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July 17, 2000 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: WCW Bash at the Beach with big angle reviewed, plus tons of news

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 July 17, 2000

It all started in late 1995 at the coffee table of the strength coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Kim Wood's house.

Brian Pillman was 33 years old. His body was breaking down from the years of football and high flying wrestling. His contract was due the next summer. His future was stable in that there was little doubt he'd be able to renew his deal, probably for at about the $250,000 per year on a three-year deal at the level he was at. But, like every branded mid-carder in WCW, he was frustrated that he wasn't going to elevated and felt unless he got a Lex Luger level contract, he'd never be pushed past the glass ceiling into the main mix. Unlike others who just got frustrated waiting for the their push that never came unless they left the company, he decided to formulate a plan. He and Wood, who was like his father figure because his natural father died young, formulated this angle. The idea was he'd come up with an angle with Eric Bischoff and Kevin Sullivan, who were running the company, that he had gone nuts and was doing things on camera he wasn't supposed to. The angle was to work the boys and use the internet, then in its infancy, to make himself into a major topic of discussion and that nobody, except Bischoff and Sullivan, would be in on it. The brilliance of the work from his perspective is that he would tell Bischoff and Sullivan they were the only ones in on it, and they'd work together with him to create scenarios, have occasional blow-ups in front of the wrestlers, to work them. But in reality the work was designed to work Bischoff into giving him a big contract as what Bischoff would feel was a self created new star, which would guarantee him a push that contract would afford him at the time when physically he knew his skills were declining.

The rest, as they say, was history. He lived the work to where it consumed him and became him. He was living in character to the point his few friends he let in on it by the end wanted nothing to do with him because he wouldn't, and probably couldn't, drop the act. There are probably some good Andy Kaufman analogies. It set the stage for the modern pro wrestling angle, particularly in WCW. And it was apropos, because in the end, all that talk never drew anyone a dime. After weeks of what appeared to be unprofessional behavior both on television, and confrontations with Bischoff behind the scenes in front of witnesses, Bischoff, who was doing the announcing at the time, would constantly give the impression he was getting legitimately frustrated with Pillman, making quick comments that Pillman was on the verge of being fired. Then came an in-ring incident where he locked up with Kevin Sullivan, and Sullivan went after his eye on live TV in what appeared to be a few second shoot. I only knew of one or two people during that week who thought it wasn't, one was a wrestler friend of Sullivan's, who got his start training with Sullivan who said the way he did his shot in the takedown wasn't how Sullivan would fight if tested. I thought Sullivan blew the angle by making reference to it on WCW Saturday night like it was a shoot, the idea if it was unscripted, it wouldn't be mentioned, but his comments were obvious works. Then they did the "I respect you, Booker man" match a week later and Pillman walked off. People were stunned. I was told by the one person backstage who knew it was a work that as it played out, it seemed that besides him, only Disco Inferno saw through it as he said something to the effect that they've been working the boys. That didn't stop. Pillman, in order to make the angle more effective, had Bischoff work the entire office. He even talked them into sending him a real termination notice and a contract release. That would guarantee even the most skeptical of the wrestlers, given after a while wrestlers started catching on, would believe it. All of a sudden, he started negotiating early with Vince McMahon. Truth be told, Pillman originally never had any intention of going to the WWF. His idea was to negotiate with the WWF only because it would make him seem more important for Bischoff to keep after Bischoff had done his prized angle with him, being that WCW paid better and WWF didn't offer guaranteed contracts, even though he recognized there was more upward mobility in the WWF, particularly since at this time their biggest star, Shawn Michaels, was about his size while all the WCW main eventers were a lot bigger. Somewhere in there, he was to make a surprise appearance at a Nitro. At this point, because of the termination notice, the people in the company really thought he was gone. He went to ECW, by this time Paul Heyman was added to the list of the few who were in on the deal and loved the idea of Pillman, who was becoming the underground hero, on his underground TV show because the ECW fans went crazy whenever Pillman showed up. Heyman, like Pillman, had his own secret relationship at the time with WCW to allow Pillman to work his television while shooting his angle. Before all this, but after his "booker man" angle, he went to a Nitro to sit in the crowd, hold up a sign for his 900 line, and cause a commotion. When Hulk Hogan saw just how much of a buzz there was for Pillman, and the word basically out in wrestling by this time that it was all a work, he immediately wanted him to work with him, and beat him of course, so Pillman was added to the legendary match at WCW Uncensored that year, a two-on-eight triple decker cage match in which Hogan & Savage were going to beat eight different heels, including cameos by Ze Gangsta (who drew two huge PPV houses against Hogan in the 80s as Zeus) and the late muscular giant Jeep Swenson as The Ultimate Solution. Pillman, sensing it would be the worst match in wrestling history (and it was damn close), didn't want any part of it, plus felt it was too soon to come back--it was the very next PPV after the booker man line, to return. To make it worse he'd be put in a match that couldn't possibly benefit his or anyone's career to be in. He did have a legit medical excuse not to appear, which he used, although he under normal circumstances would have worked it being it was a PPV main event. Even as late as the live pre-game show, they were billing him as appearing in the main event in a Steve Austin Survivor Series like promotional ripoff. Probably at about this time, Sullivan sensed that he was the one being worked. Sullivan never believed Pillman even had the throat operation he claimed he was recovering from in the first place, although he really did. And then Pillman started negotiating with WWF, who, much to his surprise, offered him a downside guarantee with the opportunity for more, a unique deal at the time in the WWF that would set the stage for all the company's contracts.

In the middle of all this, Pillman, who was so whacked out playing this loose cannon persona on local radio and in his private life and never sleeping, that he fell asleep at the wheel of a humvee he'd bought while on an insane spending spree, was thrown 40 feet into a field, where he was lying in a pool of his own blood. His face was so swollen that his friends who visited him couldn't even recognize him. Because everything else was a work, people believed the accident was as well, and even medical documents and police reports couldn't convince the wrestlers who had been worked once that anything in this world, or at least Pillman's world, was real. By this point, Sullivan, as paranoid as Pillman was a loose cannon, was insisting to everyone he knew that Pillman had worked his own accident. His facial injuries Sullivan told everyone was really plastic surgery so he could look like Shawn Michaels for a feud. Pillman already had the bad ankle from football, which explained that operation. Pillman was scared he'd blown his gig, but gave the impression to McMahon and Bischoff the doctors said he'd be able to return and his ankle, bad from football, would actually be stronger due to the surgery and he'd be back near 100 percent. Secretly he was scared to death he'd destroyed the future of his family by getting into a car wreck while executing his master plan, and be left with no job. As it turned out, both companies remained interested. The story of this angle ended when McMahon's offer stayed on the table. Bischoff, playing hardball on the negotiations from the start and apparently skeptical of his ability to return, refused to drop the 90-day injury termination window. Fearing that he'd never work again, he felt he had no choice in the contract matters at this point. As everyone knows, the Pillman story in no way had a happy ending. But in changed pro wrestling forever.

Bischoff loved working the people and the boys, even if no money was involved, which led to some of worked shoot angles, most of which drew no money. Does anyone remember Eddy Guerrero doing that shoot interview one night on Nitro? Guerrero still wound up in the same position. WCW did more angles from that point on to work the boys. It led to a total lack of trust in management, and ultimately to the destruction of the company. At one point there was actually talk of pretending a wrestler had died in a plane accident because of how much publicity Buff Bagwell's real broken neck, taking place on a live Thunder episode, received. Survivor Series 1997, one month after Pillman's death, changed the business even more than Pillman.

Hogan was involved in many of these. Remember his retirement in late 1998? That was an angle to improve the morale of the boys, who by this time hated Hogan. The guy who rallied the boys against Hogan was Kevin Nash. Hogan and Nash, as the story went, couldn't get along, and when Nash got the book, Hogan retired from wrestling. The wrestlers celebrated. New guys were going to get pushed. In reality, Hogan and Nash were working together planning an angle. Nash would get the respect of the wrestlers for standing up for the rest of the locker room to Hogan and eliminating him. The wrestlers were all led to believe Hogan was gone. Morale went up. Hogan would get a vacation and get to come back as world champion. Nash wouldn't have to do a job to lose the title, and he'd get to end the Goldberg win streak. Were either of those ideas the best for business? Hindsight certainly speaks volumes.

Hogan and Russo worked their own angle last year at Halloween Havoc. It was actually similar to this one, except Hogan was in the Jarrett position, laying down for Sting in the main event. The buy rate for that show was 0.52, a figure they've never come close to since. Hindsight again speaks volumes. But hey, the boys were fooled. If you can fool the boys, you can fool the marks was the dressing room cry. Looking at the WCW business after both of Hogan's previous angles of this type, it points a picture as to who the marks were that were fooled. Certainly Hogan wasn't the mark. He's never been before, and I doubt he will be this time. He looked good. He got to come back on top. The company went into the toilet, cost the company millions as they fell farther and farther behind the competition. But it was the talk of the internet.

Personally, I really thought Sunday's angle was well done for business. The night of the show, from all accounts, since they played this up all week with clues, and played it up big with arguments in front of the boys, it seemed most in the company thought it was real. Several didn't, the natural skeptics and probably more than publicly let on backstage. I actually only had one person in the company call me the night of the show who thought it was a shoot, but everyone who called, thought they were about the only ones who didn't think it was real saying everyone else believed it. By the next morning, the beliefs were starting to change as things worked out too conveniently, but many in the company were still of the belief it was a shoot. The big clue everyone was clinging to was that Eric Bischoff stormed off during the show, flew home as to not be at Nitro, and was getting the word out how mad he was that it all took place. Mad? This was the best received show the company had put on in a long time. If, based on Hogan's explanation of what went down, that Russo reluctantly agreed to a finish, that Brad Siegel and Bischoff also agreed to, and double-crossed Hogan with Jarrett laying down when they got out there, right out of the 1997 Survivor Series playbook, it would be Russo, not Hogan, who was the one whose WCW tenure would be presumed gone. Without the Hogan incident going down the way it did, leading to Russo's speech, the Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett title match would have been a different kind of anticlimactic title win that would have meant nothing.

Hogan gets to be Bret Hart, and swerve himself into the position of trying to be relevant again, just as he's tried by making himself, count 'em, red and yellow Hulk, Stone Cold Terry Bollea and finally the return of Hollywood Hogan to smaller and smaller ratings and attendance figures all year. Russo gets the respect of the dressing room for ridding it of the Hogan cancer and even got to mention names of the frustrated guys to make them feel important, and most importantly, if it worked, he'd have undying loyalty, something a booker needs to get things accomplished, and something no booker in WCW has had in years. He gets to book TV to get the younger guys over and has a whole crew of major names to feud with them when they come back. Why were two belts there? Why wasn't Hogan's mic cut off? If it was a shoot in that situation, and with someone as politically savvy as Hogan, he would have talked longer, and there is no guarantee of what he would say being able to work perfectly into Russo's later speech which was so perfect to get him over as a hero to the boys and the internet types that he lives for getting over to. The fact it made for good television was a rarity, because these type of angles usually aren't great angles. Under those circumstances, it would be Bischoff, not Russo, that would make the speech. Why wasn't Bischoff the peacemaker behind the scenes and why would he leave before the end of the show? Why were the announcers instructed to say Hogan hadn't arrived, the idea of which helped get over there would be a problem, which they teased before it ever happened, and get over the story the company had put out as a shoot (Hogan missing Monday and Tuesday TV, and an inability to come up with a finish of the PPV match because Hogan refused to lose), and then talked about during the show as if it was storyline, when he was already there unless it was priming the public for something. Most importantly, no way it was going into the ring like that. They even had the back story cooked up, pushing it all week. In front of the wrestlers, the word was out that Booker T was going to end the show as world champion. Hogan was going to get to look good and beat Jarrett via DQ due to a Scott Steiner run-in, which happened to also be the basic agreed upon finish for Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels in Montreal, which also had a similar back story evolving behind-the-scenes all week, and when that match was over and became legendary, we knew it's basics would be repeated in rings for years. How would that possibly make sense to lead to a Jarrett vs. T match later with T winning the title, at least having it come off any different from the other million title changes this year that have meant nothing? Even if Cat could make a ruling regarding interference and ordering Jarrett back out, having Booker T and not Hogan come out at that point would be a natural letdown and still leave Hogan far too strong for a guy who he supposedly wanted gone. Though this story certainly took the spotlight in a sense away from T's winning, it added tons more tension to their match. We know Russo is obsessed by the match that made Montreal famous in wrestling, as he's done offshoots of it so many times in both companies, well past the point of them meaning anything. This came off too much like an offshoot of something that only happens once or twice in a lifetime, by people who live for the swerve. But no, Hogan refused to do anything but take the belt clean and Russo's hands were tied. Hogan is perceived as selfish enough and disliked enough in the dressing room that this could happen. But the idea that he'd demand to win a belt that isn't worth anything is where it falls apart. His speech on Bubba the Love Sponge the next day going through all the details, including that he was willing to put Jarrett over in the match if he had to, was too predictable.

It's too soon to say if Bash at the Beach will change the course of WCW's history, like its Survivor Series counterpart did with the WWF nearly three years ago, but it was a lot better than what they've been putting out.

Clearly, if it was a work, the only ones in on it appear to have been Hogan, Bischoff and Russo, and maybe Siegel. Jarrett and T both knew about the later match and T knew he was getting the belt. They even went to the extent of having Johnny Ace book a complicated finish, this time with Hogan winning the title, in front of Jarrett, at least according to Hogan's version of the story he said the next morning with Bubba, as he insisted it was all a shoot, which has been his vehicle for pushing all his recent works.

As for the show itself on 7/9 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, FL, it drew 4,447 paid and 6,572 total for a gate of $127,010 as well as another $25,020 in merchandise. It was announced on the air as a sellout 16,000 in one of the better whoppers told by an announcing team with zero credibility, but in their defense, who did a tremendous job under the circumstances since they clearly weren't clued in, and they made the Booker T vs. Jarrett match seem a whole lot better than it really was.

The show had a storyline throughout involving Cat and the Jung Dragons. At the beginning of the show, Cat got out of the limo and heard their music. They tried to attack him but he laid them all out. They did a few more segments, one with them stalking him and another where they finally laid him out, all based on an old Pink Panther movie.

1. Lt. Loco (Salvador Guerrero III) pinned Juventud Guerrera (Anibal Gonzalez) to retain the cruiserweight title in 12:09. Some good wrestling, although the match wasn't as good as you'd expect since Guerrera was doing a lot of clowning. Loco suplexed him to the floor and gave him a springboard flying body attack and later a high plancha. The FA's came out wearing monster masks while Mark Madden acted like he didn't know who they were. The MIA's came out in masks, with General Rection wearing a Bill Clinton mask. Major Gunns took off her top, causing Guerrera to be distracted and got crotched. A series of reverses and near falls ending with Loco using the tornado DDT for the pin. ***

Cat did more comedy with the Dragons. Jarrett did an interview while Awesome tried to pick up on the fat Viking woman, apparently trying to make a babyface turn by giving him a character that likes large women.

2. Big Vito (Vito LoGrasso) retained the hardcore title beating Norman Smiley & Ralphus (John Ryker) in 5:55. They've long since forgotten about Smiley as World Backyard champion. Thanks God. Smiley was playing chicken. Usual hardcore stuff. Smiley was put in an elevator backstage, leaving Vito with Ralphus. It got horrible, including a baseball bat on a trash can lid on the groin. Vito pulled out a table, which was already broken. He splashed Ralphus through the table for the pin. DUD

Goldberg was backstage with Hall's contract. It was a most remarkable piece of paper, having returned to its original form after being crumpled up as well as eaten on previous TV shows.

3. Daffney (Shannon Spruill) defeated Miss Hancock (Stacey Keibler) in a wedding gown match. They put a wedding cake at ringside. David Flair came out with hair clippers. Hancock did a horrible handspring elbow. First the girls pulled Mark Johnson's pants off. He looked ridiculous. David Flair had his pants pulled off. He looked semi ridiculous. Daffney put Hancock's face in David's crotch. Crowbar ran in and took his own pants off. So then he and David started doing spots. Imagine how ridiculous David Flair usually looks trying to wrestle, and multiply that by having both guys working in their underwear. The shears got involved and there was threats to cut Hancock's hair. Then, as things couldn't possibly get worse, Hancock grabbed the mic, said she knew what everyone came to see, and took off her dress and starting dancing in her panties. They explained she voluntarily lost. It ended up with everyone throwing cake at each other. -*

4. Kronic (Brian Adams & Bryan Clark) won the WCW tag titles from Chuck Palumbo & Sean Stasiak (Sean Stepich) in 13:36. Somehow just four days after their horrible sunburns and goofy tan lines, their skin was perfect and their tans were even. Kronic has a cool ring entrance. This was weird because the match was real bad. Since Clark was hurt, he couldn't do much and looked bad doing so. Adams never looks good. But there were times that the crowd really would be into it and other times the match dragged badly. They did a lot of near falls. In fact, both the PPV and Nitro the next night had a totally different match style that to me since based on All Japan near fall structure, which makes sense with Johnny Ace working here. After a lot of near falls, they did a double-team move where Clark clotheslined Stasiak off the top and Adams pinned him. 1/2*

5. Chris Kanyon (Chris Klucsaritis) pinned Booker T (Booker Huffman) in 10:05. Good match. They did a spot where T took the brick out of the book. Kanyon hit him with the book. T sold it for a near fall, but then got right up, with them explaining it by saying he was playing possum. T did an ax kick and the uranage for near falls before Jarrett came out and hit T with a guitar to lead to Kanyon's pin. ***

6. Mike Awesome (Mike Alfonso) beat Scott Steiner (Scott Rechsteiner) via DQ in 9:11. Awesome always works hard with his Japanese work ethic to make a match. You can't deny Steiner's physical talents. They were having easily the best match on the show until a really lame finish. Steiner used the recliner once. Cat came out and ordered him to break it. Steiner punched cat. Awesome came back with a low blow, and a power bomb with a bridge for a near fall and splash off the top for another near fall. After a ref bump, Cat came into the ring and went to kick Steiner, who moved, so Awesome got it. Steiner gave Cat a belly-to-belly and gave Awesome one and put the recliner on. Cat said he'd strip him of the belt if he put it on. He did, got DQ'd and stripped. Steiner suplexed Awesome after the match and it seemed like there was a slip and Awesome landed wrong. ***1/4

7. Vampiro (Ian Hodgkinson) beat Demon (Dale Torborg) in 6:40 in a pre-taped graveyard match. Asya was also involved. This was like something from a bad Saturday morning kids show. With the bad lighting in the graveyard, it was hard to watch and a total waste of time. They ended up in a river. Vampiro kidnapped Asya. Asya was laying dead and Vampiro came out of a casket and spit stuff in Demon's eyes. Finally Vampiro hit Demon with one of those breakable tombstones (an actual headstone, not a piledriver), put him in a casket, threw him in a grave, and lit it on fire. -**

8. Shane Douglas (Troy Martin) pinned Buff Bagwell (Marcus Bagwell) in 7:53. Shane in his pre-match speech talked about how he was just that damn good. He might as well have said I'm just that minor league repeating a WWF top guys catch phrase. Torrie Wilson came out. At first she slapped Douglas, leading to a Bagwell schoolboy for a near fall. Bagwell then kissed her and she gave him a low blow. Whatever happened to that angle where Bagwell gave all the women those horrible lines and he could never get a date? Douglas used his fisherman suplex for a near fall. Bagwell came back and set up the blockbuster, but Wilson stopped him. Douglas used a reverse atomic drop and a reverse stunner. Wilson is now Douglas' head cheerleader. Douglas is at least good at getting a woman over. **

9. Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) pinned Jeff Jarrett to theoretically win the WCW title. Vince Russo came out, looking forlorn. Jarrett came down. Russo told him to lay down. Russo threw the belt in the ring like he was mad. Hogan put his foot on Jarrett for the pin. Jarrett got right up and walked out and didn't look very happy in the process. Hogan said it was bullshit like this that Russo was doing that was ruining wrestling. The announcers went on and on about what they just saw saying it was real life, not a part of the format, etc. Mark Madden, who hates Hogan, took great delight, clearly thinking it was a shoot, that Hogan was exposed for what he is.

