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February 15, 1999 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Reaction to the death of Giant Baba, 2 wrestlers have heart scares, plus tons more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 February 15, 1999

The public reaction to the death of Shohei Baba over the past week stunned even the most ardent Japanese followers of pro wrestling. The reaction, for someone described in almost every form of medium as a national hero, went far beyond any recent sports deaths in recent U.S. culture such as a Mickey Mantle, and was more comparable to the reaction to entertainment legends such as Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Frank Sinatra.

The reaction surprised people in today's wrestling, recognizing Baba as one of the three big names in Japanese wrestling history along with Rikidozan and Antonio Inoki, but not realizing that the older generation that controls the media, the news directors, editors, and publishers in their 40s and 50s grew up in the 60s--a world where pro wrestling and Giant Baba's wins over the top Americans every Friday night on NTV was somehow representative of the concurrent rise of Japan as a world wide economic power after World War II in a country where symbolism is so important.

This generation gap was best represented when nearly every television station in the country, and more than 200 reporters in total, were camped outside Baba's mansion in Tokyo on 2/2 for the private funeral service. Baba had been cremated the previous day. Current All Japan stars like Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi walked right past reporters who had no knowledge of who they were, despite All Japan's late night television ratings being extraordinary in recent months. However, when the 70s stars that the reporters grew up with, such as Jumbo Tsuruta, Seiji Sakaguchi and Tatsumi Fujinami walked by, they were mobbed by reporters, who saw people from their generation, the likes of Sadaharu Oh (Japan's all-time home run record holder), Shigeo Nagashima, and even The Destroyer (one of Baba's first rivals in the 60s and later his first-ever regular American tag team partner in the 70s and a mainstream comedy figure at the same time, who immediately flew to Japan upon getting the news and was interviewed in virtually every medium imaginable) as celebrities as opposed to the current wrestlers who they didn't grow up with. It was also interesting to note that not one media report described pro wrestling as anything but pro wrestling. There were no snide remarks anywhere about it being fake or fixed. There was no attempt to claim it was real either. It was almost as if pro wrestling itself was such a part of the Japanese culture that describing what it is, and isn't, wasn't even necessary.

As an example of a nation heavily into symbolism, one publication noted Baba's passing as being symbolic of the end of the 20th century. Putting his place in the history of wrestling in perspective is like trying to explain El Santo to Americans who would think of a comparison with Hulk Hogan or an Andre the Giant, not understanding that from a cultural standpoint, the comparisons are closer to Babe Ruth and Arnold Schwarzeneggar.

Even though Baba's time in legitimate professional sports competition in Japan was limited to three major league baseball games as a teenager, he was talked of as being a two-sport superstar. The brief baseball tenure was played up as far bigger than it was in the media after his death. Because of his height, he did achieve some celebrity status in Japan from baseball before starting as a pro wrestler. He was on the Yomiuri Tokyo Giants and his battery mate as catcher was Shigeo Nagashima, a baseball player and later Giants manager who is Mr. Baseball in that culture, with baseball being the No. 1 sport in Japan, while in those days, pro wrestling was probably about No. 3, trailing also sumo (today it's probably No. 6 or No. 7). It has been said that Baba, Nagashima, Inoki and Sadaharu Oh (who hit more than 800 home runs with the same Giants and is far better known world-wide than the other three for breaking Hank Aaron's record, but was not as popular within Japanese culture as Nagashima and perhaps the other two as well) are the four most famous athletes in the history of post-World War II Japan. Baba is to this day the answer to a Japanese trivia question about being the tallest man ever to play Japanese Major League ball.

Baba has always been said in recent years to have been 209 centimeters tall (6-10 1/4). He had been measured on games shows, wearing big shoes, to be that height. He's probably closer to 6-8 1/2 or 6-9, as he was slightly shorter than Ernie Ladd when they wrestled each other in the 70s. In their many photos together both before and after they became a regular gimmick tag team as a way to prolong Andre's career when he could barely walk, Baba appeared to be an inch or two shorter than Andre, who was probably legitimately 6-9 or 6-10 (as a team in the ring Baba appeared taller, but that's because Baba always stood upright and Andre by this point was badly hunched), but Andre always wore big lifts in his wrestling boots to give the illusion of being taller than he actually was while Baba didn't. Photos of Baba from his early wrestling training days under Rikidozan with Inoki in 1960 indicate him being slightly shorter than he eventually wound up being, looking like he was about 6-7 and maybe 245 pounds and in those days he looked like a well conditioned athlete as opposed to what he would best be known as looking like in later life. As a teenager three years earlier with the Giants he was listed in baseball records as being 6-7 and 198 pounds--he must have been a stick in those days--a far cry from the 7-3 and 300 pounds he'd be billed at when four years later he was the terror of American rings as a Japanese monster heel.

The media and public reaction was slightly less than the reaction, for comparison purposes in the United States to the death of either Lennon or Presley, but equal to that of Sinatra. Sinatra may be the best cultural figure comparison to Baba because of their respective stardom taking many different forms and spanning every generation of society as opposed to the others who were much bigger at their peak in popular culture, but weren't considered as either national institutions or whose image wasn't as strong and remained as strong for generations through every age group besides the generation that grew up with them. Not only was Baba's death front page news in virtually every newspaper, and the lead news story on most radio and television stations for the next two days, but there were follow-up stories in virtually every newspaper all week long. Even at the end of the week, the tabloid sports newspapers were running the entire front page, with a second full page of sidebars inside, with coverage of Baba's death. There was a cartoon in the 2/4 Tokyo Sports showing the familiar sight of the All Japan ring and its distinctive lettering saying "All Heaven Pro," as opposed to All Japan Pro, with cartoon versions Baba and Andre shaking hands in the middle and with people like Bruiser Brody, Fritz Von Erich and Dick Murdoch at ringside watching the matches.

Even more than all the television specials put together, the biggest being a 90 minute special on the network which aired Baba's matches dating back to the early 1960s, Nippon TV which aired on 2/7, were the reactions in the mail, telegrams and videotape. sales

After the initial surge from Baba's death, NTT, the National Telegram company, equivalent to Western Union, was shut down for several days. The rush on sending telegrams of condolences to Baba's family and the All Japan office was such that there was no telegram paper left in Japan. VAP, the company which sold the All Japan home videos, couldn't keep them in the market, and in particular, the two-match video package which contained a 1982 match against Stan Hansen and a 1983 match against Bruiser Brody, was doing several millions dollars in business every day during the week. By 2/4, three days after the word of the death was broadcast to the public, the All Japan office had already received in excess of 100,000 letters of condolences.

As far as a perspective in wrestling, certainly he right near the top of the list of the ten most important figures in its history world-wide. As a promoter, he realistically would rank as the second most successful ever, behind only Vince McMahon Jr., not only for consistent big business but for innovations and changes that stood the test of time. Maybe the Gold Dust trio in the 20s, because they did establish the foundation of working and doing programs that the business would live on for the next 70 years, or perhaps Rikidozan since he did start from nothing and turn pro wrestling, with the help of television, into a national pastime in Japan where it has remained, or perhaps Salvador Lutteroth, for bringing the sport to Mexico in the 1930s and remaining the country's national promoter controlling the industry for four decades, would be more important historically. He was by no means a great wrestler in the ring as even in his peak years he was very limited physically and most of his classic matches would not look good by today's standards. Viewing matches with some of the American stars of that era like Bobo Brazil, Crusher and Dick the Bruiser, it was clear Baba was a better performer than the aforementioned legends of the same era. That certainly could not be said for his 70s and 80s main events against that generation's top name Americans. He was a smart worker in that he got the most out of his very limited athletic ability, in-ring repertoire and mobility. He was a huge star everywhere he went, although in the 70s when he'd tour the U.S. frequently and headline the biggest arenas, he was almost always a big disappointment because he'd arrive with such a huge reputation from beating everyone in Japan and was unimpressive compared with that rep. As a wrestling star, he's certainly among the biggest ever within the wrestling world itself, and for crossing over into mainstream, one of the three biggest ever with El Santo and Inoki. He shaped the entire wrestling industry in Japan, both as its top star in the 60s and its most influential promoter on-and-off for the next 25 years.

There are many valuable lessons to learn from his success as a promoter. When it came to booking tournaments, his almost Rubik's Cube like booking of winners, losers and draws to leave everyone in contention until the end took tournaments to a level of excitement and conjecture which no promoter in history has even been able to touch. His titles, at least the top singles title, maintained logic and credibility his entire reign as a promoter. He was very loyal to the performers who made his business for the most part although there was bitterness at the time with how the Terry Funk exit was handled, but knew how and when to fade them, and for that matter himself, down to where they wouldn't interfere with the next class of stars on the rise. For the most part over 26 years he didn't having any really serious business downfalls, although he had his rocky times early, and after the Ali-Inoki match, and this past year was certainly his worst, probably since the early days of the company. There is even the valuable lesson about no matter how great a hand you are dealt, you can't stay with a pat hand for a decade. That no matter how great a product you have at one time, time never stands still. And the same lesson that applies to so many once successful companies, it's the creation of new stars that leads to hot periods and not creating new stars eventually leads nowhere. Perhaps the most valuable lesson as it can apply to the United States is the one he taught about ego.

Giant Baba had long passed his physical prime by 1982, but was still the biggest star in the company. At the time, NTV owned a substantial amount of All Japan and because of Baba's in-ring limitations, wanted to push Jumbo Tsuruta as the top star. But when Stan Hansen made the jump, Baba, as the symbol of the company fighting the "outsider" who had been Inoki's lead rival, fought and won against making the change, and had a very successful singles main event program that lasted nearly three years. Because of what it represented, it was a more successful program than if Tsuruta had been put in that position, so looking back, at the time he was right. But he knew ultimately they were right. During that period, Baba's business was so strong that he regained full control of the company, but instead of gloating over his proving to be right, he recognized the lay of the land. He maneuvered himself from the top in a few subtle steps. In 1983 for the tag team tournament, he put Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu together as the top Japanese team, and he himself formed a legends combination with Dory Funk, and kept things equal by having the two teams tie for second place behind winners Hansen & Brody. In 1984, he took himself out of tournament contention, using the tournament to set himself up with a feud that lasted many years in comedy six-mans with Rusher Kimura, after a split with the two as partners, and put Tsuruta & Tenryu over in the tournament beating Hansen & Brody, a tournament win that established them as the top two native stars in the company. When Riki Choshu and company made the jump, Baba completely stayed out of the main event programs. When Choshu and company "attacked" All Japan, the All Japan they were attacking was no longer the figure of Baba, but of Tsuruta & Tenryu. Baba gave up his PWF title to Hansen for the last time in 1985 and phased himself out of the main events. This gave Tenryu, in particular, since he surpassed Tsuruta at the time when it came to hot work when the style bar was raised by the Choshu army invasion doing the faster-paced New Japan style, the opportunity to reach the top. After Choshu's group left, in the late 80s and probably into the early 90s, when All Japan would work the small towns on tour as opposed to the big cities where the new stars had gotten over, Baba's name probably meant more then people like Jumbo, Misawa, Kawada and Kobashi when it came to selling tickets. But he recognized his own physical limitations and what it would mean to company credibility if he worked main events, so aside from his few matches a year on television where the gimmick was seeing Baba in the ring briefly in tag matches where his role was limited, with the new stars, he worked the mid-card comedy matches. His role was basically to get some exercise to keep his various medical ailments such a diabetes at bay, maintain a presence also for cultural reasons as far as being an active wrestler, and make people smile to see Baba as the paternal legend in the ring with the other older wrestlers he kept around due to loyalty. At that point in time, his main role really was to be the straight man for the comedy interviews of Rusher Kimura. Kimura joked after always being on the losing end of six-mans involving Baba, saying things like "Baba, you beat me this time, but I'm still better looking than you are," or "Baba, can I go to the local tavern and tell the keeper that I'm friends with Baba so he'll give me free drinks." Eventually the act got old and they became a team, but it really didn't matter. Baba had long since set a standard and put himself in a role where a past-his-prime legend could remain as a ticket seller, but at the same time not hurt the credibility of the product. If Hogan and others were to recognize this, and do mid-card gimmick matches with celebrities, but at the same time not intermix with the current stars except on rare occasions where it would also mean something as a gimmick, his name value and those of the celebrities could still sell tickets, the poor matches would be far more easily tolerated as special attractions in the middle of the show as opposed to the final main event title match on the show. They'd get the benefit of the curiosity of seeing the celebrities, the name value of Hogan, but at the same time, not hurt the company in the long run because the shows always end up disappointing, and fans wouldn't see him as intruding on the main events, nor would he be burying the future of the company and the younger wrestlers under his own ego.

Unlike most wrestlers who turn promoters and bookers and try to create a company based on their own successes and background, Baba, particularly at the end, was quite a bit different. Baba the main event world-beater was a giant freak. Being so tall he did have somewhat of a bias toward larger men, and never pushed a small man or really gave more than token credence to a junior heavyweight division except when Misawa did the Tiger Mask gimmick. Still, the unmasked Misawa, his top star during his most successful period, was really a bulked up junior heavyweight. Unlike in other sports where Japanese had to have superior technique because they didn't have physical superiority, Baba became the representative of being physically superior to foreigners who could bully the rest of the Japanese around due to their size. Baba had his stature, and really little else, because he had arms so tiny that his elbows measured as large as his biceps. He got over in the 60s and 70s almost always beating big-name Americans, often in blood matches, usually after a series of inconclusive finishes building to the blow-off.

The Babas, who had no children, generally considered the wrestlers that they took as teenagers and trained into adult hood, often times to superstardom, as their children. Because of that, when Tenryu left to form SWS in 1989, taking 14 wrestlers and employees with him, the Babas took it differently than the simply business that it would be considered in similar situations with other companies, and refused to have any business relations with him even at times when WAR basically closed up and using Tenryu would have sparked a stale business. When Atsushi Onita, who was one of Baba's wrestlers until 1984, years earlier had formed FMW, the Babas refused for years to deal with anyone, including some of their former closest business associates, that helped Onita start out, carrying the grudge until recent years. It was when Tenryu left that Baba himself thought his business future looked bleakest. But the end result, with the younger wrestlers doing so well, is it led to the best business period in the history of the company. There was clearly a double standard, as when both Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher jumped to New Japan in the middle of heated wrestling wars, since they were foreigners, it was just considered American mercenary business. Eventually in late 1987 after each was through with New Japan for entirely different reasons, Baba brought them both back. The other difference as it comes to paternal instincts and treatment of Americans is that Baba always paid his foreign talent well. For years it was said that being a regular foreigner with All Japan was the best job in wrestling, because you made a good living, had hotel and trans taken care of, the work in the ring was very hard but the stress on the tours was low, and you had anywhere from 25 to 35 weeks a year off to rest up between tours. With All Japan failing to keep up economically with the new pay scale in wrestling created by a boom period in America, that was no longer the case which is why in recent years, so many of Baba's top foreign stars were wanting out, because the money was no longer superior, or even competitive, with what they thought they could earn back home. During the period when the foreigners were so well paid, and his own Japanese family members knew that basically they had a job with the company for life creating a sense of security that no wrestlers in any company would enjoy. However, for his "boys," their peak earning period in relation to their spots on the card was well below the level of respective stars in the other major league promotions.

The Baba shows of the early 90s, when his promotion was at the time the best in the world, were entirely different from the shows that Baba's own name was built on. It was excellent working Japanese athletes, not slow-moving monsters, but the top foreigners seemingly still had to be large, but both physically tough and agile which clearly limited the pool to choose from. All the top names battled each other, rather than the historical Japanese vs. Foreigner match-up, for supremacy in matches sans the blade and the gimmicks, with the top stars trading off clean wins. As wrestling got more liberal, he got more conservative in his view of wrestling. And yet, for a time, his methodology must have been correct, or he must have been one damn brilliant of a promoter, because his business was as successful as any of them, and it stayed that way until the booking became stale due to a lack of depth and newness of people who could be taken seriously on top.

Because of the secretive nature of the last few months of his life, many rumors have spread, particularly since the rumors weeks earlier that he was dying from cancer turned out to be true. Some believe he actually had cancer for far longer than anyone was letting on, maybe learning of it five years ago when he gave up smoking, and it was only December when physically he just couldn't go on in the ring and where he had to acknowledge death was impending. Some are noting with amazement at his final main event performance, a long match at Korakuen Hall in early 1998 where he pulled off his occasional shocking miracle, or in this case maybe a near miracle, with the feeling his body at the time was already riddled with the cancer. The announcement of his death was also quite strange. It was very clear that Motoko Baba, the most feared woman ever in the industry, who newspaper stories this past week talked about her role as bad cop in the classic pro wrestling good cop, bad cop tag team, was not planning on announcing the death so quickly. It was 27 hours after the death before it went public. During that period, reporters who had gotten the rumors coming from the hospital that he had died and his body was removed from the hospital and taken to his mansion had contacted the company and Motoko and been told the rumors weren't true. It was only after it became clear that the word was going to break in the Monday newspapers and all over television that Motoko arranged the press conference live on NTV in prime time on Sunday night to make the first public announcement.

NTV ran a 90 minute special at 2 p.m. on 2/7. Motoko Baba talked in detail about the final day of Baba's life. Her story, which she was sticking to, is that in December, when Baba wrestled his final match at Budokan Hall, that she was aware of the cancer but Baba himself was under the impression he was suffering from a bad cold. Over the next two months, the cancer had spread throughout his body. On 1/30, Baba was told he had two hours left to live. The two held hands and prayed for a miracle, and he lived another 28 hours. She tried to say that his living the 28 hours was a message he was giving to all the Japanese wrestlers and fans. The show did a 10.4 rating, an excellent number for an afternoon time slot. The regular All Japan television show at 12:45 a.m. that evening, expanded to one hour, largely with footage of more Baba matches, did a 7.0 rating and 58 share, which tied the highest rating in the history of Japanese television in that time slot (also set for a pro wrestling match for a tag team tournament final several years ago). A third one hour special airing more of Baba's matches aired on 2/8 in prime time at 9 p.m. In it, Motoko showed the last portrait Shohei Baba ever painted. Baba painted the portrait for Motoko's older brother, who was the same age as himself and was dying of cancer, and who eventually passed away four months ago. Motoko and her brother grew up in a wealthy family (and in a side note, even though Baba was one of the biggest celebrities in Japan, her family forbid her from marrying him because he was a pro wrestler, and they were likely secretly married, as publicly they were engaged for more than ten years before a public marriage ceremony took place) who lived on a beach. Baba, who had a mansion in Hawaii on the beach, went there and painted a portrait of the surf at sunset with strong waves, and gave it to his brother-in-law's room in the hospital so he could see the ocean as he was dying.

