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May 22, 2000 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Jumbo Tsuruta passes away, ECW Hardcore Heaven review, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 May 22, 2000

Tomomi Tsuruta, who started out as an instant sensation and went on to be one of the most enduring stars in pro wrestling history, passed away at 4 p.m. on 5/13, from complications after undergoing a kidney transplant operation in the Philippines. He was 49.

Tsuruta was an undisputable Hall of Fame calibre performer. He was a major star in pro wrestling literally from the first week of his career in Japan. He was the country's first truly elite level world class worker and was still arguably the best worker in the business at the time he first took ill, which largely sealed his career two decades later. In wrestling, he was known for nearly three decades by one word, "Jumbo." It was a nickname chosen for him in a contest sponsored by NTV in Japan a few weeks after his debut in the country after being a celebrated amateur wrestler. He was the first wrestler to hold the Triple Crown, the first native Japanese wrestler to capture the AWA world heavyweight title, and in the late 70s was under somewhat serious consideration to hold the NWA world heavyweight title, which at the time was the major belt in the wrestling world.

Press coverage in Japan on 5/16, when the story broke, called Tsuruta the strongest wrestler in the history of Japanese wrestling. In polls for both the decade of the 80s and 90s, fans voted Tsuruta as the strongest native wrestler. Every newspaper, radio station and television station covered the death strongly as he was something of a household name in his culture, with it being the lead story in virtually every sports section. Funeral services were pending at press time as his wife and three children were scheduled to return to Japan on 5/17.

During the 70s, Tsuruta was considered right at the top of any list of the best workers of the decade, alongside the likes of The Funks, Harley Race and Jack Brisco with a believable high spot athletic style that was ahead of its time in that he was one of the few wrestlers of that era whose matches still hold up well under today's standards. He was the first Japanese wrestler to be a world-class worker at a mixture of both American and Japanese styles, having trained under Dory Funk Jr. and having classic matches with the top scientific wrestlers of the era like Brisco, Dory Funk Jr., Billy Robinson, Race, Nick Bockwinkel, Mil Mascaras and Verne Gagne which aired on prime time network television every Saturday night making him a sports celebrity who was a household cultural name. With the exception of Giant Baba, Rikidozan and Antonio Inoki, and possibly Riki Choshu, he was as famous a cultural name as any native pro wrestler in Japanese history. He remained a main eventer throughout the 80s. The emergence of a new faster-paced style culminating in multiple near falls that came in, combined with him getting older and bigger, and toning down his impressive high flying for such a big man of his youth, left him somewhat behind the top few guys in the business although he was still considered one of the most important Japanese wrestlers and was virtually always in the main events. By the late 80s and early 90s, he modernized his style to keep up with the pack, and his matches against the likes of Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Genichiro Tenryu and Kenta Kobashi, were the state-of-the-art for in-ring world title matches at the time. By that point in time, he was considered with the likes of Jushin Liger and Ric Flair as the best in-ring performer in the business as the dominant player in the hottest promotion in the world.

Then, just as suddenly, his career, at least as a serious performer, was over. He became ill in the summer of 1982. It was said to have been an ankle injury, but when he came back to the ring six weeks later, he had lost a lot of weight, mainly muscle mass, and clearly was not the same. His stamina was no longer there and tag team partner Akira Taue had to carry the action in his matches, which were still headlining the shows. A few months later, he disappeared again. His illness was never explained to the public, which started rumors flying everywhere. He didn't return to the ring until 11 months later, at which time it was said he had been out of action from contracting Hepatitis B, *


JUMBO TSURUTA

 

CAREER TITLE HISTORY

 

Source: Wrestling Title Histories and Observer records

 

ALL JAPAN TRIPLE CROWN: Became first champion unifying PWF, NWA International and United National titles beating Stan Hansen April 18, 1989 Tokyo; lost to Genichiro Tenryu June 6, 1989 Tokyo; def. Genichiro Tenryu October 11, 1989 Yokohama; lost to Terry Gordy June 5, 1990 Chiba; def. Stan Hansen January 19, 1991 Matsumoto; lost to Stan Hansen January 28, 1992 Tokyo

 

AWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT: def. Nick Bockwinkel February 22, 1984 Tokyo; lost to Rick Martel May 13, 1984 St. Paul

 

PACIFIC WRESTLING FEDERATION HEAVYWEIGHT: def. Stan Hansen April 18, 1989 to unify into Triple Crown

 

NWA INTERNATIONAL HEAVYWEIGHT: def. Bruiser Brody August 30, 1983 Tokyo; lost to Stan Hansen July 31, 1986 Tokyo; def. Stan Hansen October 21, 1986 Tokyo; lost to Bruiser Brody March 27, 1988 Tokyo; def. Bruiser Brody April 19, 1988 Sendai; def. Stan Hansen to unify into Triple Crown April 18, 1989 Tokyo

 

UNITED NATIONAL HEAVYWEIGHT: def. Jack Brisco August 28, 1976 in tournament final to win vacant title; lost to Billy Robinson March 5, 1977 Akita; def. Billy Robinson March 23, 1977 Miami; lost to Dick Murdoch February 23, 1980 Kagoshima; def. Dick Murdoch March 5, 1980 Kurioso; lost to Abdullah the Butcher October 13, 1980 Nagoya; def. Abdullah the Butcher January 22, 1981 Nagasaki; lost to Harley Race August 1, 1982 Tokyo; def. Harley Race October 24, 1982 Kitami; Vacated title June 17, 1983; def. Stan Hansen April 18, 1989 Tokyo to unify into Triple Crown

 

ALL JAPAN DOUBLE WORLD TAG TEAM: w/Yoshiaki Yatsu became first champions unifying PWF & NWA International tag titles beating Road Warriors June 10, 1988 Tokyo; lost to Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy July 29, 1988 Takasaki; w/Yoshiaki Yatsu def. Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy July 31, 1988 Hakodate; lost to Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara August 29, 1988 Tokyo; def. Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara August 30, 1988 Osaka; vacated titles after losing non-title match to Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy November 30, 1988 Takasaki; w/Yoshiaki Yatsu def. Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy February 2, 1989 Kansas City; lost to Stan Hansen & Genichiro Tenryu July 11, 1989 Sapporo; w/Yoshiaki Yatsu def. Stan Hansen & Genichiro Tenryu July 22, 1989 Ishikawa; lost to Stan Hansen & Genichiro Tenryu October 20, 1989 Nagoya; w/Great Kabuki def. Terry Gordy & Steve Williams July 19, 1990 Tokyo; titles vacated when Kabuki jumps to SWS promotion; w/Akira Taue def. Terry Gordy & Steve Williams March 4, 1992 Tokyo; titles vacated December 1992 when Tsuruta contracts Hepatitis B and ends his main event career

 

PACIFIC WRESTLING FEDERATION WORLD TAG TEAM: w/Tiger Mask (Mitsuharu Misawa) def. Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase July 3, 1987 Tokyo; lost to Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase July 11, 1987 Yonago; w/Yoshiaki Yatsu def Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara June 4, 1988 Sapporo

 

NWA INTERNATIONAL TAG TEAM: w/Giant Baba def. Dory & Terry Funk February 5, 1975 San Antonio; lost to Kintaro Oki & Kim Duk October 28, 1976 Tokyo; w/Giant Baba def. Kintaro Oki & Kim Duk December 9, 1976 Tokyo; lost to Kintaro Oki & Kim Duk November 7, 1977 Seoul, South Korea; w/Giant Baba def. Kintaro Oki & Kim Duk May 11, 1978 Osaka; lost to Abdullah the Butcher & Ray Candy October 12, 1979 Asahikawa; w/Giant Baba def. Abdullah the Butcher & Ray Candy October 19, 1979 Koriyama; lost Stan Hansen & Ron Bass April 12, 1983 Matsuyama; w/Giant Baba def. Stan Hansen & Ron Bass April 17, 1983 Nagasaki; lost to Tiger Jeet Singh & Umanosuke Ueda July 26, 1983 Fukuoka; w/Giant Baba def. Tiger Jeet Singh & Umanosuke Ueda August 1, 1983 Tokyo; Vacated titles when Baba was injured; w/Genichiro Tenryu def. Bruiser Brody & Jerry Blackwell September 3, 1984 Hiroshima; lost to Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu February 5, 1986 Sapporo; w/Genichiro Tenryu def. Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu February 7, 1987 Sapporo; lost to Road Warriors March 12, 1987 Tokyo; w/Yoshiaki Yatsu def. Road Warriors June 10, 1988 Tokyo to unify into All Japan Double tag team titles

 

NWA WORLD TAG TEAM (Michigan/Ohio version): w/Giant Baba def. John Bonello & Randy Scott June 28, 1980 Detroit; promotion folded.

 

CHAMPION CARNIVAL TOURNAMENT CHAMPION

May 1, 1980 - def. Dick Slater in finals

April 16, 1991 - def. Stan Hansen in finals

Other years: 1974 (3rd--lost in semifinals to Tim Woods), 1975 (lost in quarterfinals to Gene Kiniski), 1976 (3rd behind Baba and Abdullah), 1977 (2nd to Baba), 1978 (3rd behind Baba and Abdullah), 1979 (2nd to Abdullah), 1981 (3rd behind Baba and Brody), 1982 (2nd to Baba), 1992 (2nd to Misawa in A block)

 

REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE TOURNAMENT CHAMPION

December 15, 1978 - w/Giant Baba drew Dory & Terry Funk in finals, won tournament by points

December 11, 1980 - w/Giant Baba def. Dory & Terry Funk

December 12, 1984 - w/Genichiro Tenryu def. Bruiser Brody & Stan Hansen

December 12, 1986 - w/Genichiro Tenryu def. Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase

December 11, 1987 - w/Yoshiaki Yatsu def. Bruiser Brody & Jimmy Snuka

Other years: 1977 (w/Baba 2nd place to Funks), 1979 (w/Baba 2nd place to Funks), 1981 (w/Baba 2nd place to Brody & Jimmy Snuka), 1982 (w/Baba 2nd place to Funks), 1983 (w/Tenryu 2nd place to Brody & Hansen), 1985 (w/Tenryu 2nd place to Hansen & Ted DiBiase), 1988 (w/Yatsu 2nd place to Hansen & Terry Gordy), 1989 (w/Yatsu 2nd place to Hansen & Tenryu), 1990 (w/Taue 3rd place behind Gordy & Steve Williams and Hansen & Danny Spivey), 1991 (w/ Yatsu 2nd place to Gordy & Williams)

 

WRESTLING OBSERVER AWARDS

Wrestler of the Year - 1991

Feud of the Year - 1990 (vs. Mitsuharu Misawa); 1991 (tag team feud vs. Misawa)

Hall of Fame (original class of 1996)

 

JAPANESE SPORTS MEDIA AWARDS

Wrestler of the Year - 1981, 1983, 1984, 1989, 1991

Match of the Year - March 28, 1976 (vs. Rusher Kimura), August 25, 1977 (vs. Mil Mascaras), January 20, 1978 (vs. Harley Race), August 26, 1979 (tag match with Tatsumi Fujinami & Mil Mascaras vs. Masa Saito & Tiger Toguchi & Akihisa Takachiho), December 11, 1980 (with Giant Baba vs. Dory & Terry Funk), November 4, 1985 (vs. Riki Choshu), August 31, 1987 (vs. Genichiro Tenryu), June 5, 1989 (vs. Genichiro Tenryu)

Best Technical Wrestler - 1974, 1986, 1988

Tag Team of the Year - 1978 (with Giant Baba), 1980 (with Baba), 1982 (with Baba), 1983 (with Genichiro Tenryu), 1985 (with Tenryu), 1989 (with Yoshiaki Yatsu)

 

AMATEUR SPORTS CREDENTIALS

 

1971 - Japanese Collegiate, Freestyle and Greco-roman heavyweight champion

1972 - Japanese Collegiate, Freestyle and Greco-roman heavyweight champion

1972 - Olympic games in Munich Germany, Seventh place in superheavyweight division in Greco-roman wrestling


but from that point on his wrestling was limited to appearing in mid-card six-man tag team matches where he'd only been in for a minute or less at a time. While he wrestled five to ten matches per year over the next five years, the Jumbo Tsuruta that every wrestling fan in Japan knew really was finished in 1992. He earned his teaching credential in 1994 and went back to college in 1995. He became a professor of sports physiology in 1996, and went back to his alma mater, Chuo College, to teach in 1997, where he'd earned his law degree some 25 years earlier. He left Japan in the fallout of the death of Shohei Baba early last year, being pressured out of his front office position, began teaching physical education at the University of Portland. He was contemplating switching to UCLA, but apparently he took a turn for the worst toward the end of the year, due to cancer, which was kept secret.

He quietly returned to Japan, unbeknownst to all but his closest friends, for treatment in Gifu, Japan, at the most famous hospital in the country for treatment of liver problems, as the cancer had spread from his kidneys to his liver. He left the hospital for Australia on 4/11. He had an operation to try and remove the cancer in Brisbane, Australia and was recuperating there, but still needed a kidney transplant and was awaiting a donor. Internal organ transplant laws in Japan are very complicated, which is why he had left Japan for treatment and was recuperating in Australia. He also wanted treatment outside of the United States or Japan so it would be done without any fanfare. He received word last week that a donor had been found, a 17-year-old in the Philippines who had been murdered. He flew to Manila and underwent transplant surgery on 5/13 at the National Kidney Hospital in Manila, but passed away following the surgery from heavy internal bleeding.

Rumors of his death spread quickly on 5/14 in Japan, but because nobody could confirm it, they weren't reported anywhere until 5/16 in Japan (the evening of 5/15 in the United States). Even as late as 5/16, his older brother wasn't aware that he had left Australia for the transplant or that he had passed away. A few hours later, All Japan held a press conference. He was survived by his wife, Yasuko, a former stewardess he had married in 1984, and three sons.

Tomomi Tsuruta was born March 25, 1951 in the small town of Makioka in the Yamanishi Prefecture of Japan. Because his first name sounded so much like Tomoko, a popular first name for girls, he was teased greatly, but grew up to be an excellent athlete. At Hikawa High School, he was a star on the swimming team, was the star player on his high school basketball team which won the Japanese high school national championship during his senior year in 1970, and placed third in his prefecture as a senior in sumo wrestling that same year.

He went to Chuo College in Tokyo as a basketball player and studied law. While he had done sumo, he did no amateur wrestling before reading a magazine article in early 1971 about the 1968 Olympics, in particular the Japanese wrestling team. The article inspired him to try amateur wrestling as his quest to participate in the 1976 Olympics, and he ended up reaching his goal four years early. He wasn't of Olympic team calibre in basketball, and sumo wasn't in the Olympics, which led him to amateur wrestling. He actually quit the basketball team to go out for wrestling, a decision that everyone at his college thought was nuts since he was tall and thin, built like a basketball player and had potential in that sport. The wrestlers on the didn't want him and wouldn't let him join the team. He was ribbed about his name and his slight physique, and Chuo College already had a star heavyweight (Tetsuo Sekigawa, who was the ring leader of those who teased Tsuruta and blocked him from joining the team, and who later became a famous pro wrestler under the name Mr. Pogo). Tsuruta, pressured away from joining the college team, instead took up wrestling with an outside club, the Ground Self Defense Force, and picked up the amateur sport, as he later did the pro sport, with miraculous speed. He whipped on people left and right in local tournaments to where the college team changed its tune and quickly were begging him to join. He picked it up so quickly he won the Japanese collegiate heavyweight championship in both freestyle and Greco-roman in both 1971 and 1972.

He qualified for the Olympic team, and in late August of 1972, went to Munich after only 18 months in the sport, which was totally unheard of. He won his first two matches and then lost via decision in the third round to place seventh overall.

At 6-foot-4 and about 225 pounds at the time, very large for a Japanese athlete in those days, he came out of the Olympics like a No. 1 draft choice in football as it pertained to the pro wrestling world, which came after him with lucrative offers. All four wrestling promotions at the time, the old JWA, which was in bad financial condition and needed a savior, the IWE, which was affiliated with the AWA in the United States and the two new groups which had just formed but had most of the major stars, Shohei Baba's All Japan Pro Wrestling and Antonio Inoki's New Japan Pro Wrestling. On October 31, 1972, ten days after Baba formed All Japan, a press conference with Baba, the biggest wrestling star in the country at the time, Ichiro Hatta, the President of the Japanese amateur wrestling federation, and Tsuruta, the heavyweight star of the Olympic team together to announce the first major signee of the new promotion.

He was predestined for stardom before ever having a match. Four days after signing, the media was invited to his first day in wrestling camp under Akio Sato and the late Masio Koma at the new All Japan dojo where he demonstrated four different types of suplexes. After four months of training in Japan, he was sent to Amarillo, TX, to train under then NWA world heavyweight champion Dory Funk Jr., and make his pro debut.

He arrived on March 23, 1973. The Funks knew of his Olympic background, but due to miscommunication and the language barrier at the time, had no idea he had never actually had a pro wrestling match when they put him in the ring for a television taping match the next day against veteran El Gran Tapia.

Tommy Tsuruta, as he was known at the time, became the first Japanese wrestler, and perhaps only one, to get over as a major draw as a babyface without playing the stereotypical Japanese gimmick in an American territory. His suplexes were so impressive that he became the first wrestler ever in the Amarillo territory to have his moves replayed in slow-motion. His three big suplexes, including what is now known in pro wrestling as a german suplex, which was a new move for that territory and rarely seen in the United States up to that point in time, would be taped onto 16mm film, and transferred back on slow-mo mode on the videotape, as they actually didn't have slow-mo equipment in those days.

Tsuruta became largely a Japanese incarnation of Dory Jr., his trainer, because of his unique ability to see almost any maneuver in the ring and ability to duplicate it almost instinctively. He almost instantly mastered the European uppercut forearm and the spinning toe hold, as well as the double-arm suplex, as well as copying Jack Brisco, considered by many as the best athlete in wrestling in those days with the high flying moves including being the originator of the missile dropkick and specializing in a high knee called the jumping knee pat, and later, they had him train under Lou Thesz and he used Thesz' trademark Greco-roman backdrop as a regular finisher. Besides the missile dropkick, a move which in the 70s became his domain, he also on occasion did the plancha, a move largely exclusive to very small high flyers in Mexico. He got over so quickly that he was a main eventer only a few weeks after his first match. Just eight weeks after his first pro match, on March 20, 1973 in Albuquerque, NM, he challenged Dory to a world title match, losing in 56:00 of a two of three fall match to the spinning toe hold, four days before the famous match where Dory dropped the title to Race in Kansas City after a four-year plus reign. No other Japanese native had ever gotten over playing the role of scientific babyface to that degree in American wrestling (Keiji Muto could have nearly two decades later, but was miscast due to the belief among those in charge of WCW at the time as that American fans would never cheer a Japanese wrestler).

