February 28, 2000 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: WCW Super Brawl review, Super J Cup, plus tons of newsBy Observer Staff | firstname.lastname@example.org | @WONF4W
Wrestling Observer Newsletter
PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 February 28, 2000
The idea of a Wrestler of the Century is about as impossible a task as there is possible. What criteria? How can you possibly compare people from different eras against each other fairly? How much is work rate taken into account?
For that reason, before making a pick, that is sure to be controversial, we're going to break it down into categories:
Best in ring performer: This is a tough category because styles change and the business is always getting faster paced and higher impact. If you watch videotapes going back, even in the 70s, very little of it holds up and virtually nothing before that time holds up. Gene Kiniski, Ray Stevens and Dory Funk Jr. were awesome workers in the 60s and 70s, and even Harley Race later than that, but it's like comparing Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor or Rick Barry, who were awesome basketball players, with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, if you try and stand their stuff next to Flair at his peak because of the increased charisma and energy level. Most of the 80s stuff looks better as far as believability and intensity, but it can't touch the current stuff for acrobatics and outstanding spots. Sometimes today's heat matches up with the past, and sometimes it doesn't, depending largely on how hot the promotion is at that moment and the way the fans have been trained to react. Anyway, this is an easy pick for me, Ric Flair. Flair isn't necessarily the best wrestler of all-time if you take everyone at their peak, but for someone who was a top five caliber worker in the business for more than 20 years, and at his peak did it 300 times per year, I can say without any reservation that nobody in the past 30 years in this business is close, and that nobody before that can hold up by today's standards. Kenta Kobashi as a peak performer was better, but it's hard to believe he at the age of 40 will be close to what Flair was at the same age, although maybe nobody will because the styles do more physical damage even wrestling shorter matches, but Kobashi never once wrestled 200 matches per year, let alone 300 just about every year.
Biggest box office draw: Overall, Hulk Hogan. Nobody consistently sold more tickets for a longer period of time. A lot can be knocked about Hogan and most of it is deserved, but this also can't be taken away from him. Even today, while the average crowd for WWF shows is much larger than it was in Hogan's prime, the fact is it's a group effort and nobody, not Austin at his prime nor Rock today, can match the effect on attendance that Hogan had (in fact, none of the wrestlers today can match the impact on attendance that Flair had in his core cities at his drawing power peak of the mid-80s either). As a perfect example, when Austin went down, there was no impact on attendance and only a slight impact on buy rates. Hogan walked in to WCW and attendance quadrupled and buy rates doubled. In his WWF peak, the same cities that drew 4,000 without Hogan would draw 10,000 with him. Hogan's name alone would nearly double the average attendance even before that in his AWA days. There were probably guys like Jim Londos or Gorgeous George at their drawing peak who for their major matches can say the same thing, but not consistently night after night all over the country.
Biggest pay-per-view draw: Hogan again, although that's a new phenomenon that nobody before 1985 and nobody outside of the American scene is a part of. When Austin or Rock draw a 3.5 buy rate, which Hogan did nine times, and nobody else in history ever did without him, let alone an 8.0 that he drew against Andre, argue the point. Granted PPV's are monthly and no longer the novelty they once were making higher figures far more difficult to achieve, but Hogan's PPV box office up until two years ago when Austin finally topped him was tops in the business for a period of more than a decade.
Biggest merchandise seller: Probably over the course of a career it would be Hogan, but even though it was really only a two-year window, more notable is Steve Austin. Hogan never touched Austin's merchandise numbers and just how many people walked around in the real world wearing his t-shirts at his best.
Biggest television star: Rikidozan. Several of the highest rated television shows in the history of Japanese television featured pro wrestling matches with Rikidozan in the main event. Nobody in any culture can even touch that statement. Even though standards are different and a direct comparison isn't exactly fair, Rikidozan drew several 60.0 ratings and today we freak out at 7.0's. When the WWF promotes a TV show that outdraws the Super Bowl in the same year, or New Japan promotes a TV show that outdraws the Japanese Baseball World Series, then we will have a wrestler who has the mainstream appeal that Rikidozan had. On October 6, 1957, a live match from the old Korakuen Baseball Stadium with Rikidozan vs. Lou Thesz for the NWA world heavyweight title drew an 87.0 rating. Hogan and Vince McMahon in their wildest fantasies were never even close to his level as far as being major parts of the culture of the country, as Hogan's peak rating was a 15.2 for the second Andre match on NBC. Granted, direct rating comparisons are misleading because in the early days of television there were fewer stations and numbers were higher (for all the talk about record cable ratings, WWF Raw for the year this year drew lower ratings than Georgia Championship Wrestling did in a non-prime time slot in 1981 but again Raw's 1999 numbers in comparison were more impressive due to a huge increase in the number of stations viewers had to choose from 18 years later). Still, an 87.0 under any circumstances is still the highest rating that we've ever heard for a pro wrestling event anywhere in the world and it's not like he was a one hit wonder. You didn't see McMahon, Hogan, Gorgeous George or Frank Gotch being ranked with John F. Kennedy and Albert Einstein in any Man of the Century awards in major U.S. newspapers, did you?
Biggest cultural icon: El Santo. Rikidozan died early and became a James Dean. El Santo died old, but seemingly will live forever in his campy movies. There is no wrestler who ever lived who is as much a part of entertainment culture as El Santo in Mexico, although Rikidozan was more influential to wrestling and the real world of Japan.
Greatest wrestling promoter: Vince McMahon Jr. While there were people who made wrestling bigger within the culture at certain times than McMahon did, his longevity and his ability to market not just nationally but internationally gives him the easy nod. McMahon at his peak never made wrestling as big in his culture as either Rikidozan or Antonio Inoki did in their culture, but he was able to export it successfully to a level no other promoter came close to, and did a better job of keeping his product hot even though he had his down spells as well.
Greatest historical legend: Frank Gotch in American culture is the only pro wrestler who has gained cultural acceptance for both his matches and his ability within the realm of real sports due to the idea that when he was performing, his matches were on the level. It appears some of them were and others weren't, but in the Sports Illustrated list of the greatest athletes of the century, while there were many pro wrestlers on the list, he was the only one named exclusively for pro wrestling. Rikidozan, Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki are the only other ones close, with Inoki being taken as a more serious athlete than Baba and no matter how much of a myth Inoki the shooter may have been, he did go 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali, and while there are pro wrestlers today who in a free fight situation could tear Ali in his prime up and the match itself was viewed as horrible at the time to where it did severe damage to the entire wrestling industry in Japan (history has been very kind to it, similar to Hogan vs. Andre at the 1987 Wrestlemania), none actually were in the ring with "the greatest." Inoki also had the longevity spanning generations. From a Vale Tudo standpoint, for better or for worse, Royce Gracie's influence in popularizing the sport world wide through the early UFC's can't be denied.
Best on Interviews: This is a tough category because there is no easy winner. No wrestler has ever on a national basis gotten the kind of reaction to his interviews as Rock, but that was really in the last year of the century. Just the other day I popped in a tape from 1987 and saw a Flair interview, and it blew away anything anyone does today. The fact is, he was doing great interviews when Gerald Ford was President. With the exception of Rock and perhaps Mick Foley, Flair still does that today. So Flair gets the nod.
Woman Wrestler of the Century: This is tough, but realistically comes down to what poison you pick. Mildred Burke was the pioneer of womens wrestling in the United States and its biggest star when it was at its peak. Chigusa Nagayo as a cultural figure and as a mainstream television star was far bigger, but it was really a very short period of time. Inside the ring, there is no way anyone can beat Manami Toyota at her peak, but she was not the "star" that either Burke or Nagayo were. Akira Hokuto was the most talented one and one of the gutsiest performer, man or women, in her prime that I may have ever seen, but wasn't quite the star Burke or Nagayo was and not the athlete that Toyota was although in many ways she was a better worker for psychology. Jaguar Yokota was a pioneer in that she was the first woman wrestler who was better than almost all the men, but actually Lioness Asuka, Toyota, etc. eventually outdid her in her same basic era. Jackie Sato was the first superstar in Japan, but she was nowhere near the best, nor the biggest. Moolah had the longevity, but at no point was she any kind of a hot draw or a great worker, but it is a name that everyone in wrestling knows. Choosing between Nagayo and Burke is impossible to do fairly because each is everything the other wasn't, but Nagayo was far more over in her short heyday.
Greatest tag team: Where do you even start? They were not the biggest draws, although they were a hot act in two different territories, but the best team I'd say was the 1980s version of the Midnight Express, Dennis Condrey & Bobby Eaton as far as a cohesive unit of two wrestlers who were not singles stars and the "super team." Certainly for success and longevity, probably Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta would come to mind, or The Kangaroos or the Road Warriors. Baba & Inoki and the Road Warriors would be the historical legendary team. Misawa & Kobashi when they were together were two of the best singles wrestlers in the world who had matches as a team that were as good as any. The Andersons? The Freebirds? One can make a case for Ray Stevens & Pat Patterson, although they teamed together less frequently than legend would have it. Dory & Terry Funk were two great individual wrestlers that were always a main event team. The most awesome killer team wasn't the Road Warriors, but Bruiser Brody & Stan Hansen who were far more talented in the ring. For short-term historical impact the Road Warriors. For the idea of creating the unit idea, probably The Kangaroos. From a legend perspective, Baba & Inoki. Putting it all together, I think I'm going with The Funks.
Greatest star for longevity: From an international standpoint, Lou Thesz. This is probably one category that you'd get few arguments about. He won his first world title in 1937, held probably 20 world titles in all, with the final one being in Mexico in 1978. He wrestled everywhere in the world, and his reputation as world champion was such that the National Wrestling Alliance, still the largest conglomeration in history worldwide of promoters, was built largely on the back of his ability to carry the title for so many years.
Greatest lighter weight wrestler: About a half-dozen names pop up for different reasons. Tatsumi Fujinami took what was almost a dead idea, that of being a world junior heavyweight champion, and was the last world junior heavyweight champion capable of being a legitimate nightly main eventer. Danny Hodge has to be high on any list as the last American junior heavyweight champion, who was a legitimate main eventer, at least within his territory, for most of his career, not to mention dominating the title over a 16-year period, something nobody in history can claim. Satoru Sayama at 175 pounds, even more than Rey Misterio Jr., opened the door for wrestlers of any size to be stars in Japan. Misterio Jr., at 140 pounds, deserves mention for doing that for the United States, but Misterio Jr. was not booked nearly as well as Sayama was. Still, Sayama, as influential as he was to wrestling not only in Japan, but in Canada and Mexico and later the United States, through people copying his videos, and later when it comes to the sport of Vale Tudo, falls short when it comes to longevity. He also was out of pro wrestling during the period that should have been both his physical and his drawing power prime, returning when he was close to 40 and overweight and had changed his mind and physically could no longer do the style that changed the entire face of junior heavyweight wrestling first in Japan and later in the United States. Jushin Liger was a better worker inside the ring than Hodge and more of a national star. Hodge was of course the most legit. I also want to mention Kiyoshi Tamura, who weighed about 190 pounds at his peak but never wrestled as a junior heavyweight, for one reason. There has never been anyone who could work as entertaining a pro wrestling match as Tamura who also made it look totally believable, but he's in a niche promotion and was never the drawing card the others were at least at times. I guess El Santo was bigger than any of them as a star but nobody would rank him near the top as a great wrestler, but he was more a cultural icon than the world's greatest middleweight wrestler even though he did dominate the Mexican national middleweight title for 21 years (1946-67). Chris Benoit may have been the best in-ring worker of them all, and he went everywhere and was successful, although he was not a main eventer anywhere except for Stampede Wrestling and in Mexico. People talk about Dynamite Kid, but Benoit was everything Dynamite Kid was inside the ring and was overall a better worker even if he wasn't as reckless and spectacular, but Kid was the original. Leroy McGuirk was a world junior heavyweight champion for ten years and inside the ring as far as being a legitimate wrestler was better than any of the men in question with the exception of Hodge, or perhaps in a broader sense, Tamura, not as a wrestler, but throwing in his kicking and submission ability. Danny McShain was a main eventer everywhere and a big drawing card and some argue the greatest worker of his era and he was a light heavyweight. I'm really torn on this one between Hodge, Sayama and Liger, obviously all for different reasons. Having seen all of them in the ring, the best one of the three was Liger.
We'll have a profile on our pick as the Most Influential Wrestler of The Century next week.
There is little to say about SuperBrawl 2000 other than James Brown was there and got a big reaction, and the crowd popped pretty big for Hulk Hogan's ring entrance. It was a WCW show filled with young guys who the crowd doesn't know or care about and old guys that the crowd knows but isn't interested in except as short-term nostalgia acts. The big surprise of Sting returning meant little. The return of Roddy Piper returning was really sad, and showing clips of the 1989 Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk I Quit match only emphasized how great they once were compared to what the company puts out today, and how much older they've gotten.
The show on 2/20 drew 5,538 paid and 3,031 comps to the Cow Palace in San Francisco paying $177,324 and another $38,520 in merchandise. That is with the return to PPV of Hogan and Flair. It was the fourth straight year SuperBrawl has been brought to the Bay Area and the first one where tickets didn't sell out well in advance. As a comparison, last year, with Hogan vs. Flair as a headliner, this was the last WCW show to do more than a 1.1 buy rate, and it drew a $550,651 house. This year they did about one-third the gate, and they'll be doing well if they do one-third the buy rate of only one year ago.
The show ended with a scary scene of Scott Hall being injured and taken to the hospital with a possible spinal chord injury which is believed to be from a combination of the guitar shot he took from Jeff Jarrett, which injured his neck (he did take the blow awkwardly), and the power bomb delivered by Sid Vicious. The timing of the injury is even more strange since there were expectations that after this match that Hall would be either fired or at least suspended for his actions both in Europe and in Philadelphia and even his closest friends in the company after last week were saying that he really had to be fired. Hall was scheduled for an MRI on 2/22 and was said to have weakness on the right side of his body and a preliminary diagnosis of a bulging disc. Naturally there is plenty of skepticism due to the timing. The problem now is that so many wrestlers in WCW are injured, the belief is that some of them are "milking" it to get paid and not to have to come back to the mess (and with Hall there are even more reasons), so with the belief some are, then virtually every injury becomes questioned.
The general reaction to the show is that this was the quietest wrestling crowd anyone could remember at the Cow Palace until the arrival of James Brown late in the show.
The show opened with a skit where Jarrett came out of a dressing room with the models and gave the impression he had just beaten up Kevin Nash (who of course wasn't even there) and thus was commissioner again and ordered the Harris Brothers reinstated. Not that it matters because the problems are far deeper than the surface, but they fill shows up with stipulations announced on television and wonder why nobody believes or cares about them.
1. TAF KAPI (Mike Haynor) pinned Lash Leroux (Mark Leroux) to win the vacant WCW cruiserweight title in the tournament final in 5:47. Leroux did a running dive early that looked good. They were messing up spots real bad during the match. Finish saw Leroux go for a Frankensteiner off the top, but Paisley held Artist from going over and Leroux took the bump himself. Artist then used a mistimed leaping DDT off the top rope for the pin. 1/2*
2. Brian Knobs (Brian Yandrisovitz) pinned Bam Bam Bigelow (Scott Bigelow) to win the WCW Hardcore title in 4:44. When David Finlay came out as Knobs' second, the only reaction I had was a headache trying to forget all the WCW storylines that make no sense. The announcers didn't even try to explain why the two were together after just starting a feud. Probably the same reason Jimmy Hart was with Knobs at Thunder and playing heel ref while at the same time playing Hogan's manager. The least they could have done for that one was to explain that Jimmy Hart has an evil twin. They ended up brawling into the concourse and the whole world got to find out what those of us in this area have known for years. The Cow Palace by today's standards is a dump. Bigelow threw Knobs into a table and boxed his ears with garbage can lids. Mark Madden, who was a 1,000% improvement over Bobby Heenan, said there was something symbolic about that. Bigelow hit the Greetings from Asbury Park but instead of going for the pin, threw a chair at Finlay. Bigelow climbed the rope and ended up getting crotched and falling to the floor. Knobs got the pin on the floor after hitting him with his cast and a garbage can. 1/4*
3. Three Count (Evan Kavagias & Shannon Moore & Shane Helms) beat Norman Smiley in 4:06. Three Count didn't do their lip synch routine. Trust me, Three Count should NEVER appear on a major show without doing that routine. People hate it, but if they ever make it, it'll be this generation's version of Sheik & Volkoff doing the Russian national anthem. They did a lot of impressive flying but there was a lot of bad timing as well. They showed Smiley being taped up to sell his injuries, but he really didn't sell that much during the course of the match. Finish saw Karagias use a very impressive screw, followed by Helms with a very high frog splash and Moore got the submission with a boston crab. *
4. Wall (Jerry Tuite) pinned Demon (Dale Torborg) in 3:37. This was actually billed as a co-main event. The nonsensical reason for this is that in Eric Bischoff's contract with KISS (which is why they even have the character with the big entrance that they use as a jolly green jobber) he guaranteed the character a certain number of PPV main event matches. Good lord. Bischoff thought he could main event Brian Adams on PPV. And now people are so nostalgic they want him back. This had the first crowd reaction of the show--loud boring chants. Wall took a slam off the top and barely tucked in time. He came inches from being seriously injured on the landing. Demon then got up to the top and Wall got up and choke slammed him off the top to the mat. -*
Ernest Miller did an interview where he promised James Brown would be there. They also throughout the show kept showing a secret locked dressing room which ended up being for Piper.