Vampiro came back. A whole bunch of Stings came out with masks. One of them, actually Nashville wrestler Chris Harris, hit Vampiro with a bat with the announcers asking the question as if it was the real Sting. God, after four years, they still make their announcers look like idiots and they wonder why nobody believes any of their angles. When Vampiro came back, in the background you could see Hogan and son Nicholas leaving the building ("Wrestling with Shadows" with young son Blade in tears as daddy was screwed by the evil promoter).

Russo then came out and tried to do a face interview. Nobody reacted to what he said. It was kind of embarrassing having him do his pep talk ("Beyond the Mat," Paul Heyman before the first ECW PPV show) and the paid and papered crowd, apparently not computer savvy enough to be in on all the things that happened during the week, had no clue what he was talking about. Russo talked about his wife and three kids and how he didn't know if he would come back. But he did, out of loyalty to all the great wrestlers in WCW. As everyone in the WWF will attest, if nothing else, Russo is loyal. He came to save the career of Booker T (hey, didn't he make him G.I. Bro before the discrimination lawsuit got more heated?) MIA, FA's and Jarrett and started ripping on the egomaniac Hulk Hogan. Hogan played his "creative control" card ("Wrestling with Shadows," because Russo is to this day obsessed with getting over that the other Vince was right). He said that Hogan insisted that he win the title from Jarrett. So he gave Hogan a belt and said that you will never see Hogan again. The basic theory seems to be eventually breaking up WCW into a Bischoff led group on one show, which would actually be the old Millionaires Club, against a Russo-led group on another show, the New Blood, which was probably the original idea for April but they felt swerving everyone with them being put together and giving 12 weeks of programming that made no sense was more important I guess. He then said Jarrett would wrestle Booker T for the new title because the old one was dead and buried ("The birth of the ECW title") because Hulk Hogan (like Ric Flair, the fat man Dusty Rhodes, Kerry Von Erich and Ricky Steamboat and whoever else Douglas said in that speech) can all kiss my ass! And he did all that right off the top of his head. It made for great TV for me, but the crowd reacted about like they did when Andy Kaufman faked a shoot and faked breaking character on Saturday Night Live all those years ago.

10. Bill Goldberg pinned Diamond Dallas Nash (Kevin Nash) in 4:21. Nash said if he didn't win and bring Hall back, that he'd leave the company. Not much of a match. Scott Steiner came out in the guise of Nash's best friend (replacing Scott Hall, who apparently wasn't allowed back for this angle despite them hyping him like crazy including on the show) and turned on him at the end. I think that's four PPVs in a row where the most hyped match on the card had the exact same finish. Goldberg then speared and jackhammered Nash and ripped up Hall's contract. 1/2*

11. T pinned Jarrett to win the new belt in 13:40. The announcers did a great job getting the belt and match over. They worked hard, but seemed very nervous because the match had a lot of slow spots and things were off. They did a lot of near falls and the obligatory ref bump. They teased the belt shot finish. Jarrett then gave a recovering Billy Silverman the stroke, which made no sense, but T hit the uranage (they dressed him like Rock on TV the next day and even gave him Rock's finish) when Mark Johnson ran in, fully clothed I might add, and counted the pin. ***

The next day on TV, WCW acted like something had happened but never touched on it, aside from Madden making reference after reference to guys who show up once a month and steal their check. They made reference to the idea they couldn't talk about things for legal reasons.

Hogan did his obligatory interview on Bubba the Love Sponge. His version was he went into a meeting with Jarrett, Russo and Bischoff. Jarrett had to leave the meeting to interfere in a match. Hogan said he thought it was weird because Jarrett never came back and they weren't done going over the match. Hogan said he'd job to Jarrett but when he found out Russo didn't want to use him anymore after asking what the plans were for him on TV this coming week, saying there was nothing left to do with him, only then did he insist on winning, which made Russo go nuts. He said he was trying to calm down Russo, who was cussing him out. He claimed Bischoff was on his side and started fighting with Russo. They called Siegel who agreed that Hogan could win the title and Russo agreed to it and Hogan thought it was resolved and Johnny Ace came up with a finish. He said he had blades with him (the old-time wrestlers trick in the old days if they're afraid of a shoot is to bring blades with them and put them in the tape around the fists, so when you swing for real, you'll slice the guy up). He talked about getting the biggest pop on the show and recognized things were amiss when he saw Russo come out, but he said the original finish involved Russo but that Steiner was going to run Russo off and help Hogan win the title. He said he went looking for Russo back stage ("That dirty rat fink has locked himself in his office," -- Wrestling with Shadows) but couldn't find him. He saw Russo and started yelling at him when Doug Dillenger told him that he didn't need a lawsuit and escorted him out of the building and Russo has someone covering his back (according to two wrestlers, this would have been Steiner). He said he'd be on Raw tonight except he couldn't get out of his contract. He claimed he would be calling McMahon to see if he could get his son Nicholas to show up on Raw tonight and give him the belt (we've already been through the legal aspects of going on TV with the other guys' belt in the Flair case in 1991 which McMahon lost) put over McMahon incessantly. Where that aspect of the story falls apart is that if it was a shoot and Hogan was that mad, the very first person he would talk with would have been McMahon, even if to try and come up with some clever way to stick it to WCW. Even if they couldn't come up with one that they could pull of legally, the call would have been made. While McMahon was very busy that day, with an XFL press conference in San Jose and the TV tapings, Hogan certainly knows enough people to get through to McMahon and it doesn't appear any such call was ever made. When Bubba asked if it was a work or a shoot, Hogan said, "I don't do works on your show." Still, Hogan's closest friends in the company the next day were openly talking about it being a swerve. Russo was still insistent the next day it was a shoot claiming that people will know it's a work if Hogan ever returns to the company and he doesn't quit. The explanation given by those close to Russo is that Siegel actually backed him and not Hogan, and Bischoff was neutral, but that wouldn't explain, based on how it went down, Russo not taking any punishment for double-crossing Bischoff, his superior, on a finish, and for Bischoff not being at television the next day to at least clear the air with everyone about what happened. After all this came the word, and people in the company at this point expect that everything like this could be a work, that Siegel made the decision that Russo would be in charge creatively of Nitro and PPV while Ed Ferrara would be in charge of Thunder. Russo then announced he would no longer be appearing on television, and to further what now clearly is going to be the Bischoff vs. Russo feud and split promotion angle, Bischoff was announced as taking a sabbatical. This of course would give the explanation that Hogan could return on Thunder with Bischoff down the line since he's still under contract, while Russo "wouldn't have to work with him."

After the show on Monday, it seemed the reaction was still somewhat split. A few wrestlers close to Russo were believing it was a work, largely because the company veterans all were openly saying it was with the exception of Kevin Nash, who is very influential backstage, but couldn't understand why Russo would go to such lengths to work the boys. A few others believed it was a shoot because Russo was acting nervous to everyone both Sunday night and Monday morning that he didn't know if he'd lose his job over it and then the announcers were ordered not to talk about it. Nash, who was close to situation, backed up that everything was played out largely as Hogan said, and claimed afterwards that Hogan told him Russo had got him because there was nothing he could do about it legally because he got his win. The word was that only Glen Gilbertti (Disco Inferno), Jarrett, Bill Banks and Ed Ferrara knew Russo's plan for Jarrett to lay down in the ring.


Legal threats, although no lawsuits have yet been filed, have been talked about in the press regarding USA Network threatening an appeal of the verdict where they lost WWF programming, and ECW threatening to sue TNN over the cancellation of the show.

The USA appeal was expected by the WWF, as those close to the situation felt no matter what decision Judge William Chandler would have reached in the case, that because of the high stakes involved, the losing side was going to appeal. It is believed USA Network, which is in grave danger of losing its spot as the highest rated prime time cable network with the loss of Raw and Sunday Night Heat, has to show its stockholders it is taking every avenue possible to maintain what was its franchise shows. Since it hasn't been filed, there is no time table, but at this point it doesn't appear this will have any affect on WWF starting on TNN and MTV in the fall.

It was the WWF and Viacom's victory in the lawsuit that led to TNN subsequently dropping ECW effective 9/22. According to Daily Variety, ECW is threatening legal action claiming TNN violated their contract by not supporting the show with promotion, publicity and exposure as was vaguely worded in the contract. Apparently the written contract, according to TNN spokesman David Schwarz, was that ECW failed to average a 2.0 rating for the season as was also specified in the contract. Paul Heyman had stated on several occasions that ECW only had to reach an 0.6 rating to avoid cancellation. It was known before the season that TNN sold ads for the show based on delivering a 2.0 weekly rating so the show, which averaged just under half that, was underperforming even though it was the highest rated show on TNN's highly promoted Friday Night Thrill Zone.

Schwarz claimed, based on a conversation Heyman had months ago with Brad Hughes at TNN when the television angle began, that everything that happened on the air was storyline. The irony is that Heyman was very much pulling a Brian Pillman, in that he let the people in on the idea the "shoot" for the public was really a work, but the primary people he was working was actually TNN, because through that, he was able to weekly downgrade the network and turn his fan base against them starting at the point Heyman recognized that the show had no hope of doing a 2.0, and that with the expected WWF move, he was going to lose the time slot. Apparently the offshoot of the popular heel owner gimmick angle, was also to make it appear to the ECW fan base that the show didn't fail, and it was simply the network that was against them cancelling them because of the WWF. Most likely ECW wouldn't have been canceled if the WWF deal hadn't gone through, and, while ECW most likely wouldn't have done a 2.0 average with proper promotion, it can make a case and has done so for months about a lack of such. According to a contract attorney contacted by the Observer, the vague "supplying the promotion, publicity and exposure" phrase alone in the contract would be difficult to make stick as a reason for the show underperforming based on the levels the contract specified, and ECW would probably have to come up with strong evidence that TNN specifically didn't promote the show, and that it made a full points worth of difference, and would probably make a case that TNN tanked the show once they realized they were likely getting the WWF and that ECW had no long-term future to build. The damages to ECW, provided they don't get another outlet, if they can prove all that, would be substantial. Both the USA appeal and the ECW lawsuit threat seem on the surface to make unlikely any merger between the two sides that each came up losers by the Viacom deal, which Heyman was clearly hoping for as the end result of the WWF's move.


For those interested in the latest from Royce Gracie and his latest response to his loss to Kazushi Sakuraba as well as his thoughts on Ken Shamrock, he did a lengthy interview in the Australian magazine Blitz.

Gracie said, "I have no need to fight Ken Shamrock. Shamrock never did deserve the crown he got from UFC. He was a made up champion. He never won a tournament. They gave him trophies and a belt and publicized him, yet I won three tournaments. I won four fights in one night. But Ken was the All-American hero. I wasn't. I have no problem with facing Shamrock again. Shamrock knows who is best."

When asked about Wallid Ismail, who beat Gracie in a submissions match in late 1998 in Rio de Janiero with a choke in about five minutes, he said, "I have no interest in a rematch. Wallid doesn't want to go where I go. He stays home and watches me on TV. He talks so much about his win and milks the publicity as much as he can. He won that fight in Brazil, yes. But I made a mistake and he choked me. I was coming back into competition and getting over some injuries and I made a mistake that allowed him to get the victory. The way I see it, he didn't win the fight, I lost it."

And on Sakuraba, "It was over one hour and 45 minutes long (actually the fight was 90 minutes long). That was the longest fight I have ever had. I pushed the fight a lot for the first four rounds. I remember sitting down after the fourth and telling my brother that I had been fighting for 115 minutes (after four rounds he would have been fighting 60 minutes) and that I was tired because Sakuraba kept running from me the whole fight. At the end of the second round he actually tapped. It can be seen on the video, but the referee and my corner didn't see it on the night. He went back to his corner and then came out again for the third round. In the final round, he kicked me on the lower part of my shin, a part of the foot that should not be kicked and that you should not kick with because it is sensitive and soft. I told my brother that my foot was hurting badly and I couldn't walk properly. Later I discovered that I had a partial tear of the tendons and a small fracture at the front of my shin. I have a full cast on now. I was beat up, but Sakuraba was beat up worse. He knew I had gotten the better of him. He asked for a rematch straight away. If you truly win a fight, you do not ask for a rematch straight away."

When the UFC started and Gracie dominated the early fights because his family understood so much more than anyone else about real fighting, he was a very gracious winner and his success paved the way to whatever the sport nearly grew into and opened so many people's eyes to new concepts of fighting. It's too bad he and his family members can't be gracious in passing the torch when what they spawned has created new athletes that have made the playing field improve so much.


BIGGEST PPV DRAWING CARDS IN HISTORY

 

Based on number of shows headlined since the inception of PPV that drew better than a 1.0 buy rate (as of May 2000).

 

Hulk Hogan 21

Ric Flair 17

Steve Austin 12

Bret Hart 9

Sting 7

Rock 7

HHH 7

Lex Luger 6

Mick Foley 5

Randy Savage 5

Undertaker 4

Andre the Giant 3

Roddy Piper 3

Ultimate Warrior 3

Sgt. Slaughter 3

Sid Vicious 3

Yokozuna 3

Shawn Michaels 3

Vince McMahon 3


Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. on 7/11 announced it was the latest major heavyweight advertiser pulling out of WWF programming, and for that matter, all advertising of pro wrestling.

Since WWF has toned the show down greatly and companies keep bailing, it once again shows how poorly WWF handled the controversy by turning it into a feud. It doesn't take a genius to see how the Steven Richards character, which I actually find kind of funny, and the way the announcers portray it on television, is only going to make the PTC work harder at getting sponsors to bail.

Back last year, the WWF should have worked out a compromise, saying they'll get rid of this, this and this, all things they could get rid of without hurting the product in the least, kept the ones they probably needed, or at least toned them down, and tried to not make a difference of opinion into personal antagonism. Fact is, when Smackdown toned down, its ratings went up, so after the first round of the controversy, everyone won, and it should have all ended at that point except it was made into a personal issue.

While that wouldn't fit the McMahon never back down publicly aura, it is that "you want a fight, come get some" WWF attitude TM that has, probably almost as much if not more than content itself, and certainly more than content today on the toned down version of the show, that keeps this story alive.

Instead of doing what would have been the smart thing to do, once a heavyweight like Coca Cola pulled out, because as anyone who has followed the UFC controversy knows, there is a domino effect in these things, and logic isn't what enters into the fray, the WWF made the situation worse. I want to make clear my thoughts on this. The WWF was a sitting duck for this with the raunchy television programming they were presenting through last fall, combined with such young skewing demographics, particularly in the 11-and-under age group. That product mix only got sleazier after the first warning, when Wrigley's, which is another major heavyweight advertiser, pulled out early in 1999, and that had nothing to do with the PTC. Coca Cola's pulling out also may have had nothing to do with the PTC, but certainly did wonders for them gaining momentum with others when the Coke thing got national pub and created awareness of the WWF product mix at the time and made that product mix into a major media story. Sensing trouble and with stock prices falling, the WWF toned down Smackdown. It had no other choice. But they also started attacking not only Coca Cola, which was so unbelievably stupid, but trying to act like it was a one man vendetta by L.Brent Bozell of the PTC and writing a silly smear piece on him. While I don't share Bozell's beliefs, if, last year when this all went down, you read, point-by-point, throwing out the inflammatory remarks, Bozell's points and WWF's counters, the WWF was the more dishonest and Bozell's arguments generally were stronger. Yes, some of his points were stupid and there are major contradictions on both sides. Many wrestling fans grow to hate anti-wrestling people without realizing if wrestling gives them the ammunition to get things done negatively toward wrestling, particularly when anyone can see how these things are going down, they should also question why the people running wrestling are making the decisions that give their enemies such strong ammunition. Any company, particularly one publicly traded, would have nipped all of this in the bud the minute Coca Cola pulled out.

