • ECW held a show in Stamford, CT on Halloween that sounds like it was a lot of fun. A lot of current ECW stars who used to work in WWF used their old WWF gimmicks since it was Halloween. Al Snow came out as Avatar, Justin Credible worked as Aldo Montoya, Jerry Lynn worked as Mr. J.L., Shane Douglas did his Dean Douglas gimmick and Chris Candido came out as Skip. Also on the show, Rob Van Dam dressed as Sabu. The BWO guys (Blue Meanie and Super Nova) wrestled as Big Daddy Fool and the Heartburn Kid, coming out to Shawn Michaels' music. Finally, Tommy Dreamer won a flag match and proclaimed Stamford as ECW country (no free video anywhere but apparently you can pay to watch it here on Highspots).
LINK: ECW Halloween Hell 97
  • Tickets for Sting vs. Hogan at Starrcade go on sale this week and it's almost certainly going to break every record in WCW history. The Halloween Havoc show last month did a big PPV buyrate also. Dave says a lot of people have talked about how terrible the Hogan/Piper "age in the cage" match was, and they're right, it was awful. But the job of the top stars is to sell tickets and when it comes to that, Hogan is still #1 in WCW, no matter how bad the match was. Even Hogan's new movie Assault on Devil's Island did a 4.2 rating, making it one of the most-watch made-for-TV movies ever on cable and they may be turning the movie into an ongoing TV series.
  • Dave thinks the political situation in WCW will be interesting in 1998. All of the top stars (Hogan, Sting, Flair, Piper, Savage, Hall, Nash, and soon, Bret Hart) will be under the same roof and all of them have or will have some measure of creative control in their contracts which is sure to lead to some problems. With WWF losing Bret Hart, that frees up a lot of money so don't be surprised to see some of those guys maybe looking to go back to WWF if things get too crowded at the top.
  • Raven cut a promo on Nitro and mentioned sitting next to a girl named Trisa Hayes in elementary school. That's an inside reference because Trisa Hayes is actually the real name of ECW's Beulah McGillicutty.
  • Perry Saturn won the TV title on Nitro, and because his knee is still not fully healed, he wrestled a totally different style, sorta similar to Taz with lots of suplexes and submissions. Taz got wind of this and was reportedly upset that Saturn was stealing his gimmick but Dave says they're different enough that he wouldn't really consider it the same.
  • WCW Injury Report: Bill Goldberg has a pulled groin and will miss a few shows. Syxx had an MRI on his neck and the results weren't good, as he had more damage than originally thought. He'll be out for awhile, no word how long. DDP had blood in his urine recently but didn't miss any matches. Marcus Bagwell will be out for a few weeks after having the meniscus in his knee removed. And even Kimberly Page knocked heads with another Nitro girl during a mistimed routine and was banged up.
  • Southern California indie wrestler Christopher Daniels is expected to get a WCW tryout soon.
  • WCW filed a lawsuit against WWF over them using the name Canadian Stampede for its PPV back in July because they claimed it was too similar to WCW's Spring Stampede PPV name. The case was settled out of court, but not for money. Part of the agreement is WWF wouldn't use the name Canadian Stampede in the future.
  • DDP raised about $1,000 for Brian Pillman's family through internet donations.
  • Steve Austin has been working 8-man tag matches on house shows and doing very little in the ring. Doctors are still giving him bad diagnosis but its hard for someone to stop and give up their career when they're at their peak like Austin is now (we're not even close to Austin's peak yet).
  • Doctors have told The Patriot he should retire due to his tricep tear because it seems to be a chronic problem. He's expected to get surgery and if he decides to return, it'll be in 3-6 months (he didn't return).
TOMORROW: The Montreal Screwjob.
submitted by daprice82 to SquaredCircle [link] [comments]

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Mar. 15, 1999

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE: 19911992199319941995199619971998
1-4-1999 1-11-1999 1-18-1999 1-25-1999
2-1-1999 2-8-1999 2-15-1999 2-22-1999
3-1-1999 3-8-1999
  • Dave has officially declared the Monday night wars over. Obviously, both shows are still going on. But WWF is riding an incredible wave of success while WCW is free-falling in self-destruction and he doesn't see that changing anytime soon. Sunday Night Heat did a record 5.09 rating, followed the next night by Raw doing a monstrous 6.46. At one point, Raw was more than doubling Nitro's ratings during certain segments of the show. Add in all the mainstream publicity (Sable in Playboy, TV Guide doing another 4-part covers series but only WWF this time, etc.) and just weeks away from Wrestlemania which will undoubtedly be the biggest money event in WWF history and the biggest non-boxing event in the history of pay-per-view, and WWF is simply on fire right now.