5. Tank Abbott (David Abbott) beat Big Al (?) in a skins match, which was a leather UFC jacket on a pole in 4:34. Tank should never go 1:34 at this stage. This was a combination of really stiff blows and bad language. Abbott sold real big for his buddy. They were, by pro wrestling standards, totally potatoing each other with blows. The crowd had no idea how to take this, but it wasn't a positive confusion. Abbott made a comeback and put Al on his shoulders like for a Samoan drop, then climbed the ropes, with Al's life being in grave jeopardy by the shakiness of Abbott while climbing. Right before Abbott got to the top, he dropped Al all the way to the floor, which was actually the planned spot. Al lived. Tank went to the floor and punched Al, then got the jacket for the win. After the match, Abbott pulled out a switchblade and put it to Al's throat and made some remarks about he could kill him right there. The director pulled away from the shot apparently in a major panic. Tony Schiavone in the thinking on his feet award tried to suggest Abbott had scissors and not a switchblade and was looking to cut Al's hair, of which he didn't have any. Okay, maybe it wasn't that great thinking on his feet. Everyone was asking questions about that one after. 1/4*
6. Big T (Tony Norris) pinned Booker (Booker Huffman) in 5:23 in the Sesame Street Death match for the letter T. This was ungodly bad, actually the former Ahmed Johnson in his now pregnant state actually "carried" Booker to maybe the worst match of his career. Booker used a dropkick off the top when the lights went out, seemingly forever, teasing that Midnight was coming, with her music. Of course, she's not even in the company anymore. This gigantic human showed up on the apron, Teddy Reade, formerly of the No Limit Soldiers gimmick and Booker stared at him, allowing Big T to come from behind with a really bad Tiger driver for the pin. -*
Maestro said that if James Brown showed up, he'll listen exclusively to James Brown music, but if Brown didn't show up, that Miller would have to listen exclusively to Beethoven. The Harris Twins then beat up some guy who didn't have a key to the door. Let's see, they have armed guards at every door, but the most important door is left unprotected. And then they've got these supposedly menacing bald giant bikers, who make no attempt to even kick down the door and were crying because there was nobody around with a key.
7. Billy Kidman (Peter Gruner) pinned Vampiro (Ian Hodgkinson) in 7:20. Match didn't have any heat but it was clearly the class of the show to this point but they also missed up a flying head scissors spot badly and Vampiro did a dropkick off the top rope with Kidman in the wrong position to make the move look good. The crowd was more into Vampiro than Kidman. Kidman won with a swinging reverse DDT off the top. Torrie Wilson was there, and even did a spot where she was on the apron and collided with Kidman. **1/4
8. Big Vito (Vito Lograsso) & Johnny the Bull (John Hugger) retained the WCW tag titles in a Sicilian Stretcher match beating David Flair (David Fliehr) & Crowbar (Chris Ford) in 11:22. They worked real hard, but the crowd didn't care about this program and the stretcher aspect of the match was preposterous killing it. Crowbar did a nice plancha off the top onto a stretcher. Daffney did a huracanrana and her blue wig flew off in the process. At one point they put David on a stretcher and he was halfway to the back. He got off the stretcher, totally revived and didn't sell like he'd even been beaten. Vito power bombed Crowbar through a table. Johnny did a twisting legdrop off the top. Finally they taped David to the stretcher and they had to sell that David couldn't get off even with this athletic tape that wasn't even holding. Then the bell rang for no reason. Johnny hit Crowbar with a pipe and Vito splashed Crowbar off the top rope through a table and he got carried off on a stretcher with that ridiculous tape, although at least he'd taken a beating. The funny thing is the stretchers had restrainers that could have locked the guys in that would have at least looked better than that silly athletic tape. Then they put Daffney in a wheelchair and taped her up. Her being taped was the silliest of the three as the tape didn't hold but she still had to sell it. 1/2*
Miller came out with a fake James Brown dancing. Maestro and Symphony came out and basically said that Miller would have to listen to Beethoven (Miller had never agreed to the bet but it's well past time in WCW to worry about a five step story with steps two and four missing. The real James Brown came out and Maestro fainted. Miller and Brown danced. Nobody expected it but at least they finally got to see somebody with some star power. It's questionable whether Miller got any rub from it, but even if he did, the problem is, he still can't deliver once the bell rings.
9. Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) beat Terry Funk in a Texas death match in 15:40. They ended up doing the falls don't count and after the fall, the loser has a ten count to answer the bell. Of course that sort of ruined the drama of the finish because Flair and Funk were wrestling with the idea that both the winner and loser had to answer the bell since Flair teased being unable to answer the bell on the final fall. It's been so many years since this match was done and the stipulations were put over so poorly on television (they once mentioned the stips which ended up being different from the stips they ended up doing anyway) that fans didn't understand it. Rule 1-A of wrestling booking is that if you have a stipulation match, and the participants and the announcers don't get the stips over to the fans strongly, the fans won't care and if the fans don't care, why do the stipulation in the first place? For the first time in something like 25 years, they talked about Dory Funk Sr. being King of the Texas Death matches, which is something since Terry has been around WCW for years and nobody has ever even mentioned he had a famous father. Tony Schiavone said that his father once had a death match that lasted four hours. Since there are no wrestling history books, I don't know about that, but I do recall around 1971 or 1972 that a death match between Dory Funk Sr. and Cyclone Negro went almost two hours and 44 falls which was a legendary match in that city, and I think he may have done a famous two hour match once with Mike DiBiase as well. This was probably the best match on the show, but sad in that it didn't have much heat and it was really slow and also they used 70s finishers to end falls and fans didn't pop for them either. Funk scored the first pin at 5:06 after two suplexes on the floor. Flair used this flimsy looking chair for shots to Funk's bad knee. Flair took the second fall in 7:46 with the figure four. Funk won the third fall with a piledriver outside the ring on the mats, and a second on the concrete in 10:10. In the fourth fall, Funk piledrove Flair inside the ring through a table. The problem is that in trying to sell this as something big, Mark Madden said before the piledriver that if Flair went through the table, it would be the end of his career because of the 1989 injury (which was a work). Then Flair went through the table, and the pro he is, he did sell it for the rest of the match, but you can't tease a career ending injury and not block the spot unless you are doing a major injury angle out of the spot. Funk pulled Flair's arm up to give him more punishment. Funk went to the top rope for a moonsault through a table but Flair got up and Funk took a nestea plunge bump backward through the table and was pinned, and then couldn't answer the bell for the fifth fall. It should also be noted that Funk's chest was chopped raw to the point blood was dripping from all of Flair's hard chops. **1/4
10. Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) beat The Total Package (Larry Pfohl) in 8:10. Hogan got by far the biggest pop coming out. At one point Elizabeth went to give Luger the bat but Jimmy Hart ran out and grabbed the belt. It was typical Hogan and he got a solid but I wouldn't even call it a good reaction once the match started, but better than anyone else. He no sold a suplex and made the comeback with a foot to the face. Luger used a low blow but Hart hit Luger with a weak cast shot, and then Hogan hit Luger with almost as weak a cast shot and a terrible looking legdrop for the pin. Flair ran in to attack Hogan after the match with Luger but Sting made the save. The last time we saw Sting and Hogan, Hogan was laying down for Sting at Havoc for no reason that was ever explained and the time before that Sting turned on Hogan hitting him with a bat. The fact none of this is acknowledged is one of the reasons nobody cares about WCW storylines. *
11. Sid Vicious (Sid Eudy) retained the WCW title in a three-way over Scott Hall and Jeff Jarrett in 7:40. Hall decided to prove something and was good in the ring, as was Jarrett. The problem was there was little to the match besides beating up refs and no time to do it. Billy Silverman took one of the all-time worst ref bumps ever to go out first. Vicious choke slammed both guys at the same time but no ref. Nick Patrick came in for a series of near falls. After the first ref bump atrocity, at least Jarrett used his stroke on Patrick. They had a good near fall where one of the Harris twins accidentally hit Jarrett with a chair and Hall went to pin him with Charles Robinson as ref. Jarrett then used the stroke on Robinson and then Mickey Jay until Mark Johnson ran in. Hall used the edge on Jarrett and Johnson counted to two and then sold a shoulder injury. The crowd was totally dead by this point because the ref bumps went past the point of redundancy. Finally Piper, with one arm due to his born bicep of several months back, came back. Piper decked Johnson. Jarrett hit Hall with a guitar shot and Vicious then choke slammed both Jarrett and Hall and power bombed Hall for the pin. On TV they never acknowledged Hall being injured before they went off the air. *3/4
The third-ever Super J Cup, which will be held on 4/1 in Sendai and 4/9 at Tokyo Sumo Hall, is going to have to go a long way to live up to the standards set by the two predecessors.
It will be the first Super J Cup since 1995, and both of the previous shows would have to rank very close to the top of any list of the greatest wrestling shows in history, both of which won the Observer's Best Major Show of the Year award in 1994 and 1996 respectively.
This third tournament, promoted by Michinoku Pro wrestling, with Yoshihiro Asai (Ultimo Dragon) as figurehead commissioner and with the cooperation of Keiichi Yamada (Jushin Liger), pits wrestlers from New Japan, Michinoku Pro, FMW, WCW, Wrestle Dream Factory, EMLL, Battlarts, Toryumon and Big Japan Pro Wrestling in a two-night tournament. Even with that many groups cooperating, the line-up does not appear to have the depth of the previous two.
Thirteen of the 16 wrestlers were announced at a press conference on 2/19, Liger and Shinya Makabe from New Japan, Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada and Tiger Mask from Michinoku Pro, Ricky Fuji from FMW, Onryo from WDF, Sasuke the Great (Masao Orihara) from Battlarts, Kaz Hayashi from WCW, Ricky Marvin from EMLL, Curry Man (Christopher Daniels), billed from India but actually from American independents and Magnum Tokyo and Cima from Toryumon. Two of the three remaining slots will be winners of two tournaments, once held by Big Japan and the other by Battlarts.
The Big Japan tournament starts 2/23 in Odawara with four matches, Masayoshi Motegi vs. Winger and Mens Teioh vs. Ryuji Ito, followed by the Motegi-Winger winner against Fantastik from Mexico and the Teioh-Ito winner against Guerrero del Futuro. The winner of the latter two matches will meet on 2/29 in Kumagaya for the Big Japan slot in the tournament.
The Battlarts slot will be determined by a one-night tournament eight-man tournament on 3/12 at IMP Hall in Osaka. That tournament has first round matches of Minoru Tanaka, who would probably be the tournament favorite based on his success in New Japan rings already, facing Toryumon's Yoshiyuki Saito, Katsumi Usuda vs. TBA, Ikuto Hidaka of recent ECW TV exposure vs. Asian Cougar (a Japanese independent wrestler) and Masaaki Mochizuki vs. TBA.
It is believed the 4/1 show in Sendai will consist of eight first-round singles matches, with the final eight doing a one-night UFC or K-1 Grand Prix style tournament at Sumo Hall. This will be the first time the J Cup has taken place at more than one show.
Both previous shows have taken their place in Japanese wrestling history. The first, promoted by New Japan on April 16, 1994, drew a sellout 11,500 fans paying $570,000 at Sumo Hall for an all-junior heavyweight card, which ended with Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit) pinning Great Sasuke in the finals. The show was notable for being Sasuke's breakthrough career performance and arguably the single best one night performance in the history of pro wrestling. On the same night he had a ****1/2 match with El Samurai, a ****3/4 match with Jushin Liger and the finals was a ***** match with Pegasus. It should be noted that both Benoit and Dean Malenko were initially going to be part of this year's tournament, but signing an exclusive contract with the WWF, which has no business relations with any Japanese office (and it appears all talks between WWF and Dream Stage Entertainment are now kaput), ended that chance. Also in the first tournament were Motegi, Negro Casas, Fuji, Hayabusa, Black Tiger (Eddy Guerrero), Taka Michinoku, Shinjiro Otani, Super Delfin, Malenko and Gedo.
Liger won the second tournament, promoted by WAR on December 13, 1995, pinning Gedo of the host promotion in the finals before another sellout of 11,500 fans at Sumo Hall. The tournament was highlighted by Ultimo Dragon, Pegasus, Otani and Dos Caras, in particular Caras vs. El Samurai, Otani vs. Dragon and Pegasus vs. Lion Heart (Chris Jericho) and a non-tournament match with Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Psicosis. Also in the tournament were Gran Naniwa, Damian, Mochizuki, Shoichi Funaki, Motegi and Hanzo Nakajima.
I want to thank everyone for their patience and apologize over the mess from the 2/14 mailing as this turned out to be a week of total mechanical incompetence. Our mailing house messed up on the addresses and a large percentage of subscribers never got the issues and numerous others got them several days late because of incorrect cities and zip codes. Most issues also had an incorrect number regarding the amount of issues remaining on the subscription so if your number radically changed on the mailing label, it was part of the problem. The problem is that at this end there is no way or knowing who did and didn't get the issues other than those who called, faxed and e-mailed us, which appear to be only a percentage of the people who actually didn't get the issue based on the number returned. Since there was no way of knowing who did or didn't get the issue, this forced us to reprint and resend the entire mailing of the 2/14 issue which went out on 2/22 which is why most of you probably received a second copy of the issue the day before receiving this issue. If you still haven't received a 2/14 issue by the time you are reading this, please contact us and we'll send it out immediately. Our usual policy is that if you don't get an issue by the Wednesday after the date on the issue, that you should either call or e-mail us and we'll get a replacement out immediately. We also had some major technical problems with the hotline over the past week that have been cleared up at this point. If anyone had or in the future has a technical problem with the line, they should contact ATS at 610-688-6000 immediately and again we apologize for these problems.
Due to Presidents Day, no ratings for the past weekend were available at press time.
Smackdown on 2/17 drew a 4.93 rating and 7.4 share which is really strong since "Friends" (which did an 18.9 in the metered markets) went one hour and drew its largest rating of the year and both "Frasier" which went the entire second hour going up against "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" drew strong ratings head-to-head.
Thunder on 2/16 drew a 2.39 rating and 3.7 share. The show peaked in the first segment at 2.78 and apparently the announcement of no Sid, no Hall and nothing of any interest was talked about from the top of the show caused major viewer turn-off considering it was an unopposed show and a good unopposed who will see the ratings increase continually. The Flair & Luger interview did pick up to a 2.66 but the main event with Flair & Luger vs. Funk & Rhodes only did a 2.22, as did the unpromoted Hogan interview. We also have some major market numbers on the show, as Kansas City did a 1.4, Las Vegas did a 1.8, Los Angeles did an 0.5, Minneapolis did a 1.8, New York did a 1.8, New Orleans did a 3.2, Oklahoma City did a 3.2. Philadelphia did a 3.5, Pittsburgh did a 2.0, St. Louis did a 1.5, San Antonio did a 2.4, San Diego did an 0.8, San Francisco did a 0.4 (for the final show leading into SuperBrawl at the Cow Palace), Seattle did an 0.7, Washington did a 2.5, Columbus, OH did a 1.2, Cleveland did a 1.1, Dallas did a 1.5 and Houston did a 2.5.
Mixed martial arts competition is expected to be sanctioned shortly within California and the State Athletic Commission at its regular meeting on 2/18 in Sacramento met with various principles to discuss the rules that would be implemented.
No vote was taken on exact rules but it is expected they would be defined by April at the latest, at which point they would be given to the Secretary of State and would go into effect about one month later. There was no discussion in the meeting about whether or not the state would approve of these events, only what rules they would adopt.
Jeff Blatnick of UFC made a presentation, talking about the history of the event, the safety record and presented ideas for rules basically similar to what UFC already has. Another promoter spoke up suggesting true Vale Tudo rules (basically no rules except for biting and attacking the eyes), but it's difficult to believe an athletic commission would allow those rules. Former pro wrestling promoter and now martial arts legend Gene LeBelle spoke at the meeting as well.
Blatnick argued against heavily padded gloves and shin guards saying it allowed the striker to hit harder and thus the person being hit would take more damage. Blatnick also wanted to establish rules that didn't allow man vs. woman matches. Blatnick argued against the preliminary rules that banned knees landing above the shoulders and palm strikes, saying that knees to the head are legal in commission sanctioned Muay Thai matches and banning palm strikes makes no sense when closed fist punching to the face is legal. He also argued against rules for hitting below the hip, feeling low kicks should be part of the sport and elbows to the spine. Blatnick argued the elbows should be legal except to the back of the head and to the neck and also argued against strikes to the kidneys, and argued that chokes should be legal since they are legal in judo competition.
OBSERVER POLL RESULTS
SUPERBRAWL 2000 (based on faxes, phone calls and e-mails as of Tuesday, 2/22): Thumbs up 11 (9.4%); Thumbs down 102 (87.2%); In the middle 4 (3.4%). Best match poll: Vampiro vs. Billy Kidman 42, Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk 31, David Flair & Crowbar vs. Big Vito & Johnny the Bull 10; Worst match poll: Wall vs. Demon 39, Big T vs. Booker 11, Tank Abbott vs. Big Al 9
Our daily wrestling question poll on the eyada.com web site will have started back this past week so we'll be back to having usually five new poll questions per week listed here.
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Upcoming shows covered will be 2/27 WWF No Way Out, 3/10 UFC (option seven only), 3/12 ECW Living Dangerously, 3/19 WCW Uncensored, 4/2 WWF Wrestlemania, 4/7 New Japan Tokyo Dome & UFC Japan (option seven reports); 4/16 WCW Spring Stampede, 4/30 WWF Backlash and 5/1 DSE Tokyo Dome (option seven only).
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Bryan Alvarez and myself open the show every day running down the latest news. We either have guests the remainder of the show taking listener phone calls and e-mails or we take calls and e-mails. Even if you don't have access to a computer and just want to talk wrestling, you can reach us between those hours within North America at 1-877-392-3200 (1-877-eyada-00) or from outside North America you can call collect and reverse charges at 212-977-1859. You can always check the wrestlingobserver.com web site for the latest guest information. Upcoming guests scheduled are WXO announcer Chris Cruise on 2/25, Hall of Fame wrestling announcer Lance Russell on 2/28, John Muse on 2/29 and "Beyond the Mat" director Barry Blaustein on 3/2.
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Throughout the week we have late breaking headlines on wrestlingobserver.com which also includes TV reviews and columns written by Alex Marvez and Bryan Alvarez.