"He was a fun kid to be around and wrestle," remembered Dory Funk Jr. "He liked Texas. I'd take him out to work the cattle and brand the steers. He could do pretty much of everything. We wanted to keep him here in Amarillo. He was able to draw money for us, but they called him back."

Tsuruta got preferential treatment when he returned to Japan. He had signed a big money, by the standards of the era, contract, and didn't have to pay the dues a typical Japanese wrestler had to. It would have caused problems within the hierarchy in the Japanese traditional wrestling culture, but Tsuruta was such an impressive athlete that nobody could complain his monster push wasn't deserved. When he debuted in Japan to much fanfare on October 6, 1973 at Korakuen Hall, he was a magnet for resentment from veterans. In his first match, he beat large foreign mid-carder Moose Morowski. His third match in Japan, on October 9, 1973 at Tokyo Sumo Hall, saw he and Baba wrestle to a 60:00 draw when challenging Dory & Terry Funk for the International tag team titles, held on live television, by the end of which, he had shut up all the complainers. The Chuo College band, and tons of college students who weren't wrestling fans, packed the building to create a unique atmosphere for the television audience. He was an instant celebrity and the hottest new star in Japanese pro wrestling since Baba and Inoki had gotten over. A contest was held on NTV to give him a nickname, and on October 27, 1973, Jumbo Tsuruta became a household name. He was kept unbeaten in Japan until January 30, 1974, when he lost when challenging for Brisco's NWA title and was named by the Japanese press as the best technical wrestler in the world in 1974.

Baba & Tsuruta had replaced Baba & The Destroyer as the top babyface tag team in Japan, and they finally captured the International tag team titles from the Funks on February 5, 1975 in San Antonio in Tsuruta's first title win. The two teams had numerous main events during that period and for the next eight years. Besides wins over the Funks, the Baba & Tsuruta team became recognized as the top tag team in Japan retaining the belts against teams like Killer Kowalski & Gene Kiniski, Kowalski & Bruno Sammartino and two wins over Dick the Bruiser & The Crusher. In late 1975, after a loss in a singles match to Baba, Baba announced what everyone had figured, that Tsuruta would some day be his successor, and to groom him, the next year would be his learning year as they would bring the top wrestlers in the world in to face him in singles matches.

His opponents over the next year included Gagne, Rusher Kimura (the top star of the rival IWE in what at the time was a major interpromotional match which was voted match of the year--the first of five consecutive years where a Tsuruta match won Match of the Year in Japan), Kintaro Oki (the biggest wrestling star in Korea), Billy Robinson (considered Europe's best wrestler at the time, and the two wrestled a 70:00 draw which may have been the longest in-ring match in Japanese history before the Royce Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba match), Jack Brisco, Bobo Brazil, Abdullah the Butcher, Chris Taylor (who also competed in the 1972 Munich Olympics, and finished behind Tsuruta, although they never wrestled, in Greco-roman although captured a bronze medal in freestyle), Terry Funk, Race and Fritz Von Erich.

They also revived the old United National title, the belt that the old JWA had given to Inoki to be a slightly lesser but arguably equal version of the International title that Baba dominated. The idea is the International title was the king belt, but the real great technical wrestlers would wrestle for the UN belt, which Tsuruta dominated from 1976-83 after for the first time finally beating Jack Brisco and defended against the likes of Robinson (who he lost and regained the belt from), Mascaras, Wahoo McDaniel, Ric Flair, Tommy Rich, Ted DiBiase, Dick Slater, Jimmy Snuka and Dick Murdoch. During that period, besides headlining against every major star of the era, he also put out three record albums as a singer and guitar player on the Sony label to capitalize on his mainstream fame.

He was also pushed at NWA board meetings as a possible world heavyweight champion during the period when Race was kingpin, but it never happened. He also had several matches against AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel, the first headlining in Honolulu on February 14, 1979.

All Japan in the late 70s and early 80s was built around Baba & Tsuruta as the top stars, feuding with all the top foreigners of the era. By the early 80s, since Tsuruta was younger, the better worker and far more believable as an athlete, there was a lot of pressure for Baba to step down from NTV, which at that point owned the majority interest in the company (over time, the Baba family bought back to where they owned 85% of the stock). When Ric Flair came to Japan as NWA world champion on October 9, 1981 for the first time, it was Tsuruta and not Baba that he worked his program with since Baba was past the point of having the kind of world title match that would have worked to Flair's strengths. They had a famous rematches in Japan, a 60:00 match on June 8, 1983 with Tsuruta taking one fall in a best of three fall match and thus not winning the title. Baba's feud with Stan Hansen kept him as the top draw in 1982, but without any major fanfare, in 1983, when Tsuruta beat Bruiser Brody to win the International heavyweight title, he had kind of quietly taken the top dog spot, particularly in 1984 when Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu captured the Real World Tag League.

On February 23, 1984 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, he pinned Bockwinkel in 32:00 to win the AWA world heavyweight title in a match with the NWA International title also at stake with Terry Funk as referee. He toured the United States during a period when AWA business was very strong, headlining shows against the top names in the promotion including Bockwinkel, Blackjack Lanza, Robinson, Jim Brunzell, Greg Gagne and Baron Von Raschke before dropping it to Rick Martel on May 13, 1984 at the St. Paul Civic Center. Nine days later at the Denen Coliseum in Tokyo, he had a tremendous match against then NWA champion Kerry Von Erich, which went to a double count out. He publicly announced his engagement to the former Yasuko Aramaki on July 10, 1984 at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo, and was married on September 23 of that year.

All Japan was on fire from 1985-1987 when Riki Choshu and his army jumped from New Japan. This was the period where Tsuruta was almost caught napping. They introduced a faster-paced style, and Tsuruta, content to do the old "big man" heavyweight style, seemed to be passed by Tenryu as the hottest All Japan regular in the top program with Choshu while Tsuruta worked programs with less interest against the big foreigners. But by 1987, Tsuruta upped his game, Choshu and company had gone back to New Japan, and Tenryu was turned heel and their singles feud started, with Tenryu scoring a win on August 11, 1987 at Budokan Hall, which that year became the home base for All Japan major shows. Tsuruta vs. Tenryu on top started a trend that has lasted until the present where All Japan presented the best singles main events held anywhere in the world. Tsuruta was the catalyst in Baba cutting down to two major titles, a singles Triple Crown and the Double tag team (combining the PWF World tag team titles with the long-existing NWA International belts). The tag belts were unified in 1988 when Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu (who represented Japan in the 1980 Olympics), known as "The Olympics," beat Tenryu & Ashura Hara on June 4 in Sapporo for the PWF belts and then on June 10 at Budokan Hall beat The Road Warriors for the International belts, and began a feud with Hansen & Terry Gordy. The Triple Crown unification came on April 18, 1989 at the Tokyo Ota Ward Gymnasium. Tsuruta won the International title from Bruiser Brody on April 19, 1988, then defeated Hansen, who held both the United National and PWF belts in the unification match, and then feuded with Tenryu, Hansen, Gordy, Williams and Misawa over it until his career as a headliner was over. He had his only major singles match with Kobashi on January 27, 1990, and his famous singles match with Kawada was on January 21, 1992.

When Tenryu left the promotion in 1990 to form Super World Sports, and took a lot of the mid-card wrestlers with him, All Japan had to reinvent itself, and Tsuruta ushered in the modern era on June 8, 1990 when he was pinned by Misawa before 14,800 fans at Budokan Hall. The win made Misawa the hottest wrestler in the country and All Japan caught fire for the next few years with Tsuruta and Misawa on top, both in key singles matches, which Tsuruta usually won, and in numerous forms of tag matches, in particular six-mans. The Misawa win over Tsuruta, which came a few hundred tickets shy of capacity, was the last All Japan show not to sellout in Tokyo for the next several years. Tsuruta chose Akira Taue as his tag team partner for classics with Misawa & Kawada, before the illness that ended his career. His last important main event was on October 21, 1982, at the All Japan company's 20th anniversary show at Budokan Hall, where he teamed with Gordy & Andre the Giant to beat Baba & Hansen & Dory when he finally pinned his teacher. His final pro match was on September 11, 1998 at Budokan Hall in a mid-card comedy match teaming with Baba & Kimura against Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Masa Fuchi & Haruka Eigen.

In the wake of the death of Baba, Tsuruta was pressured out of the company just three weeks later. He had his retirement ceremony on March 6, 1999 at Budokan Hall, and four days later, took his family to start a new life in the United States.

Misawa, whose career was made when Tsuruta put him over in the 1990 Budokan match, said when hearing the news on television that it has become more important than ever to keep the company and style of pro wrestling alive because if the style is lost, people like Baba and Tsuruta's history would be lost.


Despite putting on a strong PPV, ECW's long-term future doesn't look as good as the show came across due to its inability to keep talent for a wide variety of reasons.

Besides the much-publicized loss of Mike Alfonso (Mike Awesome) while holding its title, Lance Evers (Lance Storm), who until a few weeks back was part of the company's only marquee tag team, and actually headlined the Hardcore Heaven PPV, said his goodbyes after the show and is also headed to World Championship Wrestling, where he reached an agreement on a three-year deal and is expected to start in a few weeks. In addition, Scott Levy (Raven), who was at the show, but not used, is nearly a definite to be gone after August when his contract expires if not sooner, and the future of Francisco Pantoja Islas (Super Crazy) appears questionable as he also missed the PPV. The only name addition to the roster during this same period, which is not a definite but looks to be a probable is Masato Tanaka, who has been a semi-regular for the past several years but may end up working as an ECW regular.

From a match quality standpoint, the 5/14 Hardcore Heaven, held before a sellout crowd of 3,400 paying $107,000 (and another $24,000 in merchandise sales) at the Rave in Milwaukee, delivered. Every match ranged from solid to very good. But the show was clearly being booked on the fly, and it showed. Even as late as the day of the show, the main event was being changed around. The original main event was a three-way with new champ Justin Credible, his soon-to-be-departed tag partner, Storm, and the former champ who held the belt for literally a few minutes, Tommy Dreamer. At one point during the day there were plans of turning the three-way into a four-way, with Raven, as a way to eliminate Dreamer to leave Storm vs. Credible as the ending with Credible winning clean, which was the idea they wanted to get to. Technically the plan going in was for Storm & Credible to work together as a tag team to attack Dreamer, and take him out with a stuff piledriver. Raven was to hit the ring for a hot comeback, but eventually also be double-teamed and stuff piledriven. Credible would pin Dreamer while Storm would pin Raven, and they would tease that they were still together as a team, but then Storm would attack Credible and the match would go on as a singles match. When Raven was pulled from the show, they changed the scenario because they didn't want emphasis on Dreamer being pinned (with Raven being pinned at the same time, the emphasis on the Dreamer pin would be diluted), since he has to headline the next PPV against Credible, so they switched to where Dreamer never got into the match in the first place.

This resulted in a hastily done and somewhat lame angle to get Dreamer out, which may have resulted in killing the heat for a solid but not great final match.

The miscues from a production standpoint started early. When the show started, there was a long period of dead air, with the cameras showing a crowd shot and no commentary. While this was going on, they missed the complete angle where Dreamer walked into the building staggered, with the story behind it that Credible had attacked him before the show, again a last minute change, to tease a storyline angle that he wouldn't be ready for the main event. There were cues missed and Dreamer staggering in never appeared on the screen. Later in the show, Joey Styles described what happened that wasn't shown, but by this time Styles said that against good judgement, Dreamer vowed he would be in the main event.

Then when the main event started, Credible did an interview saying that if anyone except Storm came through the curtain that he would vacate the title right there and throw it in the garbage can. Dreamer came out, and security and Paul Heyman stopped him, with Heyman begging Dreamer to do the right thing because the company couldn't afford the public relations nightmare of the title being trashed again, so Dreamer, grudgingly (and teasing possible dissension with Heyman) walked off. Whether his walking off was the reason the main event drew such disappointing heat isn't clear, but it's probably at least part of the case given the "We Want Dreamer" chants and the feeling that the finish would be caused in some form by Dreamer coming back. After the requisite catfight spot, there was no heat for the near falls, some of which were very good, and the finish, where Credible won clean with his spinning tombstone, ended with a flat crowd response, which didn't pick up until Dreamer made his run-in. The closing scene was of Dreamer badmouthing Credible, who he had laid out, with them teasing that match as the main event for the 7/16 Heat Wave PPV show that Heyman's original plan was to headline with a Credible vs. Storm singles match.

While never publicly advertised, as only the top three matches were ever listed, and there was one interview where New Jack talked about a match with Angel, the planned match to determine the vacant tag titles with Super Crazy & Yoshihiro Tajiri teaming together for the first time against Gedo & Jado, didn't take place. With Crazy's problems due to never getting correct working papers despite being in ECW for nearly a year-and-a-half, and being caught at the Houston Airport flying in last week, they were unable to clear up the problems in time for this show. There has been talk among the wrestlers that Crazy may not be allowed back in the country for several years, although Paul Heyman stated at first he'd be back for this show, and others in the company still feel it'll be worked out in a few weeks. Without that match, Heyman decided against booking Gedo & Jado. He also changed the planned Masato Tanaka vs. Kintaro Kanemura match to Tanaka vs. Balls Mahoney, which was a better match on every level, using Kanemura for a last second angle and a run-in.

But the scariest moment was averted. During the second match on the show, the lights went out, and they wrestled with only a spotlight. Luckily, about a minute after the match ended, things were taken care of, because that could have destroyed the entire show. There was a precedent for something like this back in 1995 when UFC did a PPV event in Buffalo, NY at the old War Memorial and the lights went out, causing a lengthy delay in the show. They stalled the show instead of presenting matches with poor lighting, and it resulted in the card lasting more than three hours, which meant many systems cut away while the main event of the show was in progress, which as you can imagine is a p.r. disaster.

The show opened with Styles and Joel Gertner doing the open. They got rid of Gertner when Kanemura came to the broadcast position and put him out with a sleeper, allowing Cyrus (Don Callis) to take over.

1. Masato Tanaka pinned Balls Mahoney (John Rechner) in 9:14. Tanaka did some nice swinging DDTs. They did the dueling chair shot spot where Mahoney delivers three chairs to the head before putting Tanaka down. It was the same spot used in every Tanaka match with Mahoney when he first came in and they tore the house down with the spot. Tanaka took some major damage from them, and the chair shots were toned down, but still seemed to work. Mahoney also superkicked a chair to Tanaka's face. Tanaka delivered a DDT on the chairs. Tanaka kicked out of Mahoney's nutcracker suite and Mahoney kicked out of Tanaka's diamond dust. Mahoney delivered a nutcracker suite on a chair for a near fall. Fans gave the two a standing ovation at this point. Tanaka hit the roaring elbow for a near fall before getting the pin after a chair to the head coming off the top rope and another roaring elbow and they hugged afterwards. This was not nearly as good as the matches these two had when Tanaka first came to ECW. ***

2. Little Guido (James Maritato) won a three-way over Simon Diamond (Pat Kenney) and Mikey Whipwreck (John Watson) in 7:08. It'll shock everyone, seeing how they dress Prodigette (Angel Orsini) up to look like a man, that five years ago she was attractive. Fast-paced action. The lights going out killed the match. They did a spot where Diamond did a pescado but was caught in mid-air by a taped up Sal E. Graziano, and then Whipwreck dove over the top knocking everyone over. Whipwreck pinned Diamond with the whipper snapper in 5:34. Whipwreck did what started as a double-arm suplex, putting Guido on his shoulder like an old Canadian backbreaker and dropped him into almost a piledriver which really popped the crowd. Finish saw Guido get on Graziano's shoulders for a high elbow drop which missed badly. Whipwreck then threw fire at Graziano, which also missed badly. When he turned around, Guido caught him with the tomokaze, called a Maritato, for the pin. **

3. Kid Kash (David Cash) pinned C.W. Anderson (Chris Wright) in 6:00. The match started with Lou E. Dangerously saying that Electra is all natural and was challenging any woman in the back. Jazz came out and took out Anderson, Bill Whiles and Dangerously before stripping Electra down to, first a Mike Awesome t-shirt for easy cheap heat, and then took the t-shirt off to reveal about as little as you could get away with on a wrestling PPV. There was so little fabric in what she was wearing that they must have glued it on to avoid her oversized implants from falling out. The match started and it was hot as these two work well together. Kash did a plancha over the post into the crowd. He came off the apron with a huracanrana on Whiles. Anderson blocked a huracanrana into a power bomb. They did a great spot where Kash went for a moonsault block but Anderson turned it into a vertical suplex. Kash ended up scoring the pin after a Frankensteiner off the top rope. ***

4. Chris Chetti & Nova (Mike Bucci) won a three-way over Angel (Angel Medina) & Tony DeVito and Danny Doring (Daniel Morrison) & Roadkill (Mike DiPaolo) in 6:35. This was a good match, but it really made ECW seem like it had no depth when it was brought up that these teams were the top contenders for the tag team titles. Nova did a lot of good moves including a plancha onto Doring and DeVito and a swanton on DeVito. The Baldies double choke slammed Roadkill onto two chairs. Vic Grimes interfered. Doring gave him a legdrop off the top, but when he got up, Angel hit him with a guitar for the pin in 4:16. Grimes then took a hip toss off the ramp to the floor. Roadkill then splashed Grimes off the top through a table. Nova did some more innovative moves and the finish saw Nova & Chetti use the double-team tidal wave off the top rope to pin DeVito. **1/4

5. New Jack (Jerome Young) pinned Angel in 6:50. After the match, the Baldies jumped Nova & Chetti until New Jack made the save. It was the same New Jack weapons stuff it always is, using a stapler on DeVito and a fork on him until he juiced. Jack jumped off what appeared to be about a 14-foot high balcony through a table on DeVito. He seemed to be hurting, but was helped to the ring where he hit Angel with a guitar as Angel was being held by Chetti and Nova and then pinned him. It was then announced that New Jack is now King of the Streets again. *

6. Yoshihiro Tajiri pinned Steve Corino in 10:25. Tajiri looked tremendous in this match. He used stuff kicks, a brainbuster on the floor and Corino juiced heavy to where his hair turned red. The idea is to get Corino over as being tough by bleeding all the time. Tajiri kicked a chair into Corino's face twice and dropkicked a table into him. Jack Victory interfered. They went for near falls before Tajiri used the double foot stomp through a table for the pin. After the match, Kanemura ran-in and attacked Tajiri along with Victory and Corino. This led to Dusty Rhodes coming out to make the save until Rhino cut off Rhodes. This led to the lengthy Sandman ring entrance. Exactly what happened to Tajiri and Rhodes is unknown as Sandman took his time getting to the ring. I guess they simply got up, or disappeared through a trap door due to Ultimate Warrior's mysterious powers or something. ***1/4