And of the future, that's the biggest question of all. For now, Mitsuo Momota, the son of Rikidozan, will for the time run the business that his father started more than 45 years ago, and handle the business end during this transition period of the company until Misawa, the new President, can learn and be eased into the position. The Destroyer on 2/7 was attempting to convince Motoko Baba that she could continue running the business operations. Many are less than enthusiastic about the prospects of the company built by Baba that has always been run as part of Baba's blueprints, and with his fingerprints all over it, being run by anyone else. NTV has made it clear this past week that it has a strong commitment to pro wrestling and will back Misawa's new version of All Japan. There has been talk that there will be a ceremony to honor Baba either at the 4/17 Champion Carnival finals at Budokan Hall or at the Tokyo Dome show on 5/2 and that many of the legends who created the foundation for the All Japan promotion such as Bruno Sammartino, Gene Kiniski, Harley Race, Destroyer and The Funks would be invited to Japan for the show. A show designed to be like that, if it can be put together, would surely sellout the Dome. Many companies including Sakaguchi representing New Japan, after Baba's death, sent word that they were willing to help out the planned 5/2 Tokyo Dome show. Misawa turned them all down, saying that it would have to be an All Japan pure show because that's what Baba would want it to be.

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With Nitro going unopposed in the United States due to Raw being pre-empted by the Westminster Dog show, it drew near record numbers for what is generally considered a terrible show.

There was a Raw show going on, which aired live in Canada, taped for airing at 8 p.m. on 2/13, before one of the largest crowd ever to witness pro wrestling in the United States or Canada. The general belief from fans live is that the show was a huge disappointment as well, and the expectation is that a lot of changes in the audience soundtrack will be made before the show reaches the air in the United States.

Nitro finished with a 5.67 rating (5.18 first hour; 5.95 second hour; 5.87 third hour) and an 8.3 share. The rating, going unopposed, was along the same lines as Raw had been doing with competition. Generally speaking, when one show is pre-empted, the remaining show, for whatever reason, does 61% of the total usual viewing audience, which means Nitro would be expected to draw a 6.1 rating. Nevertheless, because Nitro is the weaker rated show at this point, even WCW officials beforehand were predicting the same 5.7 that it turned out to be.

The quarter hours were not a positive indicator of the latest new direction that WCW officials claim will re-invent television wrestling. The new concept is to run several different serialized storylines throughout the show. The idea is that cameras are everywhere. However, the announcers only see what is going on in the arena so everything you see in the vignettes are secret back room dealings showing things that you "aren't supposed to see" that some or all will come together in the ring at the climax of the show. At least this week it didn't work, as with no competition, there was no excuse for the audience not to grow constantly through the show. Instead, the audience peaked with a 6.2 rating for the Flair-Hart controversy at the top of the second hour, and bounced up and down a little, but finished weak with a 5.7 for the Piper U.S. title win over Hart, and a 5.6 for the Flair & McMichael vs. Hall & Nash match. Aside from the fact it appeared they had sent a corpse into the ring to win the U.S. title from Hart dressed up to look somewhat like Piper, the fact that Piper never made an appearance before his match and hadn't been around in months, which was hyped by a strong Flair interview, and that the rating dropped significantly from the Vince vs. Ernest Miller match says all anyone needs to hear about Piper at 47.

The Westminster Dog Show, which even as late as this past year drew a higher rating than Raw along with a better demographic profile because it appeals to a more affluent audience, drew a 3.5 rating in the slot.

The Raw at the Sky Dome in Toronto drew the largest crowd in the history of the three-plus year Monday night wars, with 41,432 fans in the building, of which 38,661 paid $1,134,813 Canadian, which works out to be $737,628 in U.S. funds these days. It was both the third largest crowd and third largest gate for pro wrestling ever in Canada, trailing only the August 28, 1995 Toronto Exhibition Stadium match with Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff that drew 69,300, and the April 1, 1990 Wrestlemania match with Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior that drew 64,287 and what remains the North American record $3.45 million house. The gate only topped, in U.S. funds, one of the five recent WCW Nitro dome dates over the past year, but the paid attendance beat all of them. There are only four verifiable attendance figures in the history of U.S. pro wrestling that beat the Sky Dome figure as well, it would be the eighth biggest paid crowd, at least verifiable, in the history of U.S. & Canada wrestling, trailing Hogan vs. Andre at the Pontiac Silverdome on March 29, 1987 (76,000), Shawn Michaels vs. Sid Royal Rumble from the Alamodome in San Antonio on January 21, 1997 (60,525 in attendance, 48,014 paid) and Hogan vs. Sid on April 5, 1992 Wrestlemania from the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis (62,167 fans--47,000 paid). There is also an unverifiable figure of 45,000 paid for a July 30, 1935 match with Strangler Lewis vs. Danno O'Mahoney from Fenway Park in Boston.

The numbers sounded far more impressive than the Raw did. The show was marred by a lack of crowd heat for most of the matches, and incredibly rowdy behavior, as in constant fights in the crowd which diverted attention from the show, and fans pelting the ring with garbage for the final 45 minutes of the show. The advertised Steve Austin vs. Mankind main event never took place (remember this the next time WCW advertises a main event for television and fails to deliver). The only wrestlers that appeared to be over live were Austin and Rock (as a babyface when he came out, although even Rock got no heat for his match). There was apparently tremendous heat directed as the ultra-face ref, Earl Hebner, with loud chants of "You Screwed Bret" whenever he appeared, which were attempted to be drowned out, but still got through, on the live Canadian broadcast of the sow on TSN.

The show opened with Jason Sensation doing several imitations, including of Chyna. They did a 20 minute long banter which started with Austin saying he was going to kill Vince, Mankind saying he was going to kill Rock and the Corporation coming out with Vince and Rock retorting and Vince saying he would ref the Mankind vs. Austin match later in the show. The first match saw Mark Henry, with new valet called Ivory (you know, Ebony & Ivory), real name Lisa Moretti (who formerly worked as GLOW wrestler Tina Ferrari more than ten years ago), beating Jeff Jarrett. D-Lo Brown interfered and gave Jarrett the power bomb. Ivory and Debra were arguing at ringside throughout. Val Venis & Ryan were making out, so Ken Shamrock came out and attacked Venis. Gillberg pinned Goldust, ending the losing streak, when Blue Dust (Blue Meanie Brian Heffron) distracted Goldust allowing Gillberg to score the roll-up. After the match the lights went out, and when they went on, Goldust was covered in blue, similar to the Brood bloodbath TV spot. DX did a promo, during which they announced Billy Gunn would ref the Shamrock vs. Venis IC title match (which at this point is planned to lead to the triangle match at Mania). Austin vs. Mankind got in the ring and Mankind attacked Vince. The Corporation ran in to help him, and Austin and Mankind cleaned house together. So the main event never took place and Vince was outsmarted, but Vince ordered a Gauntlet match with Austin against the Corporation for later in the show. Godfather vs. Viscera ended with no decision when Mideon attacked Godfather. They announced Big Bossman vs. Mideon for the 2/14 PPV show. Sounds like a winner. They are going to do a major program with the Corporation vs. Ministry because the idea of turning Undertaker heel has been dropped since he got cheered at every house show during the week and the feeling is unless he's against Austin, the fans are just going to cheer him even with that grotesque Paul Bearer at his side. X-Pac vs. Kane ended when Chyna attacked X-Pac. Al Snow came out and challenged anyone in the back to a hardcore rules match. Nobody came out. So Snow started beating himself up, putting himself through tables, etc. until Bob Holly came out and told him he was an idiot. He then attacked Holly. Segment said to have blown. Droz beat up Michael Cole as Cole was interviewing him. Rock pinned Steve Blackman. Gauntlet match was said to be filled with fans taking target practice at the wrestlers, and it was explained that the lack of respect toward the crowd at the performers resembled a bad episode of a Hogg Wild WCW PPV event. Anyway, Austin beat Shamrock via DQ when he hit the stunner and Test interfered. Austin beat Test via DQ when he hit the stunner and Kane interfered. Austin beat Kane via DQ after hitting the stunner when Chyna interfered. Austin beat Chyna via DQ when Bossman interfered. Bossman was DQ'd for laying out Austin with his billy club. McMahon came in and then pinned Austin. The whole Corporation then attacked Austin until first Mankind, and then Undertaker, did a run-in and Undertaker cleaned house by choke slamming just about everyone. McMahon vowed that if any member of the Corporation interfered in the Memphis match that they would be fired. The rest of the show after Raw ended saw a dark match with Joe D'Silva (Rob Etcheverria) beat Joe E. Legend, and then for Shotgun, Owen Hart beat Billy Gunn when Jarrett clocked Gunn with the guitar, Gangrel & Edge beat Hardy Boys, Acolytes beat Scott D'Amore & Larry Brun, Mideon beat Tiger Ali Singh and HHH beat Droz. The fans overall were said to have not left happy, which is an aberration for WWF shows, and the line for purchasing tickets for the next show, with 41,000 fans in the building, wasn't anywhere close to as long as the line for purchasing tickets for this show, at a card which had 15,000 in the building.

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Two eerily similar heart attack scares took place involving Perry Saturn (Perry Satullo) and Shane Douglas (Troy Martin) over this past weekend.

Saturn, 32, suffered shortness of breath when he woke up on 2/4 his hotel room in Boston, in town for the Providence Thunder. He was having problems breathing all morning, getting worse as he was eating breakfast. Having grown up in Boston, he decided to drive himself to Massachusetts General Hospital, but on the way, wasn't able to breath at all. When he got to a toll booth, he alerted people as to his condition and they rushed an ambulance to take him to the hospital. The first EKG test was way off the charts. Blood pressure and oxygen intake tests were normal, and a second EKG done later in the day was only slightly off. The hospital wanted to keep him over night, but he checked out on his own against the wishes of those in the hospital and flew home that night to Atlanta.

He had a series of tests done on 2/8 and is scheduled for more testing under a cardiologist on 2/10 where he is hopeful of getting a medical release to return for the 2/15 Nitro. Saturn believed at press time that due to his wrestling for the past several months with a back injury, inflamed L-4 and T-5 discs, a vertebrae in his back compressed against a nerve. When he woke up and couldn't breath, he went into a panic attack, thus sending his EKG out of whack.

Douglas, 35, also suffered heart attack like symptoms in a car after matches on 2/5 in Columbia, SC. Douglas was taken to the hospital and the condition was serious enough that he was not released to return home to Pittsburgh until 2/8. At press time it was thought that he had not suffered a heart attack, but there was no conclusive report on what he had suffered or what his recovery prognosis would be, but the fact he was hospitalized for three days seems to indicate serious problems. Douglas told people that he suffered a very bad viral infection and was said to be feeling much better by 2/9, and would be going to New York to represent ECW at the Toy Fair the next day. He also told Paul Heyman that he would be attending the weekend television taping in Queens. His participation will probably be limited to an angle, as it isn't expected he'll be doing anything physical in Queens, nor wrestle on the rest of this coming weekend's shows.

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Perhaps the biggest national hero of any wrestler in history, El Santo in Mexico, had the 15th anniversary of his death on 2/5.

Since shortly after Santo's death in 1984, February 5 has become a national holiday in Mexico. EMLL sponsored a wake and a mass at Arena Coliseo at Noon to honor the character played by Rodolfo Guzman Huerta. The wake was a huge success, drawing several thousand fans including all ten of Santo's sons. At the wake, a plaque of El Santo was unveiled to be placed in the main foyer at the entrance of the building. It was interesting that Ovaciones, the major local newspaper, gave the mass and wake a huge full page color write up, but put it in the movie section instead of the sports section (by tradition, pro wrestling is covered in the sports section in Japan and Mexico). This being pro wrestling, they did use this for an angle, as while El Hijo del Santo was visiting his father's tomb, he was attacked by Scorpio Jr.

Later that evening the traditional Friday night TV taping took place before an overflow crowd in the same building with El Hijo del Santo & Negro Casas beating Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. to win the CMLL tag team titles via DQ. In the third fall, Perro Aguayo, who has not yet jumped to EMLL but it appears he is going to, and was attending this show because it was honoring Santo, got into it with the heels in the third fall, ending with Salvaje pounding on Aguayo right in front of commissioners Rey Mendoza, Fantasma and Huracan Ramirez. Earlier in the show they had already done an angle where Aguayo had words with Mascara Ano 2000, whose mask Aguayo won in the famous Plaza Mexico show in front of 50,000 fans in 1993. Anyway, the commissioners ordered the heels DQ'd for attacking Aguayo, which in Mexico, results in a title change. Santo & Casas were handed the belts, talked it over, and handed the belts back saying they don't want to win a championship in this manner.

Among the legends in attendance at a lengthy ceremony hold midway through the show to honor Santo were El Hijo del Santo and his nine brothers, Blue Demon, Aguayo, Mendoza, Karloff Lagarde Sr. and Ramirez.

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Bob Backlund announced on 2/4 that he was going to be running for Congress as a Republican in his home state of Connecticut.

In a front page story that is definitely not meant as a gimmick in the Hartford Courant, Backlund, the WWF champion from 1978-83 as a clean cut babyface, announced he would be running in the First District of Connecticut, which includes his long-time home town of Glastonbury, in the 2000 elections against incumbent Democrat John Larson. Backlund, who later gained cult fame for a short stint as a comical and maniacal right wing zealot heel on WWF broadcasts in 1995-96 in a mock Presidential bid, and was even given a three day title reign (beating Bret Hart on a Survivor Series show on November 23, 1994 before losing to Kevin "Diesel" Nash three days later in Madison Square Garden in a matter of seconds) in a failed attempt to make him a top of the line heel. While Backlund drew incredible heat at arenas, it didn't translate into drawing money, and he was never a good worker in his prime, and his in-ring style was terribly outdated and the top stars of the time didn't want to work with him because of it. At one point, when programmed with a face Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), Hall insisted on Dick Murdoch travelling the circuit as Backlund's manager, and Hall basically worked spots with Murdoch and tried to do as little with Backlund as would be possible in doing a match. Backlund, 49, who wrestles occasionally on independent shows and worked a few matches this year in Japan, talked about Jesse Ventura's success winning the Minnesota Governorship in announcing his bid. Backlund had privately talked of running for the U.S. Senate in 1998, but was talked out of it when the Republicans got behind Gary Franks.

There is a huge difference between Backlund and people like Ventura, Jerry Lawler (who has talked about running for Mayor of Memphis) and Ric Flair (who the Republicans in North Carolina have talked with about possible candidacy in the future). The latter are all tremendous public speakers who used wrestling as a springboard to becoming major local celebrities. Backlund lacked that kind of charisma in wrestling, even though business was successful for the most part when he was WWF champion. But his post-title career, aside from the gimmick period when he returned to the WWF which was mainly comedy, wasn't memorable because of his lack of charisma. Ventura, Lawler and Flair, even though all first made their local names as heels, were always "cool," whereas Backlund, even as a top drawing babyface, was always, anything but.

"I became bad by telling people they shouldn't swear in front of their children. Let's not use drugs. Make sure kids learn how to read. That made me bad because people who watched wrestling didn't want to hear it," he told the Courant. "I hope people of the 1st District feel differently."

The seat he is running for has been a Democratic stronghold for decades.

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The debut of Ultimo Dragon's Toryumon promotion in Japan from 1/31 to 2/7 was a huge success as they sold out all five shows on the tour, totalling 13,211 tickets sold, and ending with a major angle with the Michinoku Pro company.

The final match of the tour, on 2/7 at Yokohama Bunka Gym before a sellout 4,986 (the same building New Japan failed to sellout in its last show), the finals of the tournament for the NWA middleweight title saw Great Sasuke capture the title pinning Magnum Tokyo in the finals in 21:51 with a thunder fire power bomb after Tokyo had missed a shooting star press. Sasuke, who has been a heel the past several months, wrestled the match as a total babyface, apparently being the storyline of respect for a title belt which dates back to the 30s and has been held in the past by such legends as El Santo, Gory Guerrero, Perro Aguayo, Rey Mendoza, Rayo de Jalisco, Lizmark, Gran Hamada and most importantly to Japan, Satoru Sayama and Ultimo Dragon, the latter of held the title for the past four straight years until he vacated it due to his career threatening elbow injury.

After the match, the Crazy Max trio of Shima Nobunaga, Judo Suwa and Sumo Fuji hit the ring and attacked Sasuke for wrestling as a babyface in this match. At this point Taka Michinoku, whose appearance was a surprise, hit the ring to save Sasuke. Taka said that he was returning to help Sasuke to keep Michinoku Pro Wrestling, the company that started him, from breaking up due to all the defections in the Super Delfin angle. This appears to set up a Toryumon vs. Michinoku Pro angle when Michinoku Pro re-starts in March, with Magnum Tokyo and Dragon Kid also on that tour. In addition, at a press conference on 2/10, Sasuke introduced Hisatsune Shinma, the President of the FULL promotion (a Lucha Libre group using mainly Mexicans) as joining up with his group and that Mens Teioh, Gran Naniwa and Hanzo Nakajima would return onthe next tour. A second one-week Toryumon tour is scheduled for April.

This tour, complete with acrobatic and long innovative main events, also saw Dragon Kid capture the vacant NWA welterweight title beating Dr. Cerebro on 2/6 in Nagoya after the two had wrestled to a double count out, and then retained the title the next night over Sumo Fuji. Of Dragon's proteges, Magnum Tokyo, Dragon Kid and Nobunaga are all pretty much

After the tour, Dragon did an interview with the press and said that he wouldn't be able to return to the ring any time soon. There has been talk that Dragon would return in August to WCW to play the role of "big brother" in a tag team with Kaz Hayashi, who up until Dragon's return, would play the role of a naive foreigner constantly being duped by the Americans.

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This is the first issue of the current four-issue set. If you've got a (1) on your address label, it means your Observer subscription expires in three more weeks.

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For those in the Phoenix area, I'm on every Wednesday from 10:10 to 11 a.m. on KDUS (1060 AM) taking phone calls and running down the latest wrestling news.