2/11 Bedworth, West Midlands, England (NWA UK Hammerlock - 1,000 sellout): Jonny Moss b Paul Vault, Jon Ryan b Dave Sherman-COR, Gary Steele b Psycho Steve, Majik b Kat, Moss b Ryan, Steele b Majik, Steele b Moss, Tony & Dave McMillan b Dean Champion & Steve Majors, Sherman won Rumble Royal
2/12 Guaynabo, PR (WWC): Black Boy d El Exotico, Puerto Rican title: Rex King b Jose Rivera Jr. to win title, Pierroth & Shane b Chicky Starr & Victor the Bodyguard-DQ, Carlos Colon b Dutch Mantel-DQ, Lumberjack match: Jim Steele b Invader I, Universal title: Carly Colon b Ray Gonzalez-DQ
2/15 Fresno, CA (WWF Smackdown/Sunday Night Heat tapings - 7,614 sellout): Super Diablo b Hardcore Comini, Aaron Baker b Mike Henderson, Godfather & D-Lo Brown b Dudleys-DQ, WWF lt hwt title: Esse Rios b Sho Funaki, WWF womens title: Jacqueline b Ivory, Al Snow & Steve Blackman b Head Bangers, WWF IC title: Chris Jericho b Jeff Hardy, WWF title: Hunter Hearst Helmsley NC Kane, European title: Chyna b Kurt Angle-DQ, Tazz b Gangrel, Falls Count Anywhere: X-Pac NC Cactus Jack, Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko b Too Cool, Edge & Christian b Prince Albert & Big Bossman, Mark Henry b Bob & Crash Holly, WWF tag titles: New Age Outlaws NC Rock
2/15 Philadelphia First Union Spectrum (WCW Nitro - 8,160/4,420 paid): Shannon Moore & Shane Helms b Jamie Howard & Yun Yang, Rhonda Singh b Little Jeanie, Demon b Dave Sierra, Artist b Kaz Hayashi, Wall b Norman Smiley, Tank Abbott b Van Hammer, Ron & Don Harris b Vampiro & Billy Kidman, Street fight: Big Vito b Crowbar, Mark Johnson b Mickey Jay, Brian Knobs b David Finlay, Ric Flair & Lex Luger b Terry Funk & Dustin Rhodes
2/15 Hamamatsu (New Japan - 2,200): Wataru Inoue b Katsuyori Shibata, Shinya Makabe b Hiroshi Tanahashi, Dr. Wagner Jr. b El Samurai, Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto b Jushin Liger & Minoru Tanaka & Kendo Ka Shin, Kengo Kimura b Masakazu Fukuda, Super J & Scott Norton b Brian Johnston & Manabu Nakanishi, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Don Frye b Kenzo Suzuki & Tadao Yasuda & Shinya Hashimoto, Yuji Nagata & Shiro Koshinaka & Kensuke Sasaki & Junji Hirata b Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto & Hiro Saito & Masahiro Chono
2/15 Mexico City Arena Coliseo (EMLL): La Flecha & El Pegasso b Fiero & Principe Negro, Ricky Marvin & El Filoso b Fugaz & Alan Stone, Brandon & Torero & Super Kendo b Virus & Americo Rocca & Chicago Express, Mr. Mexico & Violencia & Arkangel b Ringo Mendoza & Starman & Solar, Felino & Lizmark Sr. & Atlantis b Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. & Shocker-DQ
2/16 Bethlehem, PA (WCW Saturday Night tapings - 1,414): Ron & Don Harris b Rick Fuller & Chuck Hart, Dustin Rhodes b Bobby Eaton, Vampiro b Kaz Hayashi, Kid Romeo b Jamie Howard, Shane Helms & Shannon Moore b Disorderly Conduct, WCW TV title: Jim Duggan b Robert Gibson, Disco Inferno b Steve Armstrong, Buff Bagwell b Al Greene, Artist b Woo Yang, Dave Sierra b Barry Horowitz, Bam Bam Bigelow b Adrian Byrd, Tank Abbott b Villano IV, WCW tag titles: Big Vito & Johnny the Bull b PG-13, Shark Boy b Jeremy Lopez, Sonny Siaki & Chuck Palumbo b Alan Funk & Rick Cornell, Billy Kidman b Elix Skipper, Brian Knobs b Dave Birkhead, Barbarian b Villano V, Lex Luger b Van Hammer, Retirement match for TV title: Duggan b Steve Regal
2/16 Gifu (New Japan - 4,000 sellout): Hiroshi Tanahashi b Wataru Inoue, Shinya Makabe b Katsuyori Shibata, Jushin Liger & Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai & Dr. Wagner Jr. b Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Minoru Tanaka, Shiro Koshinaka & Kenzo Suzuki b Tadao Yasuda & Masakazu Fukuda, Satoshi Kojima & Michiyoshi Ohara b Kengo Kimura & Yuji Nagata, Kensuke Sasaki & Brian Johnston b Don Frye & Tatsutoshi Goto, Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Shinya Hashimoto & Tatsumi Fujinami & Manabu Nakanishi
2/16 Louisville, KY (Ohio Valley Championship Wrestling): Jebediah b Chris Alexander, Derrick King & Jason Lee b B.J. Payne & Scotty Sabre, Chris Michaels b Sean Casey, Robbie D d Trailer Park Trash, Russ McCullouch b Mr. Black, Ali b Bull Buchanan, Damaja won three-way over Rob Conway and Nick Dinsmore, Rico Constantino b Flash to win OVW title
2/16 Tlalnepantla (AAA): El Barbaro & Teuton & Violento b Tootsie & Babe Leon & Gato Karateka, Mini Abismo Negro & Mini Psicosis b La Parkita & AAA Mascarita Sagrada, Mascara Sagrada Jr. & La Parka Jr. & El Psicodelico Jr. b Espectro Jr. & El Hijo del Solitario & El Hijo del Espectro, UWA hwt title: Canek b Cibernetico-DQ
2/17 Sapporo (All Japan - 8,800): Jun Izumida & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi b Maunukea Mossman & Makoto Hashi, Masa Fuchi & Haruka Eigen & Giant Kimala II b Takeshi Morishima & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura, Jun Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga & Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Masamichi Marufuji & Masao Inoue & Tamon Honda, Takao Omori & Yoshihiro Takayama b Stan Hansen & Johnny Smith, PWF jr. title: Yoshinari Ogawa b Daisuke Ikeda, Mitsuharu Misawa b Akira Taue, Kenta Kobashi b Steve Williams, Vader b Toshiaki Kawada
2/17 Yamagata (New Japan - 2,200): Shinya Makabe b Wataru Inoue, Masakazu Fukuda b Katsuyori Shibata, Minoru Tanaka & El Samurai b Dr. Wagner Jr. & Shinjiro Otani, Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa b Kendo Ka Shin & Jushin Liger, Satoshi Kojima & Tatsutoshi Goto b Tadao Yasuda & Kengo Kimura, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Michiyoshi Ohara & Super J b Kenzo Suzuki & Shiro Koshinaka & Shinya Hashimoto, Kensuke Sasaki & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Brian Johnston b Hiro Saito & Masahiro Chono & Don Frye & Scott Norton
2/17 Cuernavaca (EMLL): Turbo & Adrenalina b Black Thunder & Sakura, Tzuki & Cicloncito Ramirez b Espectrito I & Pierrothtito, Zumbido & Crazy 33 & Gran Markus Jr. b Tony Rivera & Felino & Mascara Sagrada, WWA welterweight title: El Hijo del Santo b Fuerza Guerrera
2/18 LaCrosse, WI (ECW - 1,100): Roadkill b Chris Chetti, Super Crazy won three-way over Little Guido and Yoshihiro Tajiri, Spike Dudley b Dupp Brothers, Bill Whiles & C.W. Anderson b Tom Marquez & H.C. Loc, Masato Tanaka b Angel, Spike Dudley b Lance Storm, Tommy Dreamer & Sandman b Steve Corino & Jack Victory, ECW title: Mike Awesome b Rhino
2/18 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL TV taping): Los Rayos Tapatios I & II b Reyes Veloz & Enemigo Publico, Astro Rey Jr. & Mascara Magica & Tigre Blanco d Dr. O'Borman Jr. & Halcon Negro Jr. & Karloff Lagarde Jr., Tzuki b Espectrito, Safari & Olimpico & Antifaz b Zumbido & Rencor Latino & Rey Bucanero, Mr. Niebla & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Emilio Charles Jr. b Apolo Dantes & Mascara Ano 2000 & Universo 2000, Atlantis & Villano III b El Satanico & Tarzan Boy
2/18 Tijuana (BC Promotions): Felino Salvaje & Morfosis b King Dragon & Principe Dragon, Shamu & Alma India & Bull Rider b Commando & Fugitivo & Faraon de Occidente, IWC middleweight title: Halloween b Lizmark Jr., Blue Panther & Fuerza Guerrera & Pimpinela Escarlata b Negro Casas & Felino & Tony Rivera, Rey Misterio Sr. & Brazo de Plata b Nicho el Millonario (WCW Psicosis) & Damian
2/18 Salinas, PR (IWA - 425): Mikami b Da Hoody, Chaparita Asari b Saya Endo, Jesus Cristobol b Andres Borges, Steve Bradley b Sean Hill, Rastaman b Ricky Banderas, Nuevo Gran Apolo b Head Hunter II, Huracan Castillo Jr. b Andy Anderson-DQ, Savio Vega & Miguel Perez NC Ricky Santana & Fidel Sierra
2/18 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Arsion - 700): Mari & Fabi Apache b Ai Fujita & Linda Starr, Gami Metal & Rie Tamada b Candy Okutsu & Hiromi Yagi, Michiko Omukai & Mima Shimoda b Yumi Fukawa & Etsuko Mita, Twin Stars of Arsion tag title: Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida b Akino & Ayako Hamada
2/18 Kawasaki (FMW - 680): Kaori Nakayama & Emi Motokawa b Yoshiko Tamura & Yuka Nakamura, Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Ricky Fuji b Lance Cade & Willie Takayama, Ladder death match: Hisakatsu Oya & Hideki Hosaka & Yoshinori Sasaki & Naohiko Yamazaki d Kintaro Kanemura & Koji Nakagawa & Jado & Gedo, Kyoko Inoue & Kodo Fuyuki b Mr. Gannosuke & Flying Kid Ichihara, H b Balls Mahoney
2/18 Blytheville, AR (Memphis Championship Wrestling - 1,500): K.Krush b Reckless Youth, Danny B b Blue Meanie, Fabulous Rocker b Chip Diver, Itty & Bitty Little b Ron McClarity & Hell Raiser, Motley Cruz b Jack Diamond, Jerry Lawler b Curtis Hughes
2/19 Knoxville, TN (WWF - 14,834): Godfather & D-Lo Brown b Mideon & Gangrel, Grand Master Sexay b Head Banger Mosh, Edge b Head Banger Thrasher, European title: Kurt Angle b Christian, Acolytes b Al Snow & Steve Blackman, WWF womens title: Jacqueline b Ivory, Dudleys b Hardys-DQ, Kane b Big Bossman, Rock & Rikishi Phatu b Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Big Show
2/19 Milwaukee (ECW TNN tapings - 2,250 sellout): Danny Doring & Roadkill b Dupp Brothers, Bill Whiles & C.W. Anderson b Nova & Chris Chetti, Sandman NC Rhino, Jazz b Simon Diamond, Masato Tanaka b Angel, Super Crazy won three-way over Yoshihiro Tajiri and Little Guido, ECW tag titles: Lance Storm & Justin Credible b Raven & Tommy Dreamer, ECW title: Mike Awesome b Spike Dudley
2/19 Sanjyo (New Japan - 2,000): Katsuyori Shibata b Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tatsuhito Takaiwa b Shinya Makabe, Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto b Dr. Wagner Jr. & Masakazu Fukuda, Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai b Jushin Liger & Minoru Tanaka, Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Don Frye b Kenzo Suzuki & Yuji Nagata & Shiro Koshinaka, Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto & Scott Norton b Brian Johnston & Tadao Yasuda & Kensuke Sasaki, Manabu Nakanishi & Kengo Kimura & Shinya Hashimoto b Satoshi Kojima & Masahiro Chono & Super J
2/19 Kasugai (All Japan - 2,250): Kentaro Shiga b Masamichi Marufuji, Jun Izumida b Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota & Makoto Hashi b Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Haruka Eigen & Masa Fuchi, Masao Inoue & Tamon Honda b Takeshi Morishima & Daisuke Ikeda, Yoshihiro Takayama b Yoshinari Ogawa, Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama b Giant Kimala II & Maunukea Mossman, Mitsuharu Misawa b Takao Omori, Stan Hansen & Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada b Vader & Steve Williams & Johnny Smith
2/19 Newbern, TN (Memphis Championship Wrestling): Reckless Youth b K.Krush, Chip Diver b Fabulous Rocker, Blue Meanie b Danny B, Motley Cruz b Hammer, Itty & Bitty Little b Ron McClarity & Hell Raiser, Jerry Lawler b Curtis Hughes
2/19 Memphis (Power Pro Wrestling TV): Chris Michaels b Lance Jade, Tracy Smothers b 2 Falk 4 Sure, Tommy Rogers b Wolfie D, Bulldog Raines b Alan Steele, PPW title: Ali b Havoc & Seven-DQ
2/19 Aguas Buenas, PR (IWA - 400): Steve Bradley b Andres Borges, Chaparita Asari b Ms. Aki, Mikami b Al Rodriguez, Ricky Banderas b Ricky Santana-DQ, Savio Vega b Fidel Sierra, Andy Anderson b Nuevo Gran Apolo, Jesus Cristobol b Sean Hill, Miguel Perez & Huracan Castillo Jr. b Head Hunter II & Rastaman
2/19 Nashville (NWA Worldwide - 205): Barry Houston b Basket Case (Mark Jindrak), King Cobra (Fred Bogues) b Richard Lowe, Chris Harris b Alan Funk, Chuck Palumbo b Damien, Kid Romeo b Air Paris, Steven Dunn & Reno Riggins b Kory Williams & Ashley Hudson
2/19 Crytal River, FL (IPW Hardcore Wrestling): Black Mass b Chaotic Cult, Jeremy Lopez won three-way over Chad Collyer and Jet Jaguar, Phi DeKappa U b Mike Enos & Hack Myers, Mike Sullivan b Don Montoya, Abdullah the Butcher NC Haystacks Calhoun Jr., Barry Horowitz DCOR Marty Jannetty, Anarchy Suicide Squad won three-way over Inner Aggression and Freak Foundation, Scoot Andrews b Mr. Peskin, Jeff Peterson b Frankie Capone
2/19 Barnegat, NJ (NWA Jersey - 504): Tommy Thunder b Zeig, Slayer b Wayne Woo, Flesheaters b Dr. Hurtz & Eric Kreed, 911 b Biggie Biggs, The Patriot (Tom Brandi) b Nikolai Volkoff, Chris Candido b Equalizer to win NWA Jersey title, Coach Germano b Rocko Dorsey, King Kong Bundy b Salvatore Sincere (Brandi)
2/20 Tokyo Sumo Hall (New Japan - 11,500 sellout): Kendo Ka Shin & Dr. Wagner Jr. b Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Takashi Iizuka b Hiro Saito, Super J b Tadao Yasuda, Tatsutoshi Goto b Junji Hirata, Shiro Koshinaka b Michiyoshi Ohara, AKIRA b Koji Kanemoto, Satoshi Kojima b Jushin Liger, Manabu Nakanishi b Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Don Frye b Yuji Nagata, Shinya Hashimoto b Scott Norton, Kensuke Sasaki b Masahiro Chono, Chono b Sasaki
2/20 Columbus, GA (WWF - 8,237 sellout): Mideon & Gangrel b Joey Abs & Rodney, Dean Malenko b Christian, Viscera b Mark Henry, Acolytes b Al Snow & Steve Blackman, D-Lo Brown b Viscera, Perry Saturn b Prince Albert, Edge b Big Bossman, Rock & Kane b Hunter Hearst Helmsley & X-Pac
2/20 Augusta, GA (WWF - 6,047): WWF lt hwt title: Esse Rios b Sho Funaki, WWF womens title: Jacqueline b Ivory, Jerry Lawler b Brooklyn Brawler, Too Cool b Head Bangers, Kurt Angle b Tazz, Dudleys b Hardys, Big Show b Rikishi Phatu, Three-way for IC title: Chris Jericho won over Bob Holly and Chris Benoit, WWF tag titles: Cactus Jack & Test b New Age Outlaws-DQ
2/20 Kobe (All Japan - 3,200): Maunukea Mossman b Takeshi Morishima, Masamichi Marufuji & Daisuke Ikeda b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kentaro Shiga, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Haruka Eigen & Masa Fuchi b Makoto Hashi & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura, Takao Omori & Yoshihiro Takayama b Giant Kimala II & Jun Izumida, Yoshinari Ogawa & Mitsuharu Misawa b Masao Inoue & Tamon Honda, Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada b Stan Hansen & Johnny Smith, PWF & Intl tag titles: Vader & Steve Williams b Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama to win titles
2/20 Kisarazu (FMW): Emi Motokawa & Kaori Nakayama b Tanny Mouse & Misae Genki, Jado & Koji Nakagawa b Yoshinori Sasaki & Hideki Hosaka, Gedo b Crazy Boy, Hisakatsu Oya d Kintaro Kanemura, Ricky Fuji & Tetsuhiro Kuroda b Flying Kid Ichihara & Willie Takayama, Balls Mahoney & Kyoko Inoue & Kodo Fuyuki b Lance Cade & Mr. Gannosuke & H
2/20 Mexico City Arena Coliseo (EMLL): Sombra de Plata & Alacran b El Jeque & El Cafre, Espectrito I & Vaquerito & Vendaron Azul b Tzuki (Max Mini) & Cicloncito Ramirez & Mascarita Magica-DQ, Mogur & El Hijo del Gladiador & Damian El Guerrero b Torero & Olimpus & Mano Negra Jr., Solar & Pantera & Astro Rey Jr. b Rencor Latino & Arakangel & Halcon Negro Jr., Blue Panther & Black Warrior & Scorpio Jr. b Ringo Mendoza & Mr. Niebla & Tarzan Boy
2/20 Naucalpan (IWRG): Colt & Bad Boy I b Sonic & Alien, Skayde & Ryo Saito b Neo & Rokambole Jr., Rody & Yasushi Kanda & Susumu Mochizuki b Bruly & Robot Man & Super Mega, Kato Kung Lee Sr. & Ultimo Vampiro & Black Dragon b Guardia & Oficial & Yoshikazu Taru-DQ, Fantasy & Millonario b Star Boy & Punch Power, Hair vs. Hair: Star Boy b Punch Power
2/20 Osaka (Osaka Pro Wrestling - 380): Mandora b Shusaku Wada, Daioh Qualtt b Monkey Magic, Takehiro Murahama b Super Demekin, Masato Yakushiji & Naohiro Hoshikawa b Kuishinbo Kamen & Ebbesan, Super Delfin & Tsubasa & Yoshito Sugamoto b Dick Togo & Buffalo & Policeman
2/21 Atlanta Georgia Dome (WWF Raw is War - 25,036): Barry Buchanan b Rukkus, Head Bangers b Rick Michaels & Tracy Smothers, Sho Funaki b David Young, Kurt Angle & Davey Boy Smith b Chris Jericho & Chyna, Too Cool b Al Snow & Steve Blackman, Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn b Godfather & D-Lo Brown, Hardys & Edge & Christian b Dudleys & New Age Outlaws, Acolytes & Mark Henry b Hollys & Viscera, Chris Benoit b Test, Rikishi Phatu b Eddy Guerrero, Tazz b Big Bossman-DQ, Big Show & Hunter Hearst Helmsley & X-Pac b Cactus Jack & Kane & Big Show
2/21 Sacramento, CA (WCW Nitro - 9,408/5,250 paid): Shane Helms & Shannon Moore b Lenny Lane & Idol, Billy Kidman NC Lash Leroux, Vampiro b David Finlay, WCW tag titles: Booker b Big Vito & Johnny the Bull-DQ, WCW cruiserweight title: Artist b La Parka, Ron & Don Harris NC Terry Funk & Dustin Rhodes, Buff Bagwell b Maestro, Wall b Bam Bam Bigelow, Cage match: Hulk Hogan NC Lex Luger
2/21 Kokura (All Japan - 1,750): Masamichi Marufuji b Makoto Hashi, Giant Kimala II b Tamon Honda, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Haruka Eigen & Masa Fuchi b Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura, Daisuke Ikeda & Jun Izumida b Takeshi Morishima & Masao Inoue, Yoshihiro Takayama b Maunukea Mossman, Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa b Steve Williams & Johnny Smith, Vader b Takao Omori, Stan Hansen & Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada b Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga
