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post #231 of 272 (permalink) Old 11-04-2013, 12:43 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

They expected the booing of Cena, to the point the company came up with an explanation. According to one company source, instead of the double turn idea that had been brought up, Vince McMahon is determined that in the end, he is going to win this latest battle with his audience and get people to cheer John Cena. It's his new game. The strategy is for Cena to stay defiant of the people who boo him, continue to work like a babyface, be portrayed as the ultimate babyface, and rallying his kids and women fan base to stay behind him and label the rest of the fan base "haters." The idea is to make the odds always against him, and portray him as someone who has less skill, but is the underdog in every match because of it. The announcers would stick with Cena, with the idea that the fans who boo Cena are "traditional" wrestling fans, i.e., portraying them as the crowd old and out-of-touch, which is the last label the largely young male fan base booing him wants to be part of. The booing of Cena is because the traditional fan base respects HHH as the better wrestler because he's the biggest star in wrestling now.
Read this from one of BrosofDestruction post.


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post #232 of 272 (permalink) Old 11-12-2013, 03:46 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Here's an excerpt from the Sept. 9th, 1996 WON:

Spoiler for 9/9/96:
Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 September 9, 1996

After the original plan to debut Davey Boy Smith as the new member of the New World Order fell through, WCW instead turned The Giant into the new member of the NWO, presumably being the fourth member of that team for the 9/15 Fall Brawl PPV War Games main event.

The Giant switch to NWO came after a Four Horseman vs. Dungeon of Doom (Kevin Sullivan & Big Bubba & Meng & Barbarian) main event. After the Horseman won the match, the NWO came out and in typical heel fashion, the three members beat up eight WCW wrestlers, half of whom would be considered top names (and people think it's surprising that people are cheering NWO). Finally The Giant came running down the aisle to apparently make the save for the out-manned WCW side (jeez), but instead turned on that side, getting a huge face pop from the hot crowd of 5,893 fans in Chattanooga, TN, and joined NWO (as if they were needing any help by this point) and began destroying everyone in sight. Finally Randy Savage did a run-in and began hitting the NWO members with a chair. Since eight guys weren't nearly enough to stand up to three, Savage had little chance going against four and wound up being overpowered by the four and leg dropped three times by Hogan. When the Dungeon and Horseman recovered after selling about as three times as long as would be feasible, their comebacks were far too easily thwarted. The NWO then chased the announcers from the set and destroyed the set (which I'm told they weren't supposed to do and that's an expensive set). After an interview where they started by talking about Ted DiBiase's money being the catalyst for the Giant turn, Giant started talking about being in this giant house with 20 Harleys but instead of continuing with the DiBiase money storyline, instead was talking about Hogan's house. At one point in the middle of the ranting and raving, the Horsemen and Dungeon again came to the set to do their eight-on-four attack and the NWO members once again pounded them into the ground as if it were nothing, and continued the interview nonchalantly. It was a great angle as far as gaining attention and further putting NWO over, but it got so ridiculous that it wound up killing the opposition in the process, making Flair and Anderson look like impotent old men who were totally out of their league as opposed to two people who fans couldn't wait to see get revenge from the previous weeks' great angle. Benoit and McMichael for the second straight week were made to look like common jobbers, as were the Dungeon members. It's pretty much imperative that at next week's Nitro they do an angle where the NWO shows vulnerability so people have interest in War Games as being a competitive match-up because the angle in some ways weakened War Games as a draw. However, doing so is going to be difficult because they are back in the syndrome of Kevin Sullivan, Arn Anderson and Jimmy Hart putting together all the television shows, and then Hogan shows up on Monday and re-does everything. Right now nobody can complain about it because ratings are up, but it's killing the other bookers because all their long-term plans are constantly having to be thrown out the window such as the Giant vs. Nash and Hogan impending feuds.

The turn itself was another of those last-minute plans when the original plan of trying on the first anniversary of Nitro, to duplicate the angle that put the show on the map where Lex Luger surprised everyone out of nowhere strolling onto the set after wrestling on the previous nights' WWF house show. This time it was supposed to be Davey Boy Smith.

However, four days before Nitro, on the day his WWF contract was set to expire, Smith signed a five-year contract, believed to be with a $250,000 per year downside guarantee, with the WWF. WCW's offer to Smith was said to be substantially higher, and for fewer dates per year. The original offer made to Smith months ago was a three year deal at $400,000 per year, and the latest offer had to be at least that figure if not higher. When Smith gave notice to the WWF three months back after his messed up PPV title match with Shawn Michaels, which wasn't that he was necessarily leaving but to avoid his contract rolling over, WCW officials secretly believed he was coming in. However, several weeks later, Smith's attorney sent WCW a letter saying that the two sides were unable to come to terms, and Smith also moved from Tampa back to Calgary, which most assumed meant he was no longer considering going to WCW since Tampa would be the perfect city to live given where most of the WCW events are scheduled. At this point Smith agreed to stay with WWF, with the lower money figure guaranteed reportedly not being the crux of the negotiating problems and it was more that he was unhappy about not being told of his future programs ahead of time and not getting what he thought was the push he was promised into the title picture. In particular, Smith was reportedly unhappy about after having what most would consider two of the three best WWF matches over the past nine months (title matches against Bret Hart in Hershey and Shawn Michaels in Milwaukee), that in neither case was he programmed for rematches at the house shows and was instead used at the house shows lower in more of a stepping stone role. The other side of the coin was that even though he had two excellent title matches, neither drew huge buy rates and Smith was thought of as a guy who can be a great worker when he's motivated, but not a great draw on top as a title challenger.

Titan and Smith had been going back-and-forth over the past few weeks regarding actually signing the contract when negotiations with WCW picked up as WCW informed Smith they had no problem flying him in from Calgary as they do routinely with other regulars who live in foreign countries. What if any verbal deal Smith may have made with WCW is unknown, but when WCW shot the angle on 8/26 where Ted DiBiase talked of introducing No. 4 and No. 5, at that point WCW was apparently believing Smith to be No. 4.

When Vince McMahon got wind, which was believed to have been on 8/28, that Smith was on the verge of making a deal with WCW, he made a phone call to Smith along with WWF attorney Jerry McDevitt and finally reached him the next day and was said to have been furious. The bone of contention was that Smith had apparently made a verbal agreement to continue with the WWF and sign the five-year contract even though he had not actually signed and that Smith's attorney had already signed a preliminary entering into contract several weeks ago. The latter basically was that the two sides agreed that Smith was staying but that all terms hadn't been agreed to so he wouldn't have been phased out on television while details of the negotiations were still ongoing. Whether legal threats in regard to what would be perceived as going back on both the verbal and written agreement were made, as Titan was under the belief that it had a written agreement with Smith and obviously is going to enforce it, are not clear but by the end of the day both sides had agreed to terms and Smith signed the deal.

Apparently Smith felt that when he made the verbal agreement, he was promised in return that he would be pushed as a top heel and that over the past three months, he felt he the promised push wasn't kept since he had been basically used during the period to put over Sid in quickie squashes. While in the process of doing the house show jobs he apparently was told the PPV finish would be different, but it turned out to be the same, and there was further problems because the Sid vs. Smith match was booked and laid out to go in the 15:00 range and be more competitive than the 90 second house show matches, although Sid would still go over at the end. Then the match was cut way short at literally the last second, perhaps even while in the ring, with the reason being that the show at that point was running long. Judging from television, it appeared that Smith & Owen Hart were being groomed to win the tag team titles, and with the signing, it would make the Philadelphia PPV show on 9/22 as the likely spot for the switch. In addition, one would suspect that a major factor in Smith's staying is the stronger WWF presence in Europe, where Smith, particularly in the United Kingdom, was a huge babyface star and merchandise seller a few years ago. An eventual turn could theoretically put him back in the same position, which is something WCW wouldn't be able to offer since it has far less of a presence in Europe.

The Giant turn was WCW's last minute panic move since it had promised to introduce two new members of the NWO on the 9/2 television show. The other new member in the original plan, Sean Waltman, was also not introduced on the show, apparently because he's also being held up as a pawn in the legal battle between the two companies. The latest word we've heard is to play it safe and to avoid giving WWF more ammunition in its lawsuit against WCW, that WCW at least as of our last word wasn't going to use Waltman for nine months, until his WWF contract expires. They were hints at the end of the show of more NWO members being introduced, and one is believed to be Jeff Jarrett, whose WWF contract expires on 10/4. Bam Bam Bigelow, who hasn't wrestled for the WWF for nearly one year, also has a WWF contract that expires over the next several weeks and WCW had expressed interest in using him when his contract expired, although we haven't heard his name in connection with coming to WCW since June when Eric Bischoff talked to Bigelow about coming when his WWF contract expired at the World Wrestling Peace Festival.

The last minute turn will changes already scripted plans in regard to house shows and upcoming PPV events. Giant was scheduled to wrestle Kevin Nash at Halloween Havoc on 10/27 in Las Vegas and obviously that will have to be changed. At press time we have no word on if Giant will work twice at Fall Brawl, since he'd theoretically be scheduled for both a singles match with Savage and the War Games. In addition, at basically all the house shows, Hall & Nash have a question mark as a partner and Giant already had singles matches booked on those shows. The other matches on the original plans for Halloween Havoc, besides the Hogan vs. Savage WCW title match, were Flair vs. Hall for the U.S. title, Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Dean Malenko in a two of three fall match for the cruiserweight title, and Ultimo Dragon vs. Jushin Liger for all eight national and world titles since Dragon is slated to win the eight belts on 10/11 in Osaka.

Halloween Havoc tickets went on sale on 8/31 in Las Vegas with a major autograph party with Savage, Bobby Heenan and Gene Okerlund. WCW set an all-time dollar record for first day sales, doing approximately $94,000 although that was only 2,000 tickets for the MGM Grand because the first six rows of seats, which went almost immediately, were all priced at $100.

The angle with The Giant turn was multi-faceted. It started early in the show when the NWO limo showed up and Hogan, Hall and Nash came out and ordered the "fourth man" to stay in the limo because there were cameras there. Earlier in the show, during a Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho match, Ted DiBiase showed up in the crowd, stayed for a few matches, but then left. Later, the Four Horsemen, looking for revenge from the previous week, went out to the limo but nobody was there, signalling that whomever it was was in the building. Then, to explain why Sting & Lex Luger weren't there to save the eight or nine other WCW wrestlers, they did an angle where Sting & Luger were chasing ref Nick Patrick, who had DQ'd them in 39 seconds in a match against the Steiners. Patrick ran out the back door near where the limo was, but didn't get in the limo. At that point DiBiase was getting out of the limo, making it clear he was with the NWO instead of the Horsemen as was teased the previous week. Sting threw a rock or brick through the limo window, and the limo drove off. Sting & Luger then stole a police car and chased them down the freeway. Finally, after the Horseman had beaten the Dungeon of Doom in an eight man, Hall, Nash & Hogan came out and destroyed both teams by themselves until it appeared Giant would make the save, but instead Giant joined in with them.

The plan to make the Horseman look like jobbers wasn't the original angle, but a revised angle came up with by Hogan which has caused at least a few of the wrestlers to complain once again Hogan is booking for his own ego rather than for business. The original plan was to create a situation where the Horsemen would be involved in a scenario where they would jump and run off Hall and Nash, and about that time Hogan would arrive and be by himself. As he was being beaten on, then the Giant would come out for the finishing touches on Hogan, but instead Giant would choke slam all the Horsemen. However, Hogan refused that scenario and came up with the one that was used.

The only decision in regard to booking made at press time is that at the weekend house shows, the Giant & Bubba vs. Hall & Nash matches will be changed to Bubba & Meng & Barbarian vs. Giant & Hall & Nash. Giant vs. Savage will definitely take place at the Fall Brawl PPV, but whether Giant will work twice, or if they'll do a 40 second quickie in Giant-Savage and Giant becomes the fourth man were all things that weren't going to be decided the Saturday Night show for the weekend was being taped on 9/4.

My favorite part is where he writes about Hogan's backstage politics.

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post #233 of 272 (permalink) Old 01-14-2014, 07:07 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by BrosOfDestruction View Post

Credit: Wrestling Observer

6/15/02 notes (Austin walkout)

Austin left the building in Atlanta before Vince or any of the wrestlers showed up after refusing his angle with Lesnar. Austin's feeling was that it was way too soon for him to work with Lesnar and that it should be built up for months. Not given away on free tv with just two hours of buildup.

Austin privately felt the company was going to collapse when the NWO came in and wanted nothing to do with them. Part of the reason Austin quit the first time was over Scott Hall and his unhappiness with working with the NWO. His comments when he returned about nor having a problem with them was just because he had to work with them again.

Many wrestlers (including Austin's friends) agree with him about the Lesnar situation and his feelings on the creative team. But they didn't agree with him leaving without even trying to work out the problem with Vince. The feeling is that he has lost a lot of respect and if he does come back, he would have to be punished because of his actions.

There were reports among the wrestlers that Austin and Vince had a huge blow up in a phone conversation on Sunday night.

Austin was also said to felt disrespected by Vince over Hogan being pushed as the all-time icon when Austin made Vince more money.

Meltzer also brings up the comparisons between Austin today and Bret Hart in 1997 and he thinks Hart's situation may have been on Austin's mind when he bailed.

Few wrestlers were aware of Shawn Michaels comments beforehand and there was major heat among the wrestlers over his comments on Rock and Austin. It was retaliation over Rock's "outing" of Triple H in some interviews as being jealous and trying to hold him back.

Rock has agreed to work some television shows during the summer and there was even talk of flying him in for some Smackdown's while Helldorado is shooting. But since the film is shooting in Hawaii that is unlikely. Meltzer feels Rock will be back shortly though because of all that has transpired.
I know I'm late in getting through this thread but bravo, it's been great.

As for the quote - what did Shawn say??

Jericho would take a bullet for me.

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post #234 of 272 (permalink) Old 01-14-2014, 08:21 PM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Originally Posted by KingTonga View Post
I know I'm late in getting through this thread but bravo, it's been great.

As for the quote - what did Shawn say??
Shawn said after he broke his back for the WWE, they put the gigantic promotional machine behind Stone Cold and their "Attitude". He said he was "Attitude" before "Attitude" became a catchphrase. He said Stone Cold stole his spot, just like Rock tried to steal Hunter's.

You have to keep in mind that HBK was a heel at that time and since Hunter was supposed to join the NWO, this could have lead to a Shawn/Hunter vs Austin/Rock match. So I never saw the promo as a shoot and more like trying to get HBK over as a heel and possibly building up future matches and programs.
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post #235 of 272 (permalink) Old 01-15-2014, 03:37 AM
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

I don't even remember that HBK promo and I'm not sure about Rock's outing of HHH either.

Gonna post some more that I found on a different forum. Props to the dude(s) for posting them/typing them up.

Quote from a 94 Observer.

WCW has hired a bunch of pretty models to sit in the front row of their studio shows because one of the Turner execs was tired of seeing too many black children's faces in the front row.

"{Bischoff} claimed WWF would be out of business in six months."

- Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer (October 27, 1997) Backstage meeting with the wrestlers.

"Meng speared a life sized poster of Goldberg. Meng used the poster to block Knobbs spraying him with a fire extinguisher. Meng then threw Knobbs off a 30-foot balcony" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 24, 2000

"Chris Jericho's final WCW match was 7/21 in Peoria, IL in a tag match teaming with Eddie against Kidman and Mysterio. Before the match, Jericho said that if he got pinned he'd leave WCW. Misterio than said everyone already knew it was his last night in WCW. (After the match) all four hugged in the ring. There were fans in near tears, as was Jericho. Kidman started a Jericho chant. Jericho said that he was overwhelmed by the response, but he still thinks that Peoria sucks" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: August 02, 1999

WCW ordered a ton of new business card, stationary etc. with the new logo and the address on all the cards spelled 'Altanta'." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 12, 1999

From the January 15, 1996 Observer

"Nitro started on 1/1 in Germany and the WCW announcing team includes a 16-year-old who doesn't know anything about wrestling nor care about it. He's the son of producer Dieter Krapp. On the first show he spent half the time talking about basketball. Two of the other announcers, Peter William (co-owner of CWA with Otta Wanz) and Nic Heldt are doing a gimmick feud during the show with William doing a gimmick of pretending to be drunk on the air."

"Sting beat Dallas Page with the scorpion in 6:20. Not good. Crowd still dead."

"Before the show they did a test of crowd reaction because they were going to have Hogan & Savage do an interview to air during 'Thunder in Paradise' but the crowd booed the names Hogan & Savage so much they decided against it."

"Tom Pritchard's name was changed from Flip to Zip. References at the taping to Flip were talked over in commentary."

More lulz to be had.

"La Parka was reading the financial pages when Madusa propositioned him." - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 28, 2000

"On Nitro during the opening meeting (with Russo), everyone was supposed to act scared and somber, but you could see everyone biting their tongue because Brian Knobs' hair was set on fire by the pyro coming out" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: April 17, 2000

"In Philadelphia, apparently the hydraulics didn't work and The Demon was stuck in his coffin for about three minutes before they could get him out" - The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: February 21, 2000.

"CNN ran a special on Goldberg on 10/22. They showed Vince Russo and the booking team talking about a Nitro where Bill Goldberg would get revenge on Scott Steiner. Russo had an idea that Steiner would be in the dressing room bleaching his mustache and Goldberg would pour Clorox down Steiner's throat. Ed Ferrara noted that you don't bleach a mustache with Clorox. He then said they could use bleach instead."- The Wrestling Observer Newsletter: October 30, 2000
"Eddie Guerrero double count out Syxx in a 2:00 ladder match. I've got a feeling watching a ladder match go to a double count out in that short a time on TV will make me spent $27.95 to see them have a rematch."
Wrestling Observer (January 20, 1997)

"{Steve McMichael} was rumored to be earning in the $350,000 range when he was announcing, haven't heard any word on what he's making to wrestle - or whatever it is they call what he does."
Ric Flair has told friends he is not retiring now, but when the day comes for his retirement, it'll be a real retirement and he won't be doing comebacks.
Spoiler for 9/12/94:
The situation regarding Tod Gordon's NWA heavyweight title tournament on 8/27 in Philadelphia only heated up this past week. As expected, on its television show that aired 8/30, ECW changed its name to Extreme Championship Wrestling and will recognize Shane Douglas as the ECW world heavyweight champion. Based on the double-cross, the NWA, whatever currently that entails, released a statement saying they are declaring the tournament null and void and stripping Douglas not only of the title, but of any recognition as a former NWA champion.

It gets even funnier. On Sunday, both Douglas and ECW booker Paul E. Dangerously were scheduled to appear both on John Arezzi and Mike Tenay's radio shows. On both shows, Douglas stated the idea to throw the NWA belt and proclaim the ECW belt as the meaningful one came to him in the ring spontaneously that night and the idea was his and his alone. He categorically denied any premeditation on the part of him or the promotion in what happened. Of course, that wasn't the case, but that's where the story gets stranger.

Dangerously, having no knowledge of what Douglas had either already said or was going to say, then came on Arezzi's show and said the idea was planned well in advance and said it was a double-cross, but they had their reasons for doing it, and said he'd accept whatever heat came down because of that decision. Dangerously then missed Tenay's show, calling just after the show went off the air.

Arezzi also booked Dennis Coraluzzo as a guest, who said that both Douglas and Dangerously were liars, which, by their own contradictions of the same story, it did come off that at least one of them was. Coraluzzo, who said the NWA will hold a tournament in November, wasn't booked on the Tenay show, called the show as a caller and said pretty much the same thing.

Gordon's explanation of what happened was that he was called by Jim Crockett and asked to do the tournament. He said he understood the idea was to have Douglas (who would win the tournament) drop the title to one of Crockett's guys and the NWA champion would be Crockett's company champion. Gordon said he understood the situation, not that he liked it, but was irked when Crockett said the ECW champion could be like the old Mid-Atlantic champion, as a stepping-stone title for the big belt and he didn't want his champion being regarded as simply a stepping-stone.

He said the next thing he heard was reading either the Torch or Observer which said he didn't have the right to hold the tournament. He said he thought Crockett had cleared everything up ahead of time before asking him to run the tournament. He admitted telling NWA attorney Bob Trobich that since he had already announced the tournament, he was going to do it, but he wanted to make peace with everyone. He claimed he then made peace with Coraluzzo and then read about Chris Benoit's name in the Observer and got mad and decided he wasn't going to do business with any of these people. He said they had Coraluzzo do the interview after Douglas threw down the belt so he could escape with some dignity.

Coraluzzo's side is that when he was contacted about the tournament, since they needed either his or Steve Rickard's approval, Gordon first told him in order to get his approval, he could pick the winner. Coraluzzo said he and Rickard decided upon Benoit because they felt he was the biggest international star in the field and because he worked all over the world, he could take the belt all over the world and make it a meaningful world title, although Crockett still wanted Douglas as champion claiming to have never heard of Benoit and questioned whether he had the right work ethic to be a world champion. According to Coraluzzo, Gordon agreed to let Benoit win instead of Douglas, but then told him the next day that they had promised it to Douglas but that if he approved of the tournament, that in return Douglas would drop the title to Benoit at the television tapings the next afternoon. At that point Coraluzzo said he knew a double-cross was coming but he wanted to be a team player and was advised by Trobich the best thing to do was to attend the show.

But despite what was said by others who possibly didn't even know themselves, Dangerously had planned the scenario before any of the controversy about the tournament had even gone public. Dangerously wasn't particularly happy about the crossed signals between himself and Douglas which came off so bad the following Sunday, calling it a WCW-like mistake but saying he's happy only that it took place before the group had more national exposure where it could have come off as more embarrassing. Dangerously said Douglas did the interviews as the character Shane Douglas rather than as Troy Martin.

"In the practical sense of the word, it was a double-cross. It was premeditated, planned in advance. I can give you a million reasons why Coraluzzo had it coming. We wanted to put the credibility of the history of the NWA title into our title. I'm not Bill Watts, so I'm not going to say that justifies the tactics. I can tell you Coraluzzo brought it on himself. After a year, he kept f---ing with our business. What we did was questionable but I think it was justified. But it was a classic wrestling promoter double-cross move. It taught Coraluzzo a lesson. Crockett's done nothing to help that organization. When you do (things like) it, you have to take the criticism because it was an unethical move."

This story isn't completely over. While this likely is unrelated, Terry Funk no-showed the card and nobody knows what his future plans are regarding ECW. Funk was the foundation of the cult success of the promotion, since Funk was the lone national headliner there from the start of this run (Jimmy Snuka was a major star and a far bigger name in his prime in Philadelphia, but he was far enough past his prime that ECW couldn't use him as a headliner or to transfer his credibility get newer headliners over; whereas Funk gave incredible performances more often than not which got the newer faces over to the point they are now drawing cards themselves) and his credibility as a legit superstar gave credibility to Sabu, Douglas and Public Enemy, who are now the group's biggest draws, because he put all of them over.

In addition, there are a lot of rumors that Coraluzzo and another major promoter are considering running competition in Philadelphia against Gordon as retaliation. If they are doing it because they believe it's a viable business move, that's one thing, but to do so as a retaliation move would be a mistake, even if they believe ethically they are on the right side of the fence when it comes to this controversy. Gordon's regular crowd isn't going to attend any other group that would try a head-to-head meeting no matter how many big-name stars are brought in and whatever ethical questions there are regarding what happened won't even be taken into consideration by that audience.

Spoiler for 12/5/94:
Diesel (Kevin Nash) became the latest attempt to re-create a Hulk Hogan by capturing the WWF title from Bob Backlund in just eight seconds with a jackknife (power bomb) on 11/26 in Madison Square Garden. The title switch came just three days after Survivor Series, where Backlund had won the title from Bret Hart and Diesel had turned babyface on partner Shawn Michaels.

The quickie title change was largely given away to anyone who could read between the lines on television Saturday, both nationally and locally in the New York market. On the USA network's WWF Mania show, it was announced there would be a title match between Backlund and Diesel, replacing the "injured" Bret Hart, at the Garden and that the WWF would open its 900 number line for live commentary of the match starting at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time. In the New York market, the title change was telegraphed even deeper by announcing that the match was no DQ, no count out and no submissions, thereby rendering Backlund's chicken wing useless. Backlund also did an interview for the New York market complaining he had trained to wrestle Hart, not Diesel.

At the Garden before a crowd estimated at 7,300, announcer Howard Finkel made the announcement of the match but stated, in a tease, that it would be a non-title match, and then exuberantly corrected himself after a supposed change of plans given to him by agent Rene Goulet. Earlier in the show Backlund did a live interview to a chorus of heavy boos claiming he would be a much better moral leader than Hart, while fans chanted for both Hart and Diesel. The match itself was short, as it needed to be because of who was in there, with all the fireworks adding to the huge crowd reaction to the title change. Later in the show, Diesel came out to thank the fans amid another barrage of fireworks, and he was called the leader of the new generation on Monday Night Raw live on 11/28.

3. Bob Backlund won the WWF title from Bret Hart in 35:11 of a match that could only end when a second threw in the towel. Hart held a headlock, which he'd go back to after a few escapes for the first 6:00. Little happened for the first 14:00 because with no holds over, and nobody really selling holds, and announcer Gorilla Monsoon even killing holds ("I've never seen anyone submit to an armbar") for the fans at home, and no pinfall combinations were being done, nothing happened.

Owen ran in behind the refs back and clotheslined Bret from behind, breaking the hold. Davey Boy Smith then went after Hart, who ducked, and crashed his head on the ring steps and was knocked out, I guess, until Friday night in Pittsburgh. Backlund got Bret in the chicken wing and held it for more than 9:00 with a split screen camera showing Owen fake turning babyface having sympathy for Bret. Hart kept begging his parents to do something, even crying, overacting really badly in contrast with the parents who didn't seem all that concerned. At one point Helen Hart was about to throw the towel in but Stu snatched it from him. Finally Helen did throw the towel in, and Bret was helped out of the ring. Owen, who had faked turning face, then celebrated and tried to do a Ric Flair interview after the match.

The best part of the entire segment was Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon's indignation at what Owen did. That was awesome. But then Monsoon tried to get over that fans in the building were crying, when everyone in the background was smiling. When they finally caught a female fan on camera who looked sad, she immediately started jumping up and down since she was on TV. The difference in the crowds real as opposed to Pavlovian emotional tie to the wrestlers in this wrestling as compared with most other styles of wrestling showed through again. **

The biggest news is that at the tapings, Rick Rude and Curt Hennig showed up in suits and ties and were introduced to the crowd to huge babyface pops and signed autographs and heckled Barry Darsow. Eric Bischoff and Tony Schiavone (they put the voice tracks on in studio usually the week before the show airs) wound up joining them later. Rude was in working on settling his lawsuit while Hennig is negotiating once again to come in. There has also been lots of talk regarding Jim Hellwig and Bret Hart. In the case of both, a lot of it was started by Gene Okerlund doing a totally worked (read that made-up) report on where is Ultimate Warrior ("he's been wrestling in Japan") saying he'll be joining either WWF or WCW within 60 days, although WCW officials say it isn't going to happen. In the case of Hart, that appears to have been a rumor started by WCW as Gene Okerlund on his hotline stated WCW is in serious negotiations with him. Actually several sources say there have been no negotiations whatsoever. Even if Hart was interested in leaving WWF, with Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair in charge at WCW, it would be very difficult for him to put his career in their hands after what he's said about them, although as Randy Savage shows, when it comes to wrestling, for a buck, most people will forget about anything.

Expect a major influx of new talent over the next few months. Besides Kensuke Shinzaki, as mentioned last week, headed in are expected to be Brian Armstrong, Louie Spicolli, Mark Canterberry (as a new Hillbilly Jim character called Henry Godwin as was debuted this past weekend on videos, better known as WCW's Shanghai Pierce) and Brian Lee, who debuted as Jeff Jarrett's mystery manager on 11/28 in Poughkeepsie. Chris Candido and Tammy Fytch have been talked about as trying to re-create a Blond Bombers tag team with Candido and another wrestler managed by Fytch, a modern day Ray Stevens & Pat Patterson gimmick. Although I don't know this for sure, I'd suspect Diesel getting the strap so soon indicates no Jim Hellwig since with Diesel, Undertaker, Hart, Ramon and Luger, he'd at best be well down the pecking order and with the money he wants, combined with the fact that without steroids there wouldn't be an Ultimate Warrior as we know it, it doesn't make sense for the company in the direction they are going.

The ICOPRO company was sold and is no longer a part of the Titan structure.

Jacques Rougeau and Vince McMahon had a major falling out that received some press in Montreal last week. As mentioned here last week, Rougeau was trying to put on a show on 1/29, the same day as the Super Bowl, at 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium. Originally Ed Cohen, who handles arena bookings for Titan, had, at the request of Rougeau, talked with stadium management but Titan balked when they wanted $280,000 in rent and set-up fees. Rougeau then negotiated the price down to $154,000 and just as he was ready to ink the deal, McMahon told him he didn't think the time was right and that the company or the city was hot enough for such an undertaking. In addition, as it would come to pass, the match Rougeau wanted to headline with, Backlund defending against Pierre, couldn't take place by that time which he wasn't aware of.

There was a story on 11/22 in Le Journal, which portrayed Rougeau, who was going to donate $1 from every ticket to a local children's hospital, as being denied by McMahon the chance to raise $60,000 for a kids charity. It appears from the outside, however, that McMahon made the right move because traditionally WWF has a tough time drawing big return crowds after a blow-out show, as the last Montreal card was, and even 15,000-20,000 would look bad in a building that large. Rougeau then immediately contacted Jimmy Hart about bringing WCW in, with Rougeau already suggesting coming out of retirement to either wrestle or team with Hogan, and use Savage vs. Pierre as the co-feature, figuring coming out of retirement so shortly after such a major retirement match would wash locally because the event would be for charity.

But since WCW only has weak English language cable that nobody watches in Montreal, trying to run a building that large, even though Rougeau has a morning drive-time show and access to huge amounts of local publicity, still seems out of their league. Rougeau is also interested in promoting local shows using local talent and maybe bringing in two to four outside headliners from WCW. Raymond Rougeau at last report was supposedly trying to re-open the door with McMahon and his brother, since his brother had been vehement all week that he would never speak to McMahon again claiming he pulled the rug out from under him.

Pierre, who looks caught in the middle, looks to be getting a renewed push if he signs a new deal with Titan doing a Pirata Morgan gimmick with an eye patch.

Yokozuna is done as of Survivors and reportedly is having some minor surgery and is expected to return in April, although WCW has expressed interest.

Backlund's first and only successful title defense was 11/25 in Pittsburgh losing via COR to Davey Boy Smith.

Bret Hart will be out of action until January selling the shoulder injury from the 9:00 chicken wing. During that period he'll be filming an episode of "Lonesome Dove."

Spoiler for 12/26/94:
Toxicology reports came back this past week on Art Barr, and revealed nothing that would answer the question as to what he died from. The reports indicated illegal drugs have been ruled out as a cause of death however he did have a combination of prescription drugs in his system and there was alcohol in his blood. Coroner Frank Ratti has not determined that either the amount of prescription drugs was a lethal amount or that the death was due to combining drugs and alcohol. As of now he has yet to determine a cause of death nor does he know when, if ever, it can be determined what was the cause of his death.

In a story in the 12/20 Oregonian, columnist Margie Boule, who wrote several scathing columns about Barr while covering both the rape story and the aftermath of it, wrote another column. This was largely based on the negative reaction to her previous columns years ago while covering the rape story from wrestling fans who she claimed got angry because he was portraying a good guy character and didn't seem to care he plead guilty to a plea bargained version of the original charge. She noted that Springfield police won't release the police report on the case but said that Valium and Halcyon were found in his home along with drugs from Mexico, believed to be a Mexican equivalent of Percodans. In the story Ratti, said that since he had been in a coma for several hours, traces of drugs could have been metabolized by the body.

Barr, 28 had come into his own over the past 15 months after turning heel as one of the biggest stars in the world wrestling under the name Love Machine for AAA in Mexico and the United States. He failed to wake up on 11/23 in his home in Springfield, OR after going to sleep the night before.

As expected, there was a ton of coverage in all the Mexican magazines dated the first week of December. Box y Lucha, considered the bible of Mexican wrestling, had three different stories and a centerfold cartoon drawing on the subject, with a story talking about how November had always turned into a significant month since he had been in Mexico. Barr's first main event ever at Arena Mexico was on 11/15/91 where he was a face teaming with Black Magic & Mascara Sagrada vs. Pierroth Jr. & Jerry Estrada & Blue Panther. That match began the Machine-Panther rivalry which turned into one of the biggest feuds in the recent history of Mexican wrestling. Of course, his debut with the AAA promotion was on 11/6/92. On 11/5/93, he and Eddy Guerrero lost the AAA world tag team titles to El Hijo del Santo & Octagon (which they later regained on July 23, 1994 in Chicago). 11/6/94 was the biggest match of his career in Los Angeles in the double mask vs. double hair match against Santo & Octagon. And he died on 11/23/94.

There was a lot of heat on New Japan from around wrestling for not allowing Eddy Guerrero to leave the tour for a few days so he could attend Art Barr's funeral. That won't go down as one of the classier moves in the history of this office.

How's this for a switch? The 12/17 show at the ECW Arena before about 800 was below the norm, so after the show, when the fans started chanting "ECW, ECW" as is the norm, booker Paul E. Dangerously grabbed the house mic and started swearing telling fans not to chant ECW because we didn't deserve it and because we didn't give you anything to chant for. The main event had Public Enemy retain the tag titles beating Sabu & Tazmaniac. After the match there was a brawl involving the four along with Dean Malenko & Chris Benoit and 911 got involved and wound up choke slamming everyone. The idea was originally to set up for a three-way tag team match with Enemy, Sabu & Taz and Malenko & Benoit, but the run-in was totally screwed up when the monitor went out backstage so Malenko & Benoit came out too soon and by the time it was over, they had never turned on Public Enemy, so it may be a 3 vs. 4 with 911 & Sabu & Taz vs. Enemy & Benoit & Malenko as the headline match for 1/7. Both Cactus Jack and Tommy Dreamer won't be on the show because they'll be with IWA and All Japan respectively. The ECW title match was screwed up as well. Ron Simmons was injured going into the show. They ran an angle on 12/16 where Benoit & Malenko "injured" his shoulder in Hamburg, PA to set him up for wearing a sling. He came out and said he couldn't work, but Shane Douglas insulted him until he went at it with one-arm, but eventually Douglas got the sling off him and pinned him in less than 5:00. The main angle everyone is talking about was when Santa Claus came into the ring and the minute he came out, everyone knew what was going to happen. 911 chokeslammed him. This brought out the Pit Bulls who doubled on 911, but he made his comeback and chokeslammed both for the pin. Benoit is doing a crippler gimmick since Sabu's neck injury took place during their match, and they gave him credit for the Simmons injury (which was legit but actually took place a few weeks ago while he was on a tour of Germany and he canceled his subsequent Japan tour over it), and Hack Myers also did a stretcher job for him during the show.

Steve Richards is doing a Shawn Michaels gimmick and is being hooked up with Johnny Polo when he comes in with the gimmick he's there to keep the women from Polo.

Funniest line of the week was when Public Enemy was talking about Sabu being the most homicidal, suicidal, genocidal wrestler in the world, they didn't know what the word genocidal meant, and finally thought it meant that he was spayed or neutered like a dog or a cat.

The WCW TV on 12/17 was totally unwatchable. The lowlight was a skit where Rob Parker bailed Blacktop Bully out of jail. Considering the trend in the industry based on what either new fans are picking up on or old fans are turning to, is realism not only in this country but everywhere, a skit with bad writing, bad production, way too long and horrible acting (Barry Darsow was okay, but everyone else, particularly Col. Parker, were worse than abysmal) is not going to increase ratings. Not to mention that the one spot where the camera work was good showing Parker's briefcase filled with money was good enough to show that the dollar bills were phony.

Lots of news coming out of television tapings this past week. The 12/12 Raw taping, besides what aired on 12/12 live, saw a Tatanka DDQ Davey Boy Smith match for the 12/26 show, and they also taped Razor Ramon pinning Owen Hart and two Lex Luger & Smith vs. Tatanka & Bam Bam Bigelow matches, the first being a double count out and the rematch saw the faces win when Tatanka & Bigelow collided with one another and Ted DiBiase yelled at them after losing. Since this airs before Royal Rumble, a guess would be that Bigelow & Tatanka win the belts, then go around the horn with Luger & Smith based on them scoring a win just before the other team had won the title. Newcomers were The Minotaur, a heel managed by DiBiase, who didn't get over. All I know is he is from Wisconsin and wears a buffalo head as his gimmick and everyone was making fun of his gimmick backstage, but it got him the job since he showed no signs of being able to work. The Blacksmith (Darryl Peterson aka Maxx Payne) debuted playing the guitar to a mixed reaction. They taped several King's Courts. In one, Lawler yelled at Diesel and Diesel ended up beating up Lawler and putting on his crown. In what apparently was a re-do, then did basically the same segment but this time Diesel sat in Lawler's chair. By the way, Diesel has dropped the accent and his doing normal human being interviews. Owen Hart was also interviewed saying he was going to win all the titles. They did a gimmick where Jeff Jarrett was finally going to sing but the feedback was terrible and he got mad and didn't sing. As usual, little happened on 12/13 at the Challenge and Action Zone taping although main events that may have been for Action Zone saw Lawler over 1-2-3 Kid, Bigelow over Kid, King Kong Bundy over Bulldog when the referee stopped the match, Tatanka over Bob Holly, Luger pinned Bob Backlund. Bigelow vs. Kid was the only one of the bouts said to be good.

Tammy Fytch (Tammy Sytch) started doing Events Centers which should air this coming weekend under the name Tamara Murphy. The idea is that they segue her role as a slightly obnoxious announcer into a heel manager spot somewhere down the road. Although nobody is saying so, her being with Titan seems to indicate a very good chance Chris Candido will follow.

Titan is also said to be talking with Ron & Don Harris.

Luna Vachon is said to have been fired. No word on why other than disciplinary.

Bob Backlund in interviews called Diesel by his real name Kevin Nash.

Supposedly wrestlers and road agents have been told that if anyone is found out even talking with anyone in the WCW office that they'll be let go. The heat between the two sides has reached childlike proportions to the point that in a recent WWF mag special on Undertaker, they made reference to the Hogan-Flair WWF feud of late 1991 and said that feud was during a time when both Hogan and Flair still meant something in pro wrestling.

Spoiler for 1/9/95:
Although the situations are altogether different, the upcoming Hulk Hogan vs. Vader matches which start at SuperBrawl on 2/19 in Baltimore at this point pose the same situation in regard to a world champion doing a job in another organization as Shamrock would in a match with Gracie. With Vader holding the UWFI version of the title and UWFI very much into its title being credible as a real, or even the real world heavyweight wrestling champion, the organization would no doubt have serious problems with Vader doing a clean job for Hogan of all people. I'm also relatively certain that in the first few matches (rematches are already set for 2/24-25-26 at a house show run in Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit) they won't do a finish unless Hogan does the first job which would probably be the best thing for the feud business-wise but even suggesting seems like a broken record. But the end result of the feud everyone knows. Vader has a UWFI title defense on 1/16 against Gary Albright. Given that Vader submitted to Albright in a tag match in October and that Vader is more of a drawing card than Albright, that it would, everything else being thrown out, time to return the favor. However, since UWFI and WCW have no business relationship, it wouldn't come as a surprise to see Albright win just for the title's self-preservation since there is no question at some point WCW will pressure Vader to put Hogan over.

Hogan-Vader handled correctly should do good business and there are many ways to involve both Flair and Savage into the mix to keep it fresh and drawing for an easy six to nine months. As far as match quality goes, Vader's best matches are always with opponents who don't mind getting pounded on for the sake of having a good match. So it's really up to Hogan, or maybe Savage if he's worked into a tag mix. The idea of Hogan & Savage or Sting vs. Flair & Vader sounds good on paper. Vader never looks good when he has to work light, but if you were in Hogan's shoes and you were in the drivers' seat when it comes to the decision-making, you may choose to have the bad match. After the match with Butcher, even the bad match with Vader is a decided improvement. When you throw Flair or Sting into the mix, you can get both the good marquee value and the good performance, provided Flair, who will be 46 when he comes back, hasn't lost his edge in both categories since he didn't exactly go out on a stellar note to the fans although he did as a worker.

After being called Steve Flamingo last week, Steve Richards, doing a Scotty Flamingo imitation, this week was being called Stevie the Body and I have a feeling next week he'll be Stevie Polo.

The Waynesboro News-Virginian of all places ran an article on Scott Norton on 12/27 who was in town visiting family over the holidays. Norton claimed he was going to have a mixed match against George Foreman in South Korea and pretty well put over that the business in Japan was much stronger than in the United States, blaming it on Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan, neither of whom he mentioned by name. "The top promoter and top box office draw both publicly came out and said wrestling was fake, that it's entertainment, and that hurt professional wrestling tremendously in the United States. In Japan, we get as close to real as you possibly can. When people pay as much at $350 for a ringside seat and stadiums from 8,000 to 80,000 are sold out night-after-night, you have to give them what they want. And I have plenty of bumps and bruises to show how physical it is." Norton said he's moving from Washington to Atlanta and hinted at joining WCW. While Hulk Hogan is always looking for new large monsters to feed himself and size-wise Norton fits the bell, according to those who have worked with him in Japan, they say that Vader is a piece of cake to work when it comes to being a bruiser as compared with Norton.

The WCW cruiserweight tournament has been delayed for a while because nobody has gotten their act together as far as bringing in outside talent. With Eric Bischoff in Japan this week for the Tokyo Dome, it's expected he'll request one or two wrestlers like Shinjiro Otani and Chris Benoit. They have a verbal deal with Antonio Pena to send in two wrestlers. Pena is looking to send in Jerry Estrada and Eddy Guerrero, although I've heard Bischoff didn't want Guerrero.

Hogan has a meeting this week to discuss a revival of "Thunder in Paradise" with a new name of "Thunderforce" in which a four-person team of Hogan, Sting, Mr. T and a women martial artist would all be equal co-stars.

The latest on Jean Paul Levesque is that he's strongly considering going to Titan. He was promised the tag title with Steve Regal, with Sherri Martel being their manager and I guess a feud with a babyface Harlem Heat. The Titan lure is that they've created numerous stars out of nobodies which is something WCW has never been able to do even with somebodies.

The new structure at the top is Vince McMahon is remaining as booker, however Pat Patterson has been moved laterally and he and Bruce Prichard are in charge of writing the television and Jim Ross will be McMahon's assistant. There have been tons of rumors regarding why Ross is being brought in with most of the belief that they want a more serious and less slapstick product with a lot of people saying more Japan-like booking with winners and losers and more parity at the top among ten guys rather than building around four superman faces as they did last year. The only problem is to do Japan style and make it work, you need an audience educated to it as sport rather than ice capades which they don't have, and you need wrestlers who can perform the style which only a few can. You also need a schedule that would allow the wrestlers to perform it at the house shows which with the current schedule, maybe a Ric Flair in his prime could have handled it and done great matches every night, but few normal human beings could, particularly if they have to pass drug tests regularly. It's a real catch-22 right now. Ross will also do some television show producing and set up a full-time 900 line but the only announcing he'll do is to continue doing the SMW television at least for the time being.

There's already a lot of talk from within the company that Diesel isn't the answer and the idea of going with Backlund on top was a fiasco blamed on Patterson. I don't know if they'll do a change to Hart or Michaels. My feeling is they've got Wrestlemania plans locked in whatever they are. Whatever changes in direction will be made really won't go into effect until "the new season" in late April. At the house shows this week they had Michaels doing live "Heartbreak Hotels" (believe it or not they weren't any good) where he pushed the idea of him winning the title at Mania which seems awfully early to push something like that, particularly since they don't want to be giving stuff away. It is beginning to look like Hart may wind up like Flair as a ten-time champion because he'll constantly be replaced and shoved aside for the latest new monster, and as soon as his successor can't hang once put in the spotlight, they go back to the solid guy.

Expect Kama to get a sizeable push with the idea of creating a black superstar.

Spoiler for 1/23/95:
The next WCW PPV event will be the SuperBrawl on 2/19 in Baltimore. The complete line-up has Alex Wright vs. Paul Roma, Jim Duggan vs. Bunkhouse Buck, Dave Sullivan vs. Kevin Sullivan, Nasty Boys defending WCW tag team titles against Harlem Heat, Dustin Rhodes vs. Blacktop Bully, Sting & Randy Savage vs. Big Bubba (formerly Guardian Angel) & Avalanche and of course the Hogan vs. Vader headliner. On paper it looks bad-to-average, with the semifinal tag match having possibilities but a lot of questions since Ray Traylor's work and presence declined greatly in 1994 with the Guardian Angel gimmick, Sting and Avalanche have yet to put on a decent match and a lot of questions about Savage will be answered at the Clash. The opener is decent at best, the next two will be horrible only if the guys have a good night and will be worse than horrible more likely. The tag title match was okay at Starrcade and should be again, and Rhodes should be able to carry Bully to a decent match. Reports we get are that the advance is extremely strong which, with Hogan vs. Vader the only match announced to the public, says something about the drawing power for that first-time meeting.

The funny thing about this match is that I've heard more talk from people who should know better that are Hogan haters who want to see the match to see Vader "shoot" on Hogan.

If Jerry Lawler beats Dirty White Boy on 1/28 for the SMW title, does that make William Shatner the No. 1 contender for the title?

The 1/14 Davie, FL and 1/16 Orlando shows drew small but enthusiastic crowds of about 300 each night. The crowds were into the storylines from the television and knew the personalities and at the end of the Davie, FL show they threw tons of chairs into the ring while in Orlando they chanted "ECW." They are talking about returning in April, although with crowds of that size using so many wrestlers mainly from the Northeast and even a few fly-ins, it had to be a major disappointment financially. Highlights in Davie saw Tazmaniac over Dean Malenko via DQ in 3:35 when Chris Benoit did a run-in and 911 cleaned house on Benoit, Malenko and Jason. Cactus Jack and Sandman had a ****1/2 brawl all over the building with double juice, Benoit pinned Too Cold Scorpio in a very good technical match,

Public Enemy kept the tag titles beating Death Row 3260 & Mr. President (Joe DiFuria) while Shane Douglas beat Ron Simmons in 6:56 when the ref stopped it due to Simmons' injured shoulder. Douglas went into his Flair is dead speech when Tully Blanchard (who didn't work the undercard or the other show) came out and did a stare-down with Douglas until Benoit & Malenko came out and Benoit put Blanchard in the figure four until 911 and Tazmaniac made the save. Orlando wasn't as strong a show with Public Enemy over Sabu & Tazmaniac the best match even though Sabu was limping badly from blowing out his ankle the night before in Los Angeles. Razor Ramon was backstage at the Orlando show.

This past week's television show largely revolved around the group's party celebrating their New York debut with them trying to portray Shane Douglas in a total Ric Flair suit-and-tie ladies man gimmick and trying to act like fans are in awe of him like they were with Flair.

Jean Paul Levesque gave notice on 1/10 that he'd be leaving for the WWF, turning down a contract believed to be between $1,500 and $1,800 per week. Apparently Levesque's decision was based on the track record of WWF vs. WCW when it comes to creating new superstars and felt that even though WCW had plans to make him and Steve Regal the tag team champions with Sherri as their manager feuding with a babyface Harlem Heat in 1995, that he'd take his chances without the guaranteed money since Titan is obviously going to push new blood this year as hard as it can. At company meetings, Eric Bischoff was fuming over Levesque's lack of loyalty because he took him from nothing and this is the respect he gets. After the example set with Rick Steamboat, I can't believe anyone can question a WCW wrestler about making a decision and even considering loyalty to the company.

Lots of tapings this past week. On 1/8 at Center Stage, they taped the awful (-**) Bobby Eaton over Dave Sullivan match where Kevin tripped Dave and Eaton fell on top for the pin that aired this past Saturday. This set up a Kevin vs. Dave match which ends in a heel DQ when (oh, you guessed already) Butcher and Avalanche interfered and cut up Dave's Hogan robe and Hogan boots and a lot of his hair. Apparently they are going to dust the Hulkamaniac gimmick since it wasn't working and turn him into a meaner character although not necessarily turn him.

On 1/9 for the final show ever at the old Columbus, GA Municipal Auditorium, which drew a sellout of 5,000 (2,000 paid, which is strong for a TV taping since most of them hover around 450-700 paid) and they actually turned people away saw among the highlights and lowlights: A Nasty Boys vs. Frankie Lancaster & Cuban Assassin squash ended when Lancaster took a bump off the apron and hit his head on the guard rail by accident and was rushed to the emergency room and needed 19 stitches. Alex Wright started his feud with Paul Roma. The two had a singles match which ended in a ref bump, Eaton interfering, but in the confusion, Wright pinned Eaton and the ref counted three awarding Wright the win. Brian Pillman returned as a babyface called California Brian.

1/10 at Center Stage saw (for either 1/21 or 1/28 as I've heard both) Paul Roma watch at ringside during a Wright squash. After the match, Roma started doing bodybuilding poses one of the models, who blew him off and ran into the ring and began dancing with Wright. And they think this is going to get Wright over??? Dustin Rhodes pinned Levesque in what was said to have been a ***1/2 match. Savage pinned Arn Anderson in 16:30 of a TV title match with the elbow (***). The story here is that the TV title was only up the first 15:00 so Savage didn't get the belt. After the match, Blacktop Bully, Bunkhouse Buck and Dick Slater joined with Anderson in beating on Savage until Sting and Rhodes made the save. The fans live went home thinking the TV title had changed hands but they did an angle the next night (that won't air on television) where they explained to the fans that Anderson was still the champ.

Lots of talk about Koko Ware coming in for the cruiserweight tourney which has no start date and at least as best as anyone can tell, no plans have even been made to bring in foreign talent for any specific dates or any specific foreign talent for that matter. I'd scoff at rumors that Ware will be put over instead of Pillman, although stranger things have happened.

Paul White, a 7-1, 440-pound protege of Larry Sharpe was at a house show backstage and also at television and may be brought in. To the best of my knowledge, he's only had one match.

WCW Saturday Night on 1/7 did a 2.4 rating while the live Main Event going head-up with the Chargers-Dolphins did a disastrous 1.5 (Sting vs. Avalanche, Badd vs. Anderson title switch) and Pro a 1.7.

WCW's new motto is: "WCW: The place where the stars are," which is actually pretty clever.

The tag title switch where Harlem Heat beat Stars & Stripes aired on 1/14 (*1/2) going 12:09. Everyone worked hard but it was a sloppy match, particularly when Stevie Ray was in. Booker T took great bumps, but his best bumps were out of context such as an awesome spin bump from a clothesline that missed.

Many in the company are noting just how much easier Tony Schiavone is to deal with since Jim Ross was hired by Titan. Even though it was obvious Ross wouldn't be hired back anytime soon because Bill Shaw never forgave Ross for doing the double-cross on the radio show when he left the company in 1993 plus in getting a release he indicated that he was leaving the wrestling business to return home to Oklahoma when it is believed he had the Titan deal all but done, Schiavone was always paranoid of that happening because so many, in particular TBS programmer Jeff Carr, were known for wanting Ross back in Schiavone's spot.

The weightlifter who ran off King Kong Bundy wasn't Anthony Clark, but a guy named Mark Henry

Darryl Peterson's (Maxx Payne) Blacksmith gimmick was dropped already and his name was changed to Man Mountain Rock doing the guitar gimmick.

The Minotaur (Mike Hallick) has been changed to "Mantaur" and is managed by Jim Cornette in what looks like a rib on Cornette because this guy is awful, winning with a splash where he doesn't even get off his feet. However, he's supposed to be getting a push anyway. They've dropped the buffalo head part of the gimmick and he's doing a face-painted gimmick.

At Superstars taping on 1/10 in Corpus Christi which drew a sellout without paper, Shawn Michaels did interview segments with Diesel and with Murdoch, both ending with them chasing Michaels away. Michaels basically berated Murdoch for being old being Murdoch threw him around and he ran off.

Jim Ross, who is the full-time co-host of Action Zone with Todd Pettengill (the two have no chemistry together because one is serious and the other can hype a show but can't call a match so tries to tell jokes all the time, most of which are dumb which Ross half the time won't acknowledge), is also doing an interview segment on Challenge now.

Michaels was back in the ring on 1/11 at the Challenge tapings in South Padre Island, TX doing squashes.

Michaels made a crack a few weeks back on Diesel saying that he looked like the cowardly lion and that when he gets a hold of him, he'll knock him back to Oz.

Tony Norris was at the tapings looking for a try-out but the only wrestler who got a dark match try-out not mentioned already was Randy Rhodes.

Bull Nakano's suspension ran out so she and Alundra Blayze were back on the road this past weekend.

It appears Chris Candido will be doing a Mighty Mouse type babyface short superhero gimmick since Candido is actually deceptively strong in the weight room.

Vince McMahon is sponsoring Bob Holly's race car which probably explains the new push.

Murdoch was at the Garden being introduced as a babyface and ran off one of Well Dunn with a dropkick.

Spoiler for 1/30/95:

Thumbs up 161 (67.9%)

Thumbs down 35 (14.8%)

In the middle 41 (17.3%)


Bret Hart vs. Diesel 117

Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett 39

Kid & Holly vs. Bigelow & Tatanka 32

Royal Rumble 26


Undertaker vs. IRS 157

Royal Rumble 14

Bret Hart vs. Diesel 10

Kid & Holly vs. Bigelow & Tatanka 8

*The Lawrence Taylor angle with Bam Bam Bigelow must have been great because many people who were calling after the show thought it was a shoot because of how Vince McMahon sold it. On Monday Night Raw they really played it up as if it were a shoot with Vince McMahon apologizing for it and announcing Bigelow as being suspended without pay, then bringing Bigelow out for an apology. It was obviously an angle because it fit perfectly into the storyline at the show with people laughing at Bigelow for losing to Kid. They mentioned Taylor being there giving a reason far too many times for them not to be running an angle with him. The giveaway live was that Taylor was laughing about it afterwards, and that the following night they made too many mentions of it. If McMahon had done the apology and it would have been dropped and forgotten, that would have been one thing, but the second time it was brought up made it obvious they were doing a Japan style angle. Since WWF has never done Japan style angles, it looks like this will work because a lot of people were buying it.

*Michaels is the best all-around performer in the country by a huge margin over whomever is second.

3. Diesel retained the WWF title going to a no decision with Bret Hart in 27:19. Hart came out aggressive playing subtle heel wrapping Diesel's leg around the post and using a figure four for two one minute segments in the first 6:00. As Diesel went out to regain his bearings, Hart hit him with a tope. Hart posted Diesel, but Diesel reversed a whip and sent Hart into the ring steps. Diesel then took over including using a backbreaker over the shoulder which looked really good with a guy of that height doing it. Hart made a comeback and took the tape off his wrist and tied Diesel's legs up with it around the post and began stomping the helpless Diesel but even then the fans didn't turn on him.

He did his typical bulldog, leg sweep and backbreaker for near falls followed by the forearm drop off the top. Diesel took control when Hart went for a plancha, Diesel caught him and rammed his back into the post. Diesel then raised his arm signifying the finish but heard more boos than cheers, then hit the jackknife. Michaels ran in to break up the pin going after Diesel's knee. The ref ordered the match to continue rather than call the DQ. At this point the storyline clearly should have made Hart the heel but it was working in reverse, to the point that the crowd cheered Michaels' run-in breaking up the pin. Hart got the figure four back on but Diesel punched his way out. Diesel started the comeback but again surprisingly to no reaction. He missed a kick and got caught on the ropes. Hart once again wrapped his leg around the post and hit the knee with a chair, which for the first time got a lot of boos directed at Hart. Hart put on the sharpshooter when Owen Hart interfered breaking it up, undoing the padding on the turnbuckle and whipping Bret's throat into it. The ref ruled the match would continue again rather than calling the DQ. Both were selling great from this point on. Diesel was run into the exposed metal turnbuckle. They went back-and-forth Japanese style until a ref bump. At this point, Michaels, Owen Hart, Backlund, Jarrett and Roadie all did a run-in attacking both guys. Finally Backlund got Bret in the chicken wing while the other four were on Diesel. Diesel made his own comeback chasing everyone away and saving Bret and after the match the two shook hands and hugged. ****1/4

Nu Jack, the lead heel of the Gangstas tag team in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, was arrested on 1/21 after a show in Morristown, TN during a post-match fracas involving a 14-year-old and two police officers.

Jack, 32, now living in Morristown, real name Jerome Young, allegedly struck a heckling 14-year-old fan on the side of the head after doing a messed up run-in during a show at the Talley Ward Recreation Center. When two officers got involved in the situation, he allegedly shoved and cursed at them. He was arrested on two counts of assault on an officer, one count of disorderly conduct and one count of assault on a minor. After spending several hours in prison that evening, he was released on bond.

Jim Cornette, who runs the company, had to leave Morristown immediately after the show to appear at the Royal Rumble the next day, and couldn't be reached for comment on the incident. It is believed Nu Jack will appear for all his dates starting this weekend which include a major show on 1/28 in Knoxville.

The incident followed a messed-up run-in and angle that took place on the card. The planned finish was that Tracy Smothers would win a Rumble Royal, the final event of the card, by eliminating all three Gangstas. After the match the Gangstas were to attack Smothers, who would be saved by a surprise run-in by Scott Armstrong who didn't appear earlier in the show. During the melee, the Gangstas would use the billy club to Scott's knee similarly to what already happened with Jim Cornette and what has been taped but was to air in a few weeks involving Bob Armstrong.

The run-in was screwed up when D.Lo Brown hit Smothers, instead of Armstrong with the blackjack which was to set up them working on the knee. All three go after Armstrong but for whatever reason work on his shoulder rather than his knee despite Smothers, Armstrong and referee Brian Hildebrand all screaming to work on the knee, with Armstrong screaming loud enough to be heard in the front row. It is not known if the angle will air on television as is, or if it'll have to be re-taped or not be done at all.

The incident is compounded because of the apparent leaving of the promotion without any word by Eddie Gilbert, who is the new booker in Puerto Rico. Gilbert had filmed four weeks of television which included two shows that would air after a planned 1/28 angle where Gilbert was to throw fire at Ricky Morton's face and Morton was already taped on television with bandages on his face, however SMW isn't expecting Gilbert to make that or any other date although Gilbert had yet to contact Cornette. No word on who will be Gilbert's substitute on the 1/28 show or how the television will be handled. One source who contacted Gilbert's father said that he is expecting Gilbert to appear for the Knoxville card.

McMahon claimed Turner can't compete with him: "Ted Turner is throwing away stockholders' money at this because this is the only business enterprise in which Ted Turner's butt is kicked every single day… He can go guy whatever he wants, the Goodwill Games and whatever to assuage his own personal ego, but the amount of money that he and his stockholders are losing over this wrestling enterprise, WCW, is astronomical."

The quote of the week came in the Tampa Tribune on 1/20 from Hulk Hogan when asked about the WWF's new generation theme: "You take these cuties, these bodybuilders, these Ultimate Warrior type guys. They break a nail, bruise a rib, they don't want to wrestle. They're taking athletes right out of high school, out of college, they paint their faces up and say they're a wrestler. This new generation of wrestlers is a complete rip-off of the guys from the old school."

Public Enemy did an interview on the TV cracking on everyone in wrestling. They thanked Vince McMahon for giving them so much publicity because all he talks about are the new generation of wrestlers when everyone knows they are the new generation. They also talked about the Tully Blanchard-Shane Douglas 60:00 saying that Douglas not only tortured Blanchard for 60:00 but also tortured all the fans.

2/4 at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia will be an ECW tag title match with Public Enemy vs. Sabu & Tazmaniac with the only way to win to break tables with both opponents on the table, Cactus Jack vs. Sandman in an Amarillo style Texas death match, Chris Benoit vs. Al Snow, Ian Rotten vs. Axl Rotten, Steve Richards vs. Tommy Dreamer, Whippreck vs. Lauria and more. There may be a Shane Douglas vs. Tully Blanchard rematch but that isn't finalized as of press time.

Expect Rick & Scott Steiner to return, probably for the 3/19 Tupelo PPV.

Mark Madden helped promote the show in Pittsburgh and was the subject of a great deal of controversy this past week. While in the midst of promoting the show, Eric Bischoff threatened Madden with firing on the 900 line supposedly for his reporting that Lex Luger would be coming to WCW but probably as much for him discussing on their 900 line the possibility of Vader shooting on Hogan and then discounting the possibility. There doesn't appear to be any truth whatsoever in regard to the Luger story, however ever since the WCW Hotline gained attention when Gene Okerlund started hinting that Bret Hart and Yokozuna were going to jump, the new thing has been to say people are leaving even if it isn't true which has happened a half-dozen times in the past few weeks. Even after Madden was reprimanded for doing the same thing, Okerlund then a few days later talked about rumors of Luger coming and Okerlund and Heenan teased Ric Flair and Roddy Piper jumps on television as teases to get calls to the point that even internally people were questioning the nature of the rip-offs.

WCW will be raising PPV prices starting with 5/21 from $24.95 to $27.50 as a way to justify Hogan's cut financially.

There are rumors that Bobby Eaton will get Jean Paul Levesque's spot as Steve Regal's tag team partner.

Talk once again has surfaced of Warlord coming in.

Most of the wrestlers' reaction to William Shatner was negative. The belief was he was really stuck up backstage.

Spoiler for 3/7/95:
The Hulk Hogan vs. Vader feud looks to have the potential of surpassing the Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk 1989 feud as the hottest feud from a business standpoint in WCW history. Only two problems. They can't have a clean finish. And it looks like because of problem one, that it's only going to wind up with four inconclusive matches (actually the strap match will probably have a dragging the opponent around touching all four corners finish).

Later estimated are that the SuperBrawl PPV show did a 0.95 buy rate, just a shade lower than the two Hogan-Flair matches last year and a shade behind WWF's most recent PPV show, the Royal Rumble. If that figure is accurate that would mean approximately 220,000 buys and a $2.45 million gross, of which approximately about $654,500 would be the Terry Bollea share of the PPV and house gate. WCW officials have claimed between a 1.1 and 1.2 buy rate, while WCW competitors are pegging the figure at 0.6 to 0.7. The show has to be considered from a business standpoint as a major success even though as a show it left a lot to be desired.

Hogan and Vader met at house shows this past weekend in Chicago and Detroit with the Chicago show doing WCW's best non-PPV show gate in probably at least three years with a $99,000 house on 5,082 tickets sold with about 7,900 in the Rosemont Horizon (those who ordered the PPV show got two free tickets to the house show). WWF was in Chicago the previous night at the United Center with the "In High Gear" tour with all the big names which had about 7,000 fans in attendance but apparently that figure was also significantly papered with an $82,000 house at high ticket prices. In Detroit on 2/26, Hogan and Vader drew 3,500 and $52,000, which is slightly below what WWF usually does in the market. In comparison, WWF drew 5,000 at the Palace in Auburn Hills the previous Sunday for the "In High Gear" tour. Nevertheless, the best example of Hogan's drawing power may come from the WCW house show in Milwaukee, which included every other key performer that was in Chicago and Detroit including Randy Savage and Vader, but not Hogan, and only drew about 1,500 fans and about $16,000. At least with the right opponent, and Vader is as right an opponent as there is and is going to be for a while, this shows just how significant Hogan's drawing power still really is.

As for the matches themselves, our reports are that Chicago was a strong match, slightly better than their PPV effort but with an even weaker finish of Hogan using the megaphone on Vader who was counted out of the ring in a manner where fans didn't even realize what was happening and what the finish was. In Chicago, Hogan did a rare blade job, juicing significantly. It is believed that because he was going over a second time and because there were numerous Japanese reporters covering the match because in Japan this is two major companies world heavyweight champions against one another, that Hogan did a juice job for Vader so Vader would look strong in the photographs. In Detroit the two had a far weaker match, rating *3/4, before doing the same count out finish.

The 2/25 ECW Arena show in Philadelphia before a turnaway crowd of 1,150 (the actual largest crowd ever) and was said to have been perhaps the best show in the history of the promotion from start-to-finish. The highlight was the return of Terry Funk in a surprise run-in to start a feud with Cactus Jack. The idea behind this is that Funk and Jack are doing a major match, which I believe will be a hair vs. hair match, at the Kawasaki Baseball Stadium (same building that Onita has his big show at) in August and both want to constantly be in the Japanese mags from now until then with grudge match photos and they only have limited simultaneous Japan dates so ECW big shows, which are well-covered in the Japanese magazines, will help keep the feud going before the fans there. Cactus was wrestling Sandman's mystery wrestler who turned out to be D.C. Drake. Cactus won an uneventful match when he started brawling afterwards with Sandman. They brawled into a big box and then out of the box with Funk, dressed in the same pants and boots as Sandman but with a cloth over his head brawling with Cactus. Finally the cloth came off revealing Funk. At this point Funk & Sandman destroyed Cactus and everyone else who tried to help him. Finally Tommy Dreamer ran in for the save. Funk started slapping Dreamer (Dreamer was Funk's protege when Funk last appeared here) and Sandman ended up hitting him with the cane and they destroyed Dreamer and went back on Cactus. It wound up with Cactus screaming for someone to help him and Shane Douglas came out. They did a long tease with Woman saying she'd make a trio of Douglas, Funk and Sandman bigger than the Four Horseman ever were and finally Douglas accepting her offer, than immediately turning on her and making the save with the title belt to set up 3/18 which will be Funk & Sandman vs. Cactus & Douglas. The deal in the storyline, which is based on reality, is that even though Cactus is a face and Douglas a heel although the lines here are blurred anyway, that they are best friends dating back from when they attended wrestling school together in Pittsburgh. In post-match interviews, Funk got on Douglas for what he did with the NWA title belt and Jack got on Funk for no-showing as his tag team partner several months back among other things.

Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko won the ECW tag titles from Sabu & Tazmaniac in a ****1/2 match which was said to have been the best ECW match in a long time due to Benoit and Sabu. One correspondent said that Benoit in this match established himself as without a doubt the best wrestler ever to appear in the ECW Arena, which is quite a compliment considering Funk and Sabu have been regulars. Taz was injured leaving it a 2-on-1 on Sabu, and Benoit ended up on a table on the top rope doing a power bomb into the ring with Sabu and scoring a clean pin. Before the match, Public Enemy came out with Rocco Rock in a wheelchair and Benoit grabbed the wheelchair and threw him into the guard rail and he took a bump out of the chair. With Benoit and Sabu in Japan for the next show, they are building to a three-team triangle match on 4/15. Expect Public Enemy vs. Pit Bulls on 3/18. Douglas retained the title pinning Marty Janetty in a very strong match. Ian Rotten beat Axl Rotten in the bloodiest match in ECW history--a baseball bat barbed wire match. Their match the previous month was borderline sickening and this one crossed the line, although from a work standpoint heard it was excellent. On 3/18 expect a match where both men glue broken glass to their hands. That sound way over the edge. Paul Lauria & Jason beat Mikey Whipwreck & Hack Myers when Myers was pinned due to outside interference of Lauria's masked bodyguard, who was Crash the Terminator on this show but from a storyline standpoint isn't. The other angle saw Raven (Scott Levy/Johnny Polo) come out with Steve Richards, introducing a new tag team of the Broad Street Bullies, Tony Stetson & Johnny Hot Body, who got no reaction. Dreamer came out and beat up Richards, Stetson and Hot Body before doing a stare-down with Raven to set up their 3/18 match. There were chants of "SuperBrawl sucks" which TV announcer Joey Styles actually indirectly got started and "Hogan sucks" during the card.

Jake Roberts, 39, has announced his retirement from wrestling and canceled all his upcoming indie dates claiming he's going into religion.

At Center Stage, on the show that aired 2/25, Ric Flair was introduced as Vader's new manager and Hulk Hogan came out during their interview with a strap and they had a confrontation. I'm assuming the strap match is non-title so Flair can interfere and Vader can touch all four corners. At least that makes sense, but Hogan doing the job makes sense for WCW business on several occasions but not necessarily for Hogan business which is the top priority. For the show that airs 3/4, Meng works his first match and the headliner is Vader vs. Patriot. Vader uses the power bomb when Hogan & Jimmy Hart to a run-in and start whipping him with the strap. Flair does a run-in and chases Hart around while Hogan is choking Vader with the strap and the other faces have to pull Hogan off Vader.

Apparently many in management were freaking out by how strong the face reaction was to Flair in Baltimore. Hello? Hasn't anyone paid attention to Flair's reaction in Baltimore for the last ten years?

In what his actually huge news throughout the wrestling industry, Toys R Us has decided against carrying any WWF or WCW merchandise apparently due to a combination of outside pressures and that the products aren't hot enough to buck the pressure for economic reasons.

Eric Bischoff was scheduled to meet with the head of K-1 (which has Kimo, Gerard Gordeau and Patrick Smith) so I guess that organization will be involved in the planned PPV show called WMAF (World Martial Arts Federation) which they are planning for 6/4 in Tokyo. Word is that Rickson Gracie wanted $150,000 for the show and they thought the price was too high.

Erik Watts (who Jim Ross has known since childhood) & Chad Fortune got a try-out as a tag team. Fortune was training at the WCW wrestling school and I believe wound up getting booted out for doing the try-out.

Michael Hayes did a squash match as a babyface and got one of the biggest pops on the show.

Action Zone saw Man Mountain Rock do the anthem and they had problems so he got booed again but he promised he'd do better next time he was back in Augusta, which got him booed even worse since he was in North Charleston (Augusta was the previous night).

Top angle started with Smoking Gunns vs. Men on Mission in a tag title match which the Gunns won and MOM jumped them after the match till Oscar got them to stop. Later in the show Oscar came out and apologized for what happened. Mabel then did a long speech saying the Gunns were the best tag team champions in history and asked them to come out so they could apologize. Gunns came out and of course they were jumped again. Mabel splashed Oscar who did a stretcher job so I assume that's the end of that character. Chris Candido & Tammy Sytch debuted which was a total disaster. The gimmick was they were babyfaces called Chris & Tammy Spirit, with Tammy in a poorly fitting cheerleader outfit and Chris in an outfit with a cape trying to get the fans to cheer but the fans hated the gimmick. A lot of fans also booed because SMW airs on television and they knew them as heels. Reno Riggins also landed wrong on the Frankensteiner off the top rope and injured his ribs and was stretchered out. The match won't air on television but will be used for video packages introducing the character.

Wonder if Vince McMahon's heart skipped a beat on the live Raw when Jim Cornette was talking about Jeff Jarrett having the best figure four leglock in the WWF since Nature Boy, and then he said Buddy Rogers.

Shane Douglas got a try-out this week as a color commentator and they wanted him for a top babyface spot down the road as well. As of yet he hasn't accepted the deal.

Reason Dick Murdoch did those house show as Bob Backlund's second with no television build-up is that Razor Ramon complained that it was impossible to do a match with Backlund and needed help and Murdoch was provided as that help. Murdoch has been at the recent tapings but hasn't been used.

Expect Louie Spicolli to debut at the March California tapings.

Spoiler for 3/20/95:
The wrestling business in the United States is going to undergo yet another facelift in the wake of the WWF's decision to follow in the lead of WCW and add four more PPV shows before the end of the year.

The first of the added PPV shows will be 5/14 in Syracuse, NY, billed as "In Your Home," one week before WCW's Slamboree from St. Petersburg. The pattern will continue over the next two months as WCW will run "The Great American Bash" on 6/18 in Dayton, with the WWF following with King of the Ring on 6/25 in Philadelphia. In July, WCW runs 7/16 in Miami while WWF will come back on 7/23.

The four added WWF PPV shows will be approximately one hour, 45 minutes in length and be priced at $14.95. This undercuts WCW which is running a $24.95 list price for its non-Hogan PPV shows (only one on the books right now is Dayton, as they'll apparently do a Hogan injury angle in St. Pete), and up the price to $27.95 for all shows with Hogan. The low price for the new WWF PPV shows will be counterbalanced by an increase in price for the major shows, with Wrestlemania going up to $34.95, making it the most expensive wrestling PPV show to date, and SummerSlam to $29.95.

Lots of behind-the-scenes controversy this past week regarding the booking and Ric Flair. Flair apparently was furious about the booking on 3/6 and told everyone he was going to quit the company later in the week, but everything was worked out on 3/9. Not sure exactly all the problems or what the major problems but he was mad that Hulk Hogan wouldn't work the television tapings that were held during the week (so they had to create the storyline that Nick Bockwinkel suspended him from television) which were for the last two weeks before the PPV.

There is also the continuation with problems regarding Randy Savage as Savage wants the Hogan power of booking all his own programs. Although Flair and Hogan both want to recreate the 80s, they each have a different version of what the 80s were since they were in different worlds and although they try, there is almost no way to have a meeting of the minds. Actually that isn't much different from Riki Choshu (New Japan) except he's smart enough to know you have to put new guys in the same position. Choshu is re-doing the successful 1983 Ishingun angle, but unlike Flair, who in his mid-40s wants to play playboy heel, Choshu in his 40s plays the Inoki/Fujinami establishment role and gives the outlaw heel role to the younger guys who it fits like Tenzan and thus gives them a chance to get over and build the future. Flair wants to re-do The Four Horseman and The Road Warriors with most of the original characters while Hogan wants to re-do Ultimate Warrior (with a New England indie wrestler called Rio Lord of the Jungle) and Andre the Giant (with Paul Wight) and push them to the moon immediately but with the original Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage characters doing the same things they did in their prime. It appears the good younger workers like Brian Pillman, Steve Austin and Dustin Rhodes may be the ones getting caught, or more to the point ignored, in the crossfire. The Cruiserweight gimmick seems to be all but forgotten again. Austin goes from the Penthouse (Four Horseman member on top) to the Outhouse (no program whatsoever) on a daily basis, as Rhodes is buried in the middle against non-entities that can't get over.

The Hogan "Ultimate Surprise" on the PPV was originally to be The Road Warriors, however Hawk was booked in Japan on 3/19, so the last word we've heard is it'll be Rio, with another name, as an Ultimate Warrior clone since the original costs too much money.

The TV Guide story on 3/4 in the "Cheers and Jeers" column ripping Gene Okerlund for the Jerry Blackwell 900 deal has also caused a second wave of controversy. Okerlund claimed that Vince McMahon and Jim Ross wrote a letter to Ted Turner with the story and the Phil Mushnick story claiming they had ulterior motives but that it was great to work for someone who stands behind his employees. Others say the term standing behind their employees is a euphemism for some like "If this ever happens again and my name is tied into it, heads will roll." Other sources in WCW claim a letter was written by McMahon, but Ross' name wasn't on the letter and they were surprised Okerlund threw in Ross' name because Okerlund and Bobby Heenan had always been two of the few Ross allies in the company. The letter supposedly was a snide thing by McMahon intimating Turner should fold the company supposedly saying because they give his golden name bad publicity, that the inmates are running the asylum and saying that although he has no love for Phil Mushnick, that publicity like this hurts everyone in the wrestling business.

The Dustin Rhodes-Blacktop Bully match at Uncensored this week will actually be taped and spliced into the show. They didn't want to take the chance of doing the match live because of the possibilities of a disaster production-wise and performance-wise of trying something live while in the moving truck going down the highway. They are going to have video walls in the building for those live and for those on PPV pretend it's going on live on the streets of Tupelo but actually will be taped in Atlanta. The Main Event show will be live and they'll be teasing the surprise but apparently say it won't be Ultimate Warrior or Road Warriors on the show. The three television matches will be squashes with Steve Austin and Alex Wright and a Marcus Bagwell & Patriot vs. Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck match.

3/7 tapings saw taping for both 3/11 and 3/18. The 3/11 show saw Dave Sullivan at ringside pretending to be a fan during the entire show. Blacktop Bully squashed Tim Horner and squash is a kind way of putting it. Alex Wright beat Arn Anderson via count out in a TV title match when Johnny B. Badd did a run-in wearing gloves and KO'd Arn outside the ring. 3/18 has a Steve Regal vs. Bobby Eaton match which was really strange. Eaton was a total face and cheered heavily. After Eaton got some strong offense in, Regal left the ring and went to the interview area and told Eaton he was an excellent wrestler and that he did want to tag team with him. The two shook hands and left together. After a Vader squash over a jobber billed from "Smoky Mountain, TN," Vader continued to destroy the poor guy after. Dave Sullivan (at ringside the show again) went up to Flair and asked him to ask Vader to stop. Flair & Vader then destroyed Sullivan to the point that Bobby Heenan, of all people, did a run-in. They stretchered Dave out. Apparently there was some post-angle heat because some of those in charge thought they had hurt Dave's credibility for his upcoming feud with Page. I swear, I didn't make that last sentence up. Wright beat Frankie Lancaster but the finish was screwed up so it was re-taped the next night. TV main saw Rhodes & Badd over Pretty Wonderful when Pretty did the job in the best match on the show. Pretty's occupational status isn't so Pretty anymore as he was given notice and was jobbed out on television this week, and then injured his knee and thus missed the weekend house show run to put over Wright and Page was flown in to take his place. Word we get is many were unhappy the way Roma didn't put Wright over on the last PPV show.

On 3/8, they taped for 3/25 and 4/1. 3/25 saw Craig Pittman used the Gracie short-arm scissors as a finisher, Stars & Stripes beat Southern Posse in a good squash, Kevin Sullivan & Butcher did a tag with no hint of a turn, the jobber Arn Anderson wrestled screwed up the finish twice before getting it right a third time but Anderson used it to make a good interview anyway. TV main saw Rhodes & Badd & Jim Duggan over Bully & Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck when Rhodes pinned Buck. For 4/1, Harlem Heat over Horner & Scott Armstrong in the key match. They also taped for other shows Austin squashing Horner and Pillman pinned Roma.

WCW wants Curt Hennig to be one of the Four Horsemen. This isn't the first time they've wanted him and probably won't be the last. The problem always ends up that Hennig's asking price is really high because he's in great shape financially from an insurance settlement and thus has no need to wrestle for money, so it's going to take big money to get him out of the house.

Discussions about bringing Elizabeth in have resurfaced but I'm pretty sure she hasn't even been contacted yet about it. Gene Okerlund tried to tease it on television, but instead gave a worked story about Fifi.

Mike Enos & Wayne Bloom were at the 3/8 tapings in street clothes. They were talked with again about doing a baseball player tag team gimmick and starting in May. Jim Powers was also there looking for a job, I guess to fill Roma's shoes.

Scott Steiner is on the television promo for Uncensored since originally they were going to have a Steiners vs. Heat match on the show but decided it wouldn't serve a purpose to have Steiners come in and win a non-title match from a WCW team when they didn't think they could get them to do the job in the title match.

The angle where Duggan hit Meng with the 2x4 and Meng didn't sell it had the hit edited off television because of concern over violence.

Lots of notes from the television taping on 3/13 in Stockton before a sellout (virtually no paper) of 2,800. Even though people don't think of California as such, Stockton is closer to a Southern-style rural wrestling audience so the crowd reactions and response was way different from shows 70 miles away in the Bay Area. The crowd was extremely hot early although they eventually cooled down as the show passed the four hour mark. It was the best WWF taping ever out here because they did so few squashes. The live show opened with Undertaker pinning King Kong Bundy with a clothesline in 6:40 in a match to get the two synchronized for Mania.

The crowd was hot because it was early in the show but the match was even worse than you'd think. They need to put these guys on early in the show at Mania or they are taking a risk of a dead match after the ring intros. (-*1/2). They did Roadie doing a bit with Manny Garcia to keep the crowd entertained before the live Raw started. Roadie is actually great in his role. On the live show, they interviewed Ernie Ladd as a former football player who went into wrestling with Ladd saying when he started wrestling he wasn't very good (which was true, but because of his football name, he was pushed to the moon everywhere he went) and saying that Lawrence Taylor didn't have much of a chance against Bam Bam Bigelow.

Head Shrinkers and Blu Brothers went to a double count out in 9:22 (**1/4). On television they announced that it was supposed to be 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly against Blu Brothers but Kid & Holly weren't there (although they actually were) and also that Afa & Lou Albano weren't there, blaming the bad weather. The weather was real bad a few days earlier but weather was fine the day of the show. My guess is with all the cutbacks, and they are noticeable comparing this taping with those I've seen in the past from a production standpoint, they probably wanted to save money by not flying Afa and Albano to the West Coast for one shot. Barry Horowitz did an interview for an IC title match with Jeff Jarrett saying he's talked with Razor Ramon and knows Jarrett's weaknesses.

Jim Cornette said Horowitz' won-loss record was 0-and-forever. Since they had no video walls, the fans live were actually in the dark as to the storyline so they didn't react the way they should have to Horowitz gaining the early near pins. Fans live saw it as nothing but a squash match and Jarrett isn't nearly as over as he should be with his push, but it was actually good for its storyline on television. During the spot where they played the control center, they had a live match with Louie Spicolli beating Miguel Perez. They opened strong but the crowd didn't get into them because they didn't know them. The finish came out of nowhere with a Northern Lights suplex. I was watching the guy who gives time cues and it looked like he gave the go-home signal out of nowhere so the guys didn't have much of a chance.