By making it into a personal vendetta, it only served to cause its enemies, in this case the PTC, to work harder on its project. At this point, Smackdown is pretty tame, but it's now become like UFC, where injuries aren't severe, there are plenty of rules in place, but all logic arguments don't work in the real world and to this day they still can't get their PPV shows on cable and have fallen from WWF level buy rates to obscurity because of it. I actually found the Steven Richards character really funny, but the minute he came out, I knew it was absolutely the stupidest thing they could do, and it only took two weeks before the evidence was in when another heavyweight pulled out because, no doubt, having this character only made the people the WWF was trying to mock with the character, work harder on what, through the fault of both sides, has become, on both sides, a personal vendetta.


As far as any bump from doing the angle, WCW got none. On 7/10, Raw drew a 6.03 rating (5.17 first hour; 6.79 second hour) and a 9.8 share. Nitro drew a 2.58 rating (3.07 first hour; 2.14 second hour) and a 4.4 share. The total wrestling viewing audience of 8.6 million was the lowest, except for the holiday week the previous week, in several years.

The Rock vs. Benoit main event drew a 6.77 final quarter and a 7.37 over-run, which is good for Benoit because those are numbers slightly above normal, although one can question giving away the PPV main event on Raw less than two weeks before the show. Nitro's four-way main event with Jarrett vs. Kanyon vs. Goldberg vs. Scott Steiner drew a 2.54 rating on the over-run. Raw also got a very strong unopposed 7.08 quarter from Lita vs. Stratus and HHH vs. X-Pac with the Jericho attack.

For the head-to-head quarters, it was Raw at 4.56 (Benoit, Shane and Rock interview) to 2.36 (Cat, Steiner, T, Kanyon, Jarrett confrontation), Raw at 4.98 (Too Cool vs. T&A vs. Hardys) to 2.24 (Vito vs. Smiley & Ralphus), Raw at 5.10 (Dogg vs. Jericho) to 2.00 (Storm vs. Artist, Kronik vs. Rection & Cajun) and Raw at 5.67 (Undertaker-Angle angle and beginning of Venis vs. Rikishi vs. Kane) to 1.74 (Vampiro-Demon angle).

 

For 7/3, largely due to the holidays, both Raw and Nitro had their lowest ratings in more than one year. Raw drew a 5.27 rating (4.65 first hour; 5.83 second hour) and a 9.5 share. Because HUT (homes using television) levels were down about 12 percent from usual, this would be equivalent to a 6.00 for a normal week. Nitro drew its lowest rating in its regular time slot since 1995 with a 2.24 rating (2.59 first hour; 1.89 second hour) and a 4.1 share. This is realistically equivalent to about a 2.55 rating, which wouldn't be at an all-time low level, but would still be considered a bad number. The total audience watching pro wrestling was down to 7.7 million fans, which was a 27 percent drop from July 4th weekend last year, and that is a scary stat. Of the total audience, roughly 98 percent were watching the Rock-Benoit angle to end Raw.

Rock vs. Shane Raw main event, which was really the Rock-Benoit title angle drew a 6.43 rating. The Nitro Battle Royal main event drew a pathetic 1.70 rating in the final quarter, although the three minute over-run did a 2.60.

For the head-to-head quarters, it was Raw at 3.91 (Guerrero vs. Benoit, beginning of Foley interview--making it the lowest rated quarter of Raw in its regular time slow in years) to 1.89 (Jarrett, The Viking women, S&P angle and Booker vs. Douglas); Raw at 4.98 (Foley interview with Rock and Shane) to 1.53 (the lowest rated quarter hour in the history of a live Nitro in its regular time slot for Vampiro vs. Demon), Raw at 4.50 (HHH vs. Rikishi) to 2.12 (Storm & Kidman vs. Misterio Jr. & Guerrera plus Daffney/Hancock angle) and finally Raw at 4.91 (Venis vs. Jeff Hardy) to 1.70 (Awesome-Steiner angle/Battle Royal).

Smackdown on 7/6 drew a 4.35 rating and 8.0 share. Even though the networks are in rerun programming and Smackdown is first run, the show is showing a noticeable decline over the past few weeks, because the share is showing a drop and that eliminates blaming the drop on fewer people watching TV because it's summer.

Thunder on 7/5 drew a 2.28 rating and 3.8, peaking at 2.66 for the David Flair vs. Crowbar match with the Daffney/Hancock angle. The only other good quarter was a 2.46 for Loco & Gunns vs. Guerrera & Tygress. I guess that guarantees more real bad physical altercations with women.

For the weekend of 7/8-9, Live Wire did a 1.3 (fourth highest rated show on station that day), Superstars a 1.5 (second highest on station) and Heat did a 2.77 rating (highest). WCW Saturday morning did its second straight 0.8, which was the lowest rated show on TBS between 11 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. the next day and second lowest during the period from 8 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. so it is not drawing competitive numbers.

For the weekend numbers of 7/1-2, Livewire did a 1.1, Superstars did a 1.4 and Heat did a 2.72 rating. WCW Saturday Morning debuted in its new time slot with an 0.8 rating.

ECW on TNN, due to the new WCW Saturday show, was not the lowest rated wrestling show of the week on cable, doing an 0.85 rating on 6/30. The 7/7 show did an 0.9 rating and 1.9 share.

The three-hour AAA/EMLL block that aired on 7/1 in the afternoon, not in its regular time slot (because the show that would have aired on 6/27 was pre-empted for soccer), drew a 1.0 Hispanic rating. The 7/4 show in its regular time slot did a 1.1 on what has to be one of the hardest days of the year to draw a rating.


OBSERVER POLL RESULTS

Traditional Observer PPV poll results based on phone calls, fax messages and e-mails to the Observer as of Tuesday, 7/11.

WCW BASH AT THE BEACH: Thumbs up 119 (71.3%), Thumbs down 28 (16.8%), In the middle 20 (12.0%). BEST MATCH POLL: Jeff Jarrett vs. Booker T 57, Scott Steiner vs. Mike Awesome 15, Booker T vs. Chris Kanyon 14. WORST MATCH POLL: Vampiro vs. Demon 45, Daffney vs. Miss Hancock 25, Kronik vs. Sean Stasiak & Chuck Palumbo 17

EYADA POLL RESULTS

Results of the daily poll on the eyada.com web site. New questions will be up every day at approximately 3 p.m. Eastern time with the results being announced at the start of the Wrestling Observer Live internet audio show the following day as well as each week here.

What do you think about Bill Goldberg's heel turn? a) It was a good idea 16.4%; b) It was a bad idea, but it's too soon to turn him back 66.7%; c) It was a bad idea and he needs to be turned back immediately 16.9%

What did you think about Monday night's (7/3) wrestling? a) Raw was better 70%; b) Nitro was better 11%; c) Didn't watch Raw 1%; d) Didn't watch Nitro 8%; e) Didn't watch Raw or Nitro 10%

Which of these wrestlers should WWF push the hardest? a) Kurt Angle 6.9%; b) Chris Benoit 17.0%; c) Chris Jericho 13.0%; d) All should be pushed to the top 61.8%; e) None should be pushed to the top 1.3%

What should WCW do with Hulk Hogan (this was asked before the PPV angle)? a) Stop using him under any circumstances 58.0%; b) Only use him to elevate new talent 24.7%; c) Continue to push him as a mid card attraction 12.2%; d) Keep him in the main event mix 5.2%

Do you think the Hogan-Russo incident was a? a) Shoot 20%; b) Work 53%; c) Didn't see the show 27%


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For the latest news, we have several reports daily on the Wrestling Observer Hotline. The numbers is 900-903-9030 in the United States at 99 cents per minute. Children under the age of 18 need parent's permission before calling. I'm on option one. Bruce Mitchell is on option two. Georgiann Makropolous is on option three. Bryan Alvarez is on options four and six. Mike Mooneyham (Monday and Tuesday) is on option five.

New message schedule is: Monday--Meltzer on one, Mooneyham on five; Tuesday--Mitchell on two (Raw report), Alvarez on four (Nitro report); Wednesday--Meltzer on one, Alvarez on four and six (Thunder and Smackdown taping report); Thursday--Mitchell on two (Thunder report); Friday--Meltzer on one, Alvarez on four (Smackdown report); Saturday--Mitchell on two; and Sunday--Makropolous on three, Alvarez on four.

For PPV coverage, I'm on option seven approximately 20 minutes after the completion of the show. We run down the major angles and results right at the start before getting into the details of the show. There are option eight reports up later in the evening to get a different perspective. The reports stay up through the next PPV event.

Upcoming shows covered will be 7/16 ECW Heat Wave, 7/23 WWF Fully Loaded, 8/13 WCW New Blood Rising, 8/27 Dream Stage Entertainment Seibu Dome (option seven only), 8/27 WWF Summer Slam, 9/17 WCW Fall Brawl, 9/22 UFC (option seven only), 9/24 WWF Unforgiven and 10/1 ECW Anarchy Rulz.


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RESULTS

 

6/30 Cuautitlan (AAA TV taping): Crazy Boy won four-way over Ateyu & Mohicano III and Escorio to win Torneo Novato Nacional 2000, Nygma & Espiritu & Charly Manson & Picudo b Spice Boys-DQ, Mexican national womens title: Tiffany b Lola Gonzalez, Kick Boxer & Toro Irisson b Heavy Metal & Hector Garza, Octagon & La Parka Jr. & AAA Mascara Sagrada & El Alebrije b Sangre Chicana & Cobarde & Espectro Jr. & El Texano

7/1 Catano, PR (IWA - 780): IWA jr. title: Jesus Cristobol b Andres Borges, Nuevo Gran Apolo b Shan Hill, Zaruxx El Momia b Alex Power, Taka Michinoku & Hido b Mohammed Hussein & El Wizard, Andy Anderson b Victor the Bodyguard, Steve Bradley b Ricky Banderas-DQ, First blood match: Chicky Starr b Fidel Sierra, Shane & Hombre Dinamita NC Miguel Perez & Pain

7/4 Fort Lauderdale, FL (WWF Smackdown/Heat tapings - 11,751/10,533 paid): Dupps b Rodney & Joey Abs, Scott Vick b Pete Gas, Too Cool b Hardys, Bull Buchanan b Crash Holly, Perry Saturn b Godfather-DQ, Al Snow b Essa Rios, Bradshaw b Gangrel & Mideon, Kurt Angle b Chris Jericho, Dudleys b D-Lo Brown & Chaz Warrington, Ivory & Jacqueline b Dean Malenko, IC title: Val Venis b Rikishi to win title, Hardcore title: Steve Blackman b Big Bossman, Undertaker & Kane b Test & Albert, Taka Michinoku & Sho Funaki & Brooklyn Brawler b HHH, Eddy Guerrero & Chyna & Rock b Edge & Christian & Chris Benoit

7/4 Mexico City Arena Coliseo (EMLL): Los Rayos Tapatios I & II b Fugaz & Jeque, Lady Apache & Flor Metalica b La Diabolica & Amapola, Dr. O'Borman & Virus & Valentin Mayo b Ricky Marvin & Neutron & Super Kendo, Olimpico & Ringo Mendoza & Brazo de Oro d Black Warrior & Pimpinela Escarlata & Violencia, Emilio Charles Jr. & Tarzan Boy & Astro Rey Jr. b Apolo Dantes & Universo 2000 & Fuerza Guerrera-DQ

7/5 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (AAA TripleMania - 1,700): Octagoncito b Mini Abismo Negro, Gran Apache b Oscar Sevilla, Oriental & Esther Moreno DCOR Pentagon & Xochitl Hamada, Perro Aguayo Jr. & El Alebrije & Pathfinder b Picudo & Charly Manson & Espiritu, Masamichi Marufuji & Minoru Tanaka & Genki Horiguchi b Histeria & AAA Psicosis & Maniaco, Aguayo Jr. & Alebrije & Pathfinder b Marufuji & Tanaka & Horiguchi, Tiger Mask & Heavy Metal b Kick Boxer & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Octagon & Jushin Liger & Latin Lover & Cuije b Cibernetico & Cima & Abismo Negro & Electro Shock

7/5 Columbus, GA (WCW Thunder - 4,625/1,202 paid): Lance Storm won four-way over Rey Misterio Jr., Disco Inferno and Billy Kidman, Hardcore title: Big Vito b Demon, Non-title: Woody Kearse & Brian Adams b Sean Stasiak & Chuck Palumbo, Buff Bagwell & Booker T b Shane Douglas & Chris Kanyon, Juventud Guerrera & Tygress b Lt. Loco & Major Gunns, Crowbar b David Flair, Mike Awesome b Rick Steiner, WCW title: Booker T b Jeff Jarrett-DQ

7/5 Yamagata (All Japan - 1,500): Masa Fuchi b Yuto Aijima, Mohammed Yone b Takashi Hijikata, Giant Kimala II b Too Cold Scorpio, Wolf Hawkfield & Mike Barton b Shigeo Okumura & Jinsei Shinzaki, Toshiaki Kawada & Maunukea Mossman b Johnny Smith & Steve Williams

7/6 Tsuruoka (All Japan - 1,200): Masa Fuchi b Shigeo Okumura, Too Cold Scorpio b Shinobi, Giant Kimala II b Yuto Aijima, Johnny Smith & Maunukea Mossman b Mohammed Yone & Steve Williams, Toshiaki Kawada & Jinsei Shinzaki b Wolf Hawkfield & Mike Barton

7/6 Patillas, PR (IWA - 600): Alex Power & Jesus Cristobol b Shan Hill & Hido, Steve Bradley b Nuevo Gran Apolo, Victor the Bodyguard b Fidel Sierra-DQ, Chicky Starr b Miguel Perez, Andy Anderson b Ricky Banderas-DQ, Shane DCOR Pain, Perez and Pain won Battle Royal

7/6 Naucalpan (IWRG TV taping): Halieen b Maligno, Rey Cuervo & El Millonario b Volador Jr. & Multifacetico, Super Mega & Mega & El Hijo del Diablo b Alan Stone & Moto Cross & Super Calo, Super Crazy & Dr. Cerebro & Mosco de la Merced & Bombero Infernal b Dandy & Ciclon Ramirez & Kato Kung Lee & Super Parka, IWRG hwt title: Scorpio Jr. b Mr. Niebla

7/6 Miami (Florida Championship Wrestling - 1,800/free show for Boys and Girls Club): Chris Charger b Blackhart, Tony Apollo b New Age Spoiler, Scoot Andrews b Hack Meyers, Phi Delta Slam b Jeff Roth & Anthony Michaels, Duke Droese b Alex G

7/7 Poughkeepsie, NY (ECW TNN tapings - 1,900): Danny Doring b Bill Wiles, Simon Diamond & Swinger b Prodigy & Prodigette, Nova & Chris Chetti & Chilly Willy b Tony Mamaluke & Little Guido & Sal E. Graziano, C.W. Anderson b Kid Kash, Pierre Oulette b Musketeer, ECW title: Justin Credible b Yoshihiro Tajiri, Rhino b Raven, Tommy Dreamer & Jerry Lynn b Tony DeVito & Angel, Rob Van Dam b Balls Mahoney

7/7 Nagoya (AAA - 459): Perro Aguayo Jr. won four-way over Path Finder, Cuije and Oscar Sevilla, Pentagon & Esther Moreno b Oriental & Xochitl Hamada, Picudo & Charly Manson & Espiritu b AAA Psicosis & Histeria & Maniaco, Octagon & Tiger Mask & Dragon Kid b Gran Apache & Sumo Dandy Fuji & Suwa, Latin Lover & Hector Garza & Heavy Metal b Cibernetico & Abismo Negro & Electro Shock

7/7 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL): Halcon Negro Jr. & Karloff Lagarde Jr. b Starman & Tigre Blanco, Arkangel & Rencor Latino b Astro Rey Jr. & Mascara Magica, Felino & Safari & Antifaz del Norte d El Satanico & Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero, Shocker & Bestia Salvaje & Scorpio Jr. b Atlantis & Lizmark Jr. & Mr. Niebla, Perro Aguayo & Los Villanos IV & V b Pierroth Jr. & Dr. Wagner Jr. & Mascara Ano 2000-DQ

7/7 Tijuana, BC (BC Promotions): King Dragon & Neon & Shamu b Felino Salvaje & Animaniac & Impostor, Fobia & La Morque & Mr. Tempest b El Cholo & Colibri & Conquistador, Brazo de Plata & Kato Kung Lee b Fuerza Guerrera & Zumbido, Rey Misterio Sr. & Damian & Halloween b Nicho de Millonario & La Parka & Kato Kung Lee Jr., Cien Caras & Universo 2000 & Apolo Dantes b Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Tinieblas & Tinieblas Jr.