2/22 Imabari (All Japan - 1,500): Yoshinobu Kanemaru b Masamichi Marufuji, Tamon Honda b Takeshi Morishima, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Haruka Eigen & Masa Fuchi b Makoto Hashi & Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura, Masao Inoue & Toshiaki Kawada b Maunukea Mossman & Daisuke Ikeda, Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori b Giant Kimala II & Stan Hansen, Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa b Akira Taue & Jun Izumida, Steve Williams & Vader & Johnny Smith b Kentaro Shiga & Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama
Special thanks to: Michael White, Bryan Alvarez, Joel Caples, Coveh Solaimani, Dominick Valenti, Steve "Dr. Lucha" Sims, Alex Marvez, Dan Parris, Robert Couture, George Wren, Bill King, Anthony Eastman, Greg Moser, Chuck Morris, Brady Laber, Philip Laine, Dan Parris, Fred Rubenstein, Zach Arnold, Corey Hickman, Trent Van Drisse, Jeff Marek, Georgiann Makropolous, Joe Silva, Mike Rodgers, Manuel Gonzalez, Tadashi Tanaka, Jonathan Snowden, Larry Lee, Juan Martinez, Stefan Pickshaus, Bill Walkowitz, Shannon Rose, Matt Griffin, Nicholas Richards, Pete Doyle, Kevin Dillon, Mike Harris, Revin Samuel, Tim Linehan
JANUARY BUSINESS COMPARISONS
WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION
Estimated average attendance 1/99 11,195
Estimated average attendance 1/00 11,801 (+5.4%)
December 1999 11,794
Estimated average gate 1/99 $231,514
Estimated average gate 1/00 $316,259 (+36.6%)
December 1999 $309,247
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/99 85.7
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/00 60.0
December 1999 71.4
Average Monday night rating 1/99 5.58
Average Monday night rating 1/00 6.46* (+15.8%)
December 1999 5.94
Major show 1/99: Royal Rumble (14,816 sellout/13,597 paid/$630,050/est. 1.88 buy rate/est. $8.24 million)
Major show 1/00: Royal Rumble (19,231 sellout/16,629 paid/$1,142,540/est. 1.58 buy rate/est. $7.34 million)
Est. Buy rate -16.0%; Overall est. event revenue -4.4%
*Because of new television situation regarding Nitro at two hours, direct number comparisons are misleading. Factoring out the changes, the realistic increase in ratings over the past year is 11.1%
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
Estimated average attendance 1/99 8,661
Estimated average attendance 1/00 3,593 (-58.5%)
December 1999 3,593
Estimated average gate 1/99 $196,303
Estimated average gate 1/00 $86,575 (-55.9%)
December 1999 $99,628
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/99 14.3
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/00 5.6
December 1999 0.0
Average Monday night rating 1/99 4.95
Average Monday night rating 1/00 3.10* (-37.4%)
December 1999 2.98
Major show 1/99: Souled Out (10,833 sellout/10,255 paid/$210,740/est. 0.78 buy rate/est. $3.64 million)
Major show 1/00: Souled Out (14,132 sellout/7,323 paid/$238,529/est. 0.26 buy rate/est. $1.22 million)
Est. buy rate -66.7%; Est. overall event revenue -60.8%
*Because of Nitro switching from three hour to two hour format, direct comparisons are misleading. The realistic drop in ratings over the past year is 41% factoring in the three to two hour switch
ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
Estimated average attendance 1/99 2,480
Estimated average attendance 1/00 2,598 (+4.8%)
December 1999 1,950
Estimated average gate 1/99 $99,263
Estimated average gate 1/00 $118,291 (+19.2%)
December 1999 $66,300
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/99 35.7
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/00 62.5
December 1999 0.0
Average television rating 1/99 4.97
Average television rating 1/00 4.18 (-15.9%)
December 1999 3.25
NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
Estimated average attendance 1/99 2,217
Estimated average attendance 1/00 ----
December 1999 4,381
Estimated average gate 1/99 $90,700
Estimated average gate 1/00 ----
December 1999 $224,307
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/99 0.0
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/00 ---
December 1999 75.0
Average television rating 1/99 4.38
Average television rating 1/00 4.25 (-3.0%)
December 1999 2.40
Major show 1/99: Tokyo Dome (62,500 sellout/est. $5.3 million)
Major show 1/00: Tokyo Dome (63,500 sellout/est. $5.9 million)
EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
Estimated average attendance 1/99 1,360
Estimated average attendance 1/00 1,229 (-9.6%)
December 1999 1,620
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/99 30.0
Percentage of house shows sold out 1/00 62.5
December 1999 20.0
Average cable television rating 1/99 ---
Average cable television rating 1/00 1.15
December 1999 1.04
Major show 1/99: Guilty as Charged (2,600/$80,000/buy rate unavailable)
Major show 1/00: Guilty as Charged (4,700/3,100 paid/$80,000/est. 0.21 buy rate/est. $755,000)
MEXICO: EMLL announced some major matches over the next few weeks. The 2/25 Arena Mexico main event will be Tarzan Boy vs. El Satanico in a hair vs. hair match. The 3/10 Arena Mexico which is a guaranteed sellout and the biggest show of the year will have Pierroth Jr. vs. Mascara Ano 2000 in a hair vs. hair match plus the retirement match of Perro Aguayo. The 3/17 Arena Mexico main event will be the long-awaited Atlantis vs. Villano III mask vs. mask match which will draw a large crowd and they'll have an elimination tag team match for the Torneo Siglo 21 in honor of the birth of Salvador Lutteroth on March 21, 1897 which will have Olimpico, Tony Rivera, Antifaz, Tigre Blanco, Mascara Magica, Safari, Ultimo Guerrero, Mr. Mexico, Zumbido, Arkangel, Astro Rey Jr., Starman, Rencor Latino, Rey Bucanero, Violencia and Dr. O'Borman Jr
Because the big shows have already been announced, they drew a poor crowd on 2/18 at Arena Mexico with Atlantis & Villano III in the parejas increibles stipulation over Tarzan Boy & Satanico when of course both sets of partners ended up turning on each other and Satanico just laid down and allowed V-3 to pin him. The match was said to have had little heat
The 2/18 Tijuana show saw Halloween retain the IWC middleweight title beating Lizmark Jr. in a match where Lady Victoria, who came out with Halloween, turned on him during the match, but then turned on Lizmark Jr. for the finish causing him to lose. The main event was Brazo de Plata & Rey Misterio Sr. vs. Damian & Nicho El Millonario (Psicosis from WCW) which ended when Misterio Jr. turned heel on Super Porky
Black Warrior retained the NWA light heavyweight title beating Tarzan Boy via count out on 2/16 in Acapulco
Antonio Pena announced that at the Rey De Reyes show on 3/5 at El Toreo in Naucalpan that every match on the show would be inside a six-sided cage
Canek kept his UWA heavyweight belt beating Cibernetico via DQ on 2/16 in Tlalnepantla
They are setting Blue Panther up as a challenger for Ringo Mendoza's CMLL middleweight title as a Sunday Arena Coliseo feud between the two started on 2/20
Brazo de Oro is said to have taken the death of brother Aaron Alvarado Nieves very hard and has apparently lost a lot of his desire to wrestle and has no-showed many dates
Scorpio Jr. & Bestia Salvaje & Shocker are forming a headline trio called Las 3 Bestias
AAA women La Briosa & Neftali & Xochitl Hamada will be wrestling on 4/5 in Beirut, Lebanon.
ALL JAPAN: There remains more talk about the potential split of All Japan which could come as soon as next month. The timing if it does happen would be in March or probably not at all because that's when All Japan's TV contract with NTV expires. Weekly Fight reported that Toshiaki Kawada would become the new President and stay with the company but other sources indicate Akira Taue as the likely new President. Misawa, Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama would be spearhead the new company if this does happen. This would in reality create two independent level companies. Most of the foreign wrestlers are more loyal to Mrs. Baba than to Misawa, but whoever gets the TV contract if there is a split is the probable winning side
Vader & Steve Williams won the Double tag team titles from Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama on 2/20 in Kobe before 3,200 fans. It was the only result possible given that Vader & Williams have just been put together in an attempt to create a monster foreigner tag team along the likes of the Bruiser Brody & Stan Hansen duo of the mid-80s. The final saw Vader pin Kobashi in 12:14. This, based on the give-and-take booking style of All Japan, would, at least in the fans eyes, make it appear that Kobashi would win the Triple Crown title when he challenges Vader for it on 2/27
The 2/17 show in Sapporo with the four main events drew 8,800 fans, which was a near sellout. Vader pinned Kawada in a non-title singles match in 13:44 using a lariat in the first ever singles match between the two. Kobashi pinned Williams in 24:37 also with a lariat which set up Vader defending the Triple Crown against Kobashi. Misawa pinned Taue in 15:18 with a running elbow and Yoshinari Ogawa retained the PWF jr. title pinning Daisuke Ikeda after a bridging back suplex in 19:04. The tentative plan is to return to the building for another major show headlined by a Triple Crown title match in June
Misawa is suffering from a right arm injury which may be a pinched nerve although he hasn't missed any dates
2/13 TV show did a 2.3 rating.
NEW JAPAN: At the 2/20 show at Tokyo Sumo Hall, ring announcer Hideki Tanaka called out New Japan President Tatsumi Fujinami, TV announcer Yoshiaki Tsuji and the head of TV-Asahi to the ring to announce that the 4/7 Tokyo Dome show, called "Dome Impact 2000," would air live in prime time on network TV from 8-10 p.m., which is the old Friday night prime time slot that New Japan had dating back from practically its inception in 1972 until 1987. The card itself is set for a 6:30 p.m. start so the live TV should theoretically air all the main event matches. It would be the first live prime time special for New Japan since the January 4, 1992 Tokyo Dome show headlined by Riki Choshu vs. Fujinami. Antonio Inoki then came out and was given flowers by the head of TV-Asahi since it was his 57th birthday. Inoki asked the fans if they wanted to see Shinya Hashimoto & Naoya Ogawa as a tag team for the Rikidozan Memorial show on 3/11 at Yokohama Arena and the fans popped. Inoki then called both Hashimoto and Ogawa to the ring. Ogawa tried to shake hands with Hashimoto, but Hashimoto refused to shake hands and said he didn't want to team with Ogawa and walked off. Fujinami then brought up they wanted to put Hashimoto against Ogawa as the Tokyo Dome main event. They had been working a storyline about a Hashimoto & Ogawa vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Nobuhiko Takada main event, and also floated stories about Tenryu teaming with Masaaki Satake (the former K-1 star) for that show. Either way, at this point in time, teaming Hashimoto with Ogawa for business is very much premature, even if it's done for a transparent American angle where they don't get along for the match on the show to heat up the Dome show. The singles match at this point has such a non traditional pro wrestling build-up that has worked great, and to put them in a tag situation and break them up would be too much traditional pro wrestling which is exactly what this angle doesn't need to stay hot. The next day, the line-up for the Rikidozan show was announced with the Hashimoto & Ogawa vs. Takada & Tenryu match. Inoki announced Takada had agreed to the match but that New Japan didn't want it because they didn't like the idea of Hashimoto & Ogawa as a tag team before their grudge match at the Dome, although much of this is storyline created by Inoki. Takada later in the day said that he had a knee injury (from the Royce Gracie match) and wouldn't be ready by 3/11 and had never agreed to the match. Hashimoto said that he didn't want to team with Ogawa and Fujinami said that they didn't want the two to team before the 4/7 Tokyo Dome show, particularly now because of the live TV coverage of the match. The next day New Japan as a promotion denied the teaming of Hashimoto & Ogawa but said they wanted to cooperate with the show. Inoki came back saying that the two men don't want to team and the office doesn't want them to team but the fans want them to team, and then in another grandstand play said he wanted Misawa or Kobashi to be the referee for the match. Inoki did say that Takada wouldn't be doing the match because of his knee injury and that Masaaki Satake won't be doing the match because he's under contract to DSE and DSE isn't cooperating with the show. Inoki then talked about Vader being Tenryu's partner but again that would involve All Japan cooperating with the show
Fujinami, who is 46, said this past week that he is going to retire after about another 100 matches and he wants singles matches before he retires against Hashimoto, Chono, Muto, Liger, Kanemoto, Ogawa, Tenryu, Takada and Masaaki Satake and even mentioned wanting to do matches before he retires if possible with Misawa, Kobashi, Kawada and Taue. He said because he is so busy with his duties in the front office that he can't keep in the kind of shape he needs to be in
The 2/20 Sumo Hall show drew an overflow sellout of 11,500 for a series of ten matches, all picked by "secret" line-up cards put together by New Japan and Team 2000. The way the matches were booked, Team 2000 was up 5-3 and New Japan tied it up with Shinya Hashimoto pinning Scott Norton at 8:46 with a DDT and Kensuke Sasaki beating Masahiro Chono in 16:57 via submission with the power strangle. They announced rather than leave it as a tie, they would have an overtime and each team picked a captain, which ended up being Sasaki vs Chono once again. Chono won in 7:29 with the STF. The storyline of the match is that Chono got the move on at the 4:00 mark and Sasaki refused to submit for more than three minutes while trapped in the hold until Hashimoto finally threw in the towel for him. Fujinami was scheduled to wrestle Kenzo Suzuki in the opener, but they announced Suzuki was in the hospital (a shoot) due to broken ribs suffered from taking a senton by Hiro Saito the previous night. It was announced that match would be replaced by a juniors tag match with Kendo Ka Shin & Dr. Wagner Jr. beating IWGP jr. tag champs Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa in a non-title match when Ka Shin made Otani submit in 11:32 which the fans were happy about since the replacement match was much better than the advertised match figured to be. The team challenge began with Takashi Iizuka of New Japan beating Hiro Saito in 12:10 with a choke sleeper. Super J of Team 2000 beat Tadao Yasuda with a swinging DDT in 7:33. Tatsutoshi Goto of Team 2000 beat Junji Hirata in 7:03 with a chicken wing submission. Shiro Koshinaka of New Japan beat Michiyoshi Ohara in 6:03 with a power bomb. AKIRA of Team 2000 pinned Koji Kanemoto in 9:53 with a dragon suplex. Satoshi Kojima pinned Jushin Liger after doing Liger's won Liger bomb on him and hitting a lariat in 7:51. Manabu Nakanishi beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan with the torture rack in 12:36 before Don Frye made it a 5-3 edge for Team 2000 beating Yuji Nagata with a choke sleeper in 6:47
The next show will be 3/3 in Niigata which is the tour opener which includes a two of three fall ten man tag with Wagner & Ka Shin & El Samurai & Gran Hamada & Liger vs. Perro Aguayo & Perro Aguayo Jr. & Negro Casas & Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto, Nagata & Nakanishi vs. Kojima & Tenzan and Iizuka & Koshinaka & Sasaki vs. Goto & Ohara & Chono. 3/5 at Korakuen Hall has Liger & Samurai & Casas vs. Aguayo Jr. & Sr. & Hamada and 3/6 at Korakuen Hall is Perro Aguayo's final match ever in Japan as a tag with Perro Sr. & Liger vs. Perro Jr. & Hamada. 3/10 in Yanagaii has Liger defending the IWGP jr. title against Samurai, Iizuka & Nagata & Sasaki vs. Kojima & Tenzan & Chono and Masakazu Fukuda & Nakanishi & Koshinaka vs. Saito & J & Frye. 3/16 in Kyoto has Nagata & Nakanishi vs. Goto & Chono in a non-title, Mike Enos & Sasaki vs. Tenzan & Norton, Brian Johnston & Iizuka vs. Kojima & J, Yasuda & Koshinaka vs. Ohara & Saito and Frye vs. Fukuda. The biggest show of the tour is 3/19 in Nagoya at Aiichi Ken Gym headlined by Sasaki vs. Kojima for the IWGP heavyweight title, Enos & Koshinaka vs. Chono & Tenzan, Nagata & Nakanishi & Iizuka vs. J & Frye & Norton and Liger vs. Otani in a non-title. The tour ends 3/20 in Amagasaki with Nakanishi & Nagata defending the IWGP tag titles against Chono & Tenzan, Iizuka & Sasaki vs. Ohara & Norton, Yasuda & Junji Hirata & Koshinaka vs. Goto & Saito & Kojima and Liger vs. Frye
2/12 TV show did a 3.4 rating.