Jerry Lawler beat Bret Hart via count out in 8:47 when Bull Nakano, who was Lawler's manager for the match, held Hart's leg hiding underneath the ring (**). Since this was a Southern type crowd, Lawler worked them to perfection and got excellent heat. He really looks his age in his work, though. The show ended with an angle where Jarrett came out with a contract saying he's going to give Horowitz a rematch because he was complaining backstage and signed the contract. Before Horowitz could sign, Bob Backlund in his nutty professor outfit came out and put Horowitz in the chicken wing, grabbed the pen and signed the contract. Before the second Raw, they did dark matches with Perez and Spicolli winning squashes. Perez looked a lot better the second time out. The crowd ooed and aahed at his hot moves but he works a serious style without exaggerated movements and facials as in the U.S. so didn't convey much of a personality and didn't really get over. Spicolli looked okay. For the 3/20 Raw, Ramon pinned Henry Godwinn in 5:08 with a screw-up.

Ramon did a messed-up bulldog off the top which wasn't supposed to be the finish. Godwinn kicked out at two but ref Danny Davis counted three anyway and boy did Ramon look hot. Roadie was supposed to do an angle before the finish and then did it after. Ramon did the Razor's Edge after and had Davis count the fall the way it was supposed to be. 1-2-3 Kid did a save with some great kicks on Roadie, one of which bloodied up the bridge of his nose. (*1/2). Tag title match saw Smoking Gunns over Heavenly Bodies in 16:10 when Bart pinned Jimmy Del Rey with a backslide off a bridge. Very good match with everyone working hard but there were several messed up spots at the end that will likely be covered up in post-production (***).

Final match was a King Kong Bundy handicap match. Before the match started, they introduced Steve McMichael and he's a real ham looking not at all embarrassed or out of place like most outsiders brought in for an angle. The job guys were worse than Bundy so you can imagine how bad this was. McMichael was doing the color for this match when Ted DiBiase came out with Kama (who people around me were saying stuff like, "Hey, that's Kimo"). Kama threw a drink in McMichaels's face and they did a pull-apart brawl, exactly as a pull-apart should be. Pat Patterson, Jerry Brisco, McMahon, etc. looked really pissed (as part of the act, I'm sure inside they were grinning from ear-to-ear because this came off great). Next was a taping for the 3/26 March to Wrestlemania special.

At this point the crowd was losing it as well. Jarrett vs. Backlund for the title was awful but post was very good. Bob worked as the face as far as the spots went but did his heel facials. Nobody cared at all about the match, though even though Jarrett really sold great. Backlund had Jarrett set up for the chicken wing when Ramon attacked Backlund for the DQ, no doubt the storyline being he wanted to make sure Jarrett still was champ for Mania "next week." (1/2*) Backlund put the chicken wing on Ramon after the match (poor Razor if they put them in a post-WM program) while Jarrett and Roadie made it 3-on-1. Bret and 1-2-3 Kid made the save with Kid throwing some incredibly fast kicks that Roadie sold great. Then Bam Bam Bigelow pinned Sionne in 5:03 with a crossbodyblock (*). Ted DiBiase did an interview with Bigelow, Bundy and Tatanka talking about the football players at ringside and also mentioned that IRS and Nikolai Volkoff would also be at ringside.

Bret Hart beat Owen Hart with the sharpshooter in 12:30. This was much better than their recent house show matches since they went twice as long. Best match on the show. (***1/2). Holly & Alundra Blayze beat Bull Nakano & Hakushi in 7:28 when Blayze pinned Nakano with a german suplex. Some may like this match because they did a three-dive spot in the finish which is unique to American wrestling, but it was a disappointment. Holly and Hakushi couldn't work together at all, which is understandable with the style clash. Blayze and Bull didn't either, and after all this time, that isn't understandable. Bull's offense looks so weak which is weird because it used to look great.

Her knees are in bad shape as well, to the point you can see her knees buckle just when she's standing there. (*3/4). Diesel did an interview with McMahon. McMahon was carrying the interview which was going nowhere with Diesel saying things like if Michaels played baseball he'd have hit .400 and saying Michaels is the best athlete in the world today. Finally Michaels and Psycho Sid came out. Michaels' made the interview basically saying unlike Diesel who had things given to him, he had to work his way up for seven years to reach this spot and promised the performance of a lifetime. For whatever this is worth, the rumor going around is that Michaels won't win the title after all, but will win King of the Ring. The final match of the special saw Lex Luger beat Tatanka in a cage match in 16:15. The guys in post-production are going to earn their money on this one. It was terrible and had no crowd heat, made worse by the fact fans were leaving in droves during this match. (DUD). The dark match finale, with maybe 1,300 fans left, saw Diesel & Ramon over Michaels & Jarrett when Diesel jackknifed Jarrett in 11:10 (**3/4). Michaels took bumps like Psicosis during this match.

They announced two more matches for Mania, Luger & Davey Boy Smith vs. Blu Brothers and Gunns defending against Owen Hart and a mystery partner. No word on who it is, but do know that they are or were interested in it being Chris Benoit and shooting them immediately to the top of the tag team division. The latter match was in the WWF mag so it was originally planned, however they just ran the Men on a Mission angle on television over the weekend. Word I was told is that the MOM idea was a late one and they might have gotten the spot at Mania but something happened and they were suspended but either way they weren't at TV and aren't around right now.

Direct TV is offering Wrestlemania along with the full first ten Manias in an 11-show package for $49.95. The WWF is advertising this package of the first ten Manias as "See Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan in their prime."

Spoiler for 11/2/92:
Thumbs up26 (07.2%)
Thumbs down317 (87.6%)
In the middle19 (05.2%)

Brian Pillman vs. Rick Steamboat118
Rhodes & Windham vs. Austin & Williams92
Big Van Vader vs. Nikita Koloff27
Zenk & Douglas & Gunn vs. Anderson & Eaton & Hayes19

Rick Rude vs. Masa Chono116
Ron Simmons vs. Barbarian109
Sting vs. Jake Roberts72

Things are really bad. It's not just Halloween Havoc. It's not just TV ratings hitting record lows. It's not just WWF canceling house shows left and right. It's not just WCW not canceling house shows but not drawing any fans to its house shows. What's bad is, the wrestling business is in a tunnel, and there is no sign of light at the end. There is at least an indication in the back of my mind that the WWF is going to get through this if only because Vince McMahon does have a track record of success even though the only real thing that would be evidence that it is going to happen is McMahon's track record and more talk of a possible return of Hulk Hogan. Bill Watts had a track record as well, but based on television and the PPV this weekend, WCW seems like a run-away train, without a conductor, headed straight for a wall. The wall may be called Battle Bowl. But the wall is probably just called 1993.

WCW is in a state of systematic destruction. Real wrestling talent is being exchanged with talent that doesn't have the experience or seasoning, or in some cases, even the talent, to hang in a major league operation. It doesn't appear to be a concern as long as the new talent seems willing to work cheaper than the experienced talent, or simply has a relative in high places. Even that wouldn't necessarily be so bad if the company was going on course with a viable new direction and needed fresh new talent and had the leadership that will teach and groom the newcomers into being legitimate talent. Unfortunately, that also isn't the case. The "old stale" talent gets more response than the "fresh new" talent. In 1993, WCW looks to be falling to the level of the last few years of the AWA, both in terms of talent, product quality and overall interest.

Halloween Havoc wasn't the worst PPV in history, although it was among the worst. The WWF has put on shows that were terrible from start to finish. Two of them were Wrestlemanias. This show was only terrible from the middle point of the show to the finish. The first half was good, particularly when it came to wrestling action, although the lack of direction and terrible main events made the feeling coming out of the show as being worse. Even on the worst WWF PPV show, when it was over you knew what direction the company was going in and there were ideas for new match-ups that would be upcoming. They usually worked to end the show on a positive note. WCW once put on a PPV card, the Great American Bash, in which the match-ups going in looked horrible on paper, were by and large even worse in reality, had the main event changed two weeks before, then confused the fans by turning both participants during the main event and the most over babyface at the show was a heel who had just been fired two weeks earlier. But as bad as that show was and as bad as things looked after the 1991 Great American Bash, WCW still had a larger television viewing audience, a stronger syndicated network, better overall talent and more potential for future interest. The Bash of '91 was worse than the Havoc of '92, but the company is coming out of the Havoc of '92 in its worst condition ever. During the 1991 Bash it was like watching a promotion take many steps down the road to oblivion. The second half of Havoc was the visual example of watching the fat lady sing for the promotion. People will be pointing fingers at each other all week trying to put the blame on someone else for how this turned out. But one thing is clear. Based on every imaginable criteria to judge, Bill Watts' reign thus far has been a failure. It's not just a bad PPV show. It's hardly just losing some name talent with more losses to come. It's not the morale problem. It's the lack of direction. The change in philosophy has gone from going from no philosophy to even less concept of no philosophy. Nothing is being built for the future. No ideas are being built for a concept for the future. It's just scatterbrained 1970s ideas and concepts thrown out so fast that even if they weren't outdated, which some are, they still are being grounded out in a manner which they couldn't work. Turns are decided upon, started, then dropped in the middle. So are storylines. Characters are dropped, then brought back as if they weren't dropped, and buried once again. Title belts are given to wrestlers who have already made it clear they are leaving the promotion for God only knows what reason, and then they leave the promotion. The turns that do happen, come out of nowhere with no storyline and angles that make no sense. A man is made world champion simply because of his skin color because of a mistaken antiquated notion about how that will draw black fans to pro wrestling matches, which is now beginning to set off a new low is race-baiting angles. Every criticism of Titan Sports and every way that WCW was supposed to set a new direction and a new course for this business has been exposed as a fraud. Every statement on steroids has been exposed as nothing but hot air, which was only made worse when Jim Ross spoke of "the other guys" having the posers. While Watts proclaimed that WCW was going back to wrestling, "the real deal" and needing to bring credibility back to the product, on his first PPV show that he was willing to take full responsibility for (previous shows he was willing to blame his predecessors because wheels for those shows were in motion before he got there, even though in the case of the Bash, he was in charge from start-to-finish for all the television build-up of the show) we heard announcers talking about anti-venom, a snake chewing on a man's cheek, a string of ref bump finishes, a major no-show, the most blatant example of bait-and-switch advertising in recent PPV history, and finishing off with the destruction of the credibility of the every major singles title in the promotion.

5. Rude beat Chono via DQ in 22:33 so Chono retains the NWA title. The match that destroyed the show. The match that destroyed the NWA title in the United States. The only thing positive to say is that it's a good thing this wasn't televised in Japan. I wonder if this was the first time in wrestling history where two wrestlers, in their first meeting ever, had a potential match of the year, and then in their first rematch, had a potential worst match of the year? Before the match, Gary Capetta introduced Seiji Sakaguchi as NWA President, Hiro Matsuda and Manobu Nakanishi as a member of the Japanese Olympic team from Barcelona. Ross at this point commented about how glad he was he didn't have to pronounce those names. Can you imagine that comment from another perspective? Let's say Bruce Baumgardner went to the next card at Sumo Hall, and the New Japan announcer and didn't even talk about who the guy is and blew it off with a remark like "Boy I'm sure glad I don't have to pronounce those American names." There was no reaction at all to the two referees, an angle that had been built up on television. Madusa, fired minutes earlier, came out with Rude anyway.

After a coin flip, Race was chosen to referee in the ring, Sasaki outside the ring. So this was the most screwed up match imaginable. The supposed top heel in the United States comes to ringside with a just-turned babyface who had just been fired minutes earlier but is still there anyway after being fired, with no plausible explanation. Ross and Ventura did address the subject, but there was no answer that made sense and their attempt, saying that Rude had apparently chosen Madusa over Paul E., only served to make Rude theoretically a babyface, although in reality it made him another wrestler that nobody seemed to care about.

To make matters stranger, the heel ref, Race, was officiating right down the line. At least that was good, because a full-fledged heel ref performance would have made this match even worse. Well, Rude wasn't a babyface here. Neither was Chono. The only babyface was Ric Flair, since the first 5:00 consisted of "We Want Flair" and "Whooo" chants that the announcers couldn't acknowledge.

Chono was clearly way off because of his pinched nerve in his neck. Rude seemed disgusted. I'd guess part of it was because it became apparent he was over nowhere near the level that he probably thought he was, since nobody cared about anything that involved the match and instead used his match as a way to chant for a guy who left the promotion 16 months earlier. To make matters worse, Ross and Ventura blew the announcing here because they never explained and exclaimed when Chono put on his various submission holds, so it seemed like it was all dead time. And to make it even worse, early in the match when Chono put on a submission, Ventura made the comment about how Rude would never submit, and Ross, who I guess didn't want to disagree, agreed with him, which basically told the viewers that all the submissions were a waste of time because a guy like Rude would never submit.

Once it's established that the "big stars" are never going to submit, you've killed the entire concept of submission holds, which is exactly what happened in this country about ten years ago which created the illusion that everything but high spots can be labeled as restholds and makes it much harder to work an effective and realistic match. Thus only gimmicks and high spots get over, neither of which are realistic, and then they complain because the heels don't have heat, and it's because the style doesn't allow anyone to take the product seriously. The crowd didn't understand the holds live, but the holds had never been put over previously on television, where fans are educated to the nuances, so why should they have? I guess wrestling fans are supposed to have ESP, since Rude and Chono knew what they were doing, everyone else should have figured it out without being told as well. This made the match seem even more like it was going nowhere. At 19:00, when they should have been building for a finish, a fight broke out which diverted everyone's attention from a supposed world title match. Both guys by this point must have figured it was hopeless, because as they worked to the finish, they were missing spots. Chono kicked Race in the face when Rude ducked. Race went out of the ring and Sasaki tried to help him up. Chono then threw Rude over the top rope and Rude landed on both Sasaki and Race knocking them both down. Rude got back in, hit the Rude Awakening, but there was no ref to count. Chono made a comeback, caught Rude in the STF, and Sasaki jumped in the ring and called for the bell to apparently signal Chono the winner via submission, although neither announcer acknowledged the word submission even existed in our language. Race overruled Sasaki and declared Rude the winner via DQ. Boy, that was a novel finish that nobody had ever seen before. Race than tried to attack Sasaki and Sasaki did a few slams on Race, who still took those picture perfect bumps, then dropkicked Rude out of the ring. Truly a disaster in every way. One of the worst world title matches ever on PPV. -***

6. Ron Simmons pinned Barbarian in 12:41 with a powerslam to keep the WCW title. Simmons came out with an entourage of about two dozen people which only made him seem like a heel. There may be good reason behind pushing Simmons as one of the top babyfaces, but it's painfully obvious he's no world champion. Barbarian is even less of a #1 contender and only caused to expose what Simmons wasn't. The match and lack of crowd reaction for a world title match brought this point home. Simmons was working injured. Barbarian did a long cobra hold, and Jesse Ventura showed he didn't watch Atlanta wrestling on cable while living in Minnesota by not knowing the Mongolian Stomper and Mark Lewin's dreaded "Shinninomaki," which, incidentally, is actually named after a Tokyo train station." Anyway, Ross noted that this move causes unconsciousness. What he forget to say, is it only causes unconsciousness among the live audience, not to the wrestler in the hold. Work was sloppy and crowd was dead. There was a good near fall when Simmons kicked out of the diving head-butt. One of the worst world title matches ever on PPV tm. 1/4*

7. Sting pinned Jake Roberts in 10:34 of a Coal Miners Glove match in the spin the wheel deal. Jake is a tremendous personality. One of the best in the business. But he's suffered to many injuries to be able to work on top as a singles wrestler in a group where fans expect action. Jake has also killed Sting to the point he's risking being almost dead. I understand the number of fan letters Sting has gotten over the past two months has suddenly plummeted, and he got a very much un-Stinglike lack of a pop coming out. Sting worked on Roberts' left arm most of the way. After a missed Stinger splash, Roberts hit the DDT. Sting got up before Jake could climb the pole and got elbowed. Second time he got up he did a swing around the pole and climbed up to get the glove. At the same time, Cactus Jack ran out with the snake bag. Jake held the snake and Sting came down with the glove and Sting hit Roberts with the glove and Roberts pulled the snake to make it look like it was biting his cheek and was pinned. Pin got no pop at all because Roberts distracted everyone from it with the snake. Unfortunately, the snake actually did gnaw on Roberts cheek and he bled, which wasn't supposed to happen. I thought they were turning Roberts face, but that wasn't the idea. Roberts ran to the dressing room with a snake being held to his cheek while we heard all about the anti-venom backstage. The finish made a bad main event even worse. 1/4*

Bruno Sammartino, who hosted the show with Tony Schiavone, looked terribly out of place amidst all the garbage. With all the public statements Sammartino has said this year, it really looked bad being on a show with the snake, and with several guys on juice.

There was a big rumor going around the WWF, and in fact it was reported in the New York Daily News that Sid Vicious was going to appear on the show as Rick Rude's choice as referee. Obviously that wasn't the plan at any time. Vicious and Watts may have talked, particularly since Vicious just got his release, although I've heard nothing substantive regarding him actually coming in.

A fan at ringside was wearing a WBF tank top when the show started, but the shirt mysteriously turned into a WCW crew shirt. Good to see paranoia about clothing being worn by fans isn't limited to those at Titan Sports.

Bam Bam Bigelow started as a heel at television on 10/26 in Springfield, IL losing via DQ to Virgil and beating Joey Maggs. The only other newcomer, who came out for an interview wearing a suit and tie was Jimmy Garvin. Garvin was also a heel and predicted all the heels to win at Survivors and bad mouthed Warrior & Savage. Told the segment was pretty bad.

Expect Bigelow and Yokozuna to get big pushes, probably to be groomed for Hart in 1993.

Spoiler for 3/27/95:

Thumbs up 24 (09.6%)

Thumbs down 214 (85.3%)

In the middle 13 (05.2%)


Nasty Boys vs. Harlem Heat 44

Hulk Hogan vs. Vader 35

Johnny B. Badd vs. Arn Anderson 23

Dustin Rhodes vs. Blacktop Bully 14

Sting vs. Bubba Rogers 10


Jim Duggan vs. Meng 52

Hulk Hogan vs. Vader 50

Dustin Rhodes vs. Blacktop Bully 41

Johnny B. Badd vs. Arn Anderson 10

WCW on Thursday fired Dustin Rhodes (Dustin Runnels), Blacktop Bully (Barry Darsow) and road agent Mike Graham (Michael Gossett) over the "King of the Road" match which was broadcast as part of the WCW Uncensored PPV show for use of blood during the match which is against company policy in a move that has become extremely controversial. In addition, the future of Dusty Rhodes with the company is also questionable at press time. Dusty was scheduled to do the co-hosting duties on the live Main Event show with Eric Bischoff prior to the PPV show but was replaced at the last minute by Bobby Heenan, who had to do a four-hour live broadcast and wound up burning out on commentary, repeating much of his material. Dusty was said to be so upset with the situation believing it was a set up that the general belief is that he would no longer remain with the company although that situation wasn't officially resolved at press time. Inducting Dusty Rhodes into the Hall of Fame was considered a prime selling point of the Slamboree show, particularly live in St. Petersburg where Rhodes was the biggest drawing card in the history of wrestling in that area from the mid-70s through the mid-80s. In addition, booker (in name only) Ric Flair had talked of doing yet another angle to bring Rhodes back for a run, although despite doing excellent interviews last year, his return was met by poor crowds, even in cities that were his original stomping grounds.

Although purported to be going on live in Tupelo, MS, the match was taped in a rural area near Atlanta on 3/14. According to the story we've heard, Graham, who was the supervisor of the "King of the Road" match, not only told the two wrestlers to both juice, which is supposedly strictly forbidden under company policy, but actually brought blades with him for both to use. Rhodes, 25, and Bully, 35, proceeded to do a 20:00 match with both juicing heavily and the few who actually were there during the filming claimed it was an excellent match. The match was edited down to 13:00 on television, and although blood was visible at times, it was de-emphasized in the editing and never mentioned in the commentary. The nature of the editing and poor shooting of the match turned the match into a total travesty as it aired on the PPV.

Rhodes and Bully were both fired because supposedly they should have known, despite the request or order from their superior, that doing so was against company policy. The big controversy is that Hulk Hogan bled just over two weeks earlier in his Chicago match with Vader which those who believe Rhodes and Bully were made scapegoats because the company was under orders for major budget cutting, have brought up, saying in their defense that the specific company policy they violated by doing juice had been violated by Hogan recently and being the gimmick nature of their match and so-called "Uncensored" nature of the advertising of the event, that perhaps Graham's orders were because this would be an exception to the usual rule. There was also a lot of talk that the company was told this past week to knock $500,000 per year off their budget and between the Rhodes family and the other two, the annual savings would be estimated at slightly more than $500,000. Darsow's one-year contract was near expiration and his character had pretty much flopped anyway, and it had become clear with Hogan controlling the company and having his own ideas on the babyface side, that Rhodes was going to fall between the cracks anyway as far as having a future position. Word we get is that as of press time there had been no talk between Dustin Rhodes and WWF, although many expect with the WWF's shortage of talent and its attempts to bring in younger wrestlers who could work and its long-time emphasis on size, that Rhodes in many ways fits the bill as to what the company is looking for.

Darsow's former tag team partner as Demolition, Brian Adams, or Crush, was arrested this past week on drug and illegal handgun charges and immediately fired by the World Wrestling Federation.

Adams, 31, was arrested on 3/13 by the Narcotics Enforcement Division of Public Safety in Hawaii. He was released after posting a $10,275 bond. He had been living in Kona on the island of Hawaii and operating a Gold's Gym while on hiatus from the WWF for the past year although he did appear at the Royal Rumble in Tampa in January.

After an eight-day investigation which started when the customs mail branch found a package that allegedly contained 500 units of anabolic steroids, police searched Adams' home and allegedly found several unregistered semi-automatic handguns and other drugs including marijuana. He was booked on 12 counts, five for gun registration violations and seven counts of promoting harmful drugs.

After the story broke on Thursday on the Associated Press wire, the WWF, obviously embarrassed by the situation even though Adams had not worked regularly for the group since a few weeks after last year's Wrestlemania, on Friday released to the AP that Adams' contract had been terminated.

Most of the show was played for laughs as opposed to drama as part of the emphasis on appealing to children with heels being nothing more than comedic foils. Ric Flair appeared in drag the first time doing a run-in, then later came out still with his nails painted and eye shadow making him look like the most hideous looking drag queen. They could have gotten Adrian Street for a lot less money. Arn Anderson came out bound and gagged as Randy Savage outsmarted him at the end of the show.

1. Blacktop Bully beat Dustin Rhodes in the pre-taped King of the Road match when he climbed up and honked the horn that was on top of a cage-like mesh fence. This was absolutely horrible to watch because of the way it was shot and edited. -**

2. Meng pinned Jim Duggan in a martial arts match in 7:04. Eric Bischoff's best friend, confidante and sometimes interpreter Sonny Ono served as referee doing a heel Japanese gimmick. They tried to set it up like it was a karate style match except I've never heard of pinfalls in karate. This was among the worst matches of all-time. Tons of stalling early. Meng mainly used nerve holds when Duggan wasn't making comebacks with some of the most pitiful looking offense of all-time. Duggan looked much worse than usual which I didn't think was even possible. Finish saw Duggan used the spear on Meng, who popped back up since they are trying to push him as a monster. Duggan then began pounding on Rob Parker and as the ref grabbed Duggan's arms from punching, leaving him outstretched, Meng delivered a thrust kick for the pin. -**

3. Johnny B. Badd defeated Arn Anderson in a boxer vs. wrestler gimmick. The gimmick here was Roc Finnegan (who I'm told was Marc Mero's legit trainer when he was a Golden Gloves boxer in New York many years ago although this may not have been his real name but he looked perfect for the role) at ringside doing the Burgess Merideth angle. In fact, this was mainly taken from the pages of the Hogan-Stallone Rocky III script for slapstick. They fought in rounds. First round saw Badd overwhelming Anderson with fast punches. Second round saw Badd knock Anderson down four times. Between rounds Anderson attacked Badd and gave him a DDT. Anderson then asked the ref if it was a no DQ match and when the ref said yes, he threw Badd over the top rope. Parker was kicking Badd on the floor. Anderson whipped Badd into his own stool which broke into a bunch of pieces and hit the spinebuster on him. At this point Finnegan jumped on Anderson's back. Badd made a brief comeback but Anderson threw him to the floor where Parker was beating on him. Anderson threw Badd into Finnegan who began cutting Badd's glove. Finnegan put a bucket on Anderson's head and Badd punched the bucket, then took off his glove and delivered the KO punch in :22 of round three. This was hardly the type of mixed match they do in Japan, but for what it was, it was entertaining. **1/2

4. Randy Savage beat Avalanche via DQ in 11:44 when Ric Flair in drag interfered. At least Gary Cappetta finally got Mount Everett in Washington as opposed to Mount Everest after all these months. Savage did a plancha for probably the first time since the 70s. When he went for a slam, Avalanche fell on him. Avalanche, who looked terrible, dominated most of the way. Match had no heat. Avalanche missed a splash off the middle rope and Savage did his double sledge off the top to the floor when Flair came out in drag and attacked Savage. The crowd was doing the "whoo" real loud but the announcers didn't call who it was until he took the wig off. By this time, Avalanche did the Avalanche drop but Hogan did a run-in for the save and they ruled it a DQ for Flair's interference. *1/4

5. Big Bubba Rogers pinned Sting in a major upset in 13:43. This was a solid well-worked match with a basic storyline. Sting "blew out" his bad knee early doing a leapfrog that didn't clear Rogers. Rogers worked on Sting's knee for several minutes. Sting made a comeback doing several hot moves, but always selling the knee, and finally, after being clipped, Sting went for a slam, the knee gave out, and Rogers fell on him for the pin. **1/2

6. Nasty Boys beat Harlem Heat in a weird tornado match in 8:43. The crowd seemed really tired by this point. Sherri Martel was smothered in the Nasty's armpits early. Sags then poured a garbage can on Stevie Ray. They went to the back of the arena where a fake concession stand was set up (with no employees and no fans) too early in the match and in busting and throwing things, the floor got all wet and slippery and none of the five had any footing which made it both dangerous and kind of funny but also pretty bad. It was easily the worst concession stand brawl in history but it's almost inherent a concession stand brawl is going to be good. Heat wound up with mustard all over them. Inside comment of the match was when Bobby Heenan made a crack about the inmates are running the asylum and Tony Schiavone said he'd read that line somewhere (it was in one of the letters Vince McMahon sent to Ted Turner trying to get him to either clean up or shut down the company). One of the concession stands was "selling" funnel cakes. Anyway, that stand collapsed when the guys were whipped into it, and Knobs pinned Booker T with a powerslam on the wood from the stand. **1/2

7. Hulk Hogan beat Vader in the strap match by dragging Flair around all four corners. Leave it to Michael Buffer to come up with two screw-ups this time. He said the match was sanctioned by the WCW when the entire gimmick of the show was that it wasn't, and then said for about the 83rd time that Hogan was the leader of "Hulkmania" as opposed to "Hulkamania" (Hogan's only been around since July, you'd figure somebody by now would give Buffer a clue and let him know he screws up every time out). Renegade came out do music almost identical to Ultimate Warrior, running down the aisle ala Ultimate Warrior, and basically spending the match making Flair into his personal punching bag and not selling a thing for him at ringside. Jimmy Hart with torn up clothes was running around ringside as well with the story being he'd escaped from being bound and gagged. Flair still had the eye make-up on and just looked hideous.

Hogan and Vader had a good match going 18:25 with some good whipping back and forth with the strap (Hogan doing most of the pitching and Vader the catching) and some chair shots although the camera wouldn't get anywhere near any shots of Vader using a chair. I can't exactly understand this, but because there is so much concern about violent content during these shows because of the current political climate about violence on programming that is geared to children, that it is okay to show close-ups of Hogan hitting someone with a chair, but you can't show Hogan being hit with a chair. Vader took some nice smashes into the ringpost and groin shots with the strap. Vader used a choke slam and started whipping Hogan with the strap.

When he did a suplex, Hogan popped back up and made the superman comeback complete with legdrop. A masked man, who was supposed to have been Arn Anderson in a Black Scorpion outfit, ran to ringside and hit Renegade with a chair and ran off. Flair attacked Hogan and hit Renegade a few more times with a chair. Vader started dragging Hogan around but after three corners, Flair told him to stop and put Hogan onto a chair and told Vader to come off the ropes on him. Of course Hogan moved and Vader somersaulted onto the chair which broke. Flair got another easily breakable balsa wood chair and broke it on Hogan who didn't sell it at all. Somehow the strap came off Vader. Hogan put the strap on Flair, foot to the face, legdrop and Hogan dragged Flair to all four corners to win the match. After the match Vader attacked Hogan and they had a standoff with Renegade when the Black Scorpion came out once again. This time Anderson crawled out of the dressing room all bound and gagged and the idea was Scorpion was Randy Savage who had stolen the costume from Anderson and he, Hogan and Renegade cleared the ring and they were left in the ring together posing with the show ending about 20 minutes early. ***1/2

Results from the 3/18 show at the ECW Arena before a sellout 1,100 fans: 1. Mikey Whipwreck pinned Jason in 8:31 with a Frankensteiner off the top rope in a good opener; 2. Ron Simmons destroyed Hack Myers in 2:51. After the match Simmons challenged Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Shane Douglas and made fun of Tully Blanchard (who is no longer with the promotion) and finally challenged 911. Of course 911 came out and Simmons got the jump on him and knocked him around including giving him a sidewalk slam, but 911 made a comeback with two choke slams and left Simmons laying. Two job guys came in to help Simmons up and he attacked them and beat them both up and challenged 911 to a match; 3. Tommy Dreamer first pinned Tony Stetson, then Johnny Hot Body, then Steve Richards, giving him the match with Raven (Johnny Polo). The other three guys that weren't wrestling Dreamer were handcuffed at ringside. Terry Funk came out and unlocked all the heels and they destroyed Dreamer, who bled an incredible sickening amount and Raven easily pinned him. Dreamer did a stretcher job;

4. Too Cold Scorpio pinned Dean Malenko to win the ECW TV title in a match described as disappointing; 5. Axl Rotten pinned Ian Rotten in a strap match with fans chanting "Hogan sux" during much of the match; 6. Public Enemy pinned Pit Bulls in another wild brawl all over the arena with fans handing Public Enemy all sorts of foreign objects to use on the Pit Bulls and Jason; 7. Marty Jannetty missed the show, apparently for reasons not his fault (supposedly his flight was canceled) since nobody bad-mouthed him and Whipwreck came out and had the match of his career against Sabu before losing. Fans gave the bout a standing O and Sabu raised Whipwreck's hand Japanese style after the match. A lot of people thought this was the best match on the card. It got real weird after this. Sabu & Paul E. started challenging anyone (which they did before the match as well when it was announced Jannetty wouldn't appear) and the fans began chanting "212" for a regular fan who weighs about 400 pounds. It ended up in a situation that could have been disastrous on several accounts as the fans chanted for the fan to fight Sabu and he went to ringside.

Versions of the story differ at this point but either Sabu threw a hard kick at the fan, which didn't even stun him, or the fan grabbed Sabu's leg. Tazmaniac came to ringside and 911, who are both very tough guys, was also there ready in case the fan hopped the rail. Really nothing else happened as security calmed the fan down although Paul E. was throwing major insults his way, other than Tod Gordon after the dust cleared brought the fan into the ring and gave him some merchandise but Sabu wanted to do a run-in on him although not actually make contact and did leave the dressing room. The whole situation took something like 15 minutes and was described as surreal and could have killed a lesser show. It's weird because the audience was actually encouraging it and to a lesser extent so was Paul E., and if the fan was a little more aggressive if he and 911 (Al Poling) had gotten into it, obviously 911 may have clocked him but if he couldn't, and he certainly isn't going to be able to choke slam a guy that big without cooperation, they'd destroy his gimmick, not to mention hurting Sabu if by some chance he couldn't take out a fan, albeit a very large fan;

8. Sandman & Terry Funk beat Cactus Jack & Shane Douglas when Funk pinned Jack after hitting him with a branding iron on fire. Early in the match Douglas got the cane from Sandman and hit everyone, including Jack with it and at one point Douglas walked out on Jack, but returned later to save him.

The only thing pretty much definite for the next PPV show, 5/21 from St. Pete, is a headliner of Ric Flair & Vader vs. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage with Renegade in their corner and Flair & Vader having a mystery man in their corner. The tentative plan for a June PPV show is the Four Horsemen vs. Sting & Savage & Road Warriors. I've heard various discussions of who will make up the Horsemen but names bandied about the most are Flair, Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, Vader and Curt Hennig, with the latter being a longshot.

Latest rumor is Chris Candido & Tammy Sytch's new gimmick will be as heels doing a Tony Little & Susan Powter physical fitness guru gimmick where they yell at the audience for being fat and out of shape
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Re: 20 years Ago: Wrestling Observer

Gonna post some more stuff and also going to post some F4W's that I found from another forum. They're mostly from the 00-01 time period. Once again, props to the person who posted this.

Spoiler for 9/25/00 Figure 4 Weekly:
The Delaware Appellate Court this past Monday finally ruled unanimously against the USA Network in their appeal, opening the door to an immediate move to Viacom by the World Wrestling Federation. Beginning this weekend, WWF New York — formerly Sunday Night Heat — will begin airing on MTV, and Live Wire, Superstars and Raw will begin airing on TNN.]

With Raw jumping to a new Network on the 25th with less than optimum promotion, that opens the door for Nitro to gain some ground in a Monday night ratings war they’ve lost for almost two years straight. WCW plans on pulling out all the stops for the show next week, which is what they usually do in these situations. However, Nitro was given two unopposed weeks earlier this month and put on at least one very well-received show, but this week they were already back down to the 2.8 they’d been drawing pretty regularly prior to the pre-emptions. Plus, Nitro will not be unopposed next week — Raw will still air at 9:00 PM, just on a new network. Any hardcore WWF fan who really wants to find it will just have to flip through the channels. There is a mistaken belief that USA is available in far more homes than TNN, but the truth is that TNN is available in about 76 million homes and USA in about 77 million. Plus, when you look back at the debut of Smackdown, the show did very well for itself the first week in despite airing on the very poorly-rated UPN network. To make a long story short, the WWF won’t be too hard to find, and if someone put a gun to my head I’d predict a 4.3 for Raw and a 3.1 for Nitro. I would also guess that within a month, Raw will be back up to around a 5.5 or 6.0 rating.

The ruling also opens up the door for the long-expected announcement of a deal between USA and ECW. While nobody has said anything publicly as of press time, the feeling was that a deal would be announced for a late-night weekend timeslot for ECW on USA sometime in the next two weeks.

The WWF’s deal with Viacom already shook up the wrestling industry by resulting in the cancellation of ECW’s national television show on TNN. But the actual WWF jump from USA to Viacom will have even more far-reaching implications for all three major companies. It will be intriguing to see where things stand a week, a month, and a year down the road.

Christopher Daniels and Mike Henderson were given what amounted to WWF try-out matches at the Universal Pro Wrestling show in Santa Ana, CA last Wednesday. Henderson beat Taka Michinoku in what was said to be an excellent match. Afterwards, Taka gave Henderson the Michinoku Driver and laid him out. Kurt Angle beat Daniels with the OIympic Slam in what was also said to be a very good match. One observer said the Michinoku vs. Henderson match was probably the best on the show, although Daniels vs. Angle was a better technical match and had a good finish, with Angle trying for the Olympic Slam several times and finally hitting it in the end. No yet on whether either have been offered developmental deals.

As of this past weekend, the top three candidates for the driver of the car that ran over Steve Austin were Billy Gunn (who is returning soon from rotator cuff surgery), Debra (Austin’s real-life wife) and X-Pac (Hunter Hearst Helmsely’s real-life friend).

There was talk several weeks ago that Ric Flair would end up being the father of Miss Hancock’s baby, but the betting line backstage now is that it will end up being Vince Russo. Flair made a rare snafu during his Thunder interview when he said he’d heard “last week” that people were saying he was the father, even though Hancock had only revealed that David wasn’t the father two days earlier on Nitro. Most people backstage last week figured Russo was going to end up booking himself as the father, mostly as a way to remain an important part of the company, and also to keep his feud with Ric Flair strong. Russo, unlike many of the previous bookers, understands Flair’s ratings power and wants to keep him a focal point of the company.

The plan is for Halloween Havoc to be built strongly around Sting.

The original plan was for Jeff Jarrett to drag the handcuffed Goldberg behind the Partridge Family bus on Nitro last week. At some point before the show actually aired, it got changed to having Goldberg break the grill off the bus just as Nitro ended. So what happened on TV was exactly what was supposed to happen. Unfortunately, a lot of people backstage didn’t hear that the plans had changed, so many thought Goldberg had gone into business for himself by breaking free.

WCW Wednesday Thunder (9/14/00)

Quick Review: Not the worst Thunder ever, but a quite horrible effort on the part of WCW. There was a total of about three minutes of wrestling in the first 70 minutes of the show.

Summary: Miss Jones arrived and was immediately kidnapped by Jeff Jarrett.

David Flair was shown walking around backstage asking people if they were the father of Miss Hancock’s baby.

Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner and Jeff Jarrett dragged Miss Jones down to the ring. Nash called the people “stupid” in a pedestrian attempt to get heat. They hyped up the PPV. Jarrett threatened to hit Jones with a guitar, for God knows what reason. Booker and Shat made the save by waiting for their music to play, then walking slowly down the aisle. Everyone yelled at each other. Shat signed himself and Booker against Steiner and Nash in the main event with the winner getting the WCW Title. He also signed Jarrett vs. Sting for later. Jarrett got mad, and gave David Penzer a guitar shot. What a crazy guy.

Disco told the Animals backstage that he’d signed them to a match with Kronic and the Harris Twins. He said their belts were not on the line. Rey and Juvie still weren’t happy.

Pamela came out to do ring intros. Instead of having a match, they cut to backstage again. Mike Awesome arrived in his Partridge Family Express. He was pissed that “they” had broken the grill on Monday. Apparently, Goldberg is now multiple men.

Apparently, poor Pamela was still standing in the ring in front of all those people with absolutely nothing to do yet.

Gene interviewed that Animals backstage. Disco signed himself and Konnan to a match with Jindrak and O’Hare. Konnan said no way, Cranberry, his tricep was still messed up. So Disco asked Rey and Juvie, who also said no. Rey told him to ask Gene. Disco asked Gene. Gene said: “Blow it out your ass, I play golf!” That may have gotten the biggest pop on the show. Disco finally dragged Tygress away.

A WAY too long Natural Born Thrillers promo occurred, in which they introduced the very not over Johnny the Bull.

Mark Jindrak & Shawn O’Hare beat Disco Inferno & Tygress in a HORRENDOUS match. Disco deserted her to “get help”. Jindrak took a voluntary bronco buster, then powerbombed Tygress to death. O’Hare hit the senton on her and got the pin. After the match, Thrillers attacked the Animals.

Sting asked Booker for a title shot the night after the PPV.

Mike Awesome came out for the latest edition of Lava Lamp Lounge. He interviewed Major Gunns, who performed some hideous acting. Awesome offered to give her a massage. Elix Skipper and Lance Storm ran in. Awesome killed Skipper. MIA then came out on the ramp and asked for a match with Storm. Nobody seemed to care that Mike Awesome was still bebopping around. Storm said he and Skipper would face Rection and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who is retired. Rection said OK, and they left. Jeff Jarrett then ran out of nowhere and gave Awesome the stroke. Jarrett promised to debut Slap Nuts Theatre next week.

Set your VCRs for that one.

MIA talked to Duggan. Duggan said he was retired. Well, what is he doing at the show then? Rection said Storm had called Duggan “old”, which resulted in Duggan agreeing to come out of retirement.

Nash and Steiner, in one of the only funny things on the show, charged some fan sixty bucks to take a picture with his kid. The guy said he’d take the picture on the count of three. Just when he hit three, Steiner flexed his bicep and his entire arm obscured the kid’s head. That was awesome.

Torrie and Shane Douglas came out. Douglas guaranteed either Kidman or Madusa would fall off the scaffold. He said if they didn’t, he’d refund everyone’s money. Kidman & Madusa NC Torrie & Douglas when Kidman just chased Torrie into the stands. Douglas went after them. Torrie ended up slipping and almost falling off a balcony. She just hung there, holding on for dear life, until they brought her to safety. Yeah, that was good. Now I want to buy the PPV even less than before. The sad thing was that she did this dangerous stunt to almost complete indifference from the crowd.

Tenay interviewed Ric Flair. Tenay got lippy again and finally asked if Flair was the father of Hancock’s baby. Flair got pissed, said that kind of thinking was “bulls***”, and walked out. Flair is so great.

David went up to Fit Finley backstage and asked if he was the father. Finley threatened to kick his ass. David was smart enough to immediately walk away.

Jarrett and Sting came out and got into an argument. They agreed that the winner of their best of three falls match would get the title shot at whomever was Champion following Fall Brawl. Sting beat Jarrett two falls to one to become number one contender. Jarrett won the first fall with the Stroke. Sting won the second with a sunset flip. Really, that’s true. During the third fall, referee took a bump. Sting put on the Scorpion. Jarrett tapped out, then fell unconscious. Sting called for the bell and announced that he had won. Match was pretty good, although the finish was a bit goofy.

Kronic beat Harris Twins and Rey & Juvie in a non-title three-way. Rey and Juvie pretty much just stayed out of the way, which was smart. Match was atrocious.

David came down to the ring and called out Stacy. She came out looking forlorn. David wanted to know who the father was. She refused to even look at him. Arn Anderson then came out. David asked if he was the father, and Arn yelled at him. Arn basically said women were a dime a dozen and told David to forget about her. So David left. Well that makes no sense.

Duggan was shown laid out under an American flag backstage.

Elix Skipper & Lance Storm beat Captain Rection. Canadians pretty much killed Rection. Storm put him in the half-crab. Hacksaw limped out to make the save, but was too late. Rection tapped out for the finish. After the match, Duggan hyped up the PPV in what ended up being maybe the best promo on the show.

Nash & Steiner NC Booker T & Shat when Goldberg ran in and killed Steiner dead with a spear and a jackhammer. Since there was no finish, Nash retained the title. Crowd popped big for Goldberg’s run-in.

Vince Russo came out to Goldberg’s theme. He read a prepared statement which he claimed was from Goldberg, saying Goldberg had quit the promotion. Fans chanted “RUSSO!” Steiner came out. He was angry. He said he’d killed Goldberg just as he’d promised. There were LOUD “Goldberg sucks!” chants, which was particularly funny because they came immediately after Tony said nobody in the building believed the statement was really from Goldberg. Steiner said his next stop was the World Championship, and everyone popped huge. He guaranteed he’d win the belt on Nitro next week in Nassau. Jeff Jarrett came out and said he was the one who deserved a title shot. Russo separated them and said he was the boss and would decide who got the title shot. Nash came out. Crowd chanted “We want Hall!” Nash said he wanted a title shot too. Russo said he would make a tag match for later with the winner getting the shot on Nitro next week. He said Jarrett and Steiner would team up. Everyone wanted to know who Nash’s partner was. Russo announced it would be himself. Who would have ever thought?.

Spoiler for October 2000 Figure 4 Weekly:
The lesson to be learned this week is that wrestling fans will find their wrestling. Raw, debuting on TNN with less than a full week of promotion, did a 5.5 rating off hourly numbers of 5.1 and 5.7. Nitro, which was supposedly going to be a pay-per-view calibre show, did just a 2.9 off hourly numbers of 3.2 and 2.5.

Prior to the WWF jump, ECW was always the highest-rated show on the network, usually drawing between an 0.8 and 1.0.

So everyone in the WWF is probably pretty pleased with the number, as they should be. Raw peaked at a 6.2 for the second half of the ladder match, hit a 5.3 for the main event, and a 5.9 for the overrun. Nitro’s high point was a 3.5 for the ICP vs. Mike Awesome match and a 3.1 for the bikini contest. Shockingly, the Goldberg vs. Steiner cage match which followed did just a 2.2, which is pretty much a disaster.

The other big story of the week was the ECW rating, which was an 0.8. The reason that is big news is because ECW attempted to get word out all week that this would be the final show on TNN, in the hopes of popping a rating. Clearly that didn’t work. And the funny thing is, the show didn’t end up being the final one thanks to a last-minute bargain by Vince McMahon.

Vince, out of the kindness of his evil billionaire heart, rescinded his exclusivity clause with TNN last week, which will allow the ECW TV show to stay on the network through December 31, 2000. Vince’s contract with TNN explicitly stated that his would be the only wrestling show on the network, which was why ECW’s final show was scheduled to be on September 22nd. As the story goes, Vince felt bad for ECW since the appellate court ruling came in on September 18th, giving Heyman only a couple of days to try and sign a new TV deal.

The plan as of Sunday was to split up Edge and Christian into singles wrestlers with the idea being to push Edge to superstardom. It’s too bad, because Christian is the better worker and the better promo guy of the two.

They’re doing an angle on the WCW house shows where Miss Hancock comes out before David Flair’s match and says if he wins, she’ll reveal who the father is. He then gets his ass kicked.

Pamela Paulshock refused to participate in the Nitro Bikini Contest unless she was promised the win. Instead of telling her to hit the bricks, they bowed down to her and agreed. She sure learned the wrestling business quickly. The other girls were understandably upset with having to go out there and lose a worked contest to a girl who never even stripped down to her bikini bottoms. Shockingly, WCW.com ran a poll the next afternoon and, believe it or not, Pamela was winning that one too. Amazing.

ECW taped another TNN show Friday. No major news except the Network lives on. Fans also went crazy during Balls Mahoney’s match and pelted the ring with more garbage than you’d have seen in the heyday of the NWO. They were cheering for Balls at the same time, however, so apparently the fans considered it a compliment when they threw trash at him.

WCW Wednesday Thunder (9/20/00)

Quick Review: All I have to say is that Rey and Juvie saved this show from possibly being the worst Thunder of all time.

Summary: The show opened with a shot of the lovely Pamela Paulshock standing in the ring ready to introduce the first match. As has become the norm, this meant it was time to immediately go to a non-wrestling feature.

Vince Russo came down to the ring with some inept security. Stevie Ray said he was sick of this sad sack sap. He started going crazy and Tony had to calm him down. Russo said he was going to win the WCW Title at Nitro, then said something about a smart handsome man winning the belt. OK, I give up, who is he talking about? Russo said he was giving Booker the night off. He said he had trained at the Power Plant for an hour and forty-five minutes the other day in preparation for his title shot, and announced that he’d have a warm-up match later. Russo saw Stevie looking at him and challenged him to get into the ring. As soon as Stevie did, Russo said he either went backstage or got fired. In a strange scene, Vince asked the fans to chant “RUSSO!” and they did. When they were done, they returned to booing him. Steiner and Jarrett came out and killed security. Russo maced Steiner in the face. Steiner sold it by not selling it at all, refusing to flinch or even blink. Russo begged them for forgiveness and said he loved them. He tried to turn them against Sting, then announced Steiner & Jarrett vs. Sting for later in the show. As soon as they were calmed down, Russo pissed them off again by saying he had made them, and could just as easily break them. Booker and Sting ran out at this point and attacked the bad guys. This segment was very long and very not compelling.

Russo replaced Stevie Ray with Jeremy Borash, who was wearing his Dr. Bunsen Honeydew disguise again.

Mike Tenay, in hyping up Nitro, said “Whack Pack”.

Jung Dragons came out for what Tony described as a six-man encounter. The next team out was Jindrak, O’Hare and Sanders. Even though adding all these men together equalled six men — which is the number of men required for a six-man encounter — Tony went crazy wondering why Sanders was at ringside. Then, when Sanders actually became involved in the match via a “tag”, Tony expressed even deeper confusion. Dragons got pummeled, which resulted in the tiny Leia Meow taking off her boots, beating her men up, then pinning Sanders clean with a top rope vertical splash. I am absolutely not making this up. So I guess the official result would be Jung Dragons & Leia Meow beat Sanders & Jindrak & O’Hare. Wow. Leia Meow’s head looked extraordinarily large this evening.

Russo told an unidentified black man to take a dive for him under a mask later. The announcers said they’d seen this man before, but refused to identify him.

Disco signed Rey vs. Juvie later with the winner getting a Cruiserweight Title shot. Animals hated the idea, and also Disco.

The latest Lava Lamp Lounge segment aired with Mike Awesome. He had all the girls from the bikini contest come out, including Paisley, Tygress, Major Gunns and Torrie. Awesome said he might be a judge. The girls got into a comical argument. Chae and Chiquita came out and said they were going to be in the contest too, and that Awesome wouldn’t be a judge. The girls got mad at him for lying and trashed his set. This was SO hokey. As far as the girls go, Chae, Torrie and Paisley definitely have potential for something, but the others might as well be canned.

Scott Steiner cut a promo expressing hatred towards his fellow man. It may be a stretch, but I believe Steiner might have elevated hormone levels.

Russo came down and gave Pamela a paper to read introducing his opponent, “The Masked Heel”. Russo had a short fake match with him, then ripped off his own T-shirt revealing his pale, bloated physique. He mocked Hogan by doing a Legdrop of Doom, although it was a Legdrop of Doom that Hogan himself would have laughed hysterically at. Suddenly, Heel stopped selling at which point the announcers started saying nonsense like: “He should be selling”. Masked Heel unmasked revealing Stevie Ray. Ray hit Russo with the Slapjack, then yelled at him. After the match, Russo, in the rib of a lifetime, signed Stevie vs. Kronic.

Animals finally agreed to make the most of a bad situation by doing the Rey vs. Juvie match and bringing the Cruiserweight belt back home.

Paisley pinned Torrie in a thankfully short match. Shane gave Paisley the Franchiser afterwards. Tygress made the save. Shane was about to give her one too when Konnan and the Animals ran in. Konnan hit Douglas with a clothesline that Tenay identified as a “rolling DDT”.

Team Canada came out and asked fans to join Canada, as if there’s a form you can fill out. Duggan cut a promo. I have never liked Duggan more in his whole career. MIA came down for a brawl. Really good heat. Team Canada got the best of it and destroyed Rection’s bad leg.

Sanders blocked Booker T’s dressing room door with a forklift.

Gene interviewed Jarrett. Gene’s new catchphrase appears to be “Blow it out your ass!”.

Kronic beat Stevie in a match just as hideous as you’d think.

Juvie beat Rey by reversing a powerbomb attempt. Konnan came down and did commentary for the match. Match was very good and Konnan in particular was the GOTDAMN BOMB. He talked about their careers, titles they’d won in Mexico, how young small guys are where they are because of them, how people like Skipper and Kiwi were influenced by them, and how Rey and Juvie could still work circles around everyone else in the dressing room. If you compare this with their old stuff it would probably be considered a disappointment, but if you compare it to anything else in either company today it was damn good. Disco came out after the match with his duck but the Animals beat the hell out of him.

Harris Twins beat Three Count via DQ when Kronic ran in. Then Jindrak and O’Hare. Then pretty much every team on the roster. The final thing to come out was my remote control.

Tenay interviewed Stacy. She told David she was sorry and still loved him. Tenay went crazy on her, and even said if he wasn’t married he’d probably have boinked her by now as well. That was really funny for some reason. He asked her about Ric Flair, how many guys she’d been with, etc. She said just one. She said it was none of his business anyway. She finished saying none of this was her fault, she was just a victim. Oh, goody, it’s a rape angle now. What could be more fun than that? All I could think when this was over was POOR MIKE TENAY.

A worker backstage happened upon the forklift in front of Booker T’s door. Even though Sanders had only driven the forklift approximately five feet to park it in front of the door, the worker said: “I’ve been looking for this all day!” Note to WCW: This man was not looking very hard.

Russo came out to do commentary for the main event and said his match with Booker would be in a cage. Sting NC Steiner and Jarrett. First, Booker T ran in disguised as Sting, which is kind of hard for a black man with a buzz cut to do. Well, maybe it wasn’t as hard as I thought because THE REFEREE WAS FOOLED. I kid you not. Russo then hit the ring and the real Sting put him in the Scorpion. Jarrett hit Sting with a guitar. Show ended with Jarrett putting the figure four on the real Sting and Steiner putting the Recliner on the fake Sting.

Rick Bassman of Ultimate Pro Wrestling reported on Wrestling Observer Live that Tom Howard, Chris Daniels, and Mikey Henderson are all on the WWF’s hot list, but none have signed developmental deals as of press time. Howard is being sent to Memphis to work as a tag team with Gangrel, an idea that has been in the works for several months now.

As we noted last week, the Nitro Grill officially closed down last week. The facility, which opened in May 1999, was hardly ever promoted on TV and died a fairly quick death. The thing to note is that WWF New York was on its way to dying a similar death just six months ago, but the WWF totally turned it around by promoting the hell out of it on TV. Now, despite being located in Times Square, home of the most expensive real estate on this planet, the restaurant is not only still alive but actually making money. Why some people can’t comprehend what the word “promotion” means in the term “wrestling promotion” is beyond me.

Insane Clown Posse no-showed Nitro and Thunder last week, then reported on their hotline that they’d quit again. I’m not going back to check, but this is literally like the fourth or fifth time they’ve quit.

Vince Russo was a guest on Mancow’s radio show last week and got a lot of people talking with his comment that he was THE writer in the WWF before he left. Not part of a crew, not the head writer, the ONLY writer. He claimed he wrote everything, it went to Vince, and then it aired on TV. He also said he left the WWF on “good terms”.[/quote

The WCW Title change on Nitro was the 20th of the year 2000 alone.

Midajah is suing the LA Weekly newspaper for two million dollars since they used her photograph in an ad for a phone sex line. The newspaper is claiming it’s the advertiser’s fault but — get this — they claim to not know who the mysterious advertiser is. Was his name not on the check or something?.

We got one report that Kronic refused to job to Goldberg on Nitro. When you look at how the show was set up, with Kronic attacking Goldberg after his first match, it sure seems like they were being set up to do a job for him later. Then, for no apparent reason, Goldberg beat up the Harris Twins. If they did refuse to job, for Goldberg of all people, I see absolutely zero reason why they shouldn’t be fired immediately.

Meng was telling people backstage that he was retiring after Nitro. I wonder if that means he’ll be a Canadian next week?

WCW Wednesday Thunder (9/20/00)

Quick Review: A quite terrible show, although Jim Duggan was at least entertaining.

Summary: Thunder this week aired before a live crowd of 1600 people. That’s not a typo. You know, I was thinking about those 1600 fans who paid to see this show. Those are some hardcore f***ing fans. When you really think about it, you could probably sell those 1600 fans damn near anything. WCW should bring all sorts of crazy expensive gimmicks to sell the last remaining hardcores who buy tickets to their shows, like autographed pictures of the wrestler’s parents, or property on the moon. They’d make some money if they really thought about it.

Disco came out and said he had a new partner. Konnan came out and challenged him to a fight. Clearly, Konnan was not the partner. Disco said he didn’t want to wrestle, so Konnan convinced him by punching him in the face. Disco beat Konnan when a bald Alex Wright ran in. That’s right, the DANCING DILDOS~! are back. Animals ran out to make the save but the Dildos fled.

Mike Sanders took over as Commissioner backstage since Shat and Russo were both gone. His first ruling was to strip Norman Smiley of the Hardcore Title. He said Johnny the Bull and Reno would fight for it on Nitro.

Scott Steiner arrived and found Disco’s duck, which happened to be sitting by the exit. “I HATE DUCKS!” Steiner screamed as he destroyed it with a baseball bat.

Jarrett came out and said Sting was finished. Luger came through the crowd and got in the ring. He said helping Russo on Monday was a big mistake. Nobody in the crowd believed him. That’s what happens when every angle you do is a swerve. Captain Rection came out and stuck up for Lex. What a palooka. Lance Storm came out and helped Jarrett beat up Luger and Rection. I don’t know what in the hell any of this had to do with Sting.

Sanders told Leia Meow that she was pulled from her appearance on the Lava Lamp Lounge.

Gene interviewed the Animals, who agreed to a best-of-five series with Rey vs. Juvie.

Wall beat Johnny the Bull. Johnny actually PRESS-SLAMMED the huge Wall. Wall beat him with a chokeslam through a table. His head got busted open, so TBS actually switched the screen over to black-and-white, so Wall was bleeding black blood instead. Steiner then came down and yelled at the announcers for some reason. Stevie Ray confronted him, so Steiner killed him with a bat.

Mike Awesome interviewed Midajah for the Lava Lamp Lounge. He hit on her for awhile. Leia Meow then came out and yelled at Midajah for taking her spot. They had the most horrendous brawl since, well, Nitro. Awesome told them to stop fighting, so they stopped, destroyed his set, then started fighting again.

Crowbar arrived and asked where Daffney was. Jimmy Hart said they went to Australia. I imagine ticket sales for the Australian tour suddenly went through the roof.

Steiner cut a promo but apparently left out about 45 syllables.

Konnan came out for commentary.

Jindrak & O’Hare beat Elix Skipper & Jim Duggan. I am ashamed to say this, but Duggan has been SO GREAT lately. Well, he still sucks in the ring, but his ability to draw heat and his facial expressions have been so much fun. Elix fell victim to the super hiptoss and almost burned up re-entering the atmosphere. I enjoyed this match WAY too much.

Sanders told Elix backstage that he’d booked himself in a title match with him Monday. He then signed Elix to a “warm-up match”.

Kronic beat Elix Skipper. Horrible.

Rey NC Juvie when Juvie snapped his leg on the bottom rope and hyperextended his knee. Juvie rolled outside and they stopped the match shortly thereafter. Crowd booed like crazy and Konnan couldn’t believe how rude they were. Well, what do you expect? There’s a fake injury on every show, so how are fans supposed to know when something is real? Juvie ended up OK backstage.

Reno beat Crowbar in a decent little hardcore match with help from Johnny.

Mike Tenay interviewed Vince Russo. Russo said he left the cage first and was the new WCW Champion. He said he wasn’t an athlete and had no business in the ring. OK, that was a shoot. He said he was retiring and would make a decision about the belt on Nitro. How about tossing it in the trash? He said since Goldberg had speared him, he was going to see if he could get him fired on Nitro. Russo is so stupid. In his OWN STORYLINE he said he could never fire Goldberg because Brad Siegel wouldn’t allow it. He also said he knew a secret about Ric Flair and would reveal it Monday if Flair didn’t stay out of his business. Tenay started to get lippy, so Russo told him to get some wrestling gear and bring it to Nitro. Russo can’t really be trying to turn the company around with ideas like this.

Scott Steiner beat Stevie Ray in a scary match after hitting him with a bat behind the referee’s back.

Jarrett & Storm d. Rection & Luger. This was so bad. First, the bad guys beat up on Luger forever. Then, in the end, it turned out to be a swerve with Luger turning on Rection. So I guess if this were real, Luger’s friends would have beaten him up for ten minutes just to fool old Rection. Then, in a total classic, Luger tried to rack Rection, but failed. So instead of trying again, he just walked backstage. Storm then put the half crab on Rection for the tap-out. I guess that’s better than Rection tapping out to his own partner.

WCW Monday Nitro (9/25/00)

Quick Review: An acceptable show, I guess. They killed most of the belts, but it’s not like they weren’t already dead going in. Also, the two main matches were given far more time than usual this week.

Summary: Rey & Konnan beat Dancing Dildos in a ladder match. This was originally supposed to be Rey vs. Juvie, but Juvie had a problem getting into the country and never even made it to the show. Since nobody had a belt, the goal was to climb up and grab Disco’s duck. I wonder what would have happened had Juvie actually shown up. Maybe they could have hung Konnan from the ceiling. These guys were just killing each other. Konnan finally climbed up and got the duck for the win. Bad guys beat up Rey and Konnan after the match, during which poor Konnan had to sell shots from the duck.

Russo was shown backstage with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. Russo made a statement. He was clearly looking at a teleprompter and making it look as obvious as possible. He announced that Jarrett and Scott Steiner would fight for the belt later. He then ran down Goldberg, saying he’d kick his ass. Goldberg came out and called out Russo. Russo said he had plans for Goldberg and would come out and tell him personally. Borash then drove Russo down to the ring in the Popemobile. Really. Goldberg beat up security. Russo said Goldberg’s winning streak would start again later, but said that if Goldberg lost one match along the way, he was gone forever. However, if he broke the old record of 186 wins, he’d get a shot at the WCW Title again. Goldberg grabbed the car keys and was about to kill Russo when THE MONSTER MENG~! returned and choked him out.

David Flair arrived with presumably the father, who was wearing a hood and handcuffed.

Russo told Mike Sanders he had to leave, and put him in charge for the evening. He told Bunsen to be his stooge.

Wall beat Reno in a pretty horrible table match with help from MIA. Sanders then came out and said he was reversing the decision due to interference, so Reno got the belt. I didn’t think it was possible to kill a dead belt, but they did it.

Backstage, Pamela said she had a statement from Shat. The statement was that Booker had hit the ground first, so the title match later would be between Booker and Sting. Well, if Booker hit the ground first, why doesn’t he just get the belt back? Pamela noted that this was controversial. Tony said this was a problem since Russo had suggested another match. Hudson claimed it was a quandary.

Douglas came down and called Konnan a jackass. He said he stuck his nose where it didn’t belong. Where does a person’s nose belong? Douglas challenged Konnan and Tygress to a mixed tag at the PPV.

Douglas pinned Mike Awesome with the Franchiser after Awesome was distracted by Torrie’s breasts. Awesome now wrestles in a leisure suit. Tygress attacked Torrie after the match. Shane made the save and was about to give her the Franchiser when Konnan ran out to clear the ring.

Steiner and Jarrett threatened to kill Sanders if he didn’t change the main event. Nash walked in and said Sanders would handle the situation.

Madden said regarding Meng: “He can not only beat you, he can kill you!” The PHATTEST ASS MONSTER MENG promo video aired.

Pam interviewed Meng. He said — in English — that if he didn’t destroy Goldberg, his WCW career was over. Also, he added, his life. “Goldberg, you must die!” he said. I am not making any of this up. Meng rules the world.

Goldberg killed Meng in seconds. How sad. Crowd wasn’t nearly as into this as you’d expect. Kronic attacked Goldberg after the match. No, please.

Sanders announced Jeff Jarrett & Booker vs. Steiner & Sting with the winning team facing each other for the belt later.

Jarrett & Booker beat Steiner & Sting. This was really long for a Nitro match. Jarrett hit Sting with a guitar for the finish.

Elix Skipper came out and challenged both Sanders and Nash to a handicap match. You know, because Nash called Beetlejuice “Elix” last week. Also, because this was a special Kill Every Belt edition of Nitro. Sanders and Nash came out. Sanders said Team Canada, who was not at ringside, was banned from ringside. He also said the only way to win was to powerbomb your opponent before the pin. Of course, Nash and Sanders beat Elix when Nash powerbombed Skipper and Sanders got the pin. The funny thing is I wrote that down before the match was even over. Nash actually cut a promo during the match instead of wrestling. Hey, if he gets away with this stuff, more power to him.

Terry Taylor told Goldberg he had another match to wrestle.

Nash said he was going to take a shower. As soon as he got to safety, Team Canada attacked the Thrillers.

Goldberg killed Harris Twins and pinned both of them, which means he’s 3-0 now. Maybe, like Sid, it’ll count as a win if he just beats someone up backstage. Actually, if we apply Sid’s winning streak rules, that would mean Goldberg could lose by DQ and it would still count as a win.

Tony received a note from Sanders. It said that in the main event, there would be four boxes hung in each corner of the ring. In three of the boxes, there would be weapons. In the fourth box would be the belt. Whoever got the belt first won. Instead of boxes, they should have used trash cans.

David dragged his masked hostage down to the ring. Somehow, the masked guy never said any words, but David knew exactly what he was thinking. The masked guy wanted David to remove the handcuffs. David said he would if the guy swore he’d reveal to the fans that he was the father. The guy agreed, so David released him. The guy took his hood off revealing Buff Bagwell. He destroyed David and gave him the Blockbuster. Then he left, without revealing to the fans that he was the father. What a liar.

Booker T beat Jeff Jarrett to win the WCW Title. Seconds in, a box fell off one of the poles and crashed to the floor. Jarrett dragged it into the ring and opened it, finding a blow-up doll. Really. Let me guess, the belt isn’t in any of the boxes. Booker opened the second box and found a framed photo of Scott Hall. Crowd popped. Booker broke it over Jarrett’s head. Booker gave Jarrett a piledriver on the announcer’s table, which didn’t break. “Somebody’s gonna die!” said Tony. Booker opened the third box and found what was identified as a “coal miner’s glove”. I have never mined coal, but I think I used to pull weeds with a similar pair of gloves. Jarrett beat him up and confiscated the glove. Jarrett punched Booker out but didn’t bother to go for the last box. What a fool. He KO’d Booker with a piece of wood and finally went for the last box. Booker cut him off. Jarrett hit Booker so hard with the coal miner’s glove that he fell down himself and sold it like he was exhausted. Jarrett did a sleeper which was so powerful that the crowd was rendered unconscious. Referee checked the arm, which made no sense in a match like this. Booker put on a sleeper of his own but got back suplexed. Jarrett finally went to get his guitar from under the ring, but someone was holding onto it. Jarrett gave up and went to get the last box, but Beetlejuice came out from under the ring and punched Jarrett in the ding-a-ling. Jarrett fell to the floor. I guess the 70-pound Beetlejuice was the guy who prevented the 220-pound Jarrett from getting his guitar. Booker climbed up and grabbed the last box. The belt fell out and landed on the floor, so Dave Penzer handed it to Booker. I think that means Penzer is the new World Champion. Booker celebrated with the belt. Scott Steiner ran down afterwards and put Beetlejuice in the Steiner Recliner. The person he really should have beaten up was Penzer. A good main event.

WCW Wednesday Thunder (10/5/00)

Quick Review: One damn horrendous show.

Summary: Normally I scoff at the woeful ignorance of the WCW organization, usually when they make a totally bone-headed move that any normal business person would throw themselves out of the sixth story window of an office building for making. For example, not hyping up the return of Ric Flair, or forgetting to note a new start time for Nitro. Well, this past Wednesday Thunder was scheduled to be pre-empted for some Nascar bullshit, and, amazingly, WCW made mention of it frequently on Nitro. On several occasions, they noted that Thunder would be starting at 6:35 PST as opposed to the usual 6:05. Maybe, I thought, this is the start of something good for WCW. No sooner should I think these things than I turned on Nitro at 6:35 PST and found that it had been on for fifteen minutes already. Most normal people would be thrilled by this news, since it would mean they would only have to view an hour and 45 minutes of Thunder, but my job requires me to write about the entire show, so I was quite sad. I actually had to stay and wait for the replay to start. So this show started off on a bad note and, shockingly, never recovered.

They aired a three-bell salute for Klondike Bill, who passed away last week.

Shane Douglas met with Mike Sanders and told him he wanted a favor.

Jeff Jarrett came out and said Sting was all washed up. Tony Schiavone was outraged. Jarrett challenged him (Sting, not Tony) to a match at Havoc. Suddenly, Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern show came waddling down to the ring. He said HE was the Chosen One and challenged Jeff to a fight. Crowd actually chanted “BEETLEJUICE!” Jarrett shoved him down and went for the figure four. They cut a shot of Booker T watching this on a monitor backstage. He got up to go help, but was clobbered by Steiner. Sting then ran down to attack Jarrett, who had somehow managed to actually apply a figure four to Beetlejuice’s brief legs. A fan wearing a Sting masked jumped out of the crowd and attacked the real Sting. Security went to break it up. The fan then removed his mask revealing himself to be Shane Douglas. So security allowed him to commence his beating of Sting.

Backstage, Steiner went crazy for no reason except the obvious reasons and started smashing furniture with a baseball bat.

Booker was loaded into an ambulance.

Jim Duggan beat Wall. The United States has committed some unspeakable sin, because there’s no other reason for God to have allowed this match to be broadcast nationwide. You should have seen this. And then, when I thought there was no way it could have gotten any worse, WALL’S SHIRT CAME OFF. Many readers often ask if I’m a good wrestler, and instead of answering I urge them to give me money for a tape instead. But I will say that on my WORST DAY I never had a match even close to the level of shittiness we were exposed to here.

Midajah talked Mike Sanders into signing some mysterious match.

Pamela interviewed Sting, who accepted the match with Jarrett.

Sanders came out and put over the Thrillers and Vince Russo. Luger was shown in the crowd. What a mark, he actually bought a ticket. Sanders signed Goldberg vs. Kronic for the PPV.

Elix cut a promo backstage and said this was his house. He announced that, due to Canadian Rules, he got a rematch against Sanders. Storm then cut him off and said he’d face Sanders and win the belt for Elix. Wasn’t there a rule about guys not being allowed to give titles to their friends?.

Leia Meow, who is three feet tall from the neck down and two feet tall from the neck up, came out with the Jung Dragons. Their opponent ended up being Scott Steiner. Steiner murdered the Dragons. In a way this was sad. But fans should have learned by now that WCW isn’t going to treat these little guys any better, so I guess we should just enjoy these brutal squash matches.

Sanders told Konnan that Shane Douglas tried to have him deported. Konnan, instead of noting that he was a US citizen born in Florida, said he would go get his passport out of his locker. The border patrol then came into the room and said he was not allowed to go to his locker because he was a flight risk.

Animals sent Tygress to get the papers out of the locker. After she left, Douglas ran in and beat them up with a bat.

Stevie interviewed Luger in a killer segment called “Suckas Gots To Know”. Luger, in a crowd of a few thousand people speaking into a microphone before a TV camera broadcasting the show nationwide, asked Stevie if this was just between the two of them. Stevie said it was “just between you, me, and 5,000 viewers.” HA~! He said 5,000 viewers. Tony tried to set the record straight by claiming Stevie meant 5,000 viewers in each house. Yeah, good save there, Tony. Luger ran down the company and said virtually nothing else, except that he wanted to beat up “Hugh Morris”. It’s a good thing Luger was watching WCW TV while he was gone. Captain Rection ran out and they had the most horrible brawl, the highlight of which was when Luger got his foot caught in the guardrail.

Konnan checked on the Animals in their locker room. I thought he was a flight risk?.

Kronic cut a promo. They said there were two types of wrestlers in WCW — Kronic, and everyone else. Well, that’s the truth. Mike Sanders beat Lance Storm. Get this finish. Storm applied the half-crab and the bell rang. A tap-out? Nope, Major Gunns rang it. Why? Who the f*** knows. The ref said the match wasn’t over yet. Rection then ran down and punched Storm, allowing Sanders to roll him up for the pin.

Tenay interviewed MIA. The guys basically talked about everything Rection said in his interview with Alex Marvez. Quite sad, but a damn good interview.

Jindrak & O’Hare beat Mike Awesome & Crowbar. Crowbar is now doing a 70s gimmick as well. I can’t believe what WCW has become — a variety show. This match was barely acceptable.

Bagwell arrived and confronted David Flair. He wanted an apology for what happened Monday. David apologized, but said he still thought Buff was the father. David brought out a doctor who offered to perform a DNA test. Bagwell beat them both up, saying he hated needles. Don’t they have an oral test?.

Shane Douglas beat Sting. Douglas gave Sting a headbutt to the groin, then grabbed his eye in pain. I guess he poked it on Sting’s penis or something. Konnan kidnapped Torrie. Jarrett then hit Sting with a guitar leading to Douglas applying the Franchiser for the win.

Front row tickets for this year’s WrestleMania are selling for $500, a new record for the company. They go on sale November 17th.

Randy Savage may have a role in an upcoming Spider Man movie. According to the New York Daily News, he’s training with Jack Armstrong, whoever he is, at the Venice Beach Gold’s Gym

^Thing that surprised me was how they had already established Edge was > Christian and intended on pushing him as a singles performer.

Spoiler for November 2000 Figure 4 Weekly (Halloween Havoc, SvS, SD, Nitro and Thunder review:

I want to preface this report by saying that I didn’t see the first match, and pretty much everyone who did agreed that it was the best of the show. Oh well. A total mess of a pay-per-view with some of the worst wrestling of the year, plus a few finishes that truly boggle the mind.

1. Jindrak & O’Hare beat Rey & Kidman and Boogie Knights in a three-way to retain the WCW Tag Team Titles. I only saw the last minute of this match, so I can’t really comment on it. All I know is that after it was over, AWOL ran down and cleared the ring to a tepid ovation. Konnan, who had become involved in the melee, went down at ringside holding his back, looking to be in a lot of pain.

2. Reno beat AWOL to retain the Hardcore Title. Since AWOL was already out there, Reno came out for their eagerly-anticipated Hardcore match. The announcers said that “old school Hardcore rules” had been reinstated. You know, like the ones George Hackenchmidt and William Muldoon used to have. Actually, they explained that “old school Hardcore rules” meant that you didn’t have to start backstage. Ah, the good old days. These two brawled everywhere. They’ve turned the fact that Reno couldn’t get through Customs into an angle. That’s nice. Reno hit his finisher on the ramp, then foolishly went to get a table. He stacked two on top of each other. Of course, Wall chokeslammed him through both. Unfortunately, the match did not end here. They fought backstage. AWOL attacked him with the fakest computer monitor and laptop ever seen. I had an Etch-N-Sketch more solidly built. Reno looked totally blown up. The most praise I can give this is that they were really pounding on each other. Get this finish. Wall was beating the hell out of Reno FOREVER. Then, suddenly, he just slumped over in exhaustion. It was like watching Paul Varelans in a UFC fight. Reno then just hopped up and hit his finisher on a flattened table for the win. Totally anticlimactic after the double table spot. Maybe they booked this themselves. Pretty terrible. 1/2*

They showed clips of Goldberg at Thunder hitting his head on the post. Announcers said Goldberg hadn’t arrived yet.

Kronic found the Las Vegas State Athletic Commission backstage and told them that Goldberg was f’d up from bonking his head on the post. Commission said they’d check him out. Yeah, sure.

3. Chuck Palumbo & Shawn Stasiak beat Lt. Loco & Cajun. Fans hated this. Someone in the crowd was chanting “BORING!” really loud. I’m not sure what is worse — having the whole crowd chant “BORING!” or being able to hear one person chanting it amidst a crowd of thousands. Palumbo and Stasiak were abysmal, missing spots left and right. I will record for history the fact that Palumbo did execute one athletic maneuver in this match, which was one more than Stasiak. Chavo was awesome and worked for four men. Unfortunately, Palumbo and Stasiak worked for negative one hundred men, which is a new record for this publication. Chavo hit a tornado DDT on Stasiak for the pin. I hope God blesses Chavo for the attempts he made to save this match. 1/4*

Konnan, who was hurt, asked Rey and Kidman if either of them wanted to sub for him in his match. They both made up excuses. That wasn’t very nice at all. Konnan got pissed and said he’d do it himself. Where was the Las Vegas State Athletic Commission to check him out?

4. Konnan & Tygress beat Torrie Wilson & Shane Douglas. Torrie came out dressed as Wonder Woman, complete with the little crown and the golden lasso. I’m not making this up. She was so cute. Tygress came out alone and said she’d take on both of them. They beat her up. Konnan finally ran in to make the save, but in typical Konnan fashion, he was stomped into the mat. Finally, he made a comeback. Tygress worked over Douglas by TWISTING HIS ARM. Then, in the highlight of the match, she started chomping on his arm like that guy The Amazon in the old Nintendo wrestling game from the 80s. You guys remember that game? With Star Man? And King Korn Karn? That game was the bomb. I’d rather talk about that than this horrible match. Douglas got the heat on Tygress. She escaped by running through his legs. Then she ran through his legs again. Then she ran through his legs again. Really, she did this three times in a row and he acted like she was too quick for him. I was laughing like a madman at this point. Tygress went to hit Torrie with the bronco buster, but Torrie pulled the referee in front. Ref didn’t sell it. Torrie hit this horrible Franchiser on Konnan and almost pinned him, but Tygress made the save. Finally, Tygress and Konnan hit Douglas with a double X-Factor for the win. Abysmal. -**

5. Buff Bagwell squashed David Flair. After the match started, announcers revealed that it was now First Blood. Buff killed David forever. He flexed. He yawned. He laughed. He worked himself heavily into negative star range. He hit David with a chair. David bled, so he lost. Luger came out after the match and hugged Buff. Then he clotheslined him. What a swerve. Obviously, Buff didn’t want to bleed for anyone who wasn’t an A-level star like himself. Buff bled from the mouth, which was a miracle since Luger’s clothesline hit him in the chest. David collected some of the blood and ran off like a mad scientist. David was at least comical in this match. -*

Pamela interviewed Scott Steiner. He was mad.

6. Mike Sanders beat Shat in a kickboxing match by countout after the time limit had expired. This was a classic. To their credit, I thought the first one minute was good. Unfortunately, there were five minutes left after that. The stipulation was that the winner would become sole Commissioner of WCW. I would have laid down instantly. Highlight after the first one minute was when the camera zoomed in on a fan who held up a “Natural Born Loosers” sign. How come WWF fans don’t spell words wrong? Shat killed him throughout all three rounds. Palumbo and Stasiak, who were accompanying Sanders, got into a fight at one point, so Shane Douglas came out and yelled at them. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Ref got distracted. Shane KO’d Shat with a chain. Shat still got up at nine. Time limit expired. Shat and Douglas got into a brawl outside. THEN, the referee called for the bell, ruling Sanders the winner via countout. I swear to God this is true. So not only did this match include the first-ever countout in the history of kickboxing, but the first ever countout after a match had already ended. The Halloween Havoc commercial was right — fans saw something they couldn’t imagine. 1/4*

The Commission chatted with Goldberg. He said he wanted to do his job. The Commission should have said: “Kronic wants you to do the job too.”

7. Mike Awesome beat Vampiro. Vamp has a hell of a major league entrance. Unfortunately, that and the finish were the only major league things about this match. Vamp said he wanted the title shot on Nitro if he beat Awesome. Awesome said groovy, dude. Mike hit his scary tope suicida early. They brawled into the crowd. In the greatest spot of the night, and maybe the year in WCW, some stupid ass fan went after Awesome and got totally wasted. It was great, because Awesome and Vampiro both put their differences aside in order to lay a massive beating on this ill-advised youngster. Security carted him out. This was the best thing to ever happen to this particular fan, because if he would have tried something like this with Steiner, he’d have been hauled out straight to the morgue. Awesome and Vamp went back to beating on each other. Then they decided to miss every spot they knew. Crowd began booing in a thunderous fashion. Vamp hit a Michinoku Driver and went looking for a table under the ring. He searched all four sides and couldn’t find one. Awesome went after him and hit a sitting powerbomb on the floor. Referee decided to count the pin. Vamp kicked out. I guess it was falls count anywhere now. They went back into the ring for the finish, which was originally supposed to be Vamp taking a super powerbomb through a table. Since they couldn’t find another table, the thought process — which I don’t recommend to any wrestler — was this: Since we can’t find a table to break Vamp’s fall on the top rope powerbomb, we’ll just give him the top rope powerbomb anyway and hope for the best. “The best” ended up being Vamp’s head SMASHING into the canvas like that meteorite smashed into the Earth 65 million years ago, wiping out most of the land-based creatures on this planet. I thought Vamp was DONE FOR. Referees had to come out afterwards and help him to the back, which earned him a standing ovation from the crowd. Pretty much a total mess. -*

8. Captain Rection beat Jim Duggan and Lance Storm to win the WCW US Title. Duggan, of course, looked hideous. Storm was awesome, and one of the few guys on the show that looked major league. Rection can only do so much. Match was going along OK until the ref took the most comical bump of the afternoon and the match fell apart. Fans booed like crazy. Duggan hit Rection with a rare piledriver. Elix Skipper ran down with a 2x4, but Major Gunns hit him with the Canadian flag. Storm yelled at her. She responded by trying to pull his pants down. Really. He got mad about this, since there was a match going on, and they got into an argument. In the ring, Duggan swung the 2x4 high above Rection’s head, but Rection ducked anyway. He then KO’d Duggan, hit the moonsault, and pinned Duggan. Crowd at least went bonkers for the finish. Storm was disgusted and sulked to the back. They really made a big deal about the finish, with Rection hugging the title and the rest of MIA squeezing Major Gunns’ ass under the guise of lifting her up in a celebratory manner. *

9. Jeff Jarrett beat Sting. If you saw Mike Awesome vs. Jeff Jarrett at New Blood Rising, you basically saw this match. Sting ran wild early. Suddenly, a fake 80s Sting came out on the ramp. Sting ran over, beat him up, and gave him a Death Drop on the ramp. Shortly thereafter, a fake early-90s Sting came out. This guy sucked. Sting beat him up and gave him a Death Drop on the ramp. Then, Wolfpac Sting came out. Well, I guess it IS Halloween. Sting beat this guy up and gave him a Death Drop on the ramp. Some of you more intelligent readers may be noting a pattern developing here. Jarrett hit Sting with a bat. Stevie Ray said he hadn’t seen anything like this since “Bruce Lee and His Game of Death”. Yes. Sting made a comeback and put on the Scorpion Deathlock, but Undertaker Sting came up through the mat and sucked him into the underworld. Sting came up seconds later holding a bloody Undertaker Sting. Fans clapped. Sting made another comeback, but the lights went out. The fans who had just been clapping suddenly began booing wildly. Rafters Sting descended to the ring. Sting beat him up and his wig fell off, revealing an old, bald man. Stevie said this guy was seventy years old. Sting gave Rafters Sting a Death Drop on the announcer’s table. Sting went back into the ring and put the Death Lock back on Jarrett, who had apparently been just hanging out waiting for him to come back and reapply it. Undertaker Sting came back from the dead and hit Sting with a guitar. Sting no-sold it and gave Undertaker Sting a death drop. Jarrett then hit Sting with a second guitar shot, which he sold this time. Jarrett made the cover for the pin. Hideously overbooked. -*

Pam interviewed Booker. He said he was going to give Goldberg some extra time to recuperate by facing Steiner immediately. You see, Goldberg had approximately 120 hours to recuperate from that post shot, but Booker thought if he had 120 hours and 10 minutes he’d be in better shape.