  • On the flip side, there's WCW. For the last several weeks, Eric Bischoff has apparently been on vacation in France (Dave gets an AWESOME line here, saying it would be more appropriate if he was in Rome playing the fiddle). That left Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan in charge of Nitro this week and Dave says it was possibly the worst TV show put on by a major promotion in history and that Nash and Hogan used the show as a way to get themselves over and went to absurd lengths to basically bury everyone else in the company. When asked about it, Bischoff has basically said he's giving full control to Nash and giving him the chance to sink or swim on his own. Most people feel that Bischoff has pretty much given up and mentally checked out of the company and is looking for a way to get off the Titanic before it sinks. Dave thinks Nitro had to have been designed to fail this week because it takes a lot of thought to actually present a show that terrible, it couldn't have been an accident. He talks about how WCW has had a long tradition of bad booking, dating back to the mid-80s Crockett days where everyone did heel/face turns until the fans didn't care about anyone, screwjob finishes, and the booker pushing himself as the top star (Dusty) and obviously, nothing has changed in the last 10 years. Locker room morale is at rock bottom. Scott Hall is pretty much planning to sit out right now and has talked about suing WCW because it was a WCW employee who ran over his ankle a few weeks ago, injuring him. Benoit, Malenko, guys like them have been forgotten. Bret Hart's burial is complete and he's a midcard nobody now (he worked a 10+ minute match against Van Hammer this week, in case you're wondering). Arn Anderson, one of the top 3 promo guys in the biz, is being phased out. Billy Kidman, arguably the brightest new star in WCW in the last year or so, is barely on TV anymore. Same with Juventud Guerrera, who is the single best wrestler in the U.S. at the moment. Chris Jericho has potential to be the next Shawn Michaels or Ric Flair and he's booked like a nobody and is almost certainly WWF-bound when his contract ends. But we still have nonstop Scott Steiner, Buff Bagwell, Nash, and Hogan. Goldberg is still being booked strong because even WCW isn't foolish enough to totally bury him, but he's not going to be pushed above Hogan (who is turning face) and Dave wouldn't be surprised if they do something stupid like turn Goldberg heel (still a year away from that awful idea). With Ric Flair now being booked as the top heel (at 50 years old) and Hogan as the top babyface, it does nothing to dispel the notion that WCW is the elderly, out of touch company, while WWF is the hot, cool product. People who recently re-signed contracts are wishing they could get out of them and Dave expects nearly anyone who has a chance to go to WWF when their contracts expire will probably make the jump. But aside from all the comparisons of 1999 WCW to 1988 Crockett, Dave says there's one big difference. In 1988, even though morale was bad and the product was suffering, the performers didn't quit. They still tried to put on good shows. But now, in 1999, everyone from the wrestlers, to the announcers, to the front office...all of them have already mentally quit. Almost everyone is just collecting a check and phoning it in at this point and it's never been more obvious. And for that reason, Dave says the game is already over. WWF has won the war.
  • Vader became the first wrestler in history to win both New Japan's IWGP title and AJPW's Triple Crown title after defeating Akira Taue to win the title recently vacated by Toshiaki Kawada after an injury. Dave says this puts Vader up there alongside Lou Thesz as one of the only wrestlers to hold more versions of major league championships than any other wrestler ever. Vader held the CWA title in Europe in the 80s, which was a bigger deal then than it is now. The UWA title in Mexico (back when they were the top promotion there). IWGP in Japan, 3 times, and the WCW title 3 times, among others. At one point in 1990, he was the CWA, UWA, and IWGP champ all at the same time, which probably makes him the only wrestler to ever hold 3 major world titles on 3 different continents at once.
WATCH: Vader vs. Akira Taue - AJPW 3/6/99
  • At the latest UFC PPV, Tito Ortiz got into a confrontation with Ken Shamrock, who was cageside for the fight. After Ortiz won his fight against Shamrock's protege Guy Mezger, he flipped off the Lion's Den corner and then pulled out a t-shirt that said "GAY Mezger is my bitch." Upon seeing the shirt, Shamrock jumped up and climbed the cage and started yelling at Ortiz, saying that if he put the shirt on, he would rip his head off and chastising him for poor sportsmanship. Due to UFC being afraid of any negative publicity these days, the camera pulled away from most of it, but Ortiz had to be pulled away and Shamrock nearly climbed into the cage and had to be restrained. For what it's worth, Shamrock has talked about wanting to fight again, but of course, he's still under WWF contract. He's had discussions with Vince McMahon about allowing him to fight, perhaps sometime this year but no word if it's led anywhere. And Shamrock reportedly wants to fight for the UFC title, and doesn't necessarily have any interest in fighting Ortiz, although now there's obviously some intrigue if that fight were to ever happen. But right now, UFC doesn't have enough visibility on PPV to even be able to afford to bring in Shamrock. But there's talk that UFC is making headway with the PPV providers and they seem confident that they may be able to start getting unbanned soon.