7. Rhino (Terry Gerin) pinned Sandman (James Fullington) in 6:23 to retain the ECW TV title. This match was much better than it had any right to be. Sandman was cut up before the match started from smashing the beers on his forehead. He came off the apron with a legdrop with Rhino draped over the guard rail. Rhino sprinted down the ramp, jumped off a chair and crashed through a table when Sandman moved. They broke a second table in there. Lori Fullington came out and was attacked by Corino and Victory. Rhino got Lori Fullington and jumped off the apron with a piledriver through a table. Sandman made the hot comeback clocking everyone with the cane until Rhino picked up Lori's limp body and speared her into Sandman through a table. ***

8. Jerry Lynn pinned Rob Van Dam (Robert Szatkowsky) in 19:50. This was the best match on the show, but not even close to the level of many of their previous matches. With both being injured, some of the high risk moves were cut down on, but the crowd heat overall for the match was disappointing. Van Dam got the biggest pop coming out for his return and they worked tremendously together, maybe better inside the ring than even in the past. Lynn did a flip dive over the top. Van Dam did a twisting legdrop off the apron with a chair with Lynn draped over the guard rail. Van Dam missed a moonsault block off the guard rail and Lynn did a float-over DDT. The crowd was cold for most of this. Bill Alfonso brought in a chair. Van Dam ended up with a bloody nose and Lynn hit him with the chair. Lynn countered an attempt at the Van Daminator. Van Dam with a somersault with the chair onto Lynn. Lynn did a power bomb off the ropes onto the chair which didn't look right. Lynn did a superplex off the top. Lynn used a bulldog off the apron through a table, which wound up cutting Lynn's back open slightly. Lynn did a rolling bodyblock off the apron onto Scott Anton, whose turn seemed really obvious from the way he was dressed for some reason. Van Dam used the Van Daminator off the ropes and a frog splash onto the chair but Lynn kicked in. It didn't get nearly the pop you'd think. Corino and Victory did a run-in and the crowd groaned. Lynn cleaned house saving Van Dam from the interference. Rhino then speared Lynn, and power bombed Van Dam. Van Dam came back with a rider kick off the top rope onto Rhino and a Van Daminator onto Cyrus. All the run-ins took the match down. Lynn did a Van Daminator on Alfonso but Van Dam with a Van Daminator on Lynn. Van Dam went to the top rope and suddenly Anton turned on his best friend DDP, I mean RVD, shoving him off the top and he had a really bad landing, almost did the splits, coming off the ramp. I guess this stuff has become so predictable because it's overdone in other companies that whenever you see it, it just looks like monkey-see monkey-do pro wrestling booking even if the idea was come up with months ago. In the ring, Lynn used his cradle piledriver, but Van Dam kicked out the first time. He did it again, this time it was supposed to be on a chair (actually he missed the chair noticeably) and got the pin. ***1/2

8. Justin Credible (Peter Polaco) retained the ECW title pinning Lance Storm (Lance Evers) in 12:29. It opened with Credible threatening to throw the belt in the garbage can and vacating it if anyone other than Storm came into the ring. Dreamer came out but security and Heyman kept him from entering the ring. This came off really lame. Storm came out and got so high on a dropkick early that he cleared Credible's head, causing negative chants. Storm, who never blades (he even said on TSN's "Off the Record" that he would never do it, but came up with the idea himself to do so to get Credible over) did it right away. They had a nice series starting with Storm reversing Credible's tombstone into position for one of his own, but Credible reversing that into a reverse DDT position, but Storm blocking that and ending up with a northern lights suplex. Storm hip tossed Credible over the top rope through a table that had been set up. Storm also did a nice roll through into a half crab for a teased submission until Francine broke it hitting Storm with her shoe. Of course Dawn Marie was in for the catfight spot which ended when Credible gave the spinning tombstone to Dawn Marie. After that, the crowd died. Storm got a near fall with a piledriver, and reversed a tombstone for another near fall. They went to one near fall after another with no pop until finally Credible delivered his spinning tombstone grabbing Storm off the ropes for the clean pin. You have to give Storm a lot of credit. While 95% of the people in the business would have done the job in the same situation, he went out of his way to put the champion and the belt over without asking for a ref bump, a run-in, or any other gimmick that would have saved face for him. After the match, Dreamer came out to a big pop and caned Credible and teased doing the same to Francine. She tried to pacify Dreamer by giving him the belt and rubbing up against him. So of course he gave her a Spicolli driver and put the belt on Credible and basically threatened the "out" Credible as the final scene on the show. **1/2


The debut of Pride on American PPV was generally well received by the few who actually had access to the show and purchased it.

The tape of the 5/1 Tokyo Dome show, which with the toughest tournament in the history of mixed martial arts and in many ways the best overall show in history, what will in the very near future be referred to as the legendary Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Royce Gracie 90:00 match and the return of Ken Shamrock, made it the most important historical NHB show since the early days of the genre. It aired only on the dish network on 5/13 and airs 5/20 on Viewer Choice-Canada. The six hour plus show was edited down to three hours, which was probably best all concerned for the American audience, but it also left you feeling like you were watching a tape instead of the excitement of a live event with all the edit points. Before the Gracie-Sakuraba match started, there was a voice over stating that because this historic match lasted 90 minutes, it is edited but that none of the footage important to the outcome were taken out, which gave away not the result, but that it was a long fight, ahead of time. I'm very skeptical of the chances of success of any PPV promotion as far as actually being a financial success, without strong television to hype the product, or strong media as pro boxing gets.

The show featured the sternest warning about violence I've ever seen on a sports event, basically a warning that due to the violent nature of the show, that it was inappropriate for children under 17, even though the show was far tamer when it comes to violent portrayals than any modern pro wrestling event.

Despite the huge crowd at the Tokyo Dome (38,400), at no point did the announcers get over how huge an event it was or talk about the crowd, the ticket prices, far larger than any crowd for a pro wrestling PPV in a few years. Announcers Stephen Quadros, Bas Rutten and Maurice Smith were very good when it came to strategy, but poor when it came to conveying excitement or storyline interest or the basics of hype that are needed for the general public to get into it. They put over the quality of the matches, but never got excited as the matches went on. The camera work was very strong, so the impact of the blows, which often gets lost in shows like this, were evident for everyone to see.

With four pro wrestlers in the show, Sakuraba (referred to throughout the show as Mr. Sakuraba as a throwback to 1970s American pro wrestling when most Japanese wrestlers' first name was Mr.), Kazuyuki Fujita, Alexander Otsuka and Shamrock (not to mention the well received appearances on camera by Antonio Inoki), there was talk about how the pro wrestling in Japan was very different from the U.S. although Smith did say the pro wrestling in Japan also wasn't real fighting but that Sakuraba, a pro wrestler, had all the skills and the heart. At one point, in a discussion about eventual champion Mark Coleman, it was stated that he had never tapped out before in a fight. The Nobuhiko Takada fight (a worked match where Takada won via tap out to a heel hook) naturally came up, and while someone who knew what they were talking about could read between the lines and realize they were saying, without using those words, that it was a worked fight or fixed fight or pro wrestling match (I believe the term used was an "audience fight"), they didn't say it and no casual viewer would have a clue what that meant. It's unfair in portrayal of this as a sport to use what was really a pro wrestling match as a credential for someone's fight history. They were in a difficult position, announcing for Pride, which has had many worked matches in its past. They also talked much about previous matches on Pride shows, in particular on the 1/30 tournament, which most of the viewing audience wouldn't know about. It would have been good to show clips from that show, but considering they already had to edit so much out to begin with, not airing them was a necessary evil.

Gracie-Sakuraba was edited down to 36 minutes. It was better off for an American audience. It removed much of the drama of actually seeing a fight go 90 minutes, but in its edited form removed many of the slow spots and there was plenty of drama seeing a real action packed match go that long. The majority pegged it as the best match on the show and it will probably be remembered as the best of the year, and possibly even the decade just because it was an historical result and that it went so long because I doubt we'll be seeing too many no time limit fights, so it'll be a long time before another 90 minute match. The crowd pop for the finish and the drama for older fans of seeing Gracie decisively beaten and his 87-year-old father Helio shaking Sakuraba's hand, the match held up even being edited. A correction on the weights. The internet reports were incorrect. Gracie actually weighed in at 177.5 pounds and Sakuraba at 181.1. I guess people were anxious to have Gracie lose to someone who was lighter than him, as a way to avoid what would be expected to be an excuse for the loss, which actually was never made.

Igor Vovchanchin (224.8, Russia) vs. Gary Goodridge (237.2, Canada) was a really good opening match. This match was heavily edited, unfortunately, because it was a great fight, with the 10:44 being edited down to 5:00. Goodridge got tired first after both men traded hard punches. Goodridge actually rocked Vovchanchin just before Vovchanchin came back and put Goodridge away with a flurry. Both men also came in lighter than usual, as Vovchanchin usually fights at 235-240 and Goodridge has fought as heavy as 260 in the past.

Gracie vs. Sakuraba came off as entertaining. The announcers did a good job strategically, since in the first round, with Gracie throwing lots of punches, they noted he won the round, but also noted it appeared Sakuraba's strategy was to get Gracie to tire first, which turned out to be prophetic. Gracie threw a lot of punches, but they weren't strong punches that did serious damage. By fight's end, Gracie was tired and his face was battered.

Coleman (228.8, United States) vs. Akira Shoji (203.1, Japan) saw Coleman look impressive with his newfound boxing skill to go along with being a world class wrestler. Shoji didn't drop weight for the tournament but Coleman has fought as heavy at 255 in his original UFC days so you can see he trimmed way down for stamina. Coleman has always had a heavy punch, but seemed to posses good skill. Coleman was able to take Shoji down and threw good combination of rib and head punches. Coleman cut Shoji's right eye with a punch and his ribs were terribly discolored and his mouth was bloodied up. He also wound up with an egg under his right eye. Toward the end of the 15:00 round, Shoji shocked Coleman with a takedown and pounded on him momentarily until Coleman escaped. But it was a one-sided fight and the decision was obvious, but a good fight nonetheless.

Fujita (241.1, Japan) vs. Mark Kerr (236.7, United States) was an exciting fight, as the two wrestlers did a lot of striking. Kerr took Fujita down and pounded on him with punches and knees. Fujita got some punches in and Kerr got a good knee in that bloodied up Fujita's nose. Fujita came back with Kerr tiring, scoring a takedown and pounded on Kerr for a long time, including hard knees to the body which apparently did damage to his own knee and resulted in him being unable to fight a second time, and scored another takedown later to win an easy decision. Fujita is announced at 275 as a pro wrestler with New Japan although his legit weight probably is closer to 255. Kerr trimmed down from 255 in his UFC days.

The non-tournament match with Guy Mezger (203.9, United States) vs. Masaake Satake (227.7, Japan) was heavily edited. Satake actually did well, as he was slightly better on stand-up and threw a lot of good kicks. Mezger was competitive and threw good kicks. First round was even overall, none of which aired on the PPV. They picked it up in the second round with Mezger on top after taking Satake down and controlling him throwing punches, getting a mount, and giving him body shots until Satake's ribs were discolored. They edited the 20:00 match down to about 5:00.

Sakuraba was definitely winning the decision over Vovchanchin until the 11:30 mark when Vovchanchin escaped, got behind Sakuraba and threw what would be considered in pro wrestling as a poor german suplex. Vovchanchin's face, even though he fought 10:00 as opposed to 90:00, was really marked up going in. But it was still amazing after going 90, that Sakuraba even came out, let alone was winning against a man 45 pounds heavier for most of the fight. Sakuraba nearly armbarred him early. Sakuraba scored a few takedowns before he got tired. Sakuraba appeared to hit the wall because at about the 12:00 mark, he couldn't do anything and took a terrible pounding including getting a cut over his right eye. The decision at the end of the round was a draw, but Sakuraba's corner then threw in the towel for him.

Coleman vs. Fujita basically never happened. Fujita came out with his knee all taped up. The bell rang and he shot for a takedown, and immediately Brian Johnston threw in the towel and Fujita sold like his knee was killing him. With Vovchanchin being in a stand-up war with Goodridge and a very competitive struggle with Sakuraba, he had fought 25 hard minutes. Coleman went into the finals with one match, with Shoji, which he was totally dominant in, so he had a big advantage getting what amounted to a bye in the finals. Bottom line is that no matter what, a tournament format favors the man who is the luckiest on that given night. If these eight were put in another tournament in four months and all came in the same condition they were on this night, Coleman would probably win again because he was the strongest and had good enough stand-up, but Vovchanchin had a disadvantage in the finals.

The battle of pro wrestlers with Shamrock (213.8) vs. Otsuka (193.2), so Otsuka didn't go up to 225 as he claimed he would be training in the United States, up from 188 in January, Shamrock was 227 the last time he fought in late 1996 in the Ultimate Ultimate against Johnston) started with three minutes of stand-up. Shamrock was good with leg kicks but his punches didn't zing like a boxers. Shamrock seemed content to fight standing up, even though his greatest strength in the past was taking guys down and overpowering them. He was certainly doing better, getting in some punches and more low kicks, before Otsuka caught him with a solid punch to the face. Shamrock immediately took him down and tried a few submissions, but didn't get them. Shamrock had Otsuka under control on the ground for several minutes, but Otsuka was able to counter attempts at an armbar and entangled armlock. Otsuka escaped and they had another stand-up exchange, and Shamrock was getting the better of it, with Otsuka getting a bloody nose, and was pounded on even more until hitting a flurry of punches that put Otsuka out. At no point in the fight was Shamrock ever in trouble, but the real question as to his comeback is how he reacts in a fight against someone who can give him legitimate trouble.

Coleman vs. Vovchanchin saw Coleman fight his fight. He took Vovchanchin down and bruised up his ribs, and threw punches to the face. Vovchanchin threw some stuff from the bottom. Coleman went for an entangled armlock, and while he has the strength, didn't have the technique to make it work. He continued throwing body shots in the first round. Coleman ended up with a cut on his eye. The first 20:00 were all Coleman holding him down and throwing punches. Coleman took Vovchanchin down to start the second round. He went for a neck crank. He finally got a side mount and started throwing knee after knee to his head. The last few shots with the left knee to Vovchanchin's forehead were brutal and Vovchanchin, for only the second time in his long career, actually tapped out.


Marcus Bagwell was arrested late 5/9 after the show in Springfield, IL for possible charges of battery and as a result a few days later was suspended for 30 days by Brad Siegel.

At 10:15 p.m., Darrell Miller, a 35-year-old member of the WCW ring crew, was carrying carpet to the back and Bagwell, Larry Pfohl (Luger) and Elizabeth Huellette were blocking the door he was going through. The crew member asked them to move so he could get what he was carrying through the exit door. Bagwell told him he was conducting business. Words were exchanged. Allegedly, Bagwell hit the crew member.

The newspaper reported it was with a closed fist but others close to the situation say it was an open hand. Miller suffered swelling to his neck but required no medical treatment. Bagwell posted $100 bail and was released.

A follow-up story on 5/11 made the top of the front page of the Springfield Journal-Register. It said the decision on whether to charge Bagwell rests with the state's attorney's office. "We still want to talk to the victim," said first assistant state's attorney John Belz. "There are certain witnesses who need to be talked to, and the WCW is a traveling organization. Three other members of the ring crew were also right there at the exit. Miller claimed in his report to the police when he asked Bagwell to move so he could get through, Bagwell replied with an expletive. A second worker who also needed to get equipment through the door came by and asked Bagwell to move, and he replied with the same expletive. Miller claimed he said "I wasn't talking to you" to Bagwell when he punched him on the side of the neck. Police reports said there was an indentation of a fist visible on the side of his neck when he filed the report and employees of WCW took photos of the injury.

Bagwell's version to police was that when Miller asked him to move, he thought he did so rudely. After words were exchanged, Bagwell said he was upset with Miller and "punched him upside the neck" because Bagwell said Miller "pissed him off, so he hit him." Police talked with Pfohl and Heulette who both claimed that neither saw or heard anything because a Goldberg monster truck was crushing a Buick at the same time.

Based on the contract Bagwell just signed ($275,000 base salary, $1,300 per match bonus and $4,000 per PPV appearance), a 30-day suspension would cost him in the neighborhood of $45,000.


In continuing with trying to put a reality on the mythology of who did and didn't draw money, we look at the most famous wrestling arena in North America, Madison Square Garden, and this study based on the decade of the 90s.

What we did was look at every show in the building during the decade, who headlined the show, and what the paid attendance was. Everyone who had at least three main events in the building during the decade is on the list. Keep in mind that slowly, as the decade went on, and in particular from mid-1998 on, and more so in 1999, as pro wrestling got so hot in New York, they could have headlined the Brooklyn Brawler and sold out. Tickets of late sellout before any matches are even announced. So the wrestlers that were headliners over the past two years have a tremendous advantage in this survey, particularly since over the past few years there are more three and four-way main events as opposed to the straight singles match from the past, which enables more wrestlers to get more main events. Nobody should argue that Steve Austin wasn't a bigger draw in the 90s than HHH, or Kane, or Big Show, even though their averages are all pretty similar, since all the events they headlined were for the most part sellouts.

There are other flaws. Owen Hart, for example, worked two main events against his brother in what was at the time a hot program. Earthquake had a short hot program with Hulk Hogan, as did Sgt. Slaughter, and thus they rank higher than people they clearly weren't as big a draws as. But if you look at total main events, the people with maybe three or four may have to have an asterisk by their results to a degree, but anyone with five or more, you're getting a pretty good reading for true comparisons, especially if you throw out the guys from the past two years because the building sold out no matter what the main event was, so we're listing the flaws in this ahead of time. Where this is valid is both from an historical standpoint, because there are a lot of people who are claimed to have been big draws (Ultimate Warrior is the perfect example) that history shows the big ring entrance pop didn't translate into tickets being sold.

For an overall best look at who were the biggest drawing cards in the WWF as a whole nationwide, the best look would be who drew the most big buy rates. In the 2/14 issue, we have a list of everyone who drew greater than 1.0 buy rates where you'd see the biggest real draws of the decade on PPV being Austin, Hart, Rock and Undertaker. That is also somewhat flawed because that issue only lists total shows having drawn 1.0's as opposed to average buy rate drawn, which would probably be the best way to look at it, and at some point in the future we'll examine that one. But from the period of 1990-97, the crowds at MSG varied widely, based on the drawing power of the headliners and the headline match. The raw numbers are going to surprise a lot of people, when they consider who was "over" in New York. The reality is, taking the modern guys down a peg for the reasons already indicated, this is exactly who was really over and how over they were during the 90s when they were on top.