Steiner went crazy backstage since he felt he should be in the main event. He beat the hell out of road agent Ricky Santana.

10. Booker T beat Scott Steiner via DQ. Fans really took to Steiner like he was a superstar. A scary, stiff match which saw Steiner virtually destroy Booker from bell to bell. At one point, Steiner actually went over the rail to get at a fan, who wisely ran for his life. Booker went after Scott and they brawled into the crowd. You could almost see Steiner praying for a fan to hit him so he could murder them in cold blood. Steiner put Booker through the second announcer’s table of the evening. Stevie was pissed, not because his brother was getting his ass kicked, but rather because people kept messing with his table. Booker went for his axe kick but Steiner decapitated him with a clothesline. Booker finally made a short comeback, hitting a dropkick and the axe kick, but Steiner responded by hitting him with a pipe. The referee, perhaps frightened about the consequences, decided not to DQ Steiner for this act. Steiner showed his appreciation by killing the ref anyway. That was DEFINITELY not nice. A second referee ran in and Steiner killed him too. A third ref finally hit the ring with security and called for the DQ. This enraged Steiner, who began smashing everyone in sight with the lead pipe. It’s a good thing he didn’t win the belt, because he’d have gone after everyone in the crowd as well. Fans hated this finish and were very vocal in letting everyone know. So Booker kept his belt. Good job, WCW, you fooled us. You also killed another town. So who fooled who? **1/2

11. Goldberg beat Kronic. Goldberg, who has a head injury, immediately smashed his own head into his locker room door prior to even coming to the ring. It started as a total melee with three guys who didn’t want to sell. Goldberg pinned Clarke first by goring him through a table a la Rhino. Adams hit Goldberg with his only move. Goldberg reversed a whip, performed a LEAPFROG, then speared Adams. A Jackhammer later, it was over. Better than you’d think. Goldberg looked totally messed up after the match. By the way, this one win counted as two, for those of you foolishly keeping track of his win streak. **

Smith arrested, released, arrested

Davey Boy Smith was arrested last Wednesday for threatening to kill his estranged wife Diana and his sister-in-law Ellie. Diana went over to his house the next morning to get some stuff, and just like a scene out of a horror flick, there was Davey waiting for her. He threatened to kill her again. Later that afternoon, he turned himself into the authorities and was arrested a second time. The story made the front page of the Calgary Sun and included a photograph of Bulldog being escorted away in handcuffs. On Friday, Diana went to court to get a restraining order against Smith. This was not the first time in the past several months that the police have had to visit Smith’s house for domestic incidents.

WWF to sue PTC

Vince McMahon told the New York Post Tuesday that he plans on filing suit against L. Brent Bozell and the Parent’s Television Council, perhaps as soon as this week. Vince clearly wants to do whatever he can to get Bozell to back off. Bozell has a list of 37 companies which have supposedly pulled their ads off Smackdown. According to Vince, 25 of those companies have never bought national ads from the WWF. According to Bozell: “Every sponsor that we’ve noted, we’ve noted as either having said they wouldn’t sponsor the shows, or as having sponsored them and said they’ve pulled out.” In other words, if Bozell called me tomorrow and asked if I wanted to advertise on WWF TV, and I said no, Figure Four Weekly would become number 38 on his list. This should be an interesting case because there’s a lot of double-talk coming from both sides.

The London Mirror last week claimed Yokozuna ate 240 eggs, 12 chicken pieces, and a “bucket” full of rice every day. Of course, they also claimed his real name was “Yoko Zuna”.

Except for losses to the Rock, Triple H hasn’t been pinned in a PPV singles match since 1996. And you wonder why we call him the smartest man in the WWF.

Austin hit the ring immediately. Cole explained that Austin had made bail. Austin said he didn’t mean to try and kill Rikishi. He said he offered him a ride to the parking lot, then accidentally kept hitting the gas instead of the brake. Apparently, the cops fell for this story. Cole didn’t believe Austin, which may mean Austin is turning heel. He thanked Foley for his help and promised he wouldn’t lay one hand on Rikishi — until Raw, that is, when he promised to beat the hell out of him in a cage match.

I wish I could take credit for making this one up. According to an Associated Press report, a man named Peter Goldschmidt is suing his former friend Robert Catell for $10 million in actual and punitive damages for holding up what Goldschmidt says was a derogatory sign at a Nitro event. According to Goldschmidt, Catell attended the September 25th Nitro event at Nassau Coliseum and — right in full view of TNT cameras — held up a large yellow sign that said “P. GOLDSCHMIDT STEALS FROM SAKS”. Despite the fact that nobody at home would have any idea what in the hell this meant, Goldschmidt filed his multimillion dollar suit. According to court documents, Goldschmidt suffered mental pain and anguish as a result of viewing this sign on TV, and claims Catell held him up to “public contempt and ridicule, disgrace and prejudice.” The article went on to alert readers that this was not the first such sign that Catell had held up during a nationally televised wrestling event. Goldschmidt’s lawyer, a man named “Michael Mossberg”, claimed that Catell had displayed other signs, one of which read: “PETER GOLDSCHMIDT LOSER 4 LIFE.” According to court documents filed by Goldschmidt, the two former friends grew up on Long Island and went to high school together. Then, one day, Catell asked Goldschmidt to help him move. Goldschmidt apparently said he was unable to do this because it was a work day, and the friendship came to a bitter end, causing Catell to travel around the nation and hold up disparaging signs at wrestling events. According to the story: “Catell, a Long Beach resident and a salesman at WFAN radio, called the sign a ‘prank’ done ‘in humor.’ He said Goldschmidt should have called him rather than a lawyer if he had a problem with the sign.”

WWF Smackdown (11/9/00)

Quick Review: One of the worst Smackdown’s ever with a total embarrassment of a main event.

Summary: HHH came out to brand new entrance music, which sounded like just a slowed down version of his old theme. Back as the top heel again. What a genius. Hunter said the fans made him sick, which appeared to make them sad. He said he hated having to hear their cheers for so many weeks. Hunter called out Rikishi, who oompah-loomped down to the ring. Rikishi said he enjoyed running over Steve Austin. Rikishi explained how he ran Austin over in mechanical detail, which included him getting in the car, turning the key, and applying the gas. Rikishi said Rock was just an excuse, and he didn’t give a damn about him. Crowd chanted “ROCKY!” Rikishi said Hunter was his new family now. Hunter said he was the one who really gained the most in Austin’s absence. Well, he’s right about that. He claimed he was the accomplice all along. He also claimed responsibility for pushing the cart that ran over Rock on Raw. This segment was SO long and not very exciting. Foley came out. He announced Rikishi vs. Rock and Hunter vs. Austin at Survivor Series. He also signed Hunter & Rikishi vs. Rock & Austin later.

Billy G came out to new ring music billed as “The One” Billy Gunn. Well, that’s an improvement for sure. Thank God I couldn’t hear the words to his new music, because for some reason I think they would be nearly as bad as “Ass Man”. Billy beat Eddy via DQ when Saturn ran in. This was a total squash and Eddy didn’t get one single move in. If the point was to make Billy look good, they did it, but come on. Things like this just cheapen the Intercontinental Title even more. Radicals ran in after the match and destroyed Chyna and Billy. It was hilarious, because Benoit had Chyna in the Crossface and she sold it by tapping rhythmically on the mat. Malenko, meanwhile, had Billy in what appeared to be a chinlock, and Billy was apparently unable to do anything but roll his eyes in a comical manner.

Edge and Christian met with Foley and cried about the Dudleys getting the first title shot against RTC. Foley told them to shut up.

They aired a promo hyping up the Kane vs. Jericho feud. This really is the most pathetically set-up feud. First, Kane was mad because Jericho spilled coffee on him. Then he was mad that Jericho didn’t have to wear a mask. Maybe next, Kane can be mad that Jericho is blonde. Or Canadian. Or under six feet tall. Jericho came out and cut a promo. He showed pictures of a male model, Bush, Gore, Britney Spears, and Mona Lisa, all wearing Kane masks. Fans booed Bush and Gore wildly. This was just like something out of Conan O’Brien, and for those of you wondering, yes, WWF did hire some people from that show to write storylines.

Lillian was shown waiting for Rock and Austin outside. Angle arrived. She didn’t want to interview him. Who is writing Angle’s storylines? Hunter?.

Hardyz beat Edge & Christian when Matt pinned Christian after Jeff hit the senton. They did a more old-style match with Jeff selling a shoulder injury and the bad guys working it over most of the match.

Undertaker beat Benoit and Jericho and Kane in a four-way to determine the number-one contender for Angle at Survivor Series. This was OK, but it made no sense since guys kept tagging out, which each time ensured they couldn’t become number-one contender. Undertaker pinned Jericho after the press powerbomb. He also gave Kane a HELLA chokeslam for good measure.

Rock arrived, over an hour late. He ignored Lillian and stormed inside.

RTC beat Dudleys after Val Venis hit Bubba with a Tag belt behind the referee’s back. This was OK for what it was, but Godfather looked worse than ever.

Austin arrived, over an hour and fifteen minutes late.

Angle came out. He said the fans owed him an apology. He said he TOLD them that Hunter was a bad guy and they didn’t believe him. Angle said the fans should cheer him. They rudely booed. Undertaker came out. He said he was going to beat Kurt up, but it took him five minutes to say it. Kurt was so funny here he made this worthwhile.

Kevin Kelly interviewed Crash, who introduced “Molly Holly”, his cousin. Cole identified her as Crash’s “new cousin”. Crash & Steve Blackman beat T&A. This was actually pretty good and the crowd was crazy hot for it. Molly looked like she almost killed herself giving Test a top rope frankensteiner. Looks like they’re setting up a six-person with the girls involved.

Clips from the WrestleMania press conference aired. Only two things of note were Vince admitting this would not be the most attended WrestleMania ever; and Angle, totally out of character, talking about how he enjoyed performing for the fans.

Debra met with Angle and said she felt he was unappreciated. She said she’d signed him to a mystery opponent on Heat. She refused to say who it was, but said this person was very deserving of a shot. This was as bad as something you’d see in WCW. You see, the Heat ratings, as Lawler noted, really are sinking like the Titanic. So I guess they’re going to try to draw viewers by claiming Angle will have to defend the title against a deserving opponent on that show. Well, the deserving opponent ends up being Crash Holly. Yes, that will build trust amongst viewers.

Austin & Rock NC Hunter & Rikishi when Radicals ran in less than one minute after the match started. That’s it, Vince Russo is booking this show for sure. Or Bischoff. Rock and Austin cleared the ring afterwards. WWF should be ashamed for giving fans that hideous main event. Hunter’s hip hurts. So what? If he can’t work, don’t book him in the main event and then decide it can only go one minute. That crap should have aired in the middle of the show, with the four-way to determine the number-one contender for the WORLD TITLE going on at the end of the show. Things like this killed WCW.

WCW Monday Nitro (11/13/00)

Quick Review: A solid show, I guess. Kind of boring. Nothing major happened, but there wasn’t anything off-the-charts horrible either. Nitro is always better before a big crowd.

Summary: Nitro was from London this week. The show opened with clips of various historic British sites, including some famous building. Steve Regal’s old music played in the background.

Some nutty UK fans mugged for the cameras.

All the wrestlers came down to the ring. Flair was last out. Unlike nearly everyone else on the planet, he put over the company. Flair’s first order of business was to tell Mike Sanders he had 48 hours to defend his title. Flair didn’t seem to even know what belt Sanders held, which was a bit embarrassing. He announced a Lethal Lottery for later. He said eight men had been chosen at random to make four teams, and the winning team would face off against each other on Thunder. The winner, Flair said, got a World Title shot the night after Mayhem. According to Flair, the teams were Awesome & Bigelow, Booker T & Lex Luger, Sting & Steiner and Disco & Alex. Of course, there always has to be an established tag team in these “random drawings”. Steiner was nowhere to be found. Flair demanded he come out. Steiner did so, but immediately got into a fight with, well, everyone on the whole roster.

Crowbar was being interviewed backstage when Big Vito walked in. Vito wanted a title shot. He said he knew Crowbar had the “destermination”. Crowbar said OK.

Lance Storm demanded a US Title shot with Rection later. Sanders said OK. Steiner walked up. Sanders told him he’d set up the anger management courses and Steiner just had to sign the papers. I just wrote the Thunder report and I’d already forgotten about that angle.

Crowbar beat Vito with a superplex through a table. Crowd was hot for his match and they did a great job teasing the table spot until the very end. There was a horrible ref bump, though. Reno hit Vito with a bat leading to the finish. Whatever happened to Vito’s sister, by the way? Not that I ever want to see her again.

Sanders came out with the Thrillers. They made fun of Nash. Nash came out. He was crazy over. Nash talked about internal combustion engines. Really, he did. Sanders signed Palumbo & O’Hare & Stasiak vs. Nash for later. Nash said OK. This was boring.

Sting & Steiner beat Mike Awesome & Bam Bam Bigelow. Steiner and Sting got along before and after the match, but for some reason got into a fight in the middle. Steiner actually hit Awesome with a top rope exploder right before putting him in the Recliner for the tap-out. This was OK. Bigelow destroyed Awesome afterwards and left him laying.

Another public service announcement aired from Jimmy Hart. He ran down some DJ I’ve never heard of before. I’m not sure what this accomplished, except that they’re scheduled to wrestle next week on Nitro.

Disco and Alex met with Kronic. They said they weren’t too excited about having to face Scott Steiner later in the tournament. They offered to sell their spot to Kronic. Kronic said no. Disco should have offered them weed. Kronic noted they were all about cashing checks and something else, maybe taking names. I forget their catch phrase. Anyway, Disco finally offered them enough cash and they accepted.

Animals tattled to Ric Flair about what Disco and Alex had done. Flair said he’d take care of the problem, brother. He went into Disco and Alex’s dressing room and said they were “busted”. He said they were in for a big surprise later. Disco said he hoped it was big, because it was his birthday. I’m disturbed about this trend of people always having to alert fans that it’s their birthday.

Gene interviewed MIA. They ran down Team Canada. Cajun had the nerve to intimate that maybe Elix Skipper wasn’t Canadian.

Clips aired of a brawl breaking out backstage between WCW employees and the “Battle Dome Warriors”. It was hilarious because the Battle Dome Warriors started yelling at Doug Dillinger because they flew all the way from America to beat up the WCW guys, and Dillinger still wouldn’t let them. What a dick that Dillinger is. They DID come all the way from America. Finally, several WCW guys including Dallas Page ran in. This was a miracle since Page didn’t even go on this tour.

Kronic beat Luger & Booker T. God, you should have seen Luger and Brian Adams in there together. This match was a first. It was horrible, then actually fell apart worse at the end. Steiner snuck in and hit Booker with a pipe, leading to the finish. Picture that, Scott Steiner sneaking around.

Gene interviewed Kronic backstage. He wanted to know what would happen if they won the Lethal Lottery. He asked if they’d face each other on Thunder to determine who got the title shot. Brian Adams actually answered that he and Clarke were a team, so if one of them won the belt, they both won it. Try to make sense of that answer. Didn’t I tell you they were just one man?.

Nash NC Palumbo and Stasiak and Shawn O’Hare when the rest of the Thrillers ran out and ganged up on Nash. What a shocker that was. Absolutely no heat and it was totally strange watching Nash take a five-minute beating.

Shat beat Elix Skipper. This was a MILLION times better than you’d think, although much of the entertainment value was due to Stevie Ray on commentary. Miss Jones actually gave Skipper a high kick at one point. Shat won with the Feliner, which the crowd actually acknowledged as a finisher, counting along for the pin.

Goldberg murdered the Boogie Knights. Goldberg was CRAZY over with the UK yahoos. He jackhammered and pinned both of them, so that counted as, well, about five wins according to my calculations. They said he was 18-0 now. This was also better than you’d think.

Lance Storm beat Captain Rection to win the WCW US Title when Major Gunns turned on Rection and threw in the towel. What a shocker that was. Gunns left with Storm after the match. It was pretty good until the finish, which the cameras almost missed due to filming a lame brawl between Team Canada and MIA in the aisle.

Steiner & Sting beat Kronic in the main event. Yes, you read that right, Kronic was in the main event. Also, Midajah did commentary. Amazingly, Brian Adams actually performed a leapfrog in this match. Really. Clarke, who for some reason is the guy who always does the job in Kronic matches, went for his pumphandle slam, but Sting turned it into the Death Drop for the pin. Good finish. Steiner went bonkers and attacked Sting after the match, but Booker ran out and FLATTENED Steiner with a chairshot. He gave one to Sting as well for good measure as the show ended.

Hunter doesn’t lose at Survivor Series

This was the second WWF show I attended at the World Famous Colossus Theatre in Canada. For the uninitiated, the Colossus Theatre is a gigantic movie theatre in Surrey, BC, shaped like a gigantic space ship. I have no idea why they built the theatre this way, except that the people who built it were Canadians, and during my trips to Canada I have also noted that Canadian people sometimes paint their houses pink and lime green. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Anyway, my boss Tim Flowers swung a deal with the theatre which allowed us to watch the PPV and consume all the food we could eat for free, in return for running a free wrestling show beforehand. Obviously, I jumped at the chance, since it combined my three loves — wrestling, saving money, and eating for free. I believe the first PPV I attended here was the one after SummerSlam, whichever one that was. I’m too lazy to go back and look, but it doesn’t matter. The point I want to make is that the theatre was jam-packed full of yahoos for that show, but this time it was maybe half full and the audience was nowhere near as stoked as they were just a couple of months ago. I’m not sure what that means for the buyrate nationally (and internationally, now that I think about it), but it doesn’t sound good to me.

The show opened with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talking about all the past Survivor Series shows, with particular emphasis on the Montreal version. Lawler even brought up the “Bret screwed Bret” line. I am quite certain I’m not the only one who, even for a second, thought maybe Bret was going to be there. By the end of the show, it was clear that they either were trying to convince fans that he’d appear during the main event, or were in some strange way making this show a tribute to him. Either way, he wasn’t there, so why waste more space on discussing it?

1. Steve Blackman & Crash Holly & Molly Holly beat T&A & Trish Stratus. The story early in the match was that Trish kept trying to avoid Molly. I’m not quite sure why, since the bad guys kicked the asses of all the Hollys on Smackdown. Test served as a good base for much of Crash’s high flying. When the fun was over, Test DECAPITATED him with a boot to the head. Eventually Trish and Molly both ended up in there and performed some acceptable spots. Molly finally pinned Trish clean with a top rope sunset flip. Not too bad. I really like Trish and Molly. Trish works really hard and Molly is a pretty damn decent little wrestler. So kiss my ass, Chyna. **

Kurt went up to Edge and Christian backstage and asked if they wanted to go party with him after he beat Undertaker. He said he OWNED the Undertaker. I got sort of worried after hearing that one.

The most hilarious skit ever aired with Lo Down and Tiger Ali Singh. They were shown outside the building in their gear trying to get in. The security guy didn’t recognize them, said they weren’t on the list, and told them to hit the bricks. This wouldn’t have been even remotely as funny had Tiger Ali Singh not been in full gear including his turban. Seriously, if the most TV time Tiger Ali Singh ever got was being kicked out of buildings every week, he’d be my favorite wrestler. That reminds me of a funny story. One of the guys who does security for the PWF shows here in Tacoma got a gig doing security when the WWF came to town for a TV Taping. Well, he didn’t recognize Kaientai and tried to boot their asses out of the building. I’m not making this up. He did, however, recognize one of our local guys named Urban Outlaw, and screamed “WHAT’S UP URBAN!” in front of all the WWF guys, who looked at him like he was the one who should have been booted out of the building.

2. Radicals beat Road Dogg & K-Kwiq & The One Billy Gunn & Chyna in an eight-being elimination match. While people are coming up with bad names for Billy Gunn, how about “The Three Billy G”? Speaking of new names, Road Dogg is the White Sinbad for sure. Match opened with Saturn bouncing all over the place for Chyna. Shortly thereafter, much to my delight, Eddy hit her with a belt allowing Saturn to get the pin. I’m sure she’s a nice girl, but if she would have pinned even one of the Radicals I’d have been quite upset. No sooner should I think this than the almost equally inadequate Billy G pinned Eddy with the Fame Asser, which has not been given a new name yet. How about “Billy G’s Fame S’er?” Benoit tagged in and made K-Kwiq look like A MILLION BUCKS before killing him deader than dead with a German suplex. This was the greatest one minute of the entire pay-per-view. Saturn pinned White Sinbad with a Northern Lights suplex. Where’s Michael Cole when you need him? Billy was left all alone. Fans could have chanted “YOU’RE THE ONE!” or “G! G! G!” Instead, the chanted nothing. Billy pinned Malenko out of nowhere. That was sad, especially since Billy looked TOTALLY blown up by this point. Benoit hit the headbutt and Billy kicked out. That has to stop. Benoit ended up on the apron and Billy tried to suplex him back in. Unfortunately, he was blown up, so Benoit fell on top of him. Malenko held down the blown-up Billy’s foot, and Benoit got the win. This was OK. Benoit and Saturn left smiling, probably thinking: “That Billy SUCKS, and we blew him up!” **1/2

Lillian tried to interview Rock, but he sluffed her off. What a dick.

3. Kane beat Chris Jericho. No offense to either of these guys, but this was the match I chose to go get another hot dog. I came back midway through. Kane pummeled Jericho forever and then took off the corner pad. Jericho was playing total babyface underdog by this point. Kane went for his patented Uncoordinated Flying Clothesline and Jericho kicked him in the belly with a dropkick. Jericho followed it up with a killer top rope dropkick of his own. He tossed Kane into the turnbuckles and applied the Lion Tamer. Kane fought for a long time before getting the ropes, which got a good pop. Jericho ended up going for the Lionsault, but Kane grabbed his throat on the landing and then delivered a chokeslam for the clean pin. Jericho is turning heel for sure. Turned into a pretty decent match. **1/4

Terri told the Radicals that HHH had arrived.

4. Steven William Regal beat Bob Holly via Crappy DQ to retain the European Title. Regal cut a promo but was interrupted by Holly. Regal is right, Americans are rude. Regal worked on his previously broken arm for a long time. I liked this match, but it was clear I was in the minority. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Holly just hit Regal with the UK belt for the DQ. I thought Holly was going to tell Regal that it wasn’t time to wrestle, it was time to rap. No such luck. Someone’s creative juices have not been flowing properly judging from some of these recent finishes. *1/2

Trish met with Angle. She said since Stephanie wasn’t there, maybe she could help Angle with whatever he needed. He didn’t get it. Where is Stephanie anyway?

5. Rock beat Rikishi. Strange placement of this match, that’s for sure. Rock sprinted to the ring and immediately beat the living hell out of Rikishi. He went to hit the fat man with a chair, but the referee grabbed it, allowing Rikishi to get the heat with an Island Kick. I don’t know what tapes Rock has been watching lately, but he needs to watch more of them because he was selling his chest injury like a KING in this match. They brawled outside where the referee took a bump. Rikishi grabbed a sledgehammer from under the ring. Rock cut him off and hit the uranage. The ref finally crawled back into the ring, but Rikishi kicked out. Hot nearfall. Rock fought back with a series of punches, but Rikishi used his solid steel Island skull to headbutt Rock in the chest. Rikishi sat on Rock, but Rock kicked out. Rikishi dragged him to the corner, and Rock actually took the old ass spot. Rock is so great lately. Rock exploded out of the corner with a desperation clothesline. Finally, he hit a desperation spinebuster and got the win with the People’s Elbow. Rikishi sold it like someone had run an electrical current through him. Few will believe me, but this was a HELL of a match. Afterwards, Rikishi jumped Rock and laid him out with four fatass Banzai drops. ***1/2

Foley met with the Radicals and Hunter. He said nobody but Hunter was going to be allowed at ringside and that the match would be no-DQ. Hunter was cool with all that.

6. Ivory beat Lita to retain the Women’s Title. Ivory came down to the ring in heels again. Apparently, you have to twist your ankle repeatedly before deciding flat shoes would be the best thing to wrestle in. Match was not very good. Something happened and Lita got busted open hardway right by her left eye, and she was GUSHING blood everywhere. It was nasty. Ivory almost killed herself taking a huracanrana, which was Stevie’s cue to come down to ringside. Lita hit them both with a dive to the outside. She threw Ivory in and went for the moonsault, but Stevie pulled Ivory to safety. Ivory grabbed her belt but Lita cut her off. Lita went for the moonsault again, but Ivory got her knees up. Actually, she was supposed to get the belt up, and that’s what the announcer’s said she did, but it didn’t look that way to me. Lita covered her for the pin. *

Michael Coachman interviewed the Rock’s dressing room door, which had nothing to say. Coachman said Rock was f’d up.

Jericho beat the hell out of Kane backstage.

7. Kurt Angle beat Undertaker to retain the WWF Title. Kurt cut a promo but was interrupted by Taker. I don’t know where Undertaker got his pants, but my guess is that Mike Awesome had a yard sale. Lots of stalling at the beginning. Undertaker basically had Kurt pinned twice in the first few minutes, but pulled his head up each time. You may want to write these down for future reference. Ross tried to portray Angle as this badass with a mean streak as Angle was being bounced around like a pinball and beaten repeatedly. Undertaker did the old rope walk. Angle finally hit a phat German, launching Undertaker into the air. Angle went for a dive outside, but Undertaker caught him and posted him twice. Undertaker went to work on Angle’s shoulder and applied an armbar. Edge and Christian ran down and distracted the ref. Badass Angle tapped out. That’s three. Undertaker went after Edge and Christian, but they ran for their lives. The referee went with them for some reason. Maybe they were asking him for directions to the backstage area. Undertaker chokeslammed badass Angle and pinned him, but there was no ref. That’s four, which may be a new record. Angle, fulfilling his role as The Next Ric Flair, put on the Figure Four. Taker made the ropes. Kurt did Bret’s old figure four around the ringpost. Undertaker fought back and they teased the tombstone. Badass Angle ran for his life and hid under the ring. Taker pulled him out and gave him a press powerbomb. Actually, he almost lost him the first time and had to do it again. Referee dropped down, counted two, then stopped. Why, you ask? Because it was not Kurt Angle that Undertaker had powerbombed. It was a decoy. The real Angle ran up from behind and rolled Undertaker up for the pin. What a badass. Angle continued displaying his badassness by running backstage and getting the hell out of Dodge in a his car, a la Earl Hebner in Montreal. **1/2

8. Hardyz & Dudleys beat Edge & Christian & RTC in an eight-man elimination match. Edge pinned Matt early with a move Lawler called the “Edge-A-Matic”. Val Venis helped. Christian then pinned D-Von with the Tomikaze, which wasn’t given a name. Christian took a page out of the Shawn Michaels Eight-Man Survivor Series Matchup book by taking a backdrop from Bubba so high that he actually left the TV screen. Still paled in comparison to the one Shawn took from Warlord. He went SO HIGH. Bubba ran wild on everyone. Edge accidentally speared Bull allowing Bubba to pin him. Bubba then pinned Edge after Christian screwed up. Goodfather killed Bubba with a DVD for the pin. That’s not right. Jeff was left with Goodfather and Christian. Jeff pinned Christian with the senton. Goodfather cut him off and tried to Ho Train, but Jeff moved. Goodfather then collided with Val, allowing Jeff to roll him up for the pin. RTC attacked Jeff after the match, but Dudleys and Matt made the save. Goodfather took a 3D. Matt then put Val through a table literally with a top rope ass drop, and Stevie took a BUBBA BOMB STRAIGHT TO HELL from the Dudleys. Crowd in the theatre loved this more than anything thus far. **1/2

9. Steve Austin NC Hunter Hearst Helmsely. Austin ran wild at the beginning, stomping a mudhole in Hunter and pounding on his injured back, which was acknowledged on commentary. They brawled towards the back. Since the Radicals were banned from ringside, the announcers speculated that maybe they were hiding backstage ready to jump Austin. I love how the heels obey the rules, but look for sneaky ways to get around them. Why not just break them outright? Hunter actually reversed a suplex in the aisle and Austin took a bump on the cement. Back at ringside, Hunter started cleaning off the announcer’s table. Austin cut him off and hit him in the noggin with a monitor. Hunter gigged. Steve took time out to sit on a chair and drink some beer. Fans liked that. Austin grabbed the ring bell, but as he was heading to the ring he slipped on some beer and damn near blew out both knees. “Clean that shit up!” he yelled at the timekeeper. Good save. Austin went for the Stunner in the ring, but Hunter turned it into a neckbreaker. Hunter took Austin outside and went to Pedigree him on the steps. What happened next was totally telegraphed, because the ring announcer and timekeeper suddenly jumped up and started clearing stuff off the announcer’s table. Sure enough, Hunter immediately got backdropped through it. Austin threw Hunter into the ring and gave him a Stunner, but refused to make the cover. Why, you ask? Because that would have meant HHH would have had to do a job and end his steak. Austin grabbed a chair and went to do the old Brian Pillman ankle spot. Referee told him not to do it. So Austin took the chair and put it around Hunter’s neck instead. OK, that was funny. Hunter struggled to his feet and they brawled backstage. Radicals ran in and attacked Austin. Referees attempted unsuccessfully to save the day. During the melee, Hunter ducked outside and got into a car. Benoit lured Austin outside, but Austin somehow managed to disappear. Don’t ask me how, I don’t know. Hunter told Benoit to go back inside and find him. As soon as Benoit left, Austin reappeared in a crane. He lifted Hunter’s car up high in the air, then dropped it down to the cement. Presumably, Hunter was murdered. This didn’t seem to bother anyone much, especially all the people in the theatre with me, who whooped and hollered with glee. What a hokey finish. ***

Wal-Mart has banned the Mick Foley Christmas book because it features a drawing of a naked elf. I have not seen the book yet, so I don’t know whether it is a naked male or female elf, or what age the elf in question appears to be. Foley appeared on the Conan O’Brien show last week and discussed the controversy.

WCW has interest in Jerry Lynn.

WCW Wednesday Thunder (11/15/00)

Quick Review: This was the best Thunder in a LONG time, and the hot crowd really helped make it a more enjoyable show.

Summary: Thunder was from somewhere in the UK this week.

Reno beat Vito with help from the Thrillers. Not much of note, except that Reno cut this horrendous promo after the match. He called Crowbar “CROBACK”, and challenged him to a match at the PPV. This is what indy territories are for.

Flair gave an interview in his office. For the last few weeks, he has done a great job trying to put over the company and the TV shows. But during this promo, when he said: “I’m sure you’re enjoying Thunder as much as I am,” I TOTALLY couldn’t believe him. He also said: “Our Hardcore Championship Belt is glorious and held in very high esteem.” He said some other stuff, but I was laughing too hard to hear it. Flair just didn’t look too motivated this particular evening, but he was definitely trying to say all the right things.

Gene interviewed Team Canada. Gene said fans were sick to their stomachs about what they’d done to Rection. Storm challenged Booker T to a World Title match. Gunns yelled at Gene. After she left, he said: “And to think that I used to have the hots for her. She’s nothing more now than a self-serving bitch.” Gene frowned at the camera in a serious manner when he said these words.

Crowbar beat Bigelow with help from Mike Awesome. Kind of a weak finish, but otherwise a pretty damn good little match. Crowbar took a chairshot at one point and Stevie screamed: “He could be in critical condition!” Crowbar did take too many hard shots to the head. What disturbs me is that they’re kind of putting that over as his gimmick.

Gene interviewed Booker T, who appeared to be wearing a yellow raincoat. Booker was mad that he wasn’t getting any respect. He was also pissed that WCW hadn’t made any video packages about him lately. That’s a new one.

Bigelow attacked Crowbar backstage. Mike Awesome had to be restrained.

MIA was shown sitting in their dressing room. They were looking downtrodden, presumably because the member with the big boobs was no longer part of their crew. Chavo said maybe after Mayhem they should all “take some time apart.” AWOL, who was called “Jerry” and not “AWOL”, said maybe Chavo was right. They all got into an argument until Hugh told them to shut up. Hugh, who was called “Hugh” and not “Bill”, said they needed to stick together. His pep talked worked. This was high drama.

Kiwi beat Elix Skipper & Rey & Kidman & Loco & Cajun in a six-way to get a Cruiserweight Title shot. Stevie wanted to know how six men could have a Four Corners match. Tony tried to explain how more than one man could be in one corner, instead of explaining it logically by saying that two men would be in the ring, which would leave one man for each corner. Tony was not joking when trying to explain this, which was actually kind of sad. Kiwi pinned Kidman. Really. Also, Rey. Something is wrong here. Duggan tried to interfere, but Meng stopped him. Skipper foolishly tried to pull of Meng’s afro, allowing Kiwi to roll him up for the pin. This was OK.

Gene interview Disco and Alex. They challenged Konnan and a mystery partner to a match later.

Gene interviewed Sanders. Flair walked in. He said he’d given Sanders forty-eight hours to find an opponent, and since he hadn’t done so, Flair had found one for him.

Tenay interviewed Bagwell. Bagwell talked about how great WCW was compared to what it used to be. He said a long time ago, only seven or eight hundred people attended the shows. He didn’t mention the 768 paid at Thunder last week. Bagwell said if WCW gave him a chance, he knew for a fact he could be part of the team. Well, duh. He said they needed to turn the ship around. Buff kept whining that he’d been in WCW nine years and wasn’t getting pushed hard like some of the others like Steiner, Luger and Jarrett. He challenged Jarrett for Mayhem.

Booker T beat Lance Storm in a good match to retain the WCW Title. Crowd was HOT for it and popped huge when Storm put on the half-crab, thinking it was the finish. Booker made the ropes. Tony, like a total doofus, said nobody had ever broken the half-crab before. Except Booker, the last time he wrestled Storm. All of Team Canada ran in after the match but Booker laid them out. Gunns then hit Booker with the flag, so he stiffed her with a uranage. Crowd sure loved Booker.

Flair came out and the crowd went HOSS. He said he had good news and bad news for Sanders. He said the good news was that the match would be non-title. The bad news, he said, was that Sanders’ opponent missed the Cruiserweight limit by over 100 pounds. Has to be Nash. Sure enough, it was. Crowd was crazy into this segment. Nash killed Sanders. It was a total squash, and Thrillers finally ran in. They overwhelmed Nash and left him lying in a heap.

Disco & Alex beat Konnan & Shat when Kronic ran in behind the referee’s back and attacked Konnan. They gave him a High Times and Konnan was supposedly knocked batty. They actually had to stop the show for fifteen minutes to get him taken care of. Sure enough, almost nobody in WCW believed he was really hurt. To be honest, it didn’t look like his head even hit the mat, but he might have suffered a shoulder injury of some sort.

Gene ran into Luger, who was reading Goldberg’s book. Luger claimed he discovered Goldberg at his Main Event gym and Goldberg never bothered to mention him in the book. Luger started ripping the book up, which angered Tony. Well, once you buy the book, you can do whatever you want with it.

Goldberg murdered Bagwell. Then he went back after the match and hugged him. “The monster has compassion,” said Tony, killing the Goldberg gimmick forever.

Sting beat Steiner clean with the death drop. They showed clips of Sting getting the pin during their last match, which was surprising, since WCW almost never shows past footage to forward current angles. Live at the show, Sting hit the Death Drop and for some reason the referee didn’t count to three even though it was the finish. Ref paused, then did the three count as scheduled. Sting was PISSED. They managed to edit out the first screw-up, but they didn’t edit out Sting’s pissedness. Steiner attacked Sting after the match, put him in a straightjacket, then destroyed him for a long time. A pretty damn good little show.

Spoiler for 4/17/95:
The Sabu (Terry Brunk) situation in ECW came to a head this past week with the end result being the promotion fired him for no-showing the 4/8 "Three Way Dance."

It had become well known within wrestling that New Japan had booked Sabu for a Heisei Ishingun show the same day at Korakuen Hall. ECW booker Paul Heyman said they gave Sabu the 4/8 date on 3/20 when he decided to add the 4/8 show because the original "Three Way Dance" date on 4/15 had to be changed because Chris Benoit was booked in Japan on that date. Heyman had been wanting to put together the three-way since Christmas but a botched angle at one show combined with schedule conflicts combined with wanting to build to it correctly kept pushing the match back. The date was added for 4/8 because it was the only possible date to at that point assure that all six would be available. New Japan reportedly gave Sabu the 4/8 date on 3/21 when he came in for the HI show in Osaka. Sabu apparently told both groups he would appear on their shows saying because of the time difference, he'd do the Japan date and immediately fly in, but that's a physical impossibility.

Sabu said New Japan at that point gave him single specific dates for 4/8 and 4/28 to build leading to the 5/3 Fukuoka Dome where he would get a shot at the IWGP junior heavyweight title. He said he was already booked for 4/8 with ECW and he was asked to get out of it. He called Heyman who insisted he'd make the date so when he got back to New Japan telling them he couldn't make it, they said (booker) Riki Choshu had already been told he was on the card and that if he didn't make the date, they'd cancel his bookings (fire him). He felt after ten years in wrestling and at his current age (31), his prime is now and it would be embarrassing to lose his New Japan job, particularly after he left FMW which gave him his first career break for the New Japan job. He felt that by getting on the plane and going to Japan on Thursday that by doing so in his mind it meant he was quitting ECW. While admitting he screwed up in double-booking himself, he was bitter about how it was handled by Heyman at the arena on Saturday.

Where the heat stems from according to Heyman is that on 4/2, Heyman talked with Sabu while he was putting together his final television show which aired on 4/4, leading to the 4/8 show, wanting a commitment from Sabu to be there or else he'd change the television show and get a replacement for him because he didn't want to false advertise. Sabu reportedly assured both Heyman and Tod Gordon that he was going to make their date and not to worry about it. Gordon claimed he had talked to Sabu later in the week again and believed he was going to be at his show even though it appeared to be common knowledge in Japan that Sabu was going to miss the ECW date. It wasn't until Thursday morning, when he called Sabu, that he got his answering machine with a message he had left for Japan that he realized differently. To Gordon's credit, he immediately put out word that Sabu wasn't going to appear on the show. The bitterness is that Sabu never called Gordon or Heyman before leaving for Japan to tell him of his decision, and that they found out by getting a message on his answering machine two days before what they considered the biggest show in the history of their company. Sabu said he agreed to work the ECW in the 4/2 phone conversation only because Heyman wouldn't let him off the phone until he agreed and he was agreeing to work the date only to get Heyman off the phone. He said the words "swear to God" in reference to him being there were used by Heyman and he didn't use those words, just said "Yes" when Heyman said something to the effect of "Do you swear to God you'll be at the show?"

"I said yes to get him off the phone and I told him that before I went to Japan," Sabu said.

Heyman immediately contacted Rick Steiner to come in as Sabu's replacement for the show and was put in a position because Sabu hadn't even called where he had little choice but to fire Sabu, even though Sabu was probably the top drawing singles wrestler in the company.

"He gave me his word so I built the TV show around it (the three-way dance match)," said Heyman. "He left me with no other options regarding him and that's really a shame. But I have no choice. If I let this go, I have no control of my dressing room. I lose control of my dressing room and once that happens, the ballgame is over."

At the show, Heyman opened giving a long speech about how hard everyone in ECW works and mentioned several people by their real names such as himself as Paul Heyman and Woman as Nancy Sullivan. He said there was a problem with Sabu saying, "Sabu gave us a commitment and then decided that because he was offered more money on a weekly basis, he will not give you what you paid to see, and decided not to give me the courtesy of a phone call when he swore to God on Sunday night that before we all went into production to give you that Tuesday night TV show that if you are going to f*** the audience because you are the star in this promotion, to let me know, and he said, `I'll be there.' Then on Thursday he tells me and Taz and 911 and anyone who would call his answering machine that he is on his way to Japan. You people, the audience of ECW and all the stars within have been f***ed and were deemed not important enough to see performed a match that you have been waiting since Christmas for. You voted with your dollars to see him and Sabu decided to go to Japan." At this point a "F*** Sabu" chant began in the building. Heyman responded by saying, "I got news for you, you're right, f*** him. The only way he is gonna walk his miserable ass back in that door anymore is if you people say, `We forgive him.'" At this point people started swearing at Sabu like crazy and Heyman said, "I'll bring him back if you say so," and the crowd started the F*** Sabu chant once again. "I want to get this show started so on behalf of Tod Gordon and every single wrestler who is going to bust his ass tonight to give you more than your money's worth, here is the offer from all of us. We have something in mind. If you're upset about Sabu, we want you to watch the first half of the show on us. At intermission, go to the front door and get a refund."

At some point during almost every match and during much of the main event, the F*** Sabu chants returned. Based on numerous phone calls here, this may polarize a lot of the fans with each other because several were mad at the other fans about the chants because of how hard Sabu had worked in the building previously. Others, particularly after the show because the three-way match, while generally considered a good match, fell well below most expectations of something extraordinary, were already talking about wanting Sabu to return. It's expected that Sabu will start working in the tri-state area for rival promoter Dennis Coraluzzo.

Sabu felt at this point in his career he needed to do the right thing for security which meant keeping his job with New Japan. He also admitted he's been unhappy with the current direction of ECW, in particular undercard wrestlers using juice and chairs and brawling all over the building feeling it detracts from when the main eventers do the same thing, and also other wrestlers putting wrestlers through tables which he felt was his personal gimmick. He also felt he was being used too often in tag team matches where he felt he was only 25% as effective as in singles. He said he'd worked there only for the money since the show where he and Tazmanic came out for a tag match in double gurneys and since that show had refused to do the gurney gimmick.

"The last five or six months, the direction of ECW I didn't like anymore," he said. "Paul knows it. I'd tell him what I didn't like."

He also felt there was prestige in working for New Japan, but none in working in ECW, calling it a b.s. style of wrestling, and said that he had a vision of what he wanted pro wrestling to be and ECW wasn't it and wasn't going to be it. He said WWF came even closer than ECW to his vision but they weren't it either and that New Japan and All Japan come the closest, in that they treat pro wrestling as a competitive sport with clean finishes using finishing moves rather than as exhibitions.

"You don't need a chair to get over (to win a match) and you don't need a f*** to get over. I like clean finishes. It dates back to being an amateur wrestler. I don't like getting beat but the day comes when you have to. In ECW, everything is an angle. New Japan, they're all competitive matches."

He had already at one point turned down a two-week New Japan tour in which the company had agreed to give him three weeks pay for working two, but he had already made two prior commitments (an ECW date and a Las Vegas date) during that two-week period and wouldn't cancel them and New Japan didn't like the idea of him missing a tour because of what they considered two small-time bookings and told him that he and ECW were too difficult for them to deal with.

He claimed that what he did was wrong, but what Heyman did at the show by burying him was more wrong. He did praise Heyman for his work ethic. He said he felt Heyman made it a bigger issue than it was and could have handled it with the crowd in a way that would have allowed him to save face.

"He rubbed my face in the mat and the people turned on me. But I did it and I'll take my lumps."

He said he wouldn't rule out an eventual return to ECW, but talked about now accepting part-time work on PPV shows with WCW since it wouldn't interfere with New Japan. In January, Eric Bischoff met Sabu at the Tokyo Dome and verbally offered to use him on PPV shows and some house shows when it didn't interfere with New Japan and said they'd let him work indies as well, but when Sabu told Heyman about it, Heyman insisted Sabu not go to WCW because he wanted to build a company around people who were not working any dates for either WWF or WCW.

The ECW show itself, which drew a packed house of approximately 1,150, was considered good by everyone calling here, although not as good as the previous two shows. Public Enemy wound up with the ECW tag team titles winning the three-way dance over Steiner & Tazmaniac and Dean Malenko & Benoit, while Eddy Guerrero captured the TV title beating Too Cold Scorpio. Guerrero was over strong with the crowd the moment he came out with lots of "Gringo Locos" and "Rudos" and "Eddy" chants. In the other key angle, Woman turned on Sandman, going with his opponent, Shane Douglas by throwing him the cane which he used for the pin.

Sabu, who went to a double count out with WAR International junior heavyweight champion Gedo in the second match of the HI show on 4/8, but broke his already injured ankle and was headed to the hospital on 4/11, but still expected to work on 4/13 in Indianapolis. He reportedly earns between $3,000 and $4,000 per week with New Japan (if they fly him in for one date as in this case, he makes one weeks worth of pay and through May all of his New Japan dates are single night shots) or HI, and at most makes $750 per shot in ECW and I believe his actual price in ECW may be significantly less.

The Undertaker's value as a drawing card for Titan Sports may have taken a major nosedive over the past year-plus, but he revitalized both the cash registers and the morale in Smoky Mountain Wrestling over the weekend.

The struggling SMW group turned away several hundred fans drawing a sellout 2,000 for its "Bluegrass Brawl" on 4/7 in Pikeville, KY, largely for the appearance of Undertaker and Paul Bearer, teaming with Tracy Smothers & Bob Armstrong to beat The Gangstas & D.Lo Brown. Armstrong actually didn't participate in this match because he was jumped with a blackjack before the bell and they did a 2-on-3 match because Armstrong was ill. After Undertaker pinned Brown, which caused the Gangstas to have to salute the rebel flag, Undertaker brawled to the back with Killer Kyle. At this point the three Gangstas beat up on Smothers and Jim Cornette until Armstrong made the save. However they beat on Armstrong as well, holding him down and spray painted an "X" on his chest.

The next night in Johnson City before approximately 1,800 fans for "Fright Night" saw an "I Quit match" with the same six ending when Armstrong made Nu Jack submit over the house mic. Reportedly Undertaker got the largest pop anyone ever had in Johnson City since SMW started running shows there.

Smoky Mountain also changed both its singles and tag team titles over the weekend. Al Snow & Unabom won the tag titles on 4/7 in Pikeville from the Rock & Roll Express in a Coal Miners glove match. While Snow and Robert Gibson were brawling on the floor, Morton climbed up Unabom's back and grabbed the glove. At this point Snow clocked Gibson with a chair. Morton then came off the top rope with a punch to Snow which knocked him "out on his feet." Snow fell toward the ropes, then collapsed on top of a stunned Gibson and Unabom tackled Morton before he could make the save. The singles belt went to Buddy Landel in Johnson City in a match where champ Bobby Blaze juiced and was being pounded on in the corner and ref Mark Curtis stopped the match.

The Jerry Springer show which was going to be taped on 4/10 where Jim Cornette and The Gangstas were scheduled to be guests to discuss the Gangstas angle was scrapped. Not sure why but it's probably in everyone's best interest because it was a no-win situation.

Aside from the Sabu situation, also on the 4/8 show saw the Pit Bulls, now managed by Raven, beat Johnny Hot Body & Tony Stetson. Raven & Steve Richards claimed that Hot Body & Stetson had failed them on the last show by losing to Tommy Dreamer. Raven replaced Jason (Knight) who was fired by the promotion for walking out on promos among other things, although I wouldn't be shocked to see him back in a few months. Raven then punched Richards after the match when Pit Bulls said that they liked him but not Richards. Raven beat Dreamer next. Raven bled like crazy. Richards attacked a girl at ringside and Dreamer comes out to save the girl and she hair sprays him in the face and Raven DDTs him for the pin. This is some sort of an angle supposedly that in the past Raven and Dreamer were chasing the same girl in summer camp or that the girl was chasing Dreamer and he ignored her. Ron Simmons destroyed Mikey Whipwreck but got DQ'd in the process for choke slamming the ref. Simmons also did two choke slams on Whipwreck. This naturally brought out 911 but this time Simmons choke slammed 911 and left him laying. Five jobbers came out to help 911 and naturally he recovered and choke slammed all five of them. Next up was an angle where Chris Benoit kept calling Sabu a "pussy" and called out Tazmaniac. They went at it until Dean Malenko ran in until Rick Steiner made the save so everyone knew who the replacement would be before intermission. Guerrero pinned Scorpio in what I was told was the best match on the show. Axl Rotten beat Ian Rotten in the hair vs. hair match but after the match Ian got the scissors and bloodied up Axl with them. Shane Douglas beat Sandman in a non-title match when Woman threw the cane to Douglas and turned on Sandman. After the three-way match with Public Enemy winning, Pit Bulls did a run-in to attack them.

The latest round of cuts looks to include Butcher (Ed "Brutus Beefcake" Leslie), Joey Maggs, Steve Keirn and rumors are flying everywhere that the biggest name being cut will be Steve Austin. Butcher has officially been given his notice which he's complaining about since he was offered a two years at about $150,000 per deal as he was leading into Starrcade and hadn't signed the deal but thought it was as good as a signed deal. He'll stick around long enough to do his face turn and may get a date here or there on a per night basis but I wouldn't bet on it. Austin was going to be jobbed out. A few weeks back he did a clean job for Sting on the Saturday Night show that aired this past weekend. Then on 4/4, in the first round of the U.S. title tournament (the only tournament match taped so far although many of the matches are to be taped this week) he jobbed for Jim Duggan. He was to do a second job on 4/5 at Center Stage for Sting but according to the story circulating within WCW, when he found out, he said his son was sick and he had to go home. Where he stands officially right now isn't clear but what is clear is there are no plans for him.

Plenty of different stories going around regarding the Road Warriors and Steiners, who are scheduled to debut on the 6/18 Dayton PPV show. Steiners may or may not be coming in at all although last word from WCW was that they thought they were, because there was some unhappiness over the money offered combined with the fact WCW wants them to put over the Nasty Boys on their first night in. Now we're hearing that Animal may not be working so soon after all.

It is expected that the 1996 budget allocation for WCW will be greatly decreased because with Turner wanting to buy a network they aren't going to put up with the big money losses WCW has incurred any longer. This may force another round of salary cuts late in the year.

Studd's protege, Ron Reis, started at the WCW training school about two weeks ago. Expect several of those training at the school to start with USWA shortly.

The Eliminators, Perry Saturn & John Kronus, received a tryout at the 4/5 tapings and we heard they looked great, like mini Road Warriors looks wise doing one unique double-team or simultaneous spot after another.

Bob Holly won his first race at his local track in Mobile over the weekend.

Several gossip places have picked up The Star deal (Geraldo, E Channel) with some story about Pam Anderson and Shawn Michaels which has now spread to Anderson's husband being mad at Michaels because they supposedly had a fling and somewhat that's why Michaels is injured. And people actually believe this?

Doesn't look like Bob Backlund is turning. Whatever he's doing, let him to interviews and keep him out of matches. Maybe and on-the-spot reporter acting like a goof which sounds like it may even be the idea since they're going to send Bob Backlund to spring break.

Jim Herd was offered a job as a local promoter for WWF by Ed Cohen but turned it down.

Spoiler for 4/24/95:
For the second straight week, Saturday night happenings at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia made headlines.

After the controversy regarding Sabu's being fired and given a unique show-long burial by both the promotions and the fans had just started to dissipate, along came another unique situation involving Shane Douglas.

Douglas (Troy Martin) dropped his ECW title to The Sandman (James Fullington) on 4/15 at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia when Woman, who had turned on Sandman last week to help Douglas win, turned back on Douglas allowing Sandman to capture the title. After the match Douglas put on a Monday Night Raw t-shirt and said he was going to a place where they do real wrestling, and walked out the front door. Douglas on Monday told those who called that he is headed to the WWF. However, the incident in its entirety is scheduled to air on this week's ECW television. We've had confirmed that virtually the entire scenario, save Douglas putting on the Monday Night Raw t-shirt, which nobody knew about in advance, was an angle. ECW was under the assumption when television was put together that Douglas is still with the promotion and angles involving Douglas for the future were being formulated at least as late as Monday night. They were also aware his talks with WWF had grown more serious of late but the root of what happened was pure angle.

The Sabu situation seemed to take on a life of its own this past week. As speculated on here, Sabu has reopened business relations with Dennis Coraluzzo, the New Jersey based NWA promoter who has had a long-time behind-the-scenes and sometimes public feud with ECW. He has also entered into serious discussions with Eric Bischoff about working for WCW although his prime focus would remain New Japan. Sabu's long time goal has been and still is to be like his uncle, The Sheik, and run a regular territory based out of Michigan. He's reopening as a promoter with Coraluzzo and Phyllis Lee starting with a 5/19 show in Kalamazoo using himself and Severn as the top stars. He knows that he needs national television exposure to the masses to get himself over as the star he would build the company around feeling his mistake thus far has been that attempting to run a business with only a hardcore cult following equals financial disaster. WWF on the surface would seem like the best alternative, but since WWF has only expressed interest in him if he would change his name and gimmick and doesn't allow its wrestlers to work Japan, WCW, which has a relationship already with New Japan, becomes the prime choice. Some have even written that the Sabu/ECW situation is an angle to fool ECW fans, but I can assure that is not the case unless by a work (ie lie; work is what you do in wrestling matches, outside the ring "work" doesn't exist, there is only lying with the word "work" used to somehow justify it) one means that Sabu worked ECW by not calling them and letting them know in advance he wasn't going to make the show. ECW even had to cancel a spot show this week because it was headlined by Sabu vs. Cactus Jack and they were unable to get a Sabu-calibre replacement and decided they didn't want to follow in the footsteps of promoters who cavalierly false advertise and come up with unsuitable replacements.

On the ECW's television show this week, Tod Gordon made a brief statement that Sabu was suspended and Sabu was removed from the show's open. However, the chants of "F*** Sabu" were evident throughout the show, some have claimed even in spots where they didn't actually occur in the building. At the 4/15 house show, only at one point were there those chants and they died down quickly.

Sabu and ECW booker Paul Heyman talked on 4/11 for the first time since this all went down, basically coming to an agreement that neither would bury the other anymore. The business relationship may be reopened at some point provided Sabu doesn't reach a relationship with WCW. There was legit heat on both sides based on what has gone down this past week. Sabu was mad about how the situation was handled in the building. Heyman was mad about Sabu's comments particularly regarding clean finishes, pointing out Sabu, who talked about believing in clean finishes, had just three weeks earlier refused to put Chris Benoit over on the 3/21 HI show in Osaka. Some ECW wrestlers were mad about his knocks on the promotion. Some ECW fans were mad about his knocks on the promotion. Other ECW fans were mad at ECW fans for the chants at the previous show.

It's an inarguable point that Sabu was wrong in not letting ECW know he wasn't going to make the show. Sabu won't even argue it. Whether he was wrong in taking the New Japan date after agreeing first to the ECW date is not as clear cut. While there are exceptions to this rule, the vast majority in wrestling in the same situation with a payday of an estimated $3,500 for one show and maybe $500 or so for the other would have chosen the $3,500 even if they had already made a prior agreement. Certainly if you throw in the risk of losing ones job with the company that offers more financial benefits and stability, it throws the decision making process even farther to that direction. A person whose word is his bond to the bitter end makes the other decision, but a person who is a businessman in this profession makes the decision Sabu made. The majority hopefully would have been more up front about it but Paul Heyman can be a mentally intimidating individual. ECW deserves credit for being far more honest with their fans in regard to the situation than WWF, WCW and SMW have proven to be in similar situations. Heyman pretty well told the truth in the ring. It was a bombastic version of the truth, but he can be a bombastic individual. Whether, as the 4/8 show continued, the company or at least Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko went overboard in either playing to the fans in regard to the Sabu chants or inciting those chants is another matter. Certainly that wouldn't have occurred in most other offices although it is something Bill Watts or Verne Gagne would have done in the same situation although not to the same degree and it did fit into the framework of the storyline being they were the wrestlers feuding with him.

Fans have the right to do and yell and scream whatever they please so long as they don't get violent or excessively vulgar (since the latter would interfere with some people's enjoyment of the show to an unnecessary degree). They did get vulgar, but I think it's pretty well understood that unlike in other arenas, due to the uniqueness of the environment and the promotion, that is acceptable behavior at the ECW Arena. But I can't help but look at the situation this way. Sabu worked that building a night or two after cracking his ribs on the guard rail against Cactus Jack in Hamburg when by all rights he had no business in the ring. Sabu worked that building with a neck brace two weeks after spending the night in the hospital because he took a bump on his head against Chris Benoit. He worked it with an infected hand from an injury in Japan. He worked a television match in Florida the night after blowing out his ankle in California. He worked harder and did more than anyone has the right to expect a performer to do to the point of being psychotic at times. He was a prime factor in putting an 800-seat Bingo Hall on the map internationally as second only to Madison Square Garden when it comes to coverage in the United States. And because Sabu didn't tell Heyman or Gordon he wasn't going to appear on 4/8, he, inarguably, for one night ripped off the fans of ECW. The fans had the perfect right to be mad on that night. But given all that, maybe they owed him one.

With the recent deaths of Eddie Gilbert and John Studd, both of whom can be linked in court testimony in both the Dr. George Zahorian and Vince McMahon steroid trials as being steroid customers of Zahorian, it opened the door to at least two networks considering doing stories on the subject.

In recent weeks, both "60 Minutes" and Sports Illustrated for its television segment on Wide World of Sports, considered doing pieces on the subject. SI appeared to have gotten the jump and "60 Minutes" appears to at least for the present has dropped it as a story idea.

While WCW appears the most concerned, because of the fear, that the story will link Ted Turner's name to the company and the company, which thus far has been shielded from the steroid controversy that devastated the WWF, to a weak policy. In addition, every steroid story in wrestling always goes back to Hulk Hogan lying on Arsenio Hall and this will come at a time when Hogan and Jimmy Hart have spent years working at rebuilding his soiled image.

The weekend WWF television did show immediate indications of concern as well, as they brought out of the mothballs the say no to drugs poem by the fourth grade girl and the Undertaker with it that they first used in the midst of the steroid problem as a media story.

The piece is planned for five minutes, and there is no guarantee it will even air because a more important sports story at any time could supersede it. But it is expected the piece will attempt to link Gilbert and Studd's deaths with steroids in some fashion and present the pro wrestling industry, and possibly pro wrestling fans as well, as being cavalier in regard to the subject and its ramifications. I suspect the theme of the story will be something akin to the excesses of the 80s have come to roost in the 90s.

I'll reserve any more comment on what the piece may entail and reactions to it until when and if it airs, but it does bring up a story that is far more important than whatever Sports Illustrated reports later this month.

Eddie Gilbert and John Studd are dead at a young age. They were real human beings, with families, friends and loved ones and not primarily television cartoon characters who may have made a lot of mistakes in their personal lives or have been not the most talented of wrestlers. Dismissing thoughts of this and what can be learned of this because both were largely "out of sight, out of mind" by most wrestling fans when they died is only an invitation to see more tragedies continue. Both used steroids, supplied by Dr. George Zahorian, and possibly others, primarily if not exclusively because both felt it would be beneficial for their wrestling careers. Gilbert died of a heart attack, Studd of liver cancer, both ailments which are also considered potential side effects from steroids. That doesn't mean steroids was the prime culprit, a contributory culprit, or not a culprit at all in either or both of their deaths. As far as pure inarguable facts are concerned, we will never know one way or the other. Gilbert suffered a bruised heart in a 1983 auto accident and those close to him admit he had problems that dug a whole lot deeper than steroid use. Studd had been suffering from Hodgkins Disease, which to the best of medical knowledge at this point is not a side effect of steroids but could have possibly been sped up from Growth Hormone. The point is, for anyone to make a blanket statement as anything more than speculation that steroids are in any way responsible for either death is being irresponsible. Likewise, for anyone to make a blanket statement that they weren't is being equally irresponsible.

To exclusively pick on pro wrestling as opposed to sports or action movies when it comes to steroids is unfair in many ways. But that is no defense for the fact this business had a major problem that it ignored and in some cases attempted to lie its way out of which left it a sitting duck for bad publicity and ultimately dragged it into court and if two or three things had happened differently, could have wound up with the worst repercussions imaginable. The p.r. problem steroids have created for pro wrestling have hit worse than in almost any sport because of two very public trials, its biggest star telling the lie that he'll be associated with for the rest of his life, and because the leading company in the United States was built on the back of steroids during its heyday at a time it and its largely steroid filled wrestlers were being marketed as idols to young children. Its promoter was well aware of it and what was going on, bought steroids from the same doctor in question that many of his wrestlers used and ignored what was going on among 80 to 90 percent of his wrestlers as being a problem until it became a public relations problem years later. In addition, in the midst of the controversy and six months after it began testing, its lead heel during the time period of a Wrestlemania was caught cheating on a steroid test and was not suspended and allowed to appear both at the Wrestlemania and the subsequent major European tour that followed. To a news reporter looking in from the outside, those facts add up to a bright neon sign saying "steroid scandal."

Moving forward to 1995. The World Wrestling Federation has done a better job of cleaning its house when it comes to steroids than any sport where they were rampant in that I'm aware of. But the question is still there in regard to its policy of who it hires and pushes and the unique nature of what constitutes a positive on their tests to where it is still an issue but certainly not as major as years ago. But WCW has left itself open to media bombs. There's the Frank Anderson situation. There's the evidence that can't be talked about in a court of law and perhaps even on network television but that everyone within the company and reading this newsletter is aware of, that is simply what the physiques look like and certainly if you look at a tape of SuperBrawl just a few months back and even some of them at the TV tapings this week. There's the company's own hiring philosophy. It is also true the company did stop the push and get rid of one young wrestler last year because of a positive test. In Japan and Mexico, where no testing exists, use surely has continued unabated and while in neither country was use as rampant as it was during the 1980s U.S. scene, if those in either country try to portray their physiques as a result of drug-free harder training, in many if not most cases, they are being deceptive. From a p.r. perspective, Japan and Mexico have nothing to fear because their media will never take them to task because of both differences in the standing of wrestling within the countries and the nature of each countries media. But John Studd and Eddie Gilbert are not a p.r. problem, nor were Rick McGraw, Art Barr, Larry Cameron, Ed Gantner or others who used steroids and died young and who knows how many more names will be added to the list by the end of the decade. If by any chance there is a link with all or some between steroids and early death, the fact it wasn't a p.r. problem until 1991 would have to be considered a contributory cause of death.

But this industry only reacts when things like this become p.r. problems and it is once again a p.r. problem today. Forget for a moment about the human side because obviously if people running the industry strongly considered that in this business something would have been done a long time ago. Forget also that we really don't know how dangerous steroids are and there are numerous things that could be and some that undeniably are far more dangerous associated with this profession, both in and out of the ring. It will go away in a few weeks once again, and then return as a p.r. problem with every death of a wrestler on the Zahorian list or known to have used steroids to enhance their career. It will plague the business for every drug arrest. For WCW, now that they have the dual p.r. magnets of Ted Turner and Hulk Hogan, it will no longer be unfairly limited to just the WWF and Vince McMahon.

The answer? Institute a policy that works. Don't hide behind words like testing, which can mean nothing. Another answer is to not market to heavily to young children because that is the issue that from a media standpoint raises the most ire when it comes to steroid use, but the company's only know that direction and to a large degree the young children are the one audience that hasn't been so completely turned off by the excesses of the 80s. The policy needs to include testing, and also needs to involve a policy on hiring and signing new contracts. Both WWF and WCW have testing. But everyone can see that with whatever flaws WWF has, its policies have been far more successful. McMahon and the company doomed themselves on the trust issue in 1991 and 1992 but it can't be denied they have a policy and a program and are making a real effort, but also haven't licked the problem to the extent where their program isn't open for questions. WCW has testing, but nobody anywhere believes its policy is "real," as in real effective. It may be too late to avoid whatever ramifications come from Ted and Hulk and steroids and ignoring deaths bunched into five minutes on a network sports show. But at least it'll avoid the inevitable, and if anyone in the industry at this point hasn't realized they are inevitable, follow-ups, then they are doomed to their repercussions just from stupidity as opposed to a lack of caring. Use appears to be down from the heyday, but if WCW gets stung at the end of the month and then cries unfair, one last suggestion. Instead of crying and having it happen again, just clean it up and if it's an honest effort at cleaning it up, the odds problem will dissipate will greatly increase. They even have the chance to turn the story around if they come up with some real solutions and announce them by the 28th.

For those interested in what ifs, if Animal had worked Fukuoka Dome in the Road Warriors-Steiners match, Animal was going to be the one asked to do the job. Not to say he would have in his first major match back, but that was the idea going in.

New Jack is once again in the middle of controversy stemming from a series of incidents on 4/14 in Erlanger, KY. SMW was scheduled to run a house show that night at Peall's Palace, a night club across the river from Cincinnati. After a disastrous show the last time in, the club owners wanted to change the rent deal. SMW was planning on pulling out of the building since the new deal wouldn't have made running economically feasible. However, since they had no other city booked that night, the plan was to go ahead and due to a lack of communication, Jim Cornette thought they were doing the final show under the old deal. When he found out they weren't the night before, he told all the wrestlers at television that he was canceling the show which thrilled several of the babyfaces who didn't like working there anyway because the fans booed faces more than in other SMW cities. An SMW official called the building the next morning to cancel. At that point, because there was a decent advance (whatever that means since only 200 fans showed up), local promoter Bob Harmon and Johnny Diamond decided to put on a show of trainees at Harmon and Les Thatcher's Bonecrusher's wrestling school. They posted signs in front of the building that there would be no SMW show, but instead a "Northern Wrestling Federation" show, a group that is no planning on running regularly in that same building. For whatever reason, D.Lo Brown and New Jack showed up anyway, and when they saw there was a show, talked with the promoter, and got booked on the show and agreed to work the show for free. With the two milling around the crowd before the show it caused fans to believe they were going to see "name" wrestlers and those who showed up bought tickets even with the signs saying SMW wrestlers weren't going to be there. New Jack continued to interact with the fans during the show and heckle the wrestlers, some of whom by all accounts were too inexperienced to even be in the ring. During a tag match, New Jack threw a bar table onto the shoulder of one, and separated his shoulder, although that was perhaps an accident. In the main event, a 10-man elimination tag, New Jack did a run-in and began throwing real punches in several people's face including giving one young wrestler a 12-stitch cut from a punch to the mouth. New Jack later claimed the guy either had said a racial remark to him or that he had punched one of the guys who didn't sell it and wanted to make sure he would sell the second punch. At this point, a large security guard named Mike McCord (no relation to Austin Idol) realizing something was amiss, tackled New Jack which led to more brawling into the parking lot and New Jack finally taking off before a few police cars showed up to quell the problem.

The deal with the Jerry Springer show was that they wanted to do a show on the Gangstas controversy, but wanted it done as a work treating the wrestling angle as if it were real and have them play racist heel wrestlers and used the SMW babyfaces to argue with them. Most of the babyfaces didn't want to get involved so Jim Cornette agreed to play off them. That was largely nixed because Jim Ross, J.J. Dillon and Vince McMahon didn't like the idea because of how it would play to people in the other 49 states who see Cornette as a WWF personality and wanted to avoid any possibility of negative publicity stemming from it. Anyway, it all fell through at that point.

Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenko tore down the house at the 4/15 show before about 1,000 fans with a 30:00 (which actually lasted 25:57) draw that many are saying was the best match in the history of the promotion. Show rundown went as follows: 1. Mikey Whipwreck, with Hack Myers in his corner, pinned Steve Richards, with Raven in his corner. After the match both seconds got involved, which led to Pit Bulls doing a run-in and Public Enemy making the save. Public Enemy then picked Myers' pocket and got on the house mic saying they made the save to get the wallet but opened the wallet which only had $2 in it and they freaked out; 2. Tsubo Genjin, a short Japanese wrestler for PWFG (not to be confused with Michinoku Pro wrestler Yone Genjin, who most confused him with since both look alike and do the same gimmick) who does a Missing Link gimmick, pinned Tony Stetson in a terrible match. Genjin was in because a Japanese film crew was doing a movie that he's in and they wanted shots of him going over in the ECW Arena; 3. Axl Rotten came out with a garbage can filled with gimmicks for a fans choice gimmick match with Ian Rotten. He asked pulled out one gimmick at a time. He asked fans if they wanted a strap match and they booed. If they wanted an I Quit match and they booed. If they wanted a baseball bat and they booed. He pulled out a barbed wire baseball bat and they cheered. Then he said he wanted a Bad Breed death match where everything in the garbage can would be legal which got the biggest cheers. Total bloodbath of course. Axl was wrapped up in barbed wire. Ian put a garbage can over his head and hit the can with a bat. Ian wound up winning this time; 4. Raven beat Tommy Dreamer via DQ when Dreamer went nuts and DDT'd Raven, Richards and the referee. After the match Raven's valet, Beulah McGillicutty, who was wearing a short dress, was given a piledriver with her dress falling down over her face; 5. Guerrero drew Malenko. The only problem here is that a few fans chanted "We Want Blood" which brought a loud chant back of "Shut the F*** up" and the situation nearly got ugly with security having to get involved. This match will air in its entirety on television in a few weeks; Genjin came back out for an interview. Paul E. Dangerously made a comment about Genjin stealing Tazmaniac's gimmick and about becoming a surrogate for an ex-ECW wrestler who chose Japan over ECW which is where the chant started briefly. Taz suplexed the guy twice and 911 choke slammed him. 911 was noticeably less over this week than before; 6. Sandman pinned Douglas in 7:28 to win the title. Douglas had Sandman in a chicken wing when Woman turned on Douglas by hitting him in the leg with the cane. Douglas held onto the hold but fell on his back and the ref counted three; 7. Public Enemy retained ECW tag title over Pit Bulls in 18:02 of a quadruple juice match. They brawled all over using frying pans, toilet seats, soda cans and a toaster; 8. 911 pinned Ron Simmons in 5:31. Apparently it was a little too long because 911 exposed himself to the point where there were "911 sux" chants and boos, particularly after a clumsy legdrop, although Simmons did a good job of carrying him; 9. Cactus Jack pinned Terry Funk. These guys went all out even though both are really messed up physically. Funk has a bulging disc in his back (same injury that ended the career of Rick Rude). Crazy bumps and heavy juice. Funk hit Jack over the head three times with a legit beer bottle before it would break. He broke two more bottles on the post and started carving up Jack's arm and ear with the jagged edges. Jack rolled-up Funk off the spinning toe hold. Sandman ran in and started hitting Jack with the stick and poured fire starter on him. Funk came out with a flaming branding iron and blew fire on him after the match.

The main reason ECW doesn't move its Philadelphia shows to Penn Hall (4,000 seats) is because, besides an increase in rent and other expenses, it costs $5,000 rights fee to videotape from the building.

After years of housing wrestling and housing two promotions over the past few weeks, it appears the string of regular wrestling in the Dallas Sportatorium may be broken. In separate moves this past week, Azteca Promotions which had been running Friday Lucha Libre shows the past three weeks, pulled out after a financial dispute with building owner David Hightower and is moving to Terraza Casino starting 4/27 when Los Hermanos Dinamita and Fantasma will appear. Since Jim Crockett was apparently responsible for getting them into the building, somehow the rent agreement in losing them cost Crockett $800 a week. Crockett, after drawing 278 for his first Tuesday show at the Sportatorium on 4/11 for his NWA tag team tournament which included Rock & Roll Express, Greg Valentine, Al Perez, Dick Murdoch, Hector Guerrero and Hercules Hernandez, will run 4/25 before moving to Billy Bob's in Fort Worth on 5/9. Joe Pedecino and Boni Blackstone are done as announcers and Mark Nulty will be taking over. In the tag tourney, Morton & Gibson came out on top beating Murdoch & Randy Rhodes in a 2/3 fall final that was said to be good. Best match at ***1/2 was Morton & Gibson beating The Guerreros, which turned out to be Hector, who looked great carrying his side, and a local wrestler billed as cousin Arturo Guerrero.

Gene Okerlund's health took a turn for the worst this past week when his body began rejecting the donated kidney and he suffered blood clots in his legs. Okerlund did a hotline report over the weekend from the hospital but word came our way that he won't even be able to file hotline reports for a few weeks.

Steve Austin's job appears to be safe after all. This past week Hulk Hogan was politicking to save Butcher's spot as well.

The 7/16 WCW PPV looks to be moved from Miami to Huntington Beach, CA. The latter site isn't confirmed, but if it is held there, it would be a free show on the beach.

It appears the five inductees into the Hall of Fame at Slamboree will be Dory Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Antonio Inoki, Wahoo McDaniel and Angelo Poffo, the latter I guess as a favor to Randy Savage. Poffo will also be in the corner along with Renegade in the main event on the show while Arn Anderson is in the other corner to set up an angle. I guess they decided against honoring Rick Steamboat after all. Terry Funk may appear on the show on tape to talk about Dory for the Hall of Fame segment. Also some talk of honoring John Studd at the show. I don't know about Wahoo. Didn't they consider how he tarnished his pro wrestling career by playing in all those pro football games where they don't even predetermine the winner in advance? How come nobody has tackled that issue?

Vader was asked to turn face which makes no sense on the surface but if you think about who is running the company, it makes perfect sense. As a face, there is no clamor for Hogan vs. Vader. If he's turned face, in the match he does the turn, he can do a job for Hogan as part of the turn and there is no reason to book a rematch. After 4/20 if Vader loses the strap as I suspect will happen, there is no political reason that he can't put Hogan over.

Michael Hayes (Michael Seitz) debuted on Superstars as Doc Hendricks (Jimi Hendrix gimmick), with a haircut, shave and being much better dressed. Jerry Lawler moved to doing Raw. Jim Cornette was only a temporary co-host which was understood from the beginning because he didn't like having to commute to Connecticut on a weekly basis. With Lawler doing Raw, that means he has to tape every Monday morning in Connecticut and fly back for the Monday night shows in Memphis on the weeks Raw isn't done live.

Dan Spivey is headed in. Rumors have it he'll get a top spot as Sid's tag partner but if that's the case, then nobody has been watching him for the past ten years.

Paul Levesque's first vignettes appeared this weekend. Not only is he doing a Steve Regal gimmick, but he's doing a 100% copy using the name Hunter Helmsley I believe. This is the first time I can remember WWF ever using a current WCW gimmick on one of its wrestlers. The Bertha Faye gimmick with the love interest with Harvey Whippleman is also not original since another promotion discussed this exact idea with different characters and the timing is just too coincidental.

Glen Jacobs (SMW Unabomb) was in the office with the character development people.

Spoiler for December 2000 Figure 4 Weekly:
The future of Extreme Championship Wrestling has probably never looked as grave as it does this week. Everyone in the company is reportedly at least six weeks behind on getting paid, with morale at perhaps an all-time low since paychecks didn’t even arrive before the Thanksgiving holiday. Some of the company’s biggest stars, including Jerry Lynn and Justin Credible, are actually in financial trouble right now as they’ve been struggling to make ends meet in a company that still has not secured a necessary national television outlet.

Paul Heyman this past week gave permission to several top ECW stars to talk with WWF and WCW about possible employment. Among the names mentioned were Rob Van Dam, Jerry Lynn and Sandman, all of whom are said to be owed the most money of anyone. Lynn, at press time, was backstage at the Smackdown tapings Tuesday night attempting to hammer out a deal with the company. The feeling is that the WWF would send Rob Van Dam to a developmental territory before putting him on TV, so he’d probably be more likely to jump to WCW if he even desires a job in the United States. Sandman probably wouldn’t be aggressively sought after by either WWF or WCW, so his options may be limited. Heyman, who wants to build the company around his younger stars, told Rhino, Credible, Steve Corino, Super Crazy and Yoshihiro Tajiri that they were not allowed to negotiate. Credible — who is in a tough situation because he’s not getting paid, yet isn’t being allowed to negotiate with WWF or WCW — has told people that he’d get out of his deal if Heyman would let him.

Added to the problems are the cancellations of the December 8th and 9th Texas house shows. ECW defenders on the Internet tried to place the blame for the cancellations on several ECW workers who had agreed to take an independent booking in Texas the night before. Their claim was that the building ECW rented didn’t think the show would draw if big-name ECW wrestlers appeared on a show charging lower ticket prices the night before. It’s a safe bet that this has nothing to do with the real reason the shows were cancelled.

The next ECW house show will be December 15th in Queens, New York. This show was originally scheduled for the 21st, but had to be moved forward after the other cancellations, otherwise ECW wouldn’t have had any footage for the December 22nd weekend. The WWF has agreed to let the Dudleys come in for that show, although the benefit of this is questionable since the show is running in an 800 seat building that Heyman probably could have sold out without them. Paul has told people that he needs to average 1,600 fans per show to break even, and you can’t pack 1,600 people into an 800 seat building. One also has to wonder why Vince McMahon would be so nice to do this favor for Heyman.

Most of the wrestlers, like Credible, are in a tough situation because there really isn’t much of a point to file a breach of contract lawsuit. First, that’s going to cost money. Second, Heyman has either 30 or 90 days, depending on the contract in question, to correct the breach, and everyone figures that he’ll always be able to come up with back pay somehow, making a suit costly and futile.

Despite the problems, ECW still has a PPV this weekend. Heyman didn’t want to officially announce a card Monday for fear that it would be totally switched around and he’d in essence be guilty of false advertising. The ECW website Tuesday announced the following line-up: For the ECW Title, Steve Corino vs. Justin Credible vs. Jerry Lynn. Lynn is expected to work the show regardless of whether or not he signs with the WWF; Spike Dudley vs. Rhino in — get this — a no-DQ match; FBI vs. Doring & Roadkill with the stipulation being that Doring and Roadkill have to split up if they lose; Tommy Dreamer vs. CW Anderson; Mikey Whipwreck & Tajiri vs. Super Crazy and a Mystery Partner. No word on whether or not Scott Hall will be there, but if Heyman can work out a deal, he probably will be.

During the pre-show, before the live event had even officially begun, some fan held up a sign that said: “THIS SUCKS!” I hope this fan got his ticket for free, otherwise he just held up a sign telling the world what a stupid geek he was.

Steiner cut a promo. “Death is ratings!” he said.

A “Blood Runs Cold” promo aired. Yes, the same one that aired years ago setting up the debut of Glacier. Tony actually screamed: “Oh, good God, no!”, which was surely his greatest line ever.

Last week’s Sunday Night Heat did a record low 1.6 rating. This was the show that aired the week after WWF teased a shocking surprise opponent for Kurt Angle who ended up being Crash Holly. Nothing against Crash, and I heard the match was OK, but that whole scenario was like something straight out of WCW. The only way people are going to watch Heat again is if it becomes another “A” show. If Angle had defended the title against Hunter, Austin, Rock, or any other top star, and had a hell of a match that was talked about the next night on Raw, it might have boosted viewership the next week. It would have helped even more to shoot an angle on the show that led into something major on Raw. Not a mid-card angle, but a main event-style angle. Promising a major surprise opponent for Angle and then delivering with Crash Holly will do anything but build trust in viewers and compel them to watch the following week.

Buff Bagwell threw a total fit backstage after doing a job to Scott Steiner at the Thunder tapings. He started screaming that the company sucked and dared anyone to fire him. Of course, nobody did. He said he didn’t need WCW and could easily get work anywhere else. That sort of attitude is going to hurt him far more than he thinks when he starts talking with the WWF. I guess this also means Steiner isn’t an “A” talent.

There is talk of breaking up the Filthy Animals and The Misfits. In fact, there’s even talk of putting Lex Luger and Kidman together, God knows why. The theory is that Kidman would get a rub by being associated with a superstar of the calibre of Luger. Of course, everyone knows what kind of rub Kidman got from working with Hulk Hogan. It’s too bad about the MIA, because WCW almost had something going with them. They were four guys who in real-life were kind of considered locker-room misfits, and they came to appreciate each other and become good friends when put together in this group. Although their interviews were never really that great, and usually pretty bad actually, they did have chemistry together and did give viewers the impression that they all really cared about each other. It’s really hard in WCW for people to display any real emotion because angles and alliances are usually put together and dropped on an almost weekly basis.

Bob Sapp, the same Bob Sapp who cut that horrendous promo on Thunder a few weeks ago promoting a Toughman fight with William “Refrigerator” Perry, ended up winning that fight. It was said to be brutal.

The BattleDome angle fell through for financial reasons. I believe WCW agreed to do the angle on their higher-rated TV show, but said the BattleDome guys would have to fly themselves in and pay for their own expenses. It’s too bad, because this angle was among the best-promoted in WCW. What is also sad is that BattleDome apparently did a HELL of a job hyping up the angle on their TV show. Apparently, they aired profiles of all the major wrestlers talking about their personalities and finishing moves, and had clips of all the angles on both WCW and BattleDome TV. Imagine if WCW took the time to do something like that for any of its major angles.

Goldberg told people this week that he thinks the new streak idea is a total joke.

Steph started nagging Hunter backstage and he went off. Say what you will about Hunter, but he puts the WWF Title over like nobody else. He even said he’d die to get it. He’s lying of course, since everyone knows Hunter can’t be killed like mere mortals.