 

MAJOR EVENTS CALENDAR 2/12 TO 3/12

2/12 New Japan IWGP title No. 1 contenders tournament championship Gifu Sports Arena

2/13 WWF Fort Lauderdale, FL National Car Rental Center

2/13 All Japan Thanksgiving Day Tokyo Korakuen Hall (One-night trios tournament)

2/14 WWF St. Valentine's Day Massacre PPV Memphis Pyramid (Austin vs. McMahon)

2/14 New Japan Tokyo Budokan Hall (Muto vs. tournament winner)

2/15 WWF Raw/Shotgun tapings Birmingham, AL Civic Center

2/15 WCW Nitro Tampa, FL State Fairgrounds

2/16 WWF Raw/Heat tapings Chattanooga, TN UTC Arena

2/18 WCW Thunder Salt Lake City, UT E Center

2/19 WCW San Francisco Cow Palace (Hart vs. Sting)

2/19 PAPSA Reina de Reinas Puebla

2/19 WWF St. Louis Kiel Center

2/21 RINGS Yokohama Arena (Maeda vs. Karelin)

2/21 WCW SuperBrawl PPV Oakland Arena (Hogan vs. Flair)

2/21 All Japan Kobe Anjyo Hall

2/22 WCW Nitro Sacramento, CA Arco Arena

2/25 All Japan Osaka

2/26 WCW San Antonio Alamodome (Goldberg vs. Nash)

2/26 WWF Washington, DC MCI Arena

2/26 EMLL Mexico City Arena Mexico season opener

2/27 WWF Boston Fleet Center

2/28 WWF Sunday Night Heat Dayton, OH Nutter Center

2/28 WCW Greenville, SC Bi-Lo Center (Goldberg vs. Nash)

3/1 WWF Raw is War Cleveland Gund Arena

3/1 WCW Nitro Chapel Hill, NC Dean Dome

3/2 WWF Raw is War tapings Pittsburgh Civic Arena

3/3 New Japan Niigata City Gymnasium

3/4 WCW Thunder Winston-Salem, NC Lawrence Joel Coliseum

3/5 UFC PPV Bay St. Louis, MS (Belfort vs. Mezger)

3/6 All Japan Tokyo Budokan Hall (Vader vs. Taue)

3/6 WWF Chicago Rosemont Horizon

3/7 WWF Milwaukee Bradley Center

3/7 USO Tokyo Korakuen Hall

3/8 WCW Nitro Worcester, MA Centrum

3/10 AJW vs. LLPW War Tokyo Yoyogi Gym II (Kandori vs. Hotta) 3/11 New Japan Kyoto Furitsu Gym

3/12 WWF Anaheim, Ca Arrowhead Pond

 

RESULTS

 

1/23 Shellbarbour, Australia (IWA - 631): Michael Premutico b Steve Swann, Mark Mercedes b Wildstyle, Greg Smitt b Larry Papadopolous (Shooto), Papadapolous won Battle Royal, Thunder b Mercedes

1/30 Ukyo (JWP): Kayako Haruyama b Tomiko Sai, Yasuko Kuragaki b Sai, Tomoko Kuzumi b Haruyama, Rieko Amano & Commando Boirshoi b Kuragaki & Yuki Lee, Tomoko Miyaguchi & Hikari Fukuoka b Kanako Motoya & Devil Masami

1/31 Tulancingo (PAPSA Flip Flop show): La Parkita & AAA Octagoncito & Peso b Mini Histeria & Mini Psicosis & Mini Abismo Negro-DQ, Duro y Directo & Oscar Sevilla b Gran Apache I & Los Hombres Ratas I & II, Alda Moreno & Linda Star & Princesa Sujei b Xochitl Hamada & Miss Janeth & Rossy Moreno, Hair vs. hair: Rey Dragon b AAA Mosco de la Merced, Octagon & Heavy Metal & Perro Aguayo Jr. b Pentagon & Kick Boxer & Sangre Chicana-DQ

2/1 Akita (New Japan - 3,500): Black Cat b Shinya Makabe, Kazuyuki Fujita & Takashi Iizuka b Yutaka Yoshie & Osamu Kido, Michael Wallstreet b Junji Hirata, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin b Masakazu Fukuda & Shinjiro Otani, El Samurai & Jushin Liger b Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Koji Kanemoto, Brian Johnston & Tadao Yasuda & Kazuo Yamazaki b Tatsutoshi Goto & Shiro Koshinaka & Kuniaki Kobayashi, Hiro Saito & NWO Sting b Michiyoshi Ohara & Kengo Kimura, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Kensuke Sasaki b Keiji Muto & Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

2/1 Osaka (Arsion - 1,050): Mary Apache b Faby Apache, Reggie Bennett & Ayako Hamada b Michiko Omukai & Yumi Fukawa, Mikiko Futagami d Aja Kong, Twin Stars of Arsion title: Hiromi Yagi & Rie Tamada b Mika Akino & Mariko Yoshida to become first champions

2/1 Niage (World Pro Wrestling - 280): Azteca b Diablo, Killer b Kawauchi, Derrick Dukes won four-corners over Chitown Thug, James Khan and Scotty Z, Erich Sbraccia & Knuckles Nelson b Masashi Aoyagi & Bashara, Jeff Mangles & Pepsi Boy & Cola Kid NC Kim Kimchee & Triple I & II, Bill Irwin & Pepsi Boy & Cola Kid b Hater & Triple I & II

2/2 LaCrosse, WI (WCW Saturday Night tapings - 4,618 sellout): Mike Enos b Barry Darsow-DQ, David Finlay b Buddy Lee Parker, Chris Jericho b Damian, Perry Saturn b David Taylor, Al Greene b Glacier, Meng b Hector Garza, Bobby Duncum Jr. b Lenny Lane, Konnan b Damian, Disco Inferno b ?, Vincent b Chris Adams, Rey Misterio Jr. b Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero Jr. b Super Calo, Hugh Morrus b Barry Horowitz, Chris Benoit b Horace Hogan-DQ, Booker T b Ernest Miller-DQ, Kenny Kaos b Bobby Eaton, Billy Kidman b Lodi, Benoit & Dean Malenko b Vincent & Brian Adams, Bam Bam Bigelow b La Parka, Erik Watts b Steve Armstrong, Curt Hennig & Barry Windham b Disorderly Conduct

2/2 Hirosaki (New Japan - 3,000): Kazuyuki Fujita b Yutaka Yoshie, Junji Hirata b Tadao Yasuda, Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani b Masakazu Fukuda & Koji Kanemoto, Tatsutoshi Goto & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Kendo Ka Shin b Brian Johnston & Takashi Iizuka & Osamu Kido, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin b Jushin Liger & El Samurai, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata b Michael Wallstreet & NWO Sting, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Shiro Koshinaka & Michiyoshi Ohara, Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki b Hiro Saito & Keiji Muto

2/2 Mexico City Arena Coliseo (CMLL - 5,000): Rayo Tapatio I & El Pegaso b Sangre Azteca & Fiero, La Flecha & El Filoso b Fugaz & Enemigo Publico, Pantera & Tony Rivera & Oriental b Mogur & Karloff Lagarde Jr. & Dr. O'Borman Jr., Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata & Salmon Grundy b Rey Bucanero & Violencia & Ultimo Guerrero, Fuerza Guerrera & Blue Panther & Black Warrior b Olimpus & Felino & Atlantis

2/2 Tokushima (Arsion): Yumi Fukawa d Faby Apache, Aja Kong & Michiko Omukai b Rie Tamada & Mikiko Futagami, Hiromi Yagi b Mary Apache, Mariko Yoshida & Reggie Bennett b Ayako Hamada & Mika Akino

2/3 Tokyo Yoyogi Gym II (K-1 - 5,500 sellout): Hideki Boku b Tomomi Arakawa, Tomoyuki Mori b Tatsuyoshi Tanaka, Noburu Uchida b Kennichi Kashiyama, Masaaki Miyamoto b Ralf White, Takeru b Andrew Tomson, Andre Mannaart b Mitsuya Nagai, Musashi b Arlie Duncan James, Andy Hug b Tsuyoshi Nakasako, Peter Aerts b Michael McDonald

2/3 Madison WI (WCW - 4,531): Chris Adams b Barry Darsow, David Finlay b Scotty Riggs, Curt Hennig NC Dean Malenko, Malenko & Steve McMichael b Mike Enos & Hennig, Booker T b Chris Jericho, Bill Goldberg b Bam Bam Bigelow

2/3 Hakodate (New Japan - 1,850): Shinya Makabe b Yutaka Yoshie, Hiro Saito b Black Cat, Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa b Masakazu Fukuda & Kendo Ka Shin, Jushin Liger & El Samurai b Dr. Wagner Jr. & Koji Kanemoto, Tatsutoshi Goto & Kengo Kimura b Kazuyuki Fujita & Kazuo Yamazaki, Michiyoshi Ohara & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Shiro Koshinaka b Yuji Nagata & Takashi Iizuka & Junji Hirata, Osamu Kido & Tatsumi Fujinami b Michael Wallstreet & Keiji Muto, Tadao Yasuda & Manabu Nakanishi & Kensuke Sasaki b NWO Sting & Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

2/3 Kobe (Toryumon - 2,100 sellout): Yasushi Kanda b Kennichiro Arai, Genki Horiguchi b Stonkar Ichikawa, Yoshiyuki Saito & Kendo b Bombero Infernal & Dr. Cerebro, Yoshikazu Taru & Susumu Mochizuki b Kono & Takashi Okamura, Judo Suwa & Sumo Fuji & Shima Nobunaga b Magnum Tokyo & Dragon Kid & Super Nova

2/3 Zentsuji (Arsion): Mika Akino b Faby Apache, Reggie Bennett & Mikiko Futagami b Aja Kong & Yumi Fukawa, Mariko Yoshida b Mary Apache, Hiromi Yagi & Rie Tamada b Ayako Hamada & Michiko Omukai

2/3 Osaka (Gaea - 1,200): Kaoru b Rie, Kaoru b Sakura Hirota, Chikayo Nagashima & Mayumi Ozaki b Chigusa Nagayo & Sonoko Kato, Lioness Asuka & Sugar Sato b Makie Numao & Toshiyo Yamada, Meiko Satomura b Toshie Uematsu to win Premium League tournament

2/4 Providence, RI (WCW Thunder - 10,319 sellout): Lash Laroux b Super Calo, Mike Enos & Bobby Duncum Jr. b Meng & Barbarian, David Taylor & David Finlay b Chavo Guerrero Jr. & Billy Kidman, Disco Inferno b Chris Adams, Chris Jericho b Scotty Riggs **1/2, Konnan & Rey Misterio Jr. b Disorderly Conduct, Norman Smiley b Disciple, Horace Hogan & Brian Adams b Meng & Barbarian -*, Bam Bam Bigelow b Jerry Flynn, Diamond Dallas Page b Glacier, Barry Windham & Curt Hennig b Enos & Duncum Jr. *, Scott Steiner b Kenny Kaos, Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko b Van Hammer & Kaz Hayashi, Bill Goldberg b Bigelow

2/4 Fayetteville, NC (WWF - 9,208): Jacqueline & Matt Hardy b Luna & D-Lo Brown, Gangrel & Edge b Bob Holly & Blue Meanie, Steve Blackman b Dan Severn, Hunter Hearst Helmsley b Chyna-DQ, Al Snow b Goldust, Faarooq & Bradshaw b Val Venis & Godfather, IC title: X-Pac b Ken Shamrock-DQ, WWF tag titles: Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett won three-way over New Age Outlaws and Big Bossman & Test, WWF title: Mankind b Rock

2/4 Muronan (New Japan - 1,600): Kazuyuki Fujita b Shinya Makabe, Kendo Ka Shin & Dr. Wagner Jr. b Yutaka Yoshie & Black Cat, Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto b Osamu Kido & Tadao Yasuda, Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto b Masakazu Fukuda & El Samurai & Jushin Liger, Brian Johnston & Takashi Iizuka & Kazuo Yamazaki b Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Michael Wallstreet, Junji Hirata & Kensuke Sasaki b Kuniaki Kobayashi & Shiro Koshinaka, Satoshi Kojima & NWO Sting & Keiji Muto b Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Tatsumi Fujinami

2/4 Okayama (Arsion): Mary Apache b Mika Akino, Mariko Yoshida b Faby Apache, Michiko Omukai d Hiromi Yagi, Aja Kong & Yumi Fukawa & Ayako Hamada b Reggie Bennett & Mikiko Futagami & Rie Tamada

2/5 Mexico City Arena Coliseo Santo Memorial Show (EMLL TV - 6,000 sellout): Virus & Rencor Latino b Kid Guzman & Atlantico, Mini Rey Misterio Jr. & Ultimo Dragoncito b Espectrito I & Tritoncito, Mr. Niebla & Emilio Charles Jr. & Shocker b Apolo Dantes & Villano III & El Satanico, Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Tinieblas Sr. & Tinieblas Jr. b Cien Caras & Mascara Ano 2000 & Universo 2000-DQ, CMLL tag titles: El Hijo del Santo & Negro Casas b Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr.-DQ to win titles (however they vacated them immediately)

2/5 Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center (New Japan - 6,000 sellout): Kazuyuki Fujita & Yutaka Yoshie b Masakazu Fukuda & Takashi Iizuka, Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto & Kuniaki Kobayashi b Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin b Jushin Liger & Gran Hamada, Osamu Kido b Kengo Kimura, Don Frye & Dave Beneteau b Brian Johnston & Kazuo Yamazaki, NWO Sting & Scott Norton b Tadao Yasuda & Junji Hirata, Kensuke Sasaki & Tatsumi Fujinami b Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka, Handicap match: Masahiro Chono NC Keiji Muto & Hiro Saito, IWGP tag titles: Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata

2/5 Greensboro, NC (WWF - 18,129): Christian & Edge b Bob Holly & Blue Meanie, Steve Blackman b Dan Severn, Luna b Jacqueline, Al Snow b Goldust, Matt & Jeff Hardy won four-way over Faarooq & Bradshaw, Godfather & Val Venis and Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown, Steve Austin won non-title four-way over Kane, Rock and Mankind, Hunter Hearst Helmsley b Test, Undertaker b Big Bossman, IC title: Ken Shamrock b Billy Gunn-DQ, WWF tag titles: Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett b X-Pac & Jesse Jammes

2/5 Durham, NH (WCW - 5,243): Super Calo b Damian, Non-title: Billy Kidman b Vince, Juventud Guerrero b Ciclope, Rey Misterio Jr. b Norman Smiley, Ernest Miller b Jerry Flynn, Bam Bam Bigelow b Curt Hennig, Ric Flair & Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael b Horace Hogan & Stevie Ray & Brian Adams

2/5 Columbia, SC (ECW - 2,600): Nova & Jerry Lynn b Amish Roadkill & Danny Doring, Spike Dudley b Big Dick Dudley, Little Guido & Tracy Smothers b Chris Chetti & Tommy Rogers, Yoshihiro Tajiri b Super Crazy, Buh Buh Ray & D-Von Dudley b Axl Rotten & Balls Mahoney, Sabu b One Man Gang, ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam b Spike Dudley, ECW title: Taz b Shane Douglas

2/5 Osaka (Toryumon - 1,525 sellout): Kenichiro Arai b Susumu Mochizuki, Masaaki Mochizuki b Stonkar Ishikawa, Sumo Fuji & Judo Suwa & Yoshikazu Taru b Yoshiyuki Saito & Genki Horiguchi & Yasushi Kanda, Dragon Kid & Kendo b Bombero Infernal & Dr. Cerebro, IWRG IC welterweight title: Shima Nobunaga b Magnum Tokyo

2/5 Reading, PA (Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling - 612): Tom Howard b Paul O (Paul Orndorff III), Reckless Youth b Mike Quackenbush, Chris Krueger & Mr. Ooh La La b Tommy Golden & J.J. Johnston, Recon & Sniper b Jose Estrada Jr. & Glenn Kulka, Flash Flanagan b Ace Darling, Giant Silva b Mideon (Dennis Knight)-DQ, Kurt Angle b Steve Bradley, Steve Williams b Pierre (Carl Oulett), Dok Hendrix b Lance Diamond

2/5 Nashville (NWA World Wide - 550): Ted Sweet b Al Rose, Chris Michaels b T.J. Gray, Shannon Moore & Joey Matthews & Shane Helms & Christian York b Alcatraz & Farron Foxx & Chad Hawke & Skinny Kenny, Manure match: Barnyard Briggs b Bart Sawyer, Wolfie D b Shane Eden, NA tag titles: Steven Dunn & Reno Riggins NC Ashley Hudson & Bill Dundee (titles held up), NA title: Colorado Kid b Jerry Lawler-DQ

2/5 Fort Wayne, IN (AWA - 1,068): Golden Lion b Armistad, Eric Freedom b Russian Brute-DQ, Bobo Brazil Jr. b Ronnie Vegas, Heaven & Hell b Bounty Hunters, Jonnie Stewart b Junkyard Dog Jr.