7/7 Loiza, PR (IWA - 463): Alex Power b Shan Hill, Mohammed Hussein b Jesus Cristobol, Zaruxx El Momia b Hido, Flag on a pole: Victor the Bodyguard b Fidel Sierra, Street fight: Hombre Dinamita b Pain, Miguel Perez b Shane, Tornado match: Nuevo Gran Apolo & Ricky Banderas b Steve Bradley & Andy Anderson

7/7 Knoxville (K Town Smackdown - 700): John Pain b Stan the Man, Butch Cassidy b Derek Scarborough, Chris & Mike Powers b ?, Texas death match: Dirty White Boy b Big Money Markus, Rico Constantino & Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong b Russ McCullough & Robbie D & Damaja, Jimmy Golden b Mongolian Stomper-DQ, Lumberjack match: Bob Armstrong b Jim Cornette

7/8 Anaheim, CA Arrowhead Pond (WWF - 14,887 sellout): Godfather b D-Lo Brown, Dean Malenko b Perry Saturn, Test & Albert b Acolytes, IC title: Rikishi b Val Venis-DQ, Chris Benoit won three-way over Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho, Undertaker & Kane b Big Bossman & Bull Buchanan, Crash Holly b Gangrel, Road Dogg & X-Pac b Dudleys, Three-way for WWF tag titles: Edge & Christian won over Too Cool and Hardys, WWF title: Rock b HHH

7/8 Philadelphia ECW Arena (ECW TNN tapings - 1,400 sellout): Yoshihiro Tajiri b Mikey Whipwreck, ECW title: Justin Credible b Pierre Oulette, Tony DeVito & Angel won four-way over Chris Chetti & Nova, Joey Matthews & Christian York and Tony Mamaluke & Little Guido, Kid Kash b E.Z. Money, Sandman & Jerry Lynn b Rhino & Steve Corino, Rob Van Dam b Balls Mahoney

7/8 Furukawa (New Japan - 1,800): Shinya Makabe b Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinjiro Otani b Wataru Inoue, Negro Casas & Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Koji Kanemoto b Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai & Jushin Liger, Brian Johnston & Manabu Nakanishi b Tadao Yasuda & Takashi Iizuka, Dan Devine & Osamu Nishimura b Kenzo Suzuki & Shiro Koshinaka, Robbie Rage & Yuji Nagata b Tatsutoshi Goto & Satoshi Kojima, Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Yutaka Yoshie & Kensuke Sasaki

7/8 Koyama (All Japan - 1,700): Masa Fuchi b Yuto Aijima, Johnny Smith b Takashi Hijikata, Jinsei Shinzaki b Shinobi, Steve Williams b Giant Kimala II, Too Cold Scorpio & Wolf Hawkfield & Mike Barton b Okumura & Toshiaki Kawada & Maunukea Mossman

7/8 Kobe (AAA - 507): Octagon & Octagoncito b Abismo Negro & Mini Abismo Negro, Heavy Metal & Oriental b Pentagon & Kick Boxer, Cibernetico & Electro Shock & Suwa & Taru b Dragon Kid & Tiger Mask & Perro Aguayo Jr. & Latin Lover

7/8 Manati, PR (IWA - 680): Taka Michinoku b Hido, IWA jr. title: Jesus Cristobol b Andres Borges, Shan Hill b Alex Power, Nuevo Gran Apolo b Mohammed Hussein, Zaruxx El Momia b Head Hunter, Flag on a pole: Ricky Banderas b Fidel Sierra, Shane NC Pain, IWA tag titles: Chicky Starr & Victor the Bodyguard b Steve Bradley & Andy Anderson to win titles, Barbed wire match: Hombre Dinamita b Miguel Perez

7/8 Nashville (NWA World Wide - 250): Faron Fox NC Troy Enders, Standards & Practices b Victory Twins, Rick Cornell b Invader, Little Josh b Mini POD, Athena b Angel, Mr. Showtime b Brandon Walker, Slash (Wolfie D) NC Barry Houston, Chris Champion & Jeff Daniels b Shane Eden & Brandon Walker

7/9 Sacramento, CA (WWF - 14,822): Godfather b D-Lo Brown, Dean Malenko b Perry Saturn, Acolytes b Big Bossman & Bull Buchanan, Undertaker & Kane b Kurt Angle & Test & Albert, Chris Jericho b Chris Benoit-DQ, WWF title: Rock b HHH, Crash Holly b Gangrel, Road Dogg & X-Pac b Dudleys, Three-way for tag titles: Edge & Christian won over Too Cool and Hardys, IC title: Rikishi b Val Venis-DQ

7/9 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (All Japan - 2,100 sellout): Too Cold Scorpio b Shinobi, Jinsei Shinzaki b Yuto Aijima, Johnny Smith & Yuki Ishikawa b Masa Fuchi & Shigeo Okumura, Mike Barton & Giant Kimala II b Steve Williams & Wolf Hawkfield, Maunukea Mossman & Toshiaki Kawada b Mohammed Yone & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

7/9 Hirosaki (New Japan - 4,500 sellout): Robbie Rage & Brian Johnston b Dan Devine & Takashi Iizuka, Satoshi Kojima b Tadao Yasuda, Yuji Nagata b Osamu Nishimura, Kendo Ka Shin & Jushin Liger b Gran Hamada & Great Sasuke, Tatsutoshi Goto & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Masahiro Chono b Yutaka Yoshie & Manabu Nakanishi & Kensuke Sasaki

7/9 Nou (FMW): Azusa Kudo d Naohiko Yamazaki, Kaori Nakayama b Emi Motokawa, Ichiro Yaguchi b Hiroshi Otsuno, Eagle Sawai & Rumi Kazama b Aya Koyama & Keiko Aono, Gedo & Jado b Chocoball Mukai & Yoshinori Sasaki, Hideki Hosaka & Kintaro Kanemura & Kodo Fuyuki b Ricky Fuji & H & Tetsuhiro Kuroda

7/9 Lajas, PR (IWA - 325): IWA jr. title: Jesus Cristobol b Andres Borges, Alex Power b Shan Hill, Zaruxx El Mommia b Hido, Nuevo Gran Apolo & Ricky Banders b Mohammed Hussein & Fidel Sierra, Strap match: Hombre Dinamita b Miguel Perez, Shane b Pain, IWA tag titles: Chicky Starr & Victor the Bodyguard b Steve Bradley & Andy Anderson

7/10 San Jose, CA (WWF Raw is War - 13,733 sellout): Dupps b Scott Vick & Joe E. Legend, D-Lo Brown & Chaz Warrington b Taka Michinoku & Sho Funaki, Crash Holly b Essa Rios, Godfather b Head Banger Thrasher, Dudleys b Rodney & Joey Abs, Test & Albert won three-way over Too Cool and Hardys, Chris Jericho b Road Dogg, Rikishi won three-way over Undertaker and Val Venis via DQ, Edge b Bradshaw, Street fight: Lita b Trish Stratus-COR, HHH NC X-Pac, Rock b Chris Benoit-DQ

7/10 Jacksonville, FL (WCW Nitro - 5,357/4,652 paid): Shane Douglas b Crowbar, Jeff Jarrett b Billy Kidman, WCW title: Booker T b Mike Awesome, Hardcore title: Big Vito b Ralphus & Norman Smiley, Lance Storm b Artist, WCW tag titles: Kronik b General Rection & Corporal Cajun, Jeff Jarrett won four-way over Bill Goldberg, Chris Kanyon and Scott Steiner

7/11 Osaka Furitsu Gym (All Japan - 2,600): Shigeo Okumura b Ryuji Hijikata, Johnny Smith b Yuto Aijima, Wolf Hawkfield & Mike Barton b Too Cold Scorpio & Giant Kimala II, Steve Williams b Mohammed Yone, Masa Fuchi d Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Toshiaki Kawada & Maunukea Mossman b Jinsei Shinzaki & Yuki Ishikawa

 

Special thanks to: Eric Hicks, Shannon Rose, Dominick Valenti, Zach Arnold, Steve Gerweck, Matt Duffield, Joe Silva, Mike Omansky, Michael Jenkinson, Laurence DeGaris, Jeff Jacobson, Juan Martinez, Bernie Siegel, Tim Larson, Anthony Eastman, Rob Moore, Dan Atwood, Jonathan Browning, J.C. McGhee, Johnny Farrer, James Haase, Dominick Valenti, Darrell Walters, Mike Evangelista, Chad Johnson, Jarrett King, Tom Walters, Eric Mann, Jeff Beecher, Matt Griffin, Larry Goodman, Juan Martinez, Angelo Nardella, Jordan Lee, Mark Kailbourn, Dan Parris, Justin Roberts, Anthony Evans, Gene Restaino, Keith Barbaro, Tadashi Tanaka

 

JAPANESE TELEVISION RUNDOWN

6/7 ALL JAPAN: 1. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa beat Maunukea Mossman & Jun Akiyama in 16:08. Match was heavily edited with about half the match airing. Misawa even pulled out an elbow suicida in a non-major match so he must have been feeling good. Ogawa pinned Mossman with a bridging back suplex in a good match. ***; 2. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori beat Stan Hansen & Johnny Smith when Omori pinned Smith after an axe bomber in 13:15. Smith looked solid. Hansen tried but he moves so slow that it looks like it pains him just to walk. 1/2*

 

MEXICO: The EMLL July PPV show has been moved to 8/4. There is talk of AAA doing its first PPV show in Mexico in November

Actor Huicho Domingez, who actually did a lot of business a few years back for a really sad looking in-ring feud with heel ref Tirantes, returned to AAA on 6/30 with an attack to restart their feud

Nicho el Millonario (original Psicosis) turned back tecnico (face) in Tijuana on 7/7. Nicho was booked as a tecnico in the match teaming with La Parka & Kato Kung Lee Jr. against Rey Misterio Sr. & Damian & Halloween. Earlier in the show, Nicho continued his rudo turn by coming out with Damian & Halloween as La Familia (the main heel group) and hugged his brother, also a rudo, Fobia, who worked the undercard. In the six-man, Nicho helped the heels and kept beating on his partners. In the second fall, La Familia held Parka and gave Nicho a chair. Instead, he laid out La Familia. Of course, this was a dumb move since the faces were already laid out, so La Familia beat the crap out of Nicho. Finally Kato Kung Lee Sr. hit the ring to help his son, and then Fobia came out to help his brother. Nicho gave Fobia a chair while he and Kato Sr. held Misterio Sr., but Fobia then clocked Nicho with a chair. That was actually the semi. The main event, which sucked, had Cien Caras & Universo 2000 & Apolo Dantes over Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Tinieblas & Tinieblas Sr. Alushe was with Tinieblas, so I guess that angle where he's been kidnapped must have either ended, or is only in Mexico City

Although the original plan was to end the CMLL tag team tournament on 7/7 at Arena Mexico with Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero vs. Mr. Niebla & Emilio Charles Jr., the match never took place, nor was it advertised when the line-up came out, nor am I aware of an explanation given. The main event instead was Perro Aguayo & Los Villanos IV & V against Pierroth Jr. & Dr. Wagner Jr. & Mascara Ano 2000 and for the fourth straight week with the same basic main event, they had the same run in DQ finish. EMLL used to never do run-ins, so now that they do them, they're getting carried away with the idea. Lizmark Jr. was injured once again on the undercard and had to be stretchered out in the semifinal

It appears Super Crazy is going back to AAA until his paperwork is straightened out and he can return to ECW, probably as Sangre Chicana's tag partner in a feud with the LLL

EMLL is expressing interest in Psicosis

AAA is running 7/14 in Tijuana with Perro Aguayo Jr. & Latin Lover & Hector Garza vs. Jerry Estrada & Pirata Morgan & Cibernetico on top

7/14 at Arena Mexico will be headlined by Rayo Jr. & Lizmark Jr. & Aguayo Sr. vs. Wagner Jr. & Universo 2000 and Mascara Ano 2000

Lou Thesz will be making appearances at some shows this coming weekend

The fake Cibernetico on TV appeared to be Dos Caras

Tony Rivera was the wrestler who beat Chicago Express for his hair on 6/26 in Puebla

Antifaz won the NAWA welterweight title from Zumbido on 7/2 in Monterrey

Ciclon Ramirez beat Dr. Cerebro on 6/29 in Naucalpan to win the IWRG welterweight title

Two new major promotions are expected to start very soon. One will have a lot of the old Promo Azteca guys as well as El Hijo del Santo.

ALL JAPAN: All Japan has officially booked another Budokan Hall show for 9/2 and started already to push the traditional tag team tournament for November and December. The 9/2 show will possibly be headlined by Genichiro Tenryu vs. Toshiaki Kawada, which should draw well. Kawada started hyping the match this week, but talked about it as a Tokyo Dome main event, saying his dream was to have a singles match against him at the Tokyo Dome in front of a full house. The feeling is while it would be a hot ticket, selling out the Dome at this point would be impossible

7/23 at Budokan Hall has Masa Fuchi vs. Shigeo Okumura, Shinobu vs. Shiiba (fans at Korakuen Hall on 7/9 when this was announced thought they said Cima and popped big, but then were mad when they realized it wasn't), Yuto Aijima vs. Giant Kimala II, Barton & Hawkfield vs. Hines & Scorpio, Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Johnny Smith, Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Steve Williams and Kawada & Tenryu vs. Stan Hansen & Maunukea Mossman. One of the New Japan Board of Directors, Katsuji Nagashima, will be at the show as well. It appears they are setting up the interpromotional angle since on 7/9 at the Korakuen Hall show, Masa Fuchi talked about the meeting saying negotiations broke down. The idea is that All Japan wants Kawada booked evenly with the top guys in New Japan (trading wins) as opposed to New Japan just promoting shows that will draw huge gates and guzzling up be cause they are the stronger group. Also, setting up the angle, they announced Shiro Koshinaka would wrestle for All Japan on 7/11 but the story is Koshinaka is doing it on his own and not with New Japan blessing

You wouldn't believe how badly Kawada destroyed Fuchi's chest on the debut show. From the photos, Fuchi's upper chest was beaten totally raw from the kicks and chops. He looked worse than Flair in the mid-80s when he was working every night with Ron Garvin. Hines is scheduled to return on 7/19

The shows over the past week were drawing what would be considered so-so crowds, which under the circumstances, everyone, given the small crew with most of the stars having left, were taking as a good sign. The biggest show of the week was 7/11 at the Osaka Furitsu Gym, which drew 2,600 for a main event of Mossman & Kawada over Shinzaki & Yuki Ishikawa (subbing for injured Alexander Otsuka). The attendance was even admitted by Kawada as being poor. Kawada said they wouldn't have title for some time because Misawa left with everyone that held the belts

Motoko Baba also announced that Atsushi Onita would be returning to All Japan after 16 years later this year

Williams issued a grandstand challenge for Mitsuharu Misawa on one of the four shows this tour that Misawa would be appearing.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: Weekly Fight magazine reported that the financial backer of this promotion is not the Gulliver Corporation (a used car sales company) but a different car company

They held a press conference on 7/10 announcing a third show on 8/19 at Differ Ariake. They've also announced running three Osaka area shows in September before starting full-time touring in October. The plan for 2001 is to run 120 house shows including two shows in the Tokyo Dome and also run Yokohama Arena as well as Budokan Hall

Because the 8/5 debut show will sellout the small Differ Ariake building easily, they will be broadcasting the show to the parking lot like a drive-in movie type of deal for 1,000 cars, spending $50,000 to set up the screen for the show

All Japan originally had the date but canceled the show. Misawa was officially announced as company President, Mitsuhiro Momota as Vice President, Akira Taue, Kenta Kobashi and Yoshihiro Momota as Managers, Haruka Eigen as Business manager and Ryu Nakata (former All Japan ring announcer) in charge of arena bookings

Kobashi said he would be back for the 8/5 debut of the promotion after getting double knee surgery on 6/22. The idea they are building is Kobashi vs. Jun Akiyama for the company's first main event to have a blow away kickoff. Kobashi's doctor told him no way he can wrestle that quickly. They haven't announced the line-up because Misawa doesn't want to advertise a main event that it isn't certain won't fall apart

The 6/28 TV show multi-promotion wrestling news highlights TV that is in the slot they'll pick up in August drew a 2.5 rating.

NEW JAPAN: The complete line-up for the company's first-ever PPV on 7/30 at the Yokohama Arena was announced and it's interesting and, like all the big shows of late, disappointing. Riki Choshu vs. Atsushi Onita is the only draw, which had already sold the building out and will be the one and only PPV draw. The undercard is filled with what on paper are mostly matches that should be good, but they are all cold match-ups. They are continuing the angle regarding the barbed wire match with a meeting on 7/10 where Onita and Katsuji Nagashima couldn't agree to the stipulations. The fact that's an angle is set because New Japan already took out a license from the fire department to have explosives. It should also be noted with SkyPerfecTV's purchasing the rights to broadcast all 64 matches in the next World Cup soccer tournament at a cost of $112 million, that pro wrestling and MMA on PPV will have a much lower priority with the station, which had been built around those two type of shows up to this point

Kensuke Sasaki & Yuji Nagata vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yutaka Yoshie should be solid and you do have the gimmick of the tag champs (Nagata & Nakanishi) against each other. Junji Hirata vs. Kenzo Suzuki would be like an American match-up of Brad Armstrong vs. David Flair. Takashi Iizuka vs. Shinjiro Otani will be very good, but everyone knows the outcome with a heavyweight title contender going against a junior heavyweight. AKIRA vs. Minoru Tanaka matches up two really good workers but there is no storyline behind it. Shinya Makabe vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi is a solid prelim match. And that's it. It'll be very interesting because it's the first time one of the big two companies has tried a PPV of a live major card. Small promotions have done them but really without any significant number of buys. Some of the Vale Tudo shows have done a lot better

The biggest show of the past week was 7/9 in Hirosaki, which is Kendo Ka Shin's home town, and he and one of his friends promoted the show and drew a sellout 4,500. They brought in Great Sasuke & Gran Hamada from Michinoku Pro to face Ka Shin & Liger and put them in the semifinal with Ka Shin using the armbar submission on Sasuke. Kazuyuki Fujita was at the show saying he'd be representing New Japan at the Pride show at the Seibu Dome and said he was looking forward to Tokimitsu Ishizawa (Ka Shin's real name) doing the same at the show. Fans chanted Ishizawa

Robbie Rage, formerly of the WCW tag team High Voltage, and Dan Devine (Dan Farquir), a Power Plant trainee are on the current tour. High Voltage improved greatly in Japan a few years ago when they were used as lower card regulars.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: AAA began its TripleMania tour of Japan on 7/5 before 1,700 fans, which was a nearly full house. Several Japanese wrestlers joined with the AAA regular crew for matches that will be taped for Televisa and Galavision television. On the card included Jushin Liger from New Japan, Cima and Genki Horiguchi from Toryumon, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Masamichi Marufuji from NOAH, and Minoru Fujita and Tiger Mask from Michinoku Pro. Six others from NOAH including Jun Akiyama were at ringside watching the show. Masamichi and Kanemaru, who are good fliers, had never worked Lucha Libre style in their lives so apparently they looked bad, but Marufuji said they enjoyed trying