Nathan Jones, a 6-10, 350 pound Australian, signed a WWF developmental deal last week. Jones, who has won a few World’s Strongest Man contests, has been training with Rick Bassman’s Ultimate University for several months now. He’s fought in one shootfight, losing to Koji Kitao on a Japanese PRIDE show. Bassman’s Ultimate Pro Wrestling, which is becoming an actual WWF developmental territory, is running a show featuring the Hardyz and Lita on December 20th. They’ll face the Ballard Brothers. Juventud Guererra, Psicosis, former No Limit Soldier Chase Tatum and Scott Hall were originally said to be appearing, but Hall is now off the show and Psicosis may or may not be there. Jim Ross and Bruce Pritchard are among the WWF staffers who have visited the shows scouting talent. UPW has signed thirteen students to WWF developmental deals in the past year-and-a-half.

Stuff Magazine called Vince McMahon the seventh most dangerous person in the world.

Virtually nobody inside WCW knew that this past Monday’s Nitro was going to be pre-empted for a David Copperfield special. As far as I know, a fan e-mailed Dave Meltzer saying his TV Guide listed the Copperfield special replacing Nitro, and once it appeared on our website Thursday, word spread to the WCW office. Apparently, TV Guide knew many days in advance, but so few people in WCW were aware of it that no mention was made on either Nitro or Thunder. Craig Leathers tried to put the blame on Terry Taylor, saying he told him in early November about the pre-emption, but there’s no way this embarrassing situation can be blamed on any one person. So last week’s Nitro was the last regularly scheduled edition of that show before Starrcade. To make matters worse, there will be no Nitro on Christmas or New Years, meaning the company will have exactly one regularly scheduled Nitro to promote the January PPV. Talk about the potential to drop below a 0.10 buyrate. On December 22nd, they’ll tape a show in Memphis to air Internationally, so nothing major will go down there. They will also tape the January 3rd Thunder that night. On December 27th, they’ll air a “Best of Thunder 2000” show, and there is no truth to the rumor that it will air from 9:00 to 9:01 PM EST.

A very strange interview conducted by Stevie Ray with Dallas Page and Kevin Nash aired on Thunder (see Thunder report for details). Nash and Page’s side of the story is that Diana Meyers never actually told them they couldn’t mention Hall’s name, although they’d heard that she’d made this ruling to others. The plan for the Thunder promo, which was known to Nash, Page and all the production people, was that references would be made to Hall and actual video footage of him as the Diamond Studd and an Outsider’s member would be inserted into the segment. In other words, the lighting problems and other production errors were simply going to be covered up with other footage, so nobody thought to do a re-tape when everything got all funky. Page told friends that he had no idea the references to Hall and the footage were going to be banned, and found out about it watching the segment when it aired. He said the whole thing looked like something out of Saturday Night Live. Apparently, Meyers went crazy and clamped down during post-production, so there wasn’t time to re-tape the segment. Then, because there was a seven-minute hole in the Thunder show for the segment, it “had” to air. Why they couldn’t have created a couple of extra Starrcade promos to fill up that seven-minute hole is beyond me.

Mark Madden was suspended for making heel shoot comments about Dallas Page on Nitro last week. This was a really weird story. Apparently, Kimberly yelled at Madden during a phone conversation causing a fallout between him and Page. Madden then went on his website, which is probably viewed by 0.01% of the Nitro audience, and said he was going to shoot on Page on the air. Even though Page is a face, and Madden is a heel, Madden was suspended after making fun of Page on the air. Page was unhappy that Madden’s comments about him seemed personal as opposed to storyline jabs that might further a program.

General Rection injured his knee in his match with Scott Steiner last week. This is going to be hard to explain, but when he was tied to the Tree of Woe, his leg was actually twisted the wrong way to get his foot hooked around the turnbuckle.

Chavo Guerrero Jr. was pissed backstage at the Thunder tapings for being forced to work a handicap match against Jindrak & O’Hare. He said he had been trying so hard to be a heel, but the booking of the match clearly made him the underdog babyface. WCW is totally clueless about how to book babyfaces and heels, as this wasn’t even the only time on this show that it happened. Filthy Animals also beat Jeff Jarrett in a six-man tag when the Harris Twins walked out on Jarrett, making Jarrett the underdog babyface. For what this is worth, he’ll probably be turning face soon anyway.

Hulk Hogan on Bubba the Love Sponge’s radio show Friday cut a total pro-WWF and Vince McMahon promo, trying to hint that he was jumping over there when his WCW deal expired in March.

Nitro Girl Baby quit to go back to school.

WCW Wednesday Thunder (12/6/00)

Quick Review: At least Stevie Ray was back.

Summary: The show opened with Stevie Ray coming down to the ring carrying a rolled up piece of paper he might have jacked from JJ Dillon. YAY~! Stevie’s back! Stevie booted Madden out of the announcer’s booth and took over.

Flair came out. He said he allowed something horrible to go down on Nitro and had to make some unpopular decisions. He banned Steiner and Sid from the building, perhaps in an effort to make sure they didn’t deliver another hot, ratings-popping segment like on Nitro last week. Flair ran down Steiner for beating up Arn on Monday and announced that he was suspended him indefinitely and stripping him of the WCW Title. Sanders came out and said Ric wasn’t making business decisions, he was making decisions out of fear and rage. Sanders said he was the guy who should be dishing out disciplinary action. Stevie said: “This guy is suffering from an acute case of ippy-doodleitis”. Flair said he was CEO and he wasn’t changing his mind. Fans booed. Arn suddenly appeared on the TurnerTron. Arn cut the phattest-ass promo managing to put over Flair, the belt, the company and Steiner all in the course of about one minute. Have we ever mentioned that Arn is perhaps the most underutilized guy in WCW? Arn convinced Flair to neither suspend Steiner nor strip him of the title, but rather let him go down in flames at the hands of Sid. This was a really good segment.

Flair signed Sanders vs. Chavo for the Cruiserweight Title later.

Crowbar ran into Daffney backstage and handed her an outfit to wear later. She freaked out.

Jindrak & O’Hare beat Jaime Knoble & Evan Karagias. This was FAR better than you’d think. Knoble and Karagias nearly killed O’Hare with ladder shots to the belly at one point, but paid nearly with their lives when they both took SUPER HIPTOSSES into the ring.

Pam interviewed Douglas, who threatened to Franchise Goldberg’s ass.

Crowbar and Daffney came down to the ring. She was wearing bell-bottoms and a goofy vest straight out of the, well, 1960s. Nice try, Crowbar. They sat down to do commentary for the next match. Crowbar did his Gordon Solie impersonation again. Five commentators in this match was about ten too many. It was like reverse synergy. Bam Bam Bigelow and Wall went to a double-countout in a Hardcore match. A million bucks if anyone can explain how you can have a countout in a Hardcore match. At one point, they brawled onto the announcer’s table, which resulted in Stevie proclaiming: “I need medical attention, Tony!” Clearly, the commentating in this match was quite lacking.

Jarrett and the Harrises beat up the Filthy Animals backstage.

Shat & Dragons beat Team Canada when Duggan accidentally pulled the ropes down on Skipper, allowing Shat to hit him with a Feliner for the pin. This was OK. Everyone, including the Dragons, danced after the match. I wish I’d never seen Kaz Hayashi try to dance.

Pam interviewed Team Canada. Storm yelled at Duggan, who threw a tantrum when Storm told him to hit the showers. Storm challenged Shat to a match at Starrcade. Pam and Major Gunns had catty words again.

Chavo DESPERATELY needs new ring music.

Chavo pinned Mike Sanders with a brainbuster following a belt shot behind the referee’s back to win the Cruiserweight Title. Big pop for the title change, which is good because it means that belt hasn’t changed hands to an embarrassing degree lately.

Gene interviewed Chavo. Chavo said his new attitude helped him win a belt in one week, but it took Rection three months to win the US Title with his attitude. Chavo yelled at Rection and said his attitude was going to land him in the hospital.

Stevie interviewed Nash and Page in one of the most unintentionally hilarious pre-taped segments ever. First, they kept bleeping the name “Scott Hall”. Nash and Page said his name like two dozen times, and it got bleeped every time, so the interview made almost no sense the first few minutes. Then, Page talked about how he did yoga to help his back, and Nash made some comment about him bringing a mat everywhere, and all of a sudden everyone just lost it and started giggling. Suddenly, the lighting in the room got all funky and there was a clanging noise in the background like someone was banging on a garbage can lid. As Stevie was mumbling a question, Nash and Page just started glancing around offstage like they were wondering what in the hell was going on. My friend Vince turned to me at this point and said: “Why did this air?”.

They showed a shot of Luger reading Goldberg’s book. He’s been reading that book for about three weeks now and only appears to be halfway done.

Bagwell beat Alex Wright clean with the Blockbuster. This was OK. I don’t know what was up with Bagwell’s hair this evening.

Brian Clarke beat Big Vito clean with the Meltdown. Vito may have hurt his knee coming off the top rope. Kronic beat him up after the match. Reno tried to make the save but took Brian Adams’ only move for his troubles. Finally, Marie boinged down to the ring and Kronic left. That Marie is a genetic marvel.

After the match, Thrillers yelled at Reno for helping Vito. Reno said he had to look after his family.

Douglas came out and cut a very long promo, which managed to convince not even the youngest, dumbest fan that he could actually beat Goldberg. He got tons of cheap heat. Goldberg came out and was killing him when Luger appeared on the ramp racking Dewayne Bruce. Goldberg was going to go help, but Douglas jumped him. So Goldberg speared, jackhammered, and pinned Douglas, then went to save Sarge. “He chose his friend over his streak!” Tony said. He did? What match was Tony watching? Goldberg threatened to end Luger’s life on Nitro.

WCW couldn’t have two weeks of television pre-emptions coming at a worse time, since the company, already in turmoil, is coming off one of its worst weekends ever.

The Starrcade show wasn’t a total disaster from a wrestling standpoint, since most of the responses we got to the show were good. The problem was that we didn’t get many responses. Traditionally, the poll we run on the Eyada website gives a pretty good indication as to what a PPV’s buyrate is going to be. A show where 50% of the respondents mark “Didn’t see the show” usually does quite poorly. On Tuesday afternoon, the poll results told a very sad story.

“Didn’t see the show — 79%”.

Never in the history of the Eyada show has a PPV come even close to doing that poorly in the poll. Our website poll also had 58% of the respondents saying they didn’t see it. Early indications are that this show might have done worse than any other show in WCW history, with the buyrate perhaps dropping below a 0.10.

It’s hard to say which was worse, a show that did so poorly or all the problems that went down the following night on Nitro. Ironically, Nitro was also a decent show, but ended up doing the lowest rating in its regular timeslot in five years. Plus, the show had one disaster after another take place backstage with three main eventers walking out, a bloody fistfight, and a show that subsequently had to be totally booked on the fly.

The Nitro problems actually started the previous day when Sid arrived and was given the booking sheet. He had been under the impression that he and Steiner were going to go to a double countout to lead to another match in January. When he looked at the sheet, he discovered that the plan had changed and he was going to be doing the job to Steiner via the Recliner. Sid told friends this didn’t really bother him, and if past history is any indication, if it had bothered him he would have just walked out and not done the match.

So the next day, Sid showed up for Nitro and found WCW hadn’t booked anything for him to get his heat back on Steiner. He was also told he was going to be facing Steiner again in a four-way in January along with Rick Steiner and Jeff Jarrett, and perhaps told he was going to be doing the job on that show as well. Regardless of what he was told, he spontaneously developed pain in his arm and shoulder and left the building.

With Sid gone, the show had to be rewritten. That also left only three guys for the scheduled January four-way main event, Steiner, Jarrett and Rick Steiner. Unfortunately, the person in WCW who was supposed to call Rick either lost his number or called the wrong house or just plain forgot to call, because Rick never got the message that he was supposed to be at Nitro. Since both Nitro and Thunder are taped on the same night, they had to put Robbie Rage under a mask and have him attack Scott at the end of the show, and since Nitro is pre-empted for two weeks, Rick won’t appear on TV until January 8th, the final Nitro before the PPV.

The problems were only beginning. A few weeks ago, Dallas Page called Mark Madden to ask him about some comments that Madden had made about him on the air, and during the phone conversation Kimberly got on the line and cut a promo on Madden. Madden responded by going on his website and saying he was going to shoot on Page on the air, which he did two weeks ago on Nitro. Madden was subsequently suspended for one week with pay, and neither he nor Page had talked to each other since.

So Page approached Madden in the cafeteria before Nitro. Page told friends earlier that it was the Christmas season and that there was too much negativity in the locker room, so he was going to bury the hatchet with Madden. He approached Madden and stuck his hand out to shake, and Madden responded by sticking both hands up in the air as if he were being robbed. Madden told Page that he’d cost him a week off TV. Page said he didn’t cost Madden anything since Madden was the one who made the unscripted comments on the air in the first place. Madden said he had to go do his radio show, and walked off. Witnesses say Captain Rection immediately went up to Page and asked how he could forgive Madden, and Page said it was Christmas. Rection reportedly said: “You’re a better man than me.”

Nitro began, and Scott Steiner came out to cut a promo regarding the Sin PPV. Suddenly, he strayed from the script and went off on a tirade directed at Page, saying Page didn’t have the balls to fight him (see Nitro review). Page told others that as soon as he heard Steiner say people were afraid to fight him, he knew Steiner was going to mention his name. There had been rumors all week that Page refused to work with Steiner and had gotten a scheduled house show match against him changed. The show in question had actually been booked over a month in advance with Page vs. Steiner on top, but in the meantime, it got changed to Steiner vs. Sid and Page & Nash vs. Thrillers, since those were the current programs at the time. Page may not have wanted to work with Steiner, but the card was changed for reasons other than Page requesting it be changed.

Page was stretching in the locker room when Steiner made his comments. Ironically, this was the same building where, earlier in the year, a verbal incident occurred between Steiner and Kimberly that resulted in her quitting the company for good. As soon as Steiner said Page had no balls, everyone in the locker room immediately turned and looked over at him, as if to see what he was going to do about it. One witness said: “The air was totally sucked out of the room.” Page finished tying his boots and walked down the stairs near the curtain. As soon as Steiner walked backstage, Page reportedly said: “So, I don’t have the balls to face you, huh?” They started swearing at each other and a fight broke out. Steiner took Page down and started pounding on his face, with multiple witnesses saying he went straight for Page’s eye. One source said that Steiner had been cutting his fingernails earlier in the day, and if he hadn’t it would have been a lot uglier. The other wrestlers immediately jumped in to break it up and it reportedly took them over a full minute to pry Steiner off of him. Page was bleeding and had marks all over his face. He later told friends that Steiner wasn’t just scary, he was a killer, and that he was glad he walked away from the fight. Page and Kevin Nash immediately grabbed their stuff and left the building, with some sources saying their last words were: “We’ll be back when there are new owners.” Steiner then responded by cutting another promo, this time focusing on Kimberly and saying some very bad things about her.

Since Nash and Page were scheduled to do a segment later, Mike Sanders was told to go out with the Thrillers at about 9:30 EST and cut a promo to “kill time”. He was quite successful.

If this situation had happened in the WWF, all three guys would probably have been fired. I say “probably”, because if this were the WWF, Steiner would have been fired a long, long time ago for about a dozen different reasons, not the least of which was threatening to beat up Terry Taylor, a member of the booking committee. The heat between Page and Steiner would therefore never have gotten to the point where Page would have actually decided to get into a fight with him. I’m not sure if Nash would have been fired or not, because for some reason I don’t think he’d have made unscripted comments on the air about Scott Hall if Vince told him not to. Maybe he would have. But if all three guys had been in a WWF locker room last night, and what went down at Nitro instead went down at Raw, they’d all have been canned for sure.

But this is WCW. As of press time, nobody has been fired, fined, suspended with or without pay, or even reprimanded. Page refused to take phone calls from anyone in the company, so who knows what they’ll say when they finally get hold of him. Steiner finished Nitro and worked the Thunder tapings. The company, through its own incompetence, has created an environment where it’s really hard to blame the three guys in question for what they did. Steiner has cut unscripted promos before, most notably regarding Ric Flair, and given a slap on the wrist. In fact, after the incident with Taylor, he was “suspended” over the July 4th weekend. With pay. Then he got pushed as the top guy. Then he won the World Title. Nash has gone off and done his own thing for years. He got four World Titles. Also the job as head booker. Page has followed the non-existent rules for most of his career, but did cut unscripted promos with Nash regarding Scott Hall, but it’s also hard to call those unscripted because neither of them were told what to say in the first place, and never told directly not to mention Hall’s name. Page, in the weeks following these comments, won the Tag Titles. With Nash.

WCW has created an environment where top guys can do their own thing, and in a roundabout way get rewarded for it. Then management appears shocked when the top guys go off and continue doing their own thing. It sets a bad example for the younger guys, like the Thrillers, who are “paying their dues” as top guys in WCW and see Page, Sid, Nash and Steiner as role models. In a way, the younger guys have been kept in their place, with Madden’s one-week suspension being a pretty good example, but if they’re pushed as top guys they’re going to feel they can act the same way the other top guys do. I don’t personally think Page or Nash care if they’re fired, and I doubt Sid or Steiner even think they actually could be fired. It’s one of the factors that has helped destroy the company, and the sad thing is, they’re probably both right.

And then there was Starrcade.

Rarely does a show produce the number of miracles witnessed at this year’s Starrcade, which aired December 17th from the MCI Center in Washington, DC. A show that looked like a disaster on paper going in turned into one of the better WCW shows of the year. The crowd was alive for most of the matches and really took to Scott Steiner as a major superstar and deserving World Champion, which is what the company really needs right now.

The downside was that the show was terribly overbooked, with run-ins or goofy swerves during nearly every match. Here’s the problem with frequent swerves. The fans know what they want to see, and they’re pretty good at letting promoters know about it. When booking, the point is to make fans really, REALLY want something, make them pay for it, and then give it to them. The point is not to make fans really, REALLY want something, make them pay for it, then give them something totally different to fool them. All that does is piss fans off. A perfect example is the whole Hunter/Steph/Angle love triangle. Fans wanted SO MUCH for Steph to leave Hunter for Angle. They wanted SO MUCH to love Hunter when he got kicked to the curb. But guess what? It never happened. I don’t know how much it is to blame, but WWF business is noticeably down from the summer, when they pretty much killed that angle dead. WCW fell into the same trap they always fall into on their shows, spending too much time trying to fool the “smart fans” and not enough time figuring out how to create a product that will appeal to the much larger casual audience and actually sell tickets.

1. Two Count beat Jung Dragons and Evan Karagias & Jamie Knoble in a ladder match. Chavo Guerrero Jr. came down to do commentary for this match accompanied by Eddy Guerrero’s PHAT old WCW ring music. He announced that the man who secured the envelope from above the ring would get a Cruiserweight Title shot on Nitro. Match started with Kaz Hayashi and Shannon Moore trying to do some mat wrestling, but they somehow managed to f’ up about ten spots in a row. Suddenly, all the teams jumped off the apron and went running to grab the three ladders that were set up in the aisle. Two Count ducked under the ring and grabbed a fourth ladder, which Tony said was a “swerve”. It would not be the last swerve this evening. Everyone proceeded to just kill each other. Evan and Jaime got into a fight when neither could decide who should get the envelope. Big train wreck spot. With four guys outside, Jaime climbed the ladder alone, but Yang tipped it over and Knoble bumped over the top rope onto all four guys on the floor. Scary. Yang created a bridge by setting a ladder up between the top rope and another ladder. Everyone took turns taking bumps off it. Shannon tried a springboard, and Evan — in the greatest move of his career — caught Shannon in mid-air while standing on the bridge and powerslammed him down to the mat. Two Count, Knoble and Yang all climbed separate ladders, but they were all knocked over. Four ladders ended up in the ring and they build another bridge to take some crazy bumps off of. It came down to Two Count alone on the bridge, and they decided to shake hands and both take the envelope. Tony, who apparently has forgotten the concept of a three-way match, couldn’t for the life of him figure out who Chavo would wrestle on Nitro. These guys all killed themselves, and it was a great match that stole the show. ****

Lance Storm met with Jim Duggan, who was polishing his 2x4. Really, watch the tape. Storm said the US would never take Duggan back, so he might as well be happy being in Team Canada. Plus, Storm said, WCW was about to fire Duggan before he joined them. Duggan looked forlorn.

2. Lance Storm beat Shat. Team Canada came out sans Duggan. Storm cut a political promo, saying our democracy was f’d up because the guy with the most votes lost. Well, that’s true. My friend Jim started drinking already, a new record for a WCW show. Shat kept kicking Storm in his legit injured ribs, which wasn’t very nice. They teased a catfight with the chicks. During a brawl outside the ring, Jones accidentally KILLED ref Slick Johnson with a dope high kick. Man, I thought Johnson was dead for sure. Gunns hit Jones with a dropkick, but Jones pretty much no-sold it and slapped Gunns around. Ref came back to life and was distracted by the girls. Shat hit a sunset flip and was trying to take Storm down when Duggan came out. He got in the ring, looked around like he couldn’t decide what to do, then hit Shat. Perfect example of doing the exact opposite of what the fans wanted to see. For the last few weeks, they’ve been DYING for Duggan to turn back babyface. WOULD IT HAVE BEEN SO HARD TO GIVE THE GODDAMN FANS WHAT THEY WANTED HERE? What a great swerve, it killed Duggan dead. Storm rolled through into the half crab for the win. Team Canada celebrated with the downtrodden Duggan, then turned on him and kicked his ass. Shat made the save, then abandoned Duggan. Jim left all alone. **

Bagwell was shown backstage in the most flamboyant get-up as the new Pamela Paulshock. He totally made fun of the job as if it were below him. Well, I hate to say it, but it is.

3. Terry Funk beat Crowbar to win the WCW Hardcore Title. Crowbar was walking around backstage arguing with Daffney about his swank 70s duds when Funk came out of nowhere and accosted him with a fire extinguisher. Funk killed him forever. They brawled into a truck that was backstage. Funk hit him with a picnic basket he found, complete with a plaid blanket inside. Daffney was so annoying screaming like a banshee. They did a spot where they slammed each other’s head in a door, but then the camera panned back showing a block which kept the door from shutting all the way. Oops. Funk nailed him in the head with a hard chairshot. Another. A third, fourth, fifth. God, I hate that. Funk took Crowbar to ringside and put him on a table outside the ring. He climbed up for an Asai, but Daffney pulled Crowbar to safety so Funk didn’t do the move. Never was I so happy to see Daffney. Crowbar put Funk through a table with a pescado. Funk hit Crowbar with at least his sixth hard chairshot. Remember Hugh Morris. Or Cactus Jack. Or Plum Mariko. Funk finally piledrove him on a car door for the pin. A good match, and probably the highlight of Crowbar’s career, but matches like these legitimately shorten careers. ***1/4

Gene was appalled backstage. How could Team Canada attack Duggan, he queried. Storm said once an American, always an American. Gunns, who was once an American and thus likely always an American, said: “Gene, don’t blame yourself.

don’t blame Canada, blame yourself.” Her only line.

Luger flexed in his dressing room, revealing he had a pair of brass knuckles. Luger thought he was so sneaky. Note to wrestlers: when you’re trying to be sneaky, make sure a cameraman isn’t there to broadcast your sneakiness to everyone in the arena and all the fans watching at home.

4. Kronic SEF Vito & Reno. Before the match, Brian Adams told Marie that they’d do the job, but wanted prompt payment when it was over. You see, they were trying to tease that Marie had paid off Kronic to beat up her two brothers. Fans were supposed to care about this storyline. Hudson actually called it the biggest story of the year. That was classic. There have been many big stories this year, but really, have there been any bigger? Mountains of suck. Thrillers came out to watch. Vito was beaten up for ages, then tagged Reno, who immediately turned on him. What a swerve. Boy, WCW, you got me there. Reno then tried to pin Vito, his own brother, and, more importantly, his own partner. Ref alerted him that it didn’t work that way. Kronic told him to count or die. So the ref counted and Reno won, I guess. Reno left with the Thrillers, allowing Kronic to continue destroying Vito after the match. DUD

Gene interviewed Shane and Shannon. They said they’d both wrestle Chavo on Nitro. Chavo showed up and called them “Two Count”. They informed him that it was actually “Three Count”. WHY IS IT STILL THREE COUNT? Chavo got pissed too, and attacked them.

Bagwell interviewed MIA and — yes — Captain Rection. That was weird.

4. Mike Awesome beat Bam Bam Bigelow in an ambulance match. Where was cute Pamela to call it an “Ambliance match”? They punched each other. They brawled back by the ambulance and Bigelow punched through a window, cutting up his forearm. Good to see people have learned from the plight of Goldberg earlier this year. “BORING!” said the rubes. Finish saw them brawl on top of the ambulance. Awesome punched Bigelow, who fell through the roof. So Awesome won. Pretty bad. *

5. Captain Rection beat Shane Douglas via DQ. Boring. Rection did the world’s longest bearhug at one point despite being the babyface. Shouldn’t the baby be the one trying to fight out of the hold? Rection went for the moonsault, but got cut off and fell right on his head. Douglas hit a terrible piledriver. They brawled outside. Rection picked up Douglas to slam his back into the post, but something happened and he MACKED Douglas’ head into it. Ouch. Douglas got busted open hardway. Douglas got what Tony described as a “Pittsburgh chain” out of his pants. Morris cut him off, and Douglas dropped the chain. Chavo ran down, grabbed the chain, and threw it to Rection behind the referee’s back. As Douglas was about to use it, Chavo alerted the ref, who DQ’d Douglas. WHOO-HOO~! Another wonderful swerve that I never saw coming. I’ll bet the casual fans who paid $30 were telling their friends how cool that one was. Douglas killed both Rection and Chavo with chain shots and Franchisers afterwards. MIA made the save. A bloody Rection yelled at Chavo as they were being dragged to the back. *1/2

A Glacier promo aired. They’re not making fun of him anymore.

Buff interviewed Page and Nash in what appeared to be another example of nobody telling them what to talk about.

A fan held up a sign that said: “For $100 I better be on TV”.

6. Jeff Jarrett & Harris Twins beat Filthy Animals. Tygress did commentary, enlightening fans with such revelations as: “These props are like weapons to us.” Jarrett, in a pre-match promo, said he didn’t think it was fair that this was a Streetfight and not a Bunkhouse match. So Sanders turned it into a Bunkhouse Streetfight. I could have sworn they were the same thing. One of the “props” in the ring was a wooden bar. An actual BAR, like you’d serve beer at. Total cluster. In a comical spot, Rey went for the bronco buster, but Jarrett kicked him in the nuts. As Rey was sitting there on Jeff’s foot, Jeff leg-pressed him about five feet into the air onto his face. Jarrett took a bump off the top through the bar, which exploded into pieces. I wonder if that happens at real bars? Jarrett powerbombed Rey over the top rope into a dumpster. Suddenly, this Bunkhouse Streetfight became a typical tag match. What the hell? They worked over Kidman forever. Rey was still in the dumpster. Konnan got the hot tag and ran wild, but was promptly H-Bombed. Duh. Rey made a comeback with a vengeance. Also, a broom. Got H-Bombed through a table for his troubles. Kidman made a comeback and went up top, but got smashed over the head with a glass bottle. Jarrett then gave him the stroke for the pin. This is called “getting jobbed”. **3/4

Bagwell interviewed Sarge. Luger attacked him. Bagwell told him to stop. Luger ran off like a villain.

7. Kevin Nash & Dallas Page beat Perfect Event to win the WCW World Tag Team Titles. Flair came out before the match and said if Sanders stepped one foot towards the ring, Event would be stripped of the titles. “WE WANT HALL!” the yahoos chanted. Good guys ran wild for a long time until Palumbo got the heat on Page with the “Jungle Kick”, which is a superkick performed by a man who slightly resembles Tarzan. Really, that’s the only reason I can come up with. They destroyed Page forever. There is NO HOPE for Stasiak, but Palumbo looked much better than usual, including hitting Page with a sweet overhead belly-to-belly. Nash got the hot tag and ran wild. Sanders attacked DDP outside, which looked like taking one step towards the ring to me. Page gave him and Stasiak Diamond Cutters. Palumbo hit Nash with a belt shot. Palumbo made the cover but Page pulled him out of the ring. Thrillers came out and attacked Page. He laid a few of them out with Cutters, but got overwhelmed. O’Hare went to hit Nash with the senton, but Page crotched him. Nash gave Palumbo the big boot and the powerbomb and got the pin. The wrong guy did the job for that particular team. FAR better than you’d think. Nash grabbed the mic after the match and said: “Hey yo, we got them again!” Well, he didn’t say Hall’s name. That Nash is SO SMART. ***

8. Goldberg beat Lex Luger. Goldberg destroyed him forever and brutalized him with stiff scariness. Luger finally posted him to take over. Sarge and Bagwell came out with Bagwell attempting to talk Sarge out of something. Luger tried to pull the ref in the way of the spear again, but Goldberg didn’t fall for it. Luger KO’d Sarge, then hit Goldberg with the knux. Goldberg kicked out. Bagwell went up top and accidentally hit Goldberg with the Blockbuster. Luger went for the rack but Goldberg fought back and hit a spear. Outside the ring, Buff KO’d Sarge. Goldberg didn’t see it and hit the spear and jackhammer for the pin. A million times better than last time. Bagwell hit the ring afterwards and KO’d Goldberg with a chair, turning heel. It’s about time. **1/4

9. Scott Steiner beat Sid to retain the WCW World Title. A fan in the front row was foolish enough to hold up a “BIG POPPA PUMP STEROID FREAK” sign. I’m afraid to even be in the same building as Steiner, much less hold up a sign like that 20 feet from him. Sid was wearing tights for maybe the first time in his career. I thought we were in for a long night when Sid did five of his six moves in the first minute of the match. They did a test of strength and Sid dropped to his knees literally instantly. Sid escaped with a move. He hit a big boot and clotheslined Scott over the top rope. Midajah hit Sid with a pipe to the back. I just realized what a lewd name “Slick Johnson” is. Sid took a belly-to-belly and was put in the Recliner. The ropes were literally one foot away. We were all wondering why Sid didn’t just reach out and grab them. Finally, he figured it out. Steiner suplexed Sid and put him in the Recliner again. Midajah came off the top, but hit Steiner on accident. Sid chokeslammed him for a two count. He hit the Cobra Clutch slam, but not before Steiner punched the ref in the face. Steiner hit Sid with the pipe and made a cover. A second ref ran in, but Sid kicked out. Jarrett came down and accidentally hit Steiner with his guitar. Sid made the cover but Jarrett pulled the ref out. The ref jumped right back in to finish his count but Steiner kicked out. Sid went for the powerbomb, but Steiner kicked him low, hit an exploder, and put him back in the Recliner. Sid was rendered unconscious. WOW. Scott Steiner getting better than average matches out of Sid and the f***ing Wall in the span of one week. Plus, the crowd respects him as the Champ. WCW better not screw this up, because they’re onto something here. **1/2

American Dragon and Spanky, both of whom were trained by Shawn Michaels, worked the dark matches at Smackdown last Tuesday. Spanky was billed as “Spinky” and did somewhat of a clown gimmick. He was actually really over, as the fans live chanted his name like they do the Rock. Said to be a good match. I believe both guys are under WWF developmental deals.

Dustin Rhodes was told to be at Starrcade, but when he got there they told him they didn’t have anything for him, so he left.

Scott Hall was arrested last Wednesday and as of late Tuesday night was still incarcerated in an Orange County, FL jail. Hall was arrested two weeks ago for kicking in the door of a taxi cab after the driver refused to take credit cards. The case was apparently settled when Hall posted a bond and agreed to pay for the damage, but after reviewing the case the judge saw an arrest pattern over the past several months and ruled that Hall be taken back into custody. A few close friends have tried calling, but were told they couldn’t speak to him. A legal crew was scheduled to fly down on December 20th to work on the case, but unless things change he will be in until his case goes to court, which could be over a week. In a strange irony, Hall’s three-car accident on Thanksgiving night took place exactly two years later to the day and 500 feet from a previous accident. When friends called Hall to check on him after the accident, he joked that God just wanted him to get a new car.

WCW Wednesday Thunder (12/13/00)

Quick Review: The usual comedy. Anyone who wonders why Starrcade drew such a miserable buyrate need only watch this show and observe the portrayal of Sid.

Summary: Flair and Sanders each announced some matches and ideas for the show. Flair said he changed his mind about Sid and Steiner, and said if they wanted to fight he was all for it. Flair noted that Steiner was already in the building, but Sid was on the way. Remember, Thunder is taped right after Nitro, so all the fans who had seen Sid ten minutes prior must have been pretty confused to hear that one.

Evan Karagias & Jaime Knoble beat Two Count and Jung Dragons when Evan pinned Shannon after a superplex off a ladder which was balanced in the corner. They teased more dissension between Knoble and Karagias. At one point in the match, Shane killed Kaz with a Kudoh Driver, which is basically a Gory Special Driver. I’ll bet that cleared that up. Konnan replaced Stevie this week and was awesome talking about the history of all these guys.

Steiner killed Kiwi backstage for trying to break up a fight between Paisley and Midajah. This was one of the funniest beatings I ever saw in my life. Steiner even picked up Kiwi’s ATV and dropped it on his head. Brutal.

Flair told Storm he had to sing the US National Anthem later. Storm said it would be too disrespectful because he didn’t know the words. Duggan then piped in and said he’d be happy to teach Storm the words.

Perfect Event beat Chavo Guerrero Jr. in a handicap match. MIA watched on a monitor backstage, but Rection wouldn’t let anyone go help Chavo. This was SO long and pretty bad.

Announcers talked to Sid on the phone. “Guys, can anyone hear me?” Sid asked. He told them to wait for him to get there. Good thing he said that, or the show might have ended an hour and 45 minutes early. Sid said he was about fifteen minutes away and traffic was bad.

Meng found everyone tending to Kiwi. Paisley explained that Steiner had done it. Meng told her to stay and take care of Kiwi, and he’d go look for Steiner.

Bigelow asked Marie if she’d be interested in going on a date, and she threw some water on him. He was very sad. Vito and Reno then kicked his ass. Sucks to be Bigelow. Why are women in wrestling so bitchy?.

Gene interviewed Sarge. He said he’d beat up Goldberg later.

Duggan tried to teach Storm the lyrics to the National Anthem.

Meng met with Flair and demanded a match with Steiner. Meng sucked Flair into the abyss of hideous acting. Flair agreed to give Meng the match. This was so bad, but so funny.

Storm and Team Canada came out. He said Canadians were men of their words and he was going to sing. He told them to hit the American Anthem. Shat’s music played instead. He came out with Miss Jones and said they were going to have a picnic while he sang. Storm started singing but got lost and said “blah blah blah”. Shat was pissed and told him to try again. Storm got lost again. Shat then demanded Duggan sing it. “I’d be happy to sing the American National Anthem!” he screamed. Duggan tried, but forgot the words at one point. Only in WCW. He kept going. Shat got really pissed and started throwing bread and stuff at them. This was so weird. Storm said enough was enough, and demanded Shat fight Duggan. Duggan didn’t want to fight and threw a temper tantrum. He literally jumped up and down and screamed “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” My friend Vince laughed so hard and said: “Why is Thunder always so funny?” Shat beat Duggan. Hacksaw was about to hit Shat with the 2x4 when a fan suddenly held up a sign that said: “HACKSAW, COME HOME, WE LOVE YOU”. Duggan got very sad and accidentally on purpose hit Storm with the 2x4. Duggan went to take his shirt off, but got stuck, so Shat kicked him in the head and got the pin. Duggan started a “USA!” chant after the match.

Luger beat up Goldberg with a fake bat backstage.

Luger came out to his old music. Sid was on the phone again. “Guys, can anyone hear me?” Sid asked. Unfortunately, yes. He said he was lost. Tony tried to give him directions, but Sid said he couldn’t hear them. When is the last time Rock or Steve Austin got lost coming to the building? Luger beat Sarge after clonking him in the noggin with a bat. Better than you’d think because Sarge just beat the atshay out of Luger with stiff forearms for a long time before the finish.

Crowbar told Daffney he didn’t know if he could take Terry Funk. She said that wasn’t the Crowbar she used to know. She basically told him he needed to get rid of his crappy gimmick.

Kronic beat Reno & Vito. Reno had the absolute worst comeback in the history of wrestling. His first big spot on the comeback was A FIREMAN’S CARRY. Really. Kronic won with the High Times. Really bad. During this match, Jarrett and the Twins came through the crowd and hit Konnan with a guitar. Konnan had to pretend he couldn’t see them coming on the monitor he was staring at. Security had to break up a brawl between the two teams afterwards. Hey, I just saw Ozzy.

A pre-taped interview between Tenay and Shane Douglas aired. Douglas said he wanted to win the World Title someday. He said he missed Torrie. Me too. He said he’d win the US Title at the PPV. This wasn’t too bad.

Thrillers laid out Nash backstage.

Sid called again. “Guys, can anyone hear me?” Sid asked. He was still lost. He sputtered something about turning right at McDonalds.

Page beat Sanders via DQ when O’Hare ran in and flattened him with a PHAT superkick. Palumbo was late running in and it looked pretty bad. Thrillers laid out Page after the match.

Steiner beat Meng with the Recliner after dropping him right on his DOPE AFRO with an exploder. Just then, Sid showed up and attacked Steiner. They had a brawl that made me ABSOLUTELY not want to see their PPV match. The crowd was hoss for it though. Sid gave him a chokeslam as the show ended.

Spoiler for 5/1/95:
The WWF and WCW undercard guys are co-existing and even working with one another as of this point. In from WCW are Kenny Kendall and The Gambler (who looks and is trying to become an Arn Anderson clone and already holds half of the tag title with Brickhouse Brown) while WWF has Erik Watts & Chad Fortune in as a heel tag team. Bob Backlund was brought in to headline the 4/24 card teaming with Tommy Rich losing to Bill Dundee & Brian Christopher when Doug Gilbert's interference backfired as he sprayed Rich, who was pinned. The winning team was scheduled for a shot against Owen Hart & Yokozuna in Memphis in a few weeks. Rich gave notice as he's headed to Ozark Mountain starting next Monday. A lot of people are saying Rich, more than anyone else, was responsible for this group's success as the top heel in the territory. They held a 12-man elimination match underneath with the winner getting a shot at Brian Lee's USWA title. Scott Studd won the match, but was pinned by Lee in 3:30.

It was pretty obvious the Shane Douglas deal was an angle the way it played on television. The angle they are doing right now is Sandman will be defending the title in Florida against Cactus Jack and that Cactus Jack is Douglas' best friend.

Speaking of Hayes, on the WWF Superstars show over the weekend, Vince McMahon made a reference to his former character when he was dressed in purple and McMahon said that must make him a Purple Haze.

Is an angle coming? On 5/26 in LaSalle, ONT, Dan Severn takes on Rob Van Dam under UFC rules with David Beneteau as the referee. Reports we received are that Severn was over much bigger than ever on his first Northeastern indie dates as NWA champion (he wrestled Tommy Cairo, who had UWFI experience, both nights in matches designed to look like shoots) this past weekend.

No deal has been reached between Sabu and Eric Bischoff. Bischoff offered Sabu a spot as Brian Pillman's top foe in the cruiserweight division (which is back on the books) but Sabu didn't want to be typecast as a cruiser because he thought once he was given that label that they'd never let him be a headliner. Sabu made a major play for the U.S. title since that was the same title (well, same name, not the same title) that his uncle was famous for holding.

Despite rumors to the contrary, virtually none of the recent business decisions can be credited or blamed on Harvey Schiller. Schiller has taken a hands-off approach to the business and Bischoff is making all the key decisions and has pretty well been given about a year to get the house financially in order.

Rick & Scott Steiner have agreed to work three PPV shows starting with the 6/18 Great American Bash in Dayton. Steiners turned down ECW which wanted to do six-mans with Steiners & Tazmaniac vs. Benoit & Malenko & Douglas in Florida.

They are doing an angle now where Dallas Page has supposedly won $13 million building up to a June PPV match against Dave Sullivan.

Bobby Heenan was really "on" on the 4/22 show. Show itself was the typical dreck but the Heenan comedy was his best in months.

Dory Funk canceled out of the legends match against Wahoo McDaniel on Slamboree because of Japanese political problems as far as not wanting to appear on a show with a New Japan influence with Muto defending the title and several other New Japan wrestlers at ringside.

Hogan's record album from Select Records hits the streets on 6/27.

After seeing the :05 Pillman vs. Buck match on TV, it made perfect sense. Can you imagine Jimmy Golden learning the new Lucha spots Pillman has been using?

Some funny notes in the German program. Diesel was listed as being 7-4 and Sid was billed as "Psycho Kid."

On the live Raw show from Omaha (5,800 in the building; approximately 4,000 paid with tickets $8 and $4 for kids which most were very happy with the turnout because Omaha doesn't get any local syndication), Lawler started building up for his to-be-announced match with Hart. Bam Bam Bigelow got a hell of a shiner on the German tour. TV main was Diesel defending against Bigelow. Match went 17:00 and was really bad (3/4*). No doubt both guys were burned out from the flight back from Germany (they acknowledged Diesel having flown back that day but ignored that Bigelow had as well) because neither had any fire and Diesel looked unusually clumsy. Working all that time with and against Michaels and Hart may have deluded some people as to how quickly he's progressed when it comes to being able to work long matches or maybe this was a bad performance becomes of jet lag. Bigelow didn't seem to have the energy to save it. Finish saw Tatanka trip Bigelow allowing Diesel to jackknife him for the pin. After Tatanka & IRS were beating on Bigelow until Sid came in with some kicks and a clumsy power bomb. Diesel came back and made the save for Bigelow. During the show they kept telling the storyline that Sid was mad that Bigelow had the title shot. The angle as far as being focused and handled by the announcers was strong and there's nothing wrong with being predictable when you're doing what makes sense.

Execution left a lot to be desired, though. Bertha Faye (Rhonda Singh) debuted in the ring against Pantera Surena (who was one hell of a worker 15 years ago) of EMLL in a squash that was awful. Faye is dressed in polka dots and has a totally embarrassing gimmick where she skips around with her costume designed to show as much flab as possible ala Bastion Booger that pretty much kills Alundra Blayze getting taken seriously for the next six months. The rest of the Omaha show which didn't air live saw Faye due a tune-up match with Surena that was said to have been much better than their television match. Jarrett & Roadie beat Ramon & Kid when Roadie pinned Kid. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Paul Levesque) debuted in a dark match (still not allowed by contract to appear on TV in a match until the next taping) but got no reaction.

The Ramon-Sid match that airs next week never got started. Sid power bombed Ramon before the bell and Ramon was "injured" which is probably the best way to push Sid. Hart and Lawler had a confrontation to set up their PPV match. For what I believe is the 5/8 show, Billy Gunn pinned Owen Hart in a very good match when Bart tripped Owen who crotched himself on the top rope and was pinned, and Jarrett beat Doink in an IC title match with the figure four. Sid & DiBiase did an interview and they seemed to set up future Sid vs. Shawn Michaels matches.

Bigelow beat Tatanka via count out. Bigelow had a new ring costume and a flashy ring entrance but it took a while for people to pick up on that he was the face, while Mabel beat Adam Bomb. In dark matches, Bret beat Hakushi when Shinja's interference backfired and Undertaker pinned Sid with the tombstone.

Spoiler for 5/8/95:
All verifiable pro wrestling attendance records were shot to bits over the weekend as two shows put on by the North Korean government, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Antonio Inoki drew a reported 340,000 fans to Pyongyang's May Day Stadium.

Pro wrestling was the lead event of the Pyongyang International Sports and Culture Festival for Peace, almost a scaled-down version of an Olympic Festival. The festivities over the three-day period included other sporting events like gymnastics, dancing and martial arts and scary rallies with children proclaiming allegiance to the government of Kim Jong II and his late father who was the former President.

The opening night on 4/28 nearly doubled the previous all-time attendance record for pro wrestling drawing a reported 150,000 fans. The next night shattered the record with an overflow crowd announced as 190,000. The figures were so staggering it may be a long time coming before numbers like this are ever approached.

With Muhammad Ali at ringside both nights, his first time ever in North Korea, the 4/28 show, believed to be the first Japanese-style pro wrestling event ever in North Korea, drew a nearly sold out stadium which included thousands of tourists and government visitors from foreign countries, all of whom had to be accompanied by a North Korean "tour guide" during their entire stay. Neither Antonio Inoki nor Ric Flair, whose match was the feature of the two-night tour, wrestled on this show headlined by IWGP champion Shinya Hashimoto going to a 20:00 draw with Scott Norton. Reuters news service, which covered the first night with a very negative report on the show that ran in newspapers around the world, mostly focused its story on that it wasn't really a legitimate sports event, and reported the crowd as being nearly 150,000.

The Inoki-Flair match, with Inoki winning in 14:52 after an enzuigiri, devastated that mark. The Saturday night show drew a legitimate overflow turnaway crowd in the soccer stadium that is listed as having a capacity of 150,000 for soccer and 160,000 for concerts. Both shows were broadcast live on television throughout North Korea which makes the crowds that much more impressive and the Inoki-Flair match also aired on a several hour tape delay in Japan that evening during the regular New Japan television show. On the TV broadcast, the crowd was announced as a sellout 160,000, the largest crowd to witness pro wrestling in history. The North Korean government hours after the show claimed the capacity estimate was understated and the overflow crowd actual ticket count was 190,000. Tickets for each night ranged from 420 won ($202) for the ringside seats on the field to 310 won ($149) for the bottom tier of the huge stadium. The seats in the higher decks, or the vast majority of tickets, were priced at 50 won ($24). As a socialist economy, the general public monthly stipend is about $50 per month per person, so it on the surface seems inconceivable that many tickets were sold at those prices. The reports we received is that the tickets were basically all sold with no papering either night. If there was no paper, at those prices, probably the first night and definitely the second night should have also beaten the all-time gate record for pro wrestling of $4.8 million set by New Japan pro wrestling on 1/4/95 at the Tokyo Dome.

The largest verifiable crowd previously in the history of pro wrestling was the reported 93,173 fans that attended the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant match at Wrestlemania III in 1987 at the Pontiac Silverdome, although later reports have the actual ticket count in the building at 78,000. Hogan was originally offered the spot against Inoki in the main event on the second night show, so he would have been able to maintain his mark as being the headliner in front of the biggest crowd in history, but turned it down giving reasons most believed to be cover reasons for not wanting to put Inoki over at some point before Inoki retires, which would have to have been part of the deal. Although Inoki said in Japan building up the match with Flair that the winner would face Hogan for the WCW title in the United States, those close to Hogan state he knew nothing of that and there are no plans for a Hogan vs. Inoki match in the United States and Inoki was basically running his own angle and trying to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy. Although only one WCW wrestler, Flair, appeared on either show and only on the second night, it is expected WCW will attempt to take the credit in the United States for the record crowd. WCW officials were attempting to get footage of the Inoki vs. Flair match for this coming weekend's WCW Saturday Night show (no doubt to air without a finish). Earlier in the week, WCW sent out a press release announcing the Inoki-Flair match saying the event would be "the first time that a U.S.-style entertainment product is allowed inside North Korea." How a show in which, with only one exception (Flair), consisted of performers either from the New Japan or All Japan women's organizations could be considered U.S.-style entertainment is anyone's guess.

There have been unverifiable accounts of crowds of 80,000 to 100,000 for pro wrestling events in Africa, the Middle East and in India. The largest claimed report for a show that we know of was 200,000 for a 1945 show in Lahore, Pakistan but there is no verification that figure isn't greatly exaggerated by decades of "inflation."

The fans in North Korea were totally unfamiliar with pro wrestling and before both shows they did introductory pieces on pro wrestling rules on the giant screens. The promotion of the event was largely built around the late Rikidozan, Ali, billed as the most famous athlete in the world, and Inoki. They were trying to sell national pride that the biggest star in the history of pro wrestling was Rikidozan, who was legitimately a North Korean native who was born in the country (a fact kept secret during Rikidozan's career due to the prejudice in Japanese society during that period against Koreans). Inoki was pushed as a personal protege of Rikidozan, which is legit, who became the biggest star after Rikidozan in the history of wrestling, which is an exaggeration, but not a major one.

It was the first time Inoki and Flair, two of the five biggest stars worldwide of this generation, had ever been in the ring together. Reports we received were it was the 52-year-old Japanese Senator's best match in a few years. Flair, wrestling in his first main event match since his so-called retirement in October, was heavily praised for his ability to carry Inoki. There was an unbelievable crowd chant for Inoki when he came out. The match started out with the two exchanging moves. Flair was able to the novice crowd turn himself into a heel and get booed. First major move was Flair doing a vertical suplex for a near fall. Flair then went to work on Inoki's leg and used his chops leading to the figure four. Inoki managed to pull Flair's leg off to break the hold. When Flair went for a second figure four, Inoki got a small package for a near fall. At this point the match opened up with them exchanging punches. Flair did his flip over the corner post, landing on his feet and running across the apron to climb to the top rope, where naturally Inoki caught him and bodyslammed him off the top. Inoki got a two count after a dropkick. The two brawled again and Flair used a back suplex for a near fall. Flair went for a bodyslam but Inoki turned it into a flying head-scissors into a cradle for a near fall. Inoki finished the match with a reverse kick, a kneedrop off the top rope and the enzuigiri for the three count.

WCW's Eric Bischoff attended the show with Flair for a one-week Far East tour with the New Japan promotion which concluded with the 5/3 Fukuoka Dome show.

The matches both nights were generally kept short because of both time constraints and the belief the fans would lose interest if matches went long because they were generally unfamiliar with the product.

The second biggest match from the 4/29 show was the All Japan women's match where Akira Hokuto (CMLL world champion) pinned Bull Nakano in 8:04. Manami Toyota, who wrestled in what our reports said was the best match the previous night, was in Hokuto's corner. It was hyped going in that the winner would meet Toyota for the WWWA title on 9/2 at Budokan Hall. The rest of the card, in descending order, saw Rick & Scott Steiner reverse their loss two weeks ago from Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki when Scott pinned Hase in 11:51; Hawk Warrior pinned Tadao Yasuda in 2:21. The match was originally scheduled as Road Warriors vs. Yasuda & Hashimoto but Animal didn't appear and obviously they'd have a major finish problem that they didn't need if Hashimoto worked against Hawk in a single; Scott Norton & Masa Chono over Takayuki Iizuka & Akira Nogami in 8:40 when Norton pinned Nogami; Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit) pinned Too Cold Scorpio in 6:22; Black Cat (subbing for Shinjiro Otani who suffered a broken nose the previous night) pinned El Samurai in 4:56 and Hiro Saito pinned Yuji Nagata in the opener in 5:29.

Underneath the Hashimoto vs. Norton 20:00 draw in the main event, the remainder of the 4/28 show in descending order saw Sasaki pin Masa Saito in 8:34, Scorpio beat Otani in just 2:37 when the referee stopped the match after an accident which saw Otani break his nose and was bleeding uncontrollably and rushed to the hospital. No doubt this was not the planned finish; Chono & Hiro Saito beat Samurai & Yasuda when Chono pinned Samurai in 8:06; Hase pinned Pegasus with the Northern Lights suplex in 10:10; Nakano & Hokuto as a tag team beat Toyota & Mariko Yoshida in 8:34 when Nakano pinned Yoshida; and the opener saw Nagata beat Tokimitsu Ishizawa in 4:28. Reports we heard from this show were that the womens match and the Pegasus-Hase match were the best matches on the show, but that the crowd really got into the main event because North Koreans are generally a small race and they got into seeing 290 pound Hashimoto vs. 350 pound Norton and no doubt had probably never seen anyone who looked quite like Norton before. After the match when the two shook hands, they received an "earthquake like" standing ovation.

After the show reports were that both Inoki and the North Korean government wanted to promote another similar event next year at this time.

The event received worldwide media coverage through the Reuters article and through CNN Headline News. The Reuters article on the Friday night show was negative, stating "if those who were packed in the stadium and millions more watching on live television hoped to see world-class athletes in action, the exhibition of carefully choreographed theatrical Japanese professional wrestling may have come as a shock." The article said the Nagata vs. Ishizawa opener may have looked convincing to some, but ridiculed the womens tag match that followed saying it left no doubt the event was something other than sport. Even in ridiculing, the article admitted the crowd gazed in awe of the performance of Nakano & Hokuto vs. Toyota & Yoshida.

North Korea put on the show with Inoki as a way to garner respect from the rest of the world by opening up its society to foreigners. All foreigners had to be accompanied by state guides throughout their trip and many of those there didn't consider it a positive experience despite the record setting crowds.

The career of 22-year-old 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman) is somewhat in jeopardy after suffering a broken neck at the 4/24 television tapings in Omaha.

The injury, acknowledged on WWF television programs this past weekend, was believed to be an aggravation of an injury suffered a few days earlier while on the European tour. Kid had suffered a brain concussion on 3/12 in Anaheim and tried to come back too soon and was shaken up again one week later during a show in Madison Square Garden. This left him well below 100 percent for a show one week later at Tokyo Sumo Hall.

The injury, a cracked seventh cervical vertebrae, is believed to have occurred when he was in a tag match with Razor Ramon against Jeff Jarrett and The Roadie (Brian James) in a dark match designed to get the four ready for their PPV match scheduled on 5/14 in Syracuse. In the match, Ramon did a spot where he did an over the head backwards bodyslam with Kid onto Roadie, and Kid landed wrong. Roadie wound up pinning Kid with a DDT. While this isn't confirmed, I believe this was the scheduled finish and not a finish change just to end the match immediately because of concern over the injury.

According to reports, the first doctor he saw told him that his wrestling career was over, but a second opinion was that he'd recover in due time. He was waiting for results of tests that will come back toward the latter part of this week which could determine just how serious the break was. The general belief at press time, which could change this week, is that he'll be out of action for two to three months and that most likely he would return to wrestling. In some ways the injury was similar to a famous injury suffered by Bruno Sammartino in a 1976 match with Stan Hansen. Sammartino, who was 40 at the time, returned about ten weeks later although the return was rushed because he, as WWWF champion, was needed to headline a Shea Stadium rematch.

On WWF television over the weekend, it was announced Ramon would wrestle both Jarrett & Roadie in a handicap match

Kid was first taken after the matches to an Omaha hospital before he was sent home to Minneapolis the next day.

A lot of WCW plans for upcoming PPV shows are coming to light. The line-up for the 6/18 "Great American Bash" show in Dayton, OH will be Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage, Sting vs. Meng, Nasty Boys vs. Steiners, Brian Pillman vs. Alex Wright, Diamond Dallas Page vs. Dave Sullivan, Arn Anderson vs. Renegade for the TV title (expect a title change here) and Jim Duggan vs. Kamala managed by King Curtis. Is there any way they can just cut that first hour off the show and charge us $14.95?

The Great American Bash on 7/16 is almost confirmed as from Huntington Beach, CA headlined by Hulk Hogan vs. Vader for the WCW title in a cage match. There will be no admission charge live. With Vader having dropped the UWFI title, he can now politically do the one job left to do in this program. WCW needed to put a strong main event on the table since this show comes two days after the UFC PPV show.

The legends match on that show is changed since Dory Funk has backed out. This wasn't official, but last word I'd heard was it looked to be Wahoo McDaniel vs. Dick Murdoch.

An update on the Austin situation. A few weeks back when he left Center Stage where he was scheduled to do another job for Sting, it was because his daughter (not son as reported here) was legitimately quite ill and she was hospitalized for a few days. He definitely didn't make up an excuse that night.

Steve Regal suffered some nerve damage in one of his arms coming back from Japan. No word on how serious but it was said to be scary at the time.

Brian Pillman was also injured suffering a concussion when a jobber dropped him on his head as he was attempting to do a Mexican huracanrana. The TV deal with Pillman and Bunkhouse Buck wasn't a planned angle (how could it have been, it was too clever?) but just a way to get Pillman's hand raised because he was in no condition to wrestle. He's supposed to be okay by now.

And speaking of that, this weeks word is that the cruiserweight division idea has been dropped. Stay tune for more changes.

At Center Stage on 4/25, the only highlights were a retaped Meng vs. Marcus Bagwell U.S. title match (which aired this past weekend). Apparently the original tape of their first match was damaged in production so they had to do it again. They also taped a Paul Orndorff vs. Johnny B. Badd U.S. title tourney match with Orndorff pinning him using the ropes. Winner was to meet Sting which was why Badd had to do the job. Had in the sense that they would never dream of doing face vs. face.

The Randy Savage heel turn is now scheduled for around the spring of 1996.

The September PPV, another non-Hogan show, will be a War Games. That will be the last PPV of 1995 that Hogan won't headline.

Hulk Hogan is opening a Pastamania restaurant at the Mall of America in Minneapolis on 6/15. This is supposed to be the initial in what they are trying to turn into a franchise. They are negotiating leases in Baltimore and Philadelphia and plan to open five restaurants this year and another 25 more in 1996. The company plans on introducing Hulk Hogan Pasta and sauces for supermarket distribution this summer. Now that's a product that sounds like a winner.

Monday Night Raw set its all-time record on 4/24 for the Diesel vs. Bam Bam Bigelow title match doing a 3.9 rating which translates into 2.28 million homes, the largest audience to watch pro wrestling in the United States since the Hogan-Flair match last August from Cedar Rapids. Other ratings that weekend saw both Action Zone and Mania do 1.7.

Added to the 5/14 In Your House PPV is Mabel vs. Adam Bomb, which is the last match to be added to the show.

Notes from the 4/25 Superstars taping in Des Moines, IA. They opened the show with a dark match where Jeff Jarrett and Razor Ramon went to a double count out in a title match with Roadie hung in the cage above the ring. After the match as a rib they put Jarrett and Roadie both in the cage and kept them hanging above the ring for a few matches. By 10 p.m., more than half of the 4,500 in attendance had already left. In matches that already aired this past weekend, Sid beat Aldo Montoya, Hakushi beat Kwang (who came out without Harvey Whippleman and worked as a face), and Bret Hart beat Jimmy Del Rey. For upcoming stuff, Diesel beat Henry Godwinn. Diesel injured his left knee legit during this match. Sid was at ringside with Ted DiBiase during the match but didn't interfere. Rad Radford (Louis Mucciolo aka Louie Spicolli) debuted as a heel grunge character from Seattle beating Jerry Lynn in a match with some cool moves but no heat. Hunter Heart Helmsley (Paul Leveque) also worked. Owen Hart & Yokozuna kept the tag titles beating Head Shrinkers when Yoko gave the banzai to Sionne but Yoko was so blown up he had to do it off the bottom rope. In dark matches, Bret Hart beat Hakushi when Shinja's (Akio Sato) interference backfired, Luger & Smith beat Owen Hart & Yokozuna via DQ, Undertaker pinned Kama and Diesel kept the title pinning Sid in :30. As usual, Hart got by far the biggest reaction.

Looks like Well Dunn is history.

Missy Hiatt was turned down for her attempted announcing gig.

Not much news from the 4/26 Action Zone & Challenge tapings in Moline, IL. Biggest news was the angle involving Jarrett and Bob Holly. On the show that aired 4/30, Jarrett got a pin using the ropes but a second ref reversed it and they restarted the match. This time Holly got a pin but Jarrett's feet were under the ropes and Holly was announced as the winner but it wound up with the belt being held up. In pre-show dark matches, Undertaker pinned Kama and Luger & Smith beat Men on Mission via DQ and Mabel splashed Luger after the match. Helmsley made his TV debut beating Buck Zumhofe. After a Tatanka squash, DiBiase challenged Bigelow to come out, which he did, and they ran. Bret Hart pinned Mantaur. Jarrett-Holly rematch went 12:33 and was better than the first match. Jarrett got a pin after a hot shot but Holly got his foot on the rope and Earl Hebner came running out and they restarted the match. Roadie untied a turnbuckle pad but before Jarrett could run Holly into it, Hebner ran out again and blocked it. Holly rammed Jarrett into the unprotected buckle but Jarrett kicked out of the pin. Jarrett wound up winning with a roll-up after Holly missed a shoulderblock in a very good match. In dark matches, Smoking Gunns beat Owen & Yoko via DQ when Cornette interfered for a DQ as Owen was about to get pinned, and Diesel pinned Sid this time in 41 seconds.

t was reported in Pro Wrestling Torch that WWF and the attorney for Kevin Wacholz (Nailz) reached an out-of-court settlement on the lawsuit and countersuit. It all started in December 1992 when Wacholz jumped on Vince McMahon and started choking him when Wacholz complained about his payoff for the SummerSlam (reportedly an $8,000 payoff for a horrible match with Virgil) at Wembley Stadium. Wacholz then called 911 and claimed McMahon had sexually assaulted him and what he did was in response to it, a story that basically nobody there believed. McMahon sued Wacholz for filing the police report against him alleging McMahon as a sexual criminal. Wacholz filed a counterclaim claiming he was sexually assaulted. Titan had attempted to keep Wacholz from working as Nailz after he was fired since they came up with the gimmick. He pretty much did so anyway except in WCW where he worked one shot as The Prisoner. Wacholz then made headlines testifying in the McMahon trial that he was there when McMahon told Rick Rood to get on steroids and that McMahon told him he needed to get on steroids. The former could at least be a possibility since Rood testified to something similar but claimed to have assumed McMahon meant steroids without saying steroids. The latter, McMahon telling Wacholz, given the time frame of the conversation, seems pretty unbelievable. In January, both sides' attorneys reached settlements on the respective suits in that both would drop their cases with no money changing hands but that Wacholz would be allowed to work as Nailz from that point forward. Wacholz refused to sign the settlement, not wanting to drop his case against McMahon but Titan's attorneys have asked the court to enforce is saying since his lawyers, acting as his counsel, agreed, that should be it. A hearing is scheduled on the matter on 5/10.

Useless trivia department. What high school produced three current WWF wrestlers? Answer. Ernest Manning High School in Calgary which not surprisingly, produced Bret and Owen Hart and also Bertha Faye (Rhonda Singh). Robinson High in Tampa used to be the answer to all sorts of pro wrestling trivia since Terry Bollea (Hogan), Mike Gossett (Mike Graham), Dick Slater, Steve Keirn, Ed Leslie (Butcher) and I believe one or two others did as well all in the same time period. For colleges, it's still West Texas State (now West Texas A&M) which included The Funks, Dusty Rhodes, Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, Tito Santana, Manny Fernandez, Kelly Kiniski and Ted DiBiase among others, all of whom were good football players.

Bret Hart, who has a weekly wrestling column in the Calgary Sun, wrote that he's talked with his father and brothers Bruce, Keith and Ross and with Davey Boy smith about reviving Stampede Wrestling.

In another column, with Hart talking about the retirement of Joe Montana, he wrote, "I was sad to see the end of the career of one of the truly great players of this or any other era--perhaps the best there is, the best there was or the best there ever will be. At the same time, I was happy to see Montana go out on his terms--at the top of his game, not crippled or dismembered, with class and no regrets. I hope I'm able to go out the same way and not outstay my welcome like Bob Backlund, Ric Flair and others who, sadly, have besmirched their once-shining reputations, by hanging around long after they should have." . . The Omaha World Herald did a feature previewing the Raw taping on Mike Hallick (Mantaur), who was heavyweight high school state champ in Nebraska in 1985. Because of the article, Mantaur got a nice babyface pop his first time out on the show, but by the second time, even the home towners were bored.

The Asbury Park Sunday Press ran a lengthy article on Bam Bam Bigelow the day of Wrestlemania along with a sidebar on Larry Sharpe's Monster Factory. According to the story, as a sophomore in high school in 1978, Bigelow lost in the state championships to Bruce Baumgartner (who went on to win two Olympic gold medals and has won every match in U.S. competition since a 1982 draw in a match with Dan Severn). He hoped to win the state as a senior but a large cyst in his back caused him to miss the season. He didn't graduate high school and become a bouncer and bodyguard and hung around with the biker crowd. This led to an arrest record which included burglaries, aggravated assault, drug possession, sexual assault, criminal restraint, robbery and attempted kidnapping. The aggravated assault charge was the result of a motorcycle gang fight which Bigelow said he was acting in self defense in. In his 1985 sexual assault charge with an Asbury Park prostitute, Bigelow said it was just a fight about payment terms. His 1987 arrest on pot charges were dropped when the court ruled the evidence was obtained in an illegal search. He ended up serving six months in a Mexican prison. When he got out of prison, he drifted to wrestling training first with The Samoans in Allentown and later with Sharpe. He said his 1987 marriage turned his life around.

Spoiler for 6/19/95:
In a stunning move stemming from the meeting between Eric Bischoff and Ted Turner on 6/5, WCW will be adding a new television show every Monday night going head-up with Monday Night Raw on the TNT cable network starting 8/7.

The show, as yet unnamed, will air live probably in a similar pattern as Raw, with a live show every third week and tapes from that taping in between. The shows will supposedly originate from major arenas and supposedly contain main event calibre matches. Bischoff will host the show, which will go head-to-head against Raw, the top rated national wrestling show in the country, in most of the United States. Because TNT doesn't send out a separate West Coast feed like USA network, the show's original airing will not go head-to-head on the West Coast. However, the show will be replayed at Midnight Eastern that night which means on the West Coast the second showing would go head-up with Raw. Raw on USA has been drawing its best ratings since the inception of the show over the past quarter including setting two recent records.

The idea for the show stemmed from the Bischoff/Turner meeting and was released to the WCW front office on 6/8 at an employees meeting headed by Harvey Schiller. Reports we received is that obviously the time slot is no coincidence and stemmed from Turner being personally miffed by the letters Vince McMahon was sending him earlier this year urging him to fold the company claiming the wrestling company was an embarrassment to Turner's name.

Bischoff, since his ascension to the WCW hierarchy, has always used the excuse for the Monday Night Raw ratings beating WCW Saturday Night for Raw being on in Prime-Time while Saturday Night is on during a time period when there is less television viewership. That logic sounds good on the surface, particularly when talking among television people, but is faulty upon examination. WWF had Prime Time Wrestling in the Raw time slot dating back to the mid-80s and frequently during that period, the WCW Saturday show was doing better ratings on cable. During the heyday of Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1981, its ratings doubled the current ratings of Raw although in many ways due to the changing make-up of cable television over the past 14 years, that isn't a fair comparison. Even when Raw first started and consistently was the highest rated wrestling show on cable, the gap wasn't like it is now, where Raw's television audience at times has actually doubled that of WCW's most-watched weekly show. Bischoff apparently made that excuse for Raw's ratings being so much higher to Turner, who responded by giving Bischoff a show in the same time slot. While the show amounts to the start of another avenue of a wrestling war, it also, if WCW can't draw in that time slot, may be Bischoff giving himself enough rope to hang himself.

Schiller did almost a 180 degree about-face during the meeting from his introduction to the wrestling company. When Schiller was first named as President of WCW, replacing Bill Shaw, he said that companies that spend time worrying about their competition aren't spending enough time worrying about their own product. This was a counter to Bischoff, whom nearly everyone around him claims is obsessed with the idea of running McMahon out of business. At the meeting, Schiller supposedly talked of how important it is to put the World Wrestling Federation down and out and other company officials afterwards were saying this move amounts to the declaration of an all-out war.

There have already been reports floating around that the new show will be titled, "Head-to-head," but I'm told a decision on the title of the new show won't be made until later this week. WCW has a Clash of Champions scheduled on TBS on 8/6, the day before the debut of this new show, from Daytona Beach. WCW attempted to cancel the Clash and move the debut of the new show with the planned Clash line-up to 8/7, with the show originating from Sarasota, FL. The Daytona Beach show is the final Clash special on the books. TBS still wanted to run the Clash in August since the Clash special the previous August (the first Hogan-Flair television match) set the all-time TBS wrestling viewership record and Clashes during that time period when networks are showing reruns have traditionally drawn strong numbers. WCW had already canceled two of the three remaining scheduled Clash shows for 1995 when the company added PPV dates leaving this as the only Clash special left still on the books.

The pressure in this situation is on WCW, not WWF. They will have to put on hot shows from the start in order to gain an audience since WWF has the built-in audience. In addition, because so much has been built on Hogan, they may be pressured into a situation where Hogan may have to be used regularly on the shows, particularly if ratings don't get off to a strong start. The best thing to keep Hogan as something special is for him to be underexposed. We've already seen Hogan's affect on ratings is only noticeable in a special situation such as the first match with Flair, but it's not consistent for simply putting him on television every week in that WCW's ratings since Hogan joined the company are no higher on a weekly basis than before, even with a Hogan interview on almost every show and occasional matches that don't seem to move the numbers. If WCW does start to gather some momentum, the result will be WWF being forced to heat up its Monday Night shows. In addition, a few weeks into this battle both groups will have to buck Monday Night Football which traditionally does a number on WWF Monday night ratings and with another wrestling show in the slot, will split the wrestling already fragmented wrestling audience even more. Either way, because both groups will probably be feeling some heat, the competition in the short-run will be great for wrestling fans this fall.

The long run is another story. If WCW, which isn't planning on dropping any of its three current TBS shows while adding the TNT show, the overexposure of both the product and of Hogan (who is the product), won't help PPV, which is the major revenue stream for both companies. Those numbers probably will already decline from the addition of so many PPV shows. Declining even more will add up to major red ink from a company that needs to do in the 0.85 range for every PPV show that Hogan appears on. If WWF rises to the bait and starts pushing Raw even harder, the hype for Raw could get in the way of the hype for the PPV. Some say that's already happened since the increase in Raw ratings hasn't translated into the company making more money, and in fact, revenue coming in for house shows and PPVs is declining. It's the PPV shows today that make the companies the real money. Television ad rates bring in money, but not on the level of PPV revenue so television's primary function still needs to be to hook viewers and then sell them the PPV show. If the former works without the latter, the television, now matter how high the ratings are, isn't going to make enough to make companies profitable.

Since both Sting (U.S. title) and Renegade (WCW TV title) came out with their not-as-yet won title belts at a Center Stage taping on 6/7, that pretty well gave away title changes on the 6/18 Great American Bash PPV show from Dayton, OH. As of press time, approximately 3,000 tickets had been sold for the show in the 6,000-set Hara Arena.

There are some changes from the original line-up. The Dave Sullivan-Dallas Page match has been changed to an arm wrestling match with Page putting up a date with Diamond Doll and Sullivan putting up his pet rabbit Ralph (boy, they've sure given that rabbit time to get over) as a result of an incredibly lame television angle over the weekend. The Page vs. Sullivan wrestling match, no doubt stemming from an arm wrestling angle, was moved to the next PPV. Jim Duggan vs. Kamala, managed by Kevin Sullivan with his new name Taskmaster, was also moved to the next PPV. The Marcus Bagwell vs. Craig Pittman match is also in jeopardy as Bagwell has been on crutches this past week and nobody seems to know whether or not he'll be ready to wrestle. Last word at press time was that he would but if not, Jim Duggan would be the replacement. Supposedly one of Bagwell's calf implants (these aren't uncommon in bodybuilders because the calf muscles don't grow in comparison with other muscles with weight training and for those interested in competition, weak calves throw off symmetry) leaked and he had a painful lower leg infection. From interviews taped before a live audience for airing after the PPV, it appeared Sting will beat Meng, but not cleanly, leading to a rematch at the next PPV. In addition, a match with Road Warrior Hawk vs. Bunkhouse Buck has been added to the show.

On the live WCW Main Event, two squash matches are scheduled plus Pittman vs. Duggan. The show will include a contract signing announcement with Nick Bockwinkel of the Hogan-Vader cage match for Los Angeles, which I believe will turn into an angle which would be the last minute tease to get PPV buys. The Rock & Roll Express were originally scheduled to face Harlem Heat on the Main Event show and put them over but the sides fell apart because Rock & Roll didn't want to be used in a jobber capacity on television and also wanted more than the $750 apiece offered by WCW for the shot.

At this point, the line-up for Bash at the Beach on 7/16 in Los Angeles is Hogan vs. Vader in a cage, Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage in a stipulation match, Sting vs. Meng for the U.S. title, a triangular match with the WCW tag titles with Nasty Boys, Blue Bloods and Harlem Heat, Renegade defending the TV title against Paul Orndorff, Duggan vs. Kamala and Page vs. Sullivan.

The Flair-Savage match will be part of a Baywatch TV show tie-in with several actors from the show including David Hasselhoff scheduled to appear. I'm not certain how this is going to take place but the working idea is to have Baywatch Babes in bikinis as lumberjacks, but called a Lifeguard match. Parts of the wrestling show will also be taped for the Baywatch TV show since they are doing an episode where Hogan, Sting, Savage and Flair appear as themselves with Hogan, Sting and Savage playing the roles of doing Make-a-wish volunteer work.

There is already advertising out in the Nashville market for the 7/23 In Your House II PPV show announcing Diesel vs. Sid for the WWF title as the main event for the show and that Jeff Jarrett would both make his singing debut and also defend the IC title. The singing debut is apparently part of the angle to split up Jarrett and Roadie since Roadie is the one who can actually sing and at some point apparently Jarrett will be singing and it'll be surprisingly good and it'll later come out it was Jarrett lip-synching and Roadie singing. If you recall, when Brian Armstrong and Darryl Peterson (Man Mountain Rock) first met with Vince McMahon about going to WWF, it was along was with the idea that along with Nick Patrick (WCW official) that they could do a rock & roll band gimmick.

The assault trial of Davey Boy Smith, which was scheduled to begin this week in Calgary, was postponed until January 29, 1996 at the request of the prosecution.

Prosecutor Gary Belecki wouldn't give his reason for asking for the postponement but Smith's lawyer was clearly opposed to the delay. Apparently the prosecution's medical witness would have hurt their own case. Smith is on trial for the alleged assault in a bar fight of Kody Light of Calgary, who was allegedly left with brain injuries from the altercation. Apparently the prosecution's case was going to be that Smith used a piledriver, his wrestling finishing maneuver, in the fight (forgetting of course Smith doesn't use a piledriver as a finisher) which resulted in the head injuries. The prosecutions' doctor's testimony apparently was that injuries suffered from a piledriver would be inconsistent with the nature of Light's neck injury, which would have badly hurt the case. It was the second delay in the case which was originally set for October of last year.

Smith had canceled his WWF touring schedule indefinitely, including missing the television tapings this past week and wasn't booked on the upcoming PPV. WWF had slowed down the push of his Allied Partners tag team with Lex Luger because they didn't know how long it would be before Smith was available. Smith is expected to rejoin the WWF tour this coming weekend in California as a babyface sub since Diesel won't be making the shots because his elbow got infected this past week after surgery.

Cactus Jack and Ian Rotten had a really weird match. Cactus said that ECW fans have seen him shed enough blood and for one night he deserved a break and would give people a scientific match. The crowd booed and Cactus and Axl started telling them if they didn't like it to go home. When fans would get antsy Cactus started insulting them. At one point Cactus started leading the crowd in chants of boring over the house mic. Then Cactus said that if anyone was faxing Dave Meltzer from this show to tell him it was a five star match. Both guys wound up outside the ring using objects, but then went back to restholds. Eventually both men juiced and they went out of the ring with chair shots. It appeared the storyline was that both men were going to try and wrestle a scientific match but couldn't because violence runs in their veins. Some of the fans understood it at the end but a lot didn't.

No word on the 6/17 ECW Arena line-up other than Sandman defending against Cactus in a barbed wire match, Public Enemy defending against Axl Rotten and a mystery partner, Luna Vachon vs. Beulah McGillicutty and Tommy Dreamer & Taz & Too Cold Scorpio vs. Raven & Pit Bulls plus Benoit. To get over Taz' gimmick change, he is now wearing a crewcut and wears normal tights and wrestling boots, looking somewhat like a shorter version of Rick Steiner with a better tan. When the ring announcer on 6/9 said "Let's hear it for the Tazmaniac," 911 gave him a choke slam for calling him Tazmaniac.

The Gangstas are headed in to ECW, presumably to feud with Public Enemy. There were also rumors of PG-13 doing some dates against Public Enemy.

On 6/10 in San Francisco saw the debut of The Abortionist who uses a coat hanger as a gimmick on a show put together by Johnny Legend. Seriously. J.R. Benson wrestled his first match on that show.

Gordon Solie quit the promotion (WCW) actually toward the end of last week. He had already quit once before Slamboree but was talked into coming back by being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Terry Taylor was added to the booking committee. It immediately drew heat from the Hogan side because of the belief Taylor is a Flair ally.

The reason the NBC special was canceled was that the Director of Program Services at NBC (not Warren Littlefield) was on vacation when the deal was made and when he found out about it, he immediately put the kibosh on it. McMahon was said to be extremely unhappy since the NBC guy told McMahon (who is in many ways is insulated by yes-man and is far removed from actually knowing how the general public perceives wrestling today) that pro wrestling was an 80s fad and it's now 1995 and they want to do 90s programming.

For whatever reason, the rumors floating around are that either Mabel or Roadie will win King of the Ring, with Mabel rumor having the most talk. While either one would qualify as a surprise, the idea of booking is to build to things that will make money and not to simply fool the public. Neither of these guys is going to draw money and Michaels is the one with potential to draw money. If Mabel wins, Shawn has to lose in the semis to him. If Roadie is to win, either Shawn or Undertaker can go to the finals. They were already pushing on television this weekend the idea that there is dissension between Roadie and Jarrett.

They started an angle at all the TV's regarding Man Mountain Rock vs. Bob Backlund as Backlund broke Rock's guitar. It was really bad with Rock crying about his broken guitar. Their first match was 6/10 at MSG and was described as one of the worst matches in the history of Western Civilization as they went 10:00 without even locking up. After Rock won, Backlund put the chicken wing on him after the bout.

In a cost-cutting measure due to poor crowds on the road, only the main event manager (Ted DiBiase) will be sent on the road so people like Fuji, Sunny, Harvey, etc. will only go on the road if the city is within driving distance of their home.

Spoiler for January 2001 Figure 4 Weekly:
With the recent backstage fight between Dallas Page and Scott Steiner making headlines, I have decided to go back this week and look at some of the more infamous off-TV brawls in recent US wrestling history. There’s no way this list is even close to complete, and it only includes fights, not double-crosses or guys refusing to cooperate inside the ring. Someday, I’ll do an article on those. If you have any additions to this list, can help with the dates, or have suggestions for future articles, please let me know. Thanks very much to Chris for coming up with the idea, and to Dave Meltzer for his help.

Alex Wright and Hardbody Harrison May 13, 1997 — Alex Wright and Hardbody Harrison (Harrison Norris) were going over their match at the WCW WorldWide tapings in Orlando, FL when Harrison said he wouldn’t do a few of the spots Alex had come up with. Alex told Randy Anderson about the problems, and Anderson told Harrison to do whatever Wright asked him to do. Harrison got angry that Wright had “gone over his head” to Anderson, and the argument turned into a fight. Alex apparently got the better of it, cutting Harrison’s head open and requiring him to get seven stitches afterwards. The result surprised a lot of people since Harrison had gained a reputation from winning several Toughman contests.

Kevin Nash and Roddy Piper June 9, 1997 — Following one of the most horrible matches in wrestling history pitting Scott Hall and Kevin Nash against Roddy Piper and Ric Flair, Nash stormed to Piper’s dressing room. Nash was angry over what he perceived was Piper not cooperating during the match and subsequently going into business for himself. Piper went as far as to call for the finish six minutes early, so the post-match brawl ended up going on seemingly forever and making for hideous television. Nash pounded on Piper’s door until Piper’s bodyguard, Craig Malley, opened the door. Nash stormed in and pie-faced Piper, who jumped back up and tried kicking at Nash’s bad knee. Malley and Ric Flair quickly broke it up and Malley backed down from the much larger Nash when a fight nearly started between the two of them. Nash and Piper parted ways, leaving the heat between the two unresolved.

Earnest Miller and Billy Kidman February 8, 1999 — Earnest Miller and Billy Kidman (Peter Gruner) got into an altercation at a bar following that evening’s Nitro. According to witnesses, Miller grabbed at Kidman in a playful manner and Kidman took it seriously, shoving Miller away. Miller shoved back, they got into an argument, and Miller allegedly punched Kidman in the face. Kidman shot back with a punch to the chest at which point several wrestlers broke it up. Kidman reportedly told Miller that if that was all he had, he definitely wasn’t the greatest. Miller got pissed and they were about to go at it again when the wrestlers and hotel security managed to calm both sides down. Miller left to his room and Kidman remained at the bar.

Hawk and Randy Savage November 6, 1999 — Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) and Hawk (Mike Hegstrand) ran into each other backstage at a Kid Rock concert in the Tampa, FL Sun Dome. The two had been involved in a previous incident on April 26, 1996 at the Tokyo Dome when Hawk allegedly sucker-punched Savage after an argument over a pizza. That altercation was broken up before it could escalate into something further. At the concert, Hawk went to shake Savage’s hand, but Savage reportedly sucker-punched him. During the fight, Nora Greenwald (Molly Holly) and Stephanie Bellars (Gorgeous George) allegedly jumped Hawk’s wife and pulled out some of her hair. The fight was broken up and Hawk threatened to file suit against Savage over what happened to his wife.