 

Wrestler Mains Total Average

Rock 6 96,940 16,157

HHH 7 110,565 15,795

Steve Austin 11 173,465 15,770

Sgt. Slaughter 4 53,700 13,425

Mick Foley 6 79,854 13,309

Hulk Hogan 12 157,700 13,142

Earthquake 3 38,200 12,733

Yokozuna 6 75,346 12,558

Bret Hart 13 158,675 12,206

Undertaker 15 176,957 11,797

Sid 5 56,119 11,224

Ric Flair 6 67,000 11,167

Shawn Michaels 12 131,732 10,978

Ultimate Warrior 5 50,800 10,160

Diesel 7 69,988 9,998

Mr. Perfect 5 49,300 9,860

The average for some of the early 90s legends who had only two MSG main events during the 90s were: Bob Backlund (8,200), Goldust (9,031), Lex Luger (13,550), Roddy Piper (9,000), Randy Savage (7,500), Owen Hart (12,500) and Davey Boy Smith (8,950).

The figures are interesting because people always consider Luger in the WWF as a flop as a draw, or when Sid was headlining he was a flop as a draw (he is now for sure, but that's another issue). Sid was actually closer to an average main event draw for his time period, and since they were on top during a similar time period, he was a bigger draw in MSG than Michaels and pretty much the same as Flair. Owen Hart is believed to not have had the charisma to draw on top, yet he actually did very well, although that may have been a unique situation, but he did succeed in the spot. Luger actually did better as a headliner than virtually every main eventer during his time period. People consider Savage a huge draw, and he did draw well in the 80s, but by the 90s, his drawing power was way below average, as it was for Piper. The numbers also show that while the Goldust gimmick in its early stages before it ran its course, when used on top, may have drawn tremendous heat and commotion, tremendous crowd heat is not the same thing as drawing tremendous money. Another interesting note is that the entire time he was in the WWF, Razor Ramon only had one Madison Square Garden main event (which drew 10,500) and in the decade of the 90s, Jake Roberts also only had one (which drew 9,000). Yet people remember both of those men as wrestlers who headlined many times and were huge draws every time out.


WCW's world title may change hands once or twice per week, and Ric Flair may be 51 years old, but the combination of both led WCW to a more competitive Monday night than usual.

Raw finished with a 6.16 rating (5.98 first hour; 6.32 second hour) and a 9.3 share. Nitro ended up with a 3.11 rating (3.37 first hour; 2.89 second hour) and a 4.7 share. The head-to-head was 5.84 for Raw and 2.89 for Nitro, so it was still a two-to-one margin. The total head-to-head pro wrestling audience was 10.1 million viewers. Raw picked up 34% of the Nitro audience when the show went off the air and 80% of the total wrestling audience watched the Benoit vs. Rock match.

The Rock vs. Benoit main event drew a 7.00 rating. The Jarrett vs. Flair title change drew a 3.29 rating. The return of Michaels drew a very disappointing 5.53 rating against a 3.07 for the Flair family angle with Russo and the beginning of Madusa vs. Elizabeth. The experiment of opening the show with the Sting vs. Vampiro cage match drew a 2.83, which is above the previous two weeks opens of 2.5 and 2.3, but below the 3.2 open on 4/24.

The other head-to-head quarters saw Raw at 5.75 (Dudleys vs. Snow & Blackman) to 2.82 (Awesome-Nash angle, Steiners-Abbott angle), Raw at 5.91 (Angle vs. Rikishi, Godfather vs. Crash Holly) to 2.90 (Awesome vs. Nash, Bischoff-Page angle), Raw at 6.44 (Vince, Stephanie, HHH & Rock interview) to 2.48 (Hogan vs. Horace vs. Kidman), Raw at 5.55 (Jericho vs. Bob Holly) to 3.29 (Flair vs. Jarrett).

For those keeping track, this was the 76th consecutive week that Raw has beaten Nitro, so they are seven weeks shy of the WCW 83 show record.

Smackdown on 5/11 drew a 4.98 rating and 8.1 share. The show opened at 3.92 and grew steadily until a 5.75 for the Too Cool & Rikishi vs. DX main event.

Thunder on 5/10 drew a 2.49 rating and 3.9 share. From a realistic standpoint, it was the lowest rated show since the new regime took over (some will point out the 5/3 show drew less but that was more due to the different time slot as that show would have done 2.7 to 2.9 in the regular slot), but it's still a significant improvement over the prior regime. The Horace vs. Filthy Animals segment where Bischoff kept changing the rules was the peak at 2.87. The Sting vs. Awesome main event dropped all the way to 2.28 so they still had a big drop over the last 30 minutes with no wrestling opposition after generally building most of the way up until the Horace segment.

Weekend numbers for 5/13-14 saw Livewire at 1.5, Superstars at 1.4 and Heat at 2.88. WCW Saturday Night was back to its record low levels with a 1.3.

ECW on 5/12 drew an 0.92 rating and 1.7 share. RollerJam did the highest rating of the year with an 0.81 hyping a match race where the object was to remove all the clothes from the women (actually very tame, as they just stripped them to short shorts and bikini tops). The ECW peak rating for Storm vs. Lynn (the audience dropped very slightly to the point of being insignificant for Rhino vs. Tajiri) was 0.97, which wasn't all that much better than the RollerJam high quarter at 0.95, which would blow away any of its quarter hours this season.

The Galavision three hour block on 5/9 drew a 1.6 Hispanic rating.


OBSERVER POLL RESULTS

Traditional Observer PPV poll results based on phone calls, fax messages and e-mails to the Observer as of Tuesday, 5/16.

ECW HARDCORE HEAVEN: Thumbs up 107 (78.1%), Thumbs down 14 (10.2%), In the middle 16 (11.7%). BEST MATCH: Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn 103, Masato Tanaka vs. Balls Mahoney 8. WORST MATCH: New Jack vs. Angel 40, Simon Diamond vs. Mikey Whipwreck vs. Little Guido 11, Sandman vs. Rhino 8

PRIDE GRAND PRIX: Thumbs up 101 (100.0%), Thumbs down 0 (0.0%), In the middle 0 (0.0%). BEST MATCH: Royce Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba 90, Mark Kerr vs. Kazuyuki Fujita 8. WORST MATCH: Mark Coleman vs. Kazuyuki Fujita 46, Guy Mezger vs. Masaake Satake 11

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 listed each week here.

What did you think of Monday night's (5/8) wrestling?: a) Raw was better 44.6%; b) Nitro was better 33.2%; c) Didn't watch Raw 2.3%; d) Didn't watch Nitro 11.6%; e) Didn't watch Raw or Nitro 8.3%

What did you think of Slamboree? a) Thumbs up 28.7%; b) Thumbs down 8.7%; c) Thumbs in the middle 13.8%; d) Didn't see the show 48.7%

What are your thoughts regarding the Kanyon bump and aftermath at the Slamboree PPV? a) They should have avoided using the EMT's because it was Kansas City and it was too similar to the Owen Hart situation 26%; b) The bump itself never should have been done in Kemper Arena because of the death of Owen Hart 46%; c) There was nothing wrong with either part of the angle 28%

Where do you see the Monday night ratings by the end of the year? a) WWF more than doubling WCW's ratings as is the case now 24.8%; b) WWF increasing the gap in its domination 19.3%; c) WWF being dominant, but the gap closing 46.4%; d) WCW closing to within one ratings point of WWF 7.2%; e) WCW beating WWF 2.3%

What did you think of ECW Hardcore Heaven? a) Thumbs up 35.3%; b) Thumbs down 4.9%; c) Thumbs in the middle 11.9%; d) Didn't see the show 47.9%


This is the third issue of the current four-issue set. If you've got a (1) on your address label, your Observer subscription expires with next week's issue.

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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 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 5/21 WWF Judgment Day, 5/26 Coliseum 2000 Tokyo Dome (option seven only), 6/9 UFC (option seven only) 6/11 WCW Great American Bash, 6/25 WWF King of the Ring, 7/9 WCW Bash at the Beach, 7/16 ECW Heat Wave, and 7/23 WWF Fully Loaded.


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Bryan Alvarez and I open the show every day running down the latest news. We either have guests the remainder of the show, taking listener's phone calls and e-mails, or we take calls and e-mails. Even if you don't have access to a computer and just want to talk wrestling, you can reach us between those hours within North America at 1-877-392-3200 (1-877-eyada-00) or from outside North America you can call collect and reverse charges at 1-212-977-1859. You can always e-mail questions for the show 24 hours a day to us at davemeltzer@eyada.com. You can always check the wrestlingobserver.com web-site for the latest guest information. Among those scheduled for upcoming shows include wrestling historian Sheldon Goldberg on 5/22, John Muse on 5/23, the 5/25 show will be live from Cincinnati at the Brian Pillman Memorial show, 5/30 with Rick Martel, 5/31 with Devon Storm, 6/1 with Harley Race and 6/5 with Gene Kiniski.

For those in the Phoenix area, we're on KDUS (1060 AM) every Wednesday morning from 10:10 a.m. for the remainder of the hour taking listener's phone calls and talking about the latest wrestling news on Jeff Kennedy's "Players Club" show. We're also on almost every Saturday night on FAN (590 AM) in Toronto for Wrestling Observer Extra as part of the Live Audio Wrestling, usually at about 11:20 p.m.

We also have late breaking news headlines on wrestlingobserver.com which also includes television reviews and columns written by Bryan Alvarez and Alex Marvez.

 

RESULTS

 

5/9 New Haven, CT (WWF Smackdown/Heat tapings - 7,670 sellout): Dupps b Rodney & Pete Gas, Al Snow & Steve Blackman b Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn, Jeff Hardy b Essa Rios, WWF tag titles: Too Cool b Edge & Christian-DQ, Val Venis b Matt Hardy, Test & Albert b Dudleys, IC title: Chris Benoit b Godfather, Lt. hwt title: Dean Malenko b Chyna, Edge & Christian & Kurt Angle b Hardys & Chris Jericho, Hardcore title: Crash Holly regained title over British Bulldog and Bob Holly, Tables match: Dudleys b Big Show, European title: Eddy Guerrero b Saturn, Elimination match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Road Dogg & X-Pac b Too Cool & Rikishi Phatu

5/9 Springfield, IL (WCW Thunder - 4,129/2,980 paid): Tank Abbott & Rick Steiner b Ashley Hudson & Kory Williams, Curt Hennig b Chris Harris, Ernest Miller b P.W. Douglas (Big Bully Douglas), Hardcore title: Terry Funk b Big T & Stevie Ray & Kash, Sean Stasiak b Lash Leroux, Rhonda Singh b Elizabeth-DQ, Hardcore title: Funk b Chuck Palumbo, Horace Hogan b Billy Kidman, Konnan & Rey Misterio Jr. & Kidman & Juventud Guerrera b Horace Hogan, David Flair b Arn Anderson, Ambulance match: Mike Awesome b Sting

5/10 Cleveland (Juggalo Championshit Wrestling - 1,000): Jyjiya b Chris Hero, Billy Bill b Dick Nipple, Tom Dub b Haystacks Calhoun Jr., Breyer Wellington b Evil Dead, ? b Pat Tanaka, Fat Barrell Boy b Hollywood Chuck Hogan, Mad Man Pondo b Cash Flo, ICP b Big Flame & Neil & Bob

5/10 Robinsonville, MS (Memphis Championship Wrestling TV taping): Curtis Hughes b Reckless Youth, Fabulous Rocker b Steven Regal, Rodney & Pete Gas b Ronnie & David Lee Mullet, Bull Pain & Todd Morton b Kingpins, Jim Neidhart & Hughes b Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee

5/11 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Battlarts - 1,860 sellout): Ikuto Hidaka & Akino b Minoru Fujita & Ai Fujita, Tsubo Genjin & Gami Metal b Relay Shonen & Saya Genjin, Mohammed Yone & Takeshi Ono b Mach Junji & Tony Jones, Independent jr. title: Katsumi Usuda b Minoru Tanaka to win title, Alexander Otsuka b Naoyuki Taira, Mitsuya Nagai b Yuki Ishikawa

5/12 Tijuana (Ind - 6,000 sellout): Super Rino & Apolo Correa b Rabia & Papa Shango (not Godfather), Espia Oriental & Tiger Mask (not Michinoku guy) & Shamu b Stigma & Animaniac & Extasis, La Morgue & Mr. Tempest & Fobia b El Cholo & Karisma & Nuevo Colibri, Damian & Halloween b Mosco de la Merced & Thunderbird, Hair vs. hair: Thunderbird b Mosco, CMLL hwt title: Universo 2000 b Rayo de Jalisco Jr., Hair vs. hair: Nicho el Millonario (WCW Psicosis) b Rey Misterio Sr.

5/12 Sapporo (All Japan women - 3,200): Takako Inoue & Miyuki Fujii b Kayoko Haruyama & Acute Sae, Yumiko Hotta b Chaparita Asari, All-Japan tag titles: Kayo Noumi & Miho Wakizawa b Tsubasa Kuragaki & Misaki Kana to win titles, Dynamite Kansai & Commando Boilshoi & Azumi Hyuga b Kaoru Ito & Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi, WWWA tag titles 2/3 falls: Kumiko Maekawa & Tomoko Watanabe b Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda, WWWA title: Manami Toyota b Ran Yuyu

5/12 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL): Filoso & Brandon b Reyes Veloz & Enemigo Publico, Astro Rey Jr. & Tigre Blanco & Tony Rivera b Violencia & Mr. Mexico & El Hijo del Gladiador, Tinieblas Sr. & Tarzan Boy & Emilio Charles Jr. b Black Warrior & Dr. Wagner Jr. & Blue Panther-DQ, El Satanico & Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero b Negro Casas & Antifaz del Norte & Felino-DQ, Atlantis & Villano III & Perro Aguayo b Pierroth Jr. & Shocker & Mascara Ano 2000

5/12 Salinas, Puerto Rico (IWA - 450): Nuevo Gran Apolo b Dragon, Shan Hall & Andres Borges b Angel & Joe Cruz, Pain b Andy Anderson, TNT (Savio Vega) b Tiger Ali Singh, Hardcore rules: Miguel Perez & Huracan Castillo Jr. b Chicky Starr & Victor the Bodyguard, Shane b Fidel Sierra, Ricky Banderas b Head Hunter #2

5/12 Hamburg, PA (Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling - 923): Benny Stoltzfoos & Johnny Maxx b Johnny Royal & Bruiser Graham, Buck Wylde b Japanese Assassin, Danny Rose b John Balsamo, Jimmy Valiant b Mr. Ooh La La, Eddie Valentine b Nick Mondo, Fabulous Moolah & Robert Evans & Mozart Fontaine b Mae Young & Boogie Woogie Brown & Scott Furie, Brian Logan b Alex Arion, Christian York & Joey Matthews b J.J. Johnson & Vincent Goodnight-DQ, Cheetah Master b Michael Modest to win PCW title

5/13 Cincinnati (WWF - 6,340): Godfather b D-Lo Brown, Lt hwt title: Dean Malenko b Essa Rios, Test & Albert b Al Snow & Steve Blackman, Dudleys b Road Dogg & X-Pac, Crash Holly won three-way for hardcore title over Bob Holly and Perry Saturn, Hardys b Big Bossman & Bull Buchanan, IC title: Chris Benoit b Val Venis, Rikishi Phatu & Too Cool b Edge & Christian & Kurt Angle

5/13 Evansville, IN (World Extreme Fighting PPV taping - 3,000/970 paid): Eddie Moore b Ross Kellin, Charlie Anderson b Scott Henze, Din Thomas b Don Banville, Jens Pulver b Eric Hibbler, Wataru Sakata b Mansour Heidari, Brandon Lee Hinkle b Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Bobby Hoffman b Kerry Schall, Carlos Newton b Karl Schmidt, Dave Menne b Jose Pele Landi, Rich Franklin b Gary Myers, Matt Hughes b Alexandre Barros, WEF hwt title: Dan Severn b Marcus Conan Silveira to win title

5/13 Humacao, PR (IWA - 800): Andy Anderson b Andres Borges, Steve Bradley b Al Rodriguez, Shan Hall b Angel, Pain b Head Hunter #2-DQ, TNT b Fidel Sierra, Shane b Tiger Ali Singh, Miguel Perez & Huracan Castillo Jr. won three-way over Nuevo Gran Apolo & Ricky Banderas and Chicky Starr & Victor the Bodyguard

5/14 Tokyo Ariake Coliseum (Gaea fifth anniversary show - 9,000 sellout): Dynamite Kansai b Sakura Hirota, Saiki Takeuchi b Rie, Kyoko Inoue b Toshiyo Yamada, AAAW tag titles: Sugar Sato & Chikayo Nagashima b Bloody & Toshie Uematsu, Mayumi Ozaki b Kaoru, AAAW title: Aja Kong b Meiko Satomura, Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka b Devil Masami & Akira Hokuto

5/14 Columbus, OH (WWF - 12,625): Godfather b D-Lo Brown, Big Bossman & Bull Buchanan b Al Snow & Steve Blackman, WWF lt hwt title: Dean Malenko b Crash Holly, European title: Eddy Guerrero b Essa Rios, Rock & Dudleys b Hunter Hearst Helmsley & X-Pac & Road Dogg, Perry Saturn b Val Venis-DQ, Hardys b Test & Albert, Three-way for IC title: Chris Benoit won over Chris Jericho and Bob Holly, Rikishi Phatu & Too Cool b Edge & Christian & Kurt Angle

5/14 Kawasaki (Big Japan): Abdullah Jr. Kobayashi & Daikokubo Benkei b Ryuji Ito & Daisuke Sekimoto, Tower of Doom & Mustafa & Mike Samples b Ryuji Yamakawa & Winger & Jun Kasai, Shadow WX b Crazy Sheik, John Zandig b Tomoaki Honma, Kiyoko Ichiki won eight person elimination match to win International Scramble championship, Loser leaves town: Terry Boy (Mens Teioh) b Abdullah the Butcher, Honma b Sheik, World Extreme Cup tournament finals: WX b Zandig to win tournament

