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September 18, 2000 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Raw/Nitro ratings war, NJPW vs. AJPW, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 September 18, 2000

In what was the most significant, and closest Monday night ratings race so far this year, a heavily criticized edition of Nitro on 9/11 scored the highest rating for the show in its regular opposed format since 1/10 and the closest margin between the two shows since 12/20.

Nitro finished with a 3.20 rating (3.47 first hour; 2.93 second hour) and a 4.8 share. Raw did a 5.90 rating (5.36 first hour; 6.38 second hour) and an 8.9 share.

Whether it was the return of Ric Flair, the wedding angle, the WWF being hurt badly by pre-emptions the past two weeks, or an overall positive trend for the company, doing a number like that, particularly with football competition thrown in, was from a pure ratings standpoint, the most impressive number the company has done all year. What was ironic is that it came on the same night where in Charlotte, all those same factors drew 1,657 paid, most of whom purchased tickets in the past week when it was clear Flair would return for the show, and even with that announced, that number for Flair's return is Charlotte speaks volumes. It makes next weeks numbers very interesting, because if it is Flair, or the WWF being hurt by being pre-empted two straight weeks, the numbers shouldn't hold up. If the numbers do, it's even more impressive for WCW because the show got a largely horrible response, and Raw was a better-than-average Raw, and it would be the first period the show did back-to-back threes opposed since January. This makes things interesting as this goes into uncharted waters with WWF expected to debut in two weeks on TNN, a far lower rated network, in two weeks, pending the long-awaited Delaware Court of Appeals judges ruling in the USA Network's lawsuit to keep its WWF programming. If the judges waited to take these numbers into consideration, and the pre-emptions were probably the most pertinent point in USA losing the first trial, WWF may have gotten the answer it wanted with the closer race. But it also may simply be that Nitro was bolstered by the return of Ric Flair and wedding hype, and Raw was hurt badly by the MNF game between the New York Jets against the New England Patriots, home teams in two of the WWF's most populous and historically strongest TV markets. The key argument by the WWF that USA Network didn't match the Viacom offer for the specific programming is that USA failed to guarantee the shows, and Raw in particular being the key show, would never be pre-empted, which Viacom did. The WWF claimed the pre-emptions for the Dog Show in February and the two weeks at this time of the year for the U.S. Open were a serious factor in losing ratings momentum. Even before there was a Nitro, and in the early years of Nitro, it did traditionally take down WWF ratings after the two weeks of the U.S. Open. Whether that was due to pre-emptions, or due to football season starting at the same time, is something that was never clear, because that didn't hold true in February. Traditionally the WWF in the mid-90s would have two bad weeks after the U.S. Open and slowly build back to normal "football season" levels.

On 1/10, when Nitro did its season high opposed 3.38 rating, Raw did a 6.56, so without football, the overall wrestling viewing audience was much higher. Still, the total viewing audience at 9.8 million is better than most weeks of late that didn't have football competition.

Nitro's first hour, which doesn't have football opposition, was about a half point higher than the show was doing one month ago. Again, all the one shot factors between the wedding and Ric Flair could play a part in this. The show grew in the first hour to an usually high 4.10 quarter for Jarrett vs. Ms. Jones and the Duggan retirement. The first head-to-head quarter was most significant, because Raw had Foley, Rock, Benoit and finally Kane out (undertaker came as the second quarter started) and opened the show talking about Austin, which drew a 5.06, which can't be labeled as anything but a huge disappointment give the star power. Nitro did a 3.16 for the continuation of the Duggan angle, the Storm vs. Rection match, and the beginning of the wedding, a lot of which can be attributable to Ric's return, which would be expected to do a huge quarter and even now, I'm not sure 3.16 should make people do cartwheels for a Flair return quarter. Flair's actual return quarter hit a 3.17 and when Flair was taken out after the mock arrest, you could see the life of the live crowd, which wasn't much to begin with, totally taken out with chants of "bullshit" that lasted more than five minutes in the building. Some would argue it was heat, but I'm guessing it's the heat that leads to people not buying tickets the next time in. However, the second wedding, which it was clear Flair wasn't going to be a factor in it, was down to 2.39, the show's lowest point of the night, which seems to eliminate the wedding itself as the key reason.