Mike Rapada beat Sabu to win the NWA Title for the second time on December 22nd before 300 fans at the Nashville fairgrounds. Sabu came to the ring looking like hell with his knee and jaw taped up like crazy. He was said to have still worked hard to have a good match. They might have gone home early after Sabu tried an Arabian facebuster, slit his wrist open on the jagged edge of a table and started bleeding everywhere. Sabu did the pinfall job clean in the middle. Bill Behrens opened the show doing a Jim Cornette gimmick, complete with an “NWA” tennis racket, with Bad Attitude playing his version of the Midnight Express. Behrens actually worked a match on the show, losing to Mike Porter after interference from Corsica Joe. Imagine not being able to beat Bill Behrens without outside interference. Bert Prentice was supposed to work the match as well, but he suffered what appears to be a legit elbow injury the week before, so he wasn’t involved. The other title change saw Bad Attitude beat Air Paris & Rob Williams to regain the NWA World Tag Team titles in a ladder match. Said to be a great match and Prentice was telling people it was the best match in the history of the fairgrounds.

WCW Wednesday Thunder (12/20/00)

Quick Review: Another horrible show with far more bad wrestling than usual.

Summary: Flair, in a limo, hyped up the show. Shockingly, he promised it would be great. Flair said he wouldn’t tell us who Steiner would be facing later, but it would be a major opponent. Maybe it’ll be Crash Holly. Flair also promised the mystery man would be there later.

This week, Jaime Knoble’s name was spelled “Jamie Knoble”. I guess they ran the graphics through spell-check for once. Chavo cut a promo saying Shane Helms won the number-one contender’s match to win a shot at Syn. So is Knoble the number-two contender, and why did he got a shot before Helms? Chavo cut a goofy promo saying if he lost to Knoble, he (Chavo) would be number-one contender. This was a waste of two minutes of my life. Chavo beat Knoble with a brainbuster after interference from Shane Helms. Well, at least it made sense, since Helms wanted to protect his title shot. Pretty good match, no heat whatsoever.

Crowbar, in his old gas station attire, cut a promo with Daffney. He said he’d beat up Bigelow on Thunder and then win the belt back from Terry Funk at Syn.

Shat and Miss Jones arrived driving what I swear to God appeared to be a John Deere tractor. Shat said he wanted a match with Steiner. Flair said he’d already booked it. Flair must have ESP.

Bigelow cut a promo. He said he’d had a revelation when he fell through the ambulance roof. He said the revelation was that he was hardcore. I thought the revelation would be that he was too fat.

Jim Duggan came out in street clothes. Crowd called him a “ho”. Duggan said he was sad. He said he screwed up and had given his life to the fans. “You still suck!” a fan screamed really loudly. WCW didn’t bother to bleep this out in post-production. Duggan, who was pale, said he turned on his country for one more day in the sun. He should have cut this promo while sitting on a tank. He apologized to his dad and his wife and kids. But most of all, he said, he wanted to apologize to his fans. He said he owed the fans everything and had disappointed him. He begged for forgiveness, but said he understood if they didn’t. Some scattered boos. Seems nobody believed him.

Mike Awesome approached Duggan backstage. He said Duggan was a great guy, and said if he stuck around until the end of the show, he’d give him a ride home. “Thanks, brother!” Duggan said.

Gene interviewed the Thrillers. They said they’d win the Tag Team battle royal.

Rection met with Duggan and said he knew where he was coming from. He offered his forgiveness and gave Duggan a hug. “Thanks, brother!” Duggan said.

All four Thrillers won the most hideous Tag Team battle royal maybe ever. During the match, Vito ran out and attacked Reno. Johnny the Bull then came down, caned Reno, and reunited with Vito. Weren’t they feuding the last time we saw them? Tony didn’t understand how four men could win. Well, they did. Sanders babbled FOREVER just to say that all four guys were number-one contenders.

Konnan beat Elix Skipper in a HORRIBLE match. Konnan botched a major spot and the cameras cut away so TV viewers couldn’t see it. It must have been one HELL of a missed spot, because they cut away to a shot of maybe the ugliest fan in the whole arena. Commentary may have been worse than the match itself if that’s even possible, as Tony went back to his roots and made fun of Tenay for being able to identify a la magistral cradle.

Jarrett said he would watch Steiner’s back at the PPV. By the way, didn’t Jarrett get his last title shot ever a few months ago?.

Wall and Cajun met with Rection and yelled at him for getting soft with Duggan. They were pissed that he couldn’t cut Chavo a little slack. Cajun said the difference was that Duggan apologized and Chavo didn’t. They sarcastically said they understood, and stormed off.

Bigelow beat Crowbar after Meng interfered. Bigelow KILLED Crowbar with an Asbury Park Driver for the finish. Match was decent.

Smiley watched the Glacier promo on a monitor and said a real hero was coming back.

Goldberg killed Norman Smiley. Goldberg was pretty much the only babyface on the show the crowd reacted to. Luger and Bagwell appeared on the big screen afterwards. They announced Goldberg & Sarge vs. Luger & Bagwell at Syn. Bagwell said if Sarge did the job, Goldberg had to retire. Goldberg said he’d beaten Luger twice and Luger was still running his mouth, so this time he was going to have to kill him. I believed Goldberg when he said that.

A pre-taped interview with Flair and Tenay aired. Flair said he wouldn’t reveal the mystery man yet. He said he was retired for good. Tenay asked if he was jealous of Steiner. Flair said he’d never been jealous of another wrestler one day in his entire life.

Douglas & Kronic beat MIA. Clarke hit Rection with a chair allowing Douglas to pin him with the Franchiser. Bad guys destroyed MIA after the match.

Team Canada came out. Storm ran down Duggan. Suddenly, Duggan came out to a pretty big ovation. They had the longest staredown ever, presumably because Mike Awesome missed his cue. Awesome finally hit the ring, but ended up turning on Duggan. “What a swerve!” Tenay said. Awesome tore his shirt off revealing the Canadian maple leaf. When they got backstage, Gene interviewed him. Awesome said the stupid leisure suits were out, and the Canadian Career Killer was in FULL f***ING EFFIZZECT~! Well, not those exact words. Greatest news of the month from WCW.

Steiner beat Shat with the Recliner. The Mystery Man appeared on the stage and shimmied around like an idiot. Looked like La Parka actually. Steiner ran after him post-match.

Keith Olberman on FOX Sports called Vince McMahon “the worst man in the world” last week. Well, that’s going a bit far. Vince is many things, but I’d argue against the worst man in the whole world.

USA Today rated Raw the ninth worst show on cable, calling it “vulgar, badly-acted trash”.

A lot of the guys backstage were asked what they thought of the WWF bringing in Rob Van Dam, and he didn’t get overall stellar reviews.

Future of ECW remains in doubt

In what would be a disastrous blow to the company, there is a chance that ECW Hardcore TV might not air on the Madison Square Garden Network this Saturday night. The MSG Network is ECW’s strongest TV base in the New York market, where the Guilty as Charged PPV will emanate from the following afternoon. Two sources at the MSG Network revealed that the ECW contract with them had expired and had not been renewed as of press time. Paul Heyman told people the show would definitely air Saturday. ECW buys the timeslot from MSG as paid programming, so the feeling is that as long as they pay before Saturday, the show will air. Of course, since it’s paid programming and not a time slot exclusively assigned to ECW, if the people who do the George Foreman Grill ad campaign, for instance, bought up the spot tomorrow, ECW would be s’ out of luck. I think if ECW fans tuned into MSG Saturday night and found a George Foreman Grill infomercial, they’d still buy the PPV the next afternoon, but the perception issue is what is really important.

Not having a show in that slot would just reiterate to fans that the company is in such bad shape that they couldn’t even afford to air their TV show the night before a PPV in the market the PPV is airing from. Paul Heyman has talked with friends in the last week and made it very clear that things are in really bad shape and there doesn’t look to be a good chance of turning the company around anytime soon. He’s admitted to being about four million dollars in debt, and said he’s desperately looking for someone to buy the company. He’s even gone as far as to state that if the buyer didn’t want to keep him on as booker, he’d be quite willing to accept that and walk away from wrestling. He did give the indication that the parties he has talked to about buying the company generally really want him to stay on as booker, and he said he’d be more than happy to do that as well.

Even though we’ve been writing about it for months, and everybody knew it was bound to happen, it’s still hard to believe that Ted Turner no longer owns World Championship Wrestling.

It was announced on Thursday, January 11th, 2001 that Eric Bischoff and Fusient Media had purchased World Championship Wrestling for an undisclosed amount, believed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million. MultiChannel News reported that WCW was sold for $74 million, while Jordan Rohan, a Wit Soundview media analyst, claimed the company was only worth $10 to $15 million. The sale is expected to be officially closed within 30 to 45 days. Bischoff, who will serve as company President, took over creative control upon making the announcement at a meeting with WCW department heads at 9:00 AM last Thursday. Brian Bedol, head of Fusient, will become WCW’s new CEO.

The hierarchy of the one-year-old Fusient consists of Brian Bedol, who will become new WCW CEO, and Chairman Steven Greenberg, former deputy commissioner of Major League Baseball and son of Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. According to their press release, Fusient is “focused on identifying, funding, developing and distributing next generation content and converged media brands.” Prior to forming Fusient, Bedol and Greenberg created the Classic Sports Network, which ESPN later bought and renamed ESPN Classics. Bedol was the former vice president of Time Warner Enterprises, helping set up Quincy Jones Entertainment and the Six Flags theme parks, and was also instrumental in the start-ups of both Nick at Nite and Court TV.

TBS, Inc. retained a minority interest in the company in order to retain long-term programming rights. For the time being, Nitro and Thunder will continue to air in their current timeslots. There has been talk for over a year of moving all sports-related programming off TNT and onto TBS, so Nitro will probably be moved to TBS at some point. Bischoff himself has expressed interest in eventually dropping one of the two shows, most likely Thunder. Although Turner executives are claiming the sale had nothing to do with the imminent Time Warner/AOL merger, it seems hardly coincidental that the sale was announced the same day that the final merger obstacle was overcome. Most believe the reason the sale took so long to complete was because TBS wanted to make sure Fusient had enough resources to keep WCW alive. Although Nitro and Thunder ratings have taken a beating over the course of the past year, they’re still good numbers when compared to the ratings for other basic cable shows. Obviously TBS wanted to keep the programming, but unload the company and its $60 million in losses. Theoretically, Fusient has the resources to keep WCW alive for about a year, unless things turn around and the company becomes profitable.

Other pertinent information was disclosed during a national media conference call Thursday with the key parties involved in the sale. Among the highlights:

• Brad Siegel claimed TNT and TBS would actually increase the promotion of Nitro and Thunder now that the sale has gone down.

• WCW will retain its name, and it may take some time before real changes become noticeable to WCW fans.

• The sale included the purchase of all WCW contracts. Bedol said it was uncertain whether there would be layoffs among the front-office staff.

• Bedol said he’d be the guy in charge of marketing, distribution and promotion, while Bischoff would be in charge of the programming and production. But, Bedol added, Bischoff was a smart guy so he’d be somewhat instrumental in the marketing and promotion as well.

• Bischoff said he felt Hulk Hogan was an important brand in wrestling, but that they hadn’t had an opportunity to sit down and discuss things with him yet. By the way, Hogan’s WCW contract expires in a couple of months, so he’ll probably try to play both sides.

• Without directly saying so, Siegel hinted that he was in way over his head as the guy in charge of WCW the last few months.

• Over the course of the weekend, Bischoff said the word “brand” approximately 672 million times.

Bischoff also appeared on WCW Live on Thursday and Wrestling Observer Live on Friday. In general, he seemed a lot more humble than he’d been in the past, particularly when WCW was on top, and appeared to have learned something from his mistakes. Of course, because these were media appearances directed at the generally more knowledgable Internet audience, one also has to assume that he was probably saying certain things that he knew people wanted to hear. Whether or not Bischoff is successful has almost nothing to do with what he says he’s going to do, but rather what he actually does now that he’s the head honcho.

The first interview, on WCW Live, was pretty general and Bischoff strayed away from certain questions and gave less than definite answers to many. Among the highlights:

• Bischoff said he was surprised WWF didn’t take more of a hit after the jump to TNN. He said the XFL should be successful, but Vince might be spreading himself too thin.

• He said there was talk of shutting down WCW for two or three weeks at some point.

• Regarding Scott Hall, he pretty much just said Hall was a very creative person when his head was on straight, but that he hadn’t talked to him for a long time. He said there was a chance he’d be back, but didn’t want to make any promises either. Basically, this was a way to make people happy without having to come right out and give a direct answer either way.

• He said “revenue is a result of ratings”, which I hope was a joke. Revenue is a result of successful house shows, merchandising, and, most importantly, pay-per-views. Revenue is even less a result of ratings when another company, in this case TBS, is handling all the advertising.

• He said the whole Standards and Practices argument that Vince Russo used to put forth was lame. He said WCW had stepped over the line quite a bit recently and that he wasn’t down with all the swearing and vulgarity. He said the reason Russo’s ideas didn’t work was because everyone had already seen them in the WWF.

• He said he probably wouldn’t be an on-air personality. He said it was fun, but that he was sick of the whole Wrestler vs. Company Owner storyline and the Company Owner would be the natural role for him to play.

• He basically said that when he came back with Russo in April, he discovered that his philosophy and Russo’s philosophy were quite different. He figured Russo would self-destruct, so he got the hell out of Dodge so he wouldn’t be associated with the failure.

• He really put over Johnny Ace as a great asset to the company.

• He said a move to Las Vegas or Orlando had been discussed, but no decision had been made yet. Basically, the feeling is that it would be cheaper to run all the shows from one venue, and then rely on tourists to fill the buildings up every week. At press time, Los Angeles was also being discussed as a possible site.

• He really put over the Cruiserweights, saying he was definitely going to put more emphasis on them because they were part of a formula that worked.

• He claimed they wouldn’t rely heavily on celebrities, but if the right person came along at the right time, they’d take advantage of it.

Bischoff’s second major interview was on Wrestling Observer Live the next day. He was far more open about certain issues and it turned into a really good show. Unfortunately, we also got a couple of callers who tried to get a job. Among the highlights:

• He said it would take some time to implement creative changes, because he didn’t feel comfortable stepping in and immediately scrapping everything the current booking crew had been working on. As far as I know, he did make some changes at the PPV and at Nitro, but generally the shows were left as the creative team had originally scripted them. He said it would be about two months before the real changes took place.

• He said he probably spread himself too thin during the hot period trying to do too many things at once, many of which he could easily have asked others to do. He didn’t seem to think being the guy in charge and an on-screen character at the same time was a bad idea.

• He said what lead to the downfall of the company was the fact that when WCW was hot, he signed guys to high-paying guaranteed deals in order to keep them away from Vince. At the time, that was fine, because WCW was making hella money. But eventually, Vince created a product that appealed to the 18-34 demographic better than WCW’s product did, so those people switched to RAW. Once things started going downhill, the company was left with these enormous contracts without the necessary revenue coming in. That’s pretty much exactly what happened. He said they would probably create a new salary system similar to the WWF’s downside guarantees, so when business is good guys will make more, and when business is bad the company will pay less. He admitted that incentive-based contracts were necessary in today’s wrestling world.

• He didn’t seem to be too concerned about having older guys on top. He said if you take guys like Rock and Kurt Angle out of the equation, it generally takes about eight years for a person to develop. He said Austin had been in the business for almost ten years before he made it big. This disturbed me a bit, and I got even more disturbed when I saw the top heel group on Nitro consisting of Ric Flair (50s), Scott Steiner (almost 40), Jeff Jarrett (30s), Lex Luger (40s), Buff Bagwell (30s) and Animal (40s). He claimed he knew that young guys needed to be elevated and said creating new, fresh talent would be a priority.

• He said he had no idea where Variety got the story that he was trying to set up interpromotional PPVs with the WWF. He said it would likely never happen.

• He was asked if he thought the fact WCW never beat the NWO contributed to the destruction of the company. He said the problem was guys like Scott Steiner, Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall coming out every week and saying “WCW SUCKS!” He said it was damaging to have guys come out and say things that didn’t support the brand. He said they probably should have run the angle in a way where WCW wasn’t buried as a company. But, he said, he didn’t think the fact that WCW didn’t win in the end had anything to do with it. He’s definitely right that it’s bad news for guys to constantly bury the company. However, if you look at the history of real interpromotional feuds (including the New Japan vs. UWFi feud that gave Bischoff the idea to create NWO), the losing company almost always ends up dying or being absorbed into the other company. WCW lost the “interpromotional battle” with NWO. Then they almost died. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

• He said he’d talk to ECW guys only if an attorney told him that they were available. He also said he was interested in reopening relations with New Japan and talking with Ultimo Dragon about working with Toryumon.

• He said the Power Plant was an idea whose time may have passed. He basically said he was going to look for potential wrestlers everywhere, not just inside the wrestling business, and then introduce a cutting-edge training system. He did not reveal what this system was.

• He said he was not worried about guys refusing to do jobs. He said the product was going to pick up, and once it picks up guys generally have less of a problem doing what they’re asked to do. He hinted that his long-term solution was incentive-based contracts, so if a person refused to cooperate they’d be taken off TV, which would result in them losing money.

• He hinted that Mark Madden wouldn’t be back, and insinuated that Madden tried too hard to get himself over on TV as opposed to getting the product over. He called announcers a necessary evil.

• He pretty much buried Russo. He said when he was first let go, Harvey Schiller asked him about Russo. Bischoff said Russo was working for McMahon without a contract, which meant he was either not very valuable, or McMahon was an idiot. He told Schiller that time would tell. Well, time has told a story and it does not appear that McMahon was an idiot.

• Bischoff said he had heard of Christopher Daniels, but wasn’t familiar with his work. He reiterated his interest in creating a strong Cruiserweight division and said he wanted to see Daniels.

• He said the older name brand stars were important because they gave a necessary rub to the younger guys. He used DDP for an example. He said DDP worked hard and tried everything to get himself over, but nothing worked for the longest time. He only broke into the main event slot after feuding with Randy Savage. Therefore, Bischoff said, DDP benefited from Savage’s brand name. He said he wasn’t responsible for the Hogan/Kidman feud and that the story there sucked, which was why neither guy got a rub out of it.

• He reiterated that he wasn’t worried about guys refusing to do jobs. He pointed out that Nitro did a 2.2 the week before and couldn’t go much lower, which meant nobody really had any leverage. He said if Nash walked out, how much lower could the company possibly go?

• A guy named Rob tried to get himself a job.

• He said he hadn’t watched much wrestling while he was gone. Uh oh. Last two people who made that statement were Vince Russo and Billy Gunn.

• He said he wanted to remain running head-to-head with Raw, and would prefer going up directly against them the whole two hours.

• Another caller tried to get a job. Eric told him to send booking ideas to WrestlingObserver.com. Nice try, buddy.

In November of 1988, Jim Crockett Promotions finally lost their four-plus year battle with Vince McMahon’s nationally-expanding World Wrestling Federation and sold the company to Ted Turner’s WTBS. JCP was pretty much the final major NWA faction still living, the final major American promotion not consumed by McMahon. The wrestling business would be much different today had that sale not gone through. For almost ten straight years, the company went through various bookers and executives, losing money year after year. The only thing that kept the company alive was the protection offered by the Turner corporate umbrella, and there were still times when the company came very close to being shut down. But WTBS, and eventually Turner Broadcasting, kept the company afloat until finally, under Eric Bischoff, the company made more money in a two-year period than they’d lost in all the previous years combined. Turner knew the value of his wrestling franchise, and kept it close to his heart since in many ways it proved to him during his formative business years that he really could create a national Superstation. He knew the cyclical nature of the business. But, unfortunately, Turner’s company itself was finally gobbled up by an even larger conglomerate. Without autonomous power he pretty much lost his ability to save WCW, and after losing an estimated $60 million in 2000, it was finally sold.

So things have come full circle. WCW is back to being a company forced to rely on itself to survive. It can no longer count on a gigantic parent company to support it should the cycle hit another $60 million low. WCW under Turner Broadcasting was almost the perfect model of a modern wrestling company, but now, with the sale, it’s sink or swim. For twelve years, WCW could afford to make costly mistakes, because Turner was willing to absorb the money losses and keep the ship afloat. Now, under the ownership of a one-year-old company with vastly inferior financial assets, those days are over. WCW can no longer afford to make costly mistakes.

Can the company survive, and even prosper, under Eric Bischoff? It’s way too early to tell. The outlook in the very short term is positive, as the company presented a fairly strong pay-per-view Sunday and followed it up with a very good Nitro. Bischoff, with some obvious exceptions, said all the right things during his media appearances. The wrestlers, many of whom are ecstatic to see him back in charge and some of whom are just desperate to keep their jobs, worked harder this past weekend than some of them have literally in years.

But it’s only been two days and the changes have barely even begun. The wrestling business today is far different than it was in 1995 when Bischoff ushered in the most recent boom period. Vince McMahon isn’t struggling and there aren’t any high-profile names left to steal. Turner’s bottomless checkbook and fatherly protection is a thing of the past. For Bischoff to survive, he has to turn around a company that lost $60 million last year, using pretty much the same guys that worked on TV during the period when the company lost that money. In no way am I saying it absolutely cannot be done, but it’s going to be a long, hard, uphill battle, with almost no room for costly mistakes.

Where do you see WCW in one year’s time under Eric Bischoff? Results of 1,501 total votes: Making a profit (12.5%); Losing between $1.00 and $5 million a year (13.5%); Losing between $5 million and $25 million a year (23.9%); Losing between $25 million and $50 million a year (9%); Losing more than $50 million a year, but still somehow in business (7.6%); Bankrupt (33.5%).

Who would you put in charge as head booker of the new WCW? Results of 1,915 total votes: Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara (8.6%); Kevin Nash (1%); Eric Bischoff (6.8%); Hulk Hogan (2.6%); Terry Taylor (16%); Johnny Ace (24.1%); Dusty Rhodes (2.7%); Bring in somebody brand new (38.2%).

WWF announced last week plans to debut a new reality-based television show entitled “Tough Enough”. The idea, which Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler plugged on Raw last week, is to take “twelve talented, charismatic male and female athletes” and train them to be wrestlers.

Viscera was released a long time ago. Shockingly, once word got out, some Internet fans started up a “Save Viscera” campaign. Really.

From the “Only in WCW” department: Beginning January 17th, Nitro and Thunder will be airing head-to-head in Australia. Nitro will air on Fox Sports 1 and Thunder will air on C7 Sports, both at 11:00 PM.

WCW Monday Nitro (1/15/01)

Quick Review: A shockingly good show, much better than Raw.

Summary: Show opened with clips from backstage at Syn of Steiner, Jarrett, Bagwell, Luger, Animal and RIC FLAIR all celebrating together. I knew it. Flair is a bad man.

They cut to Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson, who were sad. They said Goldberg’s career was over forever. Also, they said, Sid hurt himself. Tony warned parents to get the youngsters out of the room because there were about to show some very graphic footage. Parents around the nation probably scoffed, thinking this was just another pro-wrestling angle. Unfortunately for them, the footage that aired was probably even more gruesome than anyone could have imagined going in. Sid tried to jump off the top rope with a flying kick, and SNAPPED HIS LEG LIKE A TWIG. It was brutal beyond belief. They showed this from three different angles, and also in slow motion. Sickening.

A funeral dirge played and some pall bearers came down to the ring with a casket followed by Luger and Bagwell. Inside the casket was Goldberg’s book, a spear and a jackhammer. About 30 fans chanted “Goldberg!” Luger cut a promo saying everyone had lost a great hero at Syn. Ted Turner? He said Goldberg would never be seen again ever. I am somewhat embarrassed to say I was amused by Luger’s false sincerity. They talked WAY too long though. Finally they said anyone who had anything to add should come out now. Jarrett came out. He said he had a special memory of Goldberg to share. That memory was that Goldberg never beat him while in WCW. This memory must have been really special, because all three guys suddenly stopped being sad and began high-fiving each other. Luger called out Steiner. He said he’d warned Sid to stay away, just like he’d warned Sting and Booker T. He said good riddance to Goldberg and added: “There will be no rematch.” Suddenly Goldberg’s music played to a huge pop. They cut backstage to his locker room. The door opened, and Flair and Animal came out. Good heat for that. “Welcome to the new WCW!” Flair said. He claimed to be surrounded by the greatest collection of athletes ever assembled in one place. Well, he’s still lying. Flair went so wild he almost had another aneurism. Man, Flair was great here. Nash interrupted the promo and challenged Steiner to a match in the main event. Flair said he was talking pretty tough for a guy all by himself. Nash said he wasn’t alone. Page and Rick Steiner came out. Flair went mad and said Nash couldn’t make his own matches. This was Shat’s cue to come out. Shat said he was Commissioner, and signed Nash vs. Steiner for later.

Crazy Flair tried to recruit Crowbar backstage. He pretty much refused.

Chavo beat Crowbar with the brainbuster to retain the Cruiserweight Title. Pretty good match, no heat.

Luger and Bagwell recruited Bigelow.

Rey & Kidman beat Two Count. Another good Cruiser match with no heat. During a train wreck spot, Rey did a twisting Asai, which is the craziest dive he’s done since knee surgery. Kidman also did a top rope frankensteiner, which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him do before. Kidman reversed the Vertabreaker into a Tomikaze for the pin. Crowd did pop big for the finish. Team Canada attacked the Animals after the match. Awesome challenged Kidman to a hair vs. hair match later.

Kronic wanted a title shot against the Thrillers later. Shat agreed to give them the match.

Flair tried to recruit Chavo, who said he needed to think about it. Flair then chatted with Sanders and said he’d make him the next dirtiest player in the game.

Bagwell and Luger tried to recruit Rection. Funny seeing Bagwell telling Rection he was a big star.

Palumbo & O’Hare beat Kronic pretty much clean. Adams superplexed Palumbo, but O’Hare came off top with a senton for the pinfall. Jindrak and Stasiak ran out near the finish to attack Clarke. All four guys worked hard and it was better than you’d think.

The doctor examined Kidman backstage and said he couldn’t work the match with Awesome. Shat walked in. Konnan asked Shat if he could take Kidman’s place in the hair vs. hair match. Shat noted that Konnan had no hair, but agreed anyway.

A Royal Rumble commercial aired.

Palumbo and O’Hare yelled at Stasiak and Jindrak backstage for running in during their match. Sanders walked in and said they needed to work together to prove themselves to Flair.

Prior to the hair vs. hair match, Flair appeared on the big screen and said if Awesome beat Konnan, Kidman lost his hair. Finish absolutely petrified me as Awesome appeared to be going for the Awesome Bomb off the top turnbuckle. Thankfully, Konnan turned it into a DDT instead, which was actually almost as scary. This may have been Konnan’s biggest victory ever in WCW. Konnan cut about two inches of Awesome’s hair off after the match. In a major shocker, the least hip man in the world Tony Schiavone properly identified Awesome’s hair-do as a mullet.

Shat came out and issued an open challenge to anyone. Bam Bam Bigelow accepted. Shat won with a strange kick. Nothing of note.

Douglas beat Rection. Douglas tried to get a chain, but Rection grabbed it and tossed it out of the ring. Chavo then ran down, grabbed the chain, and punched Rection with it. Douglas then got the pin. Douglas at least tries.

Captain Rection cut a promo, saying he was sick of being Hugh Morris and sick of being Captain Rection. I thought “Hugh G. Rection” was his real name? He said he was going to kill Chavo.

Kevin Nash NC Scott Steiner when all the bad guys ran in. Man, Bischoff deserves credit for something, because Nash looked better than he has in literally years. Crowd went wild for Nash’s comeback, so you can imagine how much they hated this lame finish. Things were going so good up until that point too. Oh well.

WWF opened up their PPV year with an awesome Royal Rumble, which saw Steve Austin last eliminate Kane to win a shot at the WWF Champion at WrestleMania. Kurt Angle left the show as Champion after Austin attacked Triple H leading to the pinfall finish. The show seems to set up Austin vs. Triple H and Rock vs. Angle as the top two matches for the February PPV, with Rock likely winning the title to set up the expected Rock vs. Austin main event for the WWF Title at Mania.

The show also featured three surprise returns. Honky Tonk Man made a brief but entertaining one-minute appearance and was quickly eliminated by Kane. It seemed as if very few of the fans in attendance even had a clue who he was. Big Show also made his return, looking bigger than ever after his stint in Ohio Valley Wrestling, but still being pushed as a huge star. A note on the WWF website stated that he planned on fulfilling a few obligations for OVW, but was pretty much back in the WWF full-time.

The most surprising return was that of Haku, who just one week prior had won the WCW Hardcore Title as Meng. Real name Uliuli Fifita, he was pushed hard both Sunday and Monday despite now being the oldest active competitor on the roster at 42. WCW had put the Hardcore Title on him despite the fact that he was working without a contract, so when Jim Ross called him the Wednesday prior to the Rumble and asked if he wanted to jump, he had nothing holding him back. He apparently gave the Hardcore belt to Barbarian, who presumably returned it to WCW. The WCW website responded by not only removing Meng’s bio from the site, but also removing the entire history of the Hardcore title, so apparently he also took the division with him. There is a lesson to be learned from this, but like every single lesson in wrestling, nobody ever learns anything.

The first big return happened just as the show started, with Boris Karloff returning from the dead to narrate the video package. It was pretty dang good.

1. Dudleys beat Edge & Christian to win the WWF Tag Team Titles. Dudleys attacked them at the bell and ran wild until Christian clonked D-Von on the back of what was described as his “concussed” head. Not a lot of heat early as the crowd apparently was waiting for the tables. Work was good though. They did a major false tag spot that made the crowd very unhappy. Edge and Christian finally went for their double-chair spot on D-Von, but they missed, allowing him to hit a double clothesline and the hot tag. Bubba ran wild, including giving Christian his trademarked Highest Backdrop Ever. Dudleys did the crotch spot and Got The Table. Some really good nearfalls. Dudleys went for a 3D on Christian, but Edge speared D-Von midway through and Christian laid out Bubba with a spinning DDT. Edge went up top for the headbutt spot, but D-Von shoved him off and he bonked into his partner. Christian fell outside and the Dudleys hit Edge with the 3D for the pinfall. Come to think of it, I don’t think anyone went through the table at all. Finish sequences were great and it turned into a good match. ***

The first Hunter and Stephanie segment aired already. Hunter told Steph he didn’t want her causing trouble with Trish during his match with Angle later. She told him not to worry about it. Carey walked in. He said he hadn’t watched much WWF TV lately. Well that’s putting over the product. He said he ran into Kamala at the airport recently. He asked where Vince was, saying he wanted advice on promoting his PPV. So the company gets buried, but of course Vince does not. Oh yeah, and Carey recognized Hunter, although Hunter has been on his show. Anyway, someone should have told Carey how well Vince did promoting boxing, bodybuilding and rock concerts. Instead, Steph offered to take Carey to meet Trish.

2. Chris Jericho beat Chris Benoit to win the WWF Intercontinental Title in a ladder match. Neither guy walked under the ladder. Pussies. Jericho missed a Silver King dive early and “injured” the arm Benoit had worked over on Smackdown. Benoit pummeled him and grabbed the ladder. Loud “Y2J!” chants. Jericho set up the ladder in the corner but got reversed into it. He fell to the outside. Benoit then hit the ropes and went for a tope, but Jericho MURDERED him with a chairshot in mid-air. That was BRUTAL and Benoit also almost hit his head on the dasher boards on his landing. During a brawl outside, Jericho ATE a ladder shot to the forehead. Ouch. Lots of capital letters in this match too. Benoit hit a quite violent little chairshot and tossed Jericho’s body back into the ring. Some really innovative and sometimes scary ladder spots, but mostly just a hard-hitting wrestling match. Announcers mentioned Shawn Michaels, which wouldn’t be the last time they did so this evening. Benoit took the old teeter-totter spot. Jericho tried to climb the ladder, but Benoit grabbed him and gave him a back suplex over the top rope to the floor. Not quite as scary as it sounds, but pretty dangerous nonetheless. Benoit started to climb, but Jericho cut him off and put him in a modified Lion Tamer on top of the ladder. I can’t even begin to explain what it looked like, but I can tell you it looked like it hurt like all hell. Benoit fell to the mat, but before Jericho could get to the top of the ladder, Benoit pushed it over. Benoit put on the Crossface and Jericho tapped, but of course there were no submissions. Jericho fought back and tried to superplex Benoit off the ladder, but Benoit punched him to the mat. Benoit then climbed to the very top of the ladder, which was quite unstable, and missed a SUPER PHATASS diving headbutt. I thought he was done for. It takes a lot for me to think Chris Benoit is done for, but that did it. He ended up not being done for, and managed to tip the ladder over again. Benoit started to climb again, but Jericho grabbed a chair and whacked him in the back. Benoit took a big bump stomach-first on the top rope, then fell to the outside. Jericho climbed, and Benoit wasn’t able to get back inside in time to make the save. The top rope bump was a bit overdone by the finish, which I think hurt the match slightly, but overall tremendous. ****1/2

Carey met with Trish. She said she was currently seeing someone, but didn’t say who. Vince walked in and looked quite surly. Drew said he wanted some help with his PPV promotion. Vince suggested he participate in the Rumble match. Drew said he didn’t want to get hurt, but Vince assured him everything would be OK. Drew said sure, what the hell.

3. Ivory beat Chyna to retain the WWF Women’s Title. Pretty bad. Chyna killed her forever and Ivory just bumped all over the place for her. Crowd really didn’t care much considering this was Chyna’s fabulous comeback from her horrible career-ending injury at the hands of RTC. Stevie got involved and Chyna handed him his ass too. Chyna hit her comical handspring elbow, but then fell down in a non-comical manner. She sold it like she was dead, and Ivory crawled over and got the pin. They did the whole injury angle dealy after the match with the EMTs, the stretcher, Lawler hitting the ring, the whole nine yards. Since XFL season is upon us, I can’t believe the announcers haven’t said “whole nine yards” more often. The front row was so worried about Chyna’s condition that they chanted “SERGEANT SLAUGHTER!” when he came out. Ross had to act concerned and try to explain from the replay how she hurt herself. Of course, the handspring elbow looked so absurd that even the most fragile person ever, like Shane Douglas, couldn’t have hurt themselves doing it. But Ross had to try. She was finally taken out on the gurney and many people clapped, so they did work a good portion of the crowd. As soon as they went to the next video package, I could just imagine Ross and Lawler whispering to each other: “My God, I can’t believe we had to sell that one!” *

4. Kurt Angle beat Triple H to retain the WWF Title. Hunter, with his new music and fancy-ass new light show, looked more like a superstar than ever. Angle, with his patriotic outfit, outdated music and sub-par fireworks display, looked like as big a geek as ever. That cannot be a coincidence in this particular match. Lots of basic wrestling at the beginning. It looked like Angle was playing the babyface role, but nobody likes a geek, so the crowd chanted “ANGLE SUCKS!” Those jerks. Total old-style match. Angle got a nearfall after three vertical suplexes in a row. Hey, that’s Steve Austin’s finisher. Hunter went to work on Angle’s leg. Real lack of heat because the fans just didn’t know who to cheer for. Actually, they appeared to be slightly behind Hunter. I suppose this shocked people, but think about it. The fans haven’t been conditioned to cheer either guy, and one is clearly booked to appear cooler than the other. Hunter put on the figure four and the crowd went “WHOO!” Hunter grabbed the ropes for leverage and Trish climbed into the ring, well, to flash her panties. So Steph attacked her. They got into this HUGE catfight at the Spanish announcer’s table that was actually damn stiff in spots. Vince strutted down to the ring in fast-forward and tried to separate them. It didn’t work, so he grabbed Trish and started carrying her backstage like a caveman, making sure the camera got a glimpse of his strategically-placed hand. Stephanie jumped Trish again. Vince finally carted both of them backstage. Poor Angle and Hunter could have sat together in the middle of the ring and had a picnic and nobody would have known any different. Once everyone else left, they went back to fighting. Angle really was working as a total face by this point, but nobody cared. He went up top and actually HIT HIS MOONSAULT, the first time he’s ever done it without killing someone. Hunter fought back and hit a Razor’s Edge, which Ross identified as — yes — a Razor’s Edge. Big reaction for that. Man, he’s over in two companies despite working in neither. Ref took a humorous bump and fell down. HHH went up top but Angle ran up the ropes and armdragged him off. He made the cover, but there was no ref. Angle went to check on him, but Hunter cut him off and the referee took another bump. After another series in the ring, Hunter hit the Pedigree, but there was still nobody to count. Suddenly, Austin hit the ring and beat the atshay out of Hunter. He pounded on him, hit him with the WWF Title, then gave him a Stunner. Austin then threw the ref in the ring. Angle made the cover and the ref counted the pin. YAHOO~! Hunter jobs on a PPV and the streak is over. Hunter was bleeding everywhere after the match, which is like four PPVs in a row. ***3/4

5. Steve Austin won the 2001 Royal Rumble. Notes: Jeff was number one and Bull was number two, so of course Matt was number three. Hardyz got rid of Bull and were forced to wrestle each other, which was OK but not great. Jeff missed a dropkick to an embarrassing degree and Matt sold it. At another point, Jeff almost killed his brother with a twisting moonsault. They claimed 2:00 between guys, but it was actually about 1:45. Show still ran long. Some fans actually chanted “DREW!” when Carey came out. He stood in the ring while Matt and Jeff eliminated themselves. He was all alone, and Kane was the next guy out. Earlier in the show, Carey had quipped that Kane’s mask was goofy, so this all worked out perfectly. Kane stalled, so when he finally went to chokeslam Carey, Raven ran in to make the save. Carey then eliminated himself and went to the back. He was smiling on the way down, smiling in the ring, and smiling as he left. What a happy man. Pretty much a waste. Junk ended up in the ring and it turned into a Hardcore battle royal for awhile. Kane eventually cleared the ring of everyone and then Honky came out. He said he was the greatest IC Champ of all time and was going to sing his song. I want you all to know that not only did Craig sing along, he also knew all the words. Kane was appalled at Honky’s behavior and smashed the guitar over his head prior to eliminating him. Goodfather came in but went right out. Thank goodness for that. Tazz then came in and went right out. He was actually in probably ten of fifteen seconds, but they did a replay and tried to make it out to be five seconds. He’s being buried for sure. Lots of boos for that one, by the way. Rock got in and actually took a Clothesline from Hell from Bradshaw. I shouldn’t be shocked, but I was. Kind of boring during the middle portion. Big Show made his return, and I know people are going to think I’m saying this out of spite, but he looked FATTER THAN EVER. I want it also known that I was FAR from the only person who thought this. Show eliminated a few people but then got clotheslined out by Rock. He gave Rock a chokeslam through the announcer’s table as revenge. This gave Rock a good five minute nap to recuperate. Rikishi actually eliminated Undertaker clean with a superkick, setting up matches nobody in their right mind would ever want to see. Austin came out but Hunter jumped him in the aisle and destroyed him. Austin gigged and started bleeding like an absolute MOFO all over. It was like that WrestleMania match with Bret all over again. He just laid in the aisle forever, probably because his knee is legit screwed up and they wanted to save him until the end. Austin eventually got in the ring and went hog-wild on everyone. He got into a really hot brawl with Rock to tease the WrestleMania main event. It came down to Rock, Austin and Kane. Rock threw Kane out, but Kane went through the middle rope and wasn’t eliminated. As Rock and Austin fought on the ropes, Kane snuck in and threw out Rock. After a pretty damn good brawl, Austin finally hit Kane with three stiff chairshots and then clotheslined him over the top for the win. Totally mondo pop for the finish. Turned into a hell of a match the last five or ten minutes. ***

Rock got poked in the eye a few weeks ago and it screwed him up, but his retina appears OK and he should be fine. The eyebrow is OK too.

Company may shut down temporarily

There was talk this past week of temporarily shutting the company down for a short period following the SuperBrawl PPV and then relaunching Nitro and Thunder anywhere from two to three weeks later. The tentative plan was to shoot some sort of major angle on the PPV, and then either shut down that night or shut down following Nitro the next evening. Then, the week before the shows were scheduled to return, the company would take out a major advertising campaign alerting viewers to the big relaunch. Strangely, the idea is not to relaunch with a complete overhaul, but rather to slowly work changes in over the next two or three months. This makes absolutely on sense to me. The ratings for Nitro were hurt badly by the pre-emptions in late December and early January, and I see no reason to risk slowing any momentum they may have gained for a relaunch that doesn’t include a complete overhaul of every aspect of the company. I kind of figured that was the point of a relaunch anyway, to start over fresh and convince fans that things have changed and it’s a new beginning. What the hell is the advertising campaign going to say? “Tune in next week to see WCW pretty much exactly as it was three weeks ago when we disappeared!” Personally, I think a shutdown and relaunch is kind of dumb at this stage anyway, since the switchover has already occurred, but to do it without instituting universal changes seems absolutely pointless and stupid.

WCW WorldWide opened with Scott Hudson and Mike Tenay putting over Meng as a monster and showing clips of him winning the Hardcore Title at the Syn PPV. Of course, this aired the same day Meng jumped to WWF and worked the Royal Rumble.

Man, it’s sad to see what has become of the former ECW top stars. Justin Credible, who was World Champion not too long ago, is booked for one of Ian Rotten’s Mid-South shows on February 3rd. He’ll wrestle some guy I’ve never heard of named Colt Cabana.

Randy Savage is currently shooting scenes for the upcoming Spider Man movie, where he plays a character named Buzz Saw. I know absolutely nothing about Spider Man, but I do remember a He-Man character named Buzz Off, who was a bug-type guy with wings. Some indy guy is going to be a big hit someday with a Buzz Off gimmick.

Test beat Steve Regal clean in about two minutes to win the European Title. This was quite depressing. Ross commented that he didn’t think anyone could beat Regal that quick, and said maybe he was hurt. Regal really is hurt, I believe with two herniated discs in his neck, so that explains this finish.

WCW Monday Nitro (1/22/01)

Quick Review: The streak of good Nitro’s ends at one.

Luger beat Page after Jarrett hit Page with a guitar. Even though there was guitar debris covering the canvas, the referee still called for the bell. Luger’s fundamentals are worse than most rookies.

Chris Daniels NC Mike Modest when Scott Steiner ran in. Daniels slipped on the top rope trying a springboard and landed RIGHT ON TOP OF HIS HEAD. Seriously, it was SO nasty. Daniels looked totally out of it for a few seconds but managed to keep working. His left arm looked really screwed up throughout the rest of the match though. Crowd more than gave them a chance which was good. Lots of cool moves. Modest used Akiyama’s pumphandle exploder and also hit an awesome Dragon suplex depositing Daniels right on his face. Modest kicked out of Angel Wings near the finish, which is basically a sitting Pedigree. Steiner ran in, killed them both with exploders, and then “broke their ankles” with a hokey steel pipe spot. Steiner said he was sending Sid “these two jabronies” as presents. Man, WCW sure knows how to put over new talent.

Spoiler for 7/17/95:
Kevin Sullivan officially replaced Ric Flair as head booker of World Championship Wrestling after a meeting on 7/5. The news was hardly a surprise as for weeks Flair and Eric Bischoff had been at odds over numerous things, many stemming from disagreements on booking philosophy between Flair and the Hulk Hogan camp (Hogan, Savage and Jimmy Hart).

The Hogan camp philosophy, stemming from their 1980s WWF success surrounded putting title belts on the top babyfaces and feeding them a succession of one heel after another, usually large and freaky, and having the top face never lose and the key faces never lose except in the case of major league screw-job. The packaging is largely aimed at creating merchandising stars and having a product geared toward young children.

The Flair philosophy, because of his own upbringing in the business and where his own strengths lied during his prime, placed more emphasis on good wrestlers, having mainly heel champions and having the babyfaces try to catch the heels. It's reminiscent of many of the territories' booking during the height of Southeastern territorial wrestling in the 70s and early 80s. One can say neither approach has proven to work in the 90s, but the fact is, what really has?

Flair, who will remain in the company but no longer be a part of the booking committee, was replaced by Bischoff because he was unwilling to work 40-hour weeks in the office which Flair felt would force him to move his family from Charlotte to Atlanta, something he refused to do. Flair has outside business interests, in particular a few Gold's Gyms, in North Carolina and is a major public figure in his home city. That was a lot of the reason but don't rule out other factors including Randy Savage still being upset at the finish at the Great American Bash (not necessarily that he lost via pinfall but that the loss was done without outside interference which was the original plan), the continuing power struggle between Flair and the Hogan camp over booking decisions, the continuing of Renegade as TV champion and the decision against Flair's will to put Big Van Vader into the Dungeon of Doom for two weeks. It's not as if the overall creativity of the product and the Saturday night television ratings aren't at an all-time low and Flair hasn't taken some heat for that as well. While he has to take some heat, he has also been booking with his hands tied since he's got no control over the main program and a lot of the video decisions that have inundated the television were items to a large degree out of his hands.

Flair is under contract with WCW through late 1997. Flair's friend, Arn Anderson at this point is still a member of the booking committee.

The change to Sullivan won't be that much of a change because the power was before and still is with Hogan and Hart. Sullivan's main job will be a combination of implementing whatever ideas he has with whatever new and old talent he wants to use but more importantly, continuing to appease Hogan. Since Sullivan's wife (Woman) has been a fixture with ECW for some time and Sullivan used to work there and is familiar with the talent, there is a lot of talk that he'll try and shore up the undercard with some of the ECW wrestlers. Paul Heyman largely discounted the idea of a large scale raid on the belief that Sullivan himself knows his position is tenuous and that WCW booker has proven to be a scapegoat position ever since the formation of the company and that eventually Sullivan, who doesn't have a long-term WCW contract and is 46-years-old, may need to return to ECW and thus won't want to burn that bridge.

Several names have been bandied about over the past week as being considered, among them are The Head Hunters, Public Enemy, Eddy Guerrero, Al Snow, Chris Benoit, Shane Douglas, Woman and Disco Inferno (Glen Gilburnetti).

Head Hunters, who are world travelers who work primarily for IWA Japan, are 440-pound Abdullah the Butcher-like twins who can do some phenomenal moves. Still, their most impressive matches involve their willingness to do the sick matches, do juice and gimmick matches, etc. which doesn't coincide with the product WCW is trying to produce. When it comes to work in the ring, they are awesome for their size so I wouldn't totally discount them, but the Head Hunters people have seen on video or at indie shows will have to be heavily toned down.

Public Enemy is the most over act in ECW. They've had great matches in ECW because of their willingness to do things like go through tables, do lots of juice, use gimmicks and brawl outside of the ring, all things again not applicable to the WCW product. Their advantage is strong interviews but some of that had to do with Heyman's creativity.

Eddy Guerrero is one of the top six or seven pure workers in the world today. However, neither WWF nor WCW have to this point even tried, let alone had success in pushing someone of his size as anything past mid-card. One look at WCW's track record with having Brian Pillman, who is a bigger man than Guerrero, for more than five years tells a story in itself. Guerrero, who is only 27, has been waiting for a chance in the U.S. and with his spot in AAA drying up due to the economic collapse in Mexico, only has a part-time job in Japan and some ECW dates on his calendar. If they want him and make a serious offer, I can't see him turning it down. And if he is used correctly, perhaps recreating the light heavyweight title and giving is some serious play and being put in a feud with Pillman, the two will be able to save all but the very worst PPV shows.

After going through more than ten years of pro wrestling with no options, suddenly Al Snow has all kinds of options. Both WWF and WCW are interested in him and he's got a full-time gig with SMW and gets some indie dates as well. Snow has a WCW try-out scheduled for the 7/11 Center Stage tapings. Snow could be mixed in with Pillman and Guerrero and be a highlight mid-card performer but he could also get buried like so many others.

Benoit's name is always naturally mentioned since he could be the best non-Japanese performer in the world today. Since WCW has the relationship with New Japan, it's an easier mix than WWF. Still, Benoit was there before and given no push and neither he nor WCW has really changed to a great degree since that time.

Shane Douglas' name was mentioned to be brought in to feud with Ric Flair of all people. Rather than waste time speculating, this isn't going to happen and Douglas is probably about 99% certain of going to WWF.

As for Woman, if they've got a spot for her, she's there. I would guess a feud with Diamond Doll or an announcing spot (she had a try-out to announce on the new Monday night show which is tentatively named "Power Hour") would be the most likely situations.

Smoky Mountain Wrestling finalized its line-up for what looks to be the biggest show in its history, the "Super Bowl of Wrestling" on 8/4 in Knoxville as the opening night of its annual Fan Week.

While the show may not draw the company record crowd last year's "Night of the Legends" drew, this show has more major names and a far stronger line-up. In the one major change, Chris Benoit canceled his booking against Al Snow because his Japanese tour was extended, and will be replaced by Marty Jannetty. Jannetty will be defending the Midwest Territorial Wrestling title of Michigan promoter Gary Woronchak on this show and since Snow is a regular for Woronchak, it wouldn't be surprising to see a title change. Adding Jannetty's title to the show makes six title matches in the ten-match card.

Headlining will be the WWF IC title with either Jeff Jarrett or Shawn Michaels (Michaels unless the current plan gets changed between now and the end of the month) defending against Buddy Landel. TV interviews have been cut with both Jarrett and Michaels talking about defending against either Landel or Brad Armstrong (the SMW title is held up between the two and SMW title matches are scheduled at all the house shows the rest of this month but all will end with DQ finishes). I believe that on television that will air after 7/23, only Michaels interviews are scheduled to air as when they did television tapings on 7/6 in Jellico, TN they were plugging Michaels interviews for the match with Landel which pretty well says that unless a change in planning takes place, that's the direction.

The other four title matches will be Billy Jack Haynes defending the USWA title against Brad Armstrong, Dan Severn defending the NWA title against Bobby Blaze, PG-13 defending the USWA tag titles (which they regained on 7/10 in Memphis) against Jackie Fulton & Steve Armstrong (who were a tag team in All Japan as The Eagle & The Falcon), and The Thugs (Dirty White Boy & Tracy Smothers) defending the SMW tag titles against the Rock & Roll Express in a face vs. face feud that was set up at the last tapings where Thugs won the belts from Snow & Unabom.

Rick & Scott Steiner were added to the show facing The Head Bangers (Glen Ruth & Chaz Warrington), plus Undertaker vs. Unabom, Bob Armstrong vs. The Punisher and Terry Gordy & Tommy Rich vs. Mongolian Stomper & Boo Bradley round out the show.

The end of a mythical era in WWF came on Wednesday when "President" Jack Tunney resigned, at least according to WWF storyline. Both Tunney and his long-time associate Billy "Red" Lyons out of the Toronto office are no longer affiliated with the WWF due to the WWF wanting to more aggressively promote and build up other avenues of the business such as merchandising throughout Canada. It was part of a major week-long major housecleaning of the WWF front office which saw numerous key people in the promotions, public relations and PPV departments let go including bigwigs like Steve Planamenta, Rex Lardner and Skip Desjardins. The WWF hadn't released any official statement or comment regarding the cutbacks, which some within wrestling are attributing as much to Titan's immense legal bills and real estate costs as to the downturn in the wrestling industry. While there are no figures available that I'd consider reliable enough to print as far as King of the Ring, within wrestling it is widely being said that it was the lowest buy rate in WWF history and that those within the company have termed both the apparent lack of buys and the poor show as a major wake up call to the promotion. The WWF is opening up a new Canadian office which will be headed by Carl DeMarco, the former business agent of Bret Hart. Tunney and Lyons had run the WWF operations in Ontario since 1984 when Tunney had a falling out with Jim Crockett Jr. and ended his business relationship with the Crockett office. Tunney, whose uncle Frank was a legendary promoter during the heyday of Toronto wrestling where crowds of 15,000 to Maple Leaf Gardens every other Sunday afternoon for 12-match shows headlined by three minute main events by The Sheik, had taken over the business when Frank passed away. Frank Tunney and Vince McMahon Sr. were long-time friends and both men and their wives even took wrestling vacations together.

When Jack Tunney left the NWA during the early stages of one of the most bitter wrestling promotional wars in history, which to some extent is still going on today with WCW having superseded the NWA, he was given the figurehead title of WWF President as a bone when McMahon Jr. convinced him to switch affiliations. This led to him being the man on television to make decisions (WCW's Nick Bockwinkel character was patterned after Tunney), many of which often made no sense, and appearing to the fans to be a bumbling semi-senile over-his-head President who oversaw all the chaos.

With Tunney and the WWF parting ways, the figurehead President role will be going to someone new, and on television there were hints there will be an angle coming out of the decision making process. It has already been speculated that Shane Douglas' initial role with the promotion could be as a heel commissioner and eventually he'd be parlayed into being a heel wrestler. Douglas had not signed as of press time but it was still considered by both sides as a 95% possibility that would happen. Wouldn't Bob Backlund be an awesome choice for that spot?

Where's Dave Pound (who had a strong run doing a heel commissioner gimmick in the Philadelphia Roller Games in the early 70s and boy is that a reference outdated enough to be worthy of Bobby Heenan) when you need him?

WWF President Linda McMahon sent out a business statement on 7/11 stressing a need to constantly adapt to marketplace changes, talking about doing direct merchandising through On-line services and that licensing and international television deals have exceeded projections and that the first In Your House exceeded internal projections. In regard to the changes, McMahon wrote, "We are moving forward, but we must consolidate and streamline some areas and change the management systems in order to operate efficiently. Some positions will be lost, and the transition phase will require everyone's cooperation. When additions are necessary for growth, they will be added."

A lot of talk that the PG-13 vs. Rock & Roll Express angle is one of the best angles in this promotion in a long time.

Sabu and Judge Dredd flew all the way to London, England for a show on 7/7. Sabu wrestled Dirt Bike Kid in a match which drew a consensus of ****1/4. Reportedly Sabu broke three ribs when he did a moonsault out of the ring and landed on a bottle. Although the crowd was only 225, they kept chanting "ECW," and "We Want Blood" and fans were handing frying pans to the wrestles to use as objects. The chants were amazing because ECW has no television whatsoever in England.

WCW Saturday Night on 7/8 was every bit as bad as the previous week. Bobby Heenan made a dated reference to Hotlips Hoolihan (MASH) so at least he's now moving into the late 70s. The introduction of The Shark was bad enough, but the announcers are killing whatever little credibility they have left by not at least acknowledging that Shark used to be Avalanche because it's not like he looks all that different.

Lee Marshall and Mike Tenay both received try-outs this past week as announcers. Both auditions were said to have gone well and it wouldn't be a surprise to see either get a regular gig. Reports that either would wind up on the Monday Night show seem premature as it's almost a certainty that Eric Bischoff is going to host that show.

Rumor has it that WCW's first Monday night taping on 9/4 may come from the Paramount in Madison Square Garden.

WCW Pro tapings on 7/10 in Augusta, GA drew 4,900 fans (1,500 paid; $8,000) with Jimmy Hart and Kevin Sullivan running the show. Paul Orndorff and Terry Taylor served as editors ordering matches re-taped, which previously had been rare for WCW. They did a Harlem Heat over Blue Bloods match, and because of a screw up either in the match or the camera work, had the match done again. They also noticed (which used to fall through the cracks) that when Dave Sullivan came out for his match with Dallas Page, he forgot his rabbit. So after the match they re-did Dave's ring introduction with the rabbit to edit into the match. Randy Savage missed the show because he never got an airline ticket and he also claimed nobody told him he was booked. Vader did another Road Kill tour segment. Vader was cheered while he destroyed the first two jobbers but by the third guy, fans started to too. The only newcomer was The Cobra, who I believe used to be part of the Thunder & Lightning tag team, but now doing a karate gimmick for a feud with Craig Pittman.

They are making new tag team and TV title belts.

Hulk Hogan is involved in legal action against Robert Myers Co., a Los Angeles construction firm which moved to Clearwater, FL to build Hogan's dream house, a 17,500 square foot mansion. The Bolleas fired Myers for making insufficient progress on the home and claimed he didn't adequately monitor workers and the budget. Myers filed a lawsuit on 6/14 against the Bolleas suing for back pay and damages. The Bolleas hired Myers as construction manager of their new home for $12,500 per month, and Myers blamed Linda Bollea for the delays in getting the home completed through his attorney. Linda Bollea wanted the newly-built home built to look like an authentic 300-year-old mansion according to her brother, Joe Claridge, who is now overseeing construction.

WWF is starting its own newsletter being put together by Vince Russo, who did a terrible newsletter of his own three years back which lasted all of a few issues. Actually WWF could put out a very profitable newsletter if they did it correctly but the ability to give up the b.s. is virtually impossible within the industry and that's their biggest handicap.

Hakushi appears to be phased out as originally his run with Bret Hart was going to last into the fall and it's obvious that's been totally dropped with Hart being programmed probably starting at SummerSlam against Dr. Yankum (Glen Jacobs). Hakushi was even doing jobs for Adam Bomb at the "B" towns and his angle with Bret Hart has been totally dropped.

The new WWF blimp cost $250,000. They are going to send the blimp to different cities ahead of time where they run live event.

Speaking of SummerSlam, with no matches even finalized or announced other than the Undertaker-Kama match, Pittsburgh has already sold 8,000 tickets for $200,000 which is downright mind-boggling.

Vince McMahon ripped pro wrestling in general on Raw saying that WWF has a strict anti-violence standard unlike the "undisciplined genre of pro wrestling." While a lot of people will complain about WWF being too tame or catering too much to kids, in the position that it's in, its hands are tied and it has no choice. McMahon is very sensitive that his company, the most visible in the U.S., will somehow be painted with the brush that all pro wrestling is painted with if people see things like what goes on ECW TV. After the chants at their last PPV and comments in so many places, all the key players in Titan are fully aware of ECW as more than an insignificant factor in the overall wrestling world. At the same time, pro wrestling is violence. Non-violent pro wrestling is equivalent to water without any liquid. Just because you don't see men piledriving women or using frying pans, a kick to the ribs, punch to the face or clothesline from behind is still all violence. And while McMahon has greatly changed his organization trying to live down his past, and make no mistake about it, 90% of the current problems Titan Sports is facing stem indirectly or directly from not nipping its major problems in the bud before they bit back and many of the problems are no longer there, nearly everything McMahon is looking down his nose at are things used to build his company. Hulk Hogan got juice (as in blood, not roids) on many PPV shows. Lord knows the company WAS (isn't now) built on steroids. Sherri Martel, when she worked for Titan, regularly took a pounding and remember those Sherri-Luna clothes ripping angles. This isn't knocking any of this, just let's not lose sight of our own history. This reminds me of a loose woman (or man, let's not get sexist) who gets older and married (and doesn't cheat) and sees how adults in their 20s who act just like they did when they were that age, and criticizes the younger adults for having multiple sex partners or being wild. Titan has no choice but to have its product the way it is (as far as standards of not used chairs, not as far as weak workrate at house shows) because it would lose TV stations and advertisers, which are the life blood of the company, otherwise.

Some talk of Dustin Rhodes coming in as a heel with a gunslinger type gimmick.

Negotiations with Steve Williams are still alive but he's neither agreed to come in or turned anything down and if he came in would surely get a huge push.

Spoiler for 8/21/95:
After weeks of what appeared to be fruitless negotiations to bring in some of the top workers in the world for the premier of its Monday Night Nitro show, World Championship Wrestling appears to have reached agreements with Chris Benoit, Sabu, Dean Malenko and are expected to reach an agreement this week with Eddy Guerrero, all of whom should be debuting in September or October.

The New Japan relationship will be furthered with the debut of the new Monday Night prime time show live on TNT, going head-to-head against the WWF's top rated show, Monday Night Raw. Jushin Liger is scheduled for the first show, set for 9/4 from the Mall of America in Minneapolis, while Scott Norton is scheduled to be introduced on the first show and work in a headline match against Randy Savage on the second show on 9/11 from the Knight Center in Miami.

Although this is all subject to change, the tentative line-up at press time for the 9/4 debut show, which won't go against Raw because WWF is being pre-empted for tennis on both 8/28 and 9/4, will be Liger vs. Brian Pillman (which may actually not be announced publicly until the Main Event show that airs the night before), Ric Flair vs. Sting and Hulk Hogan vs. Big Bubba Rogers plus a non-Nitro match (probably the TV main event for the WCW Saturday Night show on 9/9) with Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck vs. U.S. Males (Scott Studd & Marcus Bagwell). The rumored line-up for the second show, which would be the first show going head-to-head with both Raw and in most of the country, ABC's Monday Night Football, is Sabu vs. Alex Wright, Sting vs. Mike Rotunda (who apparently was told that he and Bubba Rogers would be getting the WCW tag titles by the end of the year as the lure to jump) and Savage vs. Norton. There is a lot of talk of using the Sunday Main Event show to shoot angles to create matches that would be blown off on the live show the next evening.

There is no indication of just how much leeway WCW will allow Sabu with his gimmick. Sabu is one of the most spectacular high spot performers in the world, but as the early mat portions of his New Japan matches show, he is not in the league with the other three as far as being a complete performer. ECW hid that by generally using him in situations that emphasized his strengths and camouflaged his weaknesses. Whether WCW, which has had a company policy regarding using things like chairs and tables and wild gimmicks, will be able to successfully fit Sabu's strengths into their system is something many are questioning right now.

There is no indication what WWF will run on 9/11 although the shows that airs that night and on 9/18 will actually be taped on 8/28 in Canton, OH so the first actual live head-to-head broadcast will be on 9/25. Rumors spread quickly that WWF was going to headline 9/11 with a Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels match. WWF sources indicate that match had been discussed, but was turned down because that wasn't the direction the company wanted to go but to expect a marquee match or two that better fit into the storyline for that show. Reports it was changed because of a behind-the-scenes rift between Hart and Michaels were strongly denied.

Heyman, who will be airing the Steiners & Guerrero vs. Malenko & Too Cold Scorpio & Cactus Jack on 8/22 and said they won't be doing Bischoff-like slanted commentary to make Guerrero or Malenko look bad. He praised Guerrero, Malenko and Benoit, saying he was planning on building up to a triangle match involving the three later this year. He said he's going to have to spend time looking around for guys to fill the holes when it comes to wrestling ability that it puts in his promotion, and mentioned trying to get in touch as soon as possible with Steve Williams and Rey Misterio Jr.

Nothing has changed since last report regarding the ECW's status on Sunshine Network, Liberty Cable and Prime Cable, which are all deals aligned with one another. Because Sunshine was the only exposure in Florida, the mid-September Florida tour has been canceled. Paul Heyman and Tod Gordon will be flying to Florida for a meeting late this week to try and put the deal together. They were paying $750 a week for Sunshine and $1,000 a week for Prime, but to get the slots back they'll have to pay $1,500 a week for Sunshine which Heyman said isn't economically feasible. Sunshine officials continue to tell ECW fans that call about the show that the show was canceled due to ECW cancelling its contract.

They are going to run a house show, although the site hasn't been confirmed, on 8/28, since a Japanese tour is coming in for SummerSlam so the show is designed for that group since they buy all the merchandise they can get their hands on. I suspect that whomever wins the Guerrero vs. Malenko match on 8/26 with be dropping the TV title on that show.

A few corrections from last week. The deal with Cactus Jack and Raven isn't a hypnotizing angle. During the match Raven kept beating on Cactus but Cactus wouldn't fight back, until the finish where Cactus turned on Tommy Dreamer just as he had Raven set up for a pin (in this feud Dreamer has yet to pin Raven) so it was Raven, and not Richards, who pinned Dreamer for the fall. Tod Gordon was at the show but stayed backstage.

The situation with Rob Feinstein is that ECW has a claim that Feinstein owes them money as well which is why the 8/1 payment didn't go. ECW, which pushes home video sales more than any other promotion, went on television on the 8/8 show and had Joey Styles tell viewers that Feinstein had been fired so tapes will be delivered on time. They actually weaved people's complaints about tapes being delivered late or of poor quality into the Feinstein storyline, turning him heel. Heyman said that there was such a high percentage of tapes that had to be re-dubbed for free due to poor quality and that with that money, which they didn't have a figure for, the amount due him would be substantially less than the $6,000 he claimed was owed him.

Heyman, who had been against doing a PPV because he didn't think the company had enough exposure in major markets, has changed his tune and is trying to negotiate with a carrier to do a show as soon as feasible. He had talked of doing a triangular match with Benoit, Malenko and Guerrero after doing an angle where Benoit and Malenko would be turned into rivals, but that's all out the window at this stage.

Some highlights of the WCW Pro tapings on 8/8 in Gainesville, GA before a sellout 1,400 (600 paid). Disco Inferno (Glen Gilburnetti) changed his ring name to Johnny Swinger (probably due to someone having trademarked that phrase) and had a match with Dave Sullivan which ended with Sullivan winning after Jim Duggan KO'd Swinger. Ric Flair no-showed the taping due to communication problems as it was the day before he was scheduled to leave for Japan and he thought he had the tapings off. They were planning on doing a Flair vs. Brian Pillman match and ran an angle where Pillman won via forfeit when Flair wasn't there. Before this match airs, they are apparently going to tape an angle where Arn Anderson and Flair get into an argument in the dressing room and Flair simply walks out.

Sherri either broke her foot or her ankle in a non-wrestling accident but is still working on crutches and they are somehow going to work the broken ankle into the storyline, like when she missed the splash and landed on her chest she developed both amnesia and a broken ankle. I believe she actually was working at home with her flowers on a ladder and fell off the ladder. So now she's chasing Rob Parker around on the crutches. The Barrio Brothers (Ricky Santana & Dave Sierra) were given a TV win over Scott & Steve Armstrong. Big Bubba now is wearing a surgeon's mask so he doesn't breath Dave Sullivan's rabbit scent and start itching. He had another match with Sullivan and Sullivan got the mask off him and put it on himself, and Bubba again started scratching everywhere.

I'm told the angle is really funny if you don't want to take anything about wrestling seriously. They were pushing the Hogan-Sting-Vader-Savage quartet for War Games as "The Dream Team." Expect Meng's name to be changed to Face of Terror. At Center Stage on 8/9 they taped two one-hour television shows where little of interest took place. Harlem Heat beat Tim Horner & Steve Armstrong in a terrible match and Johnny B. Badd won a TV main over Dick Slater when Sherri used her crutch to knock Slater's feet from the ropes during a pin attempt. Sherri then chased Parker which brought out Bunkhouse Buck, and then Harlem Heat and while all this was going on Badd pinned Slater.

Cobra debuted, using the cobra clutch as a finisher. Cobra is giving his military dog-tag to a ringside fan and wasn't over in the slightest. I guess the gimmick here is that Cobra is a soldier who Craig Pittman abandoned in Viet Nam. Have you figured out the logic problem. Like that Pittman would have been something like 13-years-old and Cobra 11 when the war ended for example. In a dark match, Sting beat Steve Regal when Robert Eaton's interference backfired. No house shows this past week and the only one this coming week is 8/19 in Fort Lauderdale before tapings again on 8/21 at Center Stage and 8/22 in Anderson, SC.

Lord Al Hayes was in the office this past week trying to get a job.

Another angle they are running is Paul Orndorff's change back into Mr. Wonderful. I guess Orndorff goes into depression about losing again to Renegade and goes to see a psychic (who I guess is a real psychic from one of those late night 900 line ads) and she turns him into the real Mr. Wonderful and he's going to come out to really bad entrance music designed to give instant heat and always look at himself in the mirror to convince himself he's really Mr. Wonderful.

They are now doing drug tests for everyone at every Center Stage taping.

Randy Savage was again on Chet Coppock's NewSport show last week but didn't say much of anything. He and Hulk Hogan were on radio on 8/14 in New York where they joked around a little about Vince McMahon. The host led them in some sort of an apparent set up saying that he'd been to a transvestite party and bumped into one of their friends, Pat Patterson, and each made a subtle gay joke about casting couches and the like.

While Hulk Hogan's album hasn't cracked the Billboard top 200, for the week of 8/6, which was its first week, it debuted at No. 12 on the Childrens charts.

All kinds of behind-the-scenes news. First off, they began a Davey Boy Smith heel turn, which was almost clearly not planned out in advance, on the 8/12 Madison Square Garden show and more subtly on the 8/13 Albany, NY house show, and officially turned him during the portion of the 8/14 Raw that airs on 8/21. Smith turned on Lex Luger at the Garden, but instead of turning on Luger, turned on Diesel at TV and will be managed by Jim Cornette. That may be because Luger at the taping gave notice. Adam Bomb also gave notice at the taping. Apparently he's been disappointed with his push and what he feels are unfulfilled promises. Don't know the situation with Luger but Bomb was told on Monday to talk to Vince McMahon on Tuesday and try to get everything resolved. Last week Sting made a play in the WCW offices to try and get Luger a job and was successful enough that they were at least strongly considering it, supposedly with the caveat that Luger come in as a heel and immediately put Hulk Hogan over clean.

There has been a lot of discussion involving Jeff Jarrett as well. The lines of communication are open and WWF officials seemed to believe it was better than 50/50 that Jarrett would return although no idea as to when. The WWF has soured on bringing Roadie back, at least at this point. There are several reports Roadie did fail the drug test administered at the In Your House PPV in Nashville where he and Jarrett walked out and although not confirmed, the company's feelings regarding Roadie's returning have definitely changed over the last few weeks. Reports are that since Jarrett has several months remaining on his contract, that WWF is enforcing it to the point they won't let him work even USWA whereas Roadie, who they don't want back, is being allowed to work anywhere he wants. In the past when performers leave WWF while under contract, the WWF usually allows them to work anywhere but WCW. The Torch reported that McMahon and Jarrett talked for two hours on 7/30 on the phone working through the major problems, which were Jarrett being unhappy about not getting any pin victories at the arenas and being exposed as a phony singer. When Jarrett called McMahon the next day to further the discussion, McMahon reportedly told him to work through the lawyers which may have slowed or stagnated the progress.

Highlights of the Raw taping on 8/14 in Worcester, MA before a sellout 4,500. Tony Roy of Killer Kowalski's IWF was given a try-out match beating Bert Senteno. In a match for airing 8/21 on Raw, Undertaker pinned Tatanka in a bout said to be better than it sound on paper (**). Diesel was doing an interview when Davey Boy came out and said that Luger wasn't there because of a family problem (he actually was there) and asked Diesel to team with him against Men on a Mission so Diesel would have a shot at Mabel before SummerSlam. During the match, Smith clotheslined Diesel from behind and they all turned on him. Smith left ringside with Cornette. A Hakushi vs. Barry Horowitz match ended with Hakushi getting pinned when Skip's interference backfired. Hakushi was told at the show that they were going to turn him face to feud with Skip. Adam Bomb did work a squash. On the live Raw, Waylon Mercy beat Doink, they introduced Goldust (Dustin Rhodes doing a transvestite gimmick--more on that later), did a Henry Godwinn babyface turn and ended with Shawn Michaels over Jerry Lawler via DQ when Michaels used the superkick but Sid interfered for the DQ and choke slammed Michaels. Razor Ramon made the save. Afterwards, when Michaels was set to give Sid a superkick, Razor moved Michaels out of the way. Then when Michaels went to give Sid a Razor's edge, Lawler saved Sid. It wound up with Ramon and Michaels doing a tug-of-war over the IC belt, and Ramon got the belt and threw it at Michaels' feet. Diesel then ran in as the peacemaker before any blows were thrown. Given where they are going, which is a match which it appears nobody will turn (with Hakushi, Smith and Godwinn all turning right now, a Ramon turn would seem to make things too confusing), it was a good set-up. Godwinn's turn was set up when they asked Ted DiBiase when Godwinn was going to join the corporation and DiBiase made a joke about it and said he just needed a dirty man to do a dirty job. Godwinn then came out and turned face by pouring the slop bucket on DiBiase.

SMW's D.Lo Brown worked as a jobber in syndication this past weekend under his real name of A.C. Connor losing in a tag match to Allied Powers. A sign that the Smith turn was a last minute decision was that on Sunday morning, after the MSG show where he turned on Luger, they aired a squash match with the two (with Connor on the losing side) and there was no mention in the commentary of the turn the night before, problems developing, or anything which in a sense would be a storyline glitch to all the fans at the Garden the night before. At the 8/13 Albany show, Luger & Smith again lost to the Blu Brothers and the two teased a split after the match.

With Mike Rotunda leaving for WCW, Tony Garea got his job back as a road agent.

Bill Watts was at the MSG show and apparently was unfamiliar with most of the wrestlers and goings on, in the stands taking copious notes.

They are doing a Diesel vs. Lafitte main event in Montreal on 9/15. Most likely Diesel will get booed out of the building as Lafitte is the most popular WWF wrestler in Montreal. Lafitte was on a major radio show this past week with most of the questions much smarter than the garden variety. When asked about Jarrett and Roadie leaving, Lafitte, who was called Pierre Karl Oulett who wrestles as Jean Pierre Lafitte, said that among the wrestlers, it wasn't a big thing. He said he hopes the fans boo Diesel out of the Forum and kind of laughed when a caller said how it was almost sure to happen. When someone called up about the money problems and other problems in the WWF, Lafitte said that the crew now is a bunch of young guys and he's not at all scared of the future of the WWF.

Rhodes debuted doing a transvestite gimmick on the Raw show, kind of doing a Marilyn Monroe look with lipstick, make-up, the feminine voice, etc. This gimmick could very conceivably be a career killer. It was well produced, but that's about all good I can say about it. Transvestite gimmicks are nothing new in wrestling, and are almost commonplace in Mexico. I have noticed that when the TV's came to the United States on AAA shows, that the gimmick bombed in every city but seemed to get over better in Mexico. And one of the TV's in AAA, Pimpinela Escarlata is actually amazing at working the gimmick (partially because it's no work) and is a better worker than Dustin Rhodes. Yet, even so, he can't get out of the first match because even in Mexico, where the gimmick is accepted, it can only be accepted in the opening match. Even though Escarlata is a great worker, when he was brought to New Japan a few years ago, the deal bombed big-time. I can see that it may click if Rhodes works the gimmick so well that people accept it as him doing a good job, but I'd say the odds are about 90% it's going to severely hamper the long-term career of Rhodes, which is a shame because it isn't like the U.S. has produced that many quality younger wrestlers. I guess Dusty made a lot of people hot when he had power. Dustin will probably get heat, but he may not ever be able to live it down. If you don't believe the stigma can last a long time, look at how well a great performer like Terry Taylor's career went after doing the Red Rooster gimmick.

Spoiler for February 2001 Figure 4 Weekly:
With Eric Bischoff buying WCW and vowing to create new stars, the battle has begun between the top two companies to acquire anyone who either side feels the other might make good use of. Justin Credible was the first of ECW’s top stars to sign a deal with the WWF last week, reportedly for three years, possibly with an option for a fourth. Early plans are to team him up with the returning X-Pac as a mid-card tag team. Credible, as Aldo Montoya, was one of the original members of the supposed WWF “Clique” years ago with X-Pac, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Triple H and Shawn Michaels. He was originally brought in under a mask as a “Puerto Rican sensation” since the company had plans to tour South America, but those plans fell through and he ended up being let go. He was among those hit hardest by the fall of ECW, admitting on Wrestling Observer Live that he lived beyond his means when things were good, and paid for it recently when things got bad. He was not at Raw Monday but is scheduled to debut within the next several weeks.

WWF.com officially announced the signing of Bobby Eaton this week. As we noted in last week’s issue, he’ll be in charge of training the guys down in Memphis.

Chyna told News of the World newspaper that she’s dating Joey from N-Sync.

The Pretender movie that pre-empted Nitro last Monday did a 4.4 rating, which is higher than any Nitro number in years.

This should probably come as a shock to absolutely nobody, but Meng was on WCW WorldWide again this past weekend. Mike Tenay put him over like crazy as this badass mofo.

Eric Bischoff called a brief meeting before Nitro. He pretty much revealed Johnny Ace as the head booker, telling the guys that if they had any storyline ideas, Ace was the only one who could give them a definite yes or no. He said the guys were welcome to talk to Terry Taylor or Ed Ferrara, but neither of them would be able to confirm anything. So there you go. He also said he was upset that some of the guys looked to be in less than pristine physical and cardiovascular condition and said the guts on some of them were unacceptable. He had private meetings with others afterwards advising them to drop some weight.

Steve Corino, Dawn Marie and Simon Diamond were all backstage at Nitro looking for work. Marie and Diamond are dating in real-life. Bischoff talked with all three of them but we didn’t hear anything specific about whether or not they were offered deals.

Mick Foley during a recent college lecture strongly hinted he would be back for one match against Vince McMahon. The company really wanted that match to take place at WrestleMania, but Foley wasn’t too hot on doing it. Looks like the chances are now better than ever that it will happen, especially with Vince bringing up Foley’s name again on Raw.

Disco Inferno on WCW Live said nobody cared about the Cruiserweights and they would never draw.

Ohio Valley wrestling finally ran their Christmas Chaos show on January 31st at the Louisville Gardens, which was postponed in December due to inclement weather. Apparently they didn’t want to bother renaming the show something a little more current, like President’s Day Pandemonium or Martin Luther King Jr. Day Destruction. Said to be a good show and Jim Ross really put over a lot of the guys in his online report this week.

Building was also said to be totally packed and they claimed it was the largest non-televised crowd in Louisville since 1976. Opener saw Shelton Benjamin & Brock Lesnar beat Sly Scraper & Johnny Spade. Scraper is Sylvester Terkay, formerly known as The Collector. Why they got rid of the cool Collector name and replaced it with something so indy is beyond me. Lesnar, who is almost 300 pounds, apparently did a shooting star press in this match which is pretty damn impressive. Randy Orton beat Slick Robby D. Referee for this match was Donna Derring, a really hot babe who wears tight clothes. Rob Conway beat Ron “H20” Waterman in a submission match. A couple of things. First off, “H20” is such a lame gimmick. Second, there is probably a reason why Waterman, a former UFC fighter, did the job via submission here.

Suicide Blondes beat Sean Casey & Chris Michaels & Buddy Landell. Landell replaced Phil Phair, who claimed he had a bad neck. The gimmick was that if the Blondes lost, they had to shave their heads, but if they won, the other team had to kiss their asses. Well, they won, so Casey’s team puckered up. Russ McCollough beat The Damaja in a Last Man Standing match. Flash Flanigan & Trailor Park Trash beat Rico Constantino & Mr. Black. Big Show beat Mark Henry in 1:30. Really, less than two minutes. Pretty much a squash match. Well that sucks. Henry went to Ohio Valley, lost a doinkload of weight, got into shape, and is rewarded by getting his ass kicked by the fatter and less-agile-than-ever Big Show. One report even described Henry as being in “excellent” shape. This was Show’s last OVW commitment, so why he couldn’t put over Henry on the way out I also have no idea.

Hardyz & Lita beat Disciples of Synn. Obviously the WWF team was over like crazy. Nick Dinsmore beat Chris Benoit via DQ to retain the Ohio Valley Wrestling Title. Don’t know what happened but I think Benoit was originally scheduled to do the job here. Rico Constantino ran in for the DQ. Benoit confronted Constantino after the match and got a big babyface pop. Said to be a great match. Then a very strange segment took place. For weeks, Russ McCollough has been running down Steve Austin on the TV shows, so pretty much everyone expected Austin to stun him on this show.

Well, Jim Ross came out and interviewed Austin. Who should come out to confront Austin but — Rico Constantino. Austin gave him the Stunner. Nobody could figure out why this happened except that Jim Cornette books stuff like this sometimes. Main event saw Kane beat Leviathan. Disciples of Synn tried to do a run-in, but Hardyz and Lita made the save. Austin then ran in behind the referee’s back and gave Leviathan the Stunner. Kane then hit the chokeslam for the pinfall.

Davey Boy Smith goes to trial July 17th in Calgary for the charges that he threatened to kill his brother-in-law Bruce Hart.

According to Bischoff, the shutdown has been rescheduled for late April with the relaunch culminating at the May 6th PPV.

Among the other highlights of the Bischoff interview:

• He said he hadn’t heard Goldberg’s comments on Bubba the Love Sponge about possibly going to the WWF. He said he hated it when guys went off and shot their own angles that weren’t set up to lead to a pay-off at the end. He said they had big plans for Goldberg’s return.

• He said he was sitting at home in Arizona because he wanted to watch Nitro on TV as a fan would, as opposed to watching it on one of the tiny monitors backstage at the show. This was a weird comment. Bischoff missed the show last week as well due to a scheduling conflict, and the morale just plummeted without him there. Same thing happened this week. As the guy with aspirations to be WCW’s answer to Vince McMahon, it was amazing to me that he wouldn’t attend a show if he had the opportunity to do so. It’s not like he couldn’t tape it and watch it in the privacy of his own home later.

• Eric said he really couldn’t make any major talent acquisitions until they owned the company. He said if they fired $10 worth of talent, they could hire $10 worth to replace them. He said if anyone from ECW wanted to be hired, they needed to be aware that it might be 30 to 60 days before any serious negotiations could begin.
• Eric said he was appalled at the manner in which Scott Steiner killed the four Cruiserweights on Nitro last week. He said the original plan was for the four Cruiserweights to go out there, run around like little jumping beans, and “blow Steiner up”. Apparently, Bischoff felt this plan was superior to what actually happened on the show. He also made the frightening comment that the angle where Animal killed Rey Jr. and Kidman in that Thunder tag match was the right way to mix the Cruiserweights and the Heavyweights together. Then, later in the show, he said that the Heavyweights and the Cruiserweights should be kept separate for the time being. Something didn’t jive here. We decided against cross-examining Eric at the time.