  • The career of Lizmark, one of Mexican wrestling's all-time legends, may have come to a sudden end due to heart problems. He'd been dealing with chest pains recently and finally checked himself into a hospital only to find out it was bad news. Doctors then told him he absolutely could never wrestle again because he would be risking his life. Dave gives a brief recap of his career, talking about him as one of the innovators of out-of-the-ring dives that have become so popular in Lucha Libre ("tope suicida!") and how his son Lizmark Jr. currently wrestles in WCW. He's 49 and had already been talking of retiring anyway but was holding out hope that he would get to wrestle his final match with his son but the WCW/CMLL deal fell through and they're in different promotions so it looks like it won't happen. In fact, Dave says Lizmark's mask is one of the most famous in Mexican wrestling history and that legacy is the reason Lizmark Jr. has repeatedly refused to lose his mask in WCW, which is why they never push him. (Turns out this wasn't the end for Lizmark. He took about 6 months off and then resumed wrestling a slightly lighter schedule but still pretty regularly for the next several years. And in even better news, he did get to wrestle with his son a bunch of times during those years. He ended up retiring in 2013 and died in 2015).
  • There's a quiet power struggle taking place within AJPW between Mitsuharu Misawa and Motoko Baba, the widowed wife of Giant Baba. Apparently Motoko Baba wants to oversee everything Misawa does while he wants to be left alone to run the company as he sees fit. He also wants to modernize things a bit. If you're recall, Giant Baba wasn't exactly the most in-touch guy when it came to the modern day wrestling business. (This behind-the-scenes power struggle goes on for the next year or so and eventually, Misawa leaves and takes almost the entire AJPW roster and office staff with him to form Pro Wrestling Noah which damn near puts AJPW out of business overnight. But we'll get there...)
  • For the first time in AJPW history, Stan Hansen won't be part of the upcoming Champion Carnival tournament. Dave explains how in sumo wrestling, when a grand champion can no longer compete at the highest level, they are usually forced into retirement in order to spare them the indignity of losing to low level fighters. AJPW is basically doing the same thing here. Stan Hansen is without a doubt the biggest foreign star in the history of Japanese wrestling but he's 50 years old now and he simply can't hang with the newer generation of stars. And since it wouldn't make sense to push him as a top star anymore, they don't want him in the tournament losing to midcard guys and looking bad. So to preserve his legendary status, they are simply not putting him in the tournament at all.
  • Shinya Hashimoto was expected to return to the ring for next month's big NJPW Tokyo Dome show but he won't be ready. He had major reconstructive surgery on his nose after getting it shattered to pieces in the Jan. 4 match against Naoya Ogawa and won't be medically cleared in time for the show.
  • Riki Choshu has announced that he plans to come out of retirement. It's got a lot of people concerned about the financial condition of NJPW because, when he retired last year, Choshu vowed he would never come back unless the company was in such bad shape that they needed him to. he's coming back, so obviously people are questioning things. NJPW is denying that there are any money issues and in fact, most of the wrestlers who recently re-signed were given big raises. But house show business in the last year or so has declined so who really knows. No word on who or when Choshu will wrestle again (must have been some confusion here because Choshu stayed retired for another year-plus before finally coming out of retirement in mid-2000).
  • Kenzo Suzuki, a former collegiate rugby star, has started training at the NJPW dojo and will likely debut for the company later this year (he doesn't last long in NJPW. Spends a couple of years in WWE during the mid-00s, and then ends up back in AJPW for most of the last decade).
  • Nobuhiko Takada is still not giving up the dream of being a real MMA fighter and will face UFC fighter Mark Coleman at the next PRIDE show (this ends up being one of the more notorious "fixed" fights in MMA history, with Coleman clearly taking a dive for Takada).
  • Speaking of Mark Coleman, WCW offered him $50,000 to come in and work a match against Goldberg and to put him over. But Coleman's people advised him against it and then Kevin Nash also shot down the idea, saying what if Vince McMahon offered Coleman $100,000 to double-cross WCW and shoot on Goldberg live on PPV and embarrass the company? Dave says the obvious answer to that would be to tape the match in advance just in case. But either way, it's not happening now.
  • Legendary retired sumo wrestler Akebono has been denying rumors that he plans to get into pro wrestling now that his sumo career is over (took him a few years, but yeah he eventually becomes a pro wrestler).