RINGS on 8/23 at Osaka Furitsu Gym features the RINGS debut of Dan Severn, facing Andrei Kopylov. Also on the show is an interesting main event with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka returning against Rodrigo Noguiera, Jeremy Horn vs. Ricardo Arona and Joe Slick (who fought twice with UFC Japan) vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara. RINGS is debuting in the United States with shows on 7/15 in Orem, UT and 7/22 in Honolulu. The matches are all first round and second round tournament matches with two finalists going into a second tournament which features the finalists in the two similar tournaments in each weight division on 7/22 facing off. That show takes place on 9/30 in Moline, IL. The Orem, UT show has eight matches. The under-200 pound matches are Jeremy Horn vs. Keith Mielke, Griffen Reynaud vs. Trent Jenkins, Jermaine Andre vs. Clint Wiggins and Tyrone Roberts vs. Chris Haseman. The heavyweight tournament has Bobby Hoffman vs. Victor Burtsev, Aaron Brink vs. Harry Moskowitz, Craig Montgomery vs. Greg Sikan and Travis Fulton vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. A lot of the fighters have UFC experience on the show, but only Horn and Kohsaka have had major success on UFC shows. Roberts won a decision on the last UFC show while Mielke and Jenkins lost alternate matches and Moskowitz lost a couple of times a few years back. Haseman, a RINGS regular looks on paper with Horn to be the tops in that weight division while Hoffman (undefeated in RINGS and the current Extreme Challenge heavyweight champ) and Kohsaka have to be the favorites in the heavyweights

Alexander Otsuka is out for two months with a problem with his left ear. He's out for several All Japan dates as well as the 8/27 Seibu Dome Pride event that he was booked on. The plan was for Otsuka to change his ring name, at least for one night, to Alex Warrior as The Road Warriors will be coming to Battlarts from 9/23 to 10/1 and Otsuka was going to team with them, but this may not happen due to the injury

Michinoku Pro on 7/15 in Yahaba has Great Sasuke vs. Onryo for the NWA middleweight title (they are doing an American angle where Masaaki Mochizuki has stolen the belt itself). AAA wrestlers Oscar Sevilla, Histeria, Maniaco and AAA Psicosis as well as Convict (who also wrestles as Super Boy) and Jodie Fleisch are on the July tour. They are running both 7/27 and 7/28 with two straight dates in the same building in Sapporo. Tiger Mask faces AAA Psicosis on the first night for the British Commonwealth title

After the first TripleMania at Korakuen Hall on 7/5, the AAA tour from Japan was not a success. The 7/7 show in Nagoya, for example, drew only 459 fans for a show billed as another of the TripleMania series

Besides the Tenryu vs. Original Hayabusa main event, the WAR 7/13 Korakuen Hall show will include Toryumon wrestlers in a six man tag, Dragon Kid & Genki Horiguchi & Yoshiyuki Saito vs. Cima & Suwa & Sumo Dandy Fuji and an LLPW tag match

Mike Samples of Big Japan will appear on the 7/14 FMW show to challenge Kintaro Kanemura for the WEW Hardcore title on a show headlined by H & Tetsuhiro Kuroda defending the WEW tag titles against Gedo & Jado. Samples will appear on several shows on this tour. The big show is 7/23 with a show at Differ Ariake with Kanemura vs. Hisakatsu Oya in a ladder match with the winner getting Tomomi Tanimoto as their manager and a ten-on-one handicap match with the Original Hayabusa facing ten different heels including FMW President Shoichi Arai

Mitsuhiro Matsunaga attacked John Zandig after his winning the Big Japan death match title on 7/2 from Tomoaki Honma with a barbed wire bat to set up some sort of a fire match.

HERE AND THERE: In what is being investigated as an arson case, the guest house next to Stu Hart's famous "Hart House" caught on fire between 10:30 and 11 p.m. on 7/4 (it wasn't a fireworks accident as July 4th is obviously not a Canadian holiday). The fire began apparently in a pile of rubbish and old mattresses that 20-year-old Ted Annis, who wrestles professionally as Teddy Hart (son of Stu's daughter Georgia Hart Annis) and briefly was under developmental contract with the WWF, had thrown out the window while renovating the house. Annis was living in the house with a few friends for the past month. The fire traveled through the straw and sawdust insulation on the second floor, damaging the floor badly along with parts of the roof. The first floor, made of brick, was largely undamaged, nor was there any damage of the Hart family home next door. Local newspaper reports estimated the damage at between $100,000 and $150,000, which will be covered by insurance. Nobody was injured in the fire, although there were three people in the house including Stu's granddaughter Tanya Hart, 15, the daughter of Smith Hart, when it started. There were witnesses who spotted someone behind the house near the rubbish just before the fire started. Tanya Hart said she had two friends in the house watching movies and went out to run. She then saw the house on fire and went to warn her friends, but the two other girls had already left the house, and she ran to the Hart House to call 911. Before Annis moved in, the house was traditionally used as a guest house for area wrestlers and many of the biggest names in the business had either lived there briefly or stayed there, including legendary boxer Jack Dempsey. There had been an electrical fire which at one time that destroyed the same house in 1979 when Jim Neidhart was living there, and it was later rebuilt

There was a Carolinas indie pro wrestler who made some national news over the past week, although the pro wrestling part of his background didn't. Harold Hadnought, who wrestles as Dream Warrior, was arrested while on vacation in Daytona Beach. He and his wife left their children, ages five and eight, alone at the hotel pool all day and didn't come back until 1 a.m. while they went out to a NASCAR race and drinking afterwards. When they got back, the police were there and arrested them for child abandonment. Where it made news was he and his wife going on and on about religion and claiming that since they lived in the Carolinas, they didn't know anyone in Daytona Beach to leave the kids with. The quotes said were so nutty and his past record so colorful that it made the AP wires

Some notes from the 7/1 Ohio Valley Wrestling TV show, which was the follow-up for the Rockin Rumble at the Louisville Gardens, the biggest show in the company's history. The show aired an interview from the ring with Foley talking about how he may not have been one of the wrestlers that made wrestling history in Louisville, but that wrestling in Louisville helped make his history. The main things focused on where the Nick Dinsmore vs. Al Snow OVW title match and the Flash vs. Trailer Park Trash hardcore match, which were the two best matches on the show. Snow-Dinsmore in edited form on TV exemplified what we'd written on it. It was really good technically, but the lack of crowd reaction also came across. In the commentary as well as after the match, Jim Cornette pushed it as the best technical match perhaps in the history of the promotion and then brought Dinsmore out, pushing that he was from Louisville and went to Providence High School, and pushing him as the "Franchise." Cornette claimed that Dinsmore's performance, because Bruce Prichard and Kevin Kelly were there, got him a WWF developmental contract (I believe he already was under such a deal but it had never been mentioned on TV). This led to Flash coming out saying that he was the one who stole the show that night (true) and he deserved the contract (he actually has one but not in storyline) so set up a program. They also aired his match, and even though it was heavily edited, it did the match justice and it was the best hardcore style match I've seen in a long time. It was the best match I've seen from this promotion. Cornette tried to put it over as the best match in the Louisville Gardens in years. In a match at the taping (held a few days previously in Jeffersonville, TN), they debuted Shelton Benjamin, who was an assistant coach this past season at the University of Minnesota (where Brock Lesnar came from) and a two-time place-winner in the NCAA tournament. Benjamin faced Collector, and came out like he was a jobber, in a shootwrestling match. It was very short, just working a match to look like an amateur match and doing no pro moves. Benjamin then started reversing and taking Collector down and Cornette revealed his background and Benjamin scored the pin. Cornette, on Wrestling Observer Live, has been very high on Benjamin, but in this, his first pro singles match, he looked like a very good athlete who was clearly in his first match

K-Town Showdown on 7/7 ran head-to-head with a free show put on by Terry Landel (no relation to Buddy other than taking his working name) in the parking lot down the street from Chilhowie Park but still drew their normal crowd of about 700 while Landel's free show drew about 100. They tried an old style Texas death match with Dirty White Boy vs. Big Money Markus (Mark Kyle doing the Godfather gimmick with the name based out of Big Money Mark, which is an inside gimmick since promoter Ron Fuller was known for selling his territory for big profits to money marks). Anyway, they did eight falls, but fans didn't get into the falls. By far the best match on the show was Rico Constantino & Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong over Robbie D & Russ McCullough & Damaja (who is a top face in OVW but a heel here). They did an angle with Jimmy Golden vs. Mongolian Stomper (the famed Archie Gouldie, well into his 60s) which saw Golden put an object in Stomper's trunks and tell the ref for the DQ. Promoter Ron Fuller said the match stunk, but because Golden won, he'd give him the promised $10,000, but at that point Buddy Landel attacked Golden and grabbed the check. Bob Armstrong beat Jim Cornette in a lumberjack match as the main event. 7/14 has Cornette vs. Bob Armstrong in a loser leaves town match. Oh my God. They're bringing The Bullet back. There was an angle they were working with Fuller and Landel. Cornette, who has major heat with Landel stemming back to when he ran SMW and Landel was a major thorn in his side in Knoxville, when he recognized what they were doing was an angle (and after having to be restrained by the police from chasing Landel before he knew it was an angle) told Fuller that if he worked with Landel, Cornette would pull out all the OVW talent and the WWF talent from his shows. Fuller then dropped the angle, and in retaliation, Landel on his local TV show, aired hand-held footage of the last WWF house show in Knoxville and ran down Cornette and Fuller, not as an angle, and also ran the free show down the street from Fuller's event

Star Corporation (Victor the Bodyguard & Chicky Starr) won the IWA tag titles from Club WWF (Steve Bradley & Andy Anderson) on 7/8 in Manati, PR

Emile Dupree's annual summer-long Grand Prix wrestling tour of the Maritimes in Canada has already shut down

Davie, FL Mayor Harry Venis will be wrestling again with Rocky Johnson in his corner on the 7/15 Florida Championship Wrestling show at the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation. They are also doing a gimmick where the heel manager, Vinnie Scarpo, if his wrestler loses, has to wrestle an alligator

Harley Race's World League Wrestling is using a lot of WCW talent on his shows. On 7/27 in Topeka, KS at Remington's, will be DDP, Meng, The Harris Twins and Bam Bam Bigelow. 7/28 in Jefferson City, MO at the Capitol Plaza Hotel has the same crew except no DDP, and 7/29 in Columbia, MO at the Boone County Fairgrounds also has the same crew. 8/9 in California, MO at the Moniteau County Fairgrounds has Dustin Rhodes. Race's shows have been reportedly drawing 500 to 1,000 which is at the high end for indie shows these days

Maryland Championship Wrestling has the Shane Shamrock cup, named after the late Brian Howser, who wrestled as Shane Shamrock and died a few years back, on 7/19 in Glen Burnie MD with Christian York, Mikey Whipwreck, Qenaan Creed, Adam Flash, Joey Matthews, Shark Boy and a few others. 8/2 in Ocean City, MD has Jimmy Snuka, King Kong Bundy, Honky Tonk Man, Patriot, Mikey Whipwreck, Simon Diamond and Dawn Marie

Atlantic Terror Wrestling on 7/15 in Winchester, VA is headlined by Fabulous Moolah vs. Mae Young plus Matthews & York

Dusty Rhodes is running shows in Georgia in smaller towns like Cordele, Carrollton, Jesup and Warner-Robins called TCW TurnBucke Championship Wrestling. Glacier (Ray Lloyd) is the heavyweight champion and also working the shows are Chad Fortune, Erik Watts, Ron reis and Luther Biggs

Former ECW wrestler J.T. Smith wrestled his first match in a few years on a Virginia Wrestling Federation show in Millers Taven, VA on 7/8.

MMA: At this point the only match we know for the 8/27 Seibu Dome Pride show is Ken Shamrock vs. Kazuyuki Fujita. Fujita is a former national champion heavyweight wrestler. Shamrock is very strong with a good ability to avoid takedowns (in all his MMA matches, he was never really taken down, although he was reversed while on top by Kimo and Dan Severn). On their feet, Shamrock should be too quick and versatile for Fujita, unless Fujita has improved one hell of a lot in a short period of time. I'd expect Fujita will have a good 30-pound weight edge

There will be a Gene LeBelle celebrity roast in October at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles as a 69th birthday party. LeBelle, a national judo champion in the 50s, was a very tough mid-card pro wrestler in Southern California who was the company's policeman and shooter (a position many promotions in the old days had where guys would come to the office and want to be wrestlers and they put them in the ring with a killer who would eat them alive and hurt them which was believed at the time to be protecting the business). Later he worked in promotions (his brother Mike ran the territory in the 60s and 70s) and as a TV announcer. Now, nearly 30 years later, he's become legendary in the martial arts world as one of these toughest guys who ever lived legends

K-1 ran on NTV on 7/7 from Sendai and a new superstar was created in Cyril Abidi from France who knocked out Peter Aerts in 2:13 with a straight right in what was said to have been a great match. The show drew an amazing 22.6 rating which is the all-time record. The previous record was the 1997 Grand Prix finals at the Tokyo Dome which did a 20.7. They announced the next day, wouldn't you know it, that they've signed a rematch between the two as the main event for the 8/20 show at the Yokohama Arena. Also on the show before 10,500 fans, Musashi won the Japan Grand Prix tournament, which means he gets a shot at the K-1 Grand Prix again this year, as was expected, since he's the highest level of the Japanese heavyweight kickboxers. Still, he doesn't have a heavyweight knockout punch. In the first round, he defeated former Pancrase fighter Ryushi Yanagisawa in a boring match via unanimous decision. People watching on TV, particularly shoot fans, were amazed because a size illusion was destroyed. K-1 fighters, because reach is of prime importance, are all very tall, but since they are all tall, none are considered overly tall. Yanagisawa was actually the tallest Pancrase fighter and was considered because of that as a good sized guy, get Musashi, who is thought of as small next to most of the top K-1 stars, was actually the bigger of the two. It was the same in the old UWFI where Albright was able to play super monster because the Japanese wrestlers in the group were all very small, but when Albright came to All Japan, the illusion of him as this monster ended since Ace, who isn't thought of as a monster, was taller than he is, and the same was true during the UWFI vs. New Japan feud when fans were amazed how much smaller the UWFI guys were, because they created an illusion of being big because they all fought each other (the same size illusion that we've talked about many times in pro wrestling as to why it can be counterproductive to have huge guys in the mid-card, although the size deal seems less of an issue now in pro wrestling than at any time in the past because fans are into entertaining wrestlers no matter what their size, but huge mid-cards still detract from the "giants" you want to push and make the normal sized guys with talent seem "small" and hurt them in getting over). Musashi in the finals, he won a decision over Hiromi Amada. Andy Hug scored a first round knockout of Nobu Hayashi and was the most impressive fighter on the show. The next major show is 7/30 in Nagoya Rainbow Hall which is an eight-man one-night tournament which includes Ernesto Hoost, Lloyd Van Dam, Sam Greco and Jerome LeBanner who appear to be booked to be the final four bracketed in that order

Pancrase announced the second part of its middleweight and light heavyweight tournaments as well as its Neo Blood tournament for an afternoon/evening doubleheader on 7/23 at Korakuen Hall. The Neo Blood tournament, which takes place in the afternoon, will be eight man, with both first round matches and the semifinals taking place, leaving two men left to fight in the finals on 9/24 in Yokohama Bunka Gym. Announced thus far are Daisuke Watanabe, Hikaru Sato, Massive Ichi, Hiroo Matsunaga, Eiji Ishikawa, Youhei Ota and two more will be announced. The light heavyweight tournament, also with eight men, takes place on the evening show and will have a first and second round that night. Announced are Ikuhisa Minowa (who fought and looked very impressive on the UFC Japan show), Tomoya Takaesu, Masaya Kojima, Yukihiro Kanazawa, Brian Gassaway and three others. The two men who survive this tournament will join Omar Bouiche of Sweden and Pancrase regular Kei Yamamiya in a four-man tournament on 9/24. The middleweight tournament will be a four-man, with two first round matches involving Shonie Carter, Chris Lytle, Taro Obata with one more named to be announced. The two winners of those matches join Nathan Marquardt and Kiuma Kunioku in a four-man tournament final on 9/24

Rumina Sato faces Takuya Kuwabara on the 8/27 Shooto show. Sato, considered by most as the most exciting submission fighter in the world. Someone noted that since early 1998, Sato has won all but three matches in less than one minute. All three matches that went more than one minute he ended up losing

Another Martial Arts group debuts on 10/22 at the Ariake Coliseum called Samurai, put on by Kyokushin Karate. They will have matches on that show both under kick boxing rules, as well as kick boxing rules with grappling allowed.