With football opposition, the WWF didn't get the traditional over-run spike, as Rock & Undertaker vs. Benoit & Kane "only" drew a 6.82, well below the mid-7 average the over-run segment has been doing. WCW's Steiner vs. Nash main event did a 3.01.

As far as head-to-head numbers for Raw, besides the 5.36 open, the quarters were 5.06 to 3.16, 4.98 (ending of Rock, Foley, Benoit, Undertaker, Kane segment and Dudleys vs. Hardys) to 3.17 (for Ric's return and Sting vs. Harris Twins), 5.80 (Lita vs. Ivory, and that huge spike does indicate when Ric was gone, about .8 total switched shows) to 2.39 and finally 5.60 (Too Cool vs. Guerrero & Chyna) to 3.01.

Over the 22 opposed shows since Russo returned to writing TV, as it compares with the range of the Sullivan era (2.53 to 3.06), there have now been two shows that beat Sullivan's best, and eight shows which drew ratings lower than Sullivan's worst. The other Russo show that beat 3.06, on 5/15, was also a show built around Flair, with the great angle where Russo went to Flair's house and ending with Flair beating Jarrett to win the title.


New Japan officially announced a non-title Kensuke Sasaki vs. Toshiaki Kawada match for 10/9 at the Tokyo Dome and the results of what many thought literally for decades was the ultimate Japanese wrestling program have been very disappointing.

The New Japan vs. All Japan program, which figured to be the hottest ticket seller in Japan over the next year, is starting with the supposed top star in each company. It's interesting because, as mentioned in many places, as a non-title match, a Kawada win is expected, but it also may be too predictable. However, a Kawada loss right away will knock the legs right out of the program far too early. It also puts Sasaki in the position as New Japan's top star, at least for the moment, which by virtue of him being IWGP champion, he should be, but has never truly been accepted by the public as. Unlike when New Japan started a similar angle with UWFI in late 1995, when after one tune-up match with smaller name guys (similar to the Chono-Fuchi match) which got over incredibly well, they want to the Dome in exactly five years to the day of this show with the legendary first Keiji Muto vs. Nobuhiko Takada match. At that point, and that was when wrestling and New Japan were considerably a bigger deal than they are today, and people believed UWFI was a shoot and Takada was the real deal, they sold 67,000 tickets for $6.1 million, both at the time Japanese and World records respectively, in just three days. This program started with a big hit with Masahiro Chono's appearance on the 9/2 Budokan Hall show, which got everyone involved excited. However, after the announcement of the main event, ticket sales for the Dome have been a disappointment.

The angle is that Kawada issued a challenge to the top star of New Japan and Sasaki is mad because he didn't issue the challenge to him, and by not saying his name, considered it a slight. In hindsight, those close to the situation believe the problem is not only that the general public sees through the angle, seeing All Japan as a skeleton of what it once was, but also, even though Kawada has more than a decade of being a top guy in the Japanese wrestling world, to most fans he had fallen to the No. 4 native star in the company before the recent promotional split, behind Mitsuharu Misawa, who he was always behind in the pecking order, but also falling behind both Kenta Kobashi and Jun Akiyama.

Also announced for the show was the return of Shinya Hashimoto, in a weird match that seems to have no purpose against Tatsumi Fujinami. Also announced was Scott Norton vs. Steve Williams, which doesn't sound good on paper, but has intrigue for Japan since it is the top, at least as far as long-time tenure with the company, foreign star with New Japan against the top foreign star with All Japan (as is goes to tenure, Stan Hansen would be the top guy for All Japan but at 51, it's pretty well accepted he's past his prime). In a battle of rising stars, Yutaka Yoshie of New Japan faces Taiyo Kea of All Japan. The only other match announced was an IWGP jr. heavyweight title match where Tatsuhito Takaiwa (or Kendo Ka Shin, if he beats Takaiwa in their title match this month) defends against Koji Kanemoto. On 9/8, they started pushing for a return of Shinya Hashimoto on the show, first hinting his opponent would be Manabu Nakanishi, who is at least pushed by New Japan as the strongest, even though he's not a particularly good worker, of the next generation of wrestlers because of his legit background. The angle they shot was that Hashimoto came to the New Japan office and challenged Tatsumi Fujinami, but the office suggested Nakanishi instead. Fujinami was in Fukuoka for the afternoon, but showed up a few hours later and said that the fans don't want to see him wrestle Hashimoto, but want to see him wrestle Nakanishi. In an announcement on 9/12, New Japan announced the match with Fujinami with Hashimoto saying it was Fujinami who gave him the chance to return after losing the match that he put up his career in to Naoya Ogawa in April, and I believe for symbolic purposes of Hashimoto having to re-start his career at the bottom, the match will open the show.