2/6 Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center (New Japan - 6,500 sellout): Koji Kanemoto b Kendo Ka Shin, Takashi Iizuka & Osamu Kido b Tatsutoshi Goto & Kengo Kimura, Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani b Masakazu Fukuda & El Samurai, Kazuo Yamazaki b Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Brian Johnston & Kazuyuki Fujita b Don Frye & Dave Beneteau, Tadao Yasuda & Junji Hirata & Tatsumi Fujinami b Michael Wallstreet & NWO Sting & Scott Norton, Michiyoshi Ohara & Shiro Koshinaka & Genichiro Tenryu b Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Kensuke Sasaki, IWGP jr. title: Jushin Liger b Dr. Wagner Jr., Masahiro Chono & Akira (Akira Saeki Nogami) b Keiji Muto & Satoshi Kojima

2/6 Syracuse, NY (WWF - 6,977 sellout): Gangrel & Christian b Bob Holly & Blue Meanie, Steve Blackman b Dan Severn, Luna b Jacqueline, Hunter Hearst Helmsley b Test, WWF tag titles: Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett b Jesse Jammes & X-Pac, Undertaker b Kane, Al Snow b Goldust, Matt & Jeff Hardy won four-way over Bradshaw & Faarooq, Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown and Val Venis & Godfather, IC title: Billy Gunn b Ken Shamrock-DQ, Steve Austin won non-title four-way over Mankind, Rock and Big Bossman

2/6 Utica, NY (WCW - 3,888 sellout): Super Calo b Damian, Non-title: Billy Kidman b Vince, Juventud Guerrera b Ciclope, Rey Misterio Jr. b Norman Smiley, Jerry Flynn b Ernest Miller, Bam Bam Bigelow b Curt Hennig, Ric Flair & Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael b Horace Hogan & Stevie Ray & Brian Adams

2/6 Nagoya (Toryumon - 2,459 sellout): Yasushi Kanda b Susumu Mochizuki, Kennichiro Arai b Genki Horiguchi, Kendo b Bombero Infernal, Masashi Aoyagi b Yoshiyuki Saito, Yoshikazu Taru b Stonkar Ishikawa, Shima Nobunaga & Sumo Fuji & Judo Suwa b Magnum Tokyo & Saito & Super Nova, NWA welterweight title: Dragon Kid b Dr. Cerebro to win vacant title

2/6 Concord, NC (ECW - 1,115 sellout): Danny Doring b Nova, Tommy Rogers & Chris Chetti b Tracy Smothers & Little Guido, Super Crazy b Yoshihiro Tajiri, Spike Dudley b Big Dick Dudley, Buh Buh Ray & D-Von Dudley b Axl Rotten & Balls Mahoney, Justin Credible b Tommy Dreamer, ECW vs. FTW title falls count anywhere: Taz d Sabu 30:00, ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam b Jerry Lynn

2/6 Memphis (Power Pro TV): Brian Christopher b Bulldog Raines, Bill Dundee b Shawn Stasiak-DQ, Mic Tierney b Derrick King, Dundee won Battle Royal

2/6 Wilmington, DE (East Coast Wrestling Association - 550 sellout): Devon Storm & Ace Darling b Inferno Kid & Stevie Richards, Tom Howard b Paul O (Paul Orndorff III), Jose Estrada Jr. & Giant Silva b Recon & Sniper, Kurt Angle b Cyborg, Reckless Youth b Flash Flanagan, Glenn Osbourne & J.R. Ryder & J.J. the Ring Crew Guy b Mr. Ooh La La & Dragoness & Persian Prince, Wall Wallace (Carl Pierre Oulett) b Steve Bradley, Steve Williams b Mideon (Dennis Knight)-DQ, Dok Hendrix b Lance Diamond

2/6 Osaka (JD): Yuki Miyazaki b Hiroyo Muto, Fang Suzuki b Obachi Iizuka, Yuko Kosugi d Megumi Yabushita, Bloody b Yuki Morimatsu, Lioness Asuka & Shark Tsuchiya b Cooga & Sumie Sakai

2/6 Kisarazu (Arsion): Michiko Omukai b Faby Apache, Mary Apache b Rie Tamada, Aja Kong & Reggie Bennett b Mika Akino & Mariko Yoshida

2/6 Nashville (NWA World Wide - 350): T.J. Gray b Skinny Kenny, Chris Lozansky b Wolfie D-DQ, Shane Helms & Shannon Moore b Farron Foxx & Chad Hawke, Bart Sawyer DCOR Barnyard Briggs, NA title: Colorado Kid b Chris Michaels-DQ, NA tag titles: Steven Dunn & Reno Riggins b Ashley Hudson & Bill Dundee to win vacant titles

2/6 West Allis, WI (Mid-American Wrestling - 328): Skullcrusher won Street Fight Rumble, C.C. Love b Psycho Surfer, Billy Joe Eaton b Adam Pearce, Axl Future & Arch Angel Vincent b Barfly Mike & Mauler to win MAW tag titles, Daryck St. Holmes b Dino Bambino, Corporal Robinson b Hardcore Craig, Ian Rotten b Skullcrusher

2/6 Huntington, IN (World Wide Wrestling Alliance - 387): Jimi V b Suicido, Mr. Main Event b Truth Martini, Kwik Kik Lee b T.Voeltz, Brian Fury b Dexter Dementia, Great Shinwa b Devon Daniels, Crusher Kline b Adam Biggs, Alexis Machine b Karl Kox, K.C. Thunder b Shadow

2/7 New York Madison Square Garden (WWF - 16,399 sellout): Edge & Gangrel b Blue Meanie & Bob Holly, Al Snow b Goldust, Jacqueline & Matt & Jeff Hardy b Luna & Mark Henry & D-Lo Brown, WWF tag titles: Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett b Godfather & Val Venis, Undertaker & Faarooq & Bradshaw b X-Pac & New Age Outlaws, Three-way for IC title: Ken Shamrock won over Dan Severn and Steve Blackman, Kane b Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Steve Austin won non-title four-way over Rock, Big Bossman and Mankind

2/7 Cleveland (WCW - 11,541): Super Calo & Norman Smiley b Damian & Ciclope, Three-way for cruiserweight title: Billy Kidman won over Rey Misterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera, Jerry Flynn b Ernest Miller, Ric Flair & Steve McMichael & Chris Benoit b Stevie Ray & Horace Hogan & Brian Adams, Diamond Dallas Page b Curt Hennig, Non-title: Sting b Bret Hart, Bill Goldberg b Bam Bam Bigelow

2/7 Yokohama Bunka Gym (Toryumon - 4,986 sellout): Genki Horiguchi & Kenichiro Arai b Yasushi Kanda & Susumu Mochizuki, Yoshikazu Taru b Stonkar Ishikawa, Yoshiyuki Saito & Kendo b Dr. Cerebro & Bombero Infernal, NWA middleweight title tourney first round: Magnum Tokyo b Sumo Fuji, Great Sasuke b Gran Naniwa, Shima Nobunaga b Sasuke the Great (Masao Orihara), Mary Apache & Mika Akino b Faby & Gami Apache, NWA welterweight title: Dragon Kid b Judo Suwa, NWA middleweight tourney final: Sasuke b Tokyo to win title

2/7 Raleigh, NC (ECW - 1,100 sellout): Super & Balls Mahoney b Little Guido & Tracy Smothers **, Amish Roadkill & Danny Doring b Chris Chetti & Tommy Rogers *1/2, Spike Dudley b Big Dick Dudley 1/4*, Yoshihiro Tajiri b Super Crazy **1/2, ECW title: Taz b El Diablo 1/2*, One Man Gang b Tommy Dreamer *1/2, Jerry Lynn b Justin Credible **3/4, ECW tag titles: Sabu & Rob Van Dam b Buh Buh Ray & D-Von Dudley ***1/4

2/7 Mexico City Arena Coliseo (CMLL - 5,300): Mascarita Magica & Ultimo Dragoncito b Vaquerito & Fierito, El Jeque & Damian El Guerrero b Mano Negra Jr. & Alacran, Fishman & Mano Negra Sr. & El Hijo del Gladiador b Mr. Hoy & Solar & Starman, Lizmark Sr. & Ringo Mendoza & Salomon Grundy b El Satanico & Karloff Lagarde Jr. & Blue Panther, Cien Caras & Mascara Ano 2000 & Fuerza Guerrera b Atlantis & Emilio Charles Jr. & Mr. Niebla

2/7 Millington, TN (Power Pro Wrestling - 165): Bulldog Raines d Erin O'Grady, Mic Tierney b Derrick King, Vic Grimes b Raines, PPW title: Baldo b Kid Wikkid, Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee b Sean Stasiak & Brian Christopher

2/7 Yokkaichi (JD): Yuki Morimatsu b Hiroyo Muto, Cooga b Obachi Iizuka, Yuko Kosugi b Fang Suzuki, Lioness Asuka b Yuki Miyazaki, Bloody & Shark Tsuchiya b Megumi Yabushita & Sumie Sakai

2/7 Dundalk, MD (Maryland Championship Wrestling - 700 sellout): Lance Diamond b Gillberg (Duane Gill), Cue Ball Carmichael b Shooting Star, Axl Rotten & Head Banger Mosh b Dino Divine & Inferno Kid, Christian York b Adam Flash, Danny Rose & Bruiser b Jimmy Cicero & Julio Sanchez-COR, 2 Dope & Side Swipe won three-way dance over Stevie Richards & Earl the Pearl and Joey Matthews & Quinn Nash, Romeo Valentino b Corporal Punishment

2/8 Toronto Sky Dome (WWF Raw/Shotgun tapings - 41,432/38,661 paid): Mark Henry b Jeff Jarrett, Gillberg b Goldust, Godfather b Viscera-DQ, X-Pac b Kane-DQ, Rock b Steve Blackman, Steve Austin b Ken Shamrock-DQ, Austin b Test-DQ, Austin b Kane-DQ, Austin b Chyna-DQ, Austin b Big Bossman-DQ, Vince McMahon b Austin, John D'Silva (Rob Etcheverria) b Joe Legend, Owen Hart b Billy Gunn, Gangrel & Edge b Matt & Jeff Hardy, Faarooq & Bradshaw b Scott D'Amore & Larry Brun, Mideon b Tiger Ali Singh, Hunter Hearst Helmsley b Droz

2/8 Buffalo, NY (WCW Nitro - 15,378 sellout/14,145 paid): Rey Misterio Jr. b Blitzkrieg ***1/4, Booker T b David Finlay **, Curt Hennig & Barry Windham b Horace Hogan & Brian Adams -*, Diamond Dallas Page b Kenny Kaos 3/4*, Vince b Ernest Miller, U.S. title: Roddy Piper b Bret Hart to win title DUD, Ric Flair & Steve McMichael NC Kevin Nash & Scott Hall 1/2*

 

Special thanks to: Steve "Dr. Lucha" Sims, James Busche, Joe Silva, Ronny Whitworth, Dominick Valenti, Bobby Baum, Manuel Gonzalez, Ron Lemieux, Dave Shelto, Gene Restaino, Tadashi Tanaka, James Stanios, Tommy Ferrera, Chuck Morris, Brady Laber, Scott Cornish, Bruce Buchanan, Bruce Mitchell, Trent Van Drisse, Mohammad Chatra, Dan Parris, Mark Coale, Walt Spafford, George Wren, Jonathan Browning, Andrew Ebbeskotte, Larry Lee, Blaine DeSantis, Kevin Donlan, Michael Omansky, Cory Van Kleeck, Tim Noel, Ric Davies, John Marcavage, Georgiann Makropolous, Pete Theophall

 

JAPANESE TELEVISION RUNDOWN

1/9 & 1/16 NEW JAPAN: The 1/9 show aired the Atsushi Onita vs. Kensuke Sasaki and Shinya Hashimoto vs. Naoya Ogawa matches from the Tokyo Dome that already aired in their entirety on the 1/4 TV show. The only difference is that they showed the entire Hashimoto-Ogawa post-match brawl, where it was clear that a lot of the people involves had no idea what was going on. Most of that had been edited out of the 1/4 TV show. The 1/16 show aired four more matches that had already aired on 1/4--Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin winning the IWGP jr. tag titles from Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Jushin Liger retaining the IWGP jr. title pinning Koji Kanemoto, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima winning the IWGP tag titles from Shiro Koshinaka & Genichiro Tenryu, and Keiji Muto winning the IWGP heavyweight title from Scott Norton. More of all of the matches aired than aired on 1/4. In the lengthier version, the two jr. matches were considerably better, both at the ***3/4 level. Tenzan & Kojima vs. Koshinaka & Tenryu still was about **1/2 and Muto vs. Norton was still a boring DUD.

1/23 RINGS: This was a live showing of the Budokan Mega Battle tournament finals. The tournament turned out to be a major flop, so the biggest thing on this show was the appearance of Alexander Karelin. The irony is that Karelin sat at ringside, and got a very healthy reaction, after the third match was over which means he only saw worked matches. Frank Shamrock was also there, and announced that he couldn't face Kiyoshi Tamura due to his ankle injury, but would face him in March or April. 1. Yasuhito Namekawa beat Lee Hasdell via 1-0 score after they went the 20:00 time limit. Match was a shoot and a competitive good match. They had some good exchanges standing, which Hasdell seemed to do better in, and Namekawa after taking shots would take the fight to the ground. The point loss was a total fluke as Hasdell threw a punch when he wasn't on the ground while Namekawa had his knee on the ground which is illegal but hardly flagrant. Namekawa started getting tired and most of the last 7:00 saw him take a beating standing. Namekawa did get the mount and nearly got an armbar, but as time went on, Hasdell was hurting him standing with open hands and some hard knees. Namekawa was bleeding from the nose. Even though the Japanese fighter won, initially there was boos about the decision because without the point, Hasdell should have won, but after it was explained because of the point and the rules Namekawa had to win, the fans accepted it. Namekawa had to be helped out of the ring he was so badly beaten up; 2. Willie Peeters beat Kennichi Yamamoto in 13:45. There was showboating and facials early, and the match itself was really weird but didn't have any holes either. Peeters would grab the ropes and lose points before even being in a bad position, which is weird to do in a shoot. Peeters did it twice, then Yamamoto lost a point for a low kick, and then Peeters did it a third time to fall behind 3-1. Yamamoto threw another low kick and the ref was so mad about it he red-carded him (two point foul) to tie it up. It got strange from here and Yamamoto's behavior was weird how he seemed fighting with no brain. The ref probably should have stopped it. He ended up going down from a knee but just stood there like a zombie. He went down another time which would have ended it on points but the ref ruled it a slip, and this happened again before he took two head slaps and went down and the ref stopped it. Even though Yamamoto is a young guy, his behavior in this match was something to worry about as he's taken a lot of beatings over the past year plus; 3. Wataru Sakata beat Dave Von De Veen in 2:41 with a kneebar. This was also a shoot. Pretty exciting as well as Von De Veen, a former powerlifter who trimmed down to 211 and looked like a bodybuilder, was real aggressive and hard to handle, but Sakata knew more once they got on the ground; 4. Volk Han beat Hiromitsu Kanehara in 13:22. This was a worked match. It was slow in spots, and other spots in the match were excellent. They worked it to look like a shoot which hurts in the entertainment portion of our show. Han, who is getting old and has gained weight, started getting tired toward the end, before they did a reverse kneebar finish. **1/2; 5. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka beat Tamura in 9:22. With Kohsaka only two weeks after from the Rutten fight, Tamura stayed away from his sore head on the stand-ups until the finish. Most of the match was on the mat and it was some great technical wrestling. Each got a rope break point before they went to the finish, where Tamura then started unloading with strikes standing up and finally went to the head. Kohsaka went down so Tamura went ahead 3-1. Kohsaka delivered this great hip toss takedown (it was over because it was the move he used on Pete Williams in UFC), with Tamura landing on his arm, and quickly grabbed an armbar in the middle for the tap. People really popped for the finishing sequence. ***3/4; 6. Georgia beat Holland in the Mega Battle tournament finals. They changed the rules from all the prior tournament matches to stopping after three lost points instead of two. It improved the matches although it was bad because nobody really cared who won. Started with Grom Zaza beating Dick Vrij in 1:22 with a standing ankle lock and a rope break after Vrij had already grabbed the ropes twice before. It was hot while it lasted. Joop Van Kasteel beat Zaza in 3:32 in a very strange match. Kasteel got a lost point for throwing an illegal punch and then lost a point on a rope break. Kasteel threw a hard knee for a knockdown (in tournament matches, knockdowns are only worth one point instead of two in regular matches, which is why nobody seemed to have a clue what was going on). Kasteel got a second knockdown, so it was a next point wins situation, and they went to the ground and Kasteel got a choke. That was weird since everyone knows Zaza is a great wrestler and Kasteel isn't much on the ground. Kasteel beat Bitszade Ameran in 2:46 with another choke. This was a standing fight with great exchanges. It was great while it lasted. Bitszade Tariel then beat Kasteel in 1:36 in a strange one. Tariel lost a point throwing an illegal punch, since nobody understood the rules again. Tariel got a knockdown to tie it. Tariel got a second knockdown with a really wicked kidney punch. In real life you just don't go down so often from body shots but for a worked match he really laid it in to look good. Anyway, Kasteel got up, but the ref waived the fight off anyway. Kasteel acted like he was pissed. Tariel vs. Hanse Nijman (that's how he spells it on his ring jacket and I'm assuming he knows how to spell his own name) in 2:50. Nijman immediately got two points with a choke and a cranking headlock. Tariel got two back with two knockdowns from weak slaps so the next point would win. Tariel got it with a fairly weak looking knockdown for a flat finish.

1/24 ALL JAPAN: 1. Toshiaki Kawada beat Mitsuharu Misawa in 24:15 to win the Triple Crown. This was a 45-minute TV show devoted entirely to this match, as they did lengthy post-match interviews. They put together another classic, which is made more amazing because of Kawada's injury. Misawa came out as usual, all stiff like he could barely move from all the punishment he's taken. Kawada kept on Misawa's knee. The spot where Kawada broke his wrist and forearm came on a spinning backfist spot at about the 8:30 mark. Kawada winced and grabbed his forearm to feel the broken bone, then went back to work with a german suplex. Misawa got near falls with two Tiger drivers, with the knee giving out on the second one. Misawa had earlier done his elbow suicida and also did a flip bodyblock off the apron. Kind of slow in between big moves, such as Misawa delivering a Tiger suplex for a near fall. Kawada dropped Misawa on his head, kicked his knee and did a high kick to the face for a near fall. After a few more kicks to the knee he put on the stretch plum (it's been so long since he's beaten anyone with that move that the crowd just faded out). Another german suplex and stretch plum. Misawa did a missile dropkick, then came off the top again but Kawada met him with a kick and delivered two more high kicks ala the Dome finish, followed by a spinning heel kick for a near fall. Misawa came back with a german suplex. Kawada blocked an attempted Tiger driver and hit a rolling kick and a brainbuster. Then came the big spot. Earlier in the match Kawada tried his power bomb but Misawa turned it into a huracanrana for a near fall. The spot went the same, except this time as Misawa started the huracanrana, Kawada blocked it and dropped him straight on his head. This was a Mick Foley suicidal spot and the entire audience gasped and winced from it. It made the match memorable and at least it was only one spot that was told rather than ten times and overkill of the senses, but it was still a move way beyond not only the call of duty but any rationality. Misawa still kicked out and they traded kicks. Kawada got the better, delivered another high kick and brainbuster for the pin. The finish was awesome, as was the match psychology from start to finish and the post match highlights recap made it come across even better as an entire package. But Misawa reminds me of every All Japan superstar at the end of their main eventing days with the company, and we've seen it with all the great ones over the past 12 or so years--just hanging on but smart enough to pull it off for now. Kawada went out in an ambulance because of the injury and Misawa had to be helped out since the finish made him about two inches shorter. ****1/2

 

TELEVISION RATINGS RUNDOWN

The latest update on all WWF and WCW performers that have appeared as a main focal point of a competitive segment at least four times so far in 1999. These ratings are similar to early season batting averages for baseball players in that for the first month or two of the season because one big quarter can sway them greatly, you may get some misleading or unusual people in unusual places, but after about the end of the second or third months, like in baseball, everything seems to fall back into an average that has meaning. Updated as of 2/8.