ECW: Advertising Age magazine this past week listed Heyman was one of the Top 100 marketers. The article described that Heyman was too extreme for the Turner wrestling company and then built he own thriving business. This probably wasn't the best week for that story to come out for the credibility of that journal, being that the word came out just days earlier of Heyman's show being canceled for underperforming ratings and the company's future at least in staying at its current level being very questionable

Heyman, regarding Scott Levy's release, said he felt that after the first day he was in ECW, that he did nothing for the company and used his tenure in ECW to party and get out of shape and didn't clean up and start losing weight until he realized the WWF wouldn't take him in that condition and that his rep had taken a major tumble. He said he feels Levy owes him ten months so now he's in no hurry to release him. Levy's contract expires on 8/26. Levy had said Heyman told him that the 7/8 Arena show would be his final night and the wrestlers were planning a farewell party for him. After what Heyman said publicly, the wrestlers, believing it wasn't his final night, canceled the party. Then Levy got to the building and Heyman told him what he said publicly was all a work (if that was the case, I can't come up with one good idea as to what purpose that served) and asked him to put over Tajiri. He nixed that, and Heyman asked him to take Rhino's piledriver off the apron through a table. He nixed that because he didn't want to take that bump this close to a WWF debut. He finally agreed to getting speared through a table by Rhino, being saved by Sandman, and he and Sandman hugging, which as expected, drew a big final pop. Heyman had not as of the weekend actually given Levy his paperwork release form, but Levy had started filling out his paperwork to start with the WWF

Notes from the 7/8 show at the ECW Arena which from several reports was a really hot show, with a lot of the younger wrestlers like E.Z. Money, Kid Kash, C.W. Anderson, etc. looking real good. Blue Meanie and Jasmine St. Clair came out with Lou E. Dangerously and announced Meanie would be known as either Blue Boy or Blue E. Dangerously. St. Clair had been working with XPW, which is ECW's somewhat rival in that their is legal action by ECW out against them. Jazz came out and destroyed Lou E, Meanie and St. Clair. Tajiri beat Whipwreck in what was said to be great. Styles and Gertner did the TNN open and Raven came out to bid farewell. There were "You sold out" chants at him until Cyrus came out and yelled at Raven, to turn him face. Anton and Rhino beat up Raven including the spear through the table till Sandman and Lori Fullington made the save with the cane. At one point when Cyrus was doing his interview, the fans were chanting, "USA" for USA Network I presume, and not because Cyrus is Canadian. Diamond & Swinger said they wanted to get rid of their silly entourage. C.W. Anderson came out with them and they beat up the entourage until Doring & Roadkill came out, but it was still 3-on-2 until Bobby Eaton debuted making the save to the old Midnight Express music and a real big reaction. Anderson cut off Eaton and Anderson & Swinger & Diamond laid the others out. Credible retained the ECW title against Pierre Oulette, who apparently looked real good and even power bombed Francine off the ropes through a table. Fans gave both men a standing ovation after the match. DeVito & Angel won a four-way over Nova & Chetti, Guido & Tony Mamaluke and the debuting Joey Matthews & Christian York (who got mixed reviews). Kash beat E.Z. Money in what we were told was the best match on the show with the Money power bomb while standing on the top rope turned into a huracanrana. Sandman & Lynn beat Rhino & Corino, so Lynn at this point is no longer having the heel turn teased. Sandman pinned Rhino, who hasn't done many jobs of late, when Spike Dudley interfered and they did a 3-D. Main event was Van Dam over Mahoney. Fans were chanting "Where's Psicosis" during this match, since the word was out he was debuting and it seemed everyone in the building was expecting him, which Heyman appeared mad about the chants. He had travel problems according to those who contacted ECW about him not being there

The previous night in Poughkeepsie was another taping. They did a strange deal with Bob Backlund that everyone was swearing wasn't an angle. Backlund was invited to the show, although the word was given that he came on his own. He was backstage before the show. During the Kash vs. Anderson match, he started jawing with fans, doing his gimmick, right in the middle of the match and it took heat away from the match. He was thrown out of the building by security. I don't believe this was taped for TV, but I guess if it airs, then it's an angle. It also took attention away from the Swinger & Diamond post-match run-in. Credible and Tajiri had a real good title match, although Credible didn't come out of it very well. They had a miscommuncation on a spot, resulting in Tajiri throwing a kick that knocked one of Credible's back molars out and chipping other teeth. He also nailed him on a cane shot. Credible looked really beaten up the next night at the Arena. Rhino basically squashed Raven on the way out, kicking out of the DDT and then spearing him for the win. Dreamer & Lynn beat the Baldies in a brawl, but afterwards were left laying in a post-match attack by Corino and Anton. Van Dam is now using his springboard kick all the way across the ring as his finisher

New Jack was backstage at the shows but he's still a ways from being able to work

Dusty Rhodes missed the weekend due to an eye infection. At this point he's not booked for the PPV

Luminous Warrior, who does an Ultimate Warrior type gimmick, from Texas, had a try-out before the shows

TNN show on 7/7 from Chicago opened with a few clips of matches taped for the Hardcore syndicated TV show. They showed George (as in the blond former WCW valet of Randy Savage) in the ring and Francine gave her a good cane shot. They did the Styles & Gertner open with Gertner doing his lewd poem before Cyrus came out. It was their usual fun interplay. Gertner threatened Cyrus but before anything could happen, Spike Dudley came out with his leg in a heavy grace. He was talking totally out of character, more Matt Hyson-like than like his character on the permanent acid trip. He blamed Cyrus and the network for getting Super Crazy deported. What a great job of shifting the blame that was. Spike threatened Cyrus when Rhino came out and threatened Spike. Pitbull Gary Wolfe then came out. Rhino pinned him through a table and piledrove him off the apron through another table for the pin in 1:29. ECW had a most amazing sponsor. They may have had it before and I didn't notice it, since it's the commercial with the teenage girl athletes telling young kids "Don't blow it" regarding staying away from drugs that always airs on WWF, and considering the portrayal of women in WWF, I was surprised that it aired there although WWF does so well in the teenage demos it's in another way a prime spot for the ad. ECW, on the other hand, is the strangest show for that commercial to air since biggest babyfaces are a guy who talks about pot smoking in Van Dam, and Sandman, whose gimmick, which he brings to reality in the ring a little too much, is that he's always drunk, and Raven, who may have cleaned himself up because he needed to or he'd have no shot at getting in the WWF, but whose character portrayal is certainly not of someone who doesn't love a good party. So they have teenage girls in the middle of a show where the audience is heavily male and the role of the women on the show (with the noted exception of Jazz) are purely as sexual fantasy creatures telling people to stay away from drugs in a promotion which uses the fact its top faces are party animals in marketing them. Tajiri pinned Lynn in 7:39 of a great TV match. These are probably the two best all-around workers left in the company and have great chemistry together. Cyrus came out in Lynn's corner to give the idea Lynn had joined the network. Finish saw Tajiri blow the mist at Cyrus and put him in the tarantula. After a ref bump, Corino attacked Lynn setting Tajiri up for the win after a low dropkick, so the storyline got even more confusing in that you don't know where Lynn stands but he doesn't appear to be with the network. Credible did a promo staring right at Francine's breasts, which were sitting there on a table saying it's the hottest thing he's ever seen in his life. Another camera shot showed he was actually talking about his ECW title belt and not Francine's boobs. A very quick three-way saw Diamond & Swinger over Chetti & Nova and Doring & Roadkill. C.W. Anderson got his big TV push trying to make him a modern day Arn Anderson, laying out everyone in the match with a left and giving Roadkill a spinebuster before leaving. Diamond pinned Nova first with the Simonizer, which is a reverse DDT. Swinger pinned Doring to win the match with a DDT in 3:59. TV main saw Credible pin Sandman in 7:14. Dawn Marie came out as ref but Credible caned her immediately. This show had a pretty decent raunch factor with no digitizing or major editing. Credible took a lot of good bumps to carry it. Ref bump early. Sandman had him pinned and Dusty Rhodes came in to count for Francine stopped his count. Corino & Victory came in to sell for Dusty's elbows. Francine hit a bunch of cane shots till George showed up making the save and having a catfight. Her boobs nearly fell out of her dress. Sandman went for another pin and H.C. Loc came in to ref but Anton attacked him. Raven attacked Anton giving him the DDT but Credible caned Raven immediately. Raven and Anton fought to the back. Sandman hip tossed Credible through a table but Rhino then speared Sandman into a table to set up Credible hitting Sandman with his spinning tombstone for the pin. Dreamer and Jazz came out. Dreamer laid out Rhino and piledrove Credible on barbed wire, with Credible juicing. The best thing about this is there was an Arena Football League game on immediately after this ended, and they didn't promo the game as this show hit its climax.

WCW: Nitro on 7/10 in Jacksonville drew 5,357 fans which was 4,652 paying $87,290. The match quality was much improved from a combination of more of the All Japan style false finishes (no doubt attributable to Johnny Ace), more time allotted to the matches and more clean finishes, leaving the run-ins and angles until after a finish, not to mention most of the bad wrestlers (okay, don't bring up Kronic's match) were off the show so they used good athletic guys against each other. The show opened with Booker T doing an interview. He said his interview was not from a script. He was dressed in a Rock-like open shirt and talked about Goldberg, calling Goldberg a mark. He brought out his wife Lavestia. Stevie Ray came out and teased ruining the celebration, but ended up praising his brother. While he was doing this, the fans were chanting "boring" at him, but they ended up hugging. This brought out Midajah O'Hearn, who is another in the long list of women who can't talk. Steiner beat both T & Ray up with really lame bat shots and threatened Lavestia. Booker T got a nice reaction, but even with the world title, they didn't take to him like a superstar. Jarrett challenged T later for a title match but Stone Cold Scott Steiner attacked him and knocked over the interview backdrop exactly like a famous Austin promo on Raw. Douglas beat Crowbar in 3:35 with a reverse stunner. They didn't work well together. Bagwell came out to clean house on Douglas after. Kidman did an interview. Jarrett shoved him. They brawled. In a hilarious segment, Tank Abbott came out with his shorts and a tux, while 3 Count came out all in tuxes with a supposed gold record. They came to the ring and Shane Helms was on a ladder hanging the gold record above the ring. The Jung Dragons attacked them. Tank KO'd all three with one punch each until Great Muta returned and blew mist. Muta got a shockingly huge pop considering his big United States run was in 1989, although he did make a big impact that year. Jarrett beat Kidman in 4:34 with the stroke. It should be noted that the match quality on the show, like the PPV, was generally way up because Johnny Ace had a hand in laying out a lot of the finishes, which meant they did a lot of near falls and All Japan style pacing. Torrie Wilson was out and gave Kidman a low blow to lead to a near fall. Steiner beat up Kanyon and then said "Have a Nice Day." At least he didn't say he was the game. Awesome was trying to hit on Nitro Girl Beef (a different large woman) when Cat gave Awesome the U.S. title. Awesome refused, going face, saying he wanted to earn it in the ring. T pinned Awesome in a title match in 8:07 after the uranage. Lots of good near falls and a really good match. Steiner ran in and put T in the recliner after the bout but Awesome saved T and Steiner bailed, so Awesome made the turn and they shook hands. Cat was mad at Steiner for his antics and confronted him. They called each other stupid bitches. Cat, who has turned total face and is no longer playing an incompetent role (a black commissioner with a positive portrayal and a black world champion on the same weekend, right after an AP story about Bobby Walker protesting the Thunder card in Columbus, GA). Cat attacked Steiner, who turned the tables on him and was pounding him until T made the save. Kanyon attacked T and then Jarrett attacked Kanyon and T cleaned house on both of them. Cat then set up a three-way with Steiner, Jarrett and Kanyon with the winner getting a title shot on the 8/13 New Blood Rising PPV. Goldberg then came out saying he wanted to be in the match so it was a four-way. They showed Smiley training Ralphus. Vito beat Smiley & Ralphus in 3:57 when Vito put him through a table. Smiley came back and hit Vito with a chair, and he fell onto Ralphus for the pin. Paisley was in a bad mood until she saw Kiwi (Alan Funk). His gimmick, based on Mango the Saturday Night Live character, is that every woman who sees him falls in love with him. Although he did an effeminate character at first, that apparently isn't the long-term plan. Lenny Lane was back after doing a worked angle everywhere that he hated the company and was quitting, at ringside with a large sign that said "Use me." Storm beat Artist in 3:50 with a half crab. Storm's gimmick is they play the Canadian national anthem before the match. Some in the crowd stood at attention and more booed. Some boring chants, but they did a lot of near falls before the end. It isn't the same gimmick, but I sense the Storm "I don't entertain you" gimmick almost encourages boring chants. If you remember WWF with Furnas & LaFon doing the gimmick where they were so boring to get heat, and what a flop that was in getting them over, that I see this gimmick as too similar. Kronic beat Rection & Cajun in 5:09 when they tried to do the Clark clothesline off the top on Cajun and Adams pinned him. That was the idea, but what a mess that finisher turned into. Misterio Jr. & Guerrera were at ringside on the mic and made fun of the match saying it was all in slow motion, which was even funnier because they were right. Jindrak & O'Hare attacked them in some of the worst looking brawling ever. Match was bad even before the messed up finish. Stasiak & Palumbo were involved before it was over. Vampiro did an interview and brought Demon, his new partner, out of the casket. Vampiro is saddled with the lamest gimmick in the company. He ordered Demon to attack Asya, which he did until another fake Sting came out with the lights off so you couldn't see closely, doing Sting signature moves to lay Vampiro out. The fans booed the hell out of this because they could see it wasn't the real Sting, which was only made worse for TV viewers with the announcers trying to sell it was the real Sting. I don't know that it wasn't, but not one fan at home or at the building thought it was and were booing and made the announcers look bad selling it. All those years of previous bookers killing the credibility of the announcers, and now, the "new WCW" immediately embarks on one of the biggest mistakes of the old WCW. In the four-way, Jarrett got the pin to set up Booker T vs. Jarrett on 8/13 in Vancouver, BC as the main event, pinning Kanyon in 5:31 when Goldberg jackhammered Kanyon, but got pulled out of the ring in a pull-apart with Steiner. It was never acknowledged that it was Steiner who helped Goldberg beat Nash the previous night, and Steiner never did an interview to explain why. Fans were into Goldberg vs. Steiner

Thunder on 7/5 in Columbus, GA aired live. Jarrett challenged Hogan. Cat came out and argued with Jarrett and said he was going to do a karate exhibition later in the show. Woody Kearse locked Stasiak & Palumbo in their tanning beds ("I Still Know What You Did Last Summer"). Jarrett was throwing furniture backstage while Kanyon banged another guy. First bout was Storm winning a four-way over Disco, Misterio Jr. and Kidman. It really broke down to a tag match with Storm using the half crab submission on Disco in 4:08. Athletically it was good. I wish Storm a lot of luck in this day and age getting that submission over in this company. Cat did a karate exhibition with the Jung Dragons. They all beat him up at first. He grabbed the mic and said it was an exhibition. so he then beat all of them up including giving Hayashi a groin claw. Cat then said it was over and they all shook hands. I still can't figure out what the purpose of all this was, except to show everyone just how good Yang and Hayashi are as workers. Palumbo & Stasiak came out all red from the tanning bed. They had funny tans because they were wearing long shorts and their title belts. At least the tans looked funny, but that doesn't explain why their normal tans don't have the same white splotches. They challenged Kearse to a match later in the show. Vito beat Demon in 5:04 when Vampiro hit Demon with a shovel. Unlike in previous matches where they came up with gimmicks as to why there was interference with the no interference doctrine, they didn't even try in this one. Ref Mark Johnson wasn't even bumped, but the lack of a DQ was explained because it was a no DQ hardcore match. Then later in the show, Cat made a big deal about interference int he Jarrett match. Awesome did an interview and showed spliced footage of him challenging Scott Steiner, spliced with Steiner walking around the ring, to give the impression Steiner wouldn't get in the ring and was counted out and it was a real win. Kearse & Brian Adams beat Palumbo & Stasiak in a non-title when Kearse, who is from Columbus, GA so he got a big pop, and was something of a ham, but a very amateur ham, did the double choke slam on Stasiak and Kearse pinned him in 2:47. Vito attacked Funk backstage since Funk was replacing the injured Johnny on the PPV. They tried to portray it as Funk deliberately injuring Johnny while pretending to be his mentor. Booker T & Bagwell beat Douglas & Kanyon in 4:12 in a match where the winner would get a title shot at Jarrett in the main event. They teased Kanyon & Douglas having dissension. Douglas was barely in because he's banged up. T pinned Kanyon clean with a uranage, which is now called the book end. The music guy played T's music before the ref even finished his count. It would not be his last mistake of the show. Guerrera & Tygress beat Loco & Gunns in 3:30 when Guerrera pinned Loco after hitting him with the title belt, to set up the cruiserweight title match on the PPV. Awful. They think the women draw ratings, and the more they put them out there, the worse the ratings get. Awesome sprayed some mystery substance on Rick Steiner's sunglasses. It must have been potent as hell, because Steiner put the glasses on and suddenly couldn't see. Tenay did an interview with Duggan and his wife. She didn't say anything. His interview was an old-time territory babyface interview about standing up for himself against the odds. I thought it was the most effective thing on the show. Crowbar attacked David Flair. David was so bad in selling it wasn't even funny. It turned into a match. Daffney and Hancock came out. Crowbar got the pipe from Hancock and hit David with it for the pin at 2:48. Crowbar threatened to hit David again unless he told the truth. His truth was that it was Hancock, not he, who cut Daffney's hair but he did admit to fooling around on Daffney. Daffney stormed out, but Crowbar was mad because she was mad at him even though she showed her the truth. David then shaved part of trainer Danny Young's hair because she was rubbing Hancock's upper thigh. She told him she had an injury and it needed rubbing. David walked in and saw it, and she claimed she wasn't hurt so David freaked out on the trainer. If they had people who could act in this skit, it could have been entertaining. Awesome beat Rick Steiner by spraying him with the mysterious substance in the eyes in 2:22. The least they could have done was call is Monsel Powder or Freebird cream. Main event saw Jarrett vs. Booker T. They had a good match, but the crowd seemed flat, and weren't that much with T as he started getting a lot of good near falls teasing the title switch. Kanyon gave T a cutter on the floor and threw him in to be pinned in 5:01. Cat came out and said due to interference, he was re-starting the match. They went to teasing near falls for T winning the title until a ref bump. He got the uranage on Jarrett with the ref out. Miller grabbed the ref shirt and went to count the pin. The music guy screwed up and played T's music before Jarrett kicked out. Match continued with Jarrett hitting Cat with a guitar for the DQ at 2:47 of the re-start and several refs ran out and signalled the DQ finish

Both Ric Flair and Konnan underwent surgery in Birmingham with Dr. James Andrews on 7/6. Flair's surgery was for a torn right rotator cuff (shoulder) and Konnan's for a torn left tricep. Flair is hoping to be back in September, although there are power forces in the company also wanting the retirement angle to actually be adhered to and not bring him back. Konnan won't be cleared to wrestle until October

Bret Hart should have word in a few weeks after getting a battery of tests done, officially, as to what or if he has any kind of an in-ring wrestling future. It is believed Hart suffered multiple concussions within a short time period