• Eric had no problem with Ric Flair being destroyed and treated like a geek by Kevin Nash. He said the reality was that Flair was 50 years old and didn’t want to wrestle every night. He said Flair was best playing the role of a crazed old heel. My argument was that Flair was really good at doing that, but it wasn’t something that the Nitro viewing audience (which skews really old) wanted to see him do. Bischoff said the fans at ringside seemed to enjoy Nash beating him up. Again, I kept my mouth shut, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about how the ringside fans always respond to Sid. Sure, he gets a huge pop, but he doesn’t sell tickets and he doesn’t sell pay-per-views. The pop a person gets doesn’t necessarily translate into money, and just because ringside fans are cheering because Crazy Flair is getting his ass kicked doesn’t mean that’s what the majority of the viewing audience wants to see. A huge chunk of Nitro’s audience is older, traditional wrestling fans. The teenage audience is shockingly tiny. Having Flair embarrassed and treated like a jackass will simply anger the Nitro core audience, and that is definitely not what they need to do right now.

• Eric said he hoped to fly to Japan for four days soon to talk with Ultimo Dragon about bringing in some Toryumon talent. He said Dragon had expressed interest in working out a deal through intermediaries.

• Bischoff said Road Dogg would not be brought in anytime soon. “There is no deal, and there will be no deal anytime in the near future between WCW and the wrestler formerly know as Road Dogg in the WWF.” He said he wasn’t about to bring someone in who had just been released from another company due to substance abuse issues. There were rumors Monday that Dogg had signed with WCW and would debut on Nitro, but obviously that did not happen.

• He claimed the racial discrimination lawsuit filed by Sonny Ono had been directed at Time Warner and not WCW, so the company had nothing to worry about there.

• He said he really wanted Hulk Hogan back, but not in a role where he would wrestle on every show or even on every pay-per-view. He said he felt Hogan could still be valuable if used in the right role. He said nothing had been settled yet and Hogan wasn’t necessarily going to be coming back. He said the veterans needed to be used to elevate the “Shawn O’Hares of the world.” He did not mention the fact that there isn’t one rising star in either Flair’s heel stable or Nash’s babyface stable. I understand that Hogan is a household name and might be of some value in a very, very limited role, but his very presence is just going to further the belief among many fans that WCW is the company where the old guys go when the WWF no longer has any use for them. They need to get over that stigma, and the only way to do that is to get rid of some of the useless old guys, including Hogan.
• He said he didn’t blame Meng for leaving WCW to get a contract with the WWF because Meng had always been a professional with him. He said he didn’t blame the WWF for stealing Meng, since he’d probably have done the same thing had he been in their shoes. He said he was pissed that WCW had put a person on TV in a prominent role who was not under contract and that this sort of thing would never happen again.

• Bischoff talked about the women who had been released and said more people would probably be axed soon.

• He said he told Johnny Ace to book less World Title matches in order to make the belt and specific title defenses mean more.

• Bischoff said he had great respect for Chyna, than admitted he’d never read her book. I thought this was a great way to finish the show.

Bischoff has always been very good about saying pretty much exactly what people want to hear. Listening to his interview, I basically felt that he was telling the truth, in that he really believed much of what he was saying. Other times he was very contradictory, which worried me. The one thing to remember when listening to this and any other interview with Bischoff on anyone else is that it doesn’t matter what a person says, it only matters what that person does. I got very frustrated during the Presidential campaign last year because I kept hearing people become very passionate about their candidate of choice. It amazes me that after 200 years, most people actually believe that a candidate is going to do everything they say they’re going to do in their pre-election campaigning. Even if a candidate is the most honest person in the world (like me when I run), things can happen which can result in decisions being made that run contrary to what they might have said prior to being elected. Bischoff — and Russo before him — are like Presidential candidates attempting to get wrestling fans behind them by making certain promises and saying certain things. But not one thing Bischoff said in this interview will mean a thing six months down the road. All that will matter is whether the company is showing signs of improvement or continuing to sink. In the end, all that will matter is whether he actually implements the necessary changes to make WCW a viable company again.

We learned just before going to press that both Yoshihiro Tajiri and Jerry Lynn signed WWF deals on Tuesday night.

Still no concrete word on the future of ECW, although rumor is that Paul Heyman is closer than ever to accepting a position on the WWF writing crew. It’s really coming down to the wire in regards to ECW’s debt, which is said to be somewhere around $7 million. Heyman either needs to make a deal with some network that will pay him in excess of $100,000 a week to do TV, or he files bankruptcy. There are few, if any, other options. It does not appear that the WWF has any interest in buying the company and taking on the debts, since there’s really nothing left worth anything in the neighborhood of $7 million.

David Letterman talked about the XFL on his show the other night. He said they should put holes on the field so opposing players could hide in there, then jump out and sneak attack other players.

Weekly World News, the same newspaper that once reported that a woman had given birth to a seven-pound eyeball (really), reported last week that Steve Austin had been abducted by aliens for six days. I’m not sure which is more incredible, the idea that Austin was abducted by aliens or the idea that he could simultaneously be abducted and also attend all the TV tapings, house shows, autograph signings and pay-per-views.

WCW went to went to court on February 6th in an effort to get the racial discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of several WCW performers dropped. Among the accusers present were Sonny Ono, Harrison Norris and Bobby Walker, all of whom posed for pictures after the proceedings. It’s kind of funny, because one of the main issues brought up in the suit was the statement by Vince Russo that he was an American, and only wanted to watch Americans. Russo, of course, is history, but his legacy lives on. Looking back, that guy caused an extraordinary amount of problems within WCW, perhaps ultimately being the man most responsible for the eventual sale of the company. Speaking of that, there is already talk that this case may cause some sort of hold-up in the sale of WCW to Fusient, since neither Fusient nor Turner want to be responsible for the lawsuit should the case not be dropped. As noted earlier, Eric Bischoff denies this. The judge has until February 16th to rule on the suit.

WCW has been in talks with Torrie Wilson’s agent, but she hasn’t been made an offer yet. She told friends that the WWF didn’t express interest in her when she contacted them, but she’s keeping all doors open

Ohio Valley Wrestling did a $72,124 gate for their Christmas Chaos show last week, which is pretty damn incredible for basically being an independent show.

Vic Grimes is feuding with New Jack in XPW now, with the angle being that the two have heat stemming from the incident at the ECW PPV where they fell off that scaffold and nearly killed each other. They did a brawl during the February 3rd show which saw Jack literally staple a dollar bill to Grimes’ head. Note to Grimes: You will never get your WWF developmental deal back with that kind of behavior. Also at the show, Rob Black was handing out petitions trying to get himself on the ballot for Mayor of Los Angeles. If a porn mogul could ever be elected Mayor of a city, I think Los Angeles would be that city.

Lance Storm went off on his website (www.stormwrestling.com) about former ECW workers complaining about being asked to do try-out matches for WCW. He said wrestling was just a business, ECW probably wouldn’t make it, and these guys had nowhere else to go, so they damn well should do the tryout and not complain about it. Another point he didn’t touch on is that a lot of the guys writing the TV in WCW, including Eric Bischoff, don’t have a lot of time to be watching tapes and scouring for talent all over the world. Most of them have likely heard of Yoshihiro Tajiri, but my guess is that very few (if any) have actually seen him work. In fact, they probably haven’t seen anyone who hasn’t worked for WWF or WCW in the past few years. The same holds true for the writers and office staff in the WWF, who are even more busy. Nobody should be offended at being asked to do a tryout match. Besides, look at Kid Romeo. He did a tryout for WWF one week and WCW immediately signed him to a new deal the next.

Kid Kash was backstage at Nitro, but apparently turned a lot of people off with his attitude. Eric Bischoff initially decided Kash wasn’t even going to be given a chance, but apparently several people talked him into at least giving him a tryout. At press time, the word is that if Kash does well in that match, he’ll probably be offered a deal. EZ Money and Sinister Minister were also backstage.

Spoiler for 9/18/95:
After months of hype, the first head-to-head meeting between WCW Nitro and WWF Monday Night Raw on 9/11 turned into something of a double disappointment as far as the shows were concerned but a clear cut victory for WCW in the ratings war.

WCW Nitro in the first head to head meeting drew a 2.5 rating and 3.8 share as opposed to Titan's Monday Night Raw doing a 2.2 rating and a 3.2 share. The number of people watching wrestling during that one hour time slot was the largest for any one hour segment since the Hogan-Flair match at the Clash last year and largest for any Monday night in years. The Nitro replay did an 0.9 rating.

With the exception of a new opening, the taped Raw show wasn't much different than a typical Raw. The decision was made this past week to maintain Jerry Lawler as the color commentator on Raw instead of Dok Hendrix who at one point figured to get the role. The show had two feature matches, a Razor Ramon vs. Davey Boy Smith match which was fine, but nothing out of the ordinary, largely to continue to three-way feud with Ramon, Dean Douglas and 1-2-3 Kid. After finally seeing that feud on television, it reads a lot better than it actually comes across. The post match 1-2-3 Kid vs. Ramon confrontation, basically a Kid monologue challenging Ramon for next week's Raw, was flat. Shawn Michaels vs. Sid was about as good a match as you'll see Sid in but it was **1/2 tops. The interesting thing was they exposed that they aren't live but airing highlight clips from next week's two television main events (Owen Hart & Yokozuna vs. Men on Mission and Kid vs. Razor).

Nitro, on the other hand, was a huge letdown after the great job that was done the previous week of pushing the show. The show drew 3,183 fans paid with a $28,000 house (tickets were $10 and $5) at the Knight Center in Miami but with the paper was a sellout of more than 5,500. The Hulk Hogan-Lex Luger "Match of the Century" turned out to be a * match with a beyond bad finish and a post-match angle that was the epitome of a skit that didn't work.

The debut of Nitro, with no competition from Raw but competition from the opening Monday Night football game drew a strong 2.9 rating in its first airing and a 1.2 for the midnight replay. The number was stronger than the debut of Raw and better than Raw traditionally averages when going up against football. While WCW was apparently thrilled with the number, everyone knows the first set of numbers that "count" are this weeks.

Both groups were taking different approaches to the head-to-head. WWF ignored that their was any competition, including not even really beefing its show up. Over the weekend they made no mention of Luger including editing all references to him and things involving him off every television show but throughout the weekend hyped Raw more than ever. WCW, on the other hand, had Eric Bischoff knock the WWF for a continual hour gloating about Luger coming out of the bush leagues to play with the big boys and saying he won't be the last one, several mentions that just nine days ago Luger was in the WWF, having Steve McMichael say don't turn the channel and watch a show named after an uncooked egg, changing Mike Rotunda's name to V.K. Wallstreet (V.K. being short for Vincent K.). Bischoff even went so far as to tell viewers not to channel surf because the other show was taped two weeks ago and Shawn Michaels beat "the big guy" with a superkick that he wouldn't be able to get a green belt with at a corner karate studio. When Luger was in trouble during the Hogan match, Bischoff said that Luger was rusty because he hadn't been facing tough competition noting that their world champion was barely a mid-level guy here. In some East Coast markets, TNT purchased what I was told was a great commercial that aired in midway through Raw telling viewers that if you want to see real wrestling and not a kiddie show, turn to TNT and see wrestling where the big boys play. However, after Bischoff came under tremendous criticism for knocking McMahon too hard, I'm told that will be the end of it with Bischoff apparently feeling this was his response to five years of media knocks by McMahon and in particular for McMahon's letters several months ago to Ted Turner trying to get Turner to fold the company because of it being a poorly run company that was embarrassing Turner's good name.

There are two schools of thought to each group's tactic. One school of thought is that the knocks only give the WWF exposure and remind fans they are on at the same time. Years ago that is what we were all taught but times have changed. Now Bischoff was totally out of control and even though some of the knocks were shocking (telling fans Raw was taped two weeks ago and they were live and giving the result of the main event away) and a few inside ones were funny, by the end of the show Bischoff was totally annoying and came off like a bratty child. However, whether it be political campaigns or soft drink and phone company commercials, everyone knows that negative advertising is effective in today's marketplace. More so, by the WWF ignoring the Luger deal on its television, which the vast majority of its fans are aware of, while it is long-time company policy, because of the exposure and talk this jump got, WWF came off as a company hiding the truth from its fans. The result is that a lot of fans who aren't familiar with the background were asking why WWF is ignoring something "important" to its own storylines and WCW came across as the more up-front and truthful organization.

In comparing the two shows, both had strong opening atmospheres. WWF had a new open, as did WCW. The WWF had stronger announcing, but that was by default because the WCW trio is among the worst ever. Steve McMichael was actually worse the second week because he's still clueless and has nothing to add and no name value. He clearly doesn't know any of the wrestlers except the guys like Hogan, Sting, Flair and Savage who are already names and thus don't need announcers' help to get over. Even though Sabu tried to commit suicide, the announcers were so bad his debut had no impact at all. Bischoff tried to call moves in the Sabu match, and called most of them wrong. I guess the fact he at least tried is an example that he's more motivated to learn than McMahon which means if McMahon doesn't get with it, Bischoff will pass him by as an announcer. Still, with Bischoff, a somersault plancha became a moonsault and a clothesline off the top to the floor and through a table became an Arabian press. At one point when Sabu nearly killed himself taking a bump on concrete, instead of selling the injury, Bobby Heenan started telling jokes, which completely ruined Sabu's efforts.

For two groups in such fierce competition, the quality of the matches themselves were equivalent to a bad week of New Japan and probably worse than any Sunday AAA show. None of the angles came across strong. The WWF had the advantage for the second round in that it did a much better job of building up next week's show and WCW hardly has a match with the Hogan-Luger interest level to counter with. WCW did a strong job of building up this week but then failed in the follow-up. The only mentions of next week were at the end of the show and it sounded like a typical Saturday night show from the build-up.

WCW immediately opened announcing that Big Van Vader wouldn't be on the PPV claiming he hadn't filled out correct papers and had gone AWOL. Vader was officially suspended for the Orndorff incident and what his future with the company is right now is unknown but the consensus seems to be that if they can get rid of him, they will. Vader has a contract through the end of March in 1999 at approximately $750,000 per year and obviously doesn't want to blow the deal and has apologized to everyone involved. WCW has sent a cease and desist letter to WWF claiming Vader is under contract and that any contact with him they would consider tampering. As many have pointed out, in the long run, if Vader is let go and Luger given the spot, Vader will almost surely go to WWF, and for a one-for-one trade as it would come out to be, WWF is clearly getting the better end of the deal. He could also choose Japan, where apparently because of the New Japan/UWFI deal, he may be able to work major shows for both groups. WCW didn't make any moves regarding Vader last week because its lead attorney, Nick Lambrose, was on vacation. But from the commentary on television, things don't look very good for Leon White. Besides War Games, Luger will also take Vader's place during the scheduled main event on next week's Nitro against Meng and for all subsequent matches Vader was booked for.

Nitro opened with Sabu vs. Alex Wright. Sabu was hurting, it appeared both from his hip and shoulder but still did a lot of suicidal spots. He did a somersault plancha. He then set up a chair on the floor and ran and leaped off the chair to do a leg whip but Wright moved and he splattered on the floor. Wright delivered a dropkick on the floor and a dropkick off the top rope followed by a dive of his own and a superplex off the top. Sabu came back with a reverse leg whip to the throat but Wright hit a german suplex (the one move Bischoff called correctly) for a near fall. Sabu got behind Wright while both were standing on the top rope and used a rana for a pin in 3:57. After the match Sabu got a table and came off the top rope to the floor with a clothesline with both going through the table and the referee reversed the decision so Wright was declared the winner. This match was very good while it lasted but way too short and the announcers never mentioned Sabu the rest of the show and didn't get him over well during the match. **1/2; Next was a Ric Flair interview which was a total waste of time.

The idea was for Lex Luger to come out and tease to the crowd that Luger would be turning heel and going with Flair and the Four Horsemen. Luger showed up, with about 15 pounds of added muscle, reaffirming my faith in the predictability of mankind as a whole; Sting pinned V.K. Wallstreet to keep the U.S. title with a crossbody off the top in 4:12. A nothing match. *1/4; Randy Savage pinned Scott Norton in 5:39. Norton spent most of the match destroying Savage's back. Savage sold it good (only problem was when he did his run in later in the show, he had stopped selling it).

Finish saw the Dungeon of Doom, who come across as the most inept group of main event heels in history, doing a run-in and Norton crashed into Shark, who somehow was knocked out and fell on Norton's legs. Norton was then trapped on the ground so Savage delivered the elbow off the top for a pin. **1/4; Hogan beat Luger to keep the title via DQ in 5:28. With the added weight, Luger looked even more clumsy than usual and it was bad, made worse because of all the hype going in with Bischoff calling it "The Match of the Century." With all the talk about Luger, it was shocking just how not over he was live. They traded a few no sell spots with Hogan in the babyface role although the crowd was kind of split and flat for a Hogan match.

Finish saw Hogan do the superman comeback complete with legdrop when the inept heels all attacked Hogan for the DQ, so he at least gave the impression that he was going to beat Luger. Hogan, Savage and Sting then destroyed the heels in all of 30 seconds, making me want to see the War Games really bad, while Luger did nothing, still selling the devastating legdrop. Savage got mad at Luger for not helping while Sting defended Luger and wanted him on the War Games team. In a badly acted skit where it appeared the fans could have cared less, Hogan asked Luger where he was coming from and Luger said he'd agree to be on the team provided Hogan gave him the title rematch he had promised Vader.

Jim Hellwig canceled his 9/29 and 9/30 dates in Massachusetts because he was mad when he saw Renegade on television copying him because promoter Wendell Weatherbee was the one who put WCW in contact with Rick Williams to do the Ultimate Warrior gimmick. Hellwig and Weatherbee had a long-time relationship dating back to when Weatherbee was Hellwig's limo driver during his glory days with the WWF but Hellwig said the relationship was over after having seen Renegade on television. Others find it hard to believe Hellwig had never seen Renegade before, particularly since he was in Los Angeles negotiating with WCW on 7/16 and Renegade worked on that PPV show. It's doubtful Hellwig actually watched the show, however. The new main event on both shows (first show is in Billerica, MA and don't know where the second show is) will be Renegade vs. Kamala.

The newsstand wrestling magazine business appears to be failing at a rapid rate. In recent months, Norman Jacobs (Napolitano mags) folded three of his four titles leaving just one bi-monthly mag. In addition, rumors are flying that the second incarnation of the WCW Magazine is about to go under. This leaves the WWF mag, which underwent a recent format change, the Apter mags, Wrestling World and New Wave Wrestling. Part of this is because paper costs have tripled, not to mention the magazines themselves need to upgrade their content to reflect that virtually all fans know it's a work. Anyway, any mag that was marginal one year ago is on the verge of being defunct now because of paper costs.

More details on the Lex Luger situation. Luger definitely didn't have a contract with Titan Sports although had apparently promised he'd stay through the end of October and was negotiating a new deal which is why they were still pushing him. Reports are Luger signed a two-year guaranteed deal with WCW so Luger remains the master of contract negotiations. There are reports that New Japan was involved with this deal in promising Luger three tours per year but others have denied that is the case.

The first Eddy Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko Nitro match looks to have been moved to 10/2 in Denver although Guerrero and Malenko will be appearing in dark matches at some of the tapings.

The revised 9/18 show looks to be Blue Bloods vs. Males, Johnny B. Badd defending the TV title against Paul Orndorff, Ric Flair vs. Brian Pillman and Luger vs. Meng.

9/25 in Florence, SC is going to be completely changed because they are anticipating a loaded up show from WWF since it'll be live and the original line-up was nothing special so expect them to load up as well.

It appears the deal to bring Lanny Poffo in doing a Gorgeous George gimmick is dead.

Vader, Hogan, Savage, Sting and Kevin Sullivan were all in Los Angeles this past week filming an episode of "Baywatch," some of which was shot at the Bash at the Beach PPV show. Hogan and Vader did more stunts to add to their match.

Dusty Rhodes looks to be replacing Bobby Heenan on the WCW Saturday Night show. Expect more announcing changes as well. Gene Okerlund's contract expires this week and both sides are said to be far apart when it comes to doing a new deal. Okerlund has tried to use Titan as leverage saying he could get Todd Pettengill's role and run the 900 line there, but the folks at WCW don't think McMahon would replace Pettengill. No word whether Okerlund would continue in his current role while negotiating a new deal or not.

A previously taped Vader handicap squash still aired on Saturday Night this weekend.

Disco Inferno appears to be getting a big push while there is no hype for Guerrero, Benoit or Malenko. Judging from the Sabu situation, it appears these guys are being brought in to alleviate criticism of poor PPV and house shows, but there appears to be no intent to actually push any of them or give them a chance to headline.

They did a great interview on television where Erin Lunde (Arn Anderson's wife) talked about the Flair match with Arn interrupting. It was one of the few wrestling angles that actually looked realistic rather than contrived. It seems they are building this to a situation where Arn and Flair are so low-down that they've even worked their own wives into believing they aren't getting along. It reminds me of a situation about 15 years ago with a famous Dusty Rhodes/Ole Anderson feud in Atlanta. Ole turned babyface for several months teaming with his brother Lars and the other faces and feuding with long-time partner Ivan Koloff, but it took months before he formed a tag team with Rhodes. It wound up with The Assassins against Dusty & Ole in a cage match with each side picking a special ref so it wound up with Koloff being picked by Assassins and Gene Anderson by Dusty & Ole. When the match started, everyone destroyed Rhodes. The gimmick after was that Ole was so low down he even lied to his "brother" Lars (who remained a worthless babyface after this angle).

They did a taping on 9/7 in Dalton, GA. I don't have much in the way of details other than Kevin Sullivan brought in a new heel called The Man of Question from the Isle of Nowhere who I believe is Bill DeMott (Crash the Terminator), which is a basic ripoff of a Paul Heyman idea from about two years ago where he was going to use DeMott a "The Man With No Name," (a character whose basic concept was later given to Al Poling and became 911) but they already blew using that name by giving it to Ed Leslie for about two weeks. Jushin Liger wrestled Eddy Guerrero and I heard they tore the house down and believe Liger went over but am not sure of that.

On television this past weekend, we got two different Cobra/Craig Pittman stories, which now makes three. The original story, which never made it to the air, was that Pittman left him in Viet Nam. The time frame ruined that one since Viet Nam ended 23 years ago. This past weekend, the announcers said Pittman left him at Desert Storm, while Cobra said it was in the jungle.

Latest on the injury situation. Goldust did injure his hip but worked most of his shots two weekends ago so it was incorrect he went home after television. 1-2-3 Kid injured his hand and missed a few shows Labor Day weekend but was back this past weekend. Diesel is scheduled to return on 9/15.

Told that former USWA wrestlers Doug Basham and Susan Sapphire were the Creatures of the Night.

The Shawn Michaels/Diesel thing for ESPN Baseball Tonight was postponed again until October.

Crowds have been weak the past two weeks with most shows in smaller cities with Undertaker-Kama and Michaels-Sid headlining in Canada and Davey Boy vs. Bigelow headlining in Florida.

They announced that if either team gets itself DQ'd or counted out intentionally in the Triple Header match at the 9/24 In Your House with Owen Hart & Yokozuna vs. Michaels & Diesel, that the title would change hands.

The new Raw opening taped on the roof of Titan Towers on 9/7 between 7 and 10:15 p.m. reportedly cost $200,000 for four minutes of footage. There were major stories both Friday and Saturday in the Stamford paper regarding the taping on A-1. Many people living in the area called police complaining about the searchlights and helicopters. The Federal Aviation Administration also received complains. A second day story had police saying the event was perfectly legal and that Titan had filled out all the necessary paperwork for everything it did. Darien (Titan's complex is near the border of Stamford and Darien) police chief High McManus said the event attracted a lot of attention but it was not a serious police problem.

Spoiler for 9/25/95:

Thumbs up 29 (25.0%)

Thumbs down 40 (34.5%)

In the middle 47 (40.5%)


Brian Pillman vs. Johnny B. Badd 64

Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson 49


Craig Pittman vs. Cobra 41

Harlem Heat vs. Slater & Buck 21

War Games 18

The second round of the Monday wars ended up basically as a draw in the ratings but probably a victory in other ways for WCW, which put on the stronger show.

The taped Monday Night Raw on 9/18 drew a 2.5 rating and 3.4 share with the double headliner of Razor Ramon vs. 1-2-3 Kid and Yokozuna & Owen Hart vs. Men on a Mission. Monday Nitro drew a 2.4 rating and 3.4 share on the live show from Johnson City, TN and a 1.0 rating with a 2.6 share on the replay show. While Ric Flair vs. Brian Pillman was the headline match, since it wasn't announced until late in the PPV show and PPV is watched by a comparatively tiny audience (especially this one), the "pushed" main event this drew from was Blue Bloods vs. American Males. That match had no ratings power and in fact didn't even take place. WCW dueling evenly when WWF has stronger marquee matches advertised and did a better job of promoting the show the previous week has to be considered almost a victory for WCW, particularly since the 2.5 to 2.4 victory is a small enough margin that one can use the excuse that the live Nitro isn't on in prime time on the West Coast and Raw is as a reason. Comparing shares takes that aspect out of the equation so in that way, the first run was a dead heat and WCW, with its replay show, had 26% more viewers on Monday Night. Of course WWF, which starts on Thursdays in prime time, will probably end up with its two showings on different nights with more combined viewers since its second showing is on a different night in a better time slot. Talk about statistics you can manipulate to say whatever you want them to.

The first live head-to-head will be 9/25 when WWF does a live Raw from Grand Rapids, MI headlined by Diesel vs. Davey Boy Smith. WCW will be live from Florence, SC with Randy Savage vs. Kevin Sullivan and Disco Inferno vs. Alex Wright, a Kurosawa squash plus possibly Lex Luger vs. Meng (they had a graphic set up for it but Eric Bischoff never acknowledged it as a match). The aspect of it being the first live head-to-head is overrated within the business because Raw's ratings on taped shows are actually slightly higher than on live shows.

The third Nitro was a noticeable improvement on the second. Eric Bischoff was toned down with no remarks directly at WWF or Raw although he did several times call Nitro the most watched wrestling show anywhere (which wouldn't be the case because anywhere covers more ground than one country). Steve McMichael said less dumb things although they still don't clue him in on the storylines since he tried to push that at the PPV that he and his friends could all see that Lex Luger cheap-shotted Randy Savage when in the storyline it's Savage who is doing the turn and overreacted to an unintentional miscue. Cutting from four matches to three was an improvement, but again the main event, this time with workers the calibre of Flair and Pillman, was only 5:25 which was way too short for it to have the impact it should have and thus the match ended flat.

Nitro opened strong with a surprise "title change" as the American Males, scheduled to face Blue Bloods, wound up against Harlem Heat. The idea was Heat beat up Blue Bloods on the way to the ring (they showed Bobby Eaton getting pounded on by both, I'm assuming Steve Regal had already left for Japan) and said they would put up their belts and demanded the match, which made little sense since there was no grudge established between the two teams. The match was a hot 4:39 (**) ending when Marcus Bagwell reversed a suplex and landed on Booker T while Rob Parker and Sherri were making out, and given the belts and announced as new champions.

They hinted that Nick Bockwinkel would have an announcement on the Saturday TV on whether or not the belts had changed hands. Heat played total heel, as opposed to the face role of the night before. Males played face and were cheered, as opposed to being booed out of the building the night before. There's already talk of turning Males heel. Since so much television has been pre-taped with Heat as champs, I'm assuming that either it'll be reversed on television, or they'll add a tag title rematch on Nitro in the next two weeks and switch it back. Ric Flair then did a strong interview, much better than the previous week when he was on his way to doing so when Lex Luger came out way too quickly and ruined the segment. Paul Orndorff with his new awful entrance music, pinned Johnny B. Badd in 6:35 by reversing a sunset flip into a cradle of his own (*1/4) in a match with a lot of missed moves.

Then came a segment from California where Randy Savage was bench pressing with what looked to be gimmick weights and Kevin Sullivan pushed the weights down on his chest until Ric Flair as a babyface made the save. Savage then did an excellent heelish interview saying he didn't want Flair's help and was booed when he ran down Flair, who had done a clear face interview earlier. Savage said Hogan was a bad judge of character and that Luger had cheap-shotted him. Luger came out and the two argued for a while with Savage slapping Luger in the face. Finally Flair beat Pillman (playing a total cocky heel and doing a good job of it) with the figure four of a match which opened really hot but was unsatisfying because the finish came out of nowhere (**). It was weird to see Pillman submit immediately to a move that a few weeks ago on TV couldn't beat Barry Houston, but the WCW psychology appears to be that finishing moves don't work when heels use them on faces but do work the other way around. Flair did a strong interview challenging Arn Anderson for next week but the match won't be taking place since Flair was scheduled for eye surgery the next day.

The show drew 3,200 fans (2,031 paying $17,000) to Freedom Hall, the No. 2 arena in the SMW territory. While nowhere near full, it looked good enough for television. I don't have full details on this but apparently there were major amounts of sign confiscation that went on before the show started. What did get on the air was a "We Want it Raw" sign held by Heather Norton, the girlfriend of SMW owner and WWF manager Jim Cornette; and a "J.C. (for Jim Cornette of course) loves Eric Jerkoff." Norton had a major argument with Doug Dillenger when she refused to give Dillenger her sign. Apparently at the other Nitro tapings Dillenger and fans have had big arguments as well when fans refused to give Dillenger anti-Hogan signs.

By contrast, Raw dragged. Razor Ramon vs. 1-2-3 Kid with the Dean Douglas interfering was better than any match on Nitro, but the remainder of the show was lackluster and some of it was fast-forward material. WCW seemed to have a lot more excitement in its show, particularly better interviews. WWF barely pushed its live show the next week, preferring to concentrate its hype (intelligently) on the PPV show on 9/24, since that's where the bread is buttered.

Despite rumors to the contrary, there is no serious discussion of WWF going live more often because Nitro scored a better rating the first head-to-head week. Besides the fact production costs would be ridiculous as compared with the potential return, Monday Night Raw the way the money comes in can't be the main vehicle for WWF. Even if they drew a 4.0 every week, which now is impossible, the amount of money they make from the show selling ads is limited and hardly enough to offset expenses of going live, particularly since shows taped actually average slightly higher numbers than shows live because 99% of the audience doesn't know the difference. If hyping and giving away the store on Raw overshadows the PPVs and house shows, the company's goose will be cooked. WCW has different priorities, since it's owned by a TV company and because beating Vince McMahon seems to be a primary goal as opposed to making as large a profit as possible and they are willing to go into deep deficit spending every week just to beat McMahon on Monday. The live Raw with Undertaker vs. Davey Boy Smith is a probable screw-job because Smith can't do a job since he's getting a PPV title shot a few weeks later. The match was only mentioned at the end of Raw so as not to detract from the PPV hype.

The Lex Luger jump became an even more intriguing situation this past week when word we received is that contrary to reports here and elsewhere and claims of WCW management, WWF is claiming Luger has a valid contract with the organization through January 6, 1996. Luger has claimed all along he was wrestling with Titan for the past few months without a contract and thus was free to make the jump at any point. Apparently Luger, according to sources within WCW, is now claiming that Titan put white-out on his original contract and filled in a new later date in order to make this claim and that his contract had long since expired.

No lawsuit has been filed by WWF in regard to the Luger jump at this point, but the situation is said to be in the hands of the lawyers. According to other sources, the word that Luger informed Vince McMahon he was going to WCW was said to be denied with the report that McMahon found out about Luger joining WCW at the same time the rest of the country did, while watching Monday Nitro on 9/4.

The situation with all WWF wrestler contracts, despite what you may hear or read, is that when wrestlers join the company, they sign two-year deals. No wrestlers in the WWF receive guaranteed money other than the figure of $1,500 to $2,250 per year which is basically a $150 per appearance guarantee for appearing at a set number of television tapings. The contracts have a window of 13 weeks at the end of the two year period where a wrestler must give notice by and work out the rest of their contract to keep the contract from automatically renewing for one more year. If they don't give notice prior to that date, the contract automatically renews for another one year period. Not understanding that the 13 weeks notice only applies during a certain window each year has kept some big name wrestlers from leaving WWF when they were offered guaranteed money contracts by WCW. Where the Randy Savage situation differed was that Savage was working as both a broadcaster and a wrestler and had a different deal, which had expired, and he was actually working without a contract when he left for WCW. If you ever hear or read that such-and-such's WWF contract was for $100,000 per year or anything like that or that wrestlers are asked to take a pay cut or offered a raise, that information would inherently be untrue because wrestlers are theoretically paid by an undetermined percentage of the gross for the shows they appear and those percentages aren't written into the contract. Basically Titan, because of the nature of the contract which many believe to be terribly one-sided and unlike none others in any sport, has the legal right basically to pay the wrestlers whatever they feel like. They can also terminate wrestlers basically at will before the end of the contract so long as they pay them the minimal amount guaranteed for television appearances.

According to WWF sources, Luger's window to give notice would have ended on October 6, 1995, but that is immaterial because he had exercised his option to not have his contract renewed months before that date. As has been reported elsewhere, during the spring he gave notice and wanted a guaranteed money deal and/or a guarantee of a specific spot in the pecking order. Luger had been perhaps the first wrestler at Titan who earned a guarantee because in his first year as a Titan wrestler, he worked under his guaranteed money WBF contract before that expired. McMahon hadn't agreed to either stipulation, which, given the current state of the Titan business, is less likely to be a concession given at this point in time than in the past when the company was profitable. Others close to the situation claim Luger and his attorneys feel they've found a technicality which breaches the Titan contract and made him a free agent. WCW must have been confident enough of that being the case when they put the deal together with him and rushed him on the air.

Even more strange about this deal is that in mid-August, McMahon and Luger had a meeting where Luger informed McMahon about the potential WCW deal and McMahon gave him permission to negotiate. Without Titan's permission to negotiate, any WCW approaches to Luger would have been illegal contract tampering and you have no idea how closely both groups watch their words in negotiations to avoid breaking that law and the ramifications because the penalties are so severe. Given the environment that the WWF/WCW situation has turned into, it is hard to fathom why McMahon would have given Luger the permission to negotiate at that point in time.

However, it is said that after the original negotiations fell through over a large difference in money, Luger informed McMahon negotiations fell through and was put in a semi-prominent position. He did the weird angle at SummerSlam and was a focal part of the Superstars taping two days later. Plans for Luger were to have been working the next several months as the No. 6 singles babyface (behind Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker, Bret Hart and Razor Ramon) before a possible or probable heel turn in early 1996.

The claim is that after Luger and WCW reached their verbal deal on 8/31, Luger called McMahon up the next day but never told him about any negotiations or informed him of anything. Luger continued to work the Canadian house shows through the Sunday night before he showed up on the Nitro show in Minneapolis. Luger never called McMahon after 8/31 and as of this past weekend, still hadn't called.

As for Leon White, whose two brawls with Paul Orndorff the previous day paved the way for the Luger jump, he is officially suspended by WCW. White isn't figured into any plans through the end of the year, however WCW has not fired him and WCW sent a letter to WWF informing them that any conversations they were to have with White would constitute tampering.

WCW did fire Steve Austin (Steve Williams) on 9/15. Austin, 30, was considered for years as perhaps the best young wrestler in the United States. His career languished for the past year almost to the point that he was spoken of, like his former tag partner Brian Pillman, as a wrestler who had made a lot of money by signing good contracts but had great careers ruined by a WCW organization that had been both unwilling and unable to get any wrestlers over. Austin had been in the doghouse with WCW management over the past year over a reputation for not exactly keeping quiet with his discontent about how he was used and for those involved in cost cutting seeing the $200,000 or so figure he was earning per year while not being involved in any significant programs as wasted money. While on a tour with New Japan in June, Austin tore his tricep and has been out of action since and was believed to be about six weeks from being ready to return when he was fired. This of course paints WCW as a real class organization for firing a guy while injured when he suffered the injury on a tour the company sent him on.

Austin's main problem appeared to be in the cliquish nature of WCW (which is consistent not only in wrestling but in most jobs but worse in WCW than most places obviously). He didn't hang with the right crowd. When the Hogan camp got into power, they dismissed Austin as a highly-paid wrestler who was a good worker with no charisma and in their view of wrestling, workrate meant next to nothing. The Hogan clique basically consisted of WWFers from the mid-80s when wrestling was hot and thus, could dismiss any wrestler who came along later as being "unable to draw money" (forgetting that most of those who drew money in the mid-80s became suddenly unable to draw money either when the business lost popularity). He wasn't in the Flair clique either, so nobody spoke up for his workrate on the inside at the meetings. Austin was given little chance to show his stuff after the career ending back injury of his main opponent, Rick Steamboat. Austin then suffered a knee injury which kept him out for a few months, and before he was plugged into a new planned program, a reuniting of his tag team with Brian Pillman, he went to Japan and suffered the tricep tear.

It's unknown what Austin's plans will be once he's able to return to the ring, but he would be able to get a strong spot with ECW if he would want it since he's a long-time friend of Paul Heyman, although that would entail a major comedown in money. I don't know if he has any connections or has made any with All Japan, but if he wants to make a career out of Japan, that promotion and him almost seem tailor-made if he can learn that style and psychology. All Japan needs new foreign stars they can push and very few Americans have the ability to make it with that group and Austin potentially fits into that select group. Of course WWF is the most logical option. He probably could also return to WCW if he was willing to work for less money and a per night deal although I'm betting the nature of his dismissal which will almost certainly result in very bitter feelings will make that very difficult.

A few hours later, WCW and Gene Okerlund's agent Barry Bloom agreed verbally to a two-year contract which, with incentives, is more potentially lucrative than his previous deal which was said to have a $250,000 base. Okerlund's WCW contract had expired two days earlier and it was questionable if the deal hadn't been put together whether he would have appeared at the Fall Brawl PPV show. Naturally the timing of the Austin firing, particularly being fired while injured ala Steamboat, and the Okerlund raise didn't set well with several wrestlers within WCW for obvious reasons.

WCW's Fall Brawl took place on 9/17 at the Asheville Civic Center before a sellout crowd of about 6,600 (about 5,100 paid with a gate of approximately $72,000). Based on all immediate response indicators, it appears the buy rate for this show will be well down from previous WCW shows which doesn't bode well since Hulk Hogan was on this show and that takes 25% off the top of the gross. Most there live felt that it was Flair vs. Anderson and not the War Games that was the main draw on the show.

To me, the show was average. It was better than it looked on paper, largely because both Brian Pillman vs. Johnny B. Badd and Dallas Page vs. Renegade were a lot better than they figured to be. The announcing was also up several notches from previous WCW shows. Bobby Heenan was more entertaining than he's been in a long time and came close to his former form. Tony Schiavone did an excellent job during the Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson match which due to the announcing came off as being more dramatic and more memorable than the Pillman-Badd match, which contained far more action. They still were clueless about most of the moves during the Pillman vs. Badd match but did get the match itself over. Flair vs. Anderson was about what one would expect from the two--a very good match. But it was not the classic they'd have no doubt had a few years ago. War Games was very bad and that was billed as the main event. And if the buy rate is lower than usual, I'd say the two reasons for that are that the Monday Nitro being the focal point of the promotion and being for free makes getting people to pay $25.95 for what has become almost a monthly PPV harder to do, not to mention this was the least over and most inept group of main event heels in history.

The main event show opened with a poorly-acted angle where Hogan showed up at the building with the motorcycle given to him in Los Angeles surrounded a dozen people paid to act like his fans. The Giant then showed up driving a Dungeon of Doom monster truck and ran over the motorcycle. This is to set up a monster truck battle on the 10/29 where the Dungeon of Doom monster truck faces the Hulk Hogan monster truck. I'm not making this up.

A. Big Bubba Rogers (Ray Traylor) pinned Mark Minh in 1:04 with the Bubba-slam. DUD

B. Disco Inferno (Glen Gilburnetti) pinned Joey Maggs (Joseph Magliano) in 2:33 with a neckbreaker. Inferno has a great gimmick and a great ring entrance but I was disappointed in him once the match started. He bumps better than Honkytonk Man (which is basically what he's supposed to be right down to the finishing move) but doesn't have as much poise in the ring. DUD

C. Alex Wright went to a no decision with Eddy Guerrero in 6:36. Well, they proved what everyone knew all along. None of the newcomers who can work are going to have a prayer of getting a chance to make it. They were having a really good match until they did a major screw up on a spot and never recovered. Eric Bischoff was trying to offset criticism in his announcing (and give him credit for at least trying which puts him one step above Tony Schiavone and Vince McMahon) by talking with Guerrero before the match and he called every move to the point of almost silliness. The funniest part was when Guerrero did a Splash Mountain or Niagara Driver and Bischoff called it a Gori special (like they were doing moves like that when Gori Guerrero wrestled). Then Guerrero's very next move was the Gori special. And what did Bischoff call that? Well, the Gori special. Wright suplexed Guerrero over the top rope and Guerrero sold that his knee was out and he couldn't get back in the ring. Wright refused the victory. And WCW let everyone know in Guerrero's first television appearance that he was nothing more than opening match calibre. *3/4

D. American Males (Marcus Bagwell & Scott Riggs aka Scott Anton) beat Nasty Boys (Jerry "Sags" Seganowich & Brian "Knobs" Yandrisovitz) in 4:15. The Males gimmick is doomed because the vast majority of wrestling fans are guys and guys naturally hate guys who they are told are good looking. Nasty Boys were cheered by almost everyone in Males' debut. Males didn't get over a bit. There was a lot of talk that because the Nasty's had to do the job here that they would quit the promotion over it, and they were said to be furious but not on the verge of quitting over it. But the way the finish was done in this match and then in the Harlem Heat title change later appeared to be done largely to politically pacify them. The winners were to face the Blue Bloods on the Nitro show the next night. Dick Slater came out and hit Knobs off the top rope with his cowboy boot and Bagwell pinned him. *1/4

1. Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) pinned Brian Pillman in 29:14 to earn a U.S. title match with Sting. The title match was to air on the 9/30 WCW Saturday Night show however the match actually never takes place because Badd "no-shows" the match. The fans were booing Pillman even before he started the subtle turn. Badd bled hardway above his left eye although the announcers never acknowledged it and the camera shots did everything they could to avoid showing it (it was acknowledged as a nine-stitch cut the next night on Nitro). The match was pretty slow for the first 12:00 because they were going so long. Actually the length of this match was an office rib that backfired. The idea was to expose that both of these guys aren't as good workers as people think (since both have Steve Austin-sized contracts) and would fail trying to put together a 30:00 match, but it turned out to be the best match on the card. The last 8:00 of the original match was good. Badd suplexed Pillman over the top and did a dive over the top to the floor. Badd came off the top but Pillman caught him with a dropkick. Badd used a power bomb for a near fall and Pillman used a tombstone piledriver for a near fall. Pillman used the leg sweep/Octagon submission (of course the announcers had no clue that was a submission move). Badd hit his punch but Pillman was under the ropes. Pillman came back with his "Air Pillman" springboard clothesline but Badd kicked out and the bell rang at 20:07. It was announced they would do a sudden death because there had to be a winner. The two traded big moves and near falls for the entire overtime which included Badd's sunset flip off the top, Pillman doing a huracanrana (like the announcers had a clue here), Badd reversing a crucifix into a back slam, Badd with a Frankensteiner off the top rope (no clue by the announcers as it was invented post-1985), Pillman with a swinging DDT off the middle rope (called a flying bulldog). Badd then threw Pillman off the top rope and Pillman caught his throat on the guard rail. Badd used a Liger dive and went for a splash from the apron into the ring but Pillman got his knees up. Pillman dropped Badd in a face first suplex onto the ring ropes and then delivered a tope which came up slightly short. Pillman tried a Silver King dive but ended up crotching himself on the top rope for a near fall. Pillman went for a crossbody off the ropes and hit it, but Badd wound up on top for the pin at 9:07 of overtime. ****

2. Craig Pittman beat Cobra (Jeff Farmer) in 1:22 with the code red (armbreaker) submission. A guy dressed up as a serviceman came to ringside when Pittman was introduced and distracted Cobra. Pittman came down from the ceiling with a rope and jumped him from behind, never lost the advantage, and won quickly. Now Cobra's gimmick is that he was a member of the CIA who Pittman left stranded in either a desert or a jungle in either Viet Nam or Desert Storm or maybe Korea or maybe even in the Civil War. At least Pittman's ring entrance was good. DUD

They aired a video with Paul Orndorff "depressed" after losing a match to Randy Savage (they should have at least made it believable and have him depressed after putting over Renegade). Gary Spivey of the Psychic Hotline showed up with what looked like a sponge on his head and convinced Orndorff that he really was Mr. Wonderful, changing Orndorff's character. The acting by Orndorff in the skit made Hogan look like an Oscar Award winner, but it was almost so bad that it was good.

3. Diamond Dallas Page (Page Falkenberg) pinned Renegade (Richard Williams) to win the WCW TV title in 8:07. Page actually made this watchable basically attempting to do a Terry Funk vs. a broom match. They were doing a storyline where Diamond Doll was mad at Page and being forced to hold up the "10" card whenever he'd do a move. At the 4:00 mark the announcers said that this was the longest Renegade had wrestled in a match since coming to WCW (which would be the case if you exclude every house show and PPV match he's had). Renegade did a handspring elbow at one point. Finish saw Page and Max Muscle collide attempting a double-team. Renegade then dove off the top rope to the floor onto Muscle. As he got back in the ring, Muscle grabbed his leg and Page used the Diamond cutter (Ace crusher) for the pin. **

4. Harlem Heat (Lane Huffman aka Steve Ray & Booker Huffman aka Booker T) beat Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck (Jimmy Golden) to win the WCW tag titles in 16:49. Match started very slow and didn't improve. Finish saw Rob Parker and Sherri kissing in one ring while The Nasty Boys came out and Sags hit Slater with Slater's own cowboy boot and Booker T pinned Slater. Heat was mad at Sherri after the match but she explained it was part of the plan. Buck was mad at Parker after the match but he said that he was in love. -*

5. Arn Anderson (Marty Lunde) pinned Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) in 22:37. Most of the underneath wrestlers were sitting together (faces and heels were at least kept separate) watching this to try and get over the importance of this match. The psychology was excellent. They did a lot of the normal Flair or Anderson routine with slight cross-ups as in getting the story that each knew the others' moves but the other was one step ahead recognizing it. It turned into a very good match with near falls going back-and-forth. Neither really came across as a face or a heel. Anderson was selling his knee big from long figure four sequences when Pillman came to ringside. Pillman punched Flair, who punched him back. As Flair turned his back, Pillman gave him an enzuigiri with a cowboy boot to set up their Nitro match the next night and a staggered Flair fell into Anderson's DDT for the pin. ***1/2

6. Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) & Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) & Sting (Steve Borden) & Lex Luger (Larry Pfohl) won the War Games over Zodiac (Ed Leslie) & Shark (John Tenta) & Kamala (James Harris) & Meng (Uliuli Fifita) in 18:47. Sting opened with Shark with the highlights being Sting diving from one ring to the other and doing a bodyslam. Shark tried to dive from ring-to-ring but ended up caught in the middle like a beached whale. Shark was in need of oxygen before the 5:00 period was up. Zodiac was in next, followed by Savage, Kamala, Luger, Meng and finally Hogan. When Luger came in, they teased a Savage-Luger split when they bumped into each other and went after each other but Sting settled them down. Actually there was more intrigue going into the match on whether or not Savage or Luger would turn than on the match itself. When Hogan came in he threw powder at Kamala, Zodiac and Meng and then beat Zodiac with the camel clutch for the win. After the match Kevin Sullivan ran away, but he was brought back in for his five minutes. After 2:30 of almost no heat because nobody cares about Sullivan, The Giant did the run-in and choked Hogan and twisted his neck. Hogan sold it as if he had been maimed and they went off the air wondering if Hogan would ever wrestle again. *1/4

The WWF held a press conference in Winnipeg this past week to announce the line-up for the 10/22 In Your House PPV show at the Winnipeg Arena.

The six-match PPV show is headlined by Diesel vs. Davey Boy Smith for the WWF title. Also announced was Shawn Michaels vs. Dean Douglas for the IC title, Undertaker vs. Waylon Mercy, Smoking Gunns vs. Owen Hart & Yokozuna (which isn't being billed as a title match), Razor Ramon vs. Sid and Hakushi vs. Skip.

In addition, there will be two dark matches, Bret Hart vs. Isaac Yankem and Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Goldust. In the Hart-Yankem match, Hart will have two members of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Canadian Football League team in his corner for local publicity with the idea they'll offset any outside interference of Jerry Lawler, who will be in Yankem's corner. It'll be pushed live as the main event on the show and as a way to get fans to attend live because they won't be able to see that match if they buy the PPV.

The Pit Bulls won the ECW tag titles from Raven & Steve Richards on the 9/16 ECW Arena show which featured the debut of Rey Misterio Jr. and Psicosis, who did a 10:38 bout rated between **** and *****. There was a situation the afternoon of the show involving Mustafa Saed of the Gangstas (Jamaal Mustafa) where he apparently freaked out in the hotel (Travelodge in South Philadelphia) and several police officers were called and hauled him out. He was released that night but missed the show so Too Cold Scorpio ended up teaming with New Jack and Sandman losing the main event cage match to Mikey Whipwreck & Public Enemy when Whipwreck pinned Sandman after a splash off the top of the cage.

Thus far announced for 10/7 are Taz vs. Jason (who returned on 9/16 as the manager of The Eliminators, who debuted without a change in gimmick), Pit Bulls defending the tag titles against Raven & Richards with Tod Gordon and Bill Alfonso as referees and 911 and Big Dick Dudley at ringside acting as lumberjacks and Sandman defending the ECW title against Whipwreck. There will probably be a gimmick match with Public Enemy vs. Gangstas and a two of three fall match with Misterio Jr. vs. Psicosis plus possibly Scorpio vs. Konnan and Tommy Dreamer vs. Cactus Jack (the latter two matches may not take place and be built up for the following show since Paul Heyman is pretty confident of a sellout with what he's finalized and may want to hold the Dreamer-Cactus bout back).

They have at least two more Dudley Brothers, a guy doing an Indian gimmick as Dances with Dudleys (who used to work IWCCW as part of the tag team called the Sioux War Party) and Chubby Dudley (he used to work Pennsylvania indies as part of the Hell Riders tag team) along with Sign Guy Dudley (Lou D'Angelli) being back.

Cactus Jack has been doing by far the best interviews anyone has been doing in a long time on the past two weeks television shows.

9/16 show before another sellout estimated at 1,175 fans saw Bull Pain beat Tony Stetson; Dudley Dudley & Dances with Dudley beat Don E. Allen & Chad Austin with Big Dick Dudley (who has a blown out knee and can't work) and Chubby Dudley at ringside. Hack Myers beat J.T. Smith via count out. Smith is doing very well as a heel with the gimmick that he misses spots left and right so the crowd can chant "You f***ed up" at him. Smith slipped off the top rope and fell to the floor to lose the match. The crowd was also chanting "J.T. has a woody" and Smith got on the house mic and said it wasn't his fault he was hung like a horse. Steiners & Taz were supposed to face Too Cold and a mystery team, but instead The Eliminators came out with Jason (returning manager Jason Knight) as their partner. The gimmick is that Taz is too injured to be in the ring, which is apparently the truth, and he wasn't in until the finish. Eliminators did some things well and Steiners sold a lot for them, but also missed a lot of spots. Jason, who juiced, wound up pinning Taz after Scorpio interfered. Pit Bulls winning the tag titles in a double dog collar match where they had to break up if they lost (which pretty well telegraphed the eventual result) ended up being two of three falls. First Richards wouldn't come out and Raven came out by himself. Beulah McGillicuddy said Raven would face both and defend the titles but wanted it two of three falls. The first two falls were quickies going 2:10 and 1:33 with Raven & Richards winning the first and losing the second. Actually Pit Bull #1 left the ring during the first fall to get Richards and Raven pinned PB #2. PB #1 dragged Richards into the match and quickly juiced him like crazy and pinned him to win the fall. In the third fall, The Dudleys interfered. Beulah and Francine got involved with Raven giving Francine a DDT. Pit Bulls then super bombed both Dudleys. Raven then put one of the Pit Bulls out with ether outside the ring but he had his leg caught up in the guard rail so he couldn't be put into the ring to be pinned. Dreamer then came to ringside and put the collar on and it wound up with Dreamer pinning Raven to apparently win the title. However, Alfonso came out and erased the fall saying Dreamer wasn't signed to be in the match. Tod Gordon did a run-in arguing with Alfonso. Big Dick Dudley came out and choke-slammed Dreamer and they asked what Alfonso was going to do because the choke slam was banned. Alfonso said he's rescinded the ban on the choke slam just for this night which of course brought out 911 to finally choke slam Alfonso which is what they've been building to for months so it got the expected lengthy pop. As all this was going on the Pit Bulls super bombed Raven & Richards (Richards on Raven's shoulders) through a table for the third fall pin. They wound up breaking five tables in the match.

Misterio Jr. beat Psicosis in a match which started slow but they did all kinds of great moves and got over huge. Highlights were Psicosis going for a tope but Misterio Jr. grabbing a chair and swinging it like a baseball bat to hit Psicosis. The other highlight was Misterio Jr. doing a springboard plancha into somewhere between the second and fifth row onto Psicosis (depending on how many generations old the story became). Misterio Jr. won with a Frankensteiner off the top. They started slow because they were told to calm the crowd down from the previous match, and after 4:00 to turn it on which is basically what they did.

Highlight of the cage match saw three tables stacked up on each other and Scorpio and Rocco Rock were fighting on top of the cage and somehow bearhugged each other off the cage through all three tables. The match had five-way juice and lots of brawling outside the ring even though it was a cage match. By the time the show was over, they had broken 15 tables and nine guys had juiced.

According to Heyman, Richard Freedburg, who handled the merchandise and Global Distributions, have been removed from the company and to expect legal action stemming from it because they are behind paying ECW their share for merchandise. Heyman is coming out with his own ECW merchandise this week.

Scott Steiner no-showed the 9/15 show in Jim Thorpe, PA because he had been booked in Cordele, GA so his TV title match with Scorpio wound up with Whipwreck as a sub. Refunds were offered although nobody asked for them.

Lance Wright, who is now doing the local promos on the television show is a former Titan production assistant who was part of the group let go in the most recent layoff.

Flair's Gold's Gym in St. Maarten was destroyed in the recent hurricane and it was said to have not been insured which is a major six-figure loss.

In the match from Dalton, GA, apparently Eddy Guerrero beat Jushin Liger. The match will air on the Main Event show on 10/1 billed as the winner faces Dean Malenko on the 10/2 Nitro show which will be the Nitro debut of both wrestlers.

Sabu's opponent on the 10/29 Detroit PPV show will be Jerry Lynn. The attempt to get Too Cold Scorpio, which wasn't dead as of this past week, is considered dead now. WCW also attempted to get Bobo Brazil to be in whomever's corner since Brazil and The Sheik (who will be in Sabu's corner) had probably the biggest feud ever in Detroit. Brazil, who needs a walker to walk, turned WCW down saying he's retired from the wrestling business. Sabu is working on severe back and shoulder injuries.

Supposedly Jimmy Hart ran into Ted Turner in an elevator during mid-week and Turner remarked to Hart words to the effect of "We really kicked Vince's ass" which I guess tells where the priorities lie.

Dusty Rhodes will definitely be moving to the Saturday Night show as an announcer. I believe it'll be a three-man team rather than as a replacement for Bobby Heenan. This has been tried before putting Rhodes on Saturday Night and didn't work in the past because what's charming for five minutes get nauseating for two hours. That goes for a lot of things.

Boy am I glad we don't have to see those MDA promos for Fall Brawl anymore. Exploitative crap like that just brings home how sleazy this business can be.

TNT has spent a ton of money advertising Nitro on top-rated rock stations in major markets around the country and even bought the Howard Stern show in New York which is the most expensive radio time in the country.

Hulk Hogan will be taking a hiatus after Halloween Havoc to film a movie. The 11/26 PPV from Norfolk looks to have a Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto vs. Manami Toyota & Mariko Yoshida match (with a rematch the next night in Nitro). There is also talk of some sort of a three-ring gimmick triangular match with The Giant, Ron Reis and El Gigante and I think the show is going to be billed as "War of the Worlds" and lots of outside talent is going to be used including Butch Reed & Ron Simmons.

Starrcade in December is going to have a group of WCW babyfaces take on a group of New Japan wrestlers in a series of singles matches. There will be a lot of rematches from the 11/13 Sumo Hall card in Tokyo and be a team points deal. Apparently New Japan will win the promotion vs. promotion points deal in Japan and WCW will gain revenge at Starrcade. I believe Jushin Liger vs. Chris Benoit will take place on both shows. Starrcade I'm told will probably be the best show for pure wrestling matches of the year in WCW since Liger, Shinjiro Otani, Kensuke Sasaki, Shinya Hashimoto, Keiji Muto, etc. will appear. Since WCW has never gotten anyone new over yet, the idea they can get a group Japanese wrestlers over enough to pop a buy rate by December is certainly going to be a difficult task.

The big talk in the Power Plant was that they had a wrestling shoot between Kurosawa (who represented Japan in the 1992 Olympics in freestyle) and Craig Pittman (who I believe went to the U.S. Olympic trials in Greco) which ended up with Kurosawa not being able to take Pittman down.

What looked to be the biggest show of the past week was 9/15 in Montreal for the Diesel vs. Jean Pierre Lafitte title match in Montreal. It wound up in a major brouhaha because Lafitte refused to do the job. For one thing, the crowd was 5,825 and about $85,000 (which translates into a lot less since Canadian/U.S. exchange rate is so bad these days) which, while great by normal WWF standards of these days, was a major disappointment since people were hoping for well in excess of 10,000 fans for this match. It was far below what Montreal has been doing the past year regularly since aside from New York, it has been the WWF's hottest city with local wrestler Lafitte believed to have been the top draw. Lafitte did a ton of local publicity for the match and when he arrived for the show, was told by Tony Garea it was a jackknife finish and he immediately refused. Garea tried to talk him into it by Lafitte said he thought the finish would not only hurt him, but hurt future crowds in Montreal and said he would walk out and not do the match and cost himself his job rather than do the job. Finally Vince McMahon was called at home and after a 15 minute conversation, McMahon and Pierre agreed to a double count out.

Diesel was really mad about this, made worse because Shawn Michaels was riling him up about it saying that Pierre should be fired. There has always been heat between Michaels and Pierre to begin with because Michaels isn't well liked in the WWF dressing room and if people try and defend Michaels by pointing out his workrate, the response usually is that Pierre can do anything Michaels can do (which really isn't the case and even if it was, he doesn't have Michaels' charisma). Pierre said he'd do a job for Diesel anywhere else except his home town (although I don't have the results, I presume he did the next night in Quebec City and in Toronto on Sunday had to put over Fatu) but that didn't quell hostilities and there was a lot of bitterness when they went into the ring although both were professional about it in the ring and actually had a good match. The other surprise is that Diesel was cheered by about 60% of the crowd in French-Canadian Montreal. Pierre did a Liger dive onto Diesel on the floor and both were counted out. After the match Michaels came out backstage and began cussing him out and Pierre responded in kind and Pierre wound up so riled up he went to Diesel's dressing room but no blows took place but it was definitely the talk of the territory.

Adam Bomb was scheduled for a meeting with the office this week but the odds were great he wasn't coming back.

Tatanka's suspension looks to have turned into a firing. The story is there was an alleged incident (and something must have happened to cost him his job) in December 1994 at a hotel in Anaheim, CA involving Tatanka and a woman who is apparently threatening a lawsuit (we haven't heard that one was actually filed) and other WWF wrestlers.

There was a major story on Lafitte in the 9/14 Montreal Gazette and it said he came up with the gimmick himself based on life experiences. When Lafitte was 12, he was shot in the eye with a pellet gun and had three operations to try to save the sight and actually has no sight in that eye.

Spoiler for 11/17/95:
According to a story in the 11/22 New York Post, federal prosecutors are investigating whether there was witness tampering and obstructed justice in the trial of Vince McMahon in July, 1994.

The U.S. Justice Department's Brooklyn office is reported as investigating television producer Marty Bergman and his wife, Laura Brevetti, who was the lead defense attorney in McMahon's trial on the allegation that Bergman offered a key witness in the trial between $250,000 and $400,000 according to government documents.

Emily Fineburg, McMahon's former administrative assistant who was the government's key witness in the failed prosecution of the man who was for years the most powerful man in the wrestling industry, told investigators about Bergman's offer.

The story, written by Jack Newfeld, who authored the recent best selling book on the life on boxing promoter Don King, and Phil Mushnick, whose articles in the Post regarding steroids led to both a change in the look of WWF wrestlers today and a lawsuit, later dropped, by McMahon.

FBI Agents and assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Sack have been interviewing witnesses regarding Bergman's conduct before the trial. The investigation is said to determine whether Bergman pursued witnesses and potential witnesses against McMahon in an effort to change, taint or discredit their testimony by inducing them to accept money as television consultants.

Leading to the trial, Bergman represented himself as a producer for "60 Minutes," "Hard Copy," "A Current Affair" and "American Journal" while withholding that at the time he was living with Brevetti and was working out of her office.

Bergman is also being investigated for allegedly writing several smear stories about Sean O'Shea, the lead prosecutor in the McMahon case on the eve of the trial. Bergman, according to the story, is being investigated for being responsible for a story in the New York Observer which came out during jury selection days before the trial began, attacking O'Shea for sexual misconduct. Sources at the newspaper admitted Bergman timed the story to appear just as McMahon's trial began. The same sources said Bergman also planted two other negative stories about federal investigator Anthony Valenti while he was preparing the indictment against McMahon. The stories were all based on complaints deemed as unfounded in Justice Department investigations.

The Observer's executive editor, Joe Conason said that the newspaper was used by Bergman, who never disclosed his conflict of interest and said that after it was discovered, Bergman never wrote for the paper again. Shaun Assel, whose name was on the byline of the articles, was quoted in the piece saying, "Bergman used to me throw O'Shea off his game, and to help his future wife at the start of the trial. Bergman wasn't honest with me about his tangled web."

Bergman denied any involvement in the story on O'Shea when asked by the FBI, but the FBI was later sent a fax stating Bergman co-wrote the articles. Bergman's past history included a 1981 charge of bribery and tampering with public records which he was acquitted of. He later worked as an FBI informant in a Suffolk County sewer district scandals. Sources also said Bergman got Geraldo Rivera to do an investigation attacking the motives and integrity of the prosecution in a well publicized Westchester murder case that his wife was the defense attorney and got her client acquitted in.

He got involved later with "A Current Affair" producer John Johnston, who produced several stories on the WWF during the height of the sex and drug scandals in 1992. Johnston said Bergman talked to him as if he was going to deliver the goods on the WWF but he never delivered, but would continually leak conspiracy theories about all the negative publicity that came out about McMahon during that period that appeared to come directly from Jerry McDevitt's office. McDevitt was McMahon's other key attorney in the 1994 trial.

The investigation reportedly centers on whether there was a financial connection among Bergman, McMahon and McMahon's lawyers.

Brevetti responded to the allegations by writing a statement saying, "I have been advised of no investigation and have never been contacted by anyone in the government about the existence of one. In any event, there is absolutely no basis for any claim of wrongdoing by me. It is clear to me that this story is being waged by certain individuals within the government who have a personal vendetta against me."


Thumbs up 165 (73.0%)

Thumbs down 32 (14.2%)

In the middle 29 (12.8%)


Bret Hart vs. Diesel 79

Underdog vs. Bodydonnas 54

Wild card match 47

Womens match 26


Goldust vs. Bam Bam Bigelow 127

Dark Side vs. Royals 33

Bret Hart vs. Diesel 14

Womens match 13

Bret Hart captured the WWF title from Diesel to headline the Survivor Series PPV show on 11/19 from the U.S. Air Arena in Landover, MD. The title change was more noteworthy in the midst of reports of outside the ring turmoil within the WWF stemming from the strong power base of "The Clique" (Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid and Hunter Hearst Helmsley) and an apparent marketing switch within the WWF to switch gears from aiming to a childrens audience to an adult audience.

The title change, however, faded into the background in less than 24 hours due to the most important, and most daring, Monday night battle in the less than three month history of the two groups going head-to-head, a battle in which WCW scored the ratings win but in reality both sides came out as losers because each side threw everything out at once and both ratings were disappointing.

WCW put what should have been on paper its ultimate never-seen-before match, Hulk Hogan vs. Sting to counter the WWF going live during sweeps, one day after a PPV show in which it was going to switch the title. The general belief was the impact of Hogan vs. Sting was lessened by the weak build-up for the match the previous week and on the weekend shows. WWF countered with its most daring, and in some eyes, its most galling angle, in years. Playing off Michaels' legit injury a few weeks back after being pulled out of a car and assaulted outside a Syracuse night club, the WWF had Michaels simply collapse in the ring in the midst of a hot main event match with Owen Hart and stay there the remainder of the show, teasing either a stroke or brain aneurism. WWF personnel and EMT's looked concerned and gave him oxygen for the last 7:00 of the show. The angle was convincing enough that from our reports, the majority who attended the show live believed it wasn't an angle. Initially those live believed it was an angle, but as it got played up stronger, most seemed to believe it was real. Most phone calls here that viewed it on television knew it was an angle but many didn't.

Even though WWF had overall by far the superior show, as is usually the case, WCW won the night with the Hogan-Sting match by drawing a 2.5 rating and 3.6 share to the WWF's 2.3 rating and 3.3 share. Neither figure can be considered successful. The Hogan-Sting dream match drew a lower number than the Flair-Anderson cage match which shows, even with the best match possible, Hogan has no juice left to have a major impact on ratings. Nevertheless, WCW's Nitro is geared more toward beating WWF and as long as that happens, it doesn't really matter what the numbers are, it's cause for celebration. The WWF, coming off the PPV with a world title change and a Diesel turn tease at the end, doing a 2.3 for a live show is outright disastrous. The WCW replay did an 0.9 rating.

Because of the way ratings are figured, the Michaels angle could not have had any affect on the ratings so to make any conclusion about the angle not working because WWF lost the night is faulty logic. However, if it doesn't spike the ratings next week for those curious to see how the cliff-hanger ends, the angle's legs were non-existent and at best it would be a great topic of conversation for a few days.

The give-away to most that the Michaels deal was an angle was either that they aired the fall on instant replay, and the timing of the angle during the Hogan-Sting match and most figured WWF was going to pull something major out on the show to steal the spotlight from the match. Most believe the majority of people watching on television would initially buy it.

About 60% of the calls here felt the angle was in the worst taste, with many drawing on the comparison to Fritz Von Erich's faking a heart attack playing off the real life deaths of his own sons in Dallas, an angle that was temporarily very successful in reviving attendance in what ultimately was a dying promotion. Others brought up the timing, being the angle took place just a few hours after gold medal skater Sergei Grinkov dropped dead of an apparent heart attack out of nowhere during practice in Lake Placid, NY which was the lead story in the news just as this angle was taking place. I'm told this angle was planned well in advance of that, and with everyone so busy at television at television all day, there is a chance that those in charge may have not even known about the Grinkov situation or that it would be the worst taste possible to do an angle that would appear to many to be playing off it. Others thought the angle was positively brilliant and some thought it was a little of both. People who called the WWF offices the next day were assured that what they saw on television was totally real and not part of the script and that Michaels was under doctors' care for post-concussion syndrome, which pretty much closed the door of argument over whether or not the angle can be justified as not being sleazy.

Michaels does have that problem and this angle was a guise to keep him out of action because the injuries suffered in Syracuse were worse than originally anticipated. Obviously as business, we'll all have a better idea of whether it's good or bad over the next few weeks when future ratings and crowd figures for Michaels' return (I'd guess they'd hold him out until Royal Rumble, which he may then win again since the initial plan was to go with Bret Hart vs. Michaels at Wrestlemania) come in, but it was the most talked about angle in wrestling in years. Whether that carries over to gaining interest is something we'll only need a week to find out because if there is any impact for this angle, it should show up immediately in the weekend television ratings. It's an interesting twist because there was no heat put on any heel for what happened. According to one story, when this angle was first concocted, the idea was to involve someone like Jeff Jarrett (who wasn't at the show) and have him attack Michaels leading to the angle so as to put heat on someone for future grudge matches, but the feeling was that would make it too obvious it was just another wrestling angle. As far as taste goes, if they knew about Grinkov and still did it, they are really sick. But this is a sick business and it wouldn't shock me either way. If not, it didn't strike me as tasteless immediately but it's hard to rationalize it not being tasteless if the Von Erich deal was except times and tastes change and as time has gone on and nobody takes wrestling seriously, standards have changed and they really didn't go so far as to tease a death as they did in the Fritz Von Erich angle, nor were they playing off deaths, only teasing a stroke or aneurism playing off a mugging. In other words, the same basic thing, only not nearly as bad. But how many angles have been done where the babyface is "left for dead" or even "blinded for life?" I thought it was great execution and nobody tried to tease that he could have died on commentary while it was going on which would have crossed the line. Any defense for the angle being no different than what you see on any other television soap opera or drama was taken away by the WWF itself. If there is an illness or near death on a soap and you call the network, they won't try to pretend the illness or death wasn't part of the script.

The angle totally overshadowed the Hogan-Sting match as far as next-day interest. Hogan, who dressed in all black and played heel, was booed out of the Macon Coliseum by the largely papered full house of 6,000 (imagine having to paper heavily a Hogan-Sting match and doing a $13,000 house?). The match went 9:32, with Hogan powering out of Sting's scorpion and making a superman comeback. Hogan missed a legdrop selling a hamstring injury and was put in the scorpion. Just as it appeared he was going to submit as he was screaming on camera that he couldn't take the pain, the Dungeon of Doom all ran out and attacked both men for the no contest decision. Hogan and Sting combined for the save until The Giant ran in. The Giant was about to choke slam both simultaneously until Randy Savage (at ringside, arm in a sling, the arm injury having been played up much stronger this week than last week which makes me think he is going to have the surgery after all) hit The Giant with a chair shot that he didn't sell. Hogan and Sting then combined to knock The Giant from the ring. The match itself was largely flat live and had a weak finish (*1/2), and WCW is going to have a difficult time popping a rating again when they play something up so big and deliver so little. Hey, they didn't even pop a rating with Hogan-Sting. It didn't come off as anything more than a usual match in regard to heat. The crowd was almost totally pro-Sting. Hogan was expecting this as he played heel and seemed to work in a manner to egg on the boos even though Savage was in his corner during the match and the announcers never acknowledged him being booed so heavily.

Obviously the WWF show was far superior. Besides the angle, the other highlights were Diesel taking on a new bad-ass babyface image blaming Vince McMahon on an interview for creating a fake image for him the past year, again in attempting to appeal to the 26-34 male audience as a kick-ass no apologies babyface, and what was an excellent Michaels-Owen Hart match before the angle and a good Hakushi-1-2-3 Kid match which Kid won.

WCW's show was weak overall, with Hogan-Sting, and a match where Eddy Guerrero pinned Brian Pillman with a frog splash in 6:25 (***) with Guerrero doing an incredible plancha. Pillman was subbing for Ric Flair, who re-injured his shoulder in a TV squash match against Joey Maggs in Orlando a week earlier, although Flair did work his Japan matches after the injury. Flair came out in street clothes with Pillman and they did an angle where Flair acted as if wrestling Guerrero was beneath him and told Pillman to handle his dirty work. Broken record comment for the week--the match was really hurt by poor announcing, as instead of talking about the match, most of the banter was about the upcoming PPV and the Hogan-Sting match.

Sharing weekend headlines with the Monday Night Wars and the WWF title change was the return of Sabu to ECW and a PPV that almost didn't happen involving Extreme Fighting Championship, being booted out of New York City and relocating to a movie studio in Wilmington, NC and running a show that hardly went without a hitch.

The WWF title change meant the group's top position was no longer in the hands of one of "The Clique," although only time will tell if that is temporary or not. The show also left a question in fans' eyes regarding Diesel, who strongly teased a heel turn by giving Hart two jackknifes after the match was over and attacking several referees. Diesel appeared to have been booed by 65 to 70 percent of the fans after the match and announcers McMahon and Jim Ross played it up as if it was a turn. The new character and new attitude of the promotion was set up by Diesel's mouthing motherf---er when he lost the title, so it appears they believe the ECW approach, or at least a toned down version, is now the most marketable approach in this country, which is funny on a lot of levels. He'll apparently also wrestle other babyfaces, as they did an interview where he complained that he was being packages by Titan as something that he wasn't for the past year. Whether this winds up being a successful approach or not, faced with the conclusion based on all available figures that the direction they were going had run its course and with the increasing popularity of UFC PPV events that have surpassed WWF events as the most-widely viewed regularly scheduled events on PPV, that it's time to take the big step and go in a rougher and more violent direction.

Hart, 38, captured the title for a third time, making him only the second person in recorded in-house WWF history (Hulk Hogan being the other) to do so. Technically Bob Backlund is also a three-time champion because of a 1979 back-and-forth title switch in Japan involving Antonio Inoki, but this was never recognized in the United States and has been ignored in all WWF title histories.

The show was generally well received. Four of the six matches were good. They booked far more clean finishes than is traditional on shows of this type where they usually in a quest to "protect" the top stars, have a multitude of DQ and COR finishes. The weakness was that none of the heels came out of the show looking strong, which has been a major complaint among wrestlers for some time with the belief that none of the heels being over is responsible for the company's weakened position on PPV and at the arenas. The heels on top at the next PPV, 12/17 in Hershey, PA (Davey Boy Smith, Mabel and Goldust), weren't "hurt" on the show by doing jobs, but at the same time, none came out of the show looking strong in the least.

The biggest surprise on the show, which appeared to have been re-booked late in the week leading to the show, was the return of Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig), who announced the show along with Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. Perfect was introduced before the opening credits on the show as a return of a major player in company history, but unfortunately like many other similar returns, he appeared to have not been following what had been going closely and seemed to have little knowledge of current storylines and overall did a poor job, particularly in the womens match where he mainly made jokes about what it would be like to date the different Japanese women. It appeared from television the next night that Perfect's role, at least to this point, will be doing the heel commentary on Superstars, leaving Jerry Lawler only for Raw.

In a first, the show was not announced on the PPV as being a sellout. The crowd was estimated at 14,000, or a little more than three-fourths full, with a heavy amount of paper and reports of about 8,000 paid.

As far as my opinion of the show goes, I had very high expectations for the show. It was a good show, but perhaps for that reason, only one match, the opener, was as good as I expected it to be. Bret Hart vs. Diesel had very good psychology, but I thought both of their prior matches were better. The Wild Card match and the opener were both good matches, but neither was memorable. The womens match was a big disappointment, although it probably impressed the majority of fans who had never seen those women before. The Undertaker match was effective because of the storyline of Undertaker tagging in and destroying everyone, and he wore a great face mask. But as far as work went, it wasn't a good match. Goldust still isn't over, which is amplified by the megapush he's getting. His new costume was almost lewd and his match with Bam Bam Bigelow was another disappointment.

In another surprise live, The Public Enemy worked the dark match losing to the Smoking Gunns in a non-title match. Called Public Enemy (they wouldn't have used that handle had the match been televised), it was described to us as an unimpressive almost-squash like warm-up match. They got a great reaction by the ECW fans at the show, but most of the fans didn't react to them nor know who they were. The reports we have are that this deal was put together almost at the last minute, but it was a one-shot deal and not a sign they'd made the decision to go to WWF. From what we're told, they are strongly leaning toward WCW and that the final decision should be made this week. Paul Heyman still is trying to keep them with ECW. Heyman, who was involved with putting the deal together for them to work the WWF show, said he believed they weren't going to WWF, and that they would either go to WCW or stay with ECW, but until they made a decision, they would have the focus taken off them in ECW as evidenced by them doing a job for Sandman & Scorpio at the ECW show the night before and having nothing done later in the show to put steam back on them.

The WWF's next PPV show, another In Your House, is scheduled for 12/17 in Hershey, PA with the line-up (naturally subject to change) of Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith for the WWF title, Undertaker vs. Mabel in a casket match, Razor Ramon vs. Goldust for the IC title, Smoking Gunns defending the tag titles against 1-2-3 Kid & Sid, Ahmed Johnson vs. Dean Douglas (originally this was to be King Kong Bundy but with Douglas wanting out, this will be his PPV job on the way out) and Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Henry Godwinn in a Hog Pen match which is a cage match with slop in the cage. This will probably do a similar buy rate to the previous In Your House event because its the least compelling line-up to date, if not worse because of the UFC Ultimate Ultimate coming the night before. Although Hart vs. Smith should be an excellent match, the rest of the show doesn't look either impressive or compelling. Smith's previous WWF title shot as a headliner didn't do well on PPV, and nothing has been done since that time on television or on the Survivors' PPV to establish him as anything more than just another heel stooge in the mix in a company dominated by babyfaces. The original plan for Royal Rumble on 1/21 in Fresno was for Hart to defend the title against Undertaker, but given what happened at the PPV in the finish, I'd suspect Hart vs. Diesel as that main event.