 

Performer Up/down Total pts Qtr Percentage

Bill Goldberg 5-2-1 +43 +5.38

Chyna 7-1 +38 +4.75

Ric Flair 5-1 +23 +3.83

Lex Luger 2-3 +18 +3.60

Shane McMahon 3-1-1 +18 +3.60

Scott Hall 6-4 +34 +3.40

Kane 5-2-2 +28 +3.11

Hulk Hogan 7-5 +30 +2.50

Marcus Bagwell 3-1-2 +15 +2.50

Booker T 2-2 +10 +2.50

Rock 6-5-1 +22 +1.83

Jerry Brisco 3-2-2 +10 +1.43

Pat Patterson 3-2-2 +10 +1.43

HHH 4-3-1 +11 +1.38

Mick Foley 5-5-1 +13 +1.18

Mark Henry 3-1 +4 +1.00

Big Bossman 5-5-1 +10 +0.91

Kevin Nash 8-9 +15 +0.88

Chris Benoit 2-2 +2 +0.50

Undertaker 2-2 +2 +0.50

Gangrel 3-2 +2 +0.40

Jacqueline 2-2 +1 +0.25

Terri Runnels 2-2 +1 +0.25

X-Pac 3-3 +0 +0.00

Vince McMahon 4-7-3 -1 -0.07

Al Snow 3-3 -1 -0.17

Scott Steiner 4-5-2 -2 -0.18

Perry Saturn 1-1-2 -1 -0.25

Edge 2-2 -2 -0.50

Steve Austin 1-3-1 -3 -0.60

Road Dogg 4-5 -6 -0.67

Goldust 2-3 -4 -0.80

Disco Inferno 2-2 -5 -1.25

Ken Shamrock 4-6-1 -14 -1.27

Eric Bischoff 2-3 -7 -1.40

Billy Gunn 3-6-1 -22 -2.20

Test 2-4-1 -17 -2.43

Val Venis 1-3 -18 -4.50

MEXICO: As of press time, nothing is confirmed regarding the proposed Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Psicosis mask vs. mask match for Tijuana. The working plan is to do the match on either 2/18 or 2/20 outdoors at the Tijuana Bullring, but WCW would have to approve of it. It would be very difficult to pull it off after 2/21, because it would be covered in the press that Misterio Jr. had lost his mask at SuperBrawl (unless WCW changes the current plan) and the match would be viewed as something of a fraud. If Misterio Jr. lost his mask before SuperBrawl, it wouldn't affect WCW because it's already considered a fraud to begin with

EMLL returns to Arena Mexico on 2/26

On the Santo show, during a trios match, former CMLL champ Universo 2000 did un martinete (the dreaded tombstone piledriver) on current champ Rayo de Jalisco Jr. for the DQ to set up either a title match for a mask vs. mask match down the line

On 2/3, a DF court ruled that Marco Moreno, the promoter in Naucalpan, had the legal promotional rights to the name Mr. Niebla. The basic gist of all this is Moreno came up with the name. The wrestler who played the role then left Naucalpan and became a big star at Arena Mexico. Moreno decided to create his own Mr. Niebla, figuring it was his gimmick. EMLL, which had worked with Moreno, ordered him to drop the character. He refused. They refused to work with him. So he went to court to get the guy they were using, who was the original, to stop using the name he came up with. The original Mr. Niebla was ordered by the court that he must now show just cause by 2/9 why he shouldn't be cited, fined or jailed for continuing to wear the mask. So expect him to start using a new ring name this week. EMLL has gone to court to appeal the ruling, probably to buy time to create an angle for him to lose the mask rather than rush right into it

When the 2/7 show at Arena Mexico drew 5,300 fans, it made 21 of the last 22 shows at the 5,500-seat Arena Coliseo that had drawn in excess of 4,000

The 1/31 PAPSA flip-flop show (where the faces wrestle as rudos, etc.) ended with Rey Dragon over AAA Mosco de la Merced in a hair vs. hair match. Since it was a flip-flop show and both these men are masked wrestlers, they removed the masks, put a towel over Mosco's face to still hide his identity, and then shaved his head and allowed him to put his mask back on. That makes sense. Main event saw Octagon & Perro Aguayo Jr. & Heavy Metal have to work heel against Kick Boxer & Sangre Chicana & Pentagon. Finish saw Octagon remove his own mask and throw it to Pentagon. When ref Tropicasas (usual face ref) saw Pentagon holding the mask, he immediately DQ'd him. After the match ended, everyone reverted back to usual form and Picudo and Chicana destroyed Perro Jr. with chair and post shots

PAPSA announced that 16 women have been invited to its 2/19 major show called La Reyna de Reynas (Queen of Queens) in Puebla. They stated that La Monsther (Rhonda Singh aka Monster Ripper aka Bertha Faye) was attempted to have been contacted but her phone was disconnected

2/12 Arena Coliseo main event will be Cien Caras vs. Tinieblas Jr

They are doing an angle where Rayo de Jalisco Jr. is having major back surgery (which may be legit as far as the surgery), blaming it on the martinete (tombstone) delivered on 2/5 by Universo 2000

Black Warrior defends the NWA light heavyweight title against Atlantis this week in Nezahualcoyotl

Sasuke the Great (Masao Orihara) is headed in for IWRG

Payaso Amarillo, who wrestled years back as El Indomito, announced he was about to retire, but said he'd work TV tapings at least through this year for PAPSA

Tony Rivera beat Negro Navarro on 2/1 in Puebla in a hair vs. hair match.

ALL JAPAN: Top two bouts on the 3/6 Budokan Hall show are Taue vs. Vader for the vacant Triple Crown and Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa for the Double tag title

Although the graphic during their television match and printed here two weeks back listed Toshiaki Kawada having two wins and two draws in his last five singles matches against Mitsuharu Misawa, there is some debate over its accuracy depending upon what you consider the 1997 Champion Carnival final. The final was a three-way with Misawa, Kawada and Kenta Kobashi, which saw Kawada pin Misawa and Kobashi in separate singles matches. That listing considers the Carnival as a three-way as opposed to a singles match, but if it is considered a singles match, actually Kawada has three wins and one draw in the previous five singles matches

Misawa said he would make an announcement on 2/13 at the Korakuen Hall show about the public memorial service for Giant Baba. Tokyo Dome tickets go on sale at the Korakuen Hall show as well

A correction from two weeks ago. In the 1/22 Osaka semifinal, Vader did not do a job for Kobashi's lariat in a six man. Kobashi actually pinned one of the other members of Vader's team, so Vader has yet to do his first job in All Japan rings

1/31 TV show did a 4.5 rating.

NEW JAPAN: Masahiro Chono did return for matches on 2/5 and 2/6 in Sapporo which both drew sellout crowds of 6,000 and 6,500 respectively starting the feud with Keiji Muto over the control of the NWO in Japan. In weird booking, Chono returned in a handicap match against Muto & Hiro Saito. The match wound up with Akira Nogami, who has been out of action with a serious eye injury for more than one year, coming out wearing a mask, attacking Muto & Saito, including bloodying Muto up. Chono & Nogami were then double-teaming Saito, when Muto, who was taken to the dressing room, returned. It wound up being declared a no contest. This set up a tag match on 2/6 with Chono & Nogami, doing his AKIRA samurai gimmick with the face paint and bleached blond hair against Muto & Satoshi Kojima, which ended with Chono making Muto submit to a chicken wing crossface in 13:34. Chono after the match on television said that due to his injuries he was only wrestling at three percent effectiveness but still made the IWGP champion submit. This appears to set up a Muto vs. Chono title match for the 4/10 Tokyo Dome show. Chono also worked the 2/9 show at Korakuen Hall beating Saito

Shinya Hashimoto will have to undergo surgery due to suffering a broken nose in the Naoya Ogawa match at the Tokyo Dome

There are rumors that Seiji Sakaguchi is looking at signing another major Japanese athlete

Scott Norton did appear on the tour and is also booked on the 3/3 to 3/22 tour, but only for the final week which includes big shows in Hiroshima on 3/17, Nagoya Rainbow Hall on 3/20 and Amagaseki on 3/22. Foreigners booked at this point on the tour are NWO Sting, Big Titan, Brian Johnston and Dr. Wagner Jr

Norton faces Masa Saito in Saito's retirement match on 2/14 at Budokan Hall. New Japan said to set up the angle where Onita is going to show up and cut a promo and whatever else, that because it's Saito's retirement show that they don't want Onita in their ring

They are continuing the UFO vs. New Japan angle. UFO is said to have gotten its own backer and has opened up its own office

In the top matches on 2/5, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin won a non-title match over Jushin Liger & Gran Hamada in 15:41 when Wagner pinned Liger, to set up their singles title match the next night. Osamu Kido was honored for 30 years in pro wrestling (Kido, 49, debuted on February 21, 1969) and beat Kengo Kimura with the Fujiwara armbar in 7:59. Don Frye & Dave Beneteau beat Johnston & Kazuo Yamazaki in 12:16 when the ref stopped the match as Frye was pounding Yamazaki. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kensuke Sasaki beat Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka when Fujinami beat Koshinaka in 11:38 with the dragon sleeper. The main event on the show saw Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan retain the IWGP tag titles beating Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata in 18:47 when Kojima pinned Nagata after the lariat

On 2/6, Yamazaki made Tenzan submit to an armbar in 10:47, Johnston & Kazuyuki Fujita beat Frye & Beneteau when Johnston used the Shamrock ankle lock on Beneteau in 5:31, Liger pinned Wagner to keep the IWGP jr. title in 27:06 and the Chono & AKIRA vs. Muto & Kojima match was the main event

Aside from the Sapporo shows, business is spotty

Historical trivia department. The 2/16 Weekly Pro Wrestling reprinted a letter from April 10, 1978 from Red Bastien to Hisashi Shinma attempting to get New Japan funding for a takeover of the Roy Shire Northern California wrestling territory. Bastien had a meeting that week with Shinma and Antonio Inoki about running a territory in Northern California and Nevada. Nothing ever came of it

1/30 TV show did a 3.8 rating.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Guy Mezger returned his King of Pancrase championship belt to the promotion it was announced on 2/10. Mezger is fighting Vitor Belfort in the main event of the 3/5 UFC PPV show. Whether this was Mezger's decision, as it was portrayed, or a Pancrase decision of not wanting to risk its world champion outside its jurisdiction (when Ken Shamrock held the KOP title and was competing outside Pancrase in UFC, he was asked to drop the title and did to Minoru Suzuki) isn't clear. However, Mezger won't be appearing on the 4/18 Pancrase PPV where he was scheduled to defend against Semmy Shiltt. All that has been announced at this point is Schiltt will face someone to determine the new champion on that show

LLPW announced the line-up of the LLPW vs. AJW show on 3/10 at Tokyo Yoyogi Gym II with Shinobu Kandori vs. Yumiko Hotta for the WWWA title on top, plus Junkyo Yagi vs. Kaoru Ito (who won't wrestle as Zap I), Rumi Kazama & Noriyo Tateno & Harley Saito & Yasha Kurenai vs. Manami Toyota & Takako Inoue & Kumiko Maekawa & Momoe Nakanishi, All-Japan tag titles with Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi defending against Keiko Aono & Megumi Sato as the top matches

Atsushi Onita will be running a USO show on 3/7 at Korakuen Hall and announced that he would form a tag team with Masato Tanaka in the main event

Arsion's tag team titles, called the Twin Star of Arsion title, on 2/1 in Osaka saw Hiromi Yagi & Rie Tamada beat Mariko Yoshida & Mika Akino to become the champions

Gaea also finished its singles tournament, called the Premium League, on 2/3 in Osaka with Meiko Satomura beating Toshie Uematsu in the finals

Hikari Fukuoka's final JWP title defense before her retirement match will be against the winner of the tournament from 2/14 to 2/27 ending at a Tokyo Ueno Hall Chinese Restaurant with all of the major JWP wrestlers appearing. Devil Masami is being pushed as the likely winner of the tournament

It appears that Dick Togo will be joining Super Delfin's Cacao promotion. Delfin announced that his brother who will go under the name Super Demi-King will deubt on 3/2 in Kanazawa.

HERE AND THERE: Power Pro Wrestling on 2/12 at the New Daisy Theater in Memphis will have a lot of WWF personnel on hand because the group is in town for the PPV show at the Pyramid on 2/14. It is expected that on the 2/13 television show they will shoot an angle or two for the PPV. Matches on 2/12 will be Bruce & Tom Prichard & Giant Silva & Steve Williams vs. Randy Hales & Baldo & Sean Stasiak & Vic Grimes. In the studio when a tape of a Bruce Prichard interview was played, the fans groaned huge at the name Giant Silva, but popped pretty big for the names of Williams and even popped for Tom Prichard, who was a star in the area years back. Also on the show will be Hales & Jim Cornette vs. Brandon Baxter & Michael Hayes, Bill Dundee & Derrick King vs. Too Much, Baldo vs Droz, Venom vs. Streak, Erin O'Grady vs. Vic Grimes in a ladder match and Bulldog Raines vs. Mic Tierney. The TV was built around the angle where Stacey is Sean Stasiak's valet. They had taped interviews also from Cornette and Hayes on the show. Hayes said he was coming as Michael Hayes and not as Dok Hendrix, and did an old-time Freebird interview, which was said to have been great, and they showed the Badstreet USA video (from 1984) saying that the Freebirds were born in Memphis 20 years ago (I believe they actually started around Chattanooga and Memphis was their second territory)

A correction regarding the note last week about Reverend Ernest Angley. He was not the Memphis manager Ernest Angel. Ernest Angel took his name and his delivery and gimmick

A correction from an Observer letter from a few weeks ago from Diane Devine regarding Sam Muchnick. Devine had been friends with Muchnick for nearly 40 years, not 50 years

Killer Joe Christie, a wrestling star in Ontario for more than 20 years, passed away after collapsing while shoveling snow at his home in Brantford, ONT on 1/6 at the age of 82. Christie's real name was Joseph Kayorie, and started wrestling in 1946 and wrestled all over the world, almost always as a heel. One of his biggest runs came in Ontario for promoter Frank Tunney in the early 60s as The Masked Destroyer. Dick Beyer had made the Destroyer name almost legendary in Los Angeles, and promoters, realizing they could create their own Destroyers to capitalize on the rep for a lot less than paying the original, created their own, with Christie being one of many wrestlers at that time using the name. He wrestled throughout the rest of the 60s as a mid-carder for Tunney

Paavo Ketonon, a former wrestler and wrestling and boxing promoter in Tacoma, WA, passed away recently at the age of 88. The native of Finland was a former British Commonwealth Greco-roman wrestling champion who wrestled professionally in the 30s and 40s and promoted in the 50s

K.O. Kenny Yates, a former boxer who was an AWA jobber in the late 60s and early 70s, recently passed away

Pepper Gomez, a former bodybuilding champion who was a huge star in Texas in the late 50s and in San Francisco in the 60s is said to be in rough shape due to cancer

Doug Furnas was in bad shape in December with a brain tumor, which turned out to be benign, but has recovered

The next USWF show will be 3/20 in Amarillo headlined by Evan Tanner defending his World title against Mike Cizek, a 320-pounder from Oklahoma City, plus a light heavyweight tournament and a lightweight title match with Eric Payne defending against Mark Cantu. This will be the only major USWF show of the year because they are renovating the Amarillo Fairgrounds Rodeo Coliseum

Abdullah the Butcher was back in Puerto Rico over the past weekend, both working a tag team with Carlos Colon as his partner on 2/5 in Manati, and challenging Ray Gonzalez for the Universal title on 2/6 in San German. Glamour Boy Shane (Shane Sewell) won the WWC Intercontinental title back from Pierroth Jr. on 1/23 in Guaynabo. Tough Tom (Tom Benninhaus) of WCW's Disorderly Conduct is working Puerto Rico as Mighty Kodiak

NWA World Wide Wrestling, or Music City, drew 550 fans and $5,000 for its Fabulous February Reunion show on 2/5 in Nashville headlined by the return of Jerry Lawler. Colorado Kid kept the North American title beating Lawler via DQ in the main event. Stacey was in Lawler's corner. The match went 25:00, only about 7:00 of it containing any action as Lawler just did the heel walking and stalling. The fans cheered Lawler big at the beginning, but he was able to turn them, and got great heat in doing so. Also on the show they did a North American tag title match where the Tennessee Volunteers (Steven Dunn & Reno Riggins) went to a no contest with The Australians (Bill Dundee & Ashley Hudson), leading to the belts being held up. The Volz won the titles back the next night in Nashville. Shannon Moore, Shane Helms, Joey Matthews and Christian York are in the promotion as the Bad Street Boys and are real hard workers. Greg Valentine is headed in for the group, as is Brian Christopher, but the big news is that on 3/13 they are going to bring back The Fabulous Ones--Stan Lane & Steve Keirn, who were the hottest tag team ever in the city in the early 80s. Lane, 45, has been talking about getting back into wrestling now that it's hot again, while Keirn has done indie shows on occasion in Florida. A clarification regarding Bert Prentice. Prentice did not say he was retiring from wrestling, but retiring from performing due to lung problems. He has been at the shows helping with the promoting, but usually only stays for the first two matches and doesn't look healthy

Jesse Ventura has proposed eliminating state funding for Minnesota Public Radio and TV stations

Independent Wrestling Federation on 2/26 in South Plainfield, NJ has Rik Ratchett vs. Kevin Knight on top

A name to look out for is Brock Lesnar, a junior at the University of Minnesota who is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation as a heavyweight wrestler, has been one of the most talked about wrestlers in the country this season. Lesnar competed recently in the National Dual Meet championships and pinned every opponent in the first round while compiling the best record of all the heavyweights. He was compared because of his overpowering physique to Alexander Karelin. Dan Gable, when doing the TV announcing of the dual meet, remarked that Lesnar looks like a good prospect for the WWF

World Wide Wrestling Alliance out of Lima, OH will begin a weekly TV show on the Fox station in Lima on 2/20 in the 12:30 p.m. slot

The 1/29 edition of RollerJam fell to an 0.9 rating for the first run show. The next tapings are this coming weekend and the status of Richard Brown is still uncertain

Want to make a special thanks here to both R.F. Video and the Powerbomb web site for all the plugs

An NWA group is running in Indianapolis on 3/3 with Dan Severn vs. Buddy Landel and New Jack vs. Mad Man Pondo

Larry Young, an American League umpire, will be running a show on 2/28 at the Patriot Gateway Center in Rockford, IL headlined by The Bushwhackers

Angelo Mosca has been doing a radio ad in Ontario pushing a financial growth fund.