  • Women's boxer Shannon Hall reportedly has an offer to sign with WWF. She's also a former American Gladiator (she does sign with WWF but never makes it out of developmental).
  • Dave finally saw the A&E Biography episode about Andre The Giant. He says it was a very well-produced fairy tale. Definitely entertaining, but about 80% inaccurate, at least about his wrestling career. There were some good interviews with his family members and friends about his childhood and personal life but as far as his wrestling career goes, most of it was revisionist bullshit.
  • Legendary women's wrestler Mae Young has been playing the role of Sean Stasiak's mother on Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis. She had a wrestling match with Stacy and, at 75 years old, that makes her the oldest person to have a match that Dave is aware of (Lou Thesz had one at 74 a few years back). She took a few bumps and then faked a heart attack before sneak attacking Stacy with a purse.
WATCH: Mae Young vs. Stacy - Power Pro Wrestling
  • A 17-year-old kid named Andre Verdun made news in Ventura, CA for his backyard wrestling group where him and a bunch of other kids were having barbed wire matches and jumping off rooftops on each other through tables and whatnot. The principal at Verdun's school was furious at the newspaper that ran the story, saying all they did was give the kids more fame and notoriety by publishing it. Verdun was apparently signing autographs at school after it happened and now there's TV shows wanting to do interviews with them (I googled the guy and it looks like he did a bunch of garbage backyard death match shit for years. There's some videos on YouTube. He also played a big part in a 20/20 piece about backyard wrestling that also interviewed Mick Foley and others. Anyway, looks like this Verdun guy is all grown up and he's a lawyer now. I can't find the local news piece, but here's the 20/20 story from later in the year which features Foley).
WATCH: ABC 20/20 story on backyard wrestling
  • ECW paychecks are finally starting to clear now that they got the big influx of cash, so morale is better but no one is betting on the future. Even Tommy Dreamer, thought to be the most loyal guy in the company, went on a radio show this week saying that he only has a handshake agreement with Paul Heyman, not a contract, and said that if a serious offer came along from either WWF or WCW, he would take it.
  • ECW also lost their TV deals in several major cities due to financial issues. Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh TV deals were all lost. They're working on getting Boston back. They voluntarily gave up the Chicago TV deal because they were paying $3,000 a week for TV there but they've never actually run a show there so they decided it wasn't worth the cost. Same for Atlanta, although they're looking for a new TV deal there. Pittsburgh dropped them due to bounced checks.
  • Tammy Sytch and Chris Candido still aren't being used by ECW. They have told Heyman that they are in counseling and doing an outpatient drug rehab program. Tammy's mother also went to court this week and got a restraining order against her daughter extended (she was arrested a few weeks ago for violating it).
  • ECW TV this week kept taking pathetic shots at WCW. Once might have been okay but it went on and on throughout the whole show and came off as whiny and desperate. They talked about WCW ripping off ECW's gimmick with the "Uncensored" PPV. Talked about the three-way match between Raven, Hardcore Hak, and Bigelow saying they are using ECW wrestlers for an ECW-style match. And they knocked the Hogan/Flair barbed wire cage match, saying that the match will suck because both guys are 50 year old millionaires who won't take risks and besides, the barbed wire is fake anyway and in ECW they use real barbed wire. Then they showed the famous Terry Funk/Sabu barbed wire match (not bothering to mention that Funk is older than both Flair and Hogan) and basically just spent the whole show knocking WCW.
  • As if this week's episode of Nitro wasn't bad enough, they also failed to sell out the show in a 12,000 seat arena. It's been a long time since Nitro failed to sell out an arena that size. A few days later, a Thunder taping only drew 4,000 fans to a 15,000-seat arena, which was disastrous (they'll be happy to draw 4,000 fans to any show a year from now). During Thunder, they aired 2 promo videos hyping next week's Nitro and both clips featured Sean Waltman, who has been gone from WCW for over a year now and is, of course, currently in WWF. The wheels are falling off this company.
  • Also on Thunder, the crowd was chanting "steroids!" at Scott Steiner and at one point, he legit lost his cool and ran into the crowd after a fan, which they had to edited out before broadcast.
  • In a magazine interview with Goldberg, he was asked his thoughts on WWF and said it was "shock TV" and said he would retire from wrestling tomorrow rather than ever go to work there. Sure thing, buddy.
  • WWF injury/illness Report: Mankind is dealing with knee issues and will need time off soon. Billy Gunn missed a few shows due to fluid in his lungs and a respiratory infection. Steven Regal is still in rehab with no plans to return soon.