A. Smoking Gunns (Kip Sopp & Mike Plotcheck) beat Public Enemy (Mike Durham & Ted Petty) in the dark match.

1. Skip (Chris Candito) & Rad Radford (Louis Mucciolo) & Tom Prichard & 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman) beat Marty Jannetty & Barry Horowitz & Bob Holly (Robert Howard) & Hakushi (Kensuke Shinzaki) in 18:45. There were two late changes in this match. Kid replaced Jean Pierre Lafitte, who had hernia surgery earlier in the week from a stomach injury suffered at the Nassau Coliseum show on 11/10. It was announced on the show that Ted DiBiase had paid Pierre off to stay home and had bought the spot on the show for Kid. Holly replaced Avatar. This change wasn't even acknowledged on the show with a storyline reason. What happened was that Holly was one of the wrestlers unhappy and ready to leave last week, complaining about not getting enough dates, and as a perk to keep him since PPV pay-offs are several thousand dollars, they put him on the show. They called Al Snow up to tell him he was off the show because Holly had been with the company longer. I thought this was the best match on the show. Razor Ramon came out at the start to go after Kid, but was held back by numerous officials. Kid was over strong as a heel. He looked good in some spots and in other spots looked rusty since he hadn't worked as a heel in years. First out was Prichard, who missed a moonsault and was pinned by Holly with a crossbody off the top rope in 5:17. Skip won the second fall in :06 with an immediate schoolboy on Holly using the trunks. The next fall contained a lot of great work from Hakushi and Skip in particular, ending with Radford pinning Hakushi after Kid kicked him in the back of the head in 2:47. Radford, billed as a wannabe Bodydonna, was out next. He had Horowitz beaten with a Northern Lights suplex, but instead did weak looking push-ups and Horowitz pinned him with an Oklahoma side roll (an old Brisco Brothers finish) in 3:16. Horowitz was out next at :59 when he was supposed to whiplash himself on the top rope as Kid moved away, but the spot came off sloppy. Kid pinned him after a legdrop. This left Kid & Skip vs. Jannetty. Even more great action here with lots of near falls by Jannetty. When he was on the top rope, Sunny shook the ropes and he crotched himself. Skip went up top for a superplex, but Jannetty blocked it and came down with the move of the night, a power bomb off the top rope for a pin in 2:37. This left Kid with Jannetty. After Kid missed a somersault legdrop off the top rope, Sid came out. Jannetty used the Rocker dropper (which Curt Hennig cleverly said could break someone's neck as if Vince McMahon actually wanted that acknowledged given the Chuck Austin case) but Kid got his foot on the ropes. Behind the refs back as Ted DiBiase distracted the ref, Sid snapped Jannetty's neck on the top rope and Kid scored the pin. After the match they went backstage where Ramon went crazy throwing a television monitor against the wall a few times, destroying it. ***3/4

2. Bertha Faye (Rhonda Singh) & Aja Kong (Erica Shishedo) & Lioness Asuka (Tomoko Kitamura) & Tomoko Watanabe beat Alundra Blayze (Debbie Micelli) & Kyoko Inoue & Sakie Hasegawa & Chapparita Asari in 10:01. This match was a disappointment because it came off as a total rush job and because the referee counted two pinfalls that were supposed to be near falls. The Japanese women flew in on an eighteen hour flight after doing the Wrestlemarinpiad show the day before and obviously were tired. Inoue must have been injured or held back since, with the exception of Michaels and possibly Hart, she was the best all-around worker on the card but did absolutely nothing. My guess is they were told to hold back since the spotlight was supposed to be on Kong and focus on getting her ready for a singles match with Blayze at Royal Rumble. Blayze pinned Asuka with a german suplex in just 1:42. Kong pinned Hasegawa with a back suplex in 2:16, which I believe was the first of the two mistake pinfalls. Hasegawa looked the best of the Japanese women in her brief period in. Kong pinned Asari in :27 with a splash off the middle rope. Asari did try her Sky twister press earlier but didn't hit it perfect, but got a good pop. Kong pinned Inoue with a splash in :37. That was supposed to be a near fall but the ref counted three. At this point, nearly everyone looked real confused. Actually this was the second pin that wasn't supposed to happen at that point and it kept Inoue from doing all her signature moves before going out. This left Blayze against three. Blayze pinned Watanabe in 1:28 with a piledriver. She immediately pinned Faye in :41 with a german suplex, or at least a good effort at doing one. Hennig got really embarrassing on commentary since the idea here was to get Kong over as a monster heel threat to Blayze's title, and Hennig kept trying to tell jokes with Vince McMahon almost forcing himself to laugh as a response. You could tell that Hennig and Jim Ross were on each others' nerves in the booth from this point forward in the show. Kong wound up hitting the backhand punch for the pin in 2:50 and made a hand motion about challenging for the womens title although it wasn't really emphasized in the commentary. The All Japan women as a group are remarkably consistent and I don't think I've seen a match involving this level talent be as bad as this one in years and it wasn't as if it was Bertha Faye's fault. **3/4

3. Goldust (Dustin Runnels) pinned Bam Bam Bigelow (Scott Bigelow) in 8:18 with a bulldog headlock. Goldust's ring entrance is supposed to be the heel equivalent of Undertaker's, but it came off as so long it was boring. The two didn't work well together, although not from a lack of effort. *

4. Undertaker (Mark Calloway) & Fatu (Solofa Fatu) & Henry Godwinn (Mark Caterberry) & Savio Vega (Juan Rivera) beat Jerry Lawler & Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Paul Levesque) & King Mabel (Nelson Frazier Jr.) & Isaac Yankem (Glen Jacobs) in 14:21. They teased Helmsley not wanting to work with Godwinn. The first 11:00 consisted of lifeless action involving all but Undertaker. Finally Lawler piledrove Vega, but instead of it being the end of a fall, Vega tagged Undertaker. Undertaker was wearing a cool looking face mask as a result of his recent surgery. Undertaker, who appeared to have gotten the biggest pop on the show, then hit the tombstone on Lawler for a pin in 12:19. He then hit the tombstone on Yankem at :31. Helmsley tried to run, but was thrown back in and chokeslammed in :45. This left Mabel against all four faces and he hit a belly-to-belly and legdrop on Undertaker, who then sat up. Mabel then took off and was counted out at :46. After the match, Undertaker gave Mo, who was at ringside, a choke slam. Not much for wrestling, but the booking was good. *1/2

5. In the wild card match, Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) & Ahmed Johnson (Tony Norris) & Davey Boy Smith & Sid (Sid Eudy) beat Yokozuna (Rodney Anoia) & Owen Hart & Dean Douglas (Troy Martin) & Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) in 27:24. This was a good match, particularly when Hart was in with either Michaels or a brief spot with Smith. Johnson is pretty green but they are going to push him to the moon. He wasn't over as much as you'd think given his recent push on TV, but this match was part of the process to get him over. Yokozuna is a great worker for his size but he's got to drop weight because he's got no stamina. When he was in, he immediately went to a nerve hold. Sid tried but was also pretty bad. When Douglas and Ramon had words, Michaels pinned Douglas with a schoolboy in 7:30. Ramon pinned Sid in 8:48 when a Michaels superkick on Ramon was ducked and Sid took the brunt of it. Sid power bombed Michaels on his way out, but when Ramon tried to pin him, Michaels kicked out. After Hart destroyed Michaels, Michaels made the hot tag to Johnson who pinned Hart with what is being called a Tiger bomb (Tiger-driver or Liger-bomb in Japan) in 5:31. Both Sid and Kid came out as Ramon had Smith pinned. Kid tripped Ramon and Ramon punched Kid. This gave Smith the chance to get Ramon from behind and hit the running powerslam for the pin in 2:19. This left Michaels & Johnson & Smith all with Yokozuna, which is weird booking on the surface. Johnson bodyslammed Yokozuna to the expected big pop but Smith broke up the pin, saving his opponent. Johnson and Michaels then double-teamed Smith, knocking him out of the ring. Michaels gave Yokozuna a superkick and Johnson pinned him with a splash. ***1/2

6. Hart pinned Diesel (Kevin Nash) in 24:54 to win the WWF title. Both men uncovered one turnbuckle at the start of the match. Diesel dominated the first 7:30 destroying Hart. Hart made a comeback working on Diesel's knee and using a figure four but Diesel made the ropes. As Hart went for a sharpshooter, Diesel kicked him into the unprotected turnbuckle to regain a short advantage. But Hart came back ramming Diesel's knee into the post twice and tied his foot to the ring post. Hart destroyed Diesel for the next few minutes as Diesel couldn't untie the knot. Finally Diesel broke free and did a great job selling the knee for the remainder of the match. Jim Ross had a Vinnie Vegas hallucination when Diesel dropped Hart's face on the top turnbuckle calling it "snake eyes." Hart made a comeback by ramming Diesel into the unprotected turnbuckle, and used a flying clothesline, a bulldog off the top and a leg sweep for near falls. However Hart missed a plancha and began selling his own knee. While on the apron, Diesel shoulderblocked Hart off the apron where he flew through the table that the spanish language announcers were sitting and Hugo Savinovich (a long-time former wrestler/manager in Puerto Rico) began selling his knee as well. Diesel threw Hart in the ring and signalled for a jackknife. He stalled for a second, and it appeared the storyline was (although it didn't appear to be the case) that he was asking the ref to stop it rather than have to jackknife Hart and the ref said no. As he went to do the move, Hart small packaged him for the title. Diesel then jackknifed Hart twice after the bell and beat up several referees. ***1/2


Sabu (Terry Brunk) returned to the ECW Arena in an unannounced match on 11/18 beating Hack Myers in a move that has a number of political ramifications. Sabu was introduced earlier in the show as Paul Heyman came out and said he had a surprise for the fans and was going to turn out the lights and said there would be no fire and no fire extinguishers in this surprise. When the light came back on, Sabu was in the ring pointing to the ceiling and the crowd was chanting "Thank you" as Sabu and Heyman hugged in the ring.

According to Heyman, Sabu and Heyman reached a deal on 11/1 for Sabu to appear on the 11/18 show but Heyman wanted it kept as a surprise. The two agreed for Sabu to work only the one show, which at press time is all that had been officially agreed to although there is obviously a good chance Sabu will be back as a regular.

The results of this surprise were numerous. Sabu had been working with WCW, although to the best of our knowledge never had signed the contract offered him. WCW had been upset with Sabu for numerous reasons, such as him brawling out of the ring more than they wanted him to and going longer than scheduled in some television matches. In addition, The Sheik wasn't supposed to throw fire at the PPV show and it caught everyone at WCW by surprise. Sabu was unhappy at being a mid-card performer and those in WWF say he insisted on not having his weight announced because of the belief if he was categorized as a junior heavyweight, he couldn't work on top. WCW allows its wrestlers to work indie shows provided they don't work for WWF, SMW and ECW which are considered as enemy promotions. It was no secret within the company that the wrestlers and booking committee, while admitting to his guts and work ethic, thought he was a poor worker which is why they kept his matches short. Sabu working the ECW date, particularly since it was kept a secret from WCW management, put himself in a tenuous position. Sabu, who had left for a Japan tour at press time and wasn't able to be reached, had told another reporter before leaving that he called up Bischoff on 11/20, and Bischoff told him he was too busy to talk with him at the time. He said he then watched Nitro and heard Bischoff on commentary talk about a wrestler who is no longer with the company and to call the WCW Hotline to find out who, and he called the Mike Tenay message and that's how he found out he was fired. On the hotline, Tenay talked about the Sabu situation and speculated Sabu may be in trouble with the company but Sabu hadn't been told anything by that point. While it had been reported elsewhere Sabu had quit WCW, nobody in WCW was aware of the fact, nor was Sabu, although many were aware of tension between the two sides and thought a split was inevitable either way. He was still booked and advertised for both the Battle Royal on the 11/26 PPV show and also to face Eddy Guerrero on the 12/11 Nitro card from Charlotte, however he probably wasn't going to make either date either way since his three week tour of Japan began on 11/23.

Even stranger is the situation regarding Sabu and NWA promoter Dennis Coraluzzo. Coraluzzo had asked Sabu to work on an afternoon show on 11/18 in Camden, NJ in early October, well before Sabu and Devon Storm tore the house down on 10/28. Sabu turned down the date in early October claiming a booking in San Bernardino, CA (there was an indie show in San Bernardino that night). According to Coraluzzo, on 11/13, Sabu called him up and said that either the show itself had been cancelled in California or that Sabu had cancelled the San Bernardino date because New Japan booked him for the week, but then cancelled the shows that week (presumably a Heisei Ishingun tour since New Japan cancelled all HI shows and New Japan never had any shows scheduled for that week). He told Coraluzzo he would fly himself in to work the Camden show and pay for his hotel room. The two agreed on Sabu to work for less than his usual price because most of the local publicity had been done without Sabu's name, but since Coraluzzo had gotten clearance from the WWF to use Hakushi on the show, he figured he could get the word around in five days of a Sabu vs. Hakushi match and it would draw some extra fans. Because WWF initially freaked out about a supposed WCW vs. WWF match-up and wanted it stopped, but then relented since it wants to keep good relations with all promoters, Coraluzzo had to work a DQ finish because WWF insisted Hakushi not do the job to a WCW wrestler and Sabu is the one Coraluzzo wanted to push. At the show they shot an angle to lead to future Sabu vs. Devon Storm matches on Coraluzzo shows in December when Storm interfered for the DQ and Sabu put both Storm and his manager through a table after the match. Coraluzzo said that Sabu had told him all along that he knew he would go back to ECW for one date because Tod Gordon would pay him a lot for it, but insisted he had no plans to do so at that point and never told Coraluzzo of his plans to work the evening show to the point where Coraluzzo found out after the show was over. Coraluzzo claimed he outright asked Sabu about it and Sabu denied it, and was really upset about it because he considered Sabu a friend more than a business associate, saying he didn't begrudge Sabu the opportunity to make money, but he felt bad because Sabu made an ass out of him and that Sabu has always told him they were good friends and he didn't think that kind of a move is something friends do to friends.

Heyman said that Sabu asked him after he had already agreed to do the ECW Arena show if he could work the Camden show, claiming Coraluzzo was the one who asked him to work the date. Heyman said he had no problem with it and actually liked the idea because it would explain to ECW fans who saw Sabu at the hotel why he was in town that weekend. He said that if any of his fans knew Sabu was going to work the ECW show, he'd have cancelled the booking and told Sabu not to tell anyone. However, word of Sabu's doing the ECW date started spreading on 11/11 and by mid-week it had become a strong rumor in wrestling and was reported on the Observer hotline that it would most likely happen and when Heyman talked about the surprise in the ring, there were chants for Sabu before he showed up. However, Coraluzzo was unaware of any of this, nor had Sabu told anyone while he was in Philadelphia. Sabu later told another publication that he hadn't made up his mind until 6 p.m. that night when ECW came through with the money, which he said was the single biggest one-night payoff he had ever received as a pro wrestler in the United States. He wouldn't say what the figure was, but when the figure of $1,500 was brought up to him, he said it was well in excess of that.

Sabu later called Coraluzzo, wanting to keep his December dates, and according to Coraluzzo, told him that he didn't decide until the last minute to do the ECW show and did it because he was getting a $3,000 one-night payoff which was too much to turn down. Coraluzzo claimed Sabu told him that because he felt badly about what happened, he offered to pay Coraluzzo half his payoff. He said he hadn't told Coraluzzo about it because he didn't know for sure if they would come up with the money until he got to the hotel and they gave it to him after the Camden show was over. Heyman refused to comment on the size of the payoff saying he didn't want to give credibility to anything Coraluzzo said by responding to it. The figure on the surface seems hard to believe from a business standpoint. The argument can be made that business often goes out the window and anything is possible in a wrestling war. Sabu told Coraluzzo he asked Heyman for $2,000 per shot for the future and Heyman had agreed to his price, which Heyman also refused comment on.

11/18 at the ECW Arena before a turnaway capacity crowd saw Bubba Ray Dudley, who got a huge pop, do the ring announcing and did the announcing fine until stuttering on the phrase, "Let's get ready to rumble." He then destroyed Tony Stetson & Don E. Allen in a handicap match. Paul E. Dangerously then came out and introduced Sabu. Konnan pinned Jason in 30 seconds when special ref Taz laid Jason out. Steve Richards pinned El Puerto Ricano.

During the match, Richards brought out a new flunky called The Blue Meanie (Brian Rollins) with blue hair and bossed him around and told him to moonsault El Puerto but he missed. Pit Bulls beat Eliminators. Rey Misterio Jr. beat Psicosis in a Mexican death match. Rules were that falls didn't count, although falls could be taken anywhere in the building, and the bout ended when one wrestler after a fall couldn't beat the count and get back in the ring. Misterio Jr. used a Frankensteiner off the top of the stage to the bottom of the stage onto Psicosis for a pin and Psicosis, who was ahead 4-2 in falls, couldn't get back in. Match wasn't as good as usual since Misterio Jr.'s ankle was badly swollen and he was limping badly, although he still did an incredible Asai moonsault. Sandman & Too Cold Scorpio kept the tag titles beating Public Enemy in a match where the man who took the fall would get a singles title match later in the show.

Fans chanted "Please don't go" at Public Enemy. Grunge juiced heavily. Sandman ended up getting the pin and Public Enemy was obviously being phased down. Bill Alphonso beat Tod Gordon in a surprisingly entertaining match. Beulah McGillicuddy was the ref, but she was KO'd by Alphonso early and carried out. Alphonso juiced when Gordon gave him a chair shot. Taz came out and turned on Gordon and counted as Alphonso pinned him. Taz complained after that when the various wrestlers in ECW have gotten hurt, everyone sends cards and worries about them, but nobody cared when he got hurt. Sandman then came to the ring for his title match, but was jumped by Austin and destroyed. With Sandman unable to wrestle, Austin got the title match, and in a surprise, put Whipwreck over clean.

Austin looked rusty but the match was still decent. Sabu then pinned Myers in what virtually everyone said was the best match Myers has ever been in. Sabu did just about everything under the sun including leaping off a chair into a backflip over the top rope through a table on the floor. Finale saw Terry Funk & Tommy Dreamer over Raven & Cactus Jack in a bloody match with all four using all the gimmicks given by the fans. Jack wore both a "Dungeon of Doom" t-shirt and later a "Forgive me Uncle Eric" t-shirt with Bischoff's face on it. Of course they pulled the shirt over Jack's face and Dreamer began punching the Bischoff face on the shirt over and over. After the match Funk teased a retirement speech without actually saying it, saying he loved wrestling but his body couldn't take it anymore and basically was passing the torch as the king of hardcores to Dreamer.

Besides Pillman-Guerrero and Hogan-Sting, the other matches on Nitro saw Scott Norton powerslam Shark in 1:40 and Road Warrior Hawk pin Bubba Rogers in 3:47 when Rogers put an object in his hand and went to tape it, but before he could use it, he was tripped by Jim Duggan and fell on his loaded hand and knocked himself out. This match was hilarious because the object fell out of his pocket on his first bump for everyone to see and McMichael even noticed. The highlight of the house show was the Johnny B. Badd-Dallas Page TV title match, which I was told was basically a run-through for their PPV match on Sunday and was told it was ***3/4. Lots of antics with Diamond Doll including stomping with her high heel shoe on Page's foot.

Nitro on 11/27 from Salem, VA will be Luger & Sting vs. Anderson & Pillman, Hogan vs. Hugh Morris (Bill DeMott), Nakano & Hokuto vs. Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki and Page vs. Badd.

The reason they are doing a house show on 12/2 in Denver is because when they did Nitro, they ran a deal where anyone who ordered the previous WCW PPV show would get two free tickets to Nitro. However, many of the people were turned away at the door since Nitro sold out. TCI held WCW accountable for the upset costumers so they are giving two free tickets to everyone who ordered that PPV including those who got into Nitro for free with the same deal, and running a house show with a 20 man Battle Royal, Harlem Heat vs. American Males, Lex Luger vs. J.L., Sting vs. Kurasawa, Scott Norton vs. Giant, Bunkhouse Buck & Dick Slater vs. Blue Bloods, Page vs. Badd and Alex Wright vs. Disco Inferno.

At the WWF PPV show, there was a banner on screen for a long time stating "Bring back Teddy Long." Either WWF has changed its policy, or, nobody in the truck knew who Teddy Long was and that he was a WCW personality on television.

The Benoit vs. Guerrero match on WCW Saturday Night on 11/18 was the best WCW match of the year. If you focus away from the announcing and concentrate on the work, it was ****1/2. Well above their Nitro matches. Paying attention to the announcers takes a good star away. Actually Tony Schiavone tried to put the two over from the beginning as revolutionizing pro wrestling, but then Dusty Rhodes disagreed that basically tried to put them back in their place.

Chris Cruise and Sonny Onno are killing the New Japan gimmick deader than Kelsey's.

Paul Wight (The Giant) played one season of basketball (91-92) at Wichita State University.

From the Monday Night Raw tapings before 4,500 fans in Richmond, VA--the show started with Matt Hardy beating Jason Arndt in a warm-up match. Sid beat Marty Jannetty via DQ. 1-2-3 Kid attacked Jannetty behind the refs back. This brought out Ramon for the save but the ref saw him and called for the DQ. Ramon chased the Kid into the bleachers through the stands and finally out the exit of the building. After the match, Sid gave Jannetty a power bomb. Ahmed Johnson beat Rad Radford in a 5:00 semi-squash.

Jerry Lawler interviewed Ahmed Johnson, and Dean Douglas came out and challenged him to a match on the 12/17 In Your House show. Aja Kong & Tomoko Watanabe beat Kyoko Inoue & Alundra Blayze when Kong pinned Inoue with a backhand punch. Told this was the best match on the card. Brother Love (Bruce Prichard, who by both the looks and sounds of things appears to have gained a lot of power when it comes to booking) returned and did an interview with Bret Hart, who talked about winning the title. Bob Backlund then came out and put Hart in the chicken wing and left him laying. Hart later challenged Backlund to a match on Raw which wasn't taped on this event. The renewed Backlund push seems to have put to rest some concern about the influence of The Clique in booking.

From reports we received, The Clique met with Vince McMahon on the road a few times and one of the conversations regarded going through the roster person-by-person and evaluated whether they belonged or should be moved up or down. After the meeting, the guys The Clique wanted to see given a bigger push (Skip was one noted to me) were still in the same position doing jobs, and the ones they thought were useless and they shouldn't even have around (Backlund), were now getting a renewed push. Backlund threatened to come out of nowhere and put guys in chicken wings at any time. In next week's Raw main event, Undertaker was to wrestle Kama. Kama came out on crutches and Mo subbed.

Undertaker won the match and got the necklace back from Kama and gave it to Paul Bearer, but Mabel & Yokozuna came out and Mabel stole the necklace from Bearer and is now wearing it around his neck. Kama and Bigelow did officially give notice, while Bob Holly is now staying after being put on the PPV show and Jean Pierre Lafitte is at home recovering from hernia surgery and nobody seems to know for sure if he's going to come back or not.

The problem is, even if guys are unhappy, if they want to remain in the business and make any kind of a living, they have no place else to go unless they are Bigelow who has the New Japan ties. Davey Boy Smith pinned Holly clean. Backlund did another maniacal interview. Then came the live Raw with Hakushi pinning 1-2-3 Kid in a good match, Diesel doing the interview to start his new bad-ass character by walking out in the middle of a Savio Vega vs. Skip match that abruptly ended, and the Michaels-Hart match which was fantastic before the finish (***3/4). Most fans left the building at 10 p.m. Afterwards, Brother Love interviewed Mabel and Mo came out with a present for him which was a custom made coffin.

In a dark match, Ramon kept the IC title pinning Douglas in a dead 5:00 clean. The only match on the card with less heat was a Hunter Hearst Helmsley squash earlier. Goldust beat Aldo Montoya which may have also been dark. They then taped the Superstars show for this weekend (I guess to give them an extra day to get things out). Kid did a squash with Sid & DiBiase at ringside while Backlund ran around the crowd. Gunns beat Skip & Rad Radford in what I was told was surprisingly good. Sunny was more over than all but the top faces as far as getting cheers, although Skip & Radford were booed. Diesel vs. Smith lasted :30 before Diesel hit the ref for the DQ, and then jackknifed Smith after the match. The finale was a Bret vs. Undertaker dark match. Undertaker broke the scorpion and had Hart up for the tombstone when Diesel interfered and attacked Hart. Undertaker was DQ'd and got upset about it and had a stare-down with Diesel to end the show.

Spoiler for 1/2/96:
In an effort to combat falling buy rates, the WWF has sent out for many surprising names in the Royal Rumble. Among those known to have been contacted for the event are Dan Severn, Jake Roberts, Ultimate Warrior, Big Van Vader and Rick Martel. Of those names, the only name that has been mentioned at all on television is Warrior, although Vince McMahon in negotiating with people about being on the show did mention Vader and Warrior as appearing in the Rumble.

The situation with Warrior is surprising since he's been mentioned on the syndicated Superstars show twice about a potential return to the WWF, but has yet to be mentioned on cable. Several WWF wrestlers believe Warrior is in for not only the Rumble, but going to return as a regular, but one who is in position to know better than most wrestlers claimed that it wasn't the case and nobody in what I'd call a position that I'd believe they'd know 100% (or even 75% for that matter) has told us anything one way or another. McMahon gave a hazy answer when asked on an Internet chat saying, "In order for the Ultimate Warrior to return to the WWF, the moon and the stars and the sun and the planet Pluto would all have to be perfectly aligned in some sort of celestial magnificence. But who knows? Anything can happen in the WWF." Even though the television related to the Rumble build-up was all taped this past week, no interviews were done at any of the tapings building up any of the aforementioned names. It appears most of the work by Vince McMahon and others to contact these surprising names began after the tapings were completed this past week, which means they went into the Rumble's television build-up with no distinct plans on where they were going with the show which is decidedly un-Titanlike.

Roberts, 40, would probably be aside from Warrior, the biggest name of the group as far as the WWF audience is concerned and may have some interest when it comes to curiosity as he's been out of the national spotlight for more than three years. He retired from wrestling last year to go into religion and vowed he would never return. We don't know officially at press time if he's agreed to return or not.

Warrior, 38, would mean something for one show, although it's doubtful the way buy rates are right now that anyone except Hulk Hogan (and maybe not even him anymore) really makes a noticeable difference. If he stays around long-term, as is rumored, the negatives far outweigh the positives on numerous standpoints. Warrior turned down a $500,000 per year guaranteed deal with WCW.

Unless he's come to the point in his own life where he sees that if he doesn't make a last run now, he'll never get another chance, that he isn't going to come back to wrestling unless huge money is thrown his way. The face of wrestling has changed greatly over the past few years as has drug testing in the WWF and literally in the current environment the Ultimate Warrior that got over couldn't even exist today, let alone be worth the kind of money he most likely is asking for. As far as that goes, the WWF that existed in the Ultimate Warriors' day also no longer exists, and when you are talking about a guy who has a history of walking out, the fact the company is a lot different and morale is a lot worse than the world he left many years ago.

Of course, if he's going in with the mentality that he's older and this is his last chance to make big money to live off for the rest of his life, he may come in with an attitude where he'll put up with more than he has in the past--provided the money is there. In addition, it would be surprising given his track record of basically (with maybe a few exceptions) not working at all the past few years, that he isn't going to go back on the road without a guaranteed deal, which if McMahon breaks existing policy, opens up a whole new can of worms because you can't think Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart would sit well if they were earning less money in 1996 than Jim Hellwig or even he has perks they don't have. And we haven't even discussed that there is more emphasis on having good matches now than there was when he was around, and he is, after all, The Ultimate Warrior which means he'll have to be on top and he hasn't worked for three years and he was pretty much horrible when he was working and standards have only gotten harsher since he left.

The Vader name is the most intriguing. With the WWF short on heels, and he as a proven PPV draw, the two potentially could fit like a glove. However, Vader is used to big money, has the avenue of getting big money in Japan, is coming off a serious injury and hasn't wrestled a schedule as grueling as the Titan schedule in years.

Severn was contacted by McMahon this past week and was asked to come in for the Rumble and that they would do nothing to make him look bad. There is a clause in UFC fighters' contract with SEG that covers competition in that I believe they are prohibited from working a competitors' PPV show for two years. I'm not sure if Severn's contract is different from others because his lawyer may have negotiated various points out of it based on his doing pro wrestling events, or if SEG would even be mad at him doing a WWF show or consider WWF as competition. My gut feeling is SEG wouldn't be happy, because there is the credibility problem of someone it is putting in a PPV main event being sold largely based on the fact it is real appearing on a widely-publicized PPV event that is clearly predominately show ahead of sport.

Some predictions by company for 1996:

World Wrestling Federation - This company faces a lot of question marks. The WWF was the preeminent company in the world for several years. The signs--declining buy rates, declining ratings, declining amount of house shows, certainly don't look positive. At this point it appears 1996 will be built around Shawn Michaels. If nothing else, Michaels is the best all-around performer that regularly works in the United States. He's got it all. Ability, interviews, charisma. The company has had a problem when it comes to the heel side for quite a while and if anything, the problem has gotten worse. But a bigger problem than that is Vince McMahon has lost his Midas touch. In the 80s, he took some people who had minimal talent and even minimal charisma and marketed them in a manner to which they became major stars. Over the past five years, for every success McMahon has had creating a new character, he's had five failures.

Before, the common theme was, McMahon would take wrestlers that meant nothing elsewhere, and turn them into legitimate stars. He did it in 1995 with Kevin Nash, but didn't with any others. Now the WWF has taken wrestlers who were strong viable stars elsewhere, and gimmicked them to where they mean little when it comes to the box office when the national spotlight shines on them. Another potential cloud hanging over the company's head has to do with the government investigation related to Vince McMahon's 1994 steroid trial. While nothing coming out of that story will directly affect business, if there winds up being any link to Titan Sports, McMahon may end up being involved in some fashion in another hard fight on a totally different front. In many ways, it was almost remarkable how well he appeared to handle the 1993-94 ordeal, but at the age of 49 or 50 (depending upon which birthday one chooses to believe), that fight took a lot out of the man.

He's already got a major fight in wrestling, one that inevitably the odds are against him in because he's trying to use brains to combat money, and in wrestling, brains usually win out in the short-run but in the long-run money is hard to beat. McMahon acknowledgement in a recent interview that he would consider moving Raw to another night to avoid the competition shows he recognizes this himself. He should know the realities of this better than anyone. It's the same story that knocked off his adversaries in the 1980s although during that period he had the advantage in the brain side as well. This time, on the money side, the shoe is on the other foot.

World Championship Wrestling - Who, in August, would have believed that by the end of the year, it would be the WWF acknowledging it may move its flagship Monday Night Raw that was coming off its most successful quarter in history? In the 15 weeks of head-to-head battles between 9/11 and 12/18, Raw averaged a 2.433 rating to Nitro's 2.387--although from a ratings standpoint, Nitro won seven of the weeks, Raw won six and two were tied. However, judging from a ratings standpoint should give Raw a slight advantage because Raw has a more favorable time slot on the West Coast in that 9 p.m. has more television viewers than 6 p.m. on Mondays (when the first Nitro airs). By comparing the rating shares, you take the time slot disadvantage out of the equation. In this case, the two shows ended in a flat-out tie with 3.467 shares, however Nitro won eight weeks, Raw five and two were dead-even.

By any standard, Nitro has won three weeks in a row. Going into September, one probably would have considered it a success for WCW to lose by a 2.5 to 2.0 margin every week. Advertising was sold based on Raw doing a 2.9 for the fall quarter, a figure it never reached all season, and Nitro doing a combined 2.0 for both the live and replay showing, when its lowest combined figure was a 2.8. However, in the process of knocking a full ratings point plus off Raw, WCW gave away several potential PPV main events for free, and frustrated its viewers were one screw-job finish of a main event after another. But even doing more things wrong than right, WCW has the money on its side, and it has the wrestling talent on its side, and it has the television exposure on its side. Although PPV figures vary depending upon which organization one talks to, based on independent figures, it appears the sides are fairly even, with WCW, if anything, having an advantage because the In Your House shows are priced less, have less interest and thus draw a lot less money. WCW has a big advantage overall on cable, as its weekend shows kill WWF's and Monday is fairly even. WWF has a slight syndication advantage, but in overall viewership, WCW, because it has more shows and more stations, has won every week but one (the week following the Shawn Michaels angle) this fall season.

WWF has a big advantage when it comes to the ability to run house shows, but since that part of the business is in general a money loser (in WWF's case, considered a loss leader while WCW rarely runs them), whatever advantage WWF has of being the stronger house show promotion is offset by the fact they're losing money running them. WCW has stronger talent. Overall WWF has stronger and more organized television and generally better booking. While some would argue that booking advantage may not be the case right now, it is inconceivable that WWF would ever handle or carry-out a scenario as poorly as WCW did building up to the World Cup in Starrcade. But the most important thing is that WWF has to at some point make money. It doesn't appear that is the case with WCW. In a war of attrition, which this wrestling war appears to be, WCW has a very huge tactical advantage.

ECW: There has never been a small promotion in the recent history of wrestling that has garnered as much attention as ECW. Although the group has yet to sell 1,500 tickets to a show in its history, its influence on the business in unbelievable. Aside from its fans showing up on WWF PPV shows and almost taking over the show, its style and its performers are being copied throughout the world. Konnan's Baja California promotion is basically a copy of numerous styles, but largely based on ECW style and angles. Both WWF and WCW have taken both from its style and its angles. It has the most creative and innovative wrestling television show in the world, bar none. Its house shows probably set the standard for the United States in 1995 and may, with less talent, come close to hold its own with many of the larger world wide groups.

It is the only promotion in the world in 1995 that was able to create so many characters that at least got over to a great degree to its core audience. In some ways I see parallels between ECW and UFC when it comes to the audience. The core audiences of both groups love them. However, for each group to grow, they may need to go away from the style the audience loves so much into something that would be more marketable. ECW can control that while UFC in some ways being a shoot, it is not something as easily controllable. While the enthusiasm of the ECW audience is a plus for television, it becomes a minus when you hear some of the chants like "Show your tits" in regard to it going to a new level of popularity. Paul Heyman has to continually cater enough to the audience that they stay enthusiastic, but by going to the Extreme so to speak, he limits its future and limits the type of audience it can attract.

It's impossible to try and play every side of the fence, as WWF seems to be trying these days, and be successful, but Heyman, who can control his audience better than most in the U.S., can negate the company's strengths in terms of money-making potential by trying to cater to a relatively small hardcore audience. The core UFC audience seems to really like the technical matches and as a fan, I enjoyed the way the show turned out. At the last live show, the live crowd appeared to enjoy that show (with the exception of those who came only to see Tank Abbott destroy some people) more than any of the other live UFC shows I've either been to or talked with people who have attended. Nevertheless, while presenting a technical sport is great ammo against politicians, there is a question as to whether it's what is going to consistently attract the type of people who swell the buy rates to 1.0. Just as with ECW, while getting on the house mic and saying motherf---er this and that definitely gets a pop out of those who attend the shows live, I wonder how well it plays on television. I guess in a sense we already know because it's on no major broadcast channels despite being the most innovative and talked about pro wrestling show in the world.

Taking sleaze to a new level, Gene Okerlund on the WCW hotline on 12/24, talked about honoring Rick Steamboat at a retirement ceremony on the 1/1 Nitro show which will be live from the Omni in Atlanta.

The story, which was totally fabricated by Okerlund, was apparently spurred by a tease he taped earlier in the week for television that day saying that a former WCW world champion had announced his retirement and to call the hotline for more details, as if that was a late breaking story. When calling the hotline, the wrestler Okerlund talked about was Steamboat, whose final match was in August of 1994.

There had been no plans whatsoever by WCW for a retirement ceremony for Steamboat on the Nitro show, nor had Steamboat ever been contacted by the company. At one point there had been talk of inviting and honoring Steamboat at the 1995 Slamboree PPV, but because of the legal problems between the two sides, the idea was nixed months before the show and Steamboat was never contacted about it. Since retiring, Steamboat has filed a suit against Vince McMahon and Titan Sports for trademark infringement, and has either filed or threatened a suit against WCW for failing to honor the final two months of his contract in 1994 as the company fired him when his career was terminated by a back injury suffered in a Clash match against Steve Austin. The only contact WCW has made with Steamboat, ironically enough, was three weeks ago when Turner lawyers threatened Steamboat with a counter-suit if he failed to drop his claim against the company. Apparently when the word got out within the company of Okerlund's antics, his explanation was that he claims he said on the hotline that there was a rumor about a retirement ceremony on 1/1.

WCW announced its Clash of Champions line-up for 1/23 in Las Vegas as part of a two-day swing at Caesars Palace. The Clash itself will feature six matches, five of which have been determined--Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair & The Giant, Sting vs. Brian Pillman, Lex Luger vs. Eddie Guerrero, Kevin Sullivan vs. Disco Inferno and Alex Wright vs. Dean Malenko. In addition, they will be doing a mock wedding of Col. Rob Parker and Sensuous Sherri on the air (hey, weddings are usually good for ratings points although I don't think this one will--but at least it should be good for some laughs and it better be because it won't be good for anything else). There will probably be one more match added. Originally Public Enemy was to face Nasty Boys, and it still may happen. There is a hold-up on the debut of Public Enemy because they are still determining what name they are going to use and what measures are necessary to legally use the name. Def Jam records owns the name Public Enemy because of the rap group. Paul Heyman claims he owns the rights to use the name in pro wrestling from a deal with Def Jam. Heyman made a deal with the two wrestlers where he'd be able to continue to sell merchandise on hand (such as videotapes of shows they've been on) and he gave them rights to the name Flyboy Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge. Rocco Rock (Ted Petty) wants to use the Public Enemy name in WCW and supposedly WCW is talking with Def Jam about it. So until the mess is straightened out, it could delay their debut and cause them to miss the Clash.

They are also advertising for Nitro the night before in Las Vegas at the same location with Hulk Hogan vs. One Man Gang, Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair for the WCW title and Sting & Lex Luger vs. Bobby Eaton & Steve Regal.

In what was billed as the final match of his career, Wahoo McDaniel, 57, pinned The Desperado before 450 fans in Clinton, SC on 12/16.

Nitro on 12/25 (taped 12/18 in Augusta, GA) saw Lex Luger beat Scotty Riggs, Sting beat Bubba Rogers, Dean Malenko beat Mr. J.L. in a good short match, and Savage beat Flair via DQ in more than 20:00. Craig Pittman asked Jimmy Hart to manage him. Hart asked Pittman to take his shirt off and then Hart started laughing at him and said for Pittman to come back when he looks as good as Lex Luger. Boy, what kind of a message does that send. Of course this all ends up with Teddy Long managing Pittman. Eric Bischoff really rubbed in the ratings success talking about how Nitro proved the critics wrong (and he's got the right to gloat about that) and said how top stars of the WWF are leaving in droves for WCW. Steve McMichael called the WWF the lesser league and when the subject of what Madusa did came up, McMichael said that she shouldn't have thrown the belt in the garbage can because the belt is more fitting for being thrown in the kitty litter. McMichael's announcing isn't even up to the level of what goes in the kitty litter.

WCW has expressed interest in the Rock & Roll Express.

An official from K-1 was at the UFC show with Sonny Onno and K-1 and WCW will apparently do a live PPV show from Japan in 1996. There's no way that can financially make out but I guess K-1 is willing to foot the bill and take the loss because of the belief it gives the organization prestige to be on American PPV.

Nitro scheduled for 1/1 is Flair vs. Hogan, Arn Anderson vs. Savage and Harlem Heat defending the tag titles against Nasty Boys. It boggles the mind to think that they've got Flair vs. Hogan booked and never mentioned it on 12/25 when they had a free night with no competition to hype the next week when WWF has done such a good job of Raw Bowl hype going head-up with them. WCW didn't even hype or mention one match on the 1/1 show.

1/8 Nitro in Charleston is scheduled for Flair vs. Sting, Savage vs. Luger and V.K. Wallstreet vs. Joey Maggs.

1/15 Nitro in Miami is scheduled for Flair vs. Sting, Savage vs. Luger, Johnny B. Badd vs. Giant and Kevin Sullivan & Hugh Morris vs. Anderson & Brian Pillman.

Highlights of the television taping for Superstars on 12/19 in Bethlehem, PA before 1,500 fans in a terrible blizzard. John Hawk got a try-out with Uncle Zeb (Dutch Mantel) as manager and put over Savio Vega. Hawk got good heel heat for a guy who had never appeared on television. The Sons of Samoa, who I believe were Samu and either the guy from Puerto Rico who works as Prince Kuhillo or the guy who works as Tahitian Warrior, beat the Arachnoids (Spiders aka Head Bangers).

The Samoans were managed by Lou Albano. In a WWF tag title match (which aired this past weekend), Smoking Gunns beat Rad Radford & Skip. After Radford was pinned, Sunny fired him from the Bodydonnas and Skip jumped him as he yelled back as Sunny. Davey Boy Smith beat Marty Jannetty. Ahmed Johnson was scheduled to face Jerry Lawler but Lawler came out on crutches and Arachnoid II replaced him and got squashed. Skip beat Radford in their grudge match when Flip interfered. Radford was a babyface in this match. Mr. Perfect interviewed Razor Ramon and was making fun of the fact Goldust had the hots for him. Goldust gave Ramon a teddy bear as a present and Ramon ripped up the bear. This whole angle is so ironic considering how vehement McMahon was years ago about how all his troubles came from media that was gay bashing.

Owen Hart beat Henry Godwinn, who slopped Jim Cornette after the match. Ramon had a squash with Jeff Hardy and Ramon lost via COR due to Goldust. Ramon gave Hardy two Razor's edges after the match. Sid & 1-2-3 Kid beat Aldo Montoya & Avatar in a short squash. One bad match and they've already buried Avatar underground. In a Skip & Flip squash, Flip was so funny that the jobbers couldn't keep from breaking up. Diesel beat Isaac Yankem. The final dark match saw Bret Hart & Undertaker & Ramon beat Yokozuna & Owen & Sid in less than 1:00.

At the In Your House, if you watch closely on replay it definitely looks like a classic blade job that Bret Hart did, as you can see him clasping something between the thumb and forefinger, go to the forehead, etc. Hart needed stitches legit so it definitely wasn't a blood capsule. Hunter Hearst Helmsley also needed stitches in his back and Davey Boy Smith injured his knee on the show although all worked TV (Smith missed Raw but worked the next day).

Buddy Landel apparently messed up his ankle after the tapings in Bethlehem. He slipped on ice going through a revolving door and tore up his ankle and needed surgery and will be out of action for at least eight weeks. Landel's job for Ahmed Johnson was a last second deal. Vince McMahon and Jim Ross were apparently trying to convince Dean Douglas to work the match and Douglas wouldn't because of his back injury. There was no contingency plan and Landel basically was asked to help them out of a jam and did the squash job in the manner they requested because Johnson is getting the megapush. Apparently he was going to be rewarded for being a team player by getting a spot on the roster, but wound up injured almost immediately.

There has been talk of Sunny doing an angle where her 91-year-old husband passes away and leaves her with a lot of money and she buys a major heel.

On the In Your House pre-game show, they had Jim Ross in overalls in the hog pen. They also called one of the pigs "Terry" (as in Hulk Hogan's first name).

The hearing for Douglas Griffith on the assault charges in the Shawn Michaels incident was postponed this past week. No word on rescheduling.

They did confiscate some signs at the PPV, but only those that were negative to the WWF babyfaces although they obviously didn't get all of them either.

According to one wrestler who has taken the Tiger-driver or Pearl River Plunge a few times on television from Ahmed Johnson, the move is a piece of cake and the bump is totally up to the individual taking the bump. The move that's the problem is the spinebuster he uses to set it up.

Among the highlights of Vince McMahon online on 12/18--Regarding UFC: "(It is) a completely different form of entertainment than the WWF. However, if the fans want to see a very violent style of wrestling, they know where to get it. ECW." McMahon later said ECW wasn't his cup of tea thinking it to be too violent, and claimed not to have spoken to Paul E. Dangerously in years to his knowledge. Heyman does all his WWF dealings through Bruce Prichard so that is probably the case. Regarding Public Enemy McMahon said that Ted Turner is a billionaire offering large sums of money to wrestlers just so they won't go to WWF. (In reality, the huge sums of money Ted was throwing at Public Enemy was $85,000 per year).

McMahon said WCW won't have a clue how to market them since they never went to the WWF so therefore WCW won't be able to steal how the WWF got them over. He also complained that WCW chose to put a wrestling show on Monday nights claiming they showed no regard for the wrestling fans of America and said Eric Bischoff is carrying out the greedy, selfish vitriol of billionaire Ted. He also knocked Hulk Hogan, saying he was a selfish and shallow human being who believes he can con wrestling fans into thinking he's as great as he was years ago, and knocked WCW for portraying The Giant as Andre's son, saying it appears WCW's view is that there is a sucker born every minute and said WCW treats its fans as if they are morons.

He also asked when the last legitimate steroid test was given to anyone at WCW. While there is validity to some of what McMahon said, in many cases, such as treatment of fans, steroids, and knocking Turner because of his bank account, he comes off as someone with incredible gall for knocking exactly what put him on top and now knocking those very things when his grip on the top is weakening. Let's face it, how much regard for the wrestling fans of America did McMahon show when he was putting everyone out of business, and when he was making up his own storylines and trying to push his own washed up or untalented headliners because their name could still draw money.

Spoiler for 1/6/96:

Thumbs up 152 (78.4%)

Thumbs down 18 (09.3%)

In the middle 24 (12.4%)


Eddie Guerrero vs. Shinjiro Otani 113

Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage 26

Jushin Liger vs. Chris Benoit 25

Triangle match 12


Johnny B. Badd vs. Masa Saito 93

Lex Luger vs. Masa Chono 28

Triangle match 26

*Kensuke Sasaki vs. One Man Gang 13

Starrcade '95 on 12/27 at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium was a show carried by a strong undercard, but perhaps the most lasting memories were Flair coming out with the WCW title (a decision, ironically enough, made largely by Hulk Hogan for reasons that nobody would ever believe, and something even Flair himself wasn't told about until just before show time) and the return of juice as this wrestling war gets more bizarre by the day. WCW reinstated blading, with Flair bleeding heavily at the finish of his match with Randy Savage, as a reaction to Bret Hart bleeding on the WWF PPV show ten days earlier.

As it turns out, not surprisingly, everyone is claiming the Hart situation was actually not planned nor a blade job, although the WCW reaction was both. Hart needed four stitches to close an "L" shaped wound above his hair line, and had small snippets of broken glass lodged in his head. The WWF has not changed its policy, at least as of this week and as of the last PPV show, when it comes to blading and blood on its shows, although, like everything in today's wrestling, every policy is subject to review in a reactive wrestling war. The belief is that small pieces of broken glass from the Ahmed Johnson/Jeff Jarrett plaque angle early in the show were on the floor and that opened Hart up. Of course, given the point of the match, what the videotape certainly appeared to show, the reactions of the announcers, the nature of which a taped showing of the match was promos on Raw this past week and the gimmick of having Diana Smith in the corner as her husband and brother are battling in what turns into a bloodbath makes this one very coincidental accident if that's what it was.

As with last year, Starrcade sold out the 8,200-seat arena roughly one hour before show time, with 6,018 paying $83,855.

Flair won what was billed as his record setting 12th world heavyweight title (at the very least the real number is 14) beating Savage due to interference and distractions from three wrestlers--Arn Anderson, Brian Pillman and Benoit, and one manager, Jimmy Hart, while a befuddled referee had to pretend to not be able to see what was right in front of his eyes and or hear ring noise or crowd noise. As matches go where American versions of a major world title changes hands, this was among the worst in recent years, with one of the worst finishes.

Although the wrestling was weak in three of the final four matches and the announcing was awful, it couldn't damper a strong undercard and probably WCW's best PPV show overall of the year. I really felt sorry for Tony Schiavone because it appeared from the early matches that he had done his preparation and basically was shouted down by Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan from the get go and it seemed after the third match when they started making fun of him, he simply quit. This left them to ignore all the moves and psychology for the rest of the show and in particular, in the Sting-Kensuke Sasaki match, they totally butchered the match and viewers weren't explained what the two were attempting to do with it which is too bad because they had a good match although most of the key points were kept secret.

A. In a match that started at 6 p.m. (it was announced on television and in all ads that the show was beginning at 6:30 p.m. which pissed a lot of fans off), Diamond Dallas Page (Page Falkenberg) pinned Dave Sullivan (Bill Dannenhauser). *

B. American Males (Marcus Bagwell & Scotty Riggs aka Scott Antol) beat The Blue Bloods (Steve Regal aka Darren Mathews & Bobby Eaton) when Riggs pinned Eaton. Much worse than you'd think with Eaton really looking bad. 1/2*

1. Jushin Liger (Keiichi Yamada) pinned Chris Benoit in 10:29. While not at the level of most of their matches in Japan, this was an excellent opener with stiff action and great moves back-and-forth. Liger played subtle heel. Liger doesn't fly like he did before he broke his ankle, but is still one of the best mat wrestlers around. They traded great near falls with Benoit using his killer power bomb followed by a head-butt off the top rope when Kevin Sullivan came to ringside. He distracted Benoit, allowing Liger to hit a sloppy huracanrana for the pin. ****

2. Koji Kanemoto pinned Alex Wright in 11:44 by dropping his face on the top turnbuckle (the old Vinnie Vegas snake eyes) followed by a jackknife (well, that is the name for it) cradle. Fans were chanting "USA' which is hilarious considering what country Wright is from. Kanemoto put on a wrestling clinic here, particularly some of the fastest toe holds (both a spinning drop toe hold and an incredibly fast spinning toe hold) seem since the days of Satoru Sayama. Wright used some nice flying head scissors and a dive over the top. After a slow period, Kanemoto unleashed some great kicks and a plancha. Kanemoto took over and hit the moonsault but pulled Wright up. Wright came back with several near falls and the two then traded big moves and near falls until the finish. For his age, Wright has turned into a great performer and Kanemoto has improved tremendously in being able to carry a match over the past year. ***3/4

3. Lex Luger (Larry Pfohl) beat Masa Chono in 6:41 via submission with the torture rack. The crowd was really into Luger as a face. I think the reason the heel turn didn't work was because he turned on Hogan, who most fans don't like, and Savage, who most fans associate with Hogan and thus also don't really like. Not nearly as bad as I expected. Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan were making fun of Tony Schiavone as the two were doing their finish. *1/4

4. Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) beat Masa Saito via DQ in 5:52. Diamond Doll came out as a WWF Sunny knockoff doing gymnastic routines out of fitness pageants (which she competes in). She got into a lame put-down battle with Sonny Onno which ended up doing her no favors. Onno, who was at ringside for every Japanese match, interfered freely in this one. The styles clashed as Badd is a high spot wrestler and Saito, at 53, is pretty much washed up relying on facial expressions and at that age after 30 years in pro wrestling, obviously isn't fond of taking big bumps. They chopped each other hard but Saito doesn't sell well which exposed Badd's weaknesses. They did a lame over-the-top DQ finish which made no sense, as why couldn't Saito do the job as it's not as if he's a key performer in New Japan today? After the match, Badd went to do a somersault plancha, but Saito was totally out of position and didn't seem to have a clue it was coming and Badd hit an airball, although didn't appear to be injured. 1/2*

5. Shinjiro Otani pinned Eddie Guerrero in 13:43 of the match of the show. They started slow. Otani (spelled Ootani with a first name in the pre-match graphic but the announcers didn't ever say it) left people's jaws hanging with his springboard dropkick, springboard plancha and springboard spin kick and pretty much from a performance standpoint stole the show. Guerrero came back with a Frankensteiner off the top and a BT bomb for near falls. The best subtle maneuver of the show was Otani dropping down and doing the Oleg Taktarov heel hold, the whole psychology of which was naturally lost on everyone except Guerrero who sold it great before making the ropes. Otani wound up with a bloody nose and mouth, but came back with a springboard dropkick off the top rope to the back of Guerrero's head which even brought Rhodes into the match. After a series of cradles reminiscent of Guerrero's matches with Dean Malenko, Otani wound up on top for the three count. I'm told that most fans live expected Otani to win because they knew it had to end up 4-3 and knew that neither Savage nor Sting were going to do the job. ****1/4

6. Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan (Hiro Yamamoto) in 6:55 with the elbow off the top rope. Either Savage's back and arm injuries are so bad which makes him so limited, in which case he needs to take time off to heal because he's doing nobody any good this way, or he needs to get out because he didn't do a thing and had a 24-year-old guy with limited experience carry the match for him. Fortunately Tenzan (spelled Tensan and nobody knew or cared about his first name) did a much better job than you'd think under the circumstances, even letting Savage kick out from both his mountain bomb (of course the announcers had no clue) and head-butt off the top rope finishers before missing a moonsault. Savage did one sloppy move that Tenzan had to sell for way too long while he climbed for the winning elbow. 3/4*

7. Sting (Steve Borden) made Kensuke Sasaki submit to the scorpion in 6:52 to win the World Cup by a 4-3 margin. Sasaki hit his Northern Lights bomb finisher (of course the announcers had no clue) and Power strangle (of course no clue despite him using this as a finisher on every television match). Sasaki let Sting get out of his two finishers and the announcers just babbled, missing the entire point of the match. Then he used his reverse ipponzei finisher, which Schiavone called an armdrag take-down. He went for a scorpion but Sting powered out. Sting made a big comeback with a clothesline and facebuster before winning via submission with a scorpion. ***

After this came the presentation for WCW winning the World Cup. All the wrestlers in the previous match except Savage came out, with nobody explaining why Savage was there. Benoit was there and looked like he had no clue what he was supposed to be doing since he's a heel from Canada out there as part of Team America during an American flag waving ceremony.

8. Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) won the triangle match over Sting & Lex Luger in 28:03. The rules of the match are that the person who scores the first pin or submission regardless of over who is awarded the win, which is a rule that is lame to begin with because it would make no sense for anyone to ever tag out. Schiavone even made that point. Flair's presence heated the crowd, but in most ways this match was a total disaster. Way too long and boring with a horrible finish and a dead crowd for the last 10:00. Flair started with Sting for 10:30 and they the same spots you've seen a million times between the two which are always good. It got good heat and was good action although nothing close to the level they were at in Norfolk. The only key spot was when Sting had Flair pinned, Luger ran in to make the save for Flair against his "best friend" because if Sting had won, Luger would be denied getting the title shot. Then Luger tagged in, so Flair wrestled Luger for 7:25 and carried him to an acceptable portion of a match in which Flair put Luger in position to be a total face although he crowd was split. Then, after months of build-up of what will happen with Sting vs. Luger and 18:00 of anticipation here, Flair tagged Sting. The two shook hands. The fans booed. The two started talking and the fans went to sleep.

The match 10:08 with little heat. The key spot was Luger doing a blatant low blow on his "best friend." Finally Sting made a comeback doing the Stinger splash, but missed a second attempt, and Luger put him in the rack. As this happened, lo and behold, Sting's legs knocked out the ref. Flair then clipped Luger in the knee and he tumbled out of the ring. Flair then threw Sting over the top rope. When the ref revived, he counted both out of the ring and awarded Flair the victory. Even though Flair was the lone person playing heel in this match and the finish was the ultimate lame screw-job, there was a huge babyface pop for the finish. Jimmy Hart, who was Luger's manager against Chono, but not in this match (those coherent WCW storylines strike again), then came out to congratulate Flair for basically screwing the guy he managed. *1/2

9. Flair beat Savage in 8:41 to win the WCW title. Hart was in Flair's corner which makes sense since Hart is with Luger, who is feuding with Flair and was screwed by Flair, and the Dungeon of Doom, who hate the Four Horseman. I think they just needed someone who wouldn't screw up in distracting the ref while three guys did a run-in as that was the lame idea for a finish, perhaps to protect or pacify Savage while he dropped the strap. Paul Orndorff came to ringside at one point wearing a neck brace just to keep that angle in people's heads. Savage didn't do much I guess because he's limited by his physical condition, but Flair worked well enough to make it watchable. Flair is like watching the old knuckleball pitcher who can still fool the batters, in this case he knows all the tricks of working the crowd, but in performance, seeing Flair do his routine after all the young fireballers that worked underneath was anti-climactic even if his name and presence are such that the crowd gets into him.

This was a nothing match except for the title changing. Hart distracted the ref and Flair went to use the megaphone. Savage got it away from him and used it, and Flair juiced heavily. Savage then hit the elbow off the top, but Hart distracted the ref so he couldn't count the fall. At this point, Benoit and Brian Pillman hit the ring and Savage took care of them as well. Then Arn Anderson hit the ref and KO'd Savage with an object while Benoit, Pillman and Hart distracted the ref. Flair got the pin and after all that, got the biggest babyface pop of the show. After the match the Horseman, in particular Pillman, continued to destroy Savage with Pillman whipping him with the title belt and spitting right on the camera lens, and left the ring to loud cheers. *1/2

C. If that wasn't bizarre enough, the final match took the cake as Kensuke Sasaki retained the U.S. title, or lost it, to One Man Gang (George Gray) in an unannounced match. The storyline was that Sasaki wouldn't defend the title in the U.S. which is why the Sting match was made non-title after previously being for the title. So it makes perfect sense that he works as a heel underneath, then as a babyface here, defends the title in an unannounced match for no reason when the announced title match is made non-title because he refused to defend the title in the United States (Nashville must be like parts of California which go from being part of the U.S. to being considered by many as a foreign country depending upon who is in the ring at that particular moment).

So this finish where the title changed hands should also make perfect sense. This match was said to have been far worse than anything else on the show. Gang used the 747 splash and the ref counted the pin, however Sasaki kicked out just before the three count. Gang grabbed the belt and raised his own arm. The ref took the belt from Gang and re-started the match, and Sasaki came back and pinned Gang and was announced as the winner and left with the belt. However, we were told Gang won the title in this match and that the match finish where Sasaki got the three count and was announced as the winner and left with the belt was done to pacify the Japanese because Sasaki is a big star in Japan and losing this match would mean he lost two matches on the same show, one of which was to a bum. The thing about him losing the title is explained that nobody in Japan (or the U.S. for that matter) cares about the U.S. title to begin with so I guess in Japan they'll just ignore he had the belt or make up their own storyline of him vacating the belt while in the U.S. they can re-edit the footage of this match and claim Gang beat him for the title. This was taped and the belief is that they'll simply cut off the tape with Gang holding the belt if it airs on television. Gang is listed as U.S. champion and scheduled to defend the title against Konnan on the 2/11 PPV show from St. Petersburg. DUD

Other show notes: WCW officials were so happy with the undercard that Sonny Onno (Eric Bischoff's Japanese liaison) and Masa Saito negotiated the next day and came to an agreement to use Japanese talent more often on PPVs in 1996 and also to do a World Cup again next year.

At the entrances, there were signs saying that all signs were going to be confiscated, although they did allow people with Pro-Hogan signs in. Some fans managed to sneak their Pro-Flair signs into the building.

Akira Hokuto was at the show with a camcorder taping the matches.

They passed out Hogan merchandise to the fans near ringside. The Hogan lookalike fan, who is a guy originally from Detroit who moved to Atlanta and calls himself Roddy Hogan, was moved around by WCW officials several times before the show as they wanted him in a position to be on camera as much as possible.

Nashville nearly had a riot on 12/30 because apparently a fan hit Tracy Smothers, and he swung back and it wound up with the police coming and a mob of nearly 100 fans waiting for Smothers outside the dressing room and a lot of fans throwing things at him.

The New York City debut at Lost Battalion Hall in the Rego Park section of Queens on 12/29 drew a reported sellout 1,140 fans which was a legit turnaway crowd. With tickets priced at $35 and $20, the gate was said to be close to $30,000 would be by far the all-time record for the company. ECW will return to the same building on 2/3 and is already talking about moving to a larger building, the Roseland Concert Hall in Manhattan in March. The main negative from what we heard were the building had no elevated seating so it was difficult to see, and even worse when they brawled outside the ring. The crowd was really heated overall and the show had a lot of blood.

Paul Heyman opened the show cussing out WWF, WCW and Steve Austin, who was scheduled in the main event title match against Sandman and missed the show. Heyman said that the tirade was part work and part shoot. He wasn't at all mad at Austin, who he knew was very ill with a strep throat and couldn't work the date. But he said the tirade against WWF was both to heat the crowd up, and also as a receipt for the WWF telling him that Tom Prichard couldn't work the show because he was booked on the WWF tour of California before Heyman booked the Heavenly Bodies for the weekend in early December.

As it turned out, Prichard didn't even work the WWF California tour and had never been announced in California for those shows. Heyman was aware of the Heavenly Bodies being unavailable at least in enough time to book The Gangstas to take their place against Public Enemy on the show. They ended up with a Raven vs. Tommy Dreamer match in which the winner (Raven) would get the title shot at Sandman (which Sandman won). In addition, Mikey Whipwreck won both the TV title and the tag team title from Too Cold Scorpio in a singles match with both belts at stake. Cactus Jack interfered in the finish and Whipwreck picked Jack to be his new partner. Jack most likely will start with WWF on its TV leading up to Wrestlemania (after the February PPV show) but until that time they are doing an angle where Jack tries to bring Whipwreck into Raven's group but Raven doesn't want him, Whipwreck doesn't want to join, and Jack is caught in the middle by both. Gangstas beat Public Enemy in their match and after the match, with the crowd chanting "Please don't go" at Public Enemy, Johnny Grunge flicked his fingers as to indicate it's all about making money and the crowd turned on him big-time with chants like "You sold out," "Get the F*** out" and the like. So much for understanding that a guy like Ted Petty, who is 43, has been in this business forever without ever having a chance to make serious money and begrudging him for his one last chance after the guy cut his head off and did dangerous stunt work for two years to get the chance.

The main event was Sabu vs. Cactus Jack. Ref Pee Wee Moore from Japan was in with Sabu since New Japan is off right now, he told the fans that Cactus Jack wanted an NCAA rules match with points for takedowns. 911 came out and chokeslammed Moore and reffed the match, but he was slow in getting down for the near falls and it hurt the match. Fans were upset since it was advertised as a death match but ended with the first pinfall, although the bout itself was really wild. Missy Hiatt also debuted on this show doing a gimmick where she was being really nice to Steve Richards supposedly because she wants to date Raven.

Among those Heyman is talking with or about bringing in are Ultimo Dragon, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam (to work with Sabu) and Juventud Guerrera (to work with Misterio Jr.). Shane Douglas will be back although WCW has expressed interest in him believe it or not which just expresses the point made when talking about the WWF skit on Monday night.

There is some dissension among the wrestlers because they are mad that Sabu gets to work for Dennis Coraluzzo while the rest of them are told they can't because the promotions are at odds.

Cactus Jack passed out ginger bread cookies to the fans. His gimmick since he's supposed to be King of the Hardcores, which he hates, is to do things on television that those fans perceive he'd never do. He shaved his beard and mustache off and was almost unrecognizable on his interviews on this past week's television.

There were several complaints at the Glenolden show about Austin and the Bodies no-showing and those who asked for refunds were told that since ECW provided suitable replacements (J.T. Smith and Eliminators) that they wouldn't be given refunds.

NWA ran 12/30 in Yardville, NJ with the Sabu vs. Devon Storm rematch. The match was said to be **** with insane spots making up for the lack of psychology and bad finish. Both were injured during the match. Sabu's shoulder went out earlier that night working the ECW show, and went out a second time when he caught Storm who did a moonsault over the post to the floor. Storm was badly injured when he slipped while trying an Asai moonsault and landed on his head on the floor. Storm got up and continued the match and they ended doing a double knockout finish, which wasn't the planned finish but Storm was out. Sabu went to moonsault both Storm and his manager The Master through a table but the table didn't break. When Storm got back to the dressing room, he didn't know his name, couldn't remember anything about the match and actually talked about getting ready for the match. Even people told him his match had already taken place, it didn't sink in, and so they sent him to the hospital and the X-rays determined a concussion, a huge lump on the back of his head and a sprained wrist and had blurred vision. By the next day, he began remembering certain points of the match and our reports are he'll be out of action a few weeks. He just recently returned to action after tearing a bicep and he's only in his early 20s.

Monday Nitro from the Omni in Atlanta on 1/1 (6,000 fans/3,619 paying $42,840) was probably more noteworthy for what was said than what was done. Randy Savage pinned Arn Anderson in 7:57 after a ref bump, Anderson pulled out Knux, Savage beat him to the punch and got them and KO'd him with them and then put the Knux back in Anderson's trunks. Not good (*1/4). Steve Regal pinned Chris Benoit in 5:42 when Benoit missed a plancha and Regal rolled him into the ring for the pin. This was a totally different style match than ever seen before in the States combining European style with UFC style (takedowns and head-butts straight down) street fighting tactics. Really stiff but too short and no build for the finish (**3/4).

Brian Pillman, Anderson and Benoit did an interview with Pillman yelling at both of them about losing their matches. Pillman only said one thing to nearly cost him his job in this interview when talking about how well Benoit performs with naked women in the limo. At this point Kevin Sullivan and Zodiac came out but the Giant pulled them away. Anderson then told Pillman that their job is to protect Flair and not to be starting wars with people they don't need to like Orndorff and the Dungeon of Doom. Lex Luger & Sting beat Super Assassins (Warlord & Barbarian) in 5:48 when Luger racked Barbarian while Sting scorpioned Warlord. This was actually the second best match of the TV show which is scary (*1/2).

During the match Craig Pittman (whose legit great amateur credentials have now been exaggerated to five-time world champion) asked Steve McMichael to manage him and was turned down. At this rate the next guy he'll be asking is Chris Cruise (who, by the way, wore a diaper on television on one of the cable shows that aired this past weekend). Hulk Hogan beat Ric Flair via DQ in a title match in 7:54. It was all Flair could do is carry Hogan to the level of match he used to have with JYD. Jimmy Hart came out midway so Flair could get the same advantage spot (Hogan goes after manager, attacked from behind) he's done for the last 15 years. Hogan made the superman comeback and hit the legdrop when Anderson ran in and hit Hogan with Knux.

Hogan didn't even go down and pop up, he just turned around and beat up Anderson, Pillman and Benoit, got the Knux and had all four Horseman begging off. The Giant then did a run-in with a stool but Savage got the stool away from him and Hogan beat him up as well. The Horseman scattered and Giant wanted to go back but Zodiac (apparently starting his long-anticipated and highly-awaited face turn) stopped him muttering that Hogan was his friend. Didn't they do that angle already last year? And didn't they forget it a few weeks later? Then Hogan & Savage did their closing interview challenging Flair & Anderson for 1/8.

Hogan re-arranged all the planned booking at the last minute again as the original plans were for Flair vs. Sting and Luger vs. Savage on 1/8 and to do disputed finishes to lead to rematches the next week in both instances. Anderson & Pillman were supposed to face Sullivan & Hugh Morris in another angle. It appeared on television to be a mixed crowd reaction between Hogan and Flair with both getting cheered but more boos at Hogan, but told live it was decidedly pro-Hogan. It sounded like they booed like crazy during the Hogan interview and superman comeback, though.

On none of the weekend shows did they acknowledge anything about the Kensuke Sasaki vs. One Man Gang situation nor was the U.S. title ever mentioned.

The comments by Eric Bischoff as he watched Raw were probably more noteworthy. Early in the show Bischoff gave away that the Smoking Gunns won the Raw Bowl and that it wasn't any good and then called it the Toilet Bowl and McMichael started going on about it being the Kitty Kat League. After a sign was aired on Raw that said WWF was where the bigger boys play, he responded that WCW was where the biggest boys play. WWF did a skit on Raw where they had guys dressed up like Ted Turner, Bill Shaw, Harvey Schiller in "Billionaire Ted's Wrassling Warroom with a very old skinny guy dressed to be Hogan and a guy dressed to be Savage complaining how they need more action in their matches and showed clips of Ramon, Michaels, Diesel, etc. and showed Hogan and Savage's face cringing when they showed them doing their finishers.

The Hogan character said he was too old and his feet don't leave the ground and that he was too old to be doing new moves (earlier in the show during one of the bumpers they showed the Hogan character asleep) and when Ted asked them what they could do to improve, the Hogan character started cupping his ear and doing lame poses and WWF started 1996 with its new slogan, "The New Generation, Still on top of the hill, not over the hill." Most who called here thought the skit was hilarious. Even those in WCW. The one thing that should comfort everyone that doesn't like all the name calling (as if this is something unique in wrestling and you don't see it in every phone company commercial) is they should realize that if Hogan or Savage were to call Vince tomorrow, they'd be on top there the next day (and visa versa with top WWF talent), and that some day if WWF survives, Hogan and Savage will be back there and they'll all be best friends again. Hogan and Savage prove that. Bischoff then came back during a promo for the movie that followed Nitro which was set in the land of myth and fantasy and he said that must be Stamford, CT, and then also said that the numbers talk and everything else walks. Supposedly WCW will do something on 1/8 to respond to the WWF skit.

Pillman guest hosted a talk show on WLW, a powerful 50,000 watt station out of Cincinnati doing his heel character. Almost everyone who called wanted to kill Hogan.

During the week, Rick Steamboat (or more importantly, Rick Steamboat's lawyer) got wind of last week's Gene Okerlund message (and for the record, Okerlund never used the word rumored when talking about WCW honoring Steamboat at the 1/1 Omni show). On this week's Okerlund message, he was forced by lawyers to say that Steamboat wasn't going to be honored at the Omni and that Steamboat was in no way associated with WCW, but didn't go so far as to admit that he made it up. Okerlund also said on the hotline that despite what you read, nobody on the hotline is censored when it is well known the company regularly censors Mark Madden. Madden came within a hair's breath of being fired because he brought up the crowd reaction to Hogan in Charlotte, but was saved by the lawyers because he had done his segment early for approval of the booking committee and nobody had bothered to listen, so it was felt if they fired him for something he said when nobody listened ahead of time and everything he says is subject to censoring, that it wouldn't hold up in court.

TBS Saturday Night did a year in review, which just brought back how terrible the product really was for the first nine months of the year. The attention to detail still hasn't improved as they aired skits with Sonny Onno, this time as Kensuke Ishikawa, the Japanese representative of WCW in the re-instating Flair skits.

Speaking of McMahon, I want to change an opinion stated last week. In regard to his complaints about WCW on the Internet, I think he's got a lot of gall complaining about WCW offering huge sums of money at Public Enemy or about the business tactics WCW is using on him because I remember when the shoe was on the other foot and McMahon was doing it to Verne Gagne et al (not that Verne didn't deserve it, but it's still what goes around). However, he does have the right to complain about steroids. Even though steroids were one of his key weapons in making money and running the rest out of business in the 80s, he has paid a price and has done a very good job of cleaning his company up and spent millions to do so and he has the right to complain today if his competitors are pushing athletes that are being boosted by the use of illegal drugs. He can complain to a point, because if the same guys were in his company, he'd be pointing them out as examples of drug free athletes, or at least he would have and did in 1992-93.

Xanta Klaus (John Rickner) has already been fired because he was told the gimmick wasn't working (after all of one television taping although with a seasonal deal like that, it sounds to be if they should have known that going in) and worked the NWA show on 12/29 throwing out presents to fans, like chocolate with cigarette butts in it, Barbie's with a penis put on the Barbie and other tasteless and tacky things like that.

Razor Ramon is complaining long and loud about his program with Goldust. The babyfaces in the clique hate the gimmick and unfortunately have taken it out on Dustin Rhodes the person rather than accepting him as someone saddled with a bad gimmick who is just trying to do his job. Granted, the angle is really lame. Ramon is trying to get the program switched to working with Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

Spoiler for March 2001 Figure 4 Weekly:
WWF is getting very aggressive when it comes to signing talent. Shortly after Jim Ross announced in the Ross Report that they were pretty much finished with the talent acquisitions, they snatched up Joey Matthews and Christian York, who were scheduled to lose a first-round WCW Cruiserweight Tag Tournament match on Nitro this week. I believe both have been signed to developmental deals and will be heading to Memphis. They’ve already started contacting promoters telling them they have to cancel out of their future independent bookings. Apparently Paul Heyman made the recommendation and the WWF took his advice.

Lita appeared on “Joltin’ Joe’s Toronto Wrestling Hotline” last week and said almost nothing of note, although she did say she wanted to shoot down rumors that she was dating Matt Hardy in real-life.

Edge screwed up his back at the PPV and will be out for awhile.

The WWF has been selling special T-shirts in all the markets with the phrase “Finally, the Rock has come back to.

followed by the name of whatever town they’re in. Well, they were in Tucson for Smackdown last week, but the T-shirts had the name of the city spelled wrong: “Tuscon”. That would actually be a funny gimmick if Rock were a heel, but he’s not a heel, and this wasn’t a gimmick. Anyway, despite this typo, they still averaged $13 per person in merchandise sales, which is about double what they usually do.

Apparently there were some problems with Michael Cole and Tazz at the Smackdown tapings last week. They were basically reprimanded during every commercial break by management, and finally Tazz sort of snapped and stormed off right near the finish of the main event. Cole had to redub some of his commentary before the show aired on Thursday.

No truth to the rumors of a Triple H vs. Hulk Hogan match at WrestleMania, or even that such a match was seriously discussed. I think Hunter was telling people that what Hogan really should do is come in and do the job for the Pedigree as a symbolic passing of the torch

Lex Luger ended up replacing Buff in the match with Chuck Palumbo and had to do the jobski again. Luger whined as usual about having to do it.

Speaking of Palumbo and Rick Steiner, I heard a funny story. A few weeks ago, Rick spent several hours ribbing Palumbo in the locker room. Finally, Palumbo decided that maybe he should stand up for himself, and tried to hook Rick. Nobody was sure what it was he was trying to do, but apparently he grabbed one of Rick’s legs. “You don’t grab Robby’s leg,” one source said. Steiner then proceeded to tie Palumbo up like “a six-foot-five pretzel” on the locker room floor.

Kevin Nash appeared on the “Nikki” show last week playing the role of a gay wrestler. This is true. He actually kissed another wrestler in mid-ring at the end of the show.

There is no question that the final episode of Thunder on TBS aired March 21st and the final episode of Nitro on TNT will air March 26th. The Greed PPV which aired Sunday was the final WCW PPV in history under the ownership of Time Warner. And when you open next week’s Figure Four Weekly, the headline will probably read: “It’s official: Vince McMahon buys WCW.”

That one announcement opened the door for the World Wrestling Federation to step back into the game. The WWF had expressed interest in purchasing the company months ago, but it was during the period when Time Warner still had an interest in keeping the programming. Had the WWF bought the company at that time, they would have been providing wrestling shows for TBS and TNT. Viacom eventually stepped forward and pointed out a provision in their contract stating that the WWF could not provide programming for any unaffiliated networks, which ended the negotiations. So late last week, with Time Warner officially dropping out of the wrestling game, what may be the final battle between Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon began, with McMahon making a bid for the company and Eric desperately seeking the network television deal necessary to make a last-ditch offer even feasible.

The death of ECW and their failure despite national exposure on TNN taught one very valuable lesson — a wrestling company cannot survive in this country without strong prime-time television backed by powerful network finances. Paul Heyman, in the final days, had at least one television offer sitting on the table, but realized that unless he had the right deal, putting his product back on TV would only prolong the inevitable and probably result in the company falling even further into debt in the long run. Without Nitro and Thunder, and with the huge contracts and related debts, WCW had absolutely no chance of survival.

The negative reaction Rock received on Raw wasn’t what the company had planned, and they were clearly worried about it in advance since they were confiscating dozens of anti-Rock signs all night. I believe at least one “DIE ROCKY DIE!” sign made TV before it was taken away. The original plan was for Steve Austin to turn heel at WrestleMania, leading to a series of matches over the next several months with Triple H, who would go babyface. Hunter, being the genius that he is, realized several months ago that he could be more valuable as the top heel, since he’d be vying for the top babyface spot against both Austin and Rock if he turned.

That’s the main reason he teased the babyface turn for so long but stayed heel in the end. Now, with Rock spending time doing his movie and Austin turning heel, Hunter has no problem becoming the top company babyface. That was actually the reason Hunter won two straight falls over Austin at the No Way Out show, to build for this future series. They did a hell of a job too since Hunter got a huge babyface pop on his first appearance back after that match.

Austin cut a total heel promo on Smackdown, and gave Rock the Stunner two weeks in a row, so I think the WWF figured fans would be dying to see Rock finally get his revenge with a uranage. Didn’t happen. Here is my theory. If you really look at the Rock’s character, he’s a jerk. He’s always a jerk to Kevin Kelly and he’s always a jerk to Michael Cole. Hell, he was even a jerk to Mick Foley. Austin’s character has heel tendencies, but he’s portrayed far more as a badass than as a jerk. He’s just a beer-drinking angry redneck who will beat anyone up no matter who they are. I think if fans are forced to choose, they’ll be more apt to cheer the guy who actually turned face because he was such a badass as opposed to the guy who is cheered as a babyface despite acting like a real prick.

Bradshaw will probably be the next WWF wrestler to sign a book deal. Chances are it won’t be an autobiography, but rather a book on financial strategies, since he’s made a killing in the stock market (probably not lately, but in general).

Harley Race, 57, mentioned during an online chat that he was contemplating coming out of retirement.

Edge and Christian told Rhino, whose gimmick I believe is that he’s an actual rhinoceros, to go back to the hotel. Rhino grunted and slobbered affirmatively. Man, Paul Heyman is the MASTER of illusion, because Rhino, who was always thought of as this monsterbeast in ECW, is actually shorter than Christian.

After commercial, Kane was shown about to press-slam Steph off a balcony. Undertaker said Kane was going to kill her unless Regal gave him a match with Hunter at WrestleMania. Regal obviously said OK. For those of you wondering, no, that was not the real Stephanie. In fact, I think it was a blow-up doll. That’s funny when you think about it.

Jericho snuck into Regal’s office and pissed into his teapot. Vince Russo has to be back.

Jarrett and Flair came down to the ring. Flair cut a promo, saying he came out because he was Ric Flair, a man of his word, and was going to make the right decision as CEO. He told Dusty to bring his big white ass out right now. Dustin came out and introduced his father. Dusty came down the aisle with a white jackass. Not Vince Russo, a real donkey. It had “Dusty’s Ass” written on, well, its ass. Dusty demanded Flair come and kiss his ass. Flair said he was going to make the right decision based on who he was and what he meant to the company. He told Jarrett to go kiss the ass. Jarrett said no way, it was Flair’s job. Flair got pissed and they got into a shoving match. Then they both jumped Dustin and stomped a mudhole in him. Of course, Dusty ran out and made the save. After quite a bit of goofiness, Dusty and Dustin rubbed Flair and Jarrett’s faces on the donkey’s ass. As strange as this sounds, the crowd really wanted to see Flair kiss Dusty on the actual buttocks, but someone backstage thought it would be more entertaining to spoof the word “ass” by bringing out a donkey. I can’t believe next week is the last Nitro ever.

Spoiler for 2/19/96:

Thumbs up 44 (24.9%)

Thumbs down 106 (59.9%)

In the middle 27 (15.3%)


Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage 74

Nasty Boys vs. Public Enemy 43

Johnny B. Badd vs. Diamond Dallas Page 37


Konnan vs. One Man Gang 76

Hulk Hogan vs. The Giant 33

Kevin Sullivan vs. Brian Pillman 25

Vince McMahon came out with guns blazing on all fronts in his no-holds-barred war with his opposition, which he claims isn't WCW but the entire Turner empire.

Among his maneuvers over the past seven days were:

Filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming TBS has been engaged in a systematic plan to destroy the WWF so it can achieve a monopoly over the wrestling industry

Taking out quarter-page ads on both Wednesday and Thursday in the New York Times financial sections

Having Jerry McDevitt send a letter to Eric Bischoff demanding an apology for Bischoff's televised insinuations and other similar insinuations on the WCW hotline that Titan Sports may have been responsible for the power failure in Lakeland during the 2/5 Nitro show

Writing a letter to Ted Turner complaining about WCW re-instituting blading and promising bloodbaths on the SuperBrawl PPV show.

On the surface it appears to some that McMahons actions are coming off as desperation. He has admitted, or at least said several times this past week that he considers his company as fighting for its life and that he isn't so much worried about what's happening now as much as six months from now. Some in WWF are surprised by this turn of events citing the overall recent surge of interest in pro wrestling with the return of 80s stars bringing older fans back, the strong buy rate of Royal Rumble, which will almost surely surpass that of any WCW PPV event this year, an expected even stronger buy rate for Wrestlemania, a great house a few weeks back in Madison Square Garden and other strong houses, strong advances for upcoming house shows, a profitable tour of India and strong advances for the next Germany tour. The belief by many is for the first time in a long time, the guys on top are over to where they can consistently draw, people care about the feuds, and when Vader comes in, they'll have their strongest main event heel when it comes to drawing in several years and one of the deepest line-ups of top babyfaces in recent memory. In addition, running one show per night with all the stars on one line-up gives them the most depth on the house show cards they've had in a long time.

McMahon claims the problem isn't a wrestling promotional war, but that the Turner empire is using its power to destroy the WWF. Despite what look to many to be ironic similarities, he claims the situation today is entirely different from a decade ago when the shoe was on the other foot as McMahon trampled numerous regional promotions, virtually all of which ended up going out of business.

The strange turns of SuperBrawl VI on 2/11 in St. Petersburg at the Bayfront Center Arena ended with Brian Pillman apparently out of WCW and Elizabeth turning on Randy Savage and costing him the WCW title in his match with Ric Flair.

The latter was most definitely the result of a well booked surprise finish. The former was something else indeed.

It was either the most highly calculated and hard to logically explain ruse in the recent history of pro wrestling, or the end of Pillman in WCW. During the week, within the company, the majority viewpoint was that the incident between Pillman and Kevin Sullivan and the announcing by Eric Bischoff was not a planned angle. Pillman, who had in the last month become almost legendary for either erratic behavior or being in his wrestling character 24 hours a day, or both, had frequently arrived late for his shows. On the Nitro prior to the Clash in Las Vegas, Pillman disappeared and several in WCW were apparently scared he was going to show up as a surprise on the live WWF Raw show in Stockton, CA, about a one hour flight away. The next Nitro saw Pillman, in a tag match with Arn Anderson against Kevin Sullivan & Hugh Morris, have a stinker of a match due to what at least appeared to be a total lack of communication and had a few seconds of what appeared to be shooting. Many in the company felt Pillman, who stormed out of Lakeland after a backstage argument with Sullivan, was through with the company. However he showed up, late again, the next day for the Universal Studio tapings. The next day, while Bischoff was having a meeting with the wrestlers, Pillman mouthed off and the two had words with Bischoff saying that Pillman was very lucky he was still employed and strongly hinted, as he had on television, that probably wouldn't be for long. The rest of the week at the Disney tapings, Pillman was kept apart from all the wrestlers, supposedly because there was so much heat between himself and booker Sullivan and dressed in a different trailer.

However, the television show a few days later seemed to spell an angle. The incident aired on television and was played up like a wrestling angle, albeit a new form of angle aimed only at fans who were at least half smart to aspects of the business. Sullivan's interview, where he broke a pencil, apparently to signify he wasn't acting as booker/wrestler in the match, appeared to give away this was a Japanese style angle. Unfortunately, it isn't aimed at a Japanese style audience which understands the significance of breaking a pencil or shooting or supposed shooting in the ring. In addition, when clips were shown of the match, everything was shown intact rather than edited had something that wasn't supposed to have happened taken place.

This led to the PPV show on 2/11. What people saw was billed as a respect match between Sullivan and Pillman. It was basically an "I Quit" version of strap match. Pillman came to the ring with the strap, that he supposedly had stolen earlier that day, whipped Sullivan a few times, Sullivan punched him in the face hard and kicked him a few times, and Pillman went to a totally stunned ref and grabbed his mic and said very sarcastically, "I respect you, booker man," and walked out, flipping off the crowd on his way back.

At this point there was genuine panic backstage. Jimmy Hart came out and said what happened and pulled in Arn Anderson, dressed in shorts and tennis shoes, to come into the ring and do a bad representation of a match, complete with almost as strange a finish as the previous match (after 3:45, Ric Flair came out and told them both to stop, and the match simply ended). Backstage, Pillman and Bischoff got into an argument in front of everyone with swear words and Pillman sarcastically telling Bischoff something to the effect of, "sorry about your 12 minute strap match," then left the building with Chris Benoit. Sullivan came back after his match with Anderson looking for Pillman, who had already left. Pillman then flew home before the Nitro the next night in Tampa, and while there was no official word of him being fired, Bischoff did vaguely bring up what happened at the onset of Nitro and made a remark about Pillman being history and there only being three Horsemen. Pillman was telling friends all week that he expected to be done with the company because when you have a big problem with the booker, you go to a new territory.

Sometime around the time of Pillman's argument with Bischoff in the dressing room after the Sullivan match, Disco Inferno was the only wrestler to openly question things suddenly saying something to the effect of, "They're working the boys." If it was a work, it was the most elaborate one in recent memory, as few if any of the wrestlers knew, the referees in the ring had no idea (notice Jimmy Jett at least seeming to have no clue at all of what Pillman was doing during the entire minute he was in the ring), the announcers didn't know and the production people in the back all flipped out and legitimately went into a panic when a planned 12:00 strap match ended in 59 seconds. Several things were implemented later in the show (such as Lex Luger taking forever to get into the ring during the tag match with the Road Warriors along with the Anderson scenario) to kill time because the show would be running short. Perhaps the work will be so elaborate that Pillman will be fired, as an angle. Either that or he'll simply be fired. Clearly, if after all this, he isn't fired, it has to be a work because this is too many different things in a two week period. But if it is a work, they'd know that and have to fire him anyway to continue the work.