MMA: UFC announcer/commissioner Jeff Blatnick was named to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame a few weeks back. Blatnick, the 1984 Olympic superheavyweight gold medalist in Greco-roman wrestling, will be inducted on 6/3 at the ceremony in Stillwater, OK. Blatnick also has a chapter on him in a book called "Awaken the Olympian Within" compiled by former swimming legend John Naber. The chapter on Blatnick talks about his overcoming cancer to win the gold medal

The biggest news of the past week was that UFC lightweight champion Pat Miletich lost via triangle choke to Jutaro Nakao of Shooto on 2/2 on the SuperBrawl show in Honolulu. It was the first time Miletich, now 27-2-2, had ever lost a match via submission (his only prior loss was an Extreme Fighting show to Matt Hume which was stopped by the doctor after Miletich suffered a broken nose during the period due to the media pub, they were being overly cautious about letting matches continue due to even relatively minor injuries). Nakao, who competes usually at around 163 pounds, in 1997, had used the same move to beat Steve Nelson at a Shooto show in Japan. There has been talk, although I wouldn't call it anything more than that at this point, of putting together a rematch between the two in UFC, although it wouldn't take place until May at the earliest. Miletich is one of the most active fighters in the world as thus far in 1999, he's fought two MMA fights and one pro boxing match

Mikey Burnett has been talking about trying pro boxing

For the 3/5 UFC show, Marcus "Conan" Silviera has been replaced as Maurice Smith's opponent by Kevin Randelman. Randelman is a former NCAA champion wrestler at Ohio State and a long-time training partner of Mark Coleman. Randelman did very well fighting Vale Tudo in Brazil a few years ago until running into Tom Erikson, who literally obliterated him with punches to the point he was carried out of the ring and this would be his first fight back in several years. In the old version of UFC, Randelman probably would be favored over Smith because he could take him down and keep him there, but the current version, with frequent stand-ups, changes the odds because Randelman isn't a submission expert so he's going to have a hard time finishing Smith on the ground, which means awarded stand-ups, and Smith, even at his age, should be far too technical when it comes to standing fighting. The idea right now appears to be, as mentioned last week, to build to Bas Rutten vs. Smith to decide the heavyweight champion. Evan Tanner's opponent on the show looks to be Valeri Ignatov, a Russian sambo fighter who is currently part of Bob Shamrock's team (so to keep things straight, there is a Ken Shamrock Lions Den team, a Frank Shamrock team and a Bob Shamrock team). There has also been talk of a Chuck Liddel vs. Jeremy Horn match. The Sione Latu (pro wrestler John Savage) match will probably be the dark match rather than on PPV. It is said that Gary Goodridge and Tank Abbott are both training very hard for the show. When Abbott met with WWF officials the weekend of the Royal Rumble, he was already down to 235 pounds so from a conditioning standpoint if he stays on track, he'd probably be coming in lighter for this fight than any in his UFC career. The talent budget for the show was cut back once again which is another in the list of many signs that are hardly positive about the long-term future of the product

Whatever consideration there was about stripping Frank Shamrock of the middleweight title has been dropped since they aren't that far apart on money for Shamrock to return and defend the title later this year. The idea is he'll face the Vitor Belfort vs. Guy Mezger winner on 3/5, but if Mezger wins, you have two guys who used to train together as teammates so that may or may not throw a monkey wrench into it

K-1 ran a show on 2/3 at the second Tokyo Yoyogi Gym before a sellout 5,500. It was basically a "B" show, with two major names, Andy Hug and Peter Aerts. Hug beat Tsuyoshi Nakasako in 22 seconds of the second round with a spectacular spinning back kick type of finish. Before the show, Hug spent approximately ten minutes in his interview talking about Giant Baba, and said that as a tribute to Baba, that he was going to do the Baba kick during this match. No word if he tried, but there's no way he did it the way Baba would, in that slow-mo style, in a competitive match. Aerts beat Michael McDonald (not the singer with the Doobie Brothers) in 2:40 of the second round.

ECW: The latest on the trials and tribulations of Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch. Sytch was arrested on 2/4 at her mother's home in Matawan, NJ for violating a restraining order keeping her off the property. Sytch wasn't booked on the weekend shows, but Candido was, and he missed the shows since Sytch wasn't released until late on 2/5

Overall the weekend shows in the Carolinas were pretty big successes. The 2/5 show in Columbia, SC drew 1,600, only slightly less than the 1,825 that WCW drew in the same city a few weeks back. 2/6 in Concord, NC drew 1,115 in a 750-seat building, and 2/7 in Raleigh, NC drew about 1,100 in an 800-seat building. Crowds were said to be really hot all three nights and all three shows were reported as being very good overall. In Columbia, Yoshihiro Tajiri and Super Crazy were said to have stolen the show. The Dudleys came out with three strippers and told the fans they were going to have them strip for them, and then didn't and called the fans marks for believing it. Tommy Dreamer did mic work saying that Columbia was now ECW country, which got a big cheer. He then said it was no longer WCW country, which also got a big cheer. He then said it was no longer Horseman country, which drew a mixed reaction. He apparently got the pulse, because the next night in Charlotte in Dreamer's match with Justin Credible, Credible was running down Ric Flair and Dreamer was defending his honor. Taz beat Shane Douglas in the Columbia main event. They had all the wrestlers from the undercard come out to watch the match, the same way it was done in the old days when the world champion would appear in a territory. The show, due to the athletic commission, was tamer than usual, with no brawling outside the ringside area except in the main event. They were doing teases that Francine and Douglas would be breaking up. In Concord, they had signs posted and offered refunds stating Douglas wouldn't be there. Taz drew Sabu in a falls count anywhere ECW vs. FTW title match which went 30:00 and the show ended with Rob Van Dam over Jerry Lynn. Lynn looked very good in his first weekend back

2/7 in Raleigh was at a bar with an overflow crowd. New Jack did a dive off a balcony. They had Credible and Dreamer cost each other respective matches with Lynn and One Man Gang. Sabu & Van Dam beat Dudleys in the final of a match marred by Van Dam doing his dive into the stands and knocking out a fan at ringside, who stayed down for a long time before being taken out in an ambulance

Lance Storm missed the weekend with a bad case of pneumonia. He is expected to be in Queens to do an angle, but probably won't be wrestling this coming weekend

Tammy Lynn Bytch not only had her breasts done, but also had her lips and cheeks done and according to one report, her thighs as well

Nicole Bass is finished

Most likely Public Enemy will be done after the 3/21 PPV show. The WWF has offered them a contract to start at television imminently. They had originally looked for work from the WWF when their WCW deal expired, but were turned down, but Terry Taylor came up with an idea for them and they were then offered a contract last week. Ted Petty had told indie promoters that it's basically a done deal they are going to re-sign with WCW so we'll see. If they do go with WCW, it's doubtful WCW would allow them to do the PPV show but WWF surely would

At this point Sytch is only booked on one TV to do an angle and the 3/21 PPV show

It's expected that Little Guido vs. Antifaz del Norte will be added to the PPV show. The plan at this point is to hold Terry Funk vs. Dreamer off until the May show, and instead go with Dreamer, Storm and Credible in a three-way on PPV

TV this week was from Detroit and the crowd was really hot so it made the show. They opened with Chris Chetti vs. Roadkill, which was just a backdrop for Sid to show up and destroy both guys. The place went nuts even more than you could imagine. Sid threw some of the worst punches you'll ever see, but the crowd didn't care. Storm beat Spike Dudley in a real good TV using the Takaiwa triple bomb after TLB shoved Spike off the top rope and through a table. Credible did an interview. While, physically that's what it looked like. It was Paul E. acting as a ventriloquist for Credible, but his delivery still needs some polish for him to be at the level he's being groomed for. Tajiri beat Crazy in 8:31 of the single best U.S. match so far this year. The wrestling blew away anything in WWF or WCW and the crowd went crazy for it. This was a step above their TV match from Philadelphia and two steps above their PPV match. The crowd reaction really exposes WCW and WWF's mentality about the guys being unable to get over as being a product of the companies burying them as a group from the start and not that fans won't accept them. Crazy is actually getting over more than Tajiri since he's got a lot of charisma, and he's the one both WWF and WCW wouldn't even sign. Finally Taz beat El Diablo (a student at the House of Hardcore under a hood), billed as a local Michigan indie star in 1:12. Taz got on the mic and challenged anyone in the WWF or WCW to challenge him for his belt, and then challenged Sabu, leading to a pull-apart.

WCW: Lex Luger suffered a torn bicep tendon in his 1/30 match in Los Angeles with Konnan and will be undergoing surgery and is expected out for three months. There is a lot of heat as Luger has been pretty vocal about having wrestled for so long without suffering a serious injury and blaming it on Konnan. The plan at press time is that Luger will appear in Oakland and there will be no acknowledgment beforehand of his injury, and they'll do a short match with Nash working the entire way. Apparently the way the angle is supposed to work out is that Misterio Jr. loses his mask, but Nash brings him into the NWO as his little buddy, although the second step may not occur right away as there at one point was supposed to be a singles match with unmasked Rey pinning Nash, as silly as that sounds

The entire WCW Latino project and Telemundo deal is off. The public response is that Sharon Sidello cut a bad financial deal for WCW with Telemundo. The belief is that after the first taping in Waco, TX on 1/27, which was disorganized because nobody knew which wrestlers would make it across the border and almost nobody in WCW was aware Paco Alonso had switched affiliations with WWF and thus was not going to send any of his wrestlers, that members of the production crew such as David Crockett and Keith Mitchell really bad-mouthed the show to Eric Bischoff. Bischoff had just a few weeks earlier told everyone that getting the show off the ground was a major priority, and the company spent probably in excess of $300,000 creating a hot looking set and a new open before throwing in the towel after one taping. Because WCW pulled out, they aren't even going to air the one hour pilot that Telemundo had scheduled for a 7-8 p.m. time slot on 2/24

Tony Schiavone talking about WCW's good relationship with NBC on Nitro Monday is apparently because the people in the company are going on the assumption they will be getting regular NBC specials after the NBA season ends. We have not heard of any firm dates or a firm deal

Goldberg appeared on Regis & Kathy Lee on 2/8 and will be on Jay Leno 2/19. He spoke before Congress on 2/2 and got a lot of mainstream pub talking about animal rights and trying to eliminate dog fighting and cockfighting. From all accounts he came off very well

Why was the sun out at 11 p.m. in Charlotte when Chuck Zito and Hogan were stalking David Flair

The barbed wire used in the Sandman debut on 2/1 in Minneapolis was rubber barbed wire. Hey if it looks real, people buy it, and is less dangerous, you should be all for it. There is no glory in getting scarred up and injured when you can accomplish the same thing with less injury risk

The reason Hogan never went to Minneapolis was because WCW believed that Ventura would show up at the card, or even if he didn't, that if Hogan came out before the live crowd, they chant for Ventura. Speaking of Ventura, he talked at the National Governors Council that he'd be able to up tourism from Japan to come into Minnesota because it's the state that elected him Governor

There is some political infighting regarding the status of Hart. A booking meeting was held this past week, with the original idea to build to a Hogan vs. Hart match at Havoc this year. At the meeting it was suggested by Page that Hart put over Booker T, since Booker T had put Hart over three times on TV. Hart felt if the idea was to build to a match with Hogan, it wasn't the right time to put over Booker T because it would only devalue the big match before it got there. Nash feels that Hart isn't over and shouldn't be built up for the match to begin with. Nash and Hart's discussion ended with Hart confused because all that was suggested is him putting people over, and Nash mad because all Hart was concerned with was building up the match with Hogan. It wound up with Nash telling Bischoff that Hart wasn't being cooperative about putting people over and Hart not understanding what it is that the company wants from him. The end result is that Hart was booked to lose the title to Piper right away, and most likely Piper will drop it to Hall in Oakland. You can see the internal conflict because Bischoff feels the need to justify Hart's salary and Nash feels he's overpaid, not over and is looking to chop him off at the knees before any build for a Hogan match can get going. The title change match turned out beyond awful, and not entirely because Piper is in so much pain he just can't perform anymore. Piper's hip he's had replaced is acting up and may even need surgery, and the other hip is going bad, and he's in tremendous pain all the time. The original idea was for Piper & Will Sasso to do a tag match with Hart & Bischoff, which actually, judging from the reaction and performance of Sasso, may have even been worse

The bloom is already starting to be off the rose when it comes to morale. The biggest complaints are, and this one is valid, is that WCW has made it almost impossible to be a babyface because the role of the heels is to try and be cool babyfaces and the babyfaces are presented as dumb saps to be constantly outwitted. The other is that it's only the same guys with political pull in all the videos, and nobody else, whether they get crowd reactions or not, is given the opportunity just like before

Anyway, Nitro on 2/8 before a sellout 15,378 (14,145 paying $282,890) in Buffalo was the video/vignette show, almost all of which were bad. WCW is really going to expose itself by copying WWF at its own game. They should present a good product emphasizing where they are superior (granted, off the top of my head it's hard to come with more than one or two things and they've already been botched for years) rather than chase someone in their own game. Anyway, the vignettes were 1) Hogan telling every member of the B&W that they were the leader, but it was a secret, and laughing at all of them behind their backs when they left; 2) This mystery blond inviting the camera man into a limo and into her hotel room which apparently is some big secret angle that may or may not involve Scott Steiner; 3) A series of videos to erase all the other videos on Raven that Nash didn't like. They made Kanyon look like a naive foreigner. He may as well have been a mini. Raven is now a rich happy guy pulling a worker on his mom; 4) Bischoff's role was to keep the bathroom clean with one annoying segment after another. There was some heat about Hogan calling the camera man a "jiggly, jiggly, jew" on Nitro on 2/1, but evidently not enough for the segment not to have been replayed on every show during the week. Misterio Jr. pinned Blitzkrieg (Jay Ross, 23, from Fullerton, CA, who has probably only had a few dozen matches on the indie level) in a really good match. Blitzkrieg has amazing potential. Bischoff hated his ring costume because it looked so minor league for a Nitro. I expect he'll be signed because everyone raved about the match, and Misterio Jr. really showed what a great worker he is because he hid that Blitzkrieg is so inexperienced. The show went downhill from there. Arn Anderson was laying on the ground writhing in pain, apparently from Hall & Nash, and Disco looked to take a belt to him, but the door was closed to we never saw anything. Booker T beat David Finlay in 14:33 with the missile dropkick. Solid work but way too long for a TV match. They mistimed a leapfrog spot bad. Flair did an interview and told Hart he'd have to wrestle Piper. Flair got the crowd chanting for Piper. Thank God Norton was in Japan or Hogan would have done another vignette telling him he was the leader of the black & white. Barry Windham & Curt Hennig beat Horace Hogan & Brian Adams in 10:30 when Stevie Ray accidentally hit Adams with a slapjack and Hennig pinned him. Ray and Vince were arguing at ringside before the finish. The finish was supposed to be a mistimed spot, but they mistimed the mistimed spot to make it look even worse. The only thing positive is this match was booked to go 20:00, which certainly questions someone's mental prowess although I'm not sure of the responsible party and when they let him out of the rubber room. Anyway, because Flair and Hart went way long on their interview, these guys got chopped in half so they were only at negative one star by the finish. Horace has H-bomb on his tights, which is of course after the wrestlers' nicknames for the drug Halcyon. Hey, WWF has Test, they can gave H-bomb. Bigelow did an interview with a cardboard cut-out of a USA Today talking about Goldberg talking before Congress. Bigelow isn't over and the interview was bad until Bigelow said about Goldberg saying everyone in WCW would adopt a pet this year saying he'd adopt his old lady and put her on a leash. Goldberg came out and took him down until security pulled them apart. Nobody believes Bigelow stands a chance in this match. Probably because he doesn't. Page beat Kenny Kaos in 5:47 with a flying diamond cutter off the top. Nice finish. Weak match. Ernest Miller challenged anyone. The B&W told Vince that they had called him out. Vince came out and told Disco to go in there but Disco blew him off. Vince came out and they had the worst match you could imagine, ending when Sonny Onoo screwed up and Vince did this poor excuse for an inside cradle to win in 4:19. In the parking lot, Steiner was attempting to sexually harass Kimberly. Page started pounding on Scott, but Scott gave him a low blow. Security broke them up. Scott carjacked the car and shoved Kimberly out. Actually I thought this was a great angle because it at least got into your gut rather than all the attempted comedy that wasn't the slightest bit funny up to this point. This was actually filmed several weeks ago in Atlanta and they used a stuntperson in the role of Kimberly, which was pretty obvious since nearly everyone figured it out immediately. They showed the Mad TV angle with Hart and Sasso. It was weird. It was like they were doing this fake sketch where Hart played a wrestler bullying reporters while Sasso, playing the role of an overweight Jesse Ventura, was speaking. Then Bret snapped and tried to do an angle where he shot on Sasso hitting him with a wrestlers' chair shot and putting him in the scorpion while the rest of the comedy ensemble reacted like they weren't going according to the script. Piper beat Hart for the title in 13:24. This was classic Schiavone and classic WCW. Half the time the announcers are out there totally clueless. Anyway, Hart did this Mexican spot where he faked getting a low blow and started selling his groin. Schiavone said Piper kicked him low. Heenan, who knew the spot, said he didn't think so. Schiavone, when he figured out what the angle was, said only an idiot like Heenan would say that he kicked him in the groin when he didn't. Finish saw Mickey Jay get bumped. Hart KO'd Piper with Knux. Sasso grabbed Jay to keep him from making the count. Hart grabbed him to pull him over. They did a tug-of-war. Sasso let go way early. Hart still fell over in this terrible looking manner with no help from Piper into the worst schoolboy in history for the fall. Luckily the fans live were distracted from most of the match by a major fight in the stands. Finally Nash & Hall no contest Flair & Steve McMichael. McMichael worked most of the match which tells you about the match. Finish saw Flair put Hall in the figure four. At that point literally everyone in the stands started looking to the back. You know things are bad with your booking when the big finishing move is on and people turn their heads away from the ring. Hogan took a bucket and took literally forever to get to the ring. Finally he got there and went to throw it at Flair, but McMichael jumped in the way to protect Flair. Hall, Nash and Disco were about to do unmentionable things to Flair (like try and talk him into a six month feud with more matches of this quality), but Goldberg ran in and, wouldn't you know it, speared Disco. This was a night where you couldn't wait for the show to end, and they do this before their largest audience in a long time