Eric Bischoff's father passed away during the week at the age of 70

WCW is planning a Nitro taping in London, England in November

A clarification on the Hogan TV election story. The way it was written indicated that Hogan wasn't a registered voter but it was to mean he wasn't a registered voter in Clearwater, where the referendum he said he was going to vote for was on the ballot. Terry Bollea did register to vote in 1993, but has only voted in one election. He technically lives in Belle Aire, FL, which is just on the outskirts of Clearwater

Terry Taylor has been pulled from announcing the Saturday morning show on TBS because of his added duties so Larry Zbyszko has been doing the show with usually Scott Hudson, or sometimes Mike Tenay. The show is scheduled to be relaunched with the new name "WCW Blast Off" with Chad Damiani and Spice as hosts, although no date has been given for it. That was the same name of a short-lived WCW show in the early 90s on WGN in Chicago

Bob Ryder's story on Bill Goldberg was a huge topic of discussion within the company, particularly at Nitro on 7/3. Both Ryder, who does the WCW Live show as well as runs 1wrestling.com, and Bill Banks (who did so on WCW's own web site), on the same day, wrote somewhat similar stories about the sorry state of affairs in the company. Both ran down the current state of the company, and offered the same basic suggestion of giving more power to the bookers (Banks mentioned Vince Russo, who was the one who brought him in from WWF, in particular) and not letting the talent run the show. Clearly the lack of a team attitude of so many of the top stars is a killer, but I don't know how to turn it around because how one would do so is to be able to have full confidence in the ability of management and that's going to be hard at this point. Their basic points were valid, although Ryder also suggested firing Goldberg as an example and insinuated his injuries from the windshield had healed and he'd been taking additional time off holding the company up (and he'd hardly be the first to have that belief). Goldberg was furious about the article. Reportedly a close advisor to Goldberg told him "not to take the bait," believing it was a planted story designed to get Goldberg hot and have him lose his cool and thus justify the position of his enemies that he was out of control and wouldn't do business that wanted him out. It was well known that Goldberg had gone back to Brad Siegel complaining about the heel turn and that he thought it had been a bad idea. It was very hard for Russo and Bischoff to convince Siegel to allow the turn and convince Goldberg to do it since Goldberg had been against it from the start before agreeing. Probably both by that point were upset that Goldberg wanted to do a Sting after the fact where it would be forgotten in three weeks. There were a lot of different theories about the coincidence of both stories coming out on the same day, and just before Russo's scheduled return. Ryder then after Nitro wrote a second piece, this one much shorter, praising Goldberg for doing Nitro despite being against doctors orders because his injury hadn't healed. From what we're told, only a few in WCW viewed the two stories appearing at the same time as anything but a coincidence or that the stories were planted, but because nobody trusts anyone in that company, and the environment created has led to this, there is always skepticism of everything from every angle these days. There were many in the company upset more about the Banks story, which was a well written story even if the political message of trying to rally behind giving Russo absolute power was transparent, since it was talking about how bad things were in the company on its own web site. His basis was that WWF was in the same state in 1997, gave Russo the ball and it was Russo that turned the company around. Russo's credibility as the main one deserving credit for the WWF's fortunes has taken a tumble given the respective fortunes of WWF and WCW since he switched sides, but even overlooking that, any comparison of WCW today to WWF in 1996-97 isn't a fair one because it would be comparing a company that lost $6.6 million in a year to a company that is on target to lose ten times that amount. If you look back at 1997, while WWF was losing a lot of money, it still averaged 5,826 paid per show, which was more than WCW did (5,472) even though WCW was ahead in PPV (0.79 average to 0.61) and won the Monday night ratings every week. To say WWF was getting its ass kicked would be rewriting history. WCW was winning, because PPV was the largest revenue stream and it was solidly ahead in that category. It was also, not coincidentally, putting out a better product in the ring at that time for the most part, but the overall scene was always somewhat competitive. To compare those numbers with WCW's current PPV's at below an 0.2 and its current level of money losses and the poor quality of the WCW TV and in-ring product as compared with WWF in that year isn't even close to a similar situation. The Canada vs. USA feud was a classic and even with business at a down level and millions being lost, Austin was clearly on the verge by the end of the year of becoming the biggest star in the industry, something that can't be said for Goldberg or anyone in today's WCW. WCW only runs a few house shows per month because they can't sell tickets, and WWF in both 1996 and 1997 was showing great growth throughout both years at the gate after bottoming out in 1994, rather than being in a ticket selling free fall. The fact was 1996 was the WWF's best year at the gate since 1991, and 1997 showed nice growth from 1996. The WWF arena business started trending upward in 1995 before basically reaching its current level with numerous full houses in 1999 and maintaining that level this year while increasing revenue by a strong percentage this year through raising ticket prices. Aaron Blitzstein ordered the story taken down off the web site and since that time, the wcw.com site has been far more cautious as to what stories are allowed as a critical story on Hogan was also not posted

With Russo taking himself off television, Ric Flair was screwed again. The angle he waited 25 years to do, getting his head shaved, and wouldn't you know it, once again there is no comeback

John Hugger (Johnny the Bull) suffered several internal injuries including pelvic problems and a ruptured bladder from his landing doing the springboard legdrop to the floor in the 7/3 match against Funk. He also suffered a torn up buttocks and is expected out of action for about two months. Funk himself took a terrible beating hardway from chairs and it was described that after the match his face looked like he had just been on the losing end of a brutal boxing match. Hugger practiced the move during the day using a crash pad for his landing. At one point there was talk of having the crash pad out there for the move, but for whatever reason, that was decided against and people backstage were advising him not to do the move. There was a lot of surprise that Funk would agree to take the move, being the margin for error on that one is fairly large and it's a 250-pound man springboarding off the top to the floor and if he's off a few inches it's his butt crashing on the face

Vampiro is trying to work himself into a program with Great Muta, which is smart, because a hot program in the U.S. would make him valuable to New Japan if he ever wants to leave WCW. He may also have to change his make-up pattern because of legal action by the Misfits (the rock band that worked WCW as opposed to the current group in WCW)

The prevailing talk in the company now is that they need to make a big push for September, feeling that the ratings will increase big when Raw moves to TNN, and fans that traditionally turn to USA and see a movie will then watch TNT. Of course, fans are going to realize soon enough what station WCW is on and CBS is expecting to spend $8 million on an ad campaign to push the switch and WWF will push it hard on Smackdown as well

Bill Soleywko (Klondike Bill), a veteran star from the 60s and early 70s, who has worked on the WCW ring crew since the inception of the organization, is said to be on a respirator now having been stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig disease)

After his tricep surgery, Konnan is expected out of the ring for ten weeks

As mentioned on Nitro, over the weekend, Bam Bam Bigelow saved two children in a fire and suffered second degree burns in the process

Nash hasn't been shy about telling everyone that he's getting ready in about 15 months to get back into the WWF for one last run as Big Daddy Cool, get in shape for final main event runs with Austin and Rock and whomever else, and retire for a job on the booking committee. While I've always believed that when push came to shove, McMahon would take Nash back, a few months ago when Nash came calling saying he wanted out of WCW and would try and get a release, McMahon gave him a lowball figure and told him it would be best for him to stay put because he couldn't match the $1.6 million that Nash was getting in WCW (which is the nicest way of saying we don't have a spot for you) after polling many in the front office, all of whom were very negative about the prospects of bringing him into what WWF officials call the best locker room environment the company has ever had. Nash may also be saying this to get an early jump on a renewal and a few more years at the same rate even though he's old, does nothing in the ring, and hasn't drawn or meant much in ratings for a long time, but may feel that if he can get over that WWF will push him big, WCW will spend big to keep him. Jim Ross actually on the WWF web site wrote about older injury-prone guys using WWF as leverage that the WWF has no interest in. One could take that at face value, which is actually how I'd take it. I guess one could also take it that if WWF wants someone, and they publicly say they don't, it drives their value to WCW down so they make them a lower offer, thereby making it easier for WWF to then sign them. But still, I don't see WWF having any reason to want Nash, Luger or Hogan at this point because there are more long-run downsides to it than potential upsides. Even if there may be short-term money in all of them, and surely is with Hogan, they would be messing with a successful formula at a time the formula is still working

It appears the philosophy of teaching actors to be wrestlers is really being considered by more than just Russo as a new method of attempting to turn things around

There was a large ad in an Australian newspaper on 7/8 for the WCW Down Under tour with a photo of Goldberg on the ad calling him the "current world champion." Goldberg hasn't held the title since losing it at Starrcade 1998. The original plans, but those were scrapped when Russo and Bischoff took back over in April, were actually for Goldberg to win the title at this past weekend's Bash at the Beach PPV. I think this was more a lack of communications from the WCW publicity people than a foreshadowing that Goldberg will be holding the title imminently and on that October tour

Bobby Walker was protesting outside the Columbus, GA Civic Center before the Thunder show regarding alleged racism in WCW

The plan at one point was for DDP to return after the PPV and work at the New Blood Live PPV against Kanyon

Hogan's contractual status with WCW runs out after two more PPV shows. He could always ask for a release and the company, if they wanted to, could give it, but if he doesn't ask, they are required to use him on one show at the end of this year and a second show in 2001 before April. He would have creative control as it pertains to the finish of his matches, but they have the right to book his opponent

Luger's position is the same as it's been

A lot of internal panic among office employees increased when Robin Shaw, who is the daughter of Bill Shaw, who formerly ran WCW and is a long-time bigwig at Turner, transferred out of WCW to another Turner company

WCW through local music promoter Paul Dainty, will be running four Australian dates, 10/7 in Brisbane, 10/9 Nitro in Sydney, 10/11 in Perth which I presume will be Thunder and 10/13 in Melbourne. The rest of the major dates for October are a Nitro 10/2 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, Thunder on 10/3 in Long Beach, returning from Australia with Nitro on 10/16 in St. Paul, Thunder on 10/17 in Fargo, ND, Nitro on 10/23 in Little Rock, Thunder on 10/24 in Memphis, Halloween Havoc on 10/29 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Nitro on 10/30 in San Diego and Thunder on 10/31 in Irvine, CA

There was almost a movie-like situation involving Roddy Piper, whose daughter, Anastasia, either ran away or was kidnapped on 6/23 at 3 a.m. from their home on Bald Peak Mountain near Hillsboro, OR. Piper's wife reportedly saw her daughter either getting into or getting pulled into a small red truck and took off in chase, got the license plate, but lost the truck. Piper basically did his own investigation work when the police weren't as successful looking for clues as to her whereabouts and finally found her one week later in a parking lot of a shopping mall in Eugene, OR

It was announced on Power Pro that Ali (real name Steve Sharp) had signed with WCW

Kid Romeo, coming off a successful tour of Japan in the Super Juniors tournament, was released by WCW

Thunder on 7/5 in Columbus, GA drew 4,625 fans, but it was only 1,202 paid for $26,275.

WWF: Judging from TV, and except for the top three matches (Rock vs. Benoit, Jericho vs. HHH, Undertaker vs. Angle), nothing has been announced for 7/23 but it looks to be something with T&A vs. Hardys, maybe with the women to make it a six-man, Edge & Christian vs. Acolytes for tag titles, Venis vs. Rikishi for the IC

Raw on 7/10 drew a sellout 13,733 paying $408,287 to the San Jose Arena. Benoit and Shane came out and they pushed hard that Foley wasn't there, and was in Southeast Asia. Rock came out to set up their match. Guerrero and Chyna ended up running out and Chyna hit Shane with a chair while Benoit left untouched. Chyna was wearing a lot more clothing than usual, which may be toning down content due to advertisers getting squeamish. T&A won a three-way over Too Cool and Hardys. First Jeff used the swanton on Test, but the Albert gave him the neck hanging tree slam and Test got the pin eliminating them. Scotty 2 Hotty went for the worm, but Tazz came out and choked him out, allowing Test to pin him after an elbow off the top in a good match. Jericho beat Road Dogg in 5:09 with a lionsault that looked particularly dangerous since Jericho's knee caught Dogg in the face. HHH, obsessed with Jericho, threw a fit backstage. HHH shoved Dogg down and X-Pac acted as the peacemaker. Undertaker came out and challenged Angle. Undertaker's mic work was bad, but he can get away with it because he's such an icon. Still, this segment was dragging before Angle came out, and Angle's mic work was well below his standard so it dragged when he came out as well. Angle was funny in saying that they couldn't waste such a great match for a city like San Jose and suggested it for the PPV instead. He also said he didn't know if anyone actually wanted to see them wrestle. That must have been some funny inside rib, because on paper the match isn't going to be pretty. It'll probably be kept short and leave Jericho-HHH and Benoit-Rock to put in time. Angle told Undertaker to clean up him image and came out with this lame motor scooter for him to use instead of the bike. Undertaker chased him, but Angle escaped, which was no surprise given the respective foot speed of the two. Undertaker knocked the scooter off the ramp. A three-way for the IC title saw Venis DQ'd for hitting Rikishi with the belt in 5:42. Kane was the third guy. Very little heat for Rikishi-Venis feud and Kane was thrown in for no reason. Stephanie came out and tried to lure Jericho into the ring by promising he could take sexual liberties with her in front of almost 14,000 fans. Jericho seemed intrigued by the idea, but, it was all a swerve. DX was waiting with sledge hammers and Jericho never came out, and then did his speech on what Stephanie was, and since it's Monday and not Thursday, called her a ho. I don't know why I found it so funny when he called HHH "Trip." Edge & Christian did an interview about a tag title match with Acolytes. Christian said he had the sniffles and couldn't wrestle. If you think about it, him getting away with that makes the WWF look really lame. Edge pinned Bradshaw in a singles match in 3:00. Christian tried to interfere but Bradshaw lariated the hell out of him. Edge got the ring bell Christian dropped and hit Bradshaw with it for the pin. Lita beat Stratus in a street fight in 1:22. Fans were really into Lita. She did a moonsault and took Stratus' top off. Richards came out to censor it seeing Stratus in her bra and stopped the match. When Richards came out, there was an anti-PTC sign in the crowd that the cameras zoomed in on. Road Dogg pretended to leave because he was mad about an HHH vs. X-Pac match. They wrestled for a few minutes before Jericho came out to attack HHH. But it was a trap. They all turned on Jericho and Dogg came back with a sledge hammer. Stephanie slapped him. This was a big-time attempt at heat angle with several sledge hammer shots, Jericho coughing up blood, and eventually going out in an ambulance with his head covered in the proverbial crimson mask. Benoit vs. Rock ended with Shane attacking Earl Hebner and taking over as ref. Benoit got the crossface on. Rock put his hand down reaching for the ropes and punched the mat twice and Shane took it as a tap for the win in 4:56. Hebner got up and reversed the decision for Shane's interference. Rock did get up to deliver a rock bottom to another ref but this week sold the hell out of his neck to get over Benoit's crossface as a threat

TV tapings on 7/11 in Oakland before a sellout at the Arena. Prototype (John Sena) beat Damian Steele kind of a spinning back suplex in 4:36. Prototype also was the featured guy at about the same time on the Discovery Channel special. Match was really bad but Prototype showed a ton of charisma and is going to make it some day. Rodney & Abs beat Dupps when Pete Gas interfered in 5:08. Dupps are big guys who can move, but at this point they aren't that good. For Heat, Edge & Christian beat Dudleys when Edge pinned Buh Buh with his feet on the ropes. Well, they were supposed to be, but it was botched because his feet barely got to the ropes. Dudleys gave Christian a 3-D after and power bombed Edge through the table. Tremendous heat for the entire match. Dudleys brought out a table right away and Richards took it away. That got major heat as well. Godfather beat Buchanan via DQ when Tazz interfered and choked out Godfather. Godfather looked pretty bad. D-Lo & Chaz beat Michinoku & Funaki with the old Power & Glory finish, with Chaz doing a top rope superplex and D-Lo with a frog splash on Taka. No heat but the fans popped for the finish. Match wasn't as good as you'd think. Saturn beat Rios with an elbow off the top. Rios missed spot after spot until hitting this awesome double springboard spot. Bad match. Saturn's elbow off the top landed on Rios' mouth and knocked a few teeth out. Even with the win, Saturn walked back like he was really unhappy because the match was so bad. Bradshaw destroyed Gangrel with a clothesline. Before Smackdown started, Tazz did a promo. It was amazing as the crowd during every commercial break chanted for Rock, and when they changed to the blue ropes for Smackdown, the place popped like one of the top babyfaces had come out. Smackdown started with Too Cool & Rikishi over T&A & Venis in 6:57. Really good match. Lita & Hardys ended up brawling with T&A, leaving Venis alone and Rikishi pinned him with the banzai. Hardys & Lita danced with Cool & Rikishi after. There are plenty of fans dressed like wrestlers which is no surprise with how hot WWF is, but there was one fan walking around dressed like Roadkill of ECW. Now that was strange. HHH & Stephanie came out. HHH did kind of a boring interview to build up the main event against Undertaker. Road Dogg tried to hit on Lita. She slapped him, which led to DX vs. Hardys. Best match on the show even though Jeff was hurting badly (low back) and missed a few things, slipping off on a spinning head scissors and a ridiculous looking moonsault miss that kind of left everyone looking at each other. It built great at the end. Stratus, Venis and T&A came out and grabbed Lita, which brought Matt out. Jeff was on the top, but Dogg shoved him off into X-Pac's X factor for the pin. Fans gave the Hardys a huge cheer afterwards because of how good the match was. That doesn't happen every often. Malenko pinned Snow with an inside cradle off a superplex in 4:58. Snow came out with two blow-up dolls to counter Malenko's two women. Snow was pretty funny, slapping one of them around when they kept falling down. Match was technically real good but not much heat. Richards came out and took away the blow up dolls as well as the real life women. When he left, however, it totally killed the rest of the match. Richards did the interview saying it was his job to do what's right to keep the people from seeing that kind of stuff even if they wanted to. Benoit had a handicap match against Guerrero & Chyna which ended with Benoit DQ'd for not breaking the crossface on Continued on page 17.