This took the spotlight from Elizabeth shockingly turning on Randy Savage and handing her high heel shoe to Ric Flair, who used it to win the WCW title in the cage match. The next night on Nitro, Elizabeth attempted to go all the way in the heel role saying how she'd already taken half the money, half the property and now took Savage's prize possession, the belt.

Despite all this, SuperBrawl, while a show that will be talked about for a long time, was not a good show. The middle of the show was like Murderers row. Sting & Luger's first title match against Harlem Heat was below average. Konnan's match with One Man Gang was a worst match of the year candidate. It was followed by Pillman and Sullivan having a non-match, followed by Sullivan and Arn Anderson also having a non-match. To make things even worse, Sting & Luger came back for a second title match against the Road Warriors that was a collection of missed moves with a putrid finish, made worse by the poor finishes of the previous three matches. Flair and Savage nearly saved the show with the memorable finish of what to that point had been a good, but not great match, while Hogan and Giant ended the show with a largely boring match and a finish where Hogan single-handedly ran out nine wrestlers. The show also saw the introduction of an embarrassment of a newcomer, the 53-year-old Loch Ness Monster (Luke McMasters from England), who appears to have ballooned to every bit of 600 pounds since the last time we'd seen him, and nearly had a coronary doing a pre-show run-in. Worse yet was it was obvious he's being groomed for the key spot in the next PPV opposite Hogan, who after doing two jobs in a row on Nitro, is probably going to get it back by destroying four men in four cages in a row at Uncensored.

The show drew a sellout of 7,200 fans, roughly 6,000 paying $90,000 with at least 1,000 turned away at the door.

A. Road Warriors (Joe Laurinaitis & Mike Hegstrand) beat Bunkhouse Buck (Jimmy Golden) & Dick Slater in 2:07 when Animal pinned Buck after a Double Impact after Rob Parker hit Buck with his cowboy boot by accident. DUD

B. Hugh Morrus (William DeMott) pinned Chris Kanyon with a moonsault in 2:28. Doesn't Kanyon look like The Giant's little brother? They gave Kanyon some near falls here. 1/2*

C. Bubba Rogers (Ray Traylor) & V.K. Wallstreet (Lawrence Rotunda) beat Craig Pittman & Joey Maggs (Joseph Magliano) in 2:14 when Bubba pinned Maggs after a Bubba-slam. The heels continued to beat on the faces after the match until Jim Duggan did a run-in with the 2x4 and hit Wallstreet. DUD

D. Duggan was scheduled against a surprise opponent, who turned out to be Kevin Sullivan. After about 30 seconds, Loch Ness waddled to the ring and destroyed Duggan, Pittman, Maggs, Mark Starr, Ricky Santana and Dave Sierra with elbow drops. It was really bad. -*

1. Nasty Boys (Brian Yandrisovitz & Jerry Seganowich) beat Public Enemy (Ted Petty & Mike Durham) in a street fight in 7:49. This was a brawl using tables, chairs and a few garbage cans. All the blows were stiff and made great sound, but there was no selling at all and no psychology or story to the match. The crowd was on its feet since the blows were so stiff. At one point Knobs slammed Rocco Rock through a table. Sags piledrove Grunge on a garbage can but Grunge can right back up and hit Sags with the garbage can. Knobs suplexed a table on Rock. Sags didn't sell a thing. Grunge used a facebuster on Sags on a chair. They wound up brawling to the back where they had set up a fake concession stand. Rocco came off a low balcony with a senton onto a table when Knobs moved, and he went through the table and Knobs pinned him. **3/4

2. Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) retained the WCW TV title and won the "$6.6 million" from Diamond Dallas Page (Page Falkenburg) in 14:59. It was their typical good match with lots of good near falls and a good build. From a wrestling standpoint, this blew away everything else on the show. Badd reversed Page's attempt at a tombstone piledriver and delivered one of his own for the win. ***1/4

3. Sting (Steve Borden) & Lex Luger (Larry Pfohl) beat Harlem Heat (Lane & Booker Huffman) to retain the WCW tag titles in 11:49. The winner of this match was to face the Warriors later in the show. The funny part about it is the announcers kept selling the storyline that the Warriors hadn't wrestled that night so they'd be fresh, and although what they did earlier could only by the loosest terms be called wrestling, they were in a match that night. Booker T and Sting did some good athletic spots but had no transitions. You don't even want to know about Luger and Stevie Ray. Below average but not that bad. Finish saw Ray have Luger in a backbreaker over the shoulder when the Warriors did a run-in and Animal hit Ray with a metal object, allowing Luger to score the pin. *1/2

4. Konnan (Charles Ashenoff) retained the U.S. title pinning One Man Gang (George Gray) in 7:27 with a somersault bodyblock off the ropes. Horrible, as in a worst match of the year candidate. Not a good way to get Konnan over. Boy is that an understatement. It's not as if they weren't warned in advance. -**

5. Kevin Sullivan beat Brian Pillman in :59 of a Respect match. Strange. DUD

6. Sullivan went to a non decision with Arn Anderson (Marty Lunde) in another Respect match in 3:45. Ric Flair came running out and told the two to stop wrestling each other because they needed to be united to go against Hogan and Savage. DUD

7. Sting & Luger went to a double count out with Road Warriors to retain the WCW tag titles in 13:56. Luger stalled forever in getting to the ring acting like he didn't want the match. The Warriors, in the guise of wanting the titles, wrestled scientifically, which, needless to say, is not their forte. Actually, I can't figure out exactly what is their forte. Since they are legends of the 80s, the crowd is really into them when they come out but their matches stink. All kinds of missed moves, capped off with a horrible finish. -*

8. Flair (Richard Fliehr) pinned Savage (Randy Poffo) to win the WCW title in 18:52 in the first cage match. Flair KO'd ref Randy Eller early for reasons that were never clear. Savage used a figure four for more than one minute and Flair got to the ropes but since it was a cage match, the ref couldn't break it. Savage eventually released the hold. In un-Flair like fashion, he didn't sell the leg at all despite being in the crippling hold for so long. Savage came off the top of the cage and Flair punched him in the stomach. Flair whipped Savage into the cage a few times and used the figure four. Savage got out and sent Flair into the cage several times. Flair juiced although it was light juice and they kept wide camera shots but they did promise it. Savage pulled Flair trunks down and crotched him and got a near fall and the bell actually mistakenly rang. Flair came back with a low blow and Flair tried to climb out but Savage pulled his trunks down again, which got old the second time. Woman attempted to throw powder in Savage's eyes but the toss missed. Elizabeth then gave Flair her high heel shoe and Flair used it on Savage for the pin. ***1/2

9. Hogan (Terry Bollea) beat The Giant (Paul Wight) in the cage match in 15:04. Kind of a boring match. Giant used the choke slam but Hogan popped up. Hogan kept running Giant into the cage and actually bladed him except he somehow didn't get any blood so they called it as if Giant was bleeding, but if he was, nobody could see it. Hogan then used three legdrops but Giant popped up. The two climbed to the top rope and traded chops until Giant did the nestea plunge into the ring and Hogan climbed over for the win. After the match Sullivan hit Hogan with the chair, but he popped up and got the chair and chased Sullivan into the ring. At this point, with Sullivan and Giant already in, out came Meng, Barbarian, Morrus, Zodiac, Gang, Shark along with Jimmy Hart to make it nine-on-one so naturally Hogan ran them all out until Loch Ness Monster showed up, but they held him back from getting into the cage. *

Some other show notes. The announcing, even though Dusty Rhodes was part of the trio, wasn't bad. Part of the reason was that they didn't have any "progressive" style matches to call so with mainly bad matches or old-style good matches, they had no problems. Bobby Heenan kept doing the same comedy routine over and over so the point where it started out funny but got really old.

Pat Patterson and Louie Dondero were at the show, as were numerous Tampa area wrestlers like Mike Graham, Brian Blair, Bushwhackers, Warlord, Johnny Ace, Al Greene, etc.

Also at the show was AAA president Antonio Pena who had a meeting with Bischoff over the weekend about the two companies working together.

Highlights from Monday Nitro on 2/12 in Tampa. The show drew 6,000 fans, approximately 1,000 paying $5,000 as it was basically a given away show put together by Dr. Harvey Schiller and George Steinbrenner that WCW went in knowing it was not a moneymaker. The only thing they were hoping for is that the giveaway Nitro wouldn't hurt the St. Pete gate and since St. Pete sold out, it didn't. With all the freebies around town, admission free to those going to the fair that was going on and everyone who bought a ticket to St. Pete getting free tickets, it was believed it would turn people away but actually the building was nowhere near full. Randy Savage pinned Hugh Morrus in 4:51 with two elbows off the top after Morrus missed a moonsault. Savage came out minus his usual fancy ring garb with the storyline that he's seriously upset about what happened the previous night (*1/4); Loch Ness Monster pinned Scotty Riggs in 1:20 after two elbows. Atrocious (-*); Konnan pinned Devon Storm in 5:20 when he turned an attempted Frankensteiner off the top into a power bomb and jackknife cradle combination. Konnan did a great job here in hiding Storm's weaknesses, and Storm showed a ton of potential the way he moved and with his daredevil moves. Even though it was a style clash, Konnan's style being lucha and Storm's being a Sabu style, they had a good match. Storm did a leap off a chair over the top rope with a somersault to the floor, followed with a dropkick off the apron. He put Konnan in the chair on the floor and jumped off the ring stairs with a bodyblock but Konnan caught him and power bombed him on the floor. Both showed a lot of nice moves (***); Arn Anderson pinned Hulk Hogan in about 9:30. Same old stuff but it had a good storyline and finish. Woman came out with Anderson. Flair and Elizabeth came out midway through. Hogan put Anderson in the figure four which saw Flair get upset and do a run-in but Hogan cradled him. I'm not exactly sure why a DQ wasn't called for Flair's interference since it was right in front of the ref. Woman threw powder in Hogan's eyes, and then Elizabeth gave Anderson her boot and he hit Hogan in the head with it and scored the pin. Can you imagine seeing Hogan do pin jobs two times in three weeks on television? I never thought I'd live to see that. Of course, he'll more than get it back at the PPV in four cage matches. The remainder of the show saw Hogan & Savage and Flair & Anderson issue challenges back-and-forth for Hogan vs. Anderson and Flair vs. Savage for the title on 2/19 from Salisbury, MD. Flair did an interview with Woman and Liz coming out in a hospital bed. It's almost hard to take the change in Elizabeth from the demure virginal type to someone playing the vengeful ex-wife pretty much intimating sex with Flair was so wild they put Flair down for the count. I guess that's what they were intimating because she didn't seem to get the message across on the interview other than saying she was tired of having to stand behind Savage for seven years and when she left, she took half of everything. With no competition from Raw and with current product (as in both products) interest way up, the show set a record doing a 3.7 rating and a 5.3 share with the replay doing a 1.3 rating and 3.8 share. Other weekend numbers saw Saturday Night do a 3.0, its best mark in more than one year, Sunday Main Event with the PPV prelim matches did a 1.9 and Pro did a 1.2.

It's hard to believe after all the times Flair has been killed off, or at least written off and attempted to be killed off, that he's, a few weeks before his 47th birthday, the hottest he's been as a heel in years and easily the hottest heel in the United States (which is not nearly as big a compliment as it sounds on the surface).

Bischoff had a company meeting with all the wrestlers prior to the Universal tapings on 2/7. Bischoff ran down Vince McMahon telling the wrestlers that for the first time they were kicking the WWF's ass and for the first time ever the company made a profit, but admitted the profit was small but at least it wasn't a loss. He talked about moving the company headquarters from Atlanta to Orlando, hinting it would be done six to eight months down the line but when the wrestlers asked, he said not to start looking for new homes there yet for the guys who live in Atlanta. He said the company would shut down for five weeks if they make the move, and that the WCW Saturday Night show would eventually be taped in Orlando at Disney or Universal instead of Center Stage. He said they were working on getting medical insurance through AETNA. Most, but not all of the contact wrestlers and several wrestlers who they were considering putting under contract such as Brad Armstrong and Pat Tanaka were all drug tested. This was believed to be something of a precautionary measure since the belief was Titan would publicly bring up on television that WCW doesn't drug test. Some of the usual neon signs were a little smaller on this PPV. Bischoff admitted that they were way behind the WWF when it came to merchandising but said that was an area they were working on in 1996. Overall the reports we got about the meeting were positive.

Sherri Martel was fired on 2/5. On the live Nitro, she was scheduled to do an angle where she was going to destroy Rob Parker's car with a baseball bat or sledge hammer, but was in no condition to do so. She's been on thin ice since missing her plane for the Japanese shows in November. There appears to be some concern she might file suit against the company.

Scott Norton & Ice Train were put together as a babyface tag team called Fire & Ice. Reportedly Norton was none too thrilled about that.

Road Warriors and Konnan along with Norton were in for the tapings this week. Nothing major was given away since they aren't booking far into advance as in the past. During a Chris Benoit & Brian Pillman win over Dave Sullivan & Renegade, Pillman kicked Ralph's rabbit cage with Ralph in it high into the air which freaked several people out, not to mention Ralph. Konnan was given all kinds of wins over guys like Shark, One Man Gang and Barbarian. Barbarian match was good and Shark match was horrible. Probably the best match taped all week was Johnny B. Badd vs. David Finlay, said to be in the ***1/2 range with Finlay losing via DQ.

Bobby Walker was given a gimmick as Hard Work Walker, but mainly did jobs but was given one win over Tanaka.

Bubba Rogers & V.K. Wallstreet were put together as a regular team with Bubba wearing the suit and tie gimmick but using a night stick as a gimmick.

Chris Benoit joined Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko in signing a new contract. Rumor has the price pegged in the $150,000 per vicinity. He's expected to move from Edmonton to Atlanta.

Antonio Pena did some of the Spanish language commentary on the PPV, as did Konnan along with Pedro Morales and Miguel Alonso.

Wrestlemania in 1997 appears to be almost a lock for the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.

Gene Okerlund on the WCW 900 line claimed that Curtis Iaukea would be coming in to form a heel group called the Tunnel of Doom. McMahon called that a total fabrication.

Spoiler for 3/4/96:
The babyface side of the WWF leading up to Wrestlemania XII is in something of a state of flux to disarray with the expected leaving of Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), an injury to Diesel (Kevin Nash), the arrival of The Ultimate Warrior (Jim Hellwig) and the emergency replacement work of Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs).

While nothing is official, Hall is expected to join WCW after his contract and legal commitments and/or sitting out period ends with the WWF in late May. In a situation spoken of with some disdain by WWF CEO Vince McMahon, Hall sent a telegram to McMahon on 2/21 officially giving his 90-day notice that he was leaving the company. On the same day, Hall was suspended by the WWF for six weeks for reasons theoretically having nothing to do with him giving notice, causing him to miss his scheduled appearances this past weekend. The suspension would take him a few days past Wrestlemania, which Hall was no doubt counting on as his last big payday before leaving. With him gone, the WWF will set up a gimmick match with Goldust against Roddy Piper for the vacant slot since they began to work in that direction on the 2/26 Raw show with Goldust doing a sexually suggestive phone interview talking about Piper and wanting to play his bagpipes. While Hall would be eligible to return on 4/3 and work out the remainder of his notice, the general belief is that he'll be sitting out from now until he can join WCW.

Hall, 36, left WCW, where he had worked as a mid-card wrestler under the name Diamond Studd, taking on a similar gimmick but adding Latin overtones and mannerisms from the movie character "Scarface" as Razor Ramon. As Ramon, he was made into an immediate main eventer feuding with Randy Savage as a heel, and then became one of the company's most popular babyfaces upon his turn and was always on top or near the top during his entire WWF reign. WWF will no doubt attempt to claim the Ramon name and character as their intellectual property, which would mean WCW could not use him as Razor Ramon nor probably as a Latin character. He is believed to have earned approximately $270,000 in 1995, well down from what he earned in 1994 which is believed to have been well in excess of $400,000. It had been no secret he had been unhappy with the WWF the past few months, both because the office didn't adhere to his wishes that his feud with Goldust, be vetoed in favor of working with either Hunter Hearst Helmsley (who the clique wanted Ramon to drop the IC strap to and feud with) or 1-2-3 Kid, and also unhappy with the baby bottle and diaper angle leading to the most recent PPV with Kid. Ramon also missed some house show dates of late because of family pressures. The combination of guaranteed money, perhaps offered long-term by WCW, combined with the easier road schedule which means more time at home and less road expenses which theoretically would ease family pressures, probably led to the decision which wasn't unexpected by most in wrestling. However, there was bitterness within the WWF for how Hall handled his departure, since he was on the road with the entire office crew from Sunday through Tuesday, giving no indication he was leaving, and was booked prominently in both the tag team title tournament (where he and Savio Vega beat Kid & Tatanka in a first round match taped on 2/20 and scheduled for airing on 3/9) and in angles leading to a planned street fight gimmick match against Goldust. The latter was planned to theoretically take place live in Miami on a downtrodden street and be beamed "live via satellite" on PPV as part of the Wrestlemania show, although it is most likely had the angle taken place, that it would be similar to the Dustin Rhodes-Blacktop Bully match from a year ago and be taped several days in advance and inserted into the show. Then, when the office crew after booking Ramon in a strong position for the future, arrived back in the office, they had a telegram from him giving notice. At press time, we've been given no indication as to if the match in the tag tourney will air as planned or if there will be a change. It was announced at all the weekend house shows that Ramon wasn't appearing due to a six week suspension. On Raw, there was no mention of his name.

Diesel, the other half of the twosome wildly rumored all week to be WCW-bound, also missed the weekend shows with a degree of controversy somewhat attached. Diesel suffered a combination separated and fractured shoulder, apparently early in the In Your House cage match against Bret Hart. The injury may partially or totally explain the poor quality of that match compared with previous matches the two have had. Diesel did swing an axe pretty good the next night in the angle where he destroyed the Undertaker's casket, and also worked against Bob Holly (in the Raw match which aired on 2/26 in which they worked a storyline about him being injured coming in since he had missed the weekend shows but they were airing the taped match), but didn't work at the Superstars taping the next night where they were scheduled to hold the first "Triple Threat" (Triangular) match involving himself, Bret Hart and Undertaker in Huntington, WV. Diesel was said to have been unhappy with that headline program even though it figured to be a big draw. In that match, Diesel was pulled due to the injury and Hart wrestled Undertaker for the title, with Diesel's interference leading to Undertaker getting pinned. It was expected that similar endings were planned for the weekend series of major shows at the Continental Arena (formerly Meadowlands) in East Rutherford, NJ, the Pittsburgh Civic Arena and the Gund Arena in Cleveland. Diesel was expected to appear at those shows, be announced as injured, and then get involved in the match, one would assume in the finishes allowing Hart to retain the title. However, Diesel refused to make the weekend bookings, leading to Goldust getting involved in the East Rutherford and Cleveland matches leading to non-finishes, and in Pittsburgh, an apparent booking snafu led to them having no interference and doing a double count out finish which left fans unhappy, because it was the same finish that had ended the previous Hart-Undertaker match in the same city and it was a much weaker match than the first time.

McMahon was also very upset at reports here and other places calling him a hypocrite for bringing Hellwig back while at the same time very publicly taking shots at WCW claiming the company doesn't have a steroid policy. McMahon said that he has no idea what Hellwig will look like in tights and whether or not he's been taking steroids, but that if he has been taking steroids, once he returns, he'll be under the same policy as everyone else. If he has been taking steroids, and that's if, in a few months, you'll be able to see the physical changes as he'll have to get off. He said whether it was Hellwig or Ahmed Johnson, what they were doing before they were under contract is not his business, but that they will be held to the same standards as 1-2-3 Kid or anyone else once they start. McMahon claimed the company's current drug detection system was excellent, but not foolproof, and said that there may be a way someone could be taking small amounts of something and still get away with it and once again pointed the finger at WCW for what he claimed was not having a policy at all. WCW has a written drug policy which includes steroids that the wrestlers have received although the company has not released its policy publicly. Clearly there has been steroid use in WCW which has gone up and down over the past several months. After the McMahon skit pointing a finger at WCW and word circulated that there would be a test at the tapings in Orlando, it appeared to be at the lowest level in a long time, but with no public heat regarding steroids in the last few weeks, from appearances, use looks to be back to usual levels once again. Many in wrestling over the past week have joked about whether or not Diesel and Ramon will contract the dreaded SWGS (Sudden Weight Gain Syndrome) that others have contracted once leaving WWF for WCW. He also claimed we were hypocrites for not going harder after WCW as compared with coverage of the WWF's steroid policy before his trial and for giving Hellwig the nickname of Anabolic Warrior when he said it was Hulk Hogan and Billy Graham and other guys "who are down there" (in reference to Atlanta) who were the ones most responsible for the steroid era in pro wrestling. McMahon said he doesn't see it as being hypocritical to hire Hellwig. He claimed to not hire Hellwig would be punishing him because he has a physique, and also claimed people haven't given Hellwig enough credit for his diligence in training and diet over the years.

A few other changes regarding the Wrestlemania show have also come to the fore this past week. Jarrett, who was originally to have a role in the show although I'm not sure what his role was to be, is expected to be off the show because his back injury, apparently some vertebrae problems, appears to be serious. In addition, the originally scheduled match with Vader vs. Yokozuna has been changed to a six-man tag with Yokozuna & Ahmed Johnson & Jake Roberts vs. Vader & Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith, the feeling being that it'll be a better match in that form as Yokozuna's weight makes it difficult if not impossible to have a quality singles match. The tag team title tournament final, which the best guess has it will have Bodydonnas capturing the belts (which rumors have it were the original plans for them to beat the Gunns at Mania in the first place) from the Godwinns, although obviously anything can happen here since the last first round match and the two semifinals won't be taped until 3/10, is still planned for the "Free for All" pre-game show. In addition, the Huckster-Nacho Man/Billionaire Ted skit/match will be on the pre-game show, which pretty much removes the legal threats from that skit. By using the likenesses of Hulk Hogan, Ted Turner and Randy Savage, all owned or controlled by WCW, as part of an endeavor in which the public pays for it, which PPV falls into but a free show doesn't, they would open themselves up for potential legal action down the road.

There have been a series of very ugly incidents, both at the arena and even at an awards dinner, over the past few weeks in Mexico.

On 2/25, at the La Aficion (a Mexico City based wrestling magazine) awards dinner, wrestlers from AAA and PROMELL got into it causing a major disturbance and this was not an angle and got far more out of control than any angle although it probably reads like an angle. The situation apparently started when Pierroth Jr. of AAA, who was apparently already drunk by this time, made a crack at El Signo of PROMELL, who has lost a lot of weight, saying something to the effect of they don't even pay you enough money to buy food. This was a few minutes after Pierroth had declared his loyalty to the much maligned AAA group saying it was the best promotion in Mexico and how happy he was there. AAA has gotten a lot of heat with the commissions and media by adopting FMW, IWA and ECW type wildness which is foreign to Mexico, which has resulted in two major fan riots over the past few weeks.

As the Signo-Pierroth argument grew more heated in the dark Mexico City disco where the awards dinner was taking place, Signo punched a statue of a Palm tree which flew and hit two women, one of whom suffered a broken nose and the other, woman wrestler La Sirenita, was bleeding profusely from the head. At this point Konnan, known for having a hot temper, and seeing all the blood, claiming he thought it was Antonio Pena who was bleeding, got in Signo's face. Signo mouthed off to Konnan about how he kicked his ass about seven years ago in a dressing room brawl (which is basically what happened) and would do it again, threw a punch, which missed, and Konnan threw one back which didn't miss and wound up either bruising or breaking his knuckle on Signo's mouth. Before long, the commissioners had dragged Konnan out and began yelling at him and threatening him with a suspension in the Distrito Federal both for this incident and because they think he's destroying wrestling with the foreign style, and ordered him at a hearing on 2/27. Konnan has been very verbose saying that the rest of the world laughs at the old Mexican style and used terms like "dinosaurs" to describe the retired wrestlers in the various commissions that have come down upon all the outside interference, chair throwing, ladder using and in particular table breaking. In the back room, one of the commissioners told Konnan that he was suspended from the D.F. (where most of the television is now taped) until further notice, although the commission in the past attempted to suspend Octagon and Mascara Sagrada and Pena and AAA simply ignored the suspensions, which also explains a lot of the commission heat on AAA. Rey Mendoza, a Mexican wrestling legend from the 60s and 70s, whose sons are Los Villanos, who is a key member of the commission, has had arguments with Konnan of late about usage of Janet in a Sherri Martel-type heel role, which is something unheard of in Mexico City and has caused tons of heat but too much heat last week in Acapulco.

It hardly ended there. After he was taken out, Signo returned with some friends from the Mexican version of the FBI which is ultra corrupt, where Signo has worked in the past. Signo and his friends got into a shouting match with Pena's bodyguards, a couple of mercenary hit-men type, and guns were pulled on both sides and they had the dreaded Mexican standoff. Fuerza Guerrera, the head of PROMELL, had words with Pena later and Pena was trying to be diplomatic and walked away until Fuerza said something about Pena's mother and they had a pull apart but no weapons were pulled. After about 15 minutes, everything settled down and they actually continued the awards ceremony with Pena apologizing after receiving an award for the behavior of his wrestlers.

This came on the heels of an incident on 2/18 in Acapulco where AAA was apparently banned from the city forever, however long that is in wrestling terms. They did all the run-ins and table breaking and the crowd rioted. They are using woman wrestler Janet in a similar role as Natasha (Barbara Blaze) on the Tijuana shows, largely taken from ECW where she interferes a lot and then gets DDT'd or piledriven by Konnan or one of the other faces at the end of the show. At one point Pierroth DDT'd ref Pepe Casas, which is not part of what they do in Mexico and the fans rioted at that point. However, when the local television news covered the event talking about how horrible it was, when they interviewed fans live leaving the event and tried to get them to say how horrible it was, they all said one after another how exciting they found the new wrestling and that it was dangerous but they had fun at the show.

The same type of tactics also led to another riot on 1/20 in Mexicali which originally led to Konnan, Damian and Psicosis all suspended from the state of Nortecalifornia, which includes Tijuana, for three months. After paying off the right people, it wound up reduced to the three suspended from the city of Mexicali for one month. The incident there occurred in a hair vs. hair match with Cholo Garcia, a local favorite, and Damian. After numerous chair shots during the show and the match, all of a sudden about a half dozen or a dozen fans began throwing chair after chair (these were plastic chairs almost like lawn chairs you'd have in your backyard as opposed to folding metal chairs) at Damian and Psicosis. The scene was really nuts. Psicosis went out there after the fans, but Konnan pulled him away before he attacked anyone. Konnan then got in the face of several fans but they froze up. Security was non-existent while the chair throwing and mini-riot was going on. I've actually seen this incident on video and it appeared it wasn't any of the wrestlers faults for inciting the fans, but obviously the constant chair use and outside interference, which are foreign to these fans, is inciting some of them way beyond control. While the style is generating tons of heat because it's newer and wilder, based on the results thus far, I'm questioning the long-term value of it.

Bill Dundee returned doing a new-style shoot-angle (which is actually nothing new at all in Memphis, but everyone will take it as something they are doing because it's trendy). Actually it's part of a deal that Bert Prentice of the North American All-Star group which runs a lot in Arkansas towns not all that far from Memphis made with Jerry Lawler to give some of the top USWA guys more work. Guys like Dundee (Prentice's booker), Jesse James Armstrong, Tracy Smothers and PG-13 will work for both groups whenever schedule conflicts don't get in the way. Apparently many are pushing to have this wind up as a promotion vs. promotion feud but Prentice is leery about this because his group would be the heel group on the most powerful television in the area. Anyway, Dundee brought up that something happened between himself and Wolfie D on September 8, 1995 in Ripley, TN. If you don't remember, the story went something like this. The two argued over picture money. As the story went, Dundee was selling photos at the picture table of himself with PG-13 and Wolfie wanted a cut of it and they ended up arguing and wound up in a fistfight and got into a second skirmish where reports are that Dundee pulled a knife. When they got to television the next morning, USWA booker Randy Hales fired Dundee. Dundee came back as a total heel and his son, J.C. Ice said that he was embarrassing the family. Wolfie came out and they began arguing as to what happened and Dundee denied anything happened and Wolfie D actually said something to the effect of that Dundee can't deny it because "Dave Meltzer will tell everyone what happened." It wound up with Jerry Lawler arguing with Dundee and going to the back to settle things. They came back out again and argued again and Dundee spit on Lawler, who then demanded a match. Hales said that he would never let Dundee back because of what happened. So the gimmick is that on 2/28 in Memphis they are having a non-sanctioned match and that neither one is getting paid for the match. Dundee even brought up that he was booked that night for Bert Prentice in Jonesboro, AR and would ask Prentice if he could work early in the show so he could drive down to Memphis and fight Lawler in the main event.

On the television that aired on 2/20, they aired the Brian Pillman angle in its entirety and it's something that should be seen. Pillman does about the most believable psycho bit of anyone in years. During the angle as Pillman was out of control, Shane Douglas over the house mic in a corny way said, "He's shooting." Overall the bit was excellent although Pillman calling Paul Heyman "booker man" and Douglas with his remark made the angle a little too forced for what they were trying to accomplish. They also did a good angle at the end of the show involving Raven and Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer came out with his arm in a sling which they blamed on Raven. Raven then said that the shoulder injury (which is legit and Dreamer should be out for several weeks) was nothing and talked about in different foreign countries how if you steal, they cut off your hands, if they run away from the law, they cut off your feet, etc. and then said that he made Raven's girlfriend pregnant. At that point the Bruise Brothers, who appeared in the ring to back Dreamer up, suddenly turned on him and crotched him on the ringpost, apparently as his punishment for making Raven's girlfriend pregnant.

Pillman was back in Glenolden doing a second angle during the Raven vs. Douglas match for the ECW title. Pillman was at ringside shooting photos and kept flashing in Douglas' eyes and they had a pull-apart non-brawl.

It appears Mr. Hughes is history. On 2/24 in Plymouth Meeting, PA, he and Too Cold Scorpio were having problems from the start, and actually before the start, and had a non-cooperation match with Hughes simply walking away to be counted out after three minutes of non-selling. Scorpio then as an impromptu deal beat up Damien Kane, who was Hughes' manager, and clocked him in the eye. Backstage Scorpio and Hughes were screaming at each other and Scorpio challenged Hughes to a fight and Hughes backed down.

They did an angle where Taz choked out Bam Bam Bigelow to set up a series of future matches. Bigelow had bounced around several people during the show. After pinning Cactus Jack, who was wearing his ManKind gimmick in WWF, in a nothing match, Stevie Richards & Blue Meanie, also billed as the New Fabulous Ones, along with Jack all jumped Bigelow. Bigelow made his own comeback on all of them until Taz came from behind and suplexed Bigelow and choked him down. Hack Myers and El Puerto Ricano (who is moving to Michigan to live with and train with Sabu as his protege) tried to make the save but were held out by Richards, Jack and Meanie.

Douglas and Sandman formed a bond. After Raven beat Douglas in Glenolden, PA due to interference from Richards and Meanie, Sandman made the save. The two agreed that since they had common enemies they would form a bond and whomever got the ECW title first would give the other the first title shot. Douglas also made the same bond with Dreamer a few weeks ago.

There was no blood on either show and fans were said to be disappointed with that aspect

Monday Nitro on 2/26 in Knoxville, TN before a sellout 5,200 fans at the City Coliseum (3,734 paying $42,380) saw Sting pin Bubba Rogers in 7:11 with a crossbody off the top in a very good match (***1/4); Sting & Lex Luger then did an interview and the Road Warriors came out to set up a Chicago Street Fight for the 3/24 Tupelo, MS Uncensored PPV show. Luger was hilarious in his role as a heel teaming with a top face with the gimmick that he accepted the match without even knowing what a Chicago Street Fight even was. Luger then beat Renegade with the torture rack in 5:47 after Jimmy Hart interfered knocking Renegade off the top rope. Renegade once again did a total Ultimate Warrior gimmick and was put over not as a jobber at all and had Luger in trouble until Hart came out to save him. Considering who was involved, the match wasn't bad at all (*3/4). After the match Sting came out and yelled at Luger for having Jimmy Hart help him and Luger said he didn't know what Hart did and offered to give the win to Renegade. Road Warriors beat Harlem Heat in 7:47 when Animal kicked Booker T in the face and Hawk pinned him. Road Warriors are still over big-time and just horrible in the ring now. Booker T saved this from negative stars (1/4*). Finale saw Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage & Bootie Man over Ric Flair & Arn Anderson & Kevin Sullivan when Hogan legdropped Anderson in 12:02. Afterwards came one of the most unintentionally humorous moments in recent wrestling history. Elizabeth was supposed to handcuff Hogan to the corner so the heels could whip him with a belt. However, she may still be trying to handcuff him for all I know because it took forever. With the close-up camera shot, poor Hogan had to sell like he was hurt forever and basically try and cuff himself. Match was horrible except when Savage was in, and when he was in it was good (*). WCW is making the cardinal mistake of relying too much on the old-timers rather than use the old-timers for their name value and use the underneath time to get over the young stars and groom them for headline positions. It's a broken record and you all know the story of how the old guys are basically blocking anyone except their friends from advancing to the top. But you also have to look at it from a company standpoint. They are in a weekly ratings war and the old guys have the name value to draw the ratings and the good workers don't have the name value even though they have better matches. Except for Luger's reactions and the opening match it was a very poor show. The total crowd (not paid crowd) and gate in Knoxville was larger than anything SMW ever did in that building. WCW wouldn't allow any signs in the building for this show because they were afraid Jim Cornette would have a friend get something on the air, not realizing Cornette is living in Connecticut and is basically incommunicado with most of the civilized and uncivilized world.

Eric Bischoff was back to talking about WWF on the show, giving away the Raw results (so quickly it didn't have the desired effect) and calling it the World Whining Federation. His other reference, was in the new storyline where they talk about Bootie Man formerly being Zodiac but that he was a spy all along in the Taskmaster's camp and McMichael brought up having a spy in the enemies camp is great strategy and Bischoff came back with something like he's subscribes to that theory as well.

WCW is also back to talking about WWF on its hotline but at least as of this point have toned it down and not ripped them.

On the weekend TV they teased a Johnny B. Badd/Diamond Doll split because Doll was feeling sorry for Page's misfortune in having everything repo'd. Doll also came out during the six-man main on Nitro with flowers but they didn't make clear who the flowers were for.

Chris Cruise wrote a scathing letter about Gordon Solie to the newsletter Wrestling Perspective. Cruise complained about Solie criticizing the current announcers saying they all prepared for their job more diligently than Solie had in the past ten years, saying Solie would wing it and rest on his laurels. He also talked about Solie's often legendary drinking and said Solie overstayed his career in the sport by more than a decade and was mad about his criticism of WCW, calling him a "bitter old fool" and an "old windbag." No, this isn't an angle to set up an announcer vs. announcer feud for a PPV show in 1997. Actually, it may be the only thing in WCW in the last few weeks that isn't an angle.

Some highlights of the Superstars of Wrestling taping on 2/20 in Huntington, WV. In a non-taped cage match, Ahmed Johnson pinned Tatanka, subbing for Jeff Jarrett. In the tag tourney, Razor Ramon & Savio Vega beat 1-2-3 Kid & Tatanka when Ramon pinned Tatanka with the edge (whether this airs is anyone's guess); Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith beat Hakushi & Barry Horowitz when Smith pinned Hakushi with a powerslam (this aired this past weekend). After a Hunter Hearst Helmsley squash win, Duke Droese chased him to the back with a garbage can lid. Shawn Michaels pinned Shinobi (Al Snow) with a superkick in a good match. After the match Michaels also pinned Owen Hart and Jim Cornette. Goldust pinned Hakushi with a neckbreaker. Owen pinned Horowitz. No heat for Horowitz as an underdog anymore. Ramon & Jake Roberts beat Kid & Goldust. Ramon and Goldust fought to the back from the start making it a singles match and Roberts pinned Kid with the DDT and put the snake on him. Don't expect this match to air. Herman the German, and I'm still not sure who he is, got a pin over Mark Kyle (former SMW Killer Kyle). Justin Bradshaw pinned Fatu in 12 seconds. Yokozuna beat three guys. In a tag tourney match that airs this coming weekend, The Godwinns beat The New Rockers, who are Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy (Snow under yet another identity). The New Rockers gimmick is that they are two guys out of touch doing all the 70s and 80s stuff. The idea is that they'll wind up as heels because the guys will resent them. Roddy Piper and Ramon had a confrontation that will almost surely never air. Piper slapped Ramon in the face and eventually ordered a Ramon vs. Goldust match on the streets of Miami for Wrestlemania. Michaels pinned Smith with a superkick in a good match. The main event dark match was Bret Hart pinning Undertaker when Diesel hit Undertaker with a foreign object.

Ricky Morton was said to have been backstage.

A Gay rights group got a major story in the Stamford Advocate critical of the Goldust character. They were mad at the message of portraying Gay people as predatory homosexuals as Goldust is portrayed who are after and threatening straight men and glorifying the straight men beating them up, in particular the Ramon backstage brawl. GLAAD claimed they've had 50 to 100 people protest this to WWF which has yet to respond, and claimed they will continue to protest until WWF turns Goldust into a character not offensive to gays. The WWF in the article said they've received a lot of response to Goldust, mainly negative, but have no plans to change the portrayal of the character. Roger Hooverman, communications chairman of the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk, CT said the character teaches people things that create a homosexual panic. He said the message being sent is to beat up a gay man is fun and okay and to be applauded. WWF did release letters to fans who have complained saying the theme of Goldust is that he uses unorthodox elements to keep his competitors off track, confused and even sometimes disgusted and said as "as we push to the edge to create interest in the character...fans like you let us know when we have gone too far afield." The article also stated other gay and lesbian groups are planning letter writing campaigns to the WWF about the character. It was pointed out an Internet message on the Ramon-Goldust brawl (and there are so many bizarre ones of those out there) stated, "Ha ha ha, it's good to see that (WWF) is showing the new generation how faggots should be treated anyway."

This week's Billionaire Ted saw Huckster and Nacho Man interviewed on the Larry Fling show. Basically they kept trying to point out they were old, bald and way past their prime and insinuated they left the WWF because they couldn't keep up with the new generation. Fling even asked how long they were going to keep up the charade. At one point when Huckster got mad and was going to threaten Fling, he pulled out a red high heel shoe and they both backed down. More old jokes, fart sounds in the background, etc. When Nacho Man was asked who was going to win their match, he said Ted promised him he could win this time (thereby again insinuating their matches are predetermined). Huckster said he had to win for all the people who buy his merchandise and Nacho Man said that nobody buys that merchandise, that it's all given away for free and people wear it because they are told if they do they'll get on television. At the end Huckster went wild and hit everyone in sight with pathetic chair shots similar to the finish of the last WCW PPV. The shoe and chair spots were hilarious.

On Raw they aired the interview with Michaels, Hart and Piper where they say they respect each other. There was a surprising amount of booing for all three at times during the segment, even Piper, who ended up castigating the audience for booing. It wound up with them announcing the main event would be a 60 minute match and the champion would be determined by who won the most falls in the hour.

Apparently at least some of the Calgary Sun articles attributed to Bret Hart are actually written by Bruce Hart. Knowing the way Bruce uses words, it's been obvious in some cases, but I believe the column we printed from last week sounded more like how Bret would write. There has definitely been discussion through an intermediary regarding Bret going to WCW including being offered the main event at Starrcade against Ric Flair, although the odds appear to be against that happening.

Spoiler for 3/18/96:
Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) quit World Championship Wrestling on the morning of 3/11 after an airport discussion with Eric Bischoff prior to his scheduled Monday Nitro appearance and is expected to sign a three-year deal with the World Wrestling Federation imminently. In addition, the Nasty Boys, who were let go last week in a measure to bring salaries under control with the addition to the books of big money deals for Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and the Steiner brothers, were also strongly rumored to be WWF bound, although after a meeting Tuesday with Bischoff, they were talked into staying.

The Nasty Boys non-appearance as advertised on the live Nitro event opened the door for the return of Rick & Scott Steiner, who faced the Road Warriors and even put them over. The Steiners deal, to come in and work a program against the Road Warriors, was put together in mid-week and no doubt was for a high dollar figure as well. It was explained on television that the Nasty Boys were taken to the hospital and it was left up in the air whether it was the Road Warriors or Steiners who had done it to them, which appeared to be a situation of burying them if need be, or creating a program for them with one of the two teams in the future if they were brought back. Bischoff didn't bury them on the air. The same can't be said about Badd.

The situation with Mero and Bischoff turned into the major topic of discussion as he quit the company Monday morning, and was then buried big-time on the air by Bischoff, who made comments about Badd blaming a woman for losing the TV title (in a match on 3/6 in Macon, GA which aired on 3/9 on WCW Saturday Night), saying he didn't feel up to showing up for his rematch with Lex Luger, and finally saying that Badd couldn't hang where the big boys play. Badd's TV title loss was not part of a burial because he was going to leave, as the situation all fell apart largely Monday morning after a few minor problems had developed earlier in the week.

The gist of the situation is that Mero was working without a contract, as his most recent deal, said by WCW sources to be in the $300,000 per year range, had expired on 2/28. He had been offered a two-year deal, rumored to be in the same dollar range, however there were other things in the contract that weren't settled. Among the items were the quarterly windows which allows WCW to fire wrestlers under contract and have no further obligation to them. According to those close to Mero, he went to Winston-Salem and wanted Bischoff to sign a paper which would guarantee him the amount of money he had been making (in the $6,000 per week range) while the two sides were in negotiations. Apparently he had been given a verbal agreement that would be the case, but was under the impression that unless it was signed, he would be making the same $150 per show that the lowest paid wrestlers in the company made. Those in WCW claim that what Mero wanted Bischoff to sign was a paper that would guarantee Mero the amount offered to him for its entirety (the rumored two years at $300,000ish) should Mero suffer a serious injury in the ring while the sides were negotiating the new deal. Mero also told Bischoff in the discussion that he had been negotiating with Titan Sports and said he had an offer on the table from them and apparently said the offer was in some ways a better deal and wanted to know from Bischoff what WCW's future plans were for him. Anyway, Bischoff refused to sign the paper and one thing led to another with Bischoff asking Mero to finish up that night after putting Luger over. Mero refused to work the show unless they had a written deal for the night and reportedly told Bischoff that he hoped he was leaving on good terms after five good years with the organization and Bischoff supposedly told him that he wasn't leaving on good terms at all.

As far as WCW was concerned, the situation came out of nowhere and we haven't heard any word on who will sub for Badd in the continuation of his (too) lengthy program with Diamond Dallas Page which included a gimmick match on 3/24 at WCW Uncensored as it was actually Page who interfered in the TV title switch match. Alex Wright, who was originally booked for a dark match on Nitro against Meng, subbed for Badd against Luger on the 3/11 Nitro card.

Because Mero's contract had expired, there is no waiting period so he theoretically could join Titan immediately, although he could not use the name Johnny B. Badd because WCW owns the name.

There were other problems over the past few weeks between Mero and Bischoff that may have aided in the split. Mero was asked to work in the pit crew for the Steve Grissom race on 3/9, which was the same day as his daughter's eighth birthday party. Mero is very well known within WCW circles for being very amenable to public appearances, but asked if they could get someone else to take his place. Bischoff called him the day before and was mad because he made the request to not do it saying a lot of people have had to miss their kids birthdays at times to build the company. When Mero finally agreed to go to the race, apparently he was called by Alan Sharpe of the WCW office who told him that Eric didn't want him anywhere near the race track. Mero had also asked recently that his angle involving being managed by Kimberly be dropped, blaming his deep religious beliefs and not wanting to be on the road affiliated with another man's wife even though it was all a role. The original angle was supposedly to be where Kimberly would be with him, then screw him (costing him a match, not figuratively) and things would go back to how they were. However, some felt the chemistry of the two in the ring entrances were strong and they were planning on keeping the two together over the long haul. The recent storyline deal where the two have been having problems was done at Mero's request because he wanted it broken up citing his religious faith. Bischoff apparently said that he didn't want to be in a situation where every time they booked him in an angle he'd not want to do it if Jesus Christ wouldn't approve of it.

Originally the Nasty Boys (rumored to be earning between $210,000 and $250,000 apiece) were given word they were being dropped along with several others to make up for at least some of the salary going to Nash and Hall, since WCW is on something of a budget from the Turner organization when it comes to wrestlers' salaries. The budget almost guarantees two semi-strong promotions as long as business is healthy as for every big money plum WCW can pick from WWF, they'll have to get rid of wrestlers, a few of whom may be able to be marketed by WWF. While we haven't been given any other names of wrestlers' cuts officially, other names that have been talked about as those on the bubble or being let go include Shark John Tenta ($250,000) and Bunkhouse Buck. The latter is strange because apparently the angle where he no-shows is because he's either gone temporarily or permanently, and being done I guess as a bizarre game to show that the Brian Pillman situation could be a shoot even though he shows up on occasion and his name floats into conversations since Buck's name is also brought up even though he's supposedly also gone from the company. It is believed that with Badd leaving for WWF and the recent acquisition of Vader, WCW wanted to quickly put the kibosh on any public perception that movement was going in both directions rather than one direction.

There is also plenty of other talk about wrestlers switching camps. Apparently there had been at least informal dialogue regarding WCW and Sean Waltman (1-2-3 Kid), about bringing him in to work with the likes of Eddie Guerrero, however that has fallen through since Waltman's WWF contract has rolled over. Other names have been bandied about from WWF as WCW officials have talked of three major players jumping, two of which are Nash and Hall.

The situation with the latter two has created some controversy within WCW as well. Figures floating around, and these are all rumored figures, are that Hall's real dollar amount would be in the $350,000 to $450,000 range and Nash's figure would be between $450,000 and $600,000. This has caused the expected unhappiness from some in WCW who perceive themselves as bigger stars and have certainly done more in pro wrestling that aren't making the same money. However, if you look at pro sports in competitive as opposed to monopolistic economic situations in the past, in every situation it ends up with guys who owners are trying to get make team or league moves being paid way above what had been the scale for people of their level. Ironically, Hulk Hogan, who is still earning tons more than anyone else in wrestling, has apparently been vocal about the newcomers being paid too much and felt the money would have been better spent on Yokozuna or Ultimate Warrior.

Ric Flair was arrested on 1:35 a.m. late 3/7 in regard to being a passenger in a DWI.

Flair, 47, was charged with aiding and abetting a DWI, since the driver of the car was under the legal drinking age of 21 and had a blood alcohol level of .15, about twice the legal limit. The woman, Collette McCune, 20, was a friend of his wife's and was driving Flair and his car home from a night club where Flair had been drinking and was in no condition to drive himself home. The car allegedly committed a traffic violation which caused the police to pull it over. Flair claimed to police that he didn't' realize McCune was legally drunk when he got her to drive him home.

Because of Flair's celebrity status, the incident was all over the media in the Charlotte and Greensboro area the next day and within a few days had gone national in some quarters. What Flair is being charged with carries a minimum $100 fine and for a first time offender, a prison term from one to 60 days, which is usually suspended on the first offense and turned into community service work.

Flair actually brought this up in a pre-show interview at the Nitro show on 3/11 in Winston-Salem saying something to the effect of Can you believe they put the Nature Boy in jail this week? Kevin Sullivan then said that it wasn't Ric Flair with a 20-year-old girl, it was (ring announcer) Dave Penzer with a 12-year-old girl.

Douglas came out for an interview saying that Vince McMahon can't touch this and said he was in purgatory for six months and ripped on Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, etc. Brian Pillman was at ringside as a spectator and started going nuts. Pillman brought up how Douglas quit WCW, quit WWF, quit the Dynamic Dudes and quit everything and said that a real man doesn't quit, a real man gets fired. Douglas threatened to punch Pillman when he counted to three, but Pillman pulled a very young child (a child actor) in front of him and Douglas went to punch the kid but stopped just short as the kid freaked out. The security ended up dragging Pillman out of the building, but not before fans started swinging chairs, and Pillman wound up getting punched by fans on the way out. Douglas was booed a decent amount as well. Then Tod Gordon came out and Bill Alfonso followed. Alfonso slapped Gordon. Fans started throwing things and Joey Styles was getting pelted. Taz came out and Alfonso hit Gordon with a chair and started beating on him. Bam Bam Bigelow then came out and Taz hit him with a chair but Bigelow didn't sell it and Taz and Alfonso left. Fans chanted "LT" and "LT sucks" at Bigelow. They also made ambulance noises (which was pretty funny) as the medical personnel tried to help Gordon up. At this point it was already 9:05 p.m. and we'd seen four minutes of wrestling.

Before the show started, The Gangstas came out. A "fan" (actually New Jack's wife who I guess will be the next female character involved) came out and tried to jump on New Jack and security carried her out. New Jack motioned that he wanted her back and led the crowd in chanting "bring her back" to establish himself as a total face. New Jack did a total babyface rap talking about how he was in jail for six weeks (more like six days) and told a funny story about how a guy owed him money and he put him in the trunk of his car and forgot he never let him out and the next thing he knew he was in jail (that's not exactly what happened). He said while in jail he missed all the sick people in Philadelphia. He said jail was like torture because they forced him to watch WCW on television and then ran down WWF & WCW. Damian Kane, who managed The Head Hunters who all attacked Mustafa on the card when New Jack missed the show because he was in jail, came out and asked to manage the Gangstas for the match against Scorpio & Sandman later in the show. New Jack brought up how Jim Cornette wanted to do the same thing and then wanted to f--- him with a tennis racquet to which Joey Styles said something about a banana. He said he told Cornette to suck his nuts. Kane said that he knew New Jack hadn't seen any pussy in six weeks because he was in prison and basically offered him Lady Alexandra (another valet) and New Jack started thinking about it but eventually punched Kane and this wound up with the main event being changed to a three-way-dance match which got a huge pop.

1. Smith pinned Rotten in 6:50 with a low blow using his feet on the ropes. Rotten used a fire extinguisher. Smith's hand was screwed up which led to him missing a few spots. *1/2

2. Stone & El Puerto Ricano went to a no contest with Bad Crew in 1:48. Pillman ran in and attacked all four to end the match. DUD

Pillman started doing an interview. Douglas was on stage and tried to say it was a WCW wrestler trying to ruin ECW. Pillman challenged Douglas to a fight, Douglas came down and Pillman left. Douglas ripped his t-shirt and made fun of Hogan. He then threw his t-shirt to the crowd and a fan threw it back. Douglas got po'd and challenged the fan to fight (similar to a situation at the last show). Douglas was pretty good on the mic but if they took the phrase "piece of shit" out of his vocabulary, he couldn't do a sentence.

3. Eliminators kept the tag titles beating Buh Buh Ray Dudley & Hack Myers. Eliminators knocked Chubby Dudley and Sign Guy Dudley off the apron. Big Dick Dudley wanted to join Buh Buh in the match but he was dragged off because of his bad knee. Sign Guy (who is supposedly a mute) wrote a sign that said "Help" and was waving it and the Eliminators gave him the total elimination. Finally Myers came in but he was legit hurt quickly so Buh Buh had to work the match himself. Myers, in great pain, tagged in to get totally eliminated for the pin in 8:15. *1/2

4. Jericho beat Taz via DQ in 6:00. This was a hot match. At one point Taz used the head and arm suplex and the ref stopped the match ruling Jericho unable to continue. Jericho begged to re-start the match, which they did. Taz used a german suplex and Taz-mission and apparently won, but I guess refused to break the hold because they said Jericho won via DQ. ***1/2

Taz wouldn't break the hold and they ran guys in to get destroyed. Pillman then ran in and started stomping the fallen guys that Taz had destroyed. Douglas came out and Pillman ran away into the arms of Harry Boatswain, a lineman on the Philadelphia Eagles. Douglas did another interview and started challenging the same fan to fight in a segment that went way too long. The ring broke during the previous match and they had about a 40 minute delay in getting it fixed. After the delay, Heyman started yelling at the ring crew about how long it took them to fix the ring and Sandman came out and caned the ring crew members very hard. I guess everyone wants to be in show biz.

5. Misterio Jr. won 2/3 falls from Guerrera in 15:57. In the first fall, Misterio did a springboard moonsault to the floor and Guerrera did a springboard somersault dropkick from the apron inside the ring. Guerrera took the fall with a dragon suplex. Misterio Jr. did a huracanrana off the top rope onto Guerrera on the apron that was amazing and a Liger dive off the referee's back to the floor. He finally used a doctor bomb for the fall. Third fall saw Guerrera do an Asai moonsault, a springboard leg lariat from the apron into the ring, Misterio did a springboard somersault plancha to the floor, they went outside and traded chair shots. Guerrera power bombed Misterio in the snow off a car and Misterio gave Guerrera a Frankensteiner off a car onto the parking lot snow. After tons of near falls, Guerrera went for a die hard (splash mountain) while standing on the middle rope, but on the way down, Misterio Jr. turned it into a Frankensteiner for the pin. ****3/4

6. Cactus Jack, in his last match, pinned Whipwreck in 17:18. Jack said that Whipwreck will some day be able to tell his grandchildren that he had Cactus Jack's last match, but he'll be damned if Whipwreck will be able to tell them that he beat Cactus Jack in his last match. Jack got a thunderous ovation and Whipwreck was heavily booed. Jack pulled out all his spots from the beginning. He suplexed Whipwreck onto a vertical table. He did the hip busting elbow off the second rope to the floor. Whipwreck did a springboard flip dive into the third row. Tons of brutal chair shots. After three chair shots, Jack got the pin with a piledriver on a chair. Jack gave a hilarious and somewhat moving speech after the match, saying he wanted to thank the two men who make ECW what it is, the creative genius behind the promotion and the man whose vision it was that created the promotion, teasing Heyman and Gordon, and then called for Richards and Meanie to come out. They played "New York, New York" over the p.a. and the three did their high stepping dance routine to the song and a Fabulous Ones strut out of the building. ****

7. Pit Bulls and Bruise Brothers went to a no contest in 16:58. Lots of brawling with some good spots and missed spots. It wound up with Richards, Meanie and Tommy Dreamer all involved. Dreamer pulled his arm out of the sling and started punching the Bruise Brothers with it when it looked like he was cornered. Dreamer destroyed Meanie. **

8. Sabu pinned Titan with the Arabian facebuster in 12:18. Typical collection of awesome spots and badly missed spots on each man's part. Fans didn't like Titan and he looked bad at times but did great stuff at other times. Titan did a plancha, and later tried a second but Sabu moved and he went through a table. **

9. Raven pinned Douglas in 8:40 with a DDT on a chair to keep the ECW title. This was an amazing performance by both considering Raven's limitations since he shouldn't have been in the ring. Lots of outside interference by Meanie and Richards leading to near falls which Douglas kicked out of. At another point Wanaleia saved Raven for a pin, after which Douglas pulled up her dress and spanked her, and naturally she liked it and began bobbing her butt in a seductive manner and Douglas got distracted and practically started making out with her before Raven jumped him. After the match, the Bruise Brothers attacked Douglas and went to ram his groin into the post but Dreamer made the save. They then went to do the same to Dreamer but Sandman made the save. ***1/4

10. Gangstas won the three-way dance in 14:22 over Head Hunters and Scorpio & Sandman. They brawled all over the place with brutal chair and cane and other weapon shots. It was stiff enough that Sandman was knocked silly by a chair shots (and took numerous others after that point) and Hunters took cane shots so hard they had lumps on their noggin as well. Scorpio did a plancha into the third row at one point onto. Scorpio pinned Hunter B in 9:51 with a scorpio splash. Hunters and Sandman brawled to the back after the match leaving Scorpio alone with both Gangstas and New Jack ended up pinning Scorpio to win the match with a splash off the top rope. ***1/4

Reports are that Brian Christopher recently became engaged. No, not to himself.

From the live Monday Nitro before 6,899 fans paying $68,600 on 3/11 in Winston-Salem, NC saw Giant pin Jim Duggan with a choke slam in 6:29 (DUD). During the match, Brian Pillman came out with two large banners which read "Call Brian 1-900-288-PILL." Eric Bischoff is still trying to work everyone on this angle as he went so nuts behind the scenes that several employees actually believed he was mad about Pillman interrupting the show. However, by working the camera men and directors (legitimately almost nobody knew about Pillman being there), they avoided any shots of him and the whole thing was ineffective. Steve Grissom was interviewed. If you think they spend far too much time each week on him, and you wouldn't be alone in that assessment, it's a Harvey Schiller deal and thus WCW pretty much has to go along with it. Steiners showed up and gave the Road Warriors a match ten times better than anything the Warriors have done since they came back. After lots of big moves and both teams using their finishers on the other, Animal hit Rick with a spiked elbow pad and Hawk pinned him in 10:09 (***1/4). Steiners did a post-match interview basically saying they haven't been around because they've been chasing the Road Warriors and they want them to start a new feud. Warriors seemed to have slightly more cheers but neither team was booed. Lex Luger pinned Alex Wright to keep the TV title in 6:26 after Jimmy Hart knocked Wright off the top rope (**1/4). The Luger/Hart stuff has been great over the past week. It's the first time in close to ten years that Hart has shown the stuff that most people don't even realize he was doing in the early 80s in Memphis. The two argued again after the match. Main saw Hulk Hogan & Bootie Man & Randy Savage over Ric Flair & Arn Anderson & Kevin Sullivan in 6:29 when Hogan legdropped Flair. It was a double strap match with lumberjacks with straps and all the wrestlers with straps. The match had a lot of heat but was too short and had no focus and basically sucked. (*3/4). Flair and Anderson did an amazing job in the post-match. Told that live, every match had great heat and it was an amazing contrast to most of the house shows in the Greensboro market over the past few years with small crowds and nobody caring. The Wake Forest basketball team, which plays in the same arena, was at the show at ringside (never acknowledged on television which was a big mistake) heavily cheering on Flair. Flair got about 70% cheers and Hogan 30% cheers, although nobody cheered Sullivan. Gorgeous George III in gimmick was also in the crowd but never acknowledged on television and there were "Hogan sux" chants during the main event. Diamond Doll came out again with flowers and they said that she was interested in Bootie Man. It was also good to see the positive effects of the fool-proof WCW steroid policy (fool proof as in only a fool can't figure out a way around it).

WCW Saturday Night for the weekend was taped 3/6 before 3,300 fans in Macon, GA. Luger beat Badd for the TV title when Page interfered in a good match. In a post-match interview, Badd yelled at Diamond Doll and challenged Page at Uncensored. Road Warriors beat Meng & Barbarian in a bad match. David Taylor & Bobby Eaton beat Public Enemy via DQ when they used a table in a match better than it sounds on paper. Eddie Guerrero pinned Chris Benoit in a **** match. Expect Guerrero to get a major push since they did a marketing survey and found that out of all the wrestlers in WCW, the wrestler with the highest likability quotient was Guerrero. The study also surprised people with other items such as there was a major correlation between how much the general public likes someone and their workrate, and that Alex Wright was also a surprise in how much he was liked and they were surprised at how disliked Hulk Hogan was and how Sting fared well, but not nearly as well as people figured he would. They did another deal with Hart and Luger where as expected Hart pulled Luger out of the street fight and into the Doomsday cage match and Luger got mad at Hart because he said Sting was his friend. Loch Ness then got mad at Hart because he came all the way from England for a shot at Hogan and he was being pulled out and Loch shoved Lex (can you imagine a match between those two?). TV main saw Flair & Anderson & Sullivan over Males & Craig Pittman. Loch Ness and Jim Duggan were also supposed to be involved but Loch Ness didn't show because he was mat at the Dungeon of Doom over the previous incident and Giant brawled with Duggan to the back taking him out of the match. After the match the heels whipped the faces with straps to set up Monday Nitro and they also whipped ref Nick Patrick and Doug Dillenger.

In a dark match on the show, Kid Flash, a newcomer from Northeastern indies that Kevin Sullivan probably saw on a Tony Rumble show, got a try-out match with Chris Kanyon. He was green in spots and they missed some things early, but it built into a tremendous match and was said to have been the most impressive try-out of any newcomer since Sean Waltman (who did the best try-out in years and than promptly didn't get the job because they thought he was too small).

Lots of heat already on Lee Marshall since Gene Okerlund sees him as a threat. He shouldn't.

WCW Hotline is once again banning any mention of anything or anyone having any connection with WWF from orders that came directly from Ted Turner and Schiller.

Highlights of the weekend television tapings. Superstars taping (which was said to be better than the Raw taping this time around) before a sellout 3,702 fans paying $43,620 on 3/10 in Corpus Christi (show sold out four hours ahead of time and turned away 2,000) opened with Savio Vega & Ahmed Johnson over 1-2-3 Kid & Tatanka. A newcomer named either Craig Johnson or Duane Johnson got a pin over Brooklyn Brawler. Not sure who the guy was but it was a try-out match and he looked green but okay. The Sicilian Studs (Guido Falcone aka Tim Roberts and Vito Mussolini aka Ken Hrera) got a try-out and didn't look good. Then in the tag tourney, the Bodydonnas beat Bushwhackers. Bill Irwin lost to Duke Droese. Ringmaster had his name changed to "Stone Cold Steve Austin" which was the name used on Raw the next night. Isaac Yankem was still around as was evidenced on Raw the next night. Hunter Hearst Helmsley beat Bob Holly. High Voltage beat Alex Porteau & Rod Price in a try-out for all four but I'm told it wasn't good. Harvey Whippleman (Downtown Bruno) was back managing Brawler in a losing effort against Steve Sawyer (WCW jobber Bart Sawyer) in a match where Sawyer looked okay which was also probably a try-out. ManKind (Cactus Jack) debuted with a mask. Everyone in the building recognized him and chanted Cactus Jack at him. He looked okay. Jerry Lawler did a TV squash where he did his own color commentary which was said to have been a hilarious segment. In the tag tourney, and I'm not sure how this will be explained, because of Ramon's suspension, they had Vega team with Austin against Bodydonnas in the semis and of course Austin turned on Vega causing them to lose. In a match with Roddy Piper handcuffed to Jim Cornette, Yokozuna & Ahmed Johnson beat Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith when Piper hit Owen with the tennis racquet and Yoko pinned him. Vega beat Tatanka and Justin Hawk Bradshaw beat Horowitz. In the other tag tourney semi, Godwinns beat Owen & Smith via DQ when the new Rockers came out as heels and Leif Cassidy was acting goofy and came off the top rope on Henry Godwinn for the DQ. In dark matches, Shawn Michaels beat Steve Austin and Bret Hart beat Undertaker via count out.

Raw on 3/11 in San Antonio before a sellout 9,364 paying $75,672 opened with Skip beating Craig or Duane Johnson. Diesel did a dark interview designed to turn him heel for reaction later in the show saying he hated Shawn Michaels (who is from San Antonio) and insulted all of Michaels' fans. On the live Raw show, Diesel did a quick interview where they strongly teased the idea he was going to turn on Michaels at the house shows this coming weekend and where he came off as a total heel. Smith pinned Jake Roberts. Yankem did a squash which wound up with Lawler insulting Mark Henry, a weightlifter who is being sponsored by the WWF and who will probably end up as a pro wrestler after the Olympics if he makes the team. They are billing him as the strongest man in the world and he's pretty damn strong although most people in that world seem to view a guy named Anthony Clark as the strongest man in the country right now. Henry pressed and dropped Lawler. On the live show, Vega double count out Austin in a decent match. They did a segment where Roddy Piper and Goldust had a confrontation. Piper was unbelievable here the way he carried the segment and got the match over. It's the best work he's done in wrestling in years. Every young wrestler should study that for how to do an interview to get something over. They aired clips of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels training at Mania. Michaels was being trained by Jose Lothario, who was his original trainer right out of high school. Lothario was the big draw in San Antonio in the early 70s and was a pretty big name in wrestling during his prime. Hart was shown being trained by his father. Bret made a remark during his interview, which came off as almost a total shoot interview, that he's never seen a tough Mexican wrestler (with the idea that Michaels was trained in Mexican style since Lothario, who is from Mexico, was his trainer and because aspects of his style are Lucha Libre oriented) which got him an amazing amount of heat within hours on the West Coast. TV main saw Undertaker & Yokozuna beat Smith & Owen via DQ. This was nothing as a match. Diesel came out and clotheslined Paul Bearer and Undertaker chased Diesel to the back. This left Yoko against both and he was holding his own until Vader showed up for the DQ and they destroyed him until Ahmed Johnson and Roberts showed up. Matches taped for upcoming Raw shows saw Diesel (first match back from the injury working as a total heel) beat Horowitz, Bret beat Tatanka when Kid's interference backfired, Michaels beat Cassidy. Lothario was at ringside doing spanish announcing. Jannetty came out and tripped Michaels to officially turn him heel. Bret came out and confronted him and it wound up with Bret and Michaels in a stare-down. Helmsley beat Montoya, Goldust over Fatu (who will probably be switched into a new role as a member of a Gang tag team with his cousin Samu), Johnson beat Hart via DQ when Smith interfered, etc.

Hakushi is history.

Jim Hellwig would only let a professional bodybuilding photographer shoot his pub photos (so as to know to highlight the strengths and hide the weaknesses in the physique) so Titan had to bring in the son on Jim Mannion to do his pub photos. The irony here is that Mannion was a bitter enemy of McMahon's during the bodybuilding business promotional war that McMahon lost several years back.

Supposedly six people have gotten Bob Backlund's autograph since he went on his insanity kick by naming all of the Presidents in order.

WWF has made a play to bring in Rey Misterio Jr. As of this point, it isn't going to happen.

This week's Billionaire Ted was pretty much a nothing with a guy doing a poor Mean Gene asking people to call his hotline (1-900-LYING-BALDIE) and them showing Hogan as a feeble old man needing oxygen to keep from dying while training and Savage trying to get treatment for his baldness.

Spoiler for 3/25/96:
The power of Hulkamania, as in the political power, reared its ugly head once again this past week causing much discussion within WCW as to whether the company would be better off without Hogan and Randy Savage.

Hogan, who has full control of his own programs and is basically the head booker, even though Kevin Sullivan has to handle most of the dirty work, decided, which some believe was due to heavy influencing from Savage, to change the main event at the WCW Uncensored PPV from the one-on-four match to a two-on-eight four decker cage match with rules that still haven't been fully explained. Hogan released this information to the company in mid-week, that he was adding Savage and four heels to the main event. Savage's falls count anywhere match with Chris Benoit was already a problem since Benoit was on tour with New Japan. If need be, Benoit could have come back early, as Booker T is going to do, for the show. The last big show of the New Japan tour is 3/20 in Nagoya except for a tag tourney on 3/26 that Benoit isn't in. However, that was expected to be one of the few matches watchable on a show that seemed to get worse by the day between the changing of the main event and Johnny B. Badd quitting the promotion. Hogan also added four oversized heels to the mix, three of whom were Tom "Tiny" Lister, formerly Zeus for a brief but memorable run in the WWF after being lead heel in Hogan's first movie, Jeep Swenson, a Southern California Gold's Gym type who had both boxed (where he was once knocked out by a guy skinnier than Greg Gagne) and wrestled (poorly) who in muscle mags claims to have the largest muscular arms in the world, and One Man Gang. The final spot will either be taken by Shark or Warlord, or perhaps as a longshot, adding a ninth person to the side in Brian Pillman. It is pretty clear as the trend in wrestling shifts toward smaller and more athletic wrestlers, that Hogan is still living in the 80s size era, and that the Titan spoofs on WCW in regard to steroid testing seem to gain more validity by the week.

Since Hogan's frequent changing of the booking winds up frustrating everyone, combined with the fact the Saturday shows, which he rarely appears on, are doing big ratings and the last house show run without he, Savage, Road Warriors or Steiners did big business, puts the multi-million dollar contract and large cut of every PPV show in question. In addition, both Hogan and Savage were said to have strongly opposed Bischoff's decision to bring in Kevin Nash and Scott Hall with big dollar contracts. Hogan came back by booking himself on the 3/18 Nitro show after the original committee had put together the show without he and Savage, and had booked a Flair vs. Sting world title match, coming off the two drawing big ratings on a Saturday show, as the Nitro main event. However, as is the case in WCW, when the ratings came in for 3/18 with WCW scoring a resounding win over WWF, negatives were forgotten. The belief is that if Uncensored does a strong or even decent buy rate coming in the wake of the 3/18 ratings, then Hogan's position in power will be safe. If it doesn't with Hogan making all the late changes and booking the card so heavily around himself and his friends, then there may become a crack in his autonomous power.

Because WWF owns the rights to the name Zeus, an older and flabbier 90s version will go by the name Ze Gangsta. Swenson, who wrestled in the mid-80s for World Class wrestling and has done some Southern California indie work since then, was called on Nitro "The Final Solution," but after complaints hit WCW on Tuesday since it struck a raw nerve with people of Jewish heritage and others because the term was the Nazi term for extermination of Jews in the World War II era, the name is expected to be changed to Final Annihilation.

In addition, after apparently not being clued in about Brian Pillman's cameo on the 3/11 Nitro from Winston-Salem, and seeing what a big reaction Pillman got from the crowd, Hogan apparently ordered Pillman to return immediately and get involved with him rather than milk the angle as originally planned as to create a situation that doesn't look like a normal wrestling angle. By being aligned with the main heel group, it meant being on the same side as Kevin Sullivan, which basically ruins all the plans made previously and exposes WCW's long-term planning. What his exact ideas were for Pillman was unclear, but by having Pillman return in this manner kills all the convoluted b.s. WCW tried to work all its wrestlers with and killed 98% of the impact of Pillman coming back with enough heat behind him to actually make a difference and finally break out of the mid-card pack. The Pillman ship has sailed as far as paying off at the box office from the original most talked about angle in recent times in wrestling, as he was acknowledged as being part of the heel group in an Arn Anderson interview on Nitro, although by the time the closing heel interview had taken place, Pillman had done the David Copperfield and disappeared. This killed the gimmick that he was no longer with the promotion that the promotion went to such laughable measures to uphold before Hogan or someone else simply decided to have it dropped.

Speaking of Pillman, he officially quit ECW just hours earlier after a 4 a.m. phone conversation with Paul Heyman and another with Steve Karel with the two sides disagreeing regarding payment for the production of a commercial for Pillman's newly created 900 line. Pillman claimed that was part of his agreement to go to ECW, while ECW presented him with a $7,600 bill for production. The heat between the two sides turned out to be really bad over that and other aspects of each's ideas on how he would be used, with Pillman vowing that under no circumstances would he ever work for ECW again and feeling working the style that gets over to those fans posed an unacceptable injury risk, although by the next day the situation may have changed again as far as him perhaps doing videos for the television show but not as far as doing a match. Pillman is said to have some sort of obligations to WCW through 4/17 and reports are that the two sides are far apart (as in a $225,000 offer and a $500,000 asking price) in regard to a new contract. Pillman, Lister and Swenson all showed up at the end of the Hogan & Savage vs. Ric Flair & Sullivan match on the 3/18 Nitro from Chattanooga, with Pillman attacking both Hogan and Savage but also at one point going after Sullivan, while Lister and Swenson showed up in the ring and Hogan and Savage backed off to sell their immense size. Savage reportedly received a black eye from Pillman.

Monday Nitro from 3/18 in Chattanooga before 7,009 fans (6,008 paying $63,734) opened with Giant attacking Loch Ness in a pitiful brawl since Loch can't do a thing, then Lex Luger sauntered by, got in the ring, they rang the bell, Loch didn't enter the ring and Lex was ruled the winner via count out and celebrated like he'd just won the biggest match of his career. Luger and Jimmy Hart have been tremendous of late (not as far as wrestling but as far as characters) and a few weeks back I'd have never believed that was possible. Hogan & Savage did an incoherent interview to build up the PPV. Eric Bischoff made a reference during the show to the World Whining Federation and mentioned that an Olympian would be joining WCW soon (former bobsled medalist Chip Minton). Steiners beat Public Enemy in 6:44 when Rick bulldogged Grunge off the top rope in a match better than expected (**1/4). Booty Man pinned Arn Anderson after a knee to the head in 5:42. Arn looked twice the size of Ed Leslie. Don't know if Leslie shrunk or Arn has expanded (well, I know Arn has expanded), but it was amazing to see them side by side since Leslie is usually a larger person than Arn. Anyway, the bout sucked (1/4*). Road Warriors beat Nasty Boys when Animal hit Knobs with his elbow pad for the pin in 8:26. Match was fine early with some good brawling, but all four appeared to blow up and it turned into a mess. Steiners came out and wound up brawling with both teams creating a three-way feud (*1/2). Hogan & Savage beat Flair & Sullivan via DQ in 10:19 when Anderson tripped Hogan and then Pillman interfered for the DQ. Zeus and Jeep then came out and they did a post-match interview. Jeep apparently blew up just walking to the ring and wound up in the hospital that night with a very high fever so is already questionable for the weekend. Liz missed the show with laryngitis. Match was better than the standard horrible main event fare Hogan has been doing, but one of the funniest things I've ever seen was Hogan with his long legs and no technique attempting to figure four Sullivan with his short legs and it was the worst figure four in history (*3/4).

Pillman had throat surgery at Vanderbilt University on 3/13. Gene Okerlund on the WCW Hotline then reported that Pillman didn't have the surgery and was making it up claiming he had called the hospital and there was no record of Pillman being there. This resulted in a legal letter from Pillman's agent to Okerlund complete with Pillman's patient discharge sheet and asked Okerlund to make a correction during Nitro. Okerlund then missed Nitro with the flu.

This past weekend's WCW Saturday Night was taped 3/13 in Dalton, GA (1,500 fans, 1,338 paid, $10,000 house). Road Warriors had a match but were attacked before it got started by Steiners. Scott is a total physical freak. Belfast Bruiser pinned David Taylor in a good match and then Bobby Eaton and Steve Regal came out but Bruiser beat them up as well. Brad Armstrong beat Disco Inferno in a decent bout. Page ran down Johnny B. Badd way too much in his interview and they basically changed his match to Booty Man. Giant lost by count out to Jim Duggan when Loch Ness attacked him and they brawled to the back. Hogan & Savage wrestled Shark & Barbarian on top and they went off the air without a finish, which now that it was just done, is really annoying.

There was far more made of losing Johnny B. Badd within WCW than one would expect within WCW because he had taken great strides and because of the belief that he's the type of person who may make it big in WWF.

Comments from the 3/18 taped Raw show. Jake Roberts really showed his age, well, actually not his age but he showed Nick Bockwinkel's age in the match with Davey Boy Smith. He looked very old and slow in the ring although his name and charisma are still there. Bret Hart's interview promoting the Michaels match was unreal. With the death of Cactus Jack, Hart and Piper are the best interviewers in the business. Piper vs. Goldust was announced as an off the premises Hollywood Lot Brawl, which may mean it'll be pre-taped and spliced into the show similar to the now legendary match in the back of a pick-up truck WCW did last year (can you believe they are actually bragging about that fiasco in hyping Uncensored?). They are teasing Mr. Fuji returning as a babyface manager for Yokozuna to feud with Jim Cornette. Talk about having nine lives. Speaking of Yokozuna, if his team wins at Mania, Yoko gets five minutes with Cornette.

Vince McMahon was on the Chet Coppock NuSport show this past week and Bret Hart was scheduled on 3/19. McMahon did the same basic complaining about how unfair it is that Ted Turner is doing to him what at least in some if not many ways he did to everyone else.

Billionaire Ted skit this week was Ted at a mock FTC hearing where they tried to portray that the No. 1 priority on Ted's agenda these days is to destroy the WWF and urged wrestling fans to write the FTC with their concern to stop this.

There was an interesting quote from Rupert Murdoch, who is another business rival of Ted, after Ted knocked the Fox network for the quality of some of the shows, Murdoch said that at least we draw the line when it comes to brown-nosing foreign dictators and airing professional wrestling. Hypocritical quote of the year to be sure since it's well known Fox was considering its own weekly wrestling show for Friday nights next season, Fox aired the Wrestlemania special and that some major negotiations (we don't have details other than they supposedly have fallen through) were taking place between Murdoch and Vince McMahon of late regarding WWF on Fox.

Just to show WCW isn't the only one that means nothing mainstream, in the 3/17 Chicago Tribune there was an article on British soprano Jane Eaglen, who happens to be a major pro wrestling fan whose favorite wrestler is The Undertaker. In the article by a Chicago reporter, Undertaker was described as a 6-foot-10 inch British wrestler.

Jim Hellwig is releasing a "Warrior" comic book.

Spoiler for April 2001 Figure 4 Weekly:
There is a lesson that many people in the wrestling industry learned last week, and a lesson that many others will learn in the very near future. The men who have tried to ignore this lesson are many. Those men will no longer be players on the national wrestling scene.

The lesson is simple. When it comes to pro-wrestling, Vince McMahon always gets the last laugh. Always.

The plan, at least for this week, is to keep WCW a separate organization and attempt to rebuild it for a likely interpromotional war six months to a year down the road. The WWF and TNN have already agreed to air a new WCW program, which may or may not be called “Nitro”, on Saturday nights from 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM. No start date was finalized as of press time, although the belief is that the debut is at least six to eight weeks away. The new promotion will probably consist of whichever WCW performers are retained (mostly midcarders like Shannon Moore, Shane Helms, Lance Storm, Kanyon, Mike Awesome and Kidman), some former ECW stars (likely Jason Jett and perhaps a few guys like Little Guido, who Paul Heyman is high on, and Kid Kash), some of the WWF developmental wrestlers who the company has been wanting to bring up, but hasn’t found a spot for on the active WWF roster (Steve Bradley for example), and a handful of current WWF stars.

In a story that’s getting way too much attention, they’ve added a Battle Royal to WrestleMania this year featuring “the greatest gimmicks of all time in one ring.” Among the participants announced thus far: Bushwhackers, Doink the Clown, Brother Love, Sgt. Slaughter, Michael Hayes (who is referred to as “Freebird Michael Hayes”), Nikolai Volkoff, Earthquake, Typhoon, Repo Man, Hillbilly Jim, Kim Chee, The Goon, Kimala, Gobbledy Gooker and Iron Sheik. This is scary beyond comprehension. First off, it’s false advertising, because the WWF specifically said the GREATEST gimmicks of all time. Second, this has to be setting up some sort of run-in by a big star, because there is no way that this match can go even one minute without being booed out of the building. Plus — and I’m not saying this as a joke but because it’s true — if Iron Sheik in particular tries to take a bump over the top rope he will die. People have also noted that now that WWF has purchased WCW, they could throw in a bunch of horrible WCW gimmicks as well, like Kevin Nash as “Oz” or the Ding Dongs. This battle royal is really happening and it’s not a rib. I believe the guys are being paid between $500 and $1000 each to make the appearance.

Very negative reviews for the Smackdown taping last week, particularly the fact that there were only two matches in the first hour. Although it wasn’t apparent on TV, there were some very violent reactions during the 23-minute taped Rock/Austin interview, with fans chanting for refunds and actually throwing things at the TitanTron. More anti-Rock signs had to be confiscated. Apparently, there were far more signs that made it on TV than I was aware of last week, including one sign reading “Screw YOU ROCK” that appeared at least twice before being taken away. In news which may end up being extremely disturbing, Austin after the show tore his shirt off and did a most-muscular pose, a la Hulk Hogan. The good news is that, at least this week, talks between Hogan and the WWF appear to have fallen apart.

Shawn Michaels was at Raw Monday night, but with the whole WCW sale going down they ended up having to scrap his planned return due to time constraints. The revised plan was for him to return on Smackdown in an angle that would lead towards WrestleMania. They ended up having to scrap that segment as well and he ended up storming out of the building late Tuesday afternoon. Not sure what that means for his appearance at WrestleMania, but things may not look good. Michaels was already lobbying for Kevin Nash to be brought back, and even suggested a new DX crew to invade WCW, consisting of himself, Nash, X-Pac, Triple H, and Justin Credible. Of course, that’s the original “Clique” group that politically ran wild backstage in the mid-90s and nearly brought WWF to its knees, so don’t hold your breath waiting for that one to happen.

The idea of a 24-hour buy-on-demand wrestling pay-per-view channel has already been discussed, with WWF now owning well over a decade of WCW footage plus likely buying the ECW videotape library as well.

Shane Douglas, who wasn’t on the best terms with the WWF anyway, was stupid enough to no-show Nitro and his scheduled match with Rick Steiner

Speaking of stupid people, Lex Luger and Buff Bagwell walked out of Nitro before the show even went on the air. Steve Regal, during a promotional tour in Australia last week, went on several tirades about how unprofessional the two were at the Greed PPV.

WCW Wednesday Thunder (3/21/01)

After 29 years on TBS, they billed this, the final show ever on the station, as the “season finale”.

Jung Dragons beat Air Paris & AJ Styles. Paris and Styles were billed as “Air Raid”. Their ring gear screamed “Air Plain”. Yan