Thunder on 12/4 in Providence drew 8,454 paying $158,498, but that's a misleading figure because they also had another 1,865 people who bought tickets to the last Providence show where Goldberg no-showed and WCW offered the 7,000 or so fans either refunds or free tickets to the next event. So the event was a sellout. The live show drew a 3.48 rating, which is way down from what the show had been averaging, but the show was devoid of any star power and the matches taped for the second week were the same. Both Nash (behind the scenes as booker) and Randy Savage were there but never appeared before the live crowd, which left the building either comatose or furious. Fans were chanting "Redemption" by the end of the show, which is the name of the WWF PPV show in the same building on 4/25. Lash Leroux beat Super Calo in what was reported as a very good match. Everyone is high on Leroux as a future star, and the Mexicans have long since been destroyed by the booking patterns. Mike Enos & Bobby Duncum Jr. beat Meng & Barbarian in a terrible match which ended when Meng & Barbarian split up and went at it. This made a lot of sense to the fans live since they came out later, as part of the live show, and worked as a team without even hinting dissension. David Taylor & David Finlay beat Chavo Guerrero Jr. & Billy Kidman in another good match when Chavo dropkicked Kidman, who was pinned by Finlay. After the match they did an angle backstage where they fought each other to build up their cruiserweight title match at SuperBrawl. The live show began. They opened by revealing the end of the Nitro cliffhanger involving Chuck Zito, Hogan and David Flair. Nothing happened. The B&W guys were in the limo making fun of Vince, as in Vince McMahon, saying that his ego is so big he wants to be world champion and Adams said if Vince was world champion it would kill the business. It would have been funny if the line was delivered by a guy who is at the top of the list of those killing the business right now. Chris Jericho beat Scotty Riggs in 14:36 with the Lion tamer. Good match but way too long for anything involving Riggs on television. Riggs' eye was fixed. It's explained that Raven never let him go to a doctor, but when he left the flock, they found out his eye was okay. Okay, so why was he wearing the patch if his eye was okay? Misterio Jr. & Konnan beat Disorderly Conduct in 4:56 when Misterio Jr. pinned Tough Tom with a springboard off Konnan's back into a huracanrana. They worked together a lot better than you'd think. Norman Smiley beat Disciple with the chicken wing in 6:31. The idea of seeing Disciple trying to wrestle a match was hilariously bad. Horace Hogan & Adams beat Meng & Barbarian in 16:43. That's what the clock said. I thought it was lasting about six weeks. I kept falling asleep and would wake up and they were still there. It was like being in the movie "Groundhog Day," except I wasn't getting a chance to score with Andie McDowell. Vince stole Stevie Ray's slapjack and gave poor Barbarian this horrible shot he had to sell. Then Horace delivered the worst looking elbow drop off the ropes on Barbarian for the pin. As it turned out, The Advanced Auto Parts segment was the best part of the show because we at least saw some cool looking monster truck spots. Stevie Ray was pissed since Vince stole his slapjack. Bigelow beat Jerry Flynn in 4:44 with the Greetings from Asbury Park. There was a brawl backstage where Stevie Ray was choking Vince. This was meant apparently as a spoof on this incident six years ago where Kevin Wacholz, who wrestled as Nailz, jumped on Vince McMahon and was choking him out because he was mad about an $8,000 payoff for the Wembley Stadium show. See, Wacholz was backstage in Minneapolis and you get the drift. DDP beat Glacier, who will be dropping the gimmick soon, in 3:21. And get this main event, Hennig & Windham beat Duncum & Enos in 10:53 when Hennig pinned Duncum after Windham lariated him. It was real bad. After the show they taped a too long Disco Inferno over Chris Adams with the chartbuster match, Steiner beat Kenny Kaos and the TV main event was Benoit & Malenko beat Van Hammer & Kaz Hayashi. Show ended when Goldberg pinning Bigelow in a dark match in 2:00

Psicosis has been gone of late due to a family emergency as his wife lost her baby

Hector Garza's knee has been messed up and he's been limping due to apparently a problem with his knee operation

New ref Johnny Boone is the guy who played Konnan in the Jericho JFK assassination skit. He's not related to the late Brady Boone, whose spot he was given

In the UK, on 1/15 Nitro and Raw were deadlocked each with 300,000 viewers. On 1/22, Nitro beat Raw 290,000 to 240,000, but the live airing of the Royal Rumble that week at 1 a.m. drew 310,000 viewers in the UK which was more than Nitro or Raw did in prime time

First day ticket sales for the 3/1 Nitro at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, NC were 13,186 for $304,935 with about 3,000 tickets remaining. Flair made a proposal to Bischoff and Hogan to get the title at SuperBrawl and then he'd drop it at the Dean Dome, figuring it would work politically since Hogan gets to win the title from Flair in Flair country. It was nixed at the time by Bischoff who didn't want the title change

Randy Savage will be doing a cameo for an NBC TV series (not sure which one) being filmed this week

Wildcat Willie was fired. He's been getting booed in most of the cities when he'd do his routine

There was talk of Rick Rude being groomed to be a heel announcer on Thunder, although he was said to be beyond awful doing the Backstage Blast on 3/1. I guess that means he'll probably get the Thunder slot

They are adding eight new Nitro Girls, since they want to get them involved in doing more autograph sessions since they regularly show up unlike many of the wrestlers

Marcus Bagwell has gotten limited clearance to start wrestling

Jenny Jones will be doing a taping on 2/11 (not sure of air date) with Bagwell, Jimmy Hart, Perry Saturn, Billy Kidman and Disco Inferno. Donnie & Marie show on 2/10 will be taping a segment with Sting, Konnan and DDP

The movie Universal Soldier II with Jean Claude Van Damme and Goldberg will be out in August

The NBC Dateline segment is now planned for 2/14

Disco Inferno is on "Say What Karioke" on MTV soon

Brian Hildebrand recently took his WCW expense paid honeymoon to Las Vegas

Rob Kellum, who also wrestled as Robbie Eagle and Gorgeous George III, got a try-out at the 2/1 Nitro beating Chris Adams

Dick Beyer is taking a youth wrestling team on a one-week tour of Japan in August and there is a good chance that Reid Fliehr will be on the U.S. team which would mean Ric Flair would accompany him. That would garner tremendous coverage in Japan the idea of a youth wrestling team accompanied by Ric Flair and The Destroyer

Rick Steiner is expected back after two shoulder operations in three weeks

Arena events over the past week saw 2/2 WCW Saturday Night tapings in LaCrosse, WI drew a sellout and $109,444, 2/3 in Madison, WI drew 4,531 paying $79,152, 2/5 in Durham, NC drew 5,243 paying $89,500, 2/6 in Utica, NY drew a sellout 3,888 paying $80,017 and 2/7 in Cleveland drew 11,541 paying $211,830. Merchandise for the period from 1/29 through 2/8 was $579,069 or $6.31 per head. Madison was said to be really bad as fans thought no effort was being put out, plus the last house show in that city was a WWF Raw taping and when you see this line-up, you'll understand what the difference must have been. The undercard was Chris Adams vs. Barry Darsow which went 20:00, Finlay vs. Riggs, Hennig vs. Malenko with double interference leading to Hennig & Enos vs. McMichael & Malenko, T vs. Jericho and ending with Goldberg squashing Bigelow in 2:00. Luger vs. Ray and Goldberg vs. Bigelow were the only matches advertised. Luger wasn't there due to the bicep injury but no announcement was made. Durham and Utica both had Hennig losing to Bigelow and Flair & Benoit & McMichael over Horace & Ray & Adams as the top matches. Flair and Benoit actually made the six-mans decent. Ernest Miller jobbed for Jerry Flynn in both Utica and Cleveland so his push looks to be over and it's about time. Cleveland had the same Horseman vs. B&W six-man, but it was in the middle of the card as they added Page (beating Hennig), Sting beating Hart and brought back Goldberg over Bigelow. Hall and Nash both were advertised but not there. Nash was advertised against Goldberg and Hall was advertised against Sting

A correction from last week. The actual crowd and gate for 1/30 at the Forum in Los Angeles was a sellout 16,348 paying $302,045

Major events for May are: 5/1 house show in Philadelphia at the Spectrum, 5/2 house show in Norfolk at the Scope, 5/3 Nitro in Charlotte, 5/9 Slamboree PPV at the TWA Dome in St. Louis, 5/10 Nitro in Indianapolis (may be pre-empted depending upon the NBA schedule), 5/11 WCW Saturday tapings in Cape Girardeau, MO, 5/13 Thunder in Wichita, KS, 5/15 house show in Omaha, 5/17 Nitro in Cedar Rapids, IA, 5/22 house show in Johnson City, TN, 5/23 house show in Knoxville, 5/24 Nitro in Greenville, SC., 5/25 WCW Saturday Night taping in Augusta, GA, 5/27 Thunder in Charleston, SC and 5/31 Nitro at the Astrodome in Houston

House shows on 3/19 in Chicago and 3/20 in Milwaukee have Flair vs. Hogan, Sting vs. Hart, Goldberg vs. ?, Konnan vs. Hall, Benoit & Malenko vs. Windham & Hennig, Kidman vs. Rey vs. Juvi triangle, McMichael vs. Norton and Chris Adams vs. Prince Iaukea. 3/27 in Auburn Hills is Flair vs. Hogan, Page vs. Steiner, Goldberg vs. ?, Konnan vs. Hall, Benoit & Malenko vs. Windham & Hennig, Saturn vs. Jericho, T vs. Brian Adams, Juvi vs. Rey vs. Kidman triangle and Miller vs. Iaukea. 3/31 Baltimore and 4/3 Boston is Flair vs. Hogan, Sting vs. Hart, Goldberg vs. ?, Konnan vs. Hall, Benoit & Malenko vs. Windham & Hennig, Rey vs. Juvi vs. Kidman triangle, Riggs vs. Finlay and Lizmark Jr. vs. Smiley

As far as the Jericho situation goes, he was in Buffalo but told he wouldn't be used at Nitro. There are rumors that he is going to be receiving a $750,000 offer, but to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't actually received the offer. It doesn't appear likely that WWF will match the offer or probably even come that close, but the WWF also has some obvious advantages when it comes to someone in his position

Benoit & Malenko may not be winning the tag titles at the SuperBrawl, because it would violate one of WCW's most time honored principles (Benoit always does the job on PPV), but if they don't, they will end up with them some time shortly thereafter

WCW Saturday Night on 2/6 drew a 2.5 rating.

WWF: It has been rumored that Wrestlemania will wind up being some sort of a three-way deal with Austin, Rock and Mankind for the title. The way it appears to be situated at this point, which of course can change, is probably for an Austin vs. Mankind singles match with the winner going on to face Rock. With Undertaker being turned back face, it'll be Taker vs. Big Bossman most likely and probably a three-way match for the IC title with Shamrock, Billy Gunn and Val Venis

Road Dogg is expected to be checked into rehab this week. It looks likely that he'll be out through Wrestlemania. It is probably no secret to anyone paying close attention to the flip side of all this current media attention is that the drug issue is going to become a big thing before the year is out, if not before the summer. WWF did some drug testing over the past week and Road Dogg went to management asking for help with his problems. His match with Al Snow is off the Valentine's Day PPV and the plan is to shoot some sort of an angle on the live Heat show to give Snow a new opponent. Road Dogg suffered a scare in Madison Square Garden when the ring ropes were loose and he took an unplanned bump over the top, landing on his head in a six-man with DX vs. Undertaker & Acolytes. His right arm went totally numb, and Taker brought him into the ring and immediately pinned him. They held up the show for 15 minutes, put him in a cervical collar and rushed him to the hospital, although he was out of the hospital later that evening and went to Toronto for TV but only did an interview and was kept off wrestling because of the injury

Mark Henry has a torn tendon in his knee, but is going to appear in Memphis for the tag title match (Jarrett & Hart vs. Brown & Henry) but it's probably a similar situation to Luger in that Brown is going to have to work most of the match

The Giant officially starts under contract on 2/10 and will Continued on page 17.

THE READERS PAGES

 

WWF TV

I was glad to see someone give Jaguar Yokota a well written send-off. I also want to point out that it's impossible to overpraise her contributions to this sport, both in and out of the ring. The Sam Muchnick obit made me starry-eyed and I never grew up seeing the territory. The Shawn Michaels obit was good riddance to a total non-professional.

Julian Licht's letter brings up the issue of parental responsibility as a defense of the WWF's TV content. While it's true that parents are responsible for raising their children and it's not the WWF's responsibility, this argument misses several points. The WWF bills its current product as being for mature audiences, and thus avoid the restrictions, regulations and scrutiny that oversee children's programming. The problem is, regardless of Vince McMahon's hype, it is a product targeted to children. In a more enlightened society, this wouldn't be an issue, but this is America where every mass media form is expected to share in the parents' job. Thus we have Action for Children's Television, which doesn't govern over Raw, by the way, the ridiculous PG-13 movie rating, and most recently, an on-screen TV ratings system. As a comic book writer who has worked on a lot of licensed material, which usually means childrens' properties, I can tell you first hand that Kidvid properties are under strict monitoring. Vince McMahon claims that his audience has changed. But it hasn't, it's kiddie TV fare, same as it always has been. Since the media has a history of blowing off any questionable practices because it's wrestling, this strategy of calling the WWF product "mature" is covering their ass at this moment. Eventually, though, someone will catch on. Someone always does, and it's always the wrong someone. Vince McMahon should consider this.

One thing in the letter really stuck in my craw. Licht implied that the WWF product was cutting edge entertainment. As compared to what? Cutting edge in-ring wrestling? It can't be that. Cutting edge angles and characters? Paul Heyman's booking has hits and misses but more often than not his material is clever. I don't think DX pissing on the crowd with a supersoaker is anyone's idea of being clever, or being funny.

Frank Strom

Revere, Massachusetts

After attending the Royal Rumble and the WCW house show six days later in Los Angeles, it was very noticeable how both companies are different when it comes to who watches and attends the shows. The WWF card was like going to a 21 & over club. There were way more adults than kids. There was more foul language from the fans. The WCW event was like going to a Power Rangers or Rugrats opening. Mainly the adults there were parents of younger fans. But in all honesty, the WCW house show was way better than the WWF PPV show.

I have no problem at all with the new direction of the WWF. McMahon changed his company to fit the changes in the times. The WWF is no more violent, sexual or has more foul language than music videos, TV shows or movies out there. True, it shouldn't be a part of wrestling, but then again, do you really want to hear a song that has fuck, motherfucker, bitch or ho every second or third word? No, but it's still out there. Parents shouldn't put heat on the WWF for their childrens actions. While watching the Super Bowl, there were players doing the crotch chop. The Fox Network prime time cartoon after the Super Bowl had a baby wanting to kill his family. I just hope WWF bashing will end soon because I know that if everyone who reads this letter owned the WWF and they were getting killed in the ratings for a year like the WWF was in 1997, they would have changed the direction of their company. Maybe not in this direction, but damn close to it. If you don't like Gillberg, you can watch Goldberg. If you don't like Kama's Ho's, watch the Nitro Girls. If you don't like hearing "I'm gonna whip your ass," you can hear "I'm gonna kick your butt." And if you don't like seeing action, you can watch Nitro.

Travis Berry

Los Angeles, California

DM: Clearly for whatever reason the audience difference at the two shows in Los Angeles is an aberration. WCW reaches an older demographic than WWF. If you take those 17-and-under out of the equation, Nitro still beats Raw most weeks. Raw wins largely because it kills Nitro with teenagers and beats them by a closer margin among very young children. Nitro audience is usually about 22% kids, while Raw, even though it starts an hour later, is about 35%

BABA

Excellent piece on Baba. If I were you, I'd emphasize more of the following points:

Giant Baba as a human freak show. I'm afraid you still haven't seen the Andre the Giant A&E special yet. Almost the same story applied to Baba. He had been told by many doctors that he wasn't going to live a long life. He challenged that notion his entire life. Like with many midget wrestlers, Baba and Andre, they realized that pro wrestling would be the only profession they could work in because of being freaks.

His conditioning, being an excellent athlete and a national treasure. The Iron man aspect of his career needed to be emphasized more. When he hit 50, people would say "surely puroresu is fake because a 50-year-old man is still performing." But he became more of a legend at that point because reporters realized just how hard it is to be the iron man of wrestling, performing every night without a miss, especially considering his size. I once wrote a chapter entitles "Who broke kayfabe?" listing the UWF, Antonio Inoki, Baba and Atsushi Onita. The UWF movement exposed that what we've been enjoying were years were not shoot matches but just simulated fights derived from martial arts. At 50-years-old, Baba exposed puroresu couldn't be a real sports competition even though as a promoter he presented the most believable pro wrestling product in the world in his main events. The fact is that large parts of the public to this day are still convinced that the All Japan main events are real even though they know that not everything in All Japan is real. Baba was an irony on many different levels.

His no-steroid, no booze lifestyle. The physical freak still lived healthy until the age of 61 due to his superb conditioning. That's a lesson for today's wrestlers. How many normal born men can survive that long due to the chemical age?

The fear of getting older and losing power. When a television documentary was done when Baba hit his 60th birthday last year, the key part was the fear of losing power. An old wrestling reporter was asked on the interview to answer why Baba, at 60, was still performing in the ring. The answer was because of fear. This relates to the Japanese wrestling community's old notion that the booker has to be an active wrestler. The same story applies to Riki Choshu, by the way.

We believe that Baba possibly knew he was suffering from cancer about five years ago when he quit smoking the cigars. The past five years was basically a bonus life for him. 1998 was an embarrassing year for him in the ring in the eyes of insiders. He, as a human freak show, had nothing else to do but wrestle.

More about the negative side of Motoko (bad cop) and Shohei Baba. For example, did they really have eyes to select Gaijin stars as compared with New Japan? His NWA ties were significant. All Japan always relied on established foreign stars. New Japan many times created superstar monsters from scratch.

More real examples from the locker room. When Ted DiBiase returned to Japan after being the Million Dollar Man, he was so used to the U.S. style of complaining that he couldn't survive long. Rob Van Dam or Sabu could say "I'm the whole f---in show" in a small promotion, but when they talked like they were stars to Motoko, they were finished.

Tadashi Tanaka

New York, New York

DM: On DiBiase's final All Japan tour, he suffered a serious neck injury the first or second night of the tour which basically wound up ending his career. He was well familiar with All Japan dressing room protocol, but physically, the All Japan style had gotten much harder since he left, and he had gotten used to the much easier WWF style, and at his age, his body simply broke down before he could make the adjustment.

Congratulations for the great story on Baba. In his three games with the Yomiuri Giants in 1957, he pitched much better than his 0-1 record would suggest. In seven innings, he allowed only five hits and one run (scored on a sacrifice fly), struck out three and walked zero.

The humor in your analysis of the Monday night TV shows is great. Who would believe it would take a full week to find out what happened with Hulk Hogan and David Flair. I guess they need something to boost their ratings against the Dog show. The following week they may get their first medical report on the condition of Kimberly. If the announcers don't feel like idiots when they are doing the show, they are idiots. By the way, have there been any arrests yet in the Ric Flair poisoning?

Regarding Shawn Michaels, I could be wrong, but I believe that when Michaels left Texas All-Star Wrestling in early 1986, he went to the Central States where he formed his tag team with Marty Jannetty, who at the time was already a headliner there, to form the Midnight Rockers, that they won the tag belts there and dropped them to the Batten Twins before going to the AWA later in the year.

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that Brisco Jack won a stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs and paid $24.00. There have been other horses names after pro wrestlers, and probably other horses names after auto body shop owners, but Brisco Jack may be the most successful with nine wins in 32 starts and $156,000 in earnings which place him in the small minority of race horses that more than earn their keep. I checked with the Jockey Club, and they have never registered a horse named Brisco Gerald, but the horse Hulkster ran in the early 90s and earned $4,350 in three years.