  • Regarding rumors that Raw will be expanding to 3 hours, apparently it was discussed several months ago back when the ratings war with Nitro was still neck-and-neck. They didn't like that Nitro had a 1 hour head start and talked about adding a third hour to Raw. But now that Raw is dominating Nitro, they don't feel the need to do it anymore, so it won't be happening. Whew. Could you imagine?
  • Kurt Angle will be sent to Memphis to work for Power Pro Wrestling for a bit before they put him on WWF TV.
  • Luna Vachon was fired this week due to several separate incidents. She has had a lot of heat with Sable, Marc Mero, Jacqueline, and agent Jack Lanza. She also complained about not getting a push because she wasn't as pretty as Sable (which she also said on TV and it was more shoot than work) and she even challenged Marc Mero to a fight backstage at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre PPV. Basically, she's just been pissing off too many people and none of the other women were comfortable having her around because she's kinda wild, so they fired her. Funny enough, she was booked to face Sable at Wrestlemania and was even booked to win the title, but that's obviously off now and Sable will likely face Tori instead.
  • WWF is considering doing their own women's wrestling show patterned after the old GLOW promotion of the 80s. They're holding a casting call in Los Angeles next week to bring in more pretty women for it (this never got off the ground but they ended up signing a few of the casting call women to developmental deals).
  • CBS wants to do a Movie of the Week type deal with Steve Austin playing the same character he played on his recent Nash Bridges episode, since that did such a huge rating. And of course, if the movie does good, it would possibly lead to a full blown spin-off TV series. Austin's guest spot on the show opened a lot of eyes in Hollywood since it did such a big rating, more than even Hogan or Piper could have ever done on network TV.
  • Public Enemy has a good bit of heat in WWF already, with most people feeling like they don't belong and are out of their league. They had a match against the Acolytes on Sunday Night Heat where both guys (Bradshaw especially) were stiffing the hell out of them. It was reportedly meant to be a message to PE and was approved by the office (yeah this match is BRUTAL and pretty much ended PE's run in WWF).
WATCH: The Acolytes beat the fuckin' brakes off Public Enemy
  • Sable has been making the media rounds to promote her Playboy issue. She was on Howard Stern this week and will be filming a role for La Femme Nikita next month. She was also interviewed by the New York Daily News and had this to say in regards to WWF's product: "As a responsible parent, I choose not to let my child watch it (Raw). My child is very young. She has a bed time and she's in bed when our show comes on. To me, that's being a responsible parent. Ultimately, it's the parent's decision. If you do not wish your child to watch the WWF, change the channel. It's not our place to put on a show that's supposedly for your children. It's your place as a parent to monitor what your children watch. Are they saying it's not okay to see the characters we play beat up each other but it's okay to have your child watch a movie where a famous actor blows away 100 people with an M-16?" When asked if she felt her character is degrading to women, Sable responded, "I feel I'm being a strong, stand-up woman. People don't have to like what I do or agree with what I do because they don't have to live my life. I would much rather my daughter when she grows up, do what she wants to do because she wants to do it, not because of what someone else thinks." When asked about turning heel recently but still not getting booed, Sable pointed to her chest and said, "Why would they boo this?"
  • The idea with Jim Ross acting like a heel lately is because they want to transition him into being Steve Williams' manager and also because they're trying to transition Michael Cole into the new main announcer for Raw. However, Ross' promos had the opposite effect and got over huge and he got big cheers. So they've dropped the heel act but the plan is still for him to do the talking for Steve Williams and there's no plans for him to replace Michael Cole anytime soon.
  • Remember that hotel and casino that WWF bought in Las Vegas? Well, the plan is to tear it down and rebuild since the building isn't right for what they want (they want to be able to hold shows in it, but the structure isn't built for it). Anyway, whenever they do finally demolish it, there's been talk of turning it into a wrestling angle and having Austin press the button, with the storyline idea being that Austin just destroyed a multi-million dollar piece of property that Vince owns (didn't happen but that would have been awesome).
  • Someone writes in and chastises Dave for being so mean to WCW. The guy basically says, yeah WCW sucks right now but do you have to keep ridiculing them for it? Someone else writes in and shits all over Mick Foley, saying he's a glorified stuntman and doesn't belong in a wrestling ring and he hates this new era of jumping off cages and crashing through tables and all that stuff. He wishes someone with a lot of money would come along and promote wrestling the way it used to be in the good ol' days. He signs his name "Duane Mason" but I know a Jim Cornette letter when I see one!
MONDAY: WCW Uncensored fallout, a look at how many world titles Ric Flair has actually held, Shane Douglas and Flair take shots at each other in interviews, and more...
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Poison - Shooting Star - YouTube

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