OTHER JAPAN NOTES: The 3/11 Rikidozan Memorial show at Yokohama Arena will have Gran Hamada (Michinoku) & Magnum Tokyo (Toryumon) vs. Cima & Sumo Dandy Fuji 2000 (Toryumon), Yuki Ishikawa (Battlarts) vs. Naoki Sano (Takada Dojo), Yuki Kondo (Pancrase) vs. someone named Kantenjun who is billed as a Korean protege of Kintaro Oki, Yumiko Hotta (AJW) vs. Runyuyu (JWP champion), Dynamite Kansai & Azumi Hyuga & Tsubasa Kuragaki (JWP) vs. Kyoko Inoue & Yoshiko Tamura & Yuka Nakamura (Neo Ladies), Yoshiaki Fujiwara (a semi-retired semi-legend) vs. Satoru Sayama (Seikendo), Osamu Kido & Tadao Yasuda (New Japan) vs. Junji Hirata (New Japan) & Ryuma Go (Samurai Project), Tomoaki Honma & Ryuji Yamakawa (Big Japan) vs. H & Naohiko Yamazaki (FMW), Yoji Anjoh (K-1, UFC Japan) vs. Tarzan Goto (another indie worker) and whatever the main event ends up being. Except for the opener and the main event, it's really a nothing show other than the fact they've got they've got something like 18 promotions under one roof and are doing a lot of interpromotional matches, but not any that fans would clamor to see. It's pretty clear FMW sent Yamazaki into the tag match for someone to do a job
The 3/2 issue of Weekly Gong has a two page feature on the 1999 Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards making them the only U.S. based awards to get international media coverage. The article included photos of Misawa as Wrestler of the Year, Rock as Best on Interviews and Most Charismatic, Muto as third for Wrestler of the Year, Kobashi & Akiyama as Tag Team of the Year, Austin vs. McMahon for Feud of the Year, Vader as Most Improved and Magnum Tokyo for placing sixth in Most Charismatic
That issue also had the annual fans balloting for Most Popular Wrestler in Japan. Muto was named Most Popular for the fifth year in a row, beating out Chono by a solid 1,521 to 926 margin. It was Chono's fourth straight year in second place. Kobashi was a distant third with 435 followed by Sasaki, Misawa (his lowest ranking since 1989 when he was mid-card Tiger Mask), Tenzan, Kojima, Onita, Cima (highest ranking newcomer), Akiyama, Tenryu, Ka Shin, H, Hashimoto, Nakanishi, Nagata, Naoya Ogawa, Kanemoto (dropping from fifth), Liger and Sakuraba. On the foreign side, Norton finished first for the second straight year beating out Hansen by a 1,378 to 1,264 margin. Hansen, who placed second last year as well, had finished first before that every year since the death of Bruiser Brody. The most amazing figure is that Bill Goldberg, who has never wrestled in Japan, was third, which indicates he should have strong drawing power when he finally comes to Japan. After that came Vader, Frye (highest newcomer), Super J, Benoit, Hogan, Curry Man, Williams, Dr. Wagner Jr. (dropping from fourth), Sting, Gary Albright, Johnny Smith, Rock, Mike Awesome, Mil Mascaras, Terry Funk, Kevin Nash and Bret Hart. Shinobu Kandori easily captured the Most Popular Woman Wrestler award for the second straight year by a wide margin over Chigusa Nagayo. After that came Aja Kong, Takako Inoue, Kyoko Inoue, Lioness Asuka, Akira Hokuto, Ayako Hamada (the highest placed wrestler of the "new generation" was No. 8 which doesn't bode well for the long-term), Miho Wakizawa, Chaparita Asari, Manami Toyota (dropping from fourth), Candy Okutsu (dropping from second), Mima Shimoda, Kayo Noumi, Yumi Fukawa, Sakura Hirota, Chyna, Michiko Omukai, Yuko Kosugi and Kana Mizaki
They are pushing that Road Warrior Animal will return to Japan on 2/26 for the RINGS show at Budokan Hall as Brad Kohler's second in his match with Chris Haseman. Kohler was originally to face Volk Han but I guess this was going to be a shoot and Han is a little old for that nowadays. I don't think Han has ever done a shoot in RINGS, but he did appear in a sambo wrestling world championship tournament once in Japan and he was submitting everyone in like 30 seconds. Both Hiromitsu Kanehara and Yoshihisa Yamamoto, who will be accompanied by Akira Maeda, will be representing RINGS at the World Submission championships from 3/1 to 3/3 in Abu Dhabai
Alexander Otsuka will be going to Atlanta to train at the Obake Gym the first week of March. He said he is going to go from his current 187 pounds to 265. Well, that is what he said. Wrestlers of late are being known for saying the silliest things
All Japan women will have their first major show of the year on 3/4 at Yokohama Bunka Gym which will feature an in-ring concert with Momoe Nakanishi, Kayo Noumi, Nanae Takahashi and Miho Wakizawa in an attempt to market them as singers. The matches on the show are a cage match with escaping the cage rules with Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda vs. Tomoko Watanabe & Kumiko Maekawa, Manami Toyota & Dynamite Kansai & Kaoru Ito vs. Yumiko Hotta & Commando Boirshoi & Takako Inoue, Misaki Kana (returning after getting her knee scoped on 2/8) & Takahashi vs. Lioness Asuka & Yuki Morimatsu and more. AJW picked five women out of a try-out camp this past week to train to become new wrestlers. Nakanishi was going to face Megumi Yabushita of the JD promotion, who has a strong background in judo, in a Vale Tudo match on 3/7 at Korakuen Hall, but Nakanishi suffered a knee injury and they wanted to postpone a Vale Tudo match until 6/13
On the 2/22 Big Japan show at Korakuen Hall, the FMW vs. Big Japan feud heated up when Ryuji Yamakawa of Big Japan captured the WEW (FMW) Hardcore title from Kintaro Kanemura. Also on the show, Tomoaki Honma retained the Big Japan death match title beating Abdullah Jr. Kobayashi
Runyuyu makes her first defense of her JWP title on 3/20 at Korakuen Hall against Misae Genki, formerly of Neo Ladies
Battlarts will be doing a one-night mixed tournament on 3/12 in Osaka with Arsion called the King and Queen tournament with teams of one man and two women in most cases--Yuki Ishikawa & Candy Okutsu & Ai Fujita, Alexander Otsuka & Mariko Yoshida & Yumi Fukawa, Mohammed Yone & Mari & Fabi Apache, Takeshi Ono & Super Cacao & Etsuko Mita
Atsushi Onita's high school graduation ceremony will be 3/11 and he'll start college in April. He's saying his final match will be in May (of course he's retired more times than almost anyone but Terry Funk). It's said that he's trained down from 255 to 209
Saw some clips of Mil Mascaras & Dos Caras at Korakuen Hall from last week. Mascaras takes a lot of knocks, and they are well deserved, but he's a 61-year-old man doing all his trademark spots including a plancha that would make a 25-year-old middleweight envious and Caras, who is nearing 50, did a tope
A cultural difference was in a tag match where Kandori was in with three man in the Chyna role. Masao Orihara, one of her opponents, in a spot, got behind her and felt up her breasts. I guess it's different from the U.S. since Kandori is a boyish looking Japanese jock with no silicon added but still.
HERE AND THERE: Bryan Alvarez, who is part of the Wrestlingobserver.com web site and the internet show as well as publisher of his own Figure Four Weekly newsletter, on his 2/9 yahoo chat had 997 questions asked in less than one hour, making it one of the top ten yahoo sports chats in history. The only sports figures outside of wrestling (and it was the second or third largest pro wrestling figure) who have topped the 1,000 mark have been five Hall of Fame calibre superstars including Ken Griffey Jr., Karl Malone and Troy Aickman
In the Paul Perschmann (Buddy Rose) case where he allegedly threatened his estranged wife with a knife, he plea bargained down to unlawful imprisonment which is a Class C felony and has yet to be sentenced
The Oregon Boxing and Wrestling Commission had a meeting on 1/28 over the blood issue. Ring Around the Northwest reported that while nothing was actually stated like this, they basically ruled that blading would not be tolerated, but that if there was blood, it was at the referees (read that promoters since the referees are employed by the promoters) discretion whether the match should be stopped. In other words, it's going back to the late 80s where they got around the blading by doing hardway juice, which is far more dangerous, or even blading in the dressing room so the cut opens easy once the match begins. But it also showed the new director, Jim Cassidy, who has little wrestling knowledge but an extensive boxing background, to not to be nearly as much a stickler to the rules or maybe just a different slant on interpretation as Bruce Anderson. With Anderson, he was against the double juice because of the potential of infection from bodily fluids transferred while Cassidy from a boxing background where blood happens frequently just comes with an outsider viewpoint of the act of blading in the ring as being barbaric. KATU in Portland on 2/20 ran a Town Hall show on whether pro wrestling is good for kids. Billy Jack Haynes and Roddy Piper were among those on the show. They did an angle with each other to attempt to build into a big match in Portland, but the station wisely edited the angle off the show when it aired but there was the beginnings of the angle airing. The report we had is both Commissioner Cassidy and Piper came off really poorly, with Cassidy appearing to have no interest in wrestling which he kept referring to as "rasslin" and didn't appear to know the difference between WWF and WCW. Piper debated a local amateur wrestler and when asked what positive wrestling has for society, Piper's only answer was that it took him off the streets. Piper tried to turn the tables by knocking amateur wrestling because kids are dieting to drop weight classes. Piper did try to differentiate WWF and WCW saying that he also wouldn't allow his kids to watch WWF. Haynes, 46, said to have gotten himself in very good condition for his latest attempted comeback, was only shown in the audience at the show and saying a few things. He's got a backer and is planning on starting a new promotion kicking it off on 5/6 called Oregon Championship Wrestling. Haynes' track record as a promoter included a failure as a promoter many years back running against Don Owen and more recently an arrest for going into a city in Oregon and conning sponsorship and up front money out of people in the town and disappearing without delivering a show. Even with the different rules interpretations, Cassidy hasn't given any indication he's going to relax the commission's drug policy and thus there has been no movement by either WWF or WCW to come into Portland, even though at this point one would think either company would draw an easy sellout the first time out in the Rose Garden. One would think they'd have to wipe out all the drug testing because neither group appears to believe it can afford real independent drug testing of its wrestlers
In the battle of head-to-head Memphis Saturday morning TV, MCW was built around Jerry Lawler vs. Bull Pain with Lawler saying he was sick and tired of all the KAW crap. They have Blue Meanie in a role as a big mark as he tried to get Jim Neidhart's autograph. Bobcat, another WWF developmental woman, pinned Downtown Bruno with the old Gibson leglock. Meanie freaked out when he was told he'd have to wrestle Neidhart on the show. Kat (Miss Kitty) did a promo for upcoming matches against Bruno. They announced that Road Dogg and Kat would be at the 2/23 TV tapings. Road Dogg and HHH appeared in a promo together talking about how they'd eliminate Lawler and Dogg said he was coming in for a match with Lawler. Neidhart beat Meanie. Godfather was there with Reggie B. Fine and Godfather said he was leasing his Memphis franchise to Fine. Fine tried to give Godfather a check but he demanded cash. Fine only had $800 in cash. Godfather took it, but said he'd be wanting payments every Wednesday night (when they do TV). Grand Master Sexay beat K.Krush via DQ when Curtis Hughes interfered and piledrove GMS after the match. Lawler beat Pain via DQ when all the KAW guys interfered and Bill Dundee made the save for Lawler with a 2x4. The Dudleys also did an interview ripping on the fans in Memphis
PPW on 2/19 saw the return of Larry Booker. Yes Moondog Spot is back, and he even chased announcers Dave Brown and Cory Maclin out. The talent is really thin since Jim Cornette and the Ohio Valley crew is no longer working here. Brandon Baxter said that he was taking over Moondog Championship Wrestling based in Osceola, AR. Baxter said he'd overlook his past problems with Derrick King if King would shine his shoes, wash his car and be his driver. King said no, so a bunch of guys attacked King. Ali, who Baxter had banned from the building, was let in the door by Randy Hales, and he cleaned house. They announced Jimmy Valiant would be in on 2/26. Wolfie D, who holds the tag titles because he beat Jason Lee & King in a handicap match, said he had to pick a partner. Tracy Smothers came out and said they could be a team called "Town and Country." D said No, so Smothers and he had a pull-apart brawl. D then wrestled Tommy Rogers, ending with Smothers piledriving D leading to Rogers getting the pin. C.B. Wyatt did an interview (I swear Paul Heyman for weeks was telling me this same idea, and finally did it for Danny Doring and Robert Gibson and it totally flopped due to the execution and it was never referred to again) saying that in the 80s, Randy Hales "rat" Julie was actually his mother so he claimed Hales was his father. Wyatt then started chasing Hales to call him daddy
We continually get requests regarding the Dynamite Kid autobiography. The book is available for $23 at Howl Limited, P.O. Box 44, North Syracuse, NY 13212
Ray Gonzalez regained the Universal title for the 10th time from Carly Colon on 2/19 in Carolina, PR due to interference from the returning El Bronco (Ramon Alvarez), who was a top heel in WWC for years in a match that went 25:00. Bronco, under a mask, hit Colon with a chair and then attacked Carlos Colon at ringside. Carlos Colon and Pierroth Jr. went to the dressing room and unmasked the guy revealing Bronco. A commissioner then announced Bronco was suspended for interfering in the match but Carlos asked for the suspension to be lifted to he could wrestle him. In ratings comparisons, the WWC on 2/12, which airs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. drew a 9.9 rating and 35 share while IWA from 1-2 p.m. drew a 5.8 rating and 21 share. On 2/13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the WWC drew a 10.4 rating and 33 share while the IWA from 1-2 drew a 5.5 rating and 18 share. Tiger Ali Singh started with the IWA on 2/20
Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson won the NWA Wildside tag team titles from Bad Attitude (David Young & Rick Michaels) on 2/19 in Cornelia, GA. Abdullah the Butcher will be brought into Cornelia, GA on 3/18. NWA Hammerlock Wrestling in the UK is doing a TV taping on 2/23 and they are bringing in Michaels, Young, Kory Williams, Ashley Hudson, T.J. Gray, Chris Champion, Jimmy Rivers, Rukkus and Tony Kozina as NWA world junior heavyweight champion
On a show on 2/25 in Racine, WI, local wrestler Berlin Bomber headlines against Terry Taylor with the announced stips that if Bomber wins, then he gets a job in WCW.
MMA: The 1/30 Tokyo Dome show promoted by Dream Stage Entertainment aired as a 90-minute taped special on the Fuji Network at 4 p.m. on 2/6 and it drew an 8.4 rating, finishing No. 1 in its time slot. It would also make it the highest rated pro wrestling or MMA television show in Japan or the United States in a few years. New Japan should top that mark on 4/7 when it presents the Hashimoto vs. Ogawa match live in prime time. It says something because even with all the bad publicity regarding the Royce Gracie vs. Nobuhiko Takada match, this showed the match even after the reports about it still had a ton of mainstream curiosity
Line-up for the 3/10 UFC PPV show from Lake Charles, LA at this point is Kevin Randleman vs. Pedro Rizzo for the UFC heavyweight title, Lance Gibson vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (should be an easy win for Matyushenko), Dave Menne vs. Fabiano Iha, Travis Fulton vs. TBA (scheduled as Tim Lajcik but word is that he was injured in training), Steve Judson vs. Tedd Williams, Frank Trigg vs. Bob Cook, Shonie Carter vs. Brad Gumm and David Velasquez (another Frank Shamrock trainee) vs. Jenz Pulzer (who is from the Bob Shamrock camp). The show has no marquee value. You never know, there may be some good fights but with the exception of the undercard, these are all fighters UFC fans either would have never seen, or in the case of Lajcik and Fulton, have seen lose
Shooto had its 1999 awards announced naming Hayato Sakurai as Fighter of the Year, Kaoru Uno as Most Improved and Uno vs. Rumina Sato as Match of the Year
WEF will be holding a PPV show (for Canada and Brazil) on 5/13 in Muncie, IN. No matches have been announced
We've got a list of some of the major names competing in the Abu Dhabai submission tournament from 3/1 to 3/3 which is the biggest event of the year in the world of submissions. At 143 pounds, the top contenders are Royler Gracie and Alexander Soca. At 167, the biggest names are Sato, Uno, Sakurai, Mikey Burnett and Jean Jaques Machado (last year's winner). At 191, the biggest names are Kareem Barcalov (last year's winner), Renzo Gracie, Egan Inoue, Menne, Robby Kilpatrick (who isn't a major name in fighting but is the younger brother of Ken Shamrock) and Matt Hughes. At 215 includes Murillo Bustamante, Jeremy Horn, Hiromitsu Kanehara, Brandon Lee Hinckle, Rigan Michado, Jerry Bohlander, Guy Mezger and Jeff Monson (defending champion). The heavyweight division includes Ricardo Morais, Sean Alvarez, Mark Kerr (defending champion), Rodrigo Noguiera, Mark Coleman, Mark Robinson, Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Josh Bennett (who armbarred Dan Severn last week), Ricco Rodrigues, Tra Telligman and Pete Williams. Enson Inoue pulled out due to an injury this past week
There were some really hilarious comments from Royler Gracie in the latest Full Contact Fighter concerning his recent loss to Kazushi Sakuraba. He said he believed the finish of his fight was prearranged by the Pride organization (the match was stopped with Gracie in an armlock with just under two minutes left in regulation time but Gracie not tapping). He claimed Sakuraba "ran away from grappling combat on the ground." Actually Gracie laid on his back in the crab and took punishment for most of the fight, only getting up when his legs took so much punishment as he laid on his back. He claimed Rickson wouldn't fight Sakuraba in a revenge match because the organization wasn't trustworthy, and he said he wouldn't fight Sakuraba again claiming, "How can I fight again with someone who, in spite of having 20 kilos of weight advantage, prefers to run away from the grappling combat? Why is he so frightened? Is it possible that the little thin guy is so powerful?" Somehow I don't see how anyone who hasn't been brainwashed ahead of time could look at a tape of that match and use terms like running away or frightened to describe Sakuraba's performance and disposition that night
Sakuraba is now saying that if he beats Royce Gracie on the 5/1 Tokyo Dome show that he won't continue on in the Pride tournament. Basically, the idea of putting small guys who are great fighters for their size in a tournament with the likes of Kerr and Coleman isn't fair to them, because an under-200 pound fighter would have a very difficult time fighting two matches against guys of that size on the same night. Few believe that if Gracie gets past Sakuraba, if this match even takes place, that he'd get in there with one of the bigger guys either. And that totally defeats the entire tournament when you've got guys ahead of time saying even if they win they won't continue
Ryan Gracie, who is the younger brother of Renzo and Ralph, was arrested at his home in Sao Paolo, Brazil on 2/15 after a night club stabbing incident two nights earlier. Gracie, known for having a hot temper and involved in numerous out of the battlefield incidents in recent years, was at a disco called Island of the Fisher in Barra da Tijuca, west of Rio de Janeiro. According to news reports, he got involved in a verbal confrontation with another Brazilian Jiu Jitsu student named Marcos Vinicius Da Rosa. The loud exchange led to a fight, with Gracie getting the worst of it and it appeared it was broken up with Gracie appearing to apologize. When he got close enough to Vinicius Da Rosa, he allegedly hit him with a hard sucker elbow, delivered several head-butts and choked him out, and then stabbed him in the stomach with a pen knife and Vinicius Da Rosa had to be hospitalized. He fled the scene and was arrested by police two days later. He was accused of punching a Jiu Jitsu League President and stabbing Vinicius Da Rosa. Gracie in his statement to police claimed Vinicius Da Rosa had the knife and tried to stab him, and denied punching the other man before the incident. Robson Gracie, Ryan's father and a notable name in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu circles as well, claimed that Vinicius Da Rosa was connected to drug dealers and was setting up an ambush to kill his son. Ryan claimed he was at the club when he saw 15 men chasing a man he didn't know. He said he went to protect the man, afraid they were going to kill him, when Vinicius Da Rosa yelled at him brandishing a knife. He said they both rolled on the ground with people kicking at him and Vinicius Da Rosa got cut with his own knife. Ryan is known for two incidents, one was biting the ear off someone in a challenge match and the other was sucker punching Wallid Ismail at a Jiu Jitsu tournament after Ismail had beaten Royce Gracie in their much publicized submissions match in Rio de Janeiro and marketed himself in the United States as the "Gracie destroyer."