Bob Hoie

San Marino, California

DM: As I remember things, and I could also be wrong, was that it was Verne Gagne who put the Midnight Rockers together in the AWA in early 1986. At the time Shawn Michaels was basically unknown outside of San Antonio, while Marty Jannetty was a bigger name having been a headliner and tag team champion in the Central States for two or three years after debuting under the ring name Marty Oates, as the younger brother of Jerry and Ted (who he wasn't related to but was trained by). Jannetty and a wrestler named Tommy Rogers (not the current ECW wrestler, but a wrestler who later became known as Tommy Lane) formed one of the numerous Rock & Roll Express copies of that time period as the Uptown Boys, and his success in that role led him to be brought in for the Robert Gibson spot in Verne Gagne's Midnight Rockers. My recollection of it was that after they started in the AWA, they were brought into Kansas City since Jannetty first made his name there, for a series of Thursday night shows later that year, where they wrestled the heel Batten Twins, including a one week title reign (May 15, 1986 through May 22, 1986).

WCW

I attended Thunder in Providence on 2/4 and have to say it was one of the worst, if not the worst show I ever saw, and that encompasses 27 years of attending shows. TV main events that include the likes of Van Hammer, Mike Enos and Bobby Duncum Jr. A 20:00 match with Meng & Barbarian vs. Brian Adams & Horace Boulder. No interviews, angles or star power, like Ric Flair, who was advertised as being there, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall or Hogan. Does anyone at WCW have a clue?

If they continue this trend of using Thunder as a throw-away show, the ratings will drop to WCW Saturday Night level. Oh, and for the fans live, they finished the show with a 3:00 dark match with Bill Goldberg beating Bam Bam Bigelow. The highlight of my night was getting out of the parking garage in ten minutes.

Ron Lemieux

Branford, Connecticut

Maybe it's just me, but I think the Monday night shows ought to get back to more wrestling. After quite a bit of time, trouble and by my standards, expense, I got into the 2/1 Nitro in Minneapolis. There was some good wrestling thanks to Kidman and Benoit, but way too much of the show was backstage or via remote.

Frankly, the "arena ambience" isn't worth it. I wished I'd stayed home. I wasn't paying to see Hogan in a limo trying to act cool, or Bischoff on a dunking stool that wasn't working. I can understand adding extra non-wrestling segments to the taped Raws to offer unexpected twists, but live shows ought to be live and where the fans can get into them.

Add to Governor Ventura's early gaffes his suggestion that his wife, as First Lady,ought to receive a salary from the state. Somehow I doubt that the Reform Party was running on a platform of trying to get more people on the government payroll.

Bill Mills

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

CORNETTE

In my opinion, Jim Cornette is the most underutilized talent in the WWF. A few months back, his column was dropped in Raw Magazine. Then he was taken off Heat as a commentator. The WWF has arguably the greatest manager ever under contract, but instead of using him in that role, they put on a t&a show. I can't blame the WWF for that, because the fans are popping for it.

I was shocked at the Observer awards that Shane Douglas didn't even get an honorable mention for Most Overrated. I think Douglas is the most overrated wrestler of the decade. I've never seen anyone talk so much about how great they are, get pushed down everyone's throat their entire career, and suck so bad. A few months back he challenged Ric Flair to a series of shoot matches. Douglas doesn't even belong in the same arena, let alone the same ring, as Flair.

Fred Esposito

Cataret, New Jersey

MICHAELS

When I read in the 1/18 issue that Shawn Michaels was on the brink of retirement, I was saddened. We always knew that one day his wrestling career would end. It's just a shame it's at the age of 33.

He was, in my opinion, the most exciting wrestler of the last decade and put on some of the best matches ever against Scott Hall and Mankind and his awesome Badd Blood match against Undertaker. There are guys who go on for years and become shadows of their former selves. But what's the point in that? Who wants to wind up crippled? I applaud Shawn's decision. Wrestling won't be the same, but all good things have to come to an end.

Claire Liddell

Shirlingshire, Scotland

UFC

Tough call on the Mark Coleman vs. Pedro Rizzo match. It was hard to call either way. Fighting Sports News lists Kazushi Sakuraba with one draw (Alan Goes) and one loss. Did he recently lose or are they counting the fight with Kimo? What that a shoot? When was it? I have the RINGS 6/27/98 Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka match. It's great. The new UFC stand up rule hurt Kohsaka against Bas Rutten, but what a great fight.

Scott Smith

DM: FSN is counting the Kimo match. It certainly looked more real to me than most worked matches. It looked more real than most shoot matches as well, but that isn't an answer to the question because I don't know.

SUPERASTROS

I'm confused on what WWF wants to accomplish with the Superastros TV show. They have their Monday night show and PPV shows available with Spanish commentary, so a spanish speaking audience already has an outlet to catch WWF with announcing that they understand. The TV show is already on in Mexico and border cities, so the audience is already familiar with WWF style, wrestlers and product.

If the WWF objective is to have a separate division to cater to the Spanish audience and run separate shows, this is going to be extremely difficult. The Luchadores are handled in a way that is different from their style. Most Lucha Libre fans enjoy the masks and the established gimmicks that they are familiar with. I don't understand why WWF insists of Luchadores removing their masks and changing their established names. Wrestlers like Aguila, Max Mini and Rey Bucanero have already established characters based on appearing on Mexican television shows that air in the U.S. on Galavision. All three are coming across as nothing special on Superastros without their masks.

The Puerto Rican wrestlers are the same stuff that has been available to the WWF audience before. Miguel Perez is credible in workrate and talent. Jesus Castillo is nothing special no matter how he's packaged. Savio Vega would be a great asset if he can return from his injuries. The WWF can draw in Puerto Rico, to justify protecting some local wrestlers as I can see Puerto Rico being a market that WWF can draw some large crowds in several times per year. I'm pretty sure the WWC audience must be sick of Carlos Colon and Jose "100% Guilty" Gonzalez after all these years.

Negro Casas may be the Ric Flair of Arena Mexico, but his WWF appearances demonstrate how you can't take the magic out of its element. He comes across on TV like an average Luchador, like Silver King and Dandy in WCW. El Hijo del Santo is still very enjoyable to watch. He works very hard in front of an audience that doesn't know him. Why is Apolo Dantes the top heel and has almost every program revolving around him? His interviews are weak from what I can understand. Thus far he's done programs with Casas, Armando Fernandez and Santo. All of his programs usually end in two weeks. Casas would have been a much stronger heel to have the focus on him than Dantes.

Papi Chulo can perform some awesome spots, but he needs to be hidden in tag team matches. On a recent show, he teamed with Dantes. This led his weaknesses and didn't expose him as nothing but a flier. His gimmick and his look are both awful. They should have left the mask on him. Antifaz del Norte and Super Crazy were impressive. But they weren't signed which was a big mistake. The TV show clearly lacks talent depth. It seems like the same eight or so wrestlers are on every week, and this is made worse as they do American style squash matches with American jobbers.

WWF could have hired better Luchadores. The decision to not hire Felino and Super Crazy was a big mistake. WWF should have pushed Kaientai big on this TV show. They can work the style and you can do a Mexico vs. Japan vs. Puerto Rico three-way rivalry. This formula has worked for EMLL many times.

WCW's attempts will be interesting. They have an abundance of talent, access to Ultimo Dragon's students and other Japanese wrestlers as well. Konnan has a background in producing and booking. I'm leery on running this as a separate house show entity. The credibility of many of the top stars has been destroyed in this market by WCW. Thus far there has been very little crossover audience in drawing Lucha Libre fans to WCW shows to see Rey Misterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero or Konnan. Running Lucha Libre shows in the U.S. has been on the decline since 1995, due to not having the television to draw and build from.

Eric Bemben

Queens, New York

ROLLERJAM

I was at Universal Studios this weekend and was there on a day they were taping RollerJam. A few thoughts. The studio is a shoebox and a badly lit one. Very poor sight lines. I was in the front row and saw nothing but the top rail of the track. They told one set of fans on one side who to cheer for and who to boo and visa versa. Of course this worked fine since they were all tourist marks or plants and they did what they were told. One guy had a sign saying "Ric Flair is my dad." The blockers on both teams skate with no emotion or heart. They do nothing until the jammers reach them. Even then they do nothing. A couple of skaters showed some charisma, but mostly just the women.

Len Thomas

Largo, Florida

GENE LEBELLE

Howard Stern brought up Gene LeBelle in a conversation about Steven Segal. I didn't catch the whole thing, but Stern said that LeBelle apparently threw some stiff blows at Segal during a movie filming and Segal was a big baby about it and had LeBelle blackballed from the stunt man union. I was surprised how much Stern knew about LeBelle and suggested to his producer that they try to get a hold of LeBelle because he would make a great radio interview.

Roy London

Long Beach, New York

BIOGRAPHIES

I recall a concept that Gordon Solie was part of where they would dub over current Japanese wrestling with his voice-over. What is the status of that or other programming of that type? I just finished watching the Jesse Ventura bio on A&E. What do you feel the feasibility of a wrestling company producing and showing biographies of 15-30 minutes? This could be shown as part of a longer show. I feel something like this would really help out WCW Saturday Night.

David McLaughlin

Rome, Georgia

DM: I don't know about doing it as a weekly deal, because it would get old, but as an occasional deal on one of the lower rated WWF or WCW cable shows, I think it would be great. A few years back Solie did English voice-overs on old New Japan tapes for a show that aired in Europe. They tried broadcasting it on the internet but the technology isn't ready for that yet. I'm not sure why, in both boom periods of wrestling, that nobody tried broadcasting Japanese tapes in the U.S., although it would have worked better in the 80s when there was more similarities to the product and the Japanese product was so many years ahead and far superior to the American product. Right now the American product has gone in a different direction so the crossover audience for Japanese wrestling would likely be smaller.

ART MARSHALL

When I first got into pro wrestling, someone told me this was the dirtiest business there was. Lying. Cheating. Stealing. You name it. I've seen plenty of it. Dan Curtis also taught me that this was also the most forgiving business. He demonstrated that every day of his life. The events of what happened at the last Northern States Wrestling Association show are largely true. I know fans that have still not received refunds and they will always hate Art Marshall. Perhaps they should seek legal action. I was mad for a long time myself, but I have forgiven, as Dan Curtis had. Dan and Art were friends until the day Dan passed away. They exchanged e-mails and talked on the phone. Dan knew Art was restarting NSWA and Dan would have plugged it on his hotline. True friends can forgive one another. Art played in integral part in helping Dan's friends clean out his apartment. People that don't know the complete story keep insisting that the two hated each other and Art is wrong for restarting NSWA. The fact is they stayed friends, Dan knew about NSWA restarting and gave it his blessing.

Ric Davies

Bay City, Michigan

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Continued from page 14. be appearing at the Toy Fair for the WWF on the first day. He may be debuting as soon as the PPV in Memphis or the subsequent tapings, although his first major match won't be until Mania at the earliest. He may also be held off because, due to the major liposuction, he's been unable to train, so he's not in good condition and he's still way too heavy and there is a school of thought that there is no point rushing his debut until he's gotten himself in top shape since so much is being invested in him, when business is so great with him or without him

The WWF CD moved up to No. 17 on the billboard charts this week having sold 62,723 units. RCA Records is going to re-release a 1993 Wrestlemania: The Album with entrance music of the top stars of that era on 3/8 in conjunction with WM

WWF is publicly claiming that Royal Rumble did a 1.88 buy rate and 700,000 total buys which would be a $9 million company gross on the show. The claim is that it is the second biggest PPV in company history trailing only Wrestlemania from last year. Of course in the late 80s and early 90s they were constantly claiming all the PPVs did 750-900,000 buys. The 700,000 claim is where the idea of being a bigger PPV draw than Tyson as said on Raw came in. WWF is claiming the Tyson-Botha did 650,000 buys (most independent estimates are in the 675,000 range although the promoters claim 750,000). Anyway, considering Tyson's latest plight, that's all immaterial. Vince McMahon was quoted recently in the New York Daily News as suggesting when Tyson gets released from prison, he should join the WWF and not go back to boxing (which isn't as bad advice as it sounds on the surface) because he could make him the biggest star ever

There is a lot of internal heat regarding Sable these days. Both Sable & Marc Mero asked for their release from their newly-signed contracts but were turned down, as WWF feels it's going to gain a ton of exposure from Sable's Playboy cover which comes out in early March. Sable, Debra and Chyna were on a TSN show this past week and somewhere in the debate the working turned into a shoot and feelings on both sides were ruffled. I didn't see the show so this is second hand, but it went something like the host asking Chyna why she wasn't WWF womens champion. Chyna said she wasn't interested in the title and had never challenged for it, but that if she did, she could beat Sable in two seconds. Sable said since the two had never wrestled, how could she say that. Chyna said because she was twice as big and twice as strong. Somewhere in Sable's comeback she asked exactly what Chyna puts into her body to make her twice as big and twice as strong and somehow plastic surgery came up. Sable came back saying that Chyna had more plastic surgery than anyone in the company. A lot of the wrestlers sided with Chyna and were negative toward Sable thinking she went over the line insinuating the drug issue. Sable and Mero have also made it clear that Sable didn't come to the WWF to be a wrestler and has never been trained to be a wrestler. Apparently she received a ton of money from Playboy which gives her some independence she didn't have before. I'd say it's a very good bet that Luna will be winning the title from Sable, although if it happens before Playboy has its run, you should come to the conclusion things are in an even worse state

Rock has been wearing a shirt because he just had surgery on his chest, apparently to remove the gynecomastia (or bitch tit syndrome as it's known in slang)

The WWF Super Bowl commercial actually turned into a controversial deal after all. Two right wing religious groups, The American Family Association and Morality in Media Inc. have complained about the commercial because of the brief spot of a couple in an embrace that appeared to be making out while at the office. The FCC had received close to 60 complaints about the commercial by the latter part of the week. Morality in Media in its press release claimed the commercial showed "a women was clearly shown on an office desk on her back with her skirt wide open, legs spread high in the air toward the viewing audience. Deep between her legs was a man thrusting his groin wildly in simulated sex." The press release called pro wrestling "neither a sport nor a form of entertainment fit for a civilized people." I don't agree with the standards WWF has taken its product at certain times only because its advertisers and demographics clearly are aimed at a very young audience so the arguments about it being aimed at adults as a defense are b.s. although it has clearly toned down over the last three weeks. But to take that commercial as anything more than tongue-in-cheek humor is ridiculous. The commercial was designed to push someone's buttons and create stretch, which it did, because they were proclaiming it the most controversial Super Bowl commercial ever before it aired

Rock, Shamrock, the Hardy Boys, Gene LeBelle and Ernie Ladd all appeared 2/7 on "That 70s Show" on Fox. The show blows, and Shamrock basically played a wrestler similar to himself but with a Beatles-like wig on. Rock played the character of Rocky Johnson with the big afro, as a 70s star. There were WWF banners everywhere despite the fact WWF was called WWWF in the 70s. Rock had a speaking role and did very well for himself playing something totally different than his wrestling character. When the father & son who are the stars of the show asked him for his autograph, he said that he had a son and that his son would one day grow up to be the most electrifying performer in sports entertainment which was a pretty cute line if you understood it, which probably 99% of the viewing audience didn't. LeBelle played the ref, while the Hardy Boys played jobbers, and Ladd played Johnson's manager

There will be a UK tour with matches on 4/2 in Newcastle, 4/3 in Sheffield and 4/4 in Birmingham. The latter show sold out the NEC in one hour

Mero had his elbow scoped. Mero was asked to return to do a character basically copying his old Johnny B. Badd character in WCW and turned down the idea

House shows for the week saw 2/4 in Fayetteville, NC draw 9,208 and $192,092, 2/5 in Greensboro drew 18,129 and $338,152, 2/6 in Syracuse, NY drew a sellout 6,977 paying $156,020 and 2/7 in Madison Square Garden drew a sellout 16,399 paying $442,478. Merchandise for the week was $515,379 or $5.77 per head. Fayetteville was Mankind over Rock on top. The other cities all had four-ways on top in non-title with Austin over Rock, Mankind and Bossman or Rock, Mankind and Kane depending on the city. The Hardy Boys were put over in upsets in every city in four-ways against Acolytes, Godfather & Venis and Henry & Brown

Dan Severn has yet to come to a final agreement with WWF but it appears

he'll be done at the end of February

Shawn Michaels is talking about opening up his own territory based in San Antonio that would run a regular schedule and has asked for WWF to help him with talent. Some of the guys on the developmental deals may be sent there for experience

An AP story which ran in newspapers around the country this week was headlined "Olympian Insists He Hasn't Sold His Soul to WWF" about Kurt Angle (current plan is for Angle to debut after Wrestlemania, but not immediately after). The story says that amateur wrestling people are troubled by Angle going to WWF claiming that "Angle's abandonment of his amateur roots probably shouldn't be a surprise in an era when once-legitimate wrestlers such as Mark Coleman and Dan Severn make their living in fake wrestling or the Ultimate Fighting Championships, a bizarre mix of street fighting and martial arts." Angle said that he never watched wrestling while growing up. Angle was offered a big deal by the WWF coming out of the 1996 Olympics, which he turned down to attempt to be a sportscaster and a public speaker. After losing his sportscasting job, he went back to the WWF, which, since his name value had dropped, offered him a lesser deal which he took. The story said Angle would probably be a camouflage-clad heel with a bad attitude. It hinted he may have another ex-amateur wrestler (who would almost have to be Williams) as his tag team partner and that his wife might be written into the storyline (he has discussed the idea about making his wife his valet)

Both members of LOD are out of action with bad backs. They'll be working the shows this week in Puerto Rico to see what condition they are in

Steve Williams may start at this week's tapings

The Sky Dome show with a photo of Austin vs. McMahon was the full cover tabloid cover in the 2/9 Toronto Sun

Carl Oulett was given a new gimmick name as Wall Wallace on an ECWA show on 2/6 in Wilmington, DE. When he started wrestling in Puerto Rico as a major pushed heel, his ring name was Killer Karl Wallace

Weekend ratings saw Live Wire at 2.0, Superstars at 1.9 and Heat at 4.53 rating and a 6.9 share

WWF occupied the top eight spots (Austin, Austin, Foley, Sable, Survivor Series, Undertaker, Best of Mania, DX) in this week's Billboard listing of sports video sales

The WWF training camp wrestlers worked both 2/5 in Reading, PA for Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling and 2/6 in Wilmington, DE for ECWA. On both shows in the main event, Dok Hendrix beat Lance Diamond.