5/15 Cleveland (WWF Raw is War/Metal tapings - 15,281 sellout): Dupps b Rodney & Pete Gas, Scotty Sabre b ?, D-Lo Brown b Headbanger Mosh, Bull Buchanan b ?, Gangrel b Stevie Richards, Scotty 2 Hotty b Essa Rios, Dudleys b Al Snow & Steve Blackman, Rikishi Phatu b Kurt Angle-DQ, Crash Holly lost and regained hardcore title with one of Godfather's hos, Bob Holly b Chris Jericho, Big Show b Test & Albert-DQ, Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko b Eddy Guerrero & Chyna, Three-way for WWF tag titles: Edge & Christian won over Acolytes and Hardys, Non-title submission match: Chris Benoit b Rock

5/15 Biloxi, MS (WCW Nitro - 8,550/2,893 paid): House of pain cage match: Sting b Vampiro, Brian Adams & Bryan Clark b Wall & Shane Douglas, Hardcore title: Terry Funk b Konnan & Rey Misterio Jr. & Juventud Guerrera, Cruiserweight title: Crowbar & Daffney b Chris Candido & Tammy Sytch (who knows who the champion is after this), Ambulance match: Kevin Nash b Mike Awesome, Horace Hogan won three-way over Billy Kidman and Hulk Hogan, WCW title: Ric Flair b Jeff Jarrett to win title

 

Special thanks to: Ken Jugan, Mike Omansky, Jeff Bailey, Zach Schaefer, Chris Bryan, Jason Peters, David Willis, Robert Bihari, Tadashi Morishita, Gary Langevin, Joe Silva, Manuel Gonzalez, Andrew Swart, Matt Griffin, Bryan Alvarez, Jimmy Marshall, Ray Gore, Eddie Goldman, Keith Barbaro, Brady Laber, David Roberson, Steve Gerweck, Bobby Baum, Dan Parris, Trent Walters, Chuck Morris, Dominick Valenti, Gene Restaino, Andrew Ebbeskotte, Juan Martinez, Blaine DeSantis, Paul Sosnowski, Dustin Bayley, Alan Smolek, Jason Hoagland, Mike Kuzmuk, Tadashi Tanaka, Jeff Marek, Masanorie Horie, Nicholas Richards, David Fournier, Randy Rhea, Ron Lemieux, Beau James, John Muse, Boris Smirnow, Jason Paul

 

JAPANESE TELEVISION RUNDOWN

4/19 ALL JAPAN: 1. Kenta Kobashi pinned Mitsuharu Misawa in 26:08 in the Champion Carnival semifinal. Unfortunately, this match was heavily edited for TV. Given what else was on this show, I have no clue as to why. It appeared to be the best match so far this year, which makes it three or four years in a row for these guys. Misawa, in particular, must have been feeling good because he did more than he's done in years as far as moves, to go along with his usual perfect timing, selling and ring psychology. Misawa did his elbow suicida and even a rolling pescado over the top. Kobashi dropped Misawa on his head with a half nelson german suplex twice and an orange crush bomb for another near fall. He also gave him a power bomb into a turnbuckle. Misawa escaped the burning hammer (torture rack into a death valley bomb). Kobashi ended up getting the pin with a cobra clutch german suplex, a rabbit lariat followed by a conventional lariat; 2. Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue beat Steve Williams & Johnny Smith in 16:01. Williams and Taue had major problems working with each other. Williams needs to be carried and Taue is totally washed up. One exchange was so bad looking that fans laughed. Fortunately, Kawada and Smith more than made up for it with Kawada pinning Smith at the finish. **1/2; 3. Johnny Ace & Mike Barton beat Jun Akiyama & Maunukea Mossman in 12:30. Mossman was the star of this match and carried it to a good match. That's saying something since he was in there with Ace, who has been in Japan for a long time so he knows what to do, but is still a bad worker, and Barton, who hasn't been in Japan nearly as long and isn't as good a worker as Ace. But Mossman got a good match out of him as well. He got to deliver his Hawaiian crusher, which is a fireman's carry turned into a stunner. Barton ended up pinning Mossman after a power bomb. ***

4/22 NEW JAPAN: The show opened with clips of a Masakazu Fukuda (who had passed away earlier in the week) vs. Shinjiro Otani match which looked awesome. They had sad music playing, and showed photos and clips of Fukuda, including showing funeral footage. Except for one thing, this was so much more classy than anything any promotion has ever done for a wrestler death in this country, and God knows we've had a lot more chances to get it right. It was really sad to see Fukuda's fiance delivering a eulogy because it put a human touch on it. The New Japan wrestlers were all there very human like instead of coming trying to look like stars at an event to be seen. The negative was that they had Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi and Yutaka Yoshie doing the G-Eggs team that Fukuda was to be a part of doing interviews kind of doing the idea that they'll use Fukuda's spirit to make them the dominant team in New Japan, or something along those lines. I didn't like using Fukuda's death as part of a pro wrestling interview and damper what up to that point had been a model of class. 1. Hiroyoshi Tenzan pinned Yoshie in 12:34. This was their match from the 4/7 Tokyo Dome. Yoshie comes across like a 70s heel, because he's got bleached blond hair, looks to be about 280 with massive legs, a decent sized gut and arms that don't look like a lifter. He looks like one of those 70s college heavyweight wrestlers or linemen who lifted some, ate a lot more, but wasn't a steroid freak. This was his first match back after a lengthy European and Canadian stay. He did a powerslam off the top rope and a choke into a german suplex. They did lots of head-butts. Tenzan got the pin after a forearm drop off the top rope. *1/2; 2. Nakanishi pinned Scott Norton in 11:07. Horrible. It was very physical in that they pounded on each other hard standing. Other than pounding, they did nothing. Norton must have torn his right bicep again or had some sort of a serious injury because he has an Orndorff small arm, which is amazing since he's lived his life with those monstrous arms. He's never been good, but he looked like a guy who is totally through. Finish saw Nakanishi get Norton up in the rack for a long time, then drop him and pin him. Even though Nakanishi pinning Norton should get a reaction, the match was so bad and finish so weak that nobody cared. -*1/2; Next up was clips from the 4/21 retirement ceremony for Kuniaki Kobayashi. This was really sad. They showed clips of him from the glory days with Satoru Sayama which looked so much more major league, even though it was 17 years ago, than anything in today's pro wrestling except WWF clips. They showed a few clips from his final match against Jushin Liger. He did his trademark spots and everything he did got a pop. But he did look like it was time to retire. Crowd really wanted to see him win, but Liger pinned him after a brainbuster. I guess there's something noble about putting somebody over clean in your last match since you have no business reason to win, only to give back. Still, the crowd was left flat. They showed clips of the ceremony itself, with a big reaction when Sayama showed up. But even with Sayama and Kobayashi both crying while the home viewers saw clips of them when they were kings, as performers, they couldn't top Kobayashi's two daughters. They were crying with their father, as his career ended. Anyone who dismisses pro wrestling for being fake only needs to see that moment; 3. Hiro Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara won 2/3 falls from Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa in 18:26. Not sure what the purpose of this match was, but it was an excellent bout. First fall was mainly Kanemoto vs. Goto. If there was any doubt Kanemoto was one of the great workers of our time, it was answered here. Goto is just about the worst wrestler in the promotion and the fall was excellent, with Kanemoto getting near fall after near fall before Goto killed him with a back suplex. Second fall wasn't quite as good, but there was an incredibly timed spot where Kanemoto delivered a dropkick on Ohara hitting exactly as Otani hit him in the back with a springboard dropkick. After seeing heavyweights always beat junior heavyweights, it led to a super pop when Takaiwa pinned Saito after a death valley driver. The finish of the fall was good. Third fall was the best, largely due to Ohara and Otani, who worked great together. Ohara finally scored the pin after numerous near falls, using a choke slam. ****

MEXICO: Nicho el Millonario beat Rey Misterio Sr., as expected, in their hair vs. hair match on 5/12 in Tijuana in what was reported as a wild brawl before a sellout of 6,000 fans (they added seats from the usual capacity) with the highest ticket prices believed to be in the history of the city so it would have been the record indoor gate for the city at approximately $120,000 which has one of the richest wrestling tradition of any city in the world. Halloween and Damian both interfered throughout the match but Konnan did a surprise run-in during the third fall and helped Nicho to the victory. Misterio Sr. got a $13,500 payoff for his hair while Nicho got $2,500. Also on the show, Universo 2000 retained the CMLL heavyweight title beating Rayo de Jalisco Jr., and Damian & Halloween won over Thunderbird & Mosco de la Merced in a match that started as a tag match in which the members of the losing team would then have to face each other in a hair vs. hair match. Thunderbird beat Mosco in the ensuing match, and Mosco shaved his head. Mosco, who had always appeared with a mask in Tijuana and it was supposed to be at stake if he lost, came out wearing a mask, but it was then announced to the fans that he had in Nuevo Laredo lost his mask to Antifaz del Norte six days earlier (he did lose his match to Antifaz, but that was in 1998). He took the mask off and wrestled without it. When he lost, he had his head shaved. Fans booed when Nicho came out by himself, because it had been advertised that Konnan and Rey Jr. would be there and in his corner. Rey Jr. couldn't be there because it was his wedding anniversary so Thunderbird, who had already lost his hair, came out as Nicho's second. Fans didn't accept that, and it was made worse when the heels laid him out after a martinete (tombstone piledriver). Roberto Rangel, a straight down the middle ref at Arena Mexico, and considered the most respected referee in Mexico dating back to the 50s, came out during the second fall after bad officiating had cost Nicho the first fall. The pop when Nicho scored the pin was said to be the loudest most sustained pop in the building in years and it was considered monumental since Rey Sr. had never lost a hair match in Tijuana, which has been his home base for 20 years

The 5/19 show at Arena Mexico is being headlined by Villano III & Perro Aguayo vs. Pierroth Jr. & Mascara Ano 2000. The 5/12 main event saw Atlantis & V-3 & Aguayo over Pierroth Jr. & Mascara 2000 & Shocker

AAA is doing a TV taping in the same building on 5/19 headlined by Perro Aguayo Jr. vs. El Texano in a hair vs. hair match and Canek vs. Cibernetico in a dog collar match. Antonio Pena has dropped the Spice Boys gimmick, since it's already passe, and the four guys are now going by the names of Batman, Robin, Spiderman and Superman

Neutron, the name of the famed heel in the Santo movies, became a pro wrestling character debuting on 5/9 at Arena Coliseo as a babyface high flier

Pena is trying to bring the original Mosco de la Merced back to feud with the new version as part of his AAA vs. LLL feud

There will be a legends of wrestling show on 5/31 in Monterrey headlined by Rayo de Jalisco Sr. (67), who was the Dusty Rhodes of his day in Mexico and did some for AAA as late as the mid-90s. To American fans, the biggest name on the bill is Dorrell Dixon (63), who was a big star in the late 50s and early 60s in the United States before going to Mexico and becoming an all-time legend as one of the first top-class bodybuilders in pro wrestling under the name Dory Dixon. Also on the bill include the original El Matematico (60), Halcon Ortiz (47)--who was a Texas headliner in the 70s, Tony Salazar (47), Colosso Colosetti (54)--who California fans from the early 70s would remember, Scorpio Sr. (52), Milo Ventura (50)--the original Ultraman who feuded with Tiger Mask in Japan in the early 80s and Cuchillo (51)--who in the late 80s feuded with Yoshihiro Asai, later Ultimo Dragon, over the UWA middleweight title in both Mexico and Japan

The annual AAA Champion of Champions tournament will be held in a six-sided ring on 5/31 in Aguascalientes

Brazo de Oro beat Valentin Mayo in a hair vs. hair match on 5/1 at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City which was reported as being the shortest hair vs. hair match in the history of Mexico City pro wrestling. The three falls in total lasted 5:00. EMLL sold out Arena Coliseo and its 5,500 seats on consecutive nights on 4/30 and 5/1.

ALL JAPAN: Vader had an operation on his left elbow and will be out for at least two more months

Because of the financial problems with FMW, the original Hayabusa is said to be looking for work here. But with rumors rampant about the group splitting, nobody knows what moves to make. Generally speaking, the foreign wrestlers seem to be closer to Motoko Baba and the natives with Mitsuharu Misawa but in the long run everyone is going to side with the one who they feel is the most financially secure over the long haul. A bad sign is that All Japan's season ticket holders (for ringside at Korakuen Hall and Budokan Hall) have not been sent renewals when their season tickets run out, which is another sign of office instability because that's guaranteed money ahead of time from the most loyal part of the fan base.

NEW JAPAN: New Japan Pro Wrestling will be going public in the near future, similar to WWF. It would be the first Japanese pro wrestling company to have an IPO

Weekly Fight Magazine reported this week that New Japan would offer a season ticket subscription PPV service for the year 2000, similar to many American sports team on a regional basis. In a Tokyo Sports interview, Tatsumi Fujinami denied the story, but the newspaper the next day also printed the story that next year, New Japan would cut down from 137 to 100 house shows and attempt to make up the lost revenue through the PPV broadcast through TV-Asahi and the B.S. Digital Broadcasting system as well as the internet. The idea is that all 100 house shows would be available live to paying subscribers on digital cable as well as the internet. I would presume this would mean that they would be available, at least through the internet, to Americans as well, which would be a first, although at this point, the video on the web isn't up to what most would consider enjoyable television viewing broadcast standards. No doubt that will change within a few years and I'd suspect it won't be that many years before all the major offices offer similar plans. WCW tried webcasting some major events in 1998 but apparently there were problems since they stopped doing it. There is already some fear that making all the house shows available live on a form of PPV would kill the live attendance at the shows

The dates for the G-1 Climax tournament, which is the in-ring highlight of the year (although with the talent level in this promotion right now I don't see how it could possibly compare to past years) will take place 8/7 and 8/8 at Osaka Furitsu Gym, 8/9 at the Hiroshima Sun Plaza Arena (the first time G-1 has ever come to Hiroshima) and 8/11, 8/12 and 8/13 at its traditional home of Tokyo Sumo Hall. After the next tour, they will have a tour from 6/25 to 7/20, ending in Sapporo at the Doritsu Sports Center, followed by the one-week G-1 tournament. They've cut the September tour, which will be the annual G-1 Climax tag team tournament, down to one week, from 9/10 to 9/17 with the major show on 9/16 in Nagoya an the finals on 9/17 in Sagami. October will have an 18-show tour from 10/8 to 10/29, ending in Kobe at World Memorial Hall. The final tour of the year will be 11/8 to 12/10

Kazuyuki Fujita is wanting to tour Europe to learn more from European submission experts for his return to fighting in Pride over the summer

The top matches for the next tour, built around the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, were announced this past week. The matchmaking is very uninspiring these days, but they also don't have a lot to work with. As far as major shows are concerned, on 5/21 in Shizuoka it'll be Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin & Jushin Liger vs. Minoru Tanaka & Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Michiyoshi Ohara & Satoshi Kojima, tournament matches with Koji Kanemoto vs. El Samurai and Minoru Fujita vs. Kid Romeo and a main event of Kenzo Suzuki (is it early or what for this guy to be headlining?) & Kensuke Sasaki & Yutaka Yoshie vs. Scott Norton & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Masahiro Chono. 5/28 in Nagano has Tadao Yasuda vs. Yoshie, Suzuki & Sasaki vs. Tenzan & Norton, Kanemoto vs. Shinya Makabe, Fujita vs. Ka Shin and Brian Johnston & Nagata & Nakanishi vs. Ohara & Chono & Tatsutoshi Goto. The biggest show of the tour on 6/2 at Budokan Hall has a terribly weak line-up for such a big building and will result in weak sales as the only actual special event is the return of Osamu Nishimura, who will have his first match in nearly two years after being stricken with testicular cancer. The main event on the show is Sasaki vs. Nakanishi for the IWGP heavyweight title plus the tournament matches are Kanemoto vs. Gran Hamada, Shinjiro Otani vs. Fujita and Romeo vs. Katsumi Usuda plus Tanaka & Liger vs. Takaiwa & Ka Shin. The final show of the tour on 6/9 at Osaka Chuo Gymnasium will have six junior heavyweight singles matches. The sixth place finisher in the A and B block wrestle each other, followed by the fifth in each block, then the fourth, etc. until the champion from each block faces off with the winner capturing the tournament and getting a title shot at Jushin Liger later in the year. Also in Osaka announced are Suzuki & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yasuda and Yoshie & Nagata & Nakanishi vs. Kojima & Tenzan & Chono.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: The Crush Gals return on 5/14 at the Ariake Coliseum for Gaea's fifth anniversary show was considered a huge success as a four-and-a-half hour house show before a sellout 9,000 fans, selling out well in advance, making it the biggest womens house show in years. Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka, the most popular womens wrestling tag team in history, who were both wrestling and pop music superstars in the mid-80s, reformed their team after nearly 12 years to beat Devil Masami & Akira Hokuto in 20:28 in the main event. The debuted a new finisher called "Over the Crush", where Asuka picked Hokuto up in a power bomb position and Nagayo delivered a diamond cutter on her. The building was said to be filled with many women around the age of 30, who were teenagers during the heyday of the Crush Gals, and a crowd split almost 50-50 among men and women. The crowd heat was said to be huge and the ring was filled with red and blue streamers for the ring intro reminiscent of their glory days. Reports were that the show set an all-time pro wrestling record for streams thrown and purchased. At one point Masami and Hokuto delivered double scorpion deathlocks on the Crush Gals (that was a Crush Gals 80s spot), and Nagayo & Asuka both juiced. After the match, they said they would continue to team and form a group in Gaea called Crush 2000 with Sugar Sato and Chikayo Nagashima. Also on the show, Aja Kong retained the AAAW title pinned Meiko Satomura. Kong's next title defense will be against Mayumi Ozaki, who beat Kaoru in 28:36 in a match to determine the top contender. Nagashima & Sato retained the AAAW tag titles beating Toshie Uematsu & Bloody

Akira Maeda returned from the United States furious about Gilbert Yvel, his current world heavyweight champion, signing with Pride, and announced upon his return that Yvel was stripped of his version of the world heavyweight title

As it pertains to FMW's plans in the United States as marketed by Tokyopop.com, they will be releasing two home videos per month over the next six months

All Japan women ran a major show on 5/12 in Sapporo before an announced 3,200 headlined by a series of interpromotional main events. Manami Toyota retained the WWWA title beating Ran Yuyu of JWP in 21:35 with the Japanese Ocean Cyclone suplex. Kumiko Maekawa & Tomoko Watanabe retained the WWWA tag titles winning 2/3 falls from Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda. AJW team Kayo Noumi & Miho Wakizawa won the All-Japan womens tag belts beating JWP's Tsubasa Kuragaki & Misaki Kana. After the main event, they announced that Kaoru Ito would be Toyota's next challenger for the title as part of three straight nights of big shows from 7/14 through 7/16. Toyota on 5/6 had lost a fall in a six-person match to LLPW's Eagle Sawai, so Sawai is being set up as a new challenger