ECW: Sabu is expected to attempt litigation to get out of his ECW contract and take the WCW offer. There is some heat in WCW regarding him because of the feeling he misrepresented himself to them by claiming he didn't have a valid contract. He was trying to get independent dates because WCW won't use him until he's cleared but Paul Heyman has stated that since he's under contract to ECW, any independent promoters wanting to use him would have to go through ECW. His mother was released from the hospital and is doing better. Chris Candito & Tammy Sytch are also still waiting for a release from ECW to get a look by WCW
The debuts this weekend on 2/18 in Lacrosse, WI and 2/19 in Milwaukee were both in front of really hot crowds. Lacrosse's crowd wasn't big (about 1,100) but it was super heat. Milwaukee was estimated at a sellout 2,250 and also had great heat for the TNN tapings and that house wasn't papered at all. On the TNN taping, Corino came out dressed like Dusty Rhodes with the jeans and elbow pad and came out with Erik Watts. Corino hit ref H.C. Loc with the cowbell and Loc juiced big-time. Doring & Roadkill beat the Dupps in a 2:00 squash since the Dupps are WWF-bound. Cyrus stripped Van Dam of the TV title. Paul Heyman came out and hit Cyrus with the belt, and then Rhino speared Heyman. Bill Whiles & C.W. Anderson beat Nova & Chris Chetti. Cyrus, who had super heat in Milwaukee from his TNN management gimmick, demanded the TV title belt and it wound up with Paul Heyman hitting him on the head with the belt. Rhino then went for the attack and Sandman made the save. They did a short singles match which was more of an angle with Yoshihiro Tajiri and Super Crazy both involved, ending with the faces running the heels out and Crazy and Sandman sharing a beer. Clearly this is being done to elevate Crazy into a higher face spot that was occupied by Sabu. A match started with Jazz vs. Tom Marquez and ended when Simon Diamond claimed he would make Jazz tap out in less than 3:00. As it turned out, Jazz made Diamond tap out. This didn't get over at all. In the post match, Big Dick Hertz (who may just have been in for the weekend since he moved to Wisconsin at the time he stopped being used) went after Jazz but she gave him the worst X-factor. This was said to be so bad it nearly killed the show. Masato Tanaka beat Angel, and he was then jumped by Tony DeVito (Vic Grimes wasn't in this weekend) until New Jack made the save. Crazy won a three-way over Guido and Tajiri which was said to be even better than their usual match. An angle that turned into a match started with Dreamer & Francine out. Francine said that Raven was blinded when he DDT'd her and it was a mistake. Dreamer still challenged Raven to settle things once and for all. Raven came out, but the Impact Players jumped them and it wound up as a tag title match when Raven saved Dreamer. The finish saw Raven go to throw powder at one of the guys, who ducked and Dreamer got the powder in the eyes. Dreamer then DDT's Francine. Raven helped Francine to the back and left Dreamer alone and he was double-teamed and pinned. Main event saw Awesome over Spike Dudley in a match where Spike bled a ton and he got thrown through a bunch of tables. He may have blown out his knee as he was limping badly after the match and was scheduled for an MRI. The previous night in Lacrosse was Awesome over Rhino on top with the power bomb through a table finish. During the Sandman & Dreamer vs. Corino & Victory match, Sandman went around the building with the beer gimmick after and gave a beer to a girl who looked to be all of seven years old. New Jack did a promo and claimed his injuries were supposed to keep him out for three months but he said all the drinking and drugs allowed him to come back sooner. The entire New York crew (Raven, Credible, Dawn Marie, Diamond, Doring and Nova) missed the Lacrosse show because of weather resulting in missed connections
Jason was out with a back injury
Electra didn't come again this weekend so her future is in question as it's hard to have a spot in this business when one is afraid to fly
TNN show this week was the second hour taped from Tallahassee. Cyrus opened demanding the ECW vacates the TV title on the guise that if there are no TV title matches, ratings will drop and it would hurt the lead-in to RollerJam. TNN is so dumb for real putting an angle on their own station about how incompetent a network they are. Only WCW would be dumb enough to position themselves as so uncool on their own TV time. They've also killed whatever lead-in they were supposed to be for real by positioning RollerJam as so uncool. They shot more of this storyline over the weekend in Milwaukee. I've heard two basic versions, both of which have the same end result. Version one is that Cyrus demands the TV title because TNN wants title matches for ratings and that Paul Heyman refuses to buckle under but that Van Dam ends up as the peacemaker and vacates the title (to create the Shawn Michaels in the ring handing over the belt scene from a few years ago) on the PPV. The other is that Cyrus makes Rhino the TV champ before the tournament but Heyman orders a tournament (which Rhino would be expected to win anyway since word on the street has Rhino with the belt). This show was below the usual standard. The fake crowd noise being piped in was so obvious that it made the production look horrible. Doring & Roadkill beat Nova & Chetti in 6:21. Everyone worked hard but the timing here was awful. It looked total indie level. The crowd did pop when tables came out and Roadkill did a splash off the top through a table (his opponent moved). Doring pinned Chetti with a double-arm DDT. Crazy beat C.W. Anderson in 6:51 with a moonsault onto a table. The table leg was sticking up and Crazy came awfully close to literally killing himself on the moonsault. Crazy looked great here but Anderson in the ring wasn't at this level and it was pretty obvious. Joey Styles claimed that Anderson turned down a multi-year six-figure contract with WCW, which either means Styles' story is a little off or Anderson, who makes something like $75 per night here, made one bad business decision. Nova & Chetti did an interview challenging the Impact Players for the tag titles. Main was Awesome over Tanaka in 10:38. This wasn't as good as their previous matches but was still really good in the ***1/2 level. Tanaka physically is noticeably feeling the effects of all his beatings as he's not the worker he was even two months ago. The story as told by Styles is that Tanaka actually pinned Awesome for three but the ref blew the call and thus Tanaka should have won the match earlier, which he kept emphasizing as the key storyline part of the match. Finish was a sit out Awesome bomb off the top rope through a table, which looked great
Kintaro Kanemura will be coming in March along with Gedo & Jado from FMW. ECW has gotten a TV clearance in San Juan, PR.
WCW: Nitro on 2/21 from Sacramento, CA drew 5,250 paid and 4,158 comps for a $145,730 house. Luger did an interview and said he beat the dog crap out of Hogan for 15:00 the previous night, which was a hell of a trick for an 8:00 match. I think he meant to say he had a dog crap match that seemed like 15:00 the previous night. Hogan came out and challenged him to a cage match later in the show, but not an ordinary cage match, oh no (I like that "oh no" as it reminds me of a Shane McMahon heel interview), but a cage match where you have to climb out to win. It was explained by Mark Madden that to do that you have to beat someone to where they are immobile so you can climb out. That would work except that everyone has seen a million WWF cage matches and nobody ever gets beat immobile and everyone has a gimmick finish. I'm not even sure why they do so many gimmick matches because they don't mean squat in the ratings, they are usually worse then regular matches, and they kill every gimmick for the future by never delivering as advertised. Schiavone explained that Nash was injured last night from the guitar hit, when that was on Thunder. Jarrett and the Harris twins went out next. This was the Harris twins night, and as you can imagine, that didn't make for a very entertaining show. Jarrett said he was getting a title shot at Vicious at Uncensored. Originally it was supposed to be on this show. Kidman had his camera stolen. It has been suggested to give the role of the camera thief to Sean Stasiak. I groaned too. Madusa was mad about not working. I was happy to think I wouldn't have to see a womens match that wouldn't be any good and with no storyline or interviews building it up. Kidman vs. Leroux went 45 seconds before the Harris twins came out and did a double-team slam on both guys, called the H-bomb. There will be plenty of jokes made about that move, so we'll start at the next few weeks of house shows when they headline because the buildings will look like the city was just hit with an H-bomb and everyone is in their underground shelter. Kanyon was scheduled to wrestle Kidman but he no-showed. The guy who stole Kidman's camera caught Bagwell asking Symphony out but she turned him down. I've had friends with some lame lines they've fed girls, but Bagwell's come-ons were beyond lame, and he's supposed to be a babyface? Vampiro pinned David Finlay with a schoolboy in 3:17. Finlay then tombstoned him after the match. After how Kidman and Vampiro were treated, I was ready to ask for my release. Maestro punked Bagwell's ass. Parka was reading the financial papers when Madusa propositioned him. Something about Parka reading the financial papers was hilarious. In a tag title match, Booker was beating both Mamalukes when Disco interfered for the DQ in 1:45. This match was highlighted by Johnny the Bull taking the worse uranage of the new millennium. The Harris twins gave the H-bomb to both Disco and Booker. Oklahoma came out to do commentary for a cruiserweight title match with Artist vs. Madusa in a Parka costume. Oklahoma unmasked her. Poor Madden missed the line about how Parka was Madusa all along. She slapped him. The real Parka showed up and Artist hit him with his own chair and did his world's sloppiest DDT off the ropes for the pin in 1:21. Somebody give that man a new finisher, like maybe the iron claw or something that you can't screw up. The Harris twins wrestled Funk & Dustin Rhodes. Sid came out and so did Jarrett, who hit the bell ringer with a guitar and ran away with Sid on the chase. They really need to pay more attention to quality control because there is nothing lamer than a guy who is supposed to be scared running away from a monster, and a monster who is ready to tear the head off of someone, both in full sprint but both men are running soooo slow. While this was going on and we were backstage, suddenly out of nowhere, Rhodes DDT'd Funk as Jarrett drove away. Rhodes destroyed Funk with a chair. Match just ended at 6:07. He DDT'd him on a chair, delivered a hard chair shot and Madden said that he just hoped Funk would be able to find his way home, which would be a funny line except it's more sad than funny. As they were about to put Funk in the ambulance, Rhodes attacked him again and then attacked the driver and drove the ambulance away. They have police arrest people on wrestling for the lamest things, like stealing a Demon costume, but if you carjack an ambulance, that's cool. Sid did an interview saying he'd wrestle Jarrett at Uncensored. The crowd booed, which showed how much they want to see them wrestle again. Bagwell beat Maestro on 2:03 with the blockbuster when Ernest Miller distracted Maestro. Maestro knocked Symphony accidentally right out of her dress on a collision spot. Maestro looked good in this match. Miller gave Maestro new music since Maestro lost the bet, and the music sounded like you'd give someone who had just lost a bet. Maestro liked it so much he put the cobra clutch on Billy Silverman, who word has it did the vocals on the song. They showed clips of WCW Saturday Night where Robert Gibson's father was feuding with Duggan over the TV title. Gibson did a promo where he talked about that belt as one of the things that made the Rock & Roll Express. Somebody explain that one to me. Wall pinned Bigelow with a choke slam off the ropes in 4:10. Flair was backstage yelling at Arn Anderson and David Flair. Somewhere over the last 24 hours, David ditched the screaming girl who does the great huracanranas and went totally sane, although that was one of those mysterious storyline holes that the few people left watching magically have to fill in for themselves. Flair & Luger then beat up Jimmy Hart and threw him into the sharpest brand of popcorn available. They continued to beat on Hart for several minutes through a commercial break until Hogan came out. Remind me never to pall around with Hogan or Sandman. Hogan and Luger went 9:23 and even though it was a cage match, Flair interfered whenever he felt like it. The crowd went nuts for everything Hogan did and the bout had tremendous heat, which will probably only serve to make morale worse and hurt the company more in the long run. Luger racked him but Hogan no-sold it and made his comeback and hit the legdrop. Flair came in and got legdropped as well. Hogan was pounding on both until Luger hit him with a chair and Flair started whipping him with a belt. The show ended with Luger doing the arm in a chair gimmick on Doug Dillenger. That's a great main event for Uncensored, Hogan & Dillenger vs. Flair & Luger if they can't convince Sting to wrestle
Some notes on the "Ready to Rumble" movie. The movie pushed Nitro, TNT and WCW a lot. We read a review from a fan who liked the movie a lot, but felt it would be a hard sell to non-wrestling fans. The sound effects were said to be great. The filming of a Nitro at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles looked bad because in every camera angle, the arena looked small. The climax was filmed at the Olympic and it looked like there were only about 1,000 in attendance (in the movie the climax was a PPV event from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas). They did a spot where DDP was wrestling in a three cage set-up and took a bump through all three cages. The movie made the WCW world title mean more than anything they've ever done on their own television show as the fired and wrongfully defeated former champion (the Bret Hart role played by Oliver Platt) risked his life to get the title back. The heel promoter, the McMahon role, although the role itself was written for Eric Bischoff to play but then he was fired and a real actor got it. DDP is an undercard heel who has hated the champion for 15 years (the Shawn Michaels role). The guy playing the Hart role is called "The King." In the movie, the only people who know about the double-cross are the promoter and Page. There is even a Stu Hart role played by Martin Landau as a very old retired wrestler who tortures everyone who wants to learn old style wrestling. They also had an evil Nitro Girl in cahoots with the promoter played by Rose McGowan. Sting and Goldberg are said to come off the best in the film. Sting has five minutes in the movie but has the best scene at the end. Goldberg had the most lines and scenes but didn't play his wrestling character as most of the footage of him was either backstage or at the gym speaking in his normal voice. It was said he was green as a performer but had great presence. Sid Vicious and Perry Saturn were said to be funny as fumbling henchmen
Ric Flair, officially, isn't running for Governor of North Carolina. He missed the Republican filing, but talked about running on the Reform party ticket, but clearly he'd have no chance as an independent. Realistically it seems like it was more of a publicity stunt to test the waters than something he was going to seriously do at this point. Contrary to reports, Flair has not signed a new contract with WCW although negotiations are going on for a new deal. Flair's current contract calls for him to earn $500,000 this year and to not wrestle in the ring and work more in a p.r. capacity, and clearly he's still going to be used in the capacity of a wrestler and probably wind up working more house show dates than any other major star in the company
Nash has been talking about doing an angle where he has amnesia. Like the last time (Cactus Jack) they did that angle it was even remotely entertaining