THE READERS PAGES

 

WORK OR SHOOT

Legit or angle? My gut says it's a work, but there are things to back up both sides. Things that back up it being a shot is that it made no storyline sense. The show went longer than usual, ending after 10:50 p.m. Eastern. Why would Bischoff leave early? Things that back up it being a work was that it went too smooth. I would think there would be some bumps in the road. I think it's a ploy to boost Nitro's rating. However, it made for damn good TV, which WCW hasn't had in a long time. I hope I'm wrong about it being a work that Hogan has been exposed for good as the scumbag that we know he is. I haven't had much respect for Russo, but he put on a good performance last night.

John Lance

Cortlandt Manor, New York

While many people think it's interesting, it's the same old shit they've been doing for the past four years. I guess Russo and Bischoff thought they would try to start it all again. WCW is so piss poor that they can't even come up with their own angles. Another screw job on Bret Hart finish. They keep making Hogan the focal point of the company and are putting him in the position to be the top draw again, and made Booker T winning the title secondary.

Sebastian Szachta

I'm pretty convinced it was a work, but I'd like to say that I would never want to work for a company that would intentionally keep trying to pull the wool over its own employees' eyes. If it was a shoot, it's embarrassing that's the way Hogan had to go out because he gave more to the business than any other performer.

Shane Matthews

Huntington, West Virginia

So Hogan can have the Fox world title and Booker T can have the TNT world title. Isn't this exact what Bischoff wanted?

Rod Dixon

Worked shoots suck. They also piss me off considerably. WCW's downfall will be a combination of worked shoots and that's tragic. Bischoff, Sullivan and Pillman created a monster. It was never necessary, nor was it ever mildly entertaining. Does the boy that cried wolf come to anyone's mind when seeing these things? I don't consider myself important because I'm an inside fan. I think it's stupid to have angles made "just for me." The Jung Dragons are entertaining. Booker T is entertaining. I don't get entertained seeing idiots like Hogan, Russo and Bischoff trying to "work the internet." As their ratings reflect, nobody cares about this crap. Working the internet has never drawn ratings. You'd think that one failed attempt after another would open their damn eyes. Spoiled main eventers don't help the situation at all. I really hope that something happens to turn the company around. There are some very talented individuals there, many with families, and it would be a shame if one day the big shots at Time Warner decide it's time to cut their losses.

Anthony Eastman

Imagine if during an episode of "Friends," Courtney Cox breaks her Monica character and starts complaining about her contract and the executives at NBC. Wouldn't people who were watching "Friends" for entertainment be confused at best, or annoyed at worst? Maybe a small percentage of the loyal "Friends" fans who follow the contract negotiations in Variety and other places would know what was going on, but the vast majority of the audience would be clueless.

Apply that to last night's Hogan/Jarrett/Russo scenario. Imagine what the 90 percent of the viewing audience who had no clue about backstage politicking and creative control thought about what was going on?

The bottom line is fans watch wrestling to be entertained and suspend their disbelief. When you constantly interrupt the suspension of the disbelief, it ruins the impact of everything else that goes on during the show. Why admit that Hogan has creative control and the matches are all predetermined during your show? Sure, everyone knows it. But we don't want to be told about it on TV, just like we know "Friends" isn't real life, but we watch it for entertainment anyway.

Jamie Girouard

WCW SATURDAY NIGHT

I don't think I'll be the only one to miss Saturday Night wrestling on TBS. True, the last ten years of the show have been awful, but doesn't everyone remember the 6:05 to 8:05 being the greatest two hours of watching wrestling every week? The days of Gordon Solie, Ole Anderson, Tommy Rich, Stan Hansen, Roddy Piper and Thunderbolt Patterson will never be forgotten. 6:05 p.m. was the time to pull down the shades, take the phone off the hook, because something was about to happen.

Woody Barton

Gloverville, South Carolina

AUSTRALIA TOUR

I was listening to the 7/6 show and someone had a question about the Superstars of Wrestling tour of Australia. The promoter running the tour, Andrew McManus, is quite a big promoter out here, but I think he's under the impression he's getting a group of wrestlers just out of WWF and WCW rather than guys that haven't been in the spotlight since the boom period of a few years ago. The wrestlers being advertised are the Road Warriors, The Natural Disasters Earthquake & Typhoon, One Man Gang, Public Enemy, Barbarian, Brutus Beefcake, Greg Valentine and Paul Orndorff.

They definitely intend on running the tour, but I get the feeling that most, if not all, of the shows will be canceled for the following reasons:

*None of the wrestlers on the tour have had much television exposure out here. Most of the fans watching television today wouldn't have even heard of the majority of the wrestlers booked on the tour.

*WCW has a tour booked for October.

*They have 13 shows booked, all in large venues. Many of the shows are in cities where they have no rope of drawing more than 2,000 fans.

*If they are paying Dennis Rodman $800,000, and the rest of the guys are probably making $10,000 per week, the talent budget comes out to $1.5 million including airfares, plus $120,000 for advertising and about $100,000 for other costs. The expenses will probably total close to $2 million.

At an average ticket price of $65, they need to average close to 3,000 paid per show to break even. Rodman is booked on eight of the shows, so the wrestlers will have to draw on their own for five shows.

There is also another tour booked here for September with the company I work for, the Australasian Wrestling Federation, who used Sabu, Chris Candido and Marty Jannetty last year. Confirmed for the tour are Psicosis and Blitzkrieg with one more international name still to be added and the tour will be rounded out with Australian talent.

Adrian Pickworth

KING OF THE RING

In regards to your comments about the matches at the King of the Ring being more ordinary than would be expected due to the lack of compression and high risk moves, don't you think it's better to risk a few shows and have them less spectacular and taking the time to re-educate fans as to what to expect in a wrestling match, rather than have athletes continue to batter their bodies and risk serious injury performing dangerous, often unnecessary stunts simply for the sake of entertainment.

Dave Hileman

DM: I agree that eliminating some dangerous moves can make matches seem less spectacular and given the injury rate, that's good. But the problems with King of the Ring was a disappointing use of the talent as opposed to people holding back and resulting in a lower match quality.

SMACKDOWN

Just a note from the 7/6 Smackdown. I couldn't help but notice that one of the prominently hyped advertisers was the Youth Smoking Prevention Program. I hit the relevant website and got this quote from there:

"The National Youth Smoking Prevention Program is a multi-year effort to develop, implement and evaluate a nationwide approach to reduce youth smoking and tobacco use, targeted at 10-14 year olds."

Someone in the WWF ad department must be totally out to lunch. Don't they know that the WWF only markets to adults? Doesn't anyone in the company pay any attention to those Linda McMahon interviews where she denies the company ever markets to children? The only conclusion I can come up with is the whole thing is a giant screwup from the ad department, because certainly if the WWF knew that children were watching their show, they'd immediately cease doing all the smutty and unnecessarily violent portions of the show for the good of the human race. Not to mention the same company portrays the Acolytes as cool, smoking huge cigars and drinking constantly.

Scott Keith

TOUGH MAN CONTEST

X I couldn't help but notice that during the Tough Man competition between the UPW wrestlers and the ex-football players, the announcers, Lawrence Taylor and Matt Vasgersian, took every opportunity to downplay the wrestlers as being pseudo athletes and never even entertained the possibility they would present any real competition for the football players. Vasgersian, in particular, made sure to point out this wasn't "staged wrestling" and insinuated that the wrestlers were out of their league against "real athletes."

As the competition progressed and the wrestlers, particularly Harrison Norris, were dominating the football players, the announcers began to make excuses for the football players by saying that they were, for the most part, not in condition and the wrestlers were currently active so they were in better condition. It made the football players look that much worse that they were being manhandled by "pseudo athletes" who are not accustomed to "real" competition. Harrison Norris was clearly the MVP of the competition and was very impressive in all of his matches. I'm surprised they didn't go with him in the final since he was well rested and obviously the most skilled of the competitors.

Eric Russo

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

DM: The entire idea of the competition was to get Norris over, so his opponents were picked based on the players who appeared to be the easiest to knock out, and he did have a Tough Man contest background which nobody else had so he was playing a sport he knew against people who were fish out of water. It's pretty clear the show was booked for the wrestlers to get humiliated by real athletes and for Norris to save the day at the end. What they didn't understand is the training for a pro wrestler is better suited for Tough Man that the training of a pro football player, and that, as mentioned, the wrestlers were in shape and the football players clearly weren't.

 

MATCH QUALITY

Will the first six months of 2000 in the books, I went back and looked at the quality of the wrestling we've been watching. I went through all the PPV shows and averaged the star ratings for every match to find the match quality rating for each show.

January - Royal Rumble (2.29), Souled Out (1.32), Guilty as Charged (2.07)

February - No Way Out (2.31), SuperBrawl (0.70)

March - Uncensored (0.91), Living Dangerously (1.56)

April - Wrestlemania (1.53), Backlash (2.84), Spring Stampede (1.68)

May - Judgment Day (2.88), Slamboree (2.28), Hardcore Heaven (2.81)

June - King of the Ring (1.39), Great American Bash (1.00)

Overall it is WWF at 2.21, WCW at 1.31 and ECW at 2.15.

What does this mean? I drew a few conclusions. First, the days of the WWF being the promotion that puts out the crappy wrestling are over. Right now, they're fielding the best roster in terms of workate in the history of the company. Everyone on the roster is at least average, and a few are stellar. The conception that ECW is a minor league promotion that puts out very good wrestling is borne out by the numbers, as they were just slightly behind the WWF for overall match quality. WCW was almost a full point behind the other two promotions in average PPV match quality.

To me, there were two events that need to be written about. The first was the defection of Benoit, Saturn, Malenko and Guerrero. The other is the pairing of Russo and Bischoff as the creative heads of WCW. The first three PPV shows, as run by Kevin Sullivan, were terrible failures in the ring. The average of the match quality was only 0.77. The first show when Russo and Bischoff took over, Spring Stampede, and the workrate jumped to 1.68. The next PPV saw another 0.60 workrate jump. Whether or not Russo and Bischoff have been successes can be debated, but it can't be debated that workers were more motivated since they arrived and the matches are better. This may have been a short term trend as there was a big drop for the June PPV.

Does better workrate equal a better show. I went through and looked at Observer poll results for every show. The only conclusion going through all the numbers is that a good workrate does make for a better overall fan approval of a show. For WWF, the three PPV shows with the best fan reaction were the three with the best matches. For WCW, the same is true for the two shows with the best matches. ECW's show with the best workrate, Hardcore Heaven, wasn't the highest approved. That was Guilty as Charged.

Mark Smith


Continued from page 15. the ropes. For a guy about to headline his first PPV challenging for the title, Benoit sold WAY too much for Chyna. Real good match. Shane interfered pulling Chyna off the apron. Benoit's eye was busted open badly hardway. Benoit wouldn't break the crossface on Guerrero while Shane attacked Chyna. Rock came out for the save and Benoit and Shane split. Edge & Christian ran out for no reason other than to take bumps for Rock's rock bottom. Rock then said because Benoit was a chickenshit, he was going to give him a title shot on the PPV even though Benoit lost the match Monday where he was supposed to win to get the shot. Acolytes were to get a tag title shot but Edge claimed his back was hurting from Rock, so Faarooq beat Christian with a power bomb in a quick nothing match. Edge tried to interfere with the bell but Bradshaw tripped him and he dropped it. Christian picked it up, swung at Faarooq and missed, and Faarooq used the power bomb. Angle was so depressed about facing Kane that he hugged Stephanie just as HHH came out to see it. HHH was mad and Stephanie explained it saying he forced himself on her. Kane beat Angle. Kane really made Angle look bad. He wouldn't even sell his actual wrestling. Angle got a little offense dropkicking the knees, and it went from looking like a bad 80s American match to a bad 90s Japan match. HHH threw Angle into the steps and Kane won with a choke slam. After seeing Angle with Kane, my interest in his match with Undertaker diminished. Blackman pinned Crash (not using the Holly name but still from Mobile) with a kick to the face while Crash was sitting in a chair. Up close, Blackman's rubber nunchakus and those flimsy garbage cans were almost as silly as weapons as the famed popcorn shots Mick Foley talked about doing in his book in a San Jose match against Owen Hart as a rib to see how bad a review they'd get for their match. Finally HHH beat Undertaker. Much better than you'd think. Angle came out and tried to hit HHH with a sledge hammer, but HHH moved and he hit Undertaker instead in 7:34. After the show ended, HHH came back and Undertaker choke slammed and power bombed him to send the people home happy. First hour of the show was really good, but it dragged toward the latter stages

SummerSlam on 8/27 in Raleigh at this point has 12,700 tickets sold, and about 2,000 tickets still remaining with $984,000 in

Austin is said to be in much better condition, particularly his thighs are said to be stronger than they've been in years which is an indication he's been training very intensely with his fiance Debra Marshall. It won't be until late August until he gets evaluated as to when, and if, and how much he'll be able to do as far as resuming his career. What he's told the WWF is that he wants to return and do as much as he can, but he won't return if he has to live off his name and be like Hulk Hogan. If he can't wrestle, he'll have plenty of acting opportunities as he's the person possibly in the most demand as part of the Viacom/CBS deal over potential TV acting work including a possible spin-off series of the Jake Cage character he played on several episodes of "Nash Bridges" over the past two seasons

WWF Aggression fell to No. 168 on the charts selling just over 7,900 units

Big Show was backstage at last week's tapings. He's medically cleared so his return should be imminent

The Perry Saturn & D-Lo Brown tag team was already broken up. They apparently had some singles plans for Saturn aligning himself with a Shane McMahon stable (which at times has also been talked of including Kane as well as Benoit) or as a McMahon project, so Chaz Warrington was put into the team with Brown. Shane's knee has been bothering him since taking the bump off the top rope through the table at King of the Ring. He was to get an MRI this week and he may require surgery

Michael Hayes has been helping with the television writing. They have a three-man team of former TV writers, and Hayes is used to bounce ideas and tweak them to where they'll fit within the pro wrestling environment before Vince McMahon sees the show

There has been talk of breaking Road Dogg and X-Pac up and have them work primarily singles, although not necessarily soon. With Tori on the shelf for two months or so after shoulder surgery, it isn't definite she'll return aligned with X-Pac

Viscera is cleared to return

Billy Gunn should be undergoing an evaluation to see how his recovery is going

Former UFC fighter Ron Waterman, who somewhat resembles a 260-pound Bill Goldberg, has signed a developmental contract and will start with Ohio Valley Wrestling. Waterman only suffered one loss in UFC competition, that to another indie pro wrestler, Andre Roberts via knockout in a match he was dominating. He was a Division II All-American college wrestler at Northern Colorado but in his early 30s, he's on the old side to be starting in wrestling

Davey Boy Smith and Diana Hart Smith have filed for divorce. Smith was again hospitalized this past week

The WWF was dominant this week in the Rec Sports video charts with 16 of the top 20 listings. There were only two non-wrestling listings in the top 20, an NBA video at No. 9 and Michael Jordan at No. 16. Juggalo Championshit Wrestling was No. 6 and XPW was at No. 8. WWF's top five for the week were Rock: The People's Champ, Eve of Destruction, Rock: Know Your Role, Austin vs. McMahon and Backlash 2000

Tracy Smothers is scheduled to start as the WWF trainer in Memphis

Frosty Moore was hired to be a permanent "Godfather lady" and started in Oakland. Although Godfather, on Heat rather than Smackdown or Raw, did his entire old catch phrase and was a pimp, there has been talk that, like Val Venis, he'll become a player and the ho's won't be ho's but just his women, although that wasn't the case this week

The reason Ch. 4 in the UK is now showing the PPVs on a one hour tape delay is a complaint to the ITC about the Miss Rumble Mae Young debacle. Ch. 4 told the WWF after the complaint to edit all sex and heavy violence off the PPV shows and send it to them one hour later via a feed. The WWF was upset because they were under the impression, since the shows were to air starting at 1 a.m., they could air it unedited, and also because the WWF itself has to edit the show for England and have the editing done maybe one hour later right after all the demands of doing a live PPV broadcast. What makes this funny is that SKY, which airs Raw, had complaints also sent to the ITC about Raw's content, but the ITC ruled in favor of SKY because of the argument that with Raw starting at 10 p.m. in the UK, you can see far more graphic sex and violence at the hour on Sky Movies and even on BBC movies

Raw on 7/3 in Orlando, FL drew a sellout 13,734, which was 12,527 paying

$336,193. Smackdown on 7/4 in Fort Lauderdale, FL drew 11,751, which was 10,533 paying $323,876. Anaheim on 7/8 drew a sellout 14,887 paying $457,644 while 7/9 in Sacramento drew a near sellout of 14,822 paying $420,881. Merchandise at the arenas for the week was $417,702 or $7.74 per head

Some notes from the Anaheim show. Malenko beat Saturn in a match described as excellent old-style but the fans didn't get into it and there were "boring" chants. Part of the problem is you've got two guys that are heels against each other, and part is because Saturn really hasn't been pushed as having much of a discernable personality of late. Rikishi beat Venis in the IC title match with a low blow finish. Rikishi put the stink face on Stratus after the match. Benoit won a three-way over Jericho & Angle when HHH hit Jericho with a chair leading to Benoit winning with the crossface. Undertaker & Kane beat Bossman & Buchanan (they are still teaming?). In what was called the best match, Edge & Christian won over Too Cool and Hardys. Main event was Rock over HHH. Both Benoit and Jericho interfered in the main event as a way to get them over as headliners, leading to near falls. Said to ba a great show, with real strong crowd reaction to the tag title match, Rock vs. HHH as well as an X-Pac & Road Dogg win over the Dudleys. For Sacramento they did the same Rock vs. HHH match on top. Jericho interfered first but HHH kicked out of the pin. Then Benoit interfered and HHH got the pin, but a second ref told the first ref about the interference and the match was re-started with Rock using the rock bottom.