Ryokudozan, 36, a former sumo wrestler who for the past several years has been a political figure in the Japanese Diet (equivalent to the Senate) announced his retirement from politics to go into pro wrestling. That is a very old age to start. About the only wrestler I can ever recall who started that late who actually became a long-term star was Badnews Allen

IWA Japan will be running a tour from 5/24 through 5/27 using Gorgeous Michelle Starr from British Columbia as a main event heel doing the gay gimmick. Rip Rogers got over pretty big with All Japan, since he was different from everyone else on the show, doing a similar gimmick to Starr (technically Rogers played a street hustler as opposed to a gay gimmick), although as you can imagine given who the promoter was, he didn't last long there anyway. Also coming to the IWA tour is Goliath El Gigante, who formerly wrestled in the WWF as Kurrgan

Tetsuo Sekigawa (Mr. Pogo) announced the formation of his own promotion on 5/12 called WWS, one of the initials probably standing for W*ING, which was a Japanese hardcore company from many years back that had something of a cult following. They debut in his home town of Isezaki on 5/29 with Shoji Nakanami and Goro Tsurumi plus Pogo is attempting to get Kintaro Kanemura and Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, who were all stars with the original W*ING office

Katsumi Usuda won the Independent jr. title on the 5/11 Battlarts show at Korakuen Hall from Minoru Tanaka

LLPW President and wrestlers Rumi Kazama, fighting under her real name of Rumie Saito, lost in the first round of the Asian Tae Kwon Do championship held on 5/13 in Hong Kong to a Chinese fighter who beat her when the referee stopped the match

Shadow WX won Big Japan's World Extreme Cup tournament on 5/14 in Kawasaki beating Combat Zone Wrestling promoter John Zandig in the finals. WX was all cut up and they poured lemon juice and salt on his wounds. Wife Beater came out and used a chainsaw to cut up WX's arm. Match ended up with the CZW guys setting a table on fire and threw WX into the fire, but the finish saw WX superplex Zandig through the burning table. In the tournament third place match, Tomoaki Honma pinned Crazy Sheik (Julio Estrada, who is Rico Suave in WWC). They also had a loser leaves town match with Mens Teioh changing his name to Terry Boy (his original name in Michinoku Pro Wrestling where his role was a young Japanese wrestler whose idol was Terry Funk) beating Abdullah the Butcher (Terry Funk's greatest rival in Japan) in 18:29. Can you imagine seeing Butcher at his age in a match that long? Abdullah Jr. Kobayashi threw powder in Butcher's face to lead to the finish. Butcher is expected out of Big Japan until the late summer. With the main angle in the promotion being Big Japan vs. CZW, there was really no place in the main matches for Butcher. They also had an eight person elimination match to determine a Bunkhouse Scramble title and woman wrestler Kiyoko Ichiki ended up pinning promoter Shinya Kojika to become the first champion

There is a story in the premiere issue of Maximum Golf magazine about Brian Fleming, who is a club repair specialist at the Callaway headquarters in Carlsbad, CA, who wrestles on area indie shows as Al Katrrazz, playing the role of a con who enters he ring in shackles.

HERE AND THERE: Although this is not a pro wrestling story, it does relate a lot to pro wrestlers. The results of the first survey of ex-NFL football players relating to the long-term effects of concussions was released this past week during the American Academy of Neurology's 52nd annual meeting. A survey of more than 1,000 retired NFL players, 60% of whom suffered at least one concussion during their career and 26% of whom had suffered at least three, showed that players who had suffered a concussion were more likely to have long-term neurological complaints, among them, memory problems, speech or hearing impairment, numbness in their extremities and headaches. "Although a great deal is written in the lay press about this issue...there is little documentation in the medical literature," said Dr. Barry Jordan, director of the Brain Injury Program at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, NY, the primary author of the study. Jordan noted flaws in his own study because the results were obtained via a questionnaire and that more research is needed, but that if further research confirms the findings of the study, that NFL players should be tested regularly for potential neurological symptoms

Line-up for the Brian Pillman Memorial show on 5/25 in Cincinnati, OH at Xavier University. First they are having an indie show at 5:30 p.m. with Rory Fox & Logan Caine vs. Jeremy Lopez & Jet Jaguar, Rico Constantino vs. B.J. Payne, Chuck Palumbo vs. Sean O'Hare, Reckless Youth vs. Scotty Sabre, Cody Hawk & Anthony McMurphy vs. Flash Flanagan & Matt Stryker, Shark Boy vs. Jamie-san (Jung Dragons) and a Heartland Wrestling Association title match with Chip Fairway involved. The main show has Cody Michaels vs. Terry Taylor, Tom Prichard (with Jim Cornette) vs. Tim Horner (with Missy Hyatt), Ron & Don Harris vs. Vampiro & David Flair with Dmitri Young of the Cincinnati Reds as ref, Billy Kidman (with Torrie Wilson) vs. Chris Candido (with Tammy Sytch), D-Lo Brown vs. Road Dogg, Shane Douglas vs. ? (perhaps Ric Flair but it's not a definite he'll be attending), a three-way with Dean Malenko vs. Perry Saturn vs. Eddy Guerrero, Justin Credible vs. Raven for the ECW title and main event of Chris Benoit vs. Steven Regal. David Arquette is donating all his pay from WCW to be split three ways for the families of Brian Pillman, Brian Hildebrand and Darren Drozdov. ECW has 5/25 booked in Columbus, OH and moved the date to 5/26 to keep from having a conflict with this show

Atsushi Onita announced that he would be doing an explosive barbed wire match on 6/25 in Philadelphia against Terry Funk. This is the long-talked about match that Combat Zone Wrestling was to be promoting

Sabu worked on 5/12 in Hazlet, NJ for NWA Jersey beating Ace Darling. After the match Chris Candido and Tammy Sytch attacked him to set up a match over the summer between the two in Keansburg, NJ over the XPW title

TSN's "Off the Record" is producing a one-hour special on the escalating violence in television sports, focusing on pro wrestling, hockey and NHB fighting, scheduled to air on 6/22

Randy Savage's appearance at the RollerJam tapings over the weekend was canceled with no explanation given, other than RollerJam is attempting to still get him to appear at future tapings

Blue Meanie left Memphis to move back to Philadelphia to be closer to his grandmother who is having health problems so he's left the Memphis Championship Wrestling circuit. The WWF is trying to get ECW to take him back

The promotional war in Puerto Rico continues. WWC has filed for an injunction to prevent Juan Rivera, who is better known as Savio Vega, from using the ring name TNT, which was the name he got over huge in the island with more than a decade ago in their company. The issue came up legally several years ago and was never resolved. Rivera used the TNT name in the past outside of the WWC (most notably while wrestling for both All Japan and New Japan). Ricky Banderas & Nuevo Gran Apolo captured the IWA tag titles in a three-way over previous champs Miguel Perez & Huracan Castillo Jr. and Victor the Bodyguard & Chicky Starr before 420 fans on 5/14 in Moca, PR. Although WWC announced that Public Enemy was coming, they were actually never booked, and the Pitbulls have now been announced as coming in their place. Ratings for last week saw WWC on 5/6 drew an 8.9 rating and 35 share while IWA drew an 8.2 and 29 share. On 5/7, WWC drew an 11.2 rating and 39 share while IWA drew a 5.5 rating and a 17 share. IWA's next major show will be on 6/16, although they don't have an arena booked, but are looking to run with cheaper ticket prices than the 4/28 show and closer to San Juan, where there is more American cable penetration. They've got Edge, Christian, Too Cool, Crash Holly, Angle, Saturn and Taka Michinoku from WWF for that show. Head Hunter #1, who has been out of action for several months due to fluid in his lungs, should be returning soon

FX is putting together for its Tough Man Friday night show a series of theme shows. The first one, at least on the drawing board, is pro wrestlers vs. NFL football players where they would have a tournament of eight men and four alternates that would be taped on 6/4 and probably air on 6/9. The wrestlers will be Southern California guys from Ultimate Pro Wrestling. At this point there is no site, nor any names of football players although it's not expected there will be any name people on either list

Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling drew its record crowd and record gross on 5/12 in Hamburg, PA of 923 paid for a show that included Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young and Jimmy Valiant and headlined with a ladder match where Cheetah Master won the PCW title from Michael Modest. This show outdrew many shows in the past that featured a lot of what would be considered bigger TV stars at that moment. Bruno Sammartino will be a guest at the 6/17 return to Hamburg as well as former Nitro Girl Fyr

Southern States Wrestling ran a Mark Curtis (Brian Hildebrand) tribute show on 5/13 in Kingsport, TN before 259 fans which included Cody Michaels, Buddy Landel, Manny Fernandez and Tracy Smothers. They held the second annual Kingsport Wrestling Hall of Fame inductions at the show of Hildebrand (accepted by his wife), Wahoo McDaniel, Fernandez, Ron Wright, Whitey Caldwell (who passed away in a 1972 auto accident and was the all-time most popular wrestler in the city) and Earl Walters

Yokozuna worked in a six-man tag along with Justin Credible on 5/12 in Meriden, CT for the Millennium Wrestling Association. Reports were that he looked slightly larger than his WWF days, which is really scary. If that guy could have only managed his weight, he could be a really wealthy man by now. The only thing he did in the match was one legdrop. Credible, who teamed with him, got a huge pop, bigger than the former WWF champion

Sabu is expected to work for Stampede Wrestling from 6/8 to 6/11 including 6/9 TV taping in Calgary.

MMA: The problem with DSE is that it's run like a pro wrestling organization and not like a sport. That's okay in the marketing aspect, but not in the game itself. It's been discussed already how it's impossible to have a tournament when the rules aren't the same for every fight (such as the no time limit provision specific only for Royce Gracie's matches and the final). They even tried to change the rules as the show went on. Because the show ran so long, before the Mark Coleman vs. Igor Vovchanchin final, the promotion asked both fighters to change the final from the original no time limit provision to a fight under the rules of the non-Gracie prelims of one round, judges decision, and if it's close, go into a one round overtime before a final judges decision. Vovchanchin refused to accept, because such rules on paper looked to favor Coleman, the wrestler who could control the fight on the ground, as opposed to Vovchanchin, with the big knockout punch who can end the fight

DSE is very close to putting together a deal for a Frank Shamrock vs. Sakuraba match to determine the top under-200 pound fighter in the world. Shamrock is also considering fighting on a big show at the San Jose Arena in the fall

Ken Shamrock's hopes are to do a fight in either August or October, against a fighter of the calibre of Kazuyuki Fujita. He's hoping to fight someone who was test him on physical strength, which Alexander Otsuka wasn't able to, before a February fight against one of the top-five fighters in the world. Shamrock's current contract with DSE only calls for the February fight

DSE is tentatively planning another spectacular for the summer at the 40,000-seat Seibu Dome, home of the Seibu Lions, in Tokorozawa, which is about an hour outside of Tokyo

One match on the 6/4 DSE show in Nagoya at Rainbow Hall is Gary Goodridge (and this is awfully quick to be bringing somebody back who lost via knockout on 5/1) vs. Ricco Rodriguez. There is talk of matching up Sakuraba with Gilbert Yvel, but after Sakuraba fought 105 minutes on 5/1, and Sakuraba went into the fight with a foot injury, he really needs some time off, particularly against an opponent who is bigger and so dangerous. Coming off the Gracie win on 5/1, TBS in Japan (Ch. 8 in Tokyo) on 5/14 ran a 30 minute television special on Sakuraba that aired at 11 p.m

Jim Rome's "The Last Word" on Fox Sports on 5/23 will have a segment on MMA with IFC promoter Paul Smith and fighter John Lewis debating attorney Vance Mandelker representing the New York State Athletic Commission, which was involved in having the sport banned in that state. The show was taped on 5/12

For those who saw the Gracie-Sakuraba match and respected the family's sportsmanship in defeat, we give you these comments by Royce on Eddie Goldman's eyada.com internet show (which airs from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday as the lead-in for Wrestling Observer Live). Royce claimed that Sakuraba tapped out in the match. There was a point in the match where Sakuraba was caught in a guillotine that he was in zero danger of submitting from and did tap to tease Royce. The rules state you tap four times and it's a concession. Sakuraba teased Royce by tapping three times like a pro wrestler teasing a false finish. Gracie claimed Sakuraba was saved by the round ending. He said he beat Sakuraba up for the first 75 minutes of the fight and his knuckles and knees were black and blue from pounding him and claimed he dominated the stand-up portion of the fight. It's clear from watching that Sakuraba early on tried to conserve as much energy as possible and tire Gracie out first, since a no time limit match can be a pure stamina game, and he played the game perfectly

Sakuraba actually suffered a foot or ankle injury before the Gracie match but didn't let it out publicly until afterwards, and won't be fighting on the 6/4 Pride show due to the injury

In what really shouldn't be considered an upset, but shocked the promotion that thought he had no chance to win nonetheless, Dan Severn captured the World Extreme Fighting world heavyweight title beating Marcus Conan Silveira via submission with a triangle choke in 4:46. Severn, who turns 42 in a few weeks, shot an angle after the show with Extreme Challenge heavyweight champion Bobby Hoffman. They had actually choreographed a pro wrestling angle for Hoffman and Silveira for after Silveira's expected win, but Severn spoiled the plans. Mark Kerr was also there doing a pro wrestling contract signing angle for an upcoming show when Hoffman issued a challenge to him. Due to the connection of MMA to pro wrestling, especially at the top level where so many of the top fighters are either pro wrestlers, or want to be pro wrestlers, the idea of doing angles, albeit primitive in nature, becomes natural instinct, and with promoters who think they know for sure who is going to win because they are experts (and one thing we've learned is you can never accurately predict close-booked MMA over the long haul because there are so many intangibles) often plan ahead and those plans get spoiled faster than ECW long-term plans. Apparently the acting was so bad that nobody in the crowd bought it, unlike when Ken Shamrock and Alexander Otsuka did their angle in San Jacinto, CA you could tell it was total pro wrestling but the crowd liked it. It would have probably not been so bad had Hoffman not looked sluggish in winning a decision earlier in the show. The show drew 3,000 fans to Roberts Stadium in Evansville, IN, but only 970 was paid for a gate of about $27,000 (and that's with a $15,000 local ad budget). There were a lot of complaints about the way promoter Jamie Levine marketed the event, such as banned in 11 states and emphasizing it as bare knuckle fighting (despite the fact all competitors were mandated to wear gloves) emphasizing the blood in local radio interviews since tickets weren't moving. Levine even made the statement that all the fighters had to pick out coffins for themselves during the weigh-ins and Levine, when asked if the sport was violent, emphasized saying it was very violent. As you can tell, all of this publicity resulted in no tickets being sold. There were also complaints that the TV ads showed a brutal kick to the head that has since been banned under WEF rules. The local Hook'n'Shoot promotion, using no-name local fighters, outdraws that 70% of the time playing and old Coliseum for regular shows. Dave Menne upset Jose Pele Landy, the top rated under-170 pound fighter in the world, via decision, and what many thought was a robbery of a decision (others felt it was a very close fight that should have been a draw), after an overtime. Yoshihisa Yamamoto of RINGS tapped out from repeated strikes from the top, giving up his back and getting choked out against Brandon Lee Hinkle in something of an upset in only 2:21. Wataru Sakata of RINGS also appeared on the show, beating Mansour Heidari via decision after 12:00. Akira Maeda was one of the judges on the show. The show airs as a PPV in Canada on 5/27

New Jersey's Athletic Commission has given tentative approval for a show to be held in Atlantic City at the Tropicana Hotel

There was a press conference on 5/11 regarding the rules in the 5/26 Rickson Gracie vs. Masakatsu Funaki match. Masami Ozaki agreed for Funaki that they would do the fight without head-butts but was still attempting to get elbows legalized in the rules. The Coliseum 2000 promotion said they would negotiate with Gracie over the elbows. There is a lot of criticism for RINGS regarding business of having put Gilbert Yvel in a title match against its top star, Kiyoshi Tamura, on the final match of his contract. Logic would say they shouldn't have put him in the position to win a title without signing a contract extension, but then again, we've seen, in pro wrestling, similar things happening and they can control the outcomes. It now appears that Tamura, due to the beating he took in that fight, won't be able to do his scheduled match with Jeremy Horn at the Tokyo Dome

Jeff Blatnick was the commencement speaker at the Springfield College graduation on 5/14. Blatnick, who is the UFC color commentator and 1984 Olympic gold medalist as well as a motivational speaker, wrestled and graduated from Springfield in 1979 and was given an honorary doctorate from the college in 1987.

ECW: ECW filed lawsuits in Federal Court in New York against both Rob Black, the owner of Xtreme Pro Wrestling in California and Terry Brunk (Sabu). Black was sued for tortious interference of a contract (using Brunk while he was under contract to ECW) and for copyright infringement (using the word "Extreme," just spelled differently which would theoretically create confusion in the marketplace as well as the similarities of logo). Brunk was sued for breach of contract

Tanaka is looking to sign a full-time ECW contract, which tells you more about the financial problems in FMW

ECW will be debuting on 6/3 in Pensacola and in July in both Dallas and Houston

The 5/18 show in Birmingham was canceled due to a poor advance. Most blame it on the fact that the PPV show there was papered so strongly that people weren't willing to spend money for tickets for a minor house show after being easily able to get free tickets for a PPV. The schedule through the next several weeks is back down to only two house shows per week

The situation with Jason (Knight) is tenuous. Knight is still under contract but wasn't part of the PPV

The ECW debut in Canada is tentatively set for 9/30 in Mississauga, ONT at the Hershey Center

TNN on 5/12 was taped in Minneapolis. It was a so-so show, actually pretty flat leading into a PPV and was terrible as a go-home show for a PPV, with little in the way of interviews hyping the matches, and few matches even announced or built in storyline. It opened with Sinister Minister (Jim Mitchell) making an inside reference to Jackie Crockett before Mikey Whipwreck threw fire at the camera man. They did the TNN open. When Joel Gertner did his catch phrase, Joey Styles was bent over like he had a cramp. Dreamer came out and actually didn't even say a word before Simon Diamond interrupted him. This led to a match with Dreamer winning in 7:33 with a DDT. Diamond came off as a very poor man's Raven with an entourage of Prodigy (Tom Marquez), Prodigette (Angel Orsini I believe, who is doing a gimmick where she almost looks like a man and is supposed to be Prodigy's twin sister and the two are screw-ups) and The Musketeer. Dreamer shoved the sabre of the musketeer up his butt and Gertner said douche (pronounced as rhyming with touche as opposed to its correct pronunciation). Prodigette missed a moonsault and this was a missed moonsault like you've almost never seen. Storm beat Lynn in a good match at 6:03 after Credible hit Lynn, aiming for Storm, with the cane. Dreamer came out to attack Credible and Storm dove on both of them. Cyrus then came out and insulted the fans in Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota. Actually more fans cheered at getting insulted then usual. When Cyrus said the state was filled with idiots, there were noticeable cheers and when he said they were so stupid they voted for Ventura, you saw people clapping everywhere (not the majority, but more than enough to be noticed). Cyrus compared Lynn to other Minnesota heroes like Frank (sic) Tarkenton, Greg Gagne and Prince. Cyrus noted Lynn was a protege of Brad Rheingans and said he learned to wrestle like him, but also compared his interview ability to Rheingans, which everyone in the audience seemed to recognize as a huge insult, and Cyrus called him a ratings killer. Tajiri came out and Lynn attacked him, but said he did that for himself and blew Cyrus off again with some words that were bleeped out. After Lynn walked out, Corino and Victory attacked Tajiri, who made a comeback and laid them both out. This led to another Rhino vs. Tajiri match. Tajiri was real good, but it was too short, ending with Rhino doing the piledriver off the apron through a table for the pin in 3:20. Sandman did his requisite run-in, only to be pounded on until Van Dam made the save, and he laid out Rhino with a missile dropkick and frog splash.