Thunder tapings on 2/15 from the First Union Spectrum in Philadelphia was a disaster far worse live than it came off on television, and on television it was a dead show with unusually bad wrestling and a cold crowd. The entire show had to be changed because it was built around Vicious, who missed the show claiming a concussion. They opened with matches taped for syndication including one for the bloopers reel where Demon's casket wouldn't open for two or three minutes. Then came the dreaded long delay No. 1. The pyro went off and they started Thunder, which was to lead to the deal with Hall, Jarrett and Taylor. A correction from what was reported here last week. The angle was always to end up with Jarrett hitting Taylor with the guitar. More details on the situation with Hall. Hall had problems first on the plane going to Germany, where he apparently got sick and was harassing Taylor the entire weekend in Germany. Reports were that Taylor showed incredible patience for just putting up with him. He got into a fight with sometime girlfriend Emily Sherman (the niece of Turner exec Brad Siegel who actually oversees the entire division) including the cake throwing incident. As punishment, Hall had to put over Finlay on the first night of the tour. He was messed up the entire weekend including at the bar including trying to pick fights. When he went to the airport to leave, due to the condition he was in, the authorities wouldn't allow him to board the plane, which caused him to miss Nassau Coliseum. He arrived in Philadelphia bragging that all that resulted was that he got to spend another night at a four-star hotel in Germany and got a night off work. In the dressing room, he apparently made a threat that he was going to do something to Taylor in the ring, which some are saying was probably more of a rib than anything serious but that is also the minority reaction as to what happened, but it was taken seriously and he was pulled from the segment. This led to roughly a 35 to 40 minute delay in the building before Thunder started while this mess was being sorted out, and before Hall left the building (to head to the bar where he was bragging that they couldn't fire him because of his testimony being so important in the WWF's lawsuit against WCW). The problem with that mentality is that it doesn't matter what Hall says in the lawsuit, his credibility is going to be eaten alive in court by Jerry McDevitt based on his own background in both WWF and WCW. While this was going on backstage, Dave Penzer was trying to kill time telling jokes which only made things worse because the crowd was killing him. The reaction was strongly negative, but they weren't throwing things at him and it never threatened to become violent. Finally Taylor came out and made up a story about a hotel altercation between Vicious and Hall to explain why neither was on TV, but also mentioned Vicious having a concussion and explained that WCW needed to protect its world title match on the PPV. It wound up with the Harris twins and Jarrett attacking Taylor and Jarrett giving him a guitar shot and they spray painted feathers, I mean NWO, on his back. In the cruiserweight tournament semifinals, it was announced that Psicosis couldn't get across the border due to visa problems (which I believe was a true story), so they put Kaz Hayashi, who Psicosis beat in the first round, to lost to TAF KAPI (Artist) in 2:54 with a jumping DDT while coming off the ropes. Picture the move Shinjiro Otani debuted many years back against Chris Benoit. This was the same move, only it didn't look anything close to it. They teased a Paisley vs. Miss Hancock confrontation before Charles Robinson ordered both to be sent to the back. These two didn't work well together and it was a disappointing match. Wall pinned Smiley in 3:05 with a choke slam. Horrible match. Wall choke slammed Smiley off the apron through a table after the match and Smiley did a stretcher job, which is to lead to him going into SuperBrawl against 3 Count in the one-on-three match injured to explain his loss there, with the idea I guess that 3 Count will get heat since it'll be their first high profile win but it was 3-on-1 over a near dead guy. Abbott KO'd Van Hammer in 42 seconds. Hammer got to slam Abbott. This Abbott thing isn't working because nobody believes his stuff is real. As Dan Severn in WWF showed, there is no entertainment value in a UFC guy who can't work, and Severn was a better worker than Abbott, doing entertainment pro wrestling. Unless they can convince the audience that "everything else on the show is entertainment but this isn't," and that is going to be very difficult, this has no chance. Luger & Flair did an interview. Funk & Dustin Rhodes came out and challenged them to a tag match. Funk said Dustin was way better than his old man ever was and Dustin and Mike Tenay both reacted to the line so it appears they are planting the seed for Dusty's return, which is a feud this company really needs as part of its rebuilding process. Harris Twins beat Vampiro & Kidman in 4:14 when Vampiro first walked out, then came back and ended up taking a chair shot meant for Kidman and getting pinned. Vampiro saving Kidman by sacrificing himself one week before their grudge match on PPV? If there is a logic to this, it escapes my understanding. Crowd was dead and it was a really bad match. It's something when even Kidman's matches are bad. Big Vito pinned Crowbar in 3:25 in a backstage street fight. Generally speaking, since WWF does these matches weekly and WCW does them too often, they are usually kind of numbing weapon shots with no purpose, build or meaning. Except for the fact these two worked too fast, like they were rushing from blow to blow, this was way better than most. They ended up fighting on a forklift that Disco Inferno raised, which set up a back suplex off the forklift onto the roof on a car. Vito ended up getting the pin with an elbow drop off a platform onto the roof of the car. This was the best thing on the show. Ref Mark Johnson pinned Ref Mickey Jay in 1:51 thanks to help from Don Harris. This will build up a rematch next week on Thunder. This was horrible. These angles with non-workers only work when they've done a great job of building it up. Fans booed this from the start and while there has been an issue in the past, it was never emphasized by the announcers in the past and thus it never registered with the fans, making this awful TV. In a match with Finlay vs. Knobs with Jimmy Hart as ref with the gimmick all three had broken arms, Finlay had Knobs pinned but Hart went to make the count with his bad hand and oversold the arm injury. Bobby Heenan noted that Hart had a long history with Knobs, which is true, but forgetting (and I'm sure everyone did forget) that they turned on each other not that long ago. Knobs hit Finlay with the cast and Hart fast counted him with his left hand. Hogan did an interview saying he'd wrestle at SuperBrawl with a broken arm anyway. They had taped an interview the previous day but somehow the tape didn't take. The plan was for Hart to do the interview (of course not taking into account that Hart was doing a heel ref finish the previous match and Hogan is a babyface in red and yellow), but they managed to secure a satellite hook-up to Tampa for the interview. Flair & Luger beat Funk & Rhodes when Liz clipped Rhodes with the bat, then Luger hit Rhodes with the bat and Flair put the figure four on him for the pin in 5:52. Crowd was dead and the match was really bad. Rhodes' timing was off and he hasn't been motivated in years. Funk has wrestled far too often of late and it shows. He had good matches when he first came back but the last few weeks he's been looking bad. Not to mention the way he's been booked is death anyway, which you can tell since he was even booed as a face in Philadelphia. Flair was the only one who was okay, and maybe passable is a better word. The show ended with Nash banning the Harris Twins from the building at SuperBrawl so Jarrett will have to win it on his own, and Jarrett clocked Nash with the guitar as the show went off the air
Sonny Onoo is attempting to recruit several of the fired Mexican wrestlers into race discrimination lawsuit. Where WCW is going to look really bad is not with Onoo, Harrison Norris or Bobby Walker, but if they can bring into the suit wrestlers that have headlined and been successful elsewhere (Magnum Tokyo, Ultimo Dragon, Cima and Hector Garza) who were all given no chance whatsoever in WCW and were given ideas for demeaning characters and combine it with the comments made by Vince Russo in that interview about no Japanese or Mexican wrestlers can get over in this country, combined with things like the pinata match and the tequila bottle finish, and let's face it, particularly since the company is a Turner company based in Atlanta
Speaking of Garza, those who know him say that even though he's only making half the money as a main eventer in Mexico that he made as one of the lowest paid guys in WCW, he's said to be much happier
Steiner's suspension is said to be for 90 days
Flair met with Jesse Ventura on 2/16 in Minneapolis, being in town for a fundraising event, largely to talk about potentially running for office, which isn't going to happen at this point but he's still talking about trying to do it in the future
WCW wanted Bret Hart on the Germany tour to do his interviews on the shows as a heel. Hart, who was the most popular wrestler in Germany for most of the 90s, thought the idea was nuts and went out, immediately got a huge face response, and did a face promo
A correction on "Beyond the Mat," the only WCW announcers who have talked about it are Schiavone and Tenay. Heenan never talked about it and never saw it
WCW taped Saturday Night on 2/16 in Bethlehem, PA and actually did a few angles. Jim Duggan came out and was emptying the garbage in the ring and found the TV title belt, and now he's the champion. For a company that wants to put plausibility into its product and make the titles mean something, I'm not sure any of this--getting a belt out of the garbage can is a way to decide a title to make it mean anything; bringing back a title that can't mean anything because there are already enough meaningless belts; or putting a belt on Duggan at age 46 when the idea should be to build for the future--makes sense. Anyway, Duggan retained the belt against Gibson and that built to a retirement match where he beat Steve Regal. It's really too bad that stipulations like retirement matches and loser leaves town used to actually build up the gate in the old days when fans actually believed the wrestler who lost would have to leave. They also brought Bagwell back on this show and had PG-13 lose when challenging the Mamalukes for the tag titles
Do you want to know how silly mind control is? WCW ran a contest involving Flair and Hogan. I'm actually not sure what the contest was for. Anyway, we got numerous reports from people who said when you vote for Flair, the vote total for Hogan automatically increases by five. In that same vein, Chris Jericho's fiance recently came across a WCW doll package with a doll of Jericho and Malenko which he didn't have so she bought it for him. On the receipt, the names listed on the merchandise were Hogan and Sting, so in other words it went into the accounting for Hogan and Sting merchandise
Billy Kidman was on the LAW on 2/19 and said that he realized by Hogan's comments about him that there is going to be no spot on the top for him and was very down on working for the company. Chris Kanyon was also on the show. Kanyon said that Busch at a meeting some time back had promised anyone if they wanted a release he'd give it to them. Busch promised Kanyon he'd make a decision by 2/18. Kanyon said when he finally got a hold of Busch that Busch asked him to stick it out another month and see if things got better. Kanyon said that was unacceptable and now claims he's going to do whatever he can to cause problems and get fired (he appears to have a job waiting for him in WWF). He was also mad because J.J. Dillon made a statement about he only worked 55 dates in 1999, but Kanyon said that he was working for the company which assigned him to do a lot of the wrestling choreography to both the Jesse Ventura movie and "Ready to Rumble" and including his movie work, he was on the road 235 days last year. Onoo was on the show and was very negative toward Russo, saying his comments about nobody caring about Japanese and Mexican wrestlers were a major part of the lawsuit. He talked a lot about WCW's treatment of Ultimo Dragon. The basic gist of Dragon's situation is that Bischoff had promised Dragon they would honor the complete term of his contract because his career was ruined by the WCW doctor messing up his elbow surgery. When Bischoff lost power, Busch fired Dragon with a few months left on his deal as a cost-cutting measure. He also talked about a lot of racist things that were said in WCW. The problem with this logic is that while minorities were treated as stereotypes, Onoo had a lot more input into his own character than most and booked himself as a stereotype. While Russo did make those statements that may look really bad in court, WCW had, just as an example, Yuji Nagata for months and never used him and didn't give people like La Parka a fighting chance to get over long before Russo was ever part of the company. Bischoff did give a lot of top foreign stars the chance to make money in this country, but he didn't give any of them a serious chance to become main eventers as compared with many non-ethnics
Hogan was on Mancow again on 2/18 saying his match with Luger would turn the company around, that nobody under 40 on the WCW roster has any credibility in wrestling (which I'm sure Goldberg will be thrilled at), that Perry Saturn (who ripped on Hogan on his web site) had never drawn a dime and never would, blamed Russo's writing for the current problems in WCW. Hogan needs to go. He's done more to hurt team morale than anyone in the company. The company will never rebuild as long as he's around even though there are ways he could be booked that could be very effective (although I can't come up with one scenario where he could be used that would justify his level of pay), his keeping others down make him not worth whatever potential upside he may have left. Until Bill Busch explains to EVERY wrestler over 40 that their only job left in the company is to make someone under 35 a superstar and anyone who doesn't do it the right way (and there are ways to lose to make it a joke that the opponent doesn't get over and that's not acceptable just losing and making a joke of it) is gone, there is no hope. There is not one exception because all those guys who in their minds think they are stars that are over aren't drawing a dime or a rating at this point. Even if Hogan and Flair both get more reaction than everyone else, the biggest myth in the world is a big pop in a building where the paid attendance is poor means the guy getting a pop is over. If they once drew big ratings and big money that's great for the history books but it has nothing to do with the year 2002 which is the earliest any rebuilding the WCW franchise will pay dividends. Inherently, as shown by the ratings and their lack of drawing power, in the eyes of the public, they all don't mean anything close to what they did--hence the public believes them to be washed up even if they pop for them out of respect, or out of novelty, or because they are very good at working a crowd. They can either freshen up themselves by being a valuable part of the company being freshened up with a new face of stars on top, or they can delude themselves into thinking that this is like golf and the seniors tour can work. Unfortunately, wrestling isn't like golf and that won't work. Not one exception can be made and this is two years overdue already because it's a whole lot easier building new stars when you've pulling a 4.7 than a 2.7 as WWF now and WWF a few years ago can attest. Every wrestler over the age of 40 in that company has to recognize their most valuable role, and ONLY role is as a team player in a rebuilding process or there is no point in them having a job, but too many of them only want to look at the fact the young guys aren't over and point fingers not realizing who killed the company. They have to be used like Terry Funk was effectively in ECW, as the venerable legend who elevated and created stars. The people they are creating don't have to be ready today. If you come up with reasons why they can't get over, you'll find a ton of them, but none more than Johnny Grunge, who was a bad worker, who was slow, overweight and whose only upside is he was kind of funny on promos and a willing bleeder and had a booker who was determined to get him over by having people like the Funks and Mick Foley who were already established stars who by rights had no business ever putting him over, putting him over and having him bleed a lot in the process in gimmick filled matches. The end result was Public Enemy was the most important act for probably a year in a building company and the subject of a bidding war from WWF and WCW when they wanted to move on. This is all living proof that a good booker and some team players can make not just fans, but nearly everyone in the industry, think people with little inherent ability are big stars. They just have to be ready after being groomed for two or three years because nothing is going to be over today anyway. It's better they aren't ready because anyone who would be peaking now is peaking too soon for it to mean anything anyway. No matter what, the short term for WCW is toast. The long-term could be WWF today (highly unlikely but the fact is WCW is doing better business and better TV ratings than WWF was doing not all that many years ago), or it could be AWA today, a decade past folding. The company is still in the mode of killing its future, as it's done for years, trying to find a short-term solution for all the long-term damage it actually started doing back in late 1997 when the company's great short-term ideas actually started working but even then they were sacrificing their future and none of their ideas even when business was monstrous were going to pay off in the long term. It was a matter of time before they had overexposed the older guys and the fans tired of it and they'd have nothing to come back with because the guys who were the future were treated with no respect. No matter what, the company is dead for probably a year at the least, and they've done more harm to potential rebuilding in the last month than ever before. That year or two period grows longer every week because of the continued neglect in recognizing what needs to be done for a real turnaround. Bringing in Roddy Piper and Ultimate Warrior and even putting Hogan on TV are the problem, not the solution. This sounds like a broken record, but the real broken record is the company, that keeps going to the guys who broke the record that continually do the same thing that broke the record, in the role of the people whose jobs it is to fix the record
Of the Power Plant guys working in Nashville, Alan Funk has gotten the highest marks. Kid Romeo also looked good. Chuck Palumbo has great size and they sent Mona to work as his babyface manager
Along those lines, C.G. Afi (Tony Maranera) was fired. The idea was that Disco Inferno took his spot as manager of the Mamalukes. Everyone who saw him raved about Afi's work, although he's already had far too many concussions for a lifetime so maybe there is a valid reason if that's the one. The idea of firing a guy with talent in his early 20s making no money for budgetary reasons that everyone raves about in the ring (who had never a chance to show it due as much to bad timing and injuries) while keeping these guys making 30 or 40 times as much that only hurt the company is yet another problem, but if the guy really had as many concussions as he claims, it may have been the merciful thing to do
And if things couldn't get worse, there is a SuperBrawl ad in a Toledo paper called The Blade that had a photo of Steve Austin
Sting has pulled himself off a run of house show matches. Please don't ask me why he's allowed to do things like that and still get paid what he gets paid
Psicosis still hasn't cleared up his visa problems and missed house shows and TV for the second straight week. Juventud Guerrera was scheduled for Nitro, but since his only role is to second Psicosis, he asked Psicosis if he'd be there and was told that he wouldn't, so he didn't even bother to go to Sacramento either
Thunder tapings on 2/15 in Philadelphia at the Spectrum drew 4,420 paid and 3,740 comps for a gate of $130,825. WCW Saturday Night tapings on 2/16 in Bethlehem, PA drew 1,414 paying $28,900. We don't have complete merchandise numbers for the week but they are working at about a $5.43 per head clip
We've mentioned before that following the house show business is a better indicator of changing trends than TV ratings. If that's the case, things aren't looking good. While the 2/26 debut in Winnipeg has more than 5,000 tickets sold for $173,000 Canadian at press time (most of the tickets were sold when the main event was advertised as Benoit vs. Hart), it is the only decent advance on the books. Nitro on 2/28 in Minneapolis at Target Center has sold less than 3,500 tickets, Thunder the next night in Fargo, ND has sold 1,850 tickets (in a market WCW has done huge business in the past in), Nitro on 3/6 in Chapel Hill, NC has sold less than 1,700 tickets while Thunder the next night in Winston-Salem, NC is looking to be a tomb with 599 tickets sold. Nitro on 3/13 in Providence, RI has a 1,600 advance sale, the Uncensored PPV in Miami has 3,000 tickets sold for $93,000 while Nitro in Gainesville, FL only has 1,300 tickets sold and Thunder at the Orlando Arena has only 1,100 tickets sold. Probably the worst of all is a 3/5 house show at the Independence Arena in Charlotte which has 646 tickets sold.