No matches were announced for Masa Fuchi and Masahiro Chono, who started the program on 9/2 and will continue it on 9/16, so there figures to be another angle added on at that time. Fuchi said he still wanted revenge on Chono because he insulted the All Japan fans. It may involve Shiro Koshinaka. In the magazines they are playing up big that Koshinaka started his career under Giant Baba in All Japan back in 1978 and grew up with the group as an underneath guy and actually became a star in Mexico as Samurai Shiro as a tag team partner with Mitsuharu Misawa. At the time, Koshinaka was considered a bigger star than Misawa, and was even sent by the company for training with Lou Thesz. For a variety of reasons, including Misawa being chosen ahead of him for the role as the second Tiger Mask in 1984, and that New Japan traditionally was a place for more opportunity for a junior heavyweight, Koshinaka, after returning from Mexico, didn't want to return to All Japan and after meeting with Seiji Sakaguchi, it paved the way for New Japan to take him in 1985 since at the time wrestlers switching companies was still a rarity based on the old school Japanese traditions. They had Koshinaka go to the All Japan offices and pose for photos with Motoko Baba as well as the life-sized wax museum Giant Baba, who is a fixture in the office and the angle appears to be that Koshinaka will help the ailing All Japan due to loyalty in the feud and probably form a tag team with Fuchi against Team 2000. TV-Asahi will broadcast the top matches in a special Monday night special from 11 p.m. to midnight taped from earlier that night and broadcast more matches subsequently in its regular Saturday night time slot. The show will air live on PPV. This is where the difference in television culture between the U.S. and Japan will become interesting. In the U.S., traditionally, the matches on PPV are very rarely broadcast on free television on taped delay, let alone later that same day. PPV worked well in the U.S. because traditionally American wrestling never showed "the big match" for free on television anyway, as "the big match," before PPV, was held at the local arena. In Japan, the psychology has always been that "the big match" is something you watch on television as opposed to see live, so paying money for something you are used to getting for free creates a totally different psychology.

Kawada said that if he were to lose to Sasaki, it would kill the All Japan promotion. Hiroshi Hase, the current Japanese Senator who was Sasaki's tag team partner, and later wrestled with and against Kawada in All Japan and has yet to offer an official affiliation in the All Japan/Pro Wrestling NOAH split, said that he thought it would be a great match, but that he thinks Sasaki is stronger than Kawada, and said he hopes Kawada would win, and said he'd love to be part of this program but is busy doing his political work.


In an update on our Olympic article, Klaus Wallas of Austria was definitely in the 1976 Olympics as a heavyweight in judo. Wallas, who later wrestled for the CWA and was being groomed to be the future big star of the promotion before he quit, as well as a few tours with New Japan in the mid-80s, was eliminated from the competition in the second round by another future pro wrestler, Allen Coage (Badnews Allen aka Badnews Brown). Coage on Wrestling Observer Live talked about Wallas, saying that five months before the Olympics, he and Wallas were both 245 pounds when they trained together in Austria. Then, when Wallas showed up at the Olympics, he was 290, almost all of it muscle, which was actually brought up when we asked him about steroid use in judo during his Olympic career, and much stronger. Coage managed to beat him with a new move he wasn't ready for late in the match, said he asked Wallas if he had done steroids to gain 45 pounds that quickly, and said that while Wallas denied it, he gave him a look while denying it that he took as confirmation.