WCW: The Slamboree buy rate was not released by WCW because the figure was such an embarrassment. It was said to be below an 0.2, making it at least one of the three lowest PPV buy rates in company history. So much for the mainstream curiosity buys of Arquette and the successful rub of Kidman by Hogan and how much all that internet hype for seven years by Douglas for a match with Flair actually means in real life. It's clear that however nice a guy Arquette is, he cost the company business at every turn because it was something wrestling fans rejected. The company should have realized it when the rating came in for Thunder the day after that switch, and more so when the Nitro rating came in after whatever mainstream hype it had gotten, but they decided to swerve themselves right out of another buy rate because they wanted him to go into a PPV main event. The next show will do a lot better, but putting Flair and Hogan's career on the line on the same show would even at this stage of the game do a good number and should do a huge number except nobody actually believes in their stipulations

The idea for the top of the card is Nash vs. Jarrett, Ric vs. David with Ric's career on the line, and Hogan vs. Kidman with Hogan's career on the line, Sting vs. Vampiro in a ring surrounded by fire match, DDP vs. Awesome in an ambulance match, Scott Steiner vs. Abbott in a shootfight (maybe in a cage)

Nitro on 5/15 in Biloxi, MS had 8,550 in the building which was 2,893 paying $63,040. It was probably, due to Flair, the best Nitro at least since the 4/10 show. In a very strange match, Sting beat Vampiro in a house of pain cage match in 5:25. The object was to handcuff the opponent to the cage. Sting sold more than usual but seemed to easily handcuff him, then gave him a few (as in two or three) bodyblocks and simply left, seven minutes early. The lights went out and Vampiro disappeared. Douglas attacked Clark in the parking lot. The MIAs, which is a remake of the Oddities/Sable deal in WWF, saw Tylene Buck now called Major Guns, Chavo Guerrero Jr. is Lt. Loco and Van Hammer as Major Strash. As stupid as this sounds, they wanted him to be Private Stash as an inside joke, but he cried about it because private was the lowest rank and he didn't want to be seen as the lowest ranking Oddity. Adams challenged Douglas to come out. Douglas brought out Wall as his partner and they had the match. Douglas then walked out on Wall. Wall put both guys through a table and turned his back on both of them, and they got up and double choke slammed him through a table and Adams pinned him in 3:30. It was terrible. At one point the table didn't break so Wall tried to pick Adams up from an impromptu table spot and Adams didn't want to go up. Wall put a paramedic through a table after the match. Bischoff blew off Disco and asked Funk to give him the hardcore belt. Funk said no so Miller jumped him. They kept showing the Goldberg truck. The belief, and this may be true, is that this truck means more ratings than any of the wrestlers. With the exception of Flair, I'd bet money on that. Funk beat the entire Filthy Animals except Kidman in a handicap bout for the title. Miller attacked Funk as well. The MIAs bounced around the Animals until Disco saved to become a Filthy Animal. Booker T then bounced around the Animals, who should be nicknamed the pinballs, and Funk pinned Juvi in 3:00. Major Gunns than gave Funk mouth-to-mouth. Smiley and Ralphus got a job at the popcorn stand until Ralphus was picking his butt and putting his hand in the popcorn. Crowbar & Daffney won the cruiserweight title from Candido & Tammy in 5:18. Remember when Bischoff said how they were going to re-establish the cruiserweight belt with the good workers. This ended with Miss Hancock dancing. Sytch gave Daffney the worst stunner in history to zero pop, and it's hard not to get a pop doing that move. She got up to celebrate and got schoolgirled. It wasn't made clear if Crowbar or Daffney is now the champ. I think both of them. Flair came out to destroy Crowbar. In the middle of this great Flair angle, Sting went to the parking lot and his car was in flames. What a waste of money doing an angle that nobody cared about. Russo & David were at the Flair home in Charlotte and this was priceless stuff about how Reid is the favored one, saying that David had to sleep in the garage and swim in a shark-infested creek. Russo was jumping up and down in Flair's bed. Russo stole one of Ric's robes and confronted his wife and two youngest children. It was tremendous stuff. Ric then confronted David and Daffney, who came out with some of Ric's old title belts. He challenged David to a match. Flair was tremendous. Jarrett laid out Ric with a guitar shot and put him in the figure four. Madusa vs. Liz were supposed to have a cage match but Luger came dressed as a cage repair man into the cage and saved Liz. Russo came out and hit Luger with a low blow, but he was wearing a cup so he no sold it and rubbed the cup in Russo's mouth. The security maced Luger. After 19 straight shows of getting maced, you'd think he'd wear a mask or something. Palumbo attacked Luger with that 60s comic booker twister deal. Nash's music played and all 12 guys as security freaked while Nash beat up all of them while Russo ran off with Liz and Palumbo escaped. Awesome attacked Nash. Nash challenged Awesome and called him Eddie Money, who was a rock star probably when Nash was in college, and challenged him to an ambulance match. Scott Steiner went outside for a street fight with Tank and Rick, who were beating on him until the Goldberg truck made the save. Nash beat Awesome in a bad match in 5:21. Nash nearly killed Awesome with the greatest power bomb in the sport. Just before Awesome faced sure paralysis, DDP made the save and helped Nash do the move before he dropped the guy on his head. Awesome took a bump off the apron onto a heavily gimmicked table setting. The match ended with Awesome never put in the ambulance. I think it ended because it was a mercy killing. Ralphus & Smiley got fired. Bischoff challenged Page and asked him to bring back-up. Miller & Bischoff were doubling on Page until Sid made the save. Sid was wearing a shirt since due to shoulder problems, he hasn't been able to train well enough where he'd take his shirt off I guess. Of course, Sid turned on DDP. They've got to bring Page's mom on next week so she can turn on him. Hogan cleaned house. This set up the lowest rated segment of the show with Hogan vs. Horace (didn't he retire?) vs. Kidman. If Hogan is Terry Bollea, then who is Horace? Horace just stood there much to the chagrin of Bischoff and Kidman while Hulk bounced Kidman around like a ping pong ball. The idea that Kidman by being in the ring constantly bounced around by Hogan is getting a rub that makes him a bigger star goes against all historical precedents. In the 70s and 80s when TV was largely squash matches and the big stars destroyed job guys, giving them little offense, did the job guys become big stars because they happened to be in the ring with big stars? Even if you note the 1-2-3 aspect, on Nitro, Hall used to do these fake jobs where he'd treat a promising wrestler like dirt (Kidman, Hector Garza and Chris Jericho all come to mind) and then act like he slipped on a banana peal and lose to them. Even though he "did the job," he smartly knew he was cutting all of their throats even though they probably thanked him at the time because he was a big star losing to them. Anyway, in this match, Torrie Wilson came out and Horace turned on his uncle and hit him with a chair shot for the pin. It only took one week for that turn. During the match, Hogan and Horace cleaned house on Bischoff, all the Animals and Kidman at the same time with some of the lamest chair shots on record. Wilson left with Horace, which got Kidman mad. Finally Flair pinned Jarrett with an inside cradle in 6:16 in a good match. Flair, at 51, with one arm (he needs shoulder surgery and that may happen in mid-June) in street clothes (they wanted him in trunks since he was winning the world title, but it was one of those communication breakdowns and since they never told him, he didn't bring any trunks), still has the only good match and great interview on the show and the two highest segments while half the young guys who can't draw ratings, have good matches, or even dress well, think he is the one who is killing the ratings? Since it worked, that guarantees about a two week title reign if he's lucky. He'd probably have a longer reign if it flopped in the ratings because then nobody would feel he's a threat to their spot. It was funny watching the pinfall and seeing the announcers all hesitate because they weren't told ahead of title about the switch so they all thought the ref had screwed up and didn't immediately put over the excitement. Some day they'll realize that their insatiable appetite to swerve their employees that are trying to get the product to work is in 90% of the cases the worst thing for business. Well, this regime won't, because they're still trying to swerve themselves into believing the Arquette thing worked. But to their credit, after throwing 100 angles against the wall, they finally got one to stick

Hogan's shoulder has been bothering him as well as his knee. It has been made clear to everyone that Hogan is "the man" and in all angles he has to be treated as such

Thunder tapings on 5/16 from Lafayette, LA. For World Wide, Kory Williams & Ashley Hudson, as their New South gimmick, beat a pair of twins. Vampiro squashed Colorado Kid. Vampiro got a total face reaction. Candido & Tammy beat Stasiak & Mona. Stasiak walked out. Mona beat up Candido but got Tammy's trademark world's worst stunner and was pinned. Tammy's breast came out twice during the match, once after the stunner. They showed it on a replay which got a big pop. Thunder is Raw started out with the New Blood in a school bus. Where did they ever come up with that idea. Douglas came out as the leader. Konnan is mad because Douglas is the leader so they argued and everyone fought everyone until the MC came out and they all brawled. Hogan did an interview, and got a big face pop. He said if he beats Kidman on 6/11, he gets a title shot on 7/9. Fans actually booed that one. Kidman ran down Hogan. Hogan challenged Horace to a singles match. Jarrett ran down Flair, who came out and clocked Jarrett with the belt. The MC then ran off the rest of the NB. The MIA (Rection & Cajun & Loco & Stash) vs. Filthy Animals (Konnan & Misterio Jr. (they are doing a great job of letting him rehab, aren't they?) & Juvi & Disco. Tylene Buck shoved her boobs in Disco's face. Stasiak attacks Loco and Booker cleaned house. The gimmick is that Buck gives Loco mouth-to-mouth after to revive him. Hogan vs. Hogan started with Kidman yelling at Horace about Wilson, who he came out with. Horace beat up Kidman (what a push he's getting) and went to the ring with Wilson. Horace went to kiss Wilson when Kidman came out again. Hulk then throws Kidman over the top rope through a table and pins Horace. Hogan then kisses Wilson to a big pop. Of course she liked it and walked out on both Kidman and Horace. Luger attacked Palumbo "at the gym." Ralphus & Smiley were selling FUNB t-shirts out of the back of a truck. Miller vs. Funk hardcore title match sees them brawl to where Ralphus & Norman are selling the shirts. Funk destroyed the car with a chair as does Miller. Smiley hits Miller with a chair and Funk pins him. The Goldberg truck came out to a big pop. Ralphus & Smiley were then arrested for conducting business without a license. Scott Steiner came out wearing a ton of make-up for a black eye and cut up mouth. Scott vs. Awesome in an ambulance match is real quick. Recliner and the Goldberg music is played, but it's Abbott who comes out. Abbott & Rick attack Scott, who holds his own until Awesome joins in. They're about to put Scott on the stretcher when the Goldberg truck made the save. Rick & Tank go after the truck while Scott throws both on the hood of the truck and it backs out of the arena. Scott won the match. Kanyon did an interview working the paralysis from the hospital. Shane, who was in control, is told he has a match against Kronic. All the NB guys then walk out on Douglas. Kronic dragged Douglas into the ring for a match and is getting killed until Wall comes out with table. Douglas grabs the belts and tries to leave but Wall choke slams Douglas through the table. Douglas tells Kronic to attack Wall, but instead they choke slam Douglas and pin him. The crowd didn't care about any of this. Flair gave a tremendous promo and Jarrett came out. Crowbar, David & Daffney all help attacking Flair until Anderson makes the save. Vampiro burned a Sting mask. During the commercial, they soaked the ropes with gasoline. Sting came out, then Vampiro came out and called him Steve and said they would have an inferno match on the PPV. Sting said that's nuts and he isn't going to do it. At this point the ropes were supposed to catch on fire but they didn't. The fans started laughing and booing. They re-taped it later in the show and it did work, but by that time the arena was almost empty. The main event was supposed to be Ric & Nash & Anderson vs. Jarrett & Flair & Crowbar. They show Anderson being beaten up by all three in the back. Flair and Jarrett are in the ring until David & Daffney & Crowbar attack him. Nash cleans house. Flair puts Daffney in the figure four. Jarrett hits Nash with a chair, who no sells it. Flair acted like he was having a heart attack. The show ended with the MC tipping over the DX, I mean NB bus and the Goldberg truck ran over it

Nitro on 5/22 from Grand Rapids, MI starts one hour early due to NBA playoffs

Mike Alfonso (Mike Awesome) was interviewed by Mike Mooneyham in the Charleston Post-Courier as well as the Wrestling Observer Hotline regarding his leaving ECW. He said that due to legal reasons, he can't give his side of the story until 7/20, but said he wasn't happy in the company. He said his leaving came from discussions with Vince Russo, Hulk Hogan and Horace (Mike Bollea), who is Alfonso's first cousin (Mike Bollea is Hogan's nephew, but Alfonso and Terry Bollea aren't related), and said he left largely due to Hogan's prompting as he convinced him that ECW was a minor league compared with WCW. In the interview, Alfonso stated that he was, surprisingly, for a guy who made his name in FMW and ECW, personally against the use of blood in matches, citing health concerns for his view

WCW wanted to bring in Dawn Marie with Lance Storm but she had two years remaining on her ECW deal

Because WCW has had so much trouble drawing in traditional markets, they are trying to run as many shows as possible in markets they haven't run before or have run sparingly and that WWF doesn't go into. Also, starting in September, they are trying to do more international events such as tours of England, South Africa, Australia, Germany and Canadian dates. There aren't necessarily firm dates in all these locations but the idea is to put them together since the last England and Germany tours were huge successes and they've never been to South Africa and Australia, both of which have a strong track record at various times in history for pro wrestling

For whatever this is worth, and it's very little at this point, we'd consider this as Flair 18th reign as world champion although you could make a case for 20 as well

Thunder on 5/9 in Springfield, IL went like this. One thing to note is they had a new open, and there was no Ric Flair in the open. Candido beat Crowbar in 4:51. They missed a lot of moves early but it got better and for effort if nothing else was the best match on the show. Bischoff asked Funk to give him the hardcore title but Funk refused. They showed segments throughout the show of Russo taking David Flair, Crowbar and Daffney around New York. They took him to a quarter adult video house and acted as if David had never seen a naked woman before. David and Crowbar were hilarious, although after David's torrid love affair last season with Torrie Wilson, let alone being Ric Flair's son, that was pretty preposterous. Funk beat all members of Harlem Heat in 3:19 when Big T hit Stevie Ray to turn face and as they were fighting, Funk pinned Cash after a chair shot. Funk came out with chickens on each hand like they were boxing gloves. Pretty bad. Vampiro did an interview with Tenay. They built to a spot where Vampiro acted like he was going to bite the head off Sting's crow but Sting made the save and beat the hell out of Vampiro. After being beaten up, Vampiro started laughing. Vampiro was making references to "Steve Borden" not wanting to work, he'd rather stay home, his gimmick is just another acting gig. When Sting pounded on him, he called Vampiro "Ian." Strange and Sting came off totally heelish and Vampiro totally face-ish, which is probably the idea. Stasiak beat Leroux in 3:09 with a fisherman suplex after Hennig interfered. They said that Hennig had gotten Leroux, who is now going to be called Corporal Cajun, reinstated. Liz vs. Rhonda Singh went 1:53 when Luger ran in and racked Singh. Palumbo hit both Luger and Liz with a bat afterwards. This was awful. Russo & David did an interview. David talked about being neglected as a child. He got really good heat. It was weird because he was bragging about his long-legged blond girlfriend and having a Corvette to show he hasn't done badly for himself (his real-life fiance is Stacey Keibler, aka Miss Hancock), which was strange since Daffney was right there as a medium-legged brunette who is supposed to be his girlfriend and not only that, who he just, earlier in this very same show asked to marry him (that apparently based on this show, neither of whom we are supposed to believe he's ever seen sans clothing). They called out Anderson. Anderson did one of the best interviews of the year to build up for a match later in the show. They started a Thunder tailgating party idea, which was a smart idea to try and get people to think of Thunder as an event to attend as opposed to avoid as it's been of late to wrestling fans. Funk beat Palumbo in another hardcore title match in 4:22. They ended up outside and Palumbo attempted to murder Funk by throwing him off a ledge. Luger saved the day and destroyed Palumbo and Funk pinned Palumbo in a garbage can. Luger continued to pound on Palumbo until he got maced. Horace wrestled Kidman in a match where if Horace lost he'd have to retire. They are making people believe they honor the stips (they've got until 6/11 to convince people the stip means something because if they don't, they'll get no buy rate next time) by showing Smiley & Ralphus on a street corner with a sign and a tin cup saying "Will wrestle for food." Bischoff was at ringside constantly changing the rules of the match ala McMahon to Mick Foley. Horace actually got the pin with a death valley driver but Bischoff then said it was a death match. He turned it also into a handicap match with Konnan, Juventud Guerrera and Rey Misterio Jr. involved. Of course even four-on-one, Horace was killing them until Bischoff hit Horace with a chair and they all piled on for the pin in 2:21 of the second match. There was no ten count afterwards to signify a death match, but why quibble over details. Hogan, who was banned from ringside during the match, came in and beat up all four guys with some of the slowest mistimed, most embarrassing offense on record. Bischoff hit Hogan with a chair, which he no sold. Nash came out and the four guys all ran for him. Russo then came out to confront Nash, and basically tried to take 100% of the credit for the creation of the Diesel character that made Nash a star (let's see, Russo got major influence on TV, by his own admission, in 1997 when the ratings bottomed out because of course he had no influence during that period they were declining. Diesel left WWF in 1996 after arriving in 1993). The blood fell from the ceiling, most of which fell several feet to the side of Nash and much of which fell on front row spectators. At least a little fell on Nash. Hogan & Nash then ran to the back and destroyed Russo & Bischoff's limo. David Flair beat Anderson in 2:14 after a ref bump when Daffney used a low blow and David hit him with the statue of liberty gimmick and Crowbar counted the pin. Rick Steiner & Abbott came out for an interview. Abbott was so bad on the interview. Kronik came out and they brawled. Show ended with Awesome beating Sting in an ambulance match when they were brawling on the ambulance and Sting delivered a reverse DDT. Sting opened the ambulance door but Vampiro was in the back and pulled Sting in, so Sting lost