WWF: 2/27 PPV matches for Hartford, CT are Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Cactus Jack in the Hell in a Cell match, Rock vs. Big Show to set up Rock getting the title match with HHH at Mania, Outlaws vs. Dudleys for the tag titles, Jericho vs. Angle for the IC title, Kane vs. X-Pac in a no holds barred match, Benoit & Malenko & Saturn vs. Too Cool & Rikishi, and Edge & Christian vs. Hardys with the winners getting a tag title shot at Mania
Vince McMahon's comments equating Collette Foley's comments on 20/20 to the Robin Givens interview with Mike Tyson wound up as an item in the New York Post on 2/16. Mick Foley did talk with McMahon at the TV tapings last week in California to express his feelings that he was uncomfortable with his wife being equated with Givens, which gives the public the impression she's a money hungry manipulator. McMahon claimed 20/20 promised the WWF a positive portrayal but portrayed Foley as a pathetic individual, which is totally unfair to the portrayal of Foley on the show which was mainly to question his career choices and the reality is to most people, the choices would be questionable. He gave his answers to the question right on the piece saying he was able to live out his dream and it was worth it. To that end, the story was fair and balanced. McMahon, while not apologizing for the Givens remark in the story, did backtrack and basically did a 180 saying, "I have nothing but respect for Collette. Naturally she's concerned for the welfare of her husband. I was touched by it (her comments on the show)." A 20/20 spokesperson was quoted in the story saying, "You can't wrestle with the facts. Both Mick and Collette collectively participated in an interview that was both fair and balanced." The story said that Foley had unkind words to say about 20/20 and Chris Cuomo, the son of the former New York Governor, who handled the interview. "I was disappointed. I thought Chris Cuomo and I had great rapport. I expected a happy story--that's how I see my retirement. Not sad at all." There is the argument that Foley lasted 15 years in pro wrestling and is retiring at 34, and that most NFL players don't last that long and many football players, including Hall of Famers, are forced out in not a very pleasant fashion. But the flip side of the NFL comparison is that nobody in the NFL would have been able to do the level of cumulative damage to themselves that Foley was able to because they would have stopped them from playing because the competitive aspect of the game would have weeded them out when they physically couldn't run fast enough to play the game at a top level while in wrestling if you make a name for yourself and can do a good interview, you can play with an artificial hip
Raw on 2/21 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta drew 25,036 paid (27,464 in the building although it was announced on TV once as 28,614 and after establishing that number, at least 14 times on the show the crowd was referred to as more than 30,000) and a $676,496 gate. The feud with WCW is so cold that they didn't even rub the crowd in with knocks at WCW. They had the big open. DX came in their bus and Rock, Foley and Kane all came out. Paul Bearer really has dropped a ton of weight. They all brawled. The faces were getting the better of it until Show came out and laid out Rock and Kane with chair shots and HHH gave Cactus a pedigree. Angle & Bulldog beat Jericho & Chyna in 2:47 when Angle pinned Jericho after hitting him with a title belt and doing his reverse firemans carry slam finisher. Too Cool beat Snow & Blackman in 3:10 when Scotty 2 Hotty pinned Blackman with a rolling reverse cradle. Blackman had the match won when Snow told him to dance, and while he hesitated, he got pinned. Malenko & Saturn beat Godfather & Brown in 3:39. Talk about a style clash, you should have seen Malenko try to work with Godfather. Saturn pinned Brown after an elbow off the top. They played up that Saturn wasn't the legal man. They aired a PSA telling kids not to try the things they do in the ring on the playground. Edge & Christian & Hardys beat Outlaws & Dudleys in 8:17. Really good match. Jeff Hardy knocked the hell out of a camera man at ringside and took some unreal bumps. Both teams ended up turning on each other. Buh Buh hit Gunn with a chair and Jeff pinned Gunn with a senton bomb. Edge was mad because he didn't get the pin. Henry & Acolytes beat Hollys & Viscera in the typical turning a rabid building into a library Viscera match in 3:16. Weren't the Hollys feuding with Viscera last week? Bradshaw nearly killed Elroy with a back suplex while standing on the top rope. This match reminded me of WCW booking except the wrestlers were putting forth more effort. Faarooq pinned Crash after a double team power bomb. After the match, Mae Young attacked Crash but Bob laid her out with a clothesline and Viscera splashed her. She did a stretcher job and went out in an ambulance. She may have lost the baby. Benoit pinned Test in 2:28 with a diving head-butt after Guerrero hit Test with a pipe. Guerrero was supposed to wrestle Rikishi next. Rikishi came out on crutches and Guerrero was making fun of him, except he threw down his crutches and gave Guerrero a banzai onto Guerrero's bad arm for the pin in :20. The Radicals all attacked Rikishi until Too Cool made the save. Rikishi gave Saturn the sit out piledriver and they danced. Cactus Jack did another great interview basically saying he was coming off the cage with an elbow onto HHH and that he wanted to be in the main event at Mania. Tazz beat Bossman via DQ in 1:26. Taz had the choke on and Bossman started hitting the mat with a night stick. Albert ran in and laid out Tazz. Show & HHH & X-Pac beat Rock & Kane & Cactus in 10:54. Match was really good and had a ton of heat. X-Pac in particular did a hell of a job but it was another match where everything they did clicked. HHH hit Jack with a fire extinguisher to set up the pin. Actually the finish looked like WCW because the camera totally missed the shot. All six brawled after the match. The finish of the show saw DX in the bus and Jack bust the windows of the bus. The negative about the finish is the spot forced Jack to sprint backstage after everyone to get to the bus and that was disturbing
The WWF signed a new five-year contract with Sky Sports in the U.K. for $35 million starting in May which would provide the station with 440 hours of programming per year, with a schedule of Smackdown, Raw, Livewire, Superstar, Metal, eight PPV events and WWF Classics. WWF also has a deal with Ch. 4 in the UK for Sunday Night Heat and four PPV shows. The WWF is hoping that word of the big money rights fees for programming being paid in England will lead to a bidding war for its American programming as WWF is now producing prime time shows that outrate the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NHL but because of tradition and the general pervasive feeling about what wrestling is, even the low rated NHL which only draws an 0.8 average rating on cable can charge far more for rights to its programming than WWF
Results from the 2/15 show in Fresno, CA for both Heat and Smackdown. They did try-out matches for Super Diablo and Aaron Baker, neither of whom, based on what we're hearing, is in line for getting a contract offer. They thought Diablo wasn't in good enough shape and Baker, who just got a WCW try-out a few weeks back, wasn't impressive. For Heat, Godfather & Brown beat Dudleys via DQ for a chair shot. Rios kept the lightheavyweight title beating Sho Funaki with the double moonsault (with Lita doing a moonsault as well) finish. Jacqueline beat Ivory to keep the womens belt. The Dudleys came out to attack both and were about to power bomb Jacqueline through a table when the Hardys made the save. Snow & Blackman beat Head Bangers clean. Jericho beat Jeff Hardy in an IC title match with interference from both Chyna and Matt Hardy. D-Von Dudley attacked Matt and Buh Buh then did a diamond cutter on Jeff who was then pinned. DX opened the Smackdown show coming out in a DX Express bus. DX did an interview which included asking Foley to bring his wife and kids to the Hell in the Cell match. X-Pac ran down HHH for what happened on Raw. HHH then makes the title matches for the show. Hollys beat up Henry and Mae Young backstage. HHH vs. Kane for the title has a non-finish when DX interfered and also attacked Bearer. They also beat up Kane, threw him in the luggage compartment of the DX bus and the bus drove off taking Kane from the arena. Chyna beat Angle via DQ when Angle hit Chyna with the European title belt until Jericho made the save. Henry & Young went to the Acolytes to get back at the Hollys but they turned them down. Young then played poker and smoked their cigars and won all their money, so they had to give them protection. Tazz beat Gangrel quickly. Cactus said he couldn't guarantee a win but would guarantee flying off the top of the cage. Cactus vs. X-Pac ended when DX attacked him and threw him in the luggage compartment of the bus which took off taking him out of Fresno. Saturn & Malenko beat Too Cool when Guerrero interfered with a lead pipe. Rikishi came out for the save but Guerrero beat on him with a pipe and Rikishi did a stretcher job. Guerrero & Saturn & Malenko came back to the ring (Benoit wasn't there because Nancy Sullivan went into labor). Guerrero asked for the announcer to do the announcement for a Guerrero vs. Rikishi match, which Guerrero claimed he won via forfeit. Edge & Christian beat Bossman & Albert (aren't they feuding?) but Bossman & Albert beat on them afterwards until security broke it up. Henry beat Hollys in a handicap no DQ match when Mae Young gave her winnings back to the Acolytes and in exchange they beat up the Hollys to give Henry the win. In a handicap match, Outlaws vs. Rock was no decision when DX interfered. HHH made it Rock & Show as a team but Rock refused to have Show as a partner and said he wanted the people as his partner. Rock had Gunn pinned when Big Show came out. DX attacked Rock and threw him into the bus. DX jumped into the bus and drove off, but Rock escaped from the bus and clocked Show with a 2x4. After the show ended, Rock and Show came back to the ring and Rock did the rock bottom and people's elbow and some mic work
Luna Vachon was let go. There was an incident in California where she allegedly taped the mouth shut of a TV producer. She claimed the producer was her friend and it was a rib but the producer was very upset about it. When she was re-hired the last time, since she's had a history of blow-ups both before and during her WWF career, she was told that the company wasn't going to put up with any problems. This isn't expected to effect the career of her husband Gangrel in any form
Murray Harper & Mike Maverick (Dupp Brothers) are expected to start shortly. Also ready to start include Trish Stratus and Caryn Mawr as new women and the former Jason Sensation, possibly as a heel manager. WWF was very close to signing Chase Tatum, and he even had a meeting with Vince McMahon, but he didn't present himself well in the meeting and the decision to hire him Continued on page 18.
THE READERS PAGES
RACISM IN WRESTLING
Even though the guys who filed the lawsuit may not be the best examples, there is a problem with the way nonwhite characters have traditionally are continuing to be portrayed on television in this industry. Do you really believe there are no black, hispanic, Asian or Samoan characters that could be portrayed as being just as smooth, articulate and athletically gifted as Ric Flair? This is not to say others could earn equal legendary status, but they could have the same character portrayals, whether heel or babyface. I know people will bring up Booker T. Yes, he is a great athlete, but his portrayal is still that of a soul brother. I'm not saying there is something wrong with that, but that's not the best positive representation of a black man and it's not the only role we can play successfully or accurately.
There isn't anything wrong with Booker T's character but "can you digit sucka" shouldn't be the only positive representation of us out there. In the Marvel and DC comics universe there are many great and some legendary heroes an characters. Have you ever wondered why almost all the ethnic and nonwhite characters suck? Why don't they have successful nonwhite versions of Batman and Superman? It is because nonwhites don't possess the attributes that these characters have? Or could it be because all the nonwhite character roles are written by white men who have a very narrow and sometimes stereotypical perception of what nonwhite people are all about. This is relevant to the wrestling industry as well.
With the exception of Dwayne Johnson, do you really believe that nonwhites don't possess the charisma, the cosmetic look, the athletic ability and the ability to articulate that people like Flair, Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin possess? Or could it be that the nonwhite characters are booked, and given gimmicks in a while male dominated industry, by white males who have narrow and often stereotypical views of what people want white males to be about?
As far as the lawsuit, even if you choose to laugh at the guys bringing the suit, you have a journalistic responsibility to treat the issue itself with seriousness. Not many in this industry have tried to put ethnics in non stereotypical roles. Vince McMahon has with Dwayne Johnson and Jonathan Coachman. WCW did with Bill Watts giving us Ron Simmons as world champion. I know that you and many others aren't too fond of Watts, but I personally appreciated the Ron Simmons decision. There was the video clip of a little black kid that they kept showing the night Simmons won the belt, going crazy with excitement and enthusiasm over seeing a black world champion. I'm a grown man and I felt the same way as that kid. We need to see more of that, with all the races involved. I'm not an extremist who feels that all minority portrayals in entertainment should be positive, but the truth is there should be more positive, non stereotypical portrayals in this business.
A lot of people listen to you and the majority of the smart marks on the internet quote you verbatim. The journalistic side of the industry does influence fan perception. It was very good for you to ask Rey Misterio Jr. about this issue. One thing about the Hispanic brothers is they went out and created their own style and made their own legends. Whether or not they are ever accepted in the American scene, they still have their history and their own legends and a place they are respected to fall back on. The same is true for the Asian athletes. But for blacks, we have always leaned toward trying to assimilate the culture of people that just don't want to see us as equals, contemporaries or superiors.
I wish we had our own style, our own legends and our own federations, but we don't. We need people like you to help change the public perception of how nonwhites should be promoted in this industry. That will never happen if you just laugh at these kind of lawsuits and leave it at that. When I heard about the lawsuit, I laughed as well. But the actual issue is a serious one. Not everyone was blessed with the gift of clear self-expression. Maybe these guys are calling attention to a very real situation in the only way they know how. I don't want to call your show to discuss this because it takes you off on tangents that the producers are not ready for and may not feel comfortable with. It's not a show about race relations, but about pro wrestling. I only ask when racial issues are raised on your show, you treat them with the dignity and sensitivity they deserve. Your opinions reach and effect a lot of people.
I was talking to a friend of mine who also just didn't get it. He thought the Simmons push was just Watts trying to recreate JYD and in itself may have been racist in its overtones. He also felt Booker T is a positive image because he doesn't wear baggy pants with his hat turned backwards. I don't have anything against the Booker T character or that Harlem Heat has been pushed many times over the years. My point is when you think about black wrestlers, who do you come up with? Godfather, D-Lo Brown, New Jack, Stevie Ray, Booker T. The one you don't think about is Dwayne Johnson and it's not because he's half Samoan. It's because he's not scripted to play a black character. He is scripted as a great character, who just happens to be black. Goldberg, Dean Malenko and Raven are Jewish but when you think about them, you never think about them as being Jewish because they are booked and scripted not as Jewish characters. You don't see them on TV doing stereotypical Jewish or Yiddish speech patterns and behavioral mannerisms and that's what I'm talking about.
The first thing I'm asked is "Who can do that?" or "Who can play those roles because I don't see them" and that's my point exactly. You don't see them because they're not promoted or booked that way. Regardless of the qualifications of the people featured in this lawsuit, if they can bring about more awareness of this issue and lead to more nonwhites being featured in nontraditional roles in this industry, then it's a good thing.
I'm writing in response to Anthony Evans' letter in the 12/27 issue about British wrestling. I read his letter with interest, but I feel i must put things straight about the domestic scene, which he said was non-existent. British home-grown wrestling has been in a terrible state for the past 15-20 years, and still is, yet, paradoxically, it is now looking healthier than it has in a long time.
I worked in the wrestling business in a non-competitive capacity for a number of years, but quit in 1998, as I felt no matter what our promotion did, British wrestling could never be what it was in the 60s and 70s when wrestlers would work seven days a week, with frequent weekend double shots. In those days, there would be four or five shows each day, and when in London's Royal Albert Hall, even minor members of the Royal Family would sometimes be in attendance.
In the years I worked in the business during the 90s, I never worked in front of more than 300 to 400 people, never made anything bordering on respectable money. In fact, when anyone asked me what kind of money I made from wrestling, I'd talk my way around the answer. Yet the wrestlers on these shows were honestly some of the most talented guys I've ever seen anywhere besides obvious big-time superstars.
It was the arrival of the WWF and WCW which, although it didn't kill off the British wrestling business on its own, certainly drove one of the final nails into its coffin. As Evans' letter stated, British promoters refused to evolve and that killed the domestic scene to the point that television coverage was taken away and never came back in 1988. The UWA, a promotion which aired for about four months last year on a cable channel which nobody took seriously due to the fact the rest of the station verged on the pornographic, has already seemingly bitten the dust. What people in the U.S. and U.K. often fail to understand is the geographical differences between the two countries.
Britain was, once upon a time, a very powerful and influential country, and able to compete culturally with the United States. But that was a long time ago. The entire British Isles are half the size of the state of California. However, the general public in the U.K. still expects us as a nation to be able to compete with the United States. The U.S. has more than 100 arenas that have "the look" of being major league facilities. Britain has four or five, two in London. The British population is a tiny percentage of that of the United States, so that narrows down the number of fans you can attract as well as the numbers of people wanting to become wrestlers.
Realistically, British wrestling could only compare itself with Memphis Power Pro or a small NWA promotion. One of the more consistent U.K. promotions, Hammerlock Wrestling, can realistically compare itself to other NWA members like New England or Music City. However, the fans here expect a British company to be comparable with WWF or WCW, which is impossible. This is why British promotions find it impossible to get a terrestrial television deal. Ch. 5 shows WCW and Ch. 4 just started showing WWF. About 18 months ago, both stations were rumored to be interested in screening domestic British wrestling, but take a look at what wrestling they chose to air.
Name withheld by request
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Venis has been slowed of late by a neck injury
Stevie Richards is expected back in a few more weeks
At this point it looks like Taka Michinoku won't return until mid-March from his separated shoulder
Matt Hardy also had a separated shoulder (not a torn rotator cuff as has been reported). It was only a minor separation at that
Chyna did well enough on "3rd Rock from the Sun" that she is being brought back for two more episodes this season. The next Reagan book, due out in June, is her autobiography. They are even planning a Moolah autobiography for later this year
They had to redo some parts of the recent Raw magazine (cover of the Radicals) because of comments said by Benoit and Saturn which could have been taken as breaking the terms of their release because they aren't allowed to publicly speak disparagingly about WCW
We're told if WCW fires Scott Hall that WWF wouldn't take him under any circumstances and they have soured on Kevin Nash as well as they like the idea of building the company around hungry young wrestlers that aren't as into the political games of holding onto their spots and keeping talent down. They are interested in Chris Kanyon if he got out of his WCW deal
Jim Hellwig's lawsuit against the WWF is scheduled to go to trial in March
Glenn Kulka was fired by the week on 2/18. The funny part about this was that it was on their web site he was fired before anyone in the company actually called him to tell him
The date of Rock hosting "Saturday Night Live" is 3/18
There was at one point talk of doing a new Fabulous Freebirds consisting of Michael Hayes & Joe Hichlen & Tom Carter (Reckless Youth) but the idea has been dropped. Hichlen hasn't started because his visa situation hasn't been worked out
Yoshihiro Asai (Ultimo Dragon) will be attending the 2/28 Madison Square Garden show. He's going mainly as a fan as there are no business meetings scheduled between he and the WWF. WWF, WCW and ECW could do a lot worse then picking up some of his wrestlers even though they are mostly pretty small, particularly Dragon Kid, and Dragon Kid really isn't that great in singles matches, and is more of a spectacular spot guy for trios matches
HHH was on Mancow a few weeks back ripping on everyone in WCW, claiming Goldberg was a prima donna flash in the plan who gets injured and sits out whenever things don't go his
way and said he didn't know if McMahon would even hire him (that may go down as the stupidest statement made by a wrestler so far this year), said he personally didn't like Hart, knocked Hogan for putting on tiny trunks in his 50s (he's 46) with his stuff flapping all over the place and looking horrible, said Flair was the man and his promos are often the best thing on the show but knocked him for wearing little trunks with his boobs flapping and said he looks frail. Have you ever wondered how many of today's top wrestlers would look bad in little trunks based on the HGH and steroid standards everyone has to live up to if they weren't all gassed up
Marilyn vos Savant, listed as being in the Hall of Fame for having the world's highest IQ in the "Guiness Book of World Records" when asked about pro wrestling in her Parade Magazine column over the weekend said, "I think pro wrestling is great, harmless entertainment. And no, I don't think The Hulkster would hit a woman. Why, I don't think he would even hit a man!
Expect this to be added to the list of screw-job finishes when Jason Sensation starts here as a heel manager. In an "I Quit" match, he does a perfect imitation of the protege's or his own opponent's voice and the ref believes the opponent has quit. They did that finish over the weekend at an Apocalypse Wrestling Federation show in Toronto
Many of the WWF women were in the Dominican Republic this past week doing a swimsuit shoot for magazine and video based on the success of the WCW's Nitro Girls swimsuit video. Newcomer Trish Stratus was part of the shoot
WWFE stock closed at press time on 2/22 at
$11.81 per share so there has been no recovery since the XFL announcement
WWF the Music Volume Four fell to No. 121 on the charts this past week selling 14,591 units
Smackdown taping on 2/15 in Fresno, CA drew a sellout 7,614 paying $213,705. 2/19 in Knoxville drew 14,834 paying $436,960. 2/20 was a split crew with half going to Augusta, GA and drawing 6,047 paying $168,811 and the other half drawing a sellout of 8,237 paying $219,202 in Columbus, GA (which would be the largest gate in that market in history). The headline in Knoxville was Rock & Phatu over HHH & Show, Augusta was Cactus & Test over Outlaws via DQ and Columbus was Rock & Kane over HHH & X-Pac. Merchandise for the week including the Georgia Dome was $422,594 or $6.84 per head.