The latest plan to attempt to capitalize on the popularity of WWF wrestling is the formation of two new companies, both trying to use pro wrestling concepts with new ventures, one more sports like and the other more entertainment oriented.

Fox Sports Net will be running twice a week shows starting in November of the World Sumo Wrestling League (WSL), with the idea of creating characters like wrestling does, from all over the world, combined with using Hop-Hop, R&B and Rock music.

The other is a revival of the old GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) concept, this time called WOW (Women of Wrestling) and headed by former GLOW and POWW promoter David McLane, whose background starts with working for Dick the Bruiser's promotion in Indianapolis.

The WSL has a 52-week deal to air 30 minute shows on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons starting on 11/7, with a start time of either 3 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. This was the same basic time slot FOX had negotiated with several people for a potential pro wrestling endeavor. The show will also air on FOX Sports International with no more than a two week lag in Canada, Sky in the U.K., Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Former WWF television executive Nelson Sweglar is the main man behind the project along with Harry Krebs of S&E Productions. The two are negotiating with other key pro wrestling executives who were part of the 80s WWF scene. The CFO for the project is Douglas Sages, who spent 13 years as the Executive Vice President and CFO for Titan Sports before leaving to become CFO of SEMX.

The basic idea would be to run four house shows per month during a five day run each month. The idea would be to run television tapings similar to how the WWF ran its tapings in the 80s, taping four 30-minute shows at both a Friday and a Saturday night taping, which would take care of all the television for a four-week period. They would also run regular house shows every Monday and Tuesday night of the taping week. Like the 80s WWF, the tapings would be several weeks ahead.

For example, according to plans, the first tapings would be on 10/20 and 10/21 for television shows that would air from 11/7 through 11/29. They also will have ESPN 2 coverage billed as "Night of the Giants" with the first taping having aired on 9/3 at Caesars in Lake Tahoe, NV, which was taped this past April before a sellout crowd. They have a second ESPN special being taped on 11/6 from the Taj Mahal Grand Ballroom in Atlantic City for a 1/17 air date.

Emmanuel Yarborough, a former NCAA All-American wrestler, who was merely 380 pounds in college in the mid-80s, and gained greater fame as a freak competitor in one of the early UFCs as well as doing some pro wrestling appearances for Otto Wanz in Europe and is now 710 pounds, is being pushed as the leading drawing card. They will also have competitors from Russia, Germany, Norway, Poland, New Zealand, Mongolia, Tonga, Maori, Nicaragua, Haiti as well as the United States.

A second new promotion has McLane back in the news. McLane gained some notoriety in 1985 for starting a concept that some would say today was years ahead of its time, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. The idea was to take surgically enhanced bleached blonds, give them about six weeks of training, and put them in the ring for some really bad matches (although those matches were actually good by comparison with some of the womens matches we've seen of late) and campy vignettes. GLOW was a pretty big deal for the first eight weeks of its run as far as short term TV ratings due to the novelty of the scantily clad women wrestling. The ratings in many markets were comparable to the syndicated ratings of WWF and Mid South. But after about two months, the novelty faded, the ratings fell, and as expected, the thing died when it went on the road for house shows and folded after one season. It spawned POWW, a similar concept but more wrestling based using more well trained wrestlers as less aspiring actresses, which also lasted one year in syndication and couldn't draw on the road. Other similar groups followed, including the LPWA, which even ran a very good PPV show that nobody bought. Among the alumnuses of these groups included current WWF wrestler Ivory, who worked as Tina Ferrari in GLOW and Tina Moretti in POWW, Terri Power (Tori in WWF) and Reggie Bennett.

The latest is WOW, Women of Wrestling, run by McLane, which starts in syndication on 10/2 on 99 stations including WNYU in New York, KCOP in Los Angeles and WCIU in Chicago. Due to the success of surgically enhanced bleached blonds with six weeks of training within the framework of WWF, and the fact the original idea for Smackdown was to do a series just like this (the first thoughts were it would be overexposure to do a second Raw-like show in the same week so they went for a new concept, but after a cattle call looking for talent, they couldn't find enough people to build a TV show around so they went