Bischoff in front of most of the wrestlers this past week was really putting over how over Nash is as a single and Kronik are after just a few weeks of television. He said Nash is more over as a single now than at any time since he's been with the company. The real test of being over is generating either box office, buy rates of moving television ratings. Since at this point they still have no box office or buy rates to speak of and what they have it's pretty clear isn't drawn because any performer is over, the only place to look is the TV ratings. The decibel level of a pop can be done because a worker with no box office appeal is really experienced at working the crowd, being put in the right position on a run-in that built heat, has a cool entrance gimmick, music or they simply blow up enough explosives when they come out that it makes a big noise, or because fans like a familiar spot in the match. Scotty 2 Hotty's worm or Rikishi's dancing may get the biggest pop of a show except for Rock, but nobody would argue that Scotty 2 Hotty or even Rikishi sells extra tickets, people buy PPVs to see him or tune into TV to see them or their match in specific (there's nothing wrong with that, the prelims job is to entertain the audience, the main events job is to put people in the seats and hopefully give them a reason to come back), he just does a spot on the show that the fans have been taught to react to out of familiarity. The worm is over to the audience as a familiar spot, but really being over in the business sense, is a totally different level. I've been to too many house shows before 1,500 people where the crowd is going crazy and 15,000 people making no noise at all, as has anyone who has been around wrestling for any length of time, to recognize the pop can't be used to define anything significant if the attendance, buy rate or TV audience movement isn't there

Vampiro signed his new contract for $250,000 per year as a base salary, $1,300 per house show, $4,000 per PPV

For whatever reason, there has been a lot of conjecture about the age of Scott Steiner. He was born July 29, 1962, which makes him 37. Some recent claimed ages for him would have him graduating high school at the age of 13 and being a senior in college at the age of 18

U.K. TV numbers for 4/27 through 4/29 saw Nitro draw 170,000 viewers, Raw draw 400,000, Thunder (head-to-head with Raw) draw 170,000 and Smackdown 250,000

Regarding the Bill Goldberg cover of the recent Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine, the editors actually first approached WWF about having a photo of The Rock. According to Jim Byrne, of the WWF, when asked about an article in the magazine, they were told it would be a dual article including people from WCW. Byrne said the WWF turned down the request for a Rock photo because they didn't want one of their wrestlers to appear in the same photo spread as a WCW wrestler. Sources of SIFK were under the impression the WWF turned it down because they didn't want to do anything that would make it appear they are promoting toward children. Byrne said the WWF would be glad to work in the future with SIFK, but they don't want to be lumped with WCW

Speaking of Goldberg, the expected jealousy regarding him is rearing its head with some of the other top guys (and if you think of the obvious suspects you'll probably be very close) complaining about them pushing him (through the monster truck gimmick) when he himself isn't coming back for several weeks

Scott Steiner suffered a big knot on his head when Corporal Rection's moonsault on the PPV that was supposed to miss actually landed with a kick to his face. Steiner rolled in the wrong direction out of the way

There are a lot of wrestlers working hurt right now, such as Hogan, Flair with the shoulder problem, Konnan with the neck injury from a Nash power bomb and Guerrera has bad ribs to go along with his elbow which isn't fully healed, but unlike under past regimes, the attitude now because of the feeling guys are getting a chance, is to work with injuries rather than use them as a reason to sit out as long as possible. Well, that and the fear of having pay cut in half. There is the obvious down side (chance of the injury not healing or because aggravated when working without allowing it to heal, not to mention the potential pain killer usage while trying to keep in the game while being hurt that stems from that) to this as well

Thunder tapings on 5/9 in Springfield, IL drew 4,129, which was 2,980 paying $60,810.

WWF: 5/21 Judgment Day PPV from Louisville officially will be HHH vs. Rock in the 60:00 Iron man match with Michaels as ref, Benoit vs. Jericho in a submissions match, Big Show vs. Shane McMahon, Dudleys vs. X-Pac & Road Dogg in a tables match, Guerrero vs. Saturn vs. Malenko for the European title, Rikishi & Too Cool vs. Edge & Christian & Angle and probably Hardys vs. T&A. They are going to add some sort of a backstage match involving Gerald Brisco defending the hardcore title which he won on 5/16 in Detroit on Smackdown as well. There will be fewer matches on the show than usual because they have a lot less time for an undercard because the main event is going so long

Raw on 5/15 in Cleveland was a so-so show until the last half hour. The main event had that annoying overdone 1997 Survivor Series finish, but I'm guessing they needed to do it, because they're going to tease it again as the finish of the Judgment Day match (by the way, in a clever move, if you click on www.judgementday.com it takes you to the XPW web site). Probably Rock is in a submission and Vince is ordering the bell to ring and either Michaels or Undertaker will save the day. Either that or Michaels can always turn on Rock. Or he can turn on Rock and Undertaker will save the day. Or Undertaker can turn on Rock. The possibilities are, well, not endless. Michaels returned. He seemed happy people remembered him and talked about his school, his promotion (everyone raves about how well trained his wrestlers are) and his family. He retired as commissioner. Vince came out. Shawn said he was invited by Linda, shoved down Vince and said he was the ref. He said he was appointed official spokesperson for the WWF, which if it's a shoot, is just about the scariest thing imaginable. Michaels shoved down Vince so he could leave the show as a face, and then drove off in a limo. Dudleys beat Snow & Blackman in 3:07. The match fell apart and Ross even acknowledged that. They did the 3-D on Snow. Dogg & X-Pac attacked them leading to Tori doing a plancha off the top outside putting Buh Buh through a table. She landed stomach on Buh Buh. If she landed any higher, there would have been a nasty explosion with chemicals everywhere. Stephanie did a poorly acted promo. Angle came out. She went to hug him but he just wanted to shake hands. Rikishi beat Angle in 1:13 when Edge & Christian interfered and Too Cool made the save. Godfather vs. Crash for the hardcore title ended up with Brown involved trying to win the title. One of the ho's (Bobcat, from Maryland, who had been working in Memphis of late), pinned Crash to win the title for a few seconds but he rolled her up, pulling up her dress so you could get a good panty shot, and regained the title for the 43rd time. Vince, Stephanie and HHH were doing an interview when The Rock returned. He doesn't have to do it because he can get away with anything, but it's time for Rock to come up with some new lines. Bob Holly beat Jericho in a hardcore match when Benoit interfered and put Jericho out with a dragon sleeper and Bob hit him with a chair for the pin in 4:30. Shane came out, saying he wasn't a pussy, and challenged Show to a PPV match with no DQ. Show came out and chased him before T&A came out for a handicap bout. It ended when Shane interfered hitting Show with a chair for the DQ in 3:37. Shane than ran away with Show chasing. Shane fell down, because Show was supposed to catch him. Fat Bastard is so slow he still couldn't catch Shane before he made it backstage. Show brought Shane back out and threw him into the entrance structure which looked like it hurt and head-butted T&A. Saturn & Malenko beat Guerrero & Chyna in 5:06. Guerrero did some great wrestling here. Chyna accidentally low blowed him and Saturn got the pin with a brainbuster. Edge & Christian won a three-way over Acolytes and Hardys in 2:25 when Christian set up Matt for Edge to get the pin. Real good action but too short. Main was Rock vs. Benoit in a submission match. HHH & Stephanie & Vince were at ringside. They spent the whole show making fun of the fact Rock had never used a submission move in the WWF (actually he won one of his titles with the sharpshooter in the 405th remake of the 1997 Survivor Series finish against Mankind when Vince said to ring the bell). Benoit used a sharpshooter and they, trying to tease that match (seriously, it's 2000, and has anyone realized who won't give up dwelling on the match and it's Vince) even bringing up Bret Hart's name. Rock used a figure four and an armbar. Lawler was so clueless that when Benoit had the armbar blocked, Lawler thought it was a submission hold until Ross explained it was a block. HHH pulled Benoit to the ropes when he was caught in the figure four. Benoit got the crossface on when Vince ordered the timekeeper to ring the bell at 6:50 and bullied poor Lillian Garcia to make the announcement that Rock had submitted. HHH & Benoit beat up Rock. Rock made his own comeback. Vince tried to run away but Jericho blocked the exit. Jericho put HHH in the walls and he tapped out. Now that is putting somebody over. After a rock bottom on Benoit, DX ran in, but the Dudleys ran in with a table. Rock put HHH through a table with the rock bottom to end the show. The main event elevated what had been a so-so show up to that point

Smackdown taping report from 5/16 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. In dark matches, the Dupps beat Rodney & Pete Gas, an unknown wrestler (who worked locally as El Fuego) beat Scotty Sabre and Brian & Chuck Colding, who wrestle as the Cold Brothers locally, beat Johnny Rayz & Elvis Elliott. For Heat, Bulldog beat Abs, Gangrel beat Richards, Rios vs. Taka turned into a tag with Rios & Lita over Taka & Funaki with a double moonsault finish and Godfather beat Brown, but after the match Brown gave one of the ho's a power bomb and frog splash. Smackdown opened with the boss and faction coming out. Stephanie vows Jericho will regret everyone he's said. Shane challenged Show to a match on the show. HHH announced the stips for the PPV. If the falls are tied after 60:00, the match is a draw and there is no overtime, so Rock would keep the title. Vince then talked about how gullible Linda was, teasing that Michaels was on his wide. Crash Holly went to the APA and told them he's going crazy for the 24/7 stuff because he can't even sleep worried about people attacking him. He paid the APA to protect him for one hour while he slept. They agreed and he went to sleep. Angle wrestled 2 Hotty. Angle said that if he tried to do the worm during the Olympics, he'd never have medaled. Angle got the pin. Chyna announced there wouldn't be the three-way advertised for the PPV, but instead it would be Malenko vs. Saturn with Guerrero as ref, winner getting the shot at Guerrero on the PPV. Malenko hit Saturn with the belt, but before he could get the pin, Guerrero hit Malenko with the belt. The match was ruled no contest so the three-way was still on. Grandmaster beat Christian in a good match. The ho from Monday (Bobcat) introduced herself as a former hardcore champion and tried to get in the room where Crash was sleeping, but the Acolytes stopped her. Venis complained about behind held back, and challenged the Benoit vs. Jericho winner at the PPV to a title match on Raw on 5/22. Bob Holly said Venis doesn't deserve a shot, and that he deserves the first show after the PPV since he pinned Jericho on Raw. This sets up Jericho & Venis vs. Bob & Benoit. Too short. Holly hit both Venis and Jericho with a chair for the DQ. Holly then hits Benoit as well with a chair and works on Benoit's knee with a chair. Benoit does a stretcher job, so he's injured going into the PPV. Rikishi vs. Edge is more of an angle. They tease the stinky face on Edge, but Christian protects Edge by putting a goalie mask over his face. Angle & Christian interfered for the DQ and Too Cool made the save. They started to dance when the heels attacked them and did the dance and got great heat doing so. Gerald Brisco and a sidekick called Joe C. Brisco enter the APA office. The one hour was up so the APA and Joe C. left, so Crash was asleep and unprotected. Shane tells Show he's changed their singles match to a gauntlet match and brings out Test & Albert. Show beats them up. Shane then brings out Bossman & Buchanan. Then he brings out Dogg & X-Pac so it's six on-one. Show ends up taking a pounding and Shane gets in the ring, stands on a chair and all the guys pick Show up and chain acts like he choke slams Show and pins him for the three count. Brisco and a ref tiptoe into the room and the ref counts three on Crash so Brisco is the hardcore champion. But they make noise leaving and Crash wakes up. It ends up in the ring with Crash beating up Brisco until Patterson comes out. Crash breaks the broomsticks on Brisco. Patterson pulls down his pants so we get to see his gross underwear again. Crash stops Patterson with a low blow and takes a broken broomstick and sticks it right up Patterson's candy ass as if Patterson was getting it from the rear. Rock cuts a promo saying he hasn't forgotten what Michaels did on the first episode of Smackdown. Main event was a lumberjack tables match with Rock vs. Dudleys. The lumberjacks basically fought Rock & Dudleys, who fought together as a team against the lumberjacks. A bunch of table spots and it basically turned into guys being eliminated when they went through tables. It ended up with Rock vs. Dogg & X-Pac, and ended when HHH gave Rock his own rock bottom through a table, and Vince announced that Dogg & X-Pac were the winners. They did nothing to send the people home happy after the cameras went off

According to USA Today, they are thinking of remaking the Conan the Barbarian movies and that Dwayne Johnson is the first pick to play the new Conan, which is the same series of movies that catapulted Arnold Schwarzeneggar to where at one point he may have been the biggest movie star in the world

Some notes on the Smackdown show on 5/11. Benoit carried Godfather well enough that it actually looked like Godfather was a good worker. The lengthy interview by HHH dragged, although Vince was classic over-the-top Vince. When Lawler talked about Chyna breaking up the Radicalz and compared it to Yoko breaking up the Beatles, Michael Cole, in clearly a planned spot, came back saying that he didn't know Yokozuna had broken up The Beatles. Angle & Christian & Edge vs. Jericho & Hardys was a real good TV match. Guerrero vs. Saturn looked like Saturn's best singles match since coming in. Acolytes vs. Bossman & Buchanan was a good brawl for what it was. The main event elimination match with HHH & Road Dogg & X-Pac vs. Too Cool & Rikishi had tremendous heat. Fans were into Patterson's soiled underwear, and it's not quite as revolting seeing him holding them as seeing him actually in them, but it was still pretty gross

Undertaker is expected to return on the PPV, if not, on Raw in the next week or two, to build for his first match back at King of the Ring

The billboard rec sports tape sales chart for this past week has WWF in the top seven spots, with the new Rock video at No. 1, followed by the old Rock video at No. 2, WWF Eve of Destruction, Austin vs. McMahon, Foley, Austin and Best of Raw. WWF had 15 of the top 20 with the only other pro wrestling video on the charts being the XPW video at No. 11

Big Show's knee has been bothering him as was pretty evident the way he was moving on TV. It's believed to be a torn meniscus that he's working TV on. He hasn't been working the house shows because of the injury

The movie "Road Trip" has a line when the guys are talking about Socrates and they called him the Vince McMahon of Philosophy

And going back to the Survivor Series in 1997, Shawn Michaels did a lengthy interview regarding his career. He maintained that he knew nothing about the double-cross ahead of time. He did admit that on November 4--three days before the match in Montreal, Vince McMahon had called him up and asked him to do a big surprise, to lose the match in Montreal clean because nobody would be expecting it, and that he'd then win the title one month later in Springfield, MA. Michaels said that he told McMahon that he refused to lose to a guy who was going to go to WCW. McMahon during the week of Montreal had on November 4--as that day's version of the finish, among the many different finishes discussed during that week, told Hart that he wanted him to win the match in Montreal clean to surprise everyone, and that Hart would lose the title in Springfield. He then called Hart back the next day and told him that Michaels had refused to do the job. The conjecture was whether or not McMahon actually ever proposed the idea to Michaels and Michaels turned it down, but this confirms McMahon was telling the truth about that specific story

WWF met with NCAA heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar again on 5/11. Lesnar has already started training with Brad Rheingans in Minnesota and people are raving about his quickness in the ring for a guy of his size. Verne Gagne showed up at at least one of his workouts. Word is that athletically and looks-wise he's got it but the personality is a question mark. Right now it appears WWF is the favorite, since they've already got his assistant coach in college, Shelton Benjamin, training in Louisville, where he'd be starting, and are also interested in another wrestler from the University of Minnesota team. New Japan is also in the hunt. WCW has met with him as well but appear to be the extreme darkhorses

For Jim Cornette's 6/23 Rockin Rumble celebrating 30 years of pro wrestling at the Louisville Gardens, with the main event angle still not shot (probably will be over the next week), the announced line-up includes Nick Dinsmore defending the OVW title against Al Snow, Kurt Angle vs. The Collector (Sylvester Terkey) in what is billed as a shootwrestling match

(these two met in the finals of the NCAA heavyweight tournament in 1992 with Angle winning), Trailer Park Trash vs. Flash Flanagan to determine the OVW hardcore title, Bull Buchanan & Russ McCullough vs. Mark Henry & Mr. Black, Stan Lane & Steve Keirn managed by Jackie Fargo against Derrick King & Jason Lee managed by Rip Rogers, Rico Constantino & local radio personality Charlie Steele vs. Robbie D & local radio personality Tony Vanetti and a few other matches

On the wwf.com web site, Jim Ross wrote about possible roster changes. Apparently some of the wrestlers, and if you figure these are the guys getting no push and only appear on syndication, are the guys who are possibly on the bubble as there may be a few cuts

Tom Billington wasn't at the Insurrextion PPV. At the last minute, because Chris Benoit was basically flying in for the match and out right after, he figured they'd have no time together so decided against going. It had nothing to do with Davey Boy Smith being there. People are saying that the critical success of the book has really lifted his spirits

Chyna is the latest WWF performer to have her own comic book put out by Chaos! Comics

The Aggression CD was No. 41 on the charts this past week selling 31,170 units

The Hollywood Reporter said that Austin will play a member of the Hells Angels in a movie about the life of Janis Joplin. The movie starts filming in August

Harry Venis, the Mayor of Davie, FL, has been training under Rocky Johnson (Rock's father) to work an angle for South Florida house shows with the Mean Street Posse

The stock closed on 5/16 at $17.50 per share

Smackdown tapings 5/9 in New Haven, CT drew a sellout 7,670 paying $177,477. The sellout streak snapped at nine in a row as the 5/13 show in Cincinnati drew 6,340 paying $184,624 for a card headlined by Rikishi & Too Cool vs. Edge & Christian & Angle. Rock, Show and HHH were all off the show. I believe Show was due to his knee injury and the other two had the night off and I know Rock wasn't advertised and believe neither was HHH. A few years back, when WCW was on fire, they had a streak of more than 20 sellouts in a row which also ended in Cincinnati. 5/14 in Columbus, OH drew 12,625 paying $373,941 headlined by Rock & Dudleys vs. DX. Merchandise was running at about an $8.04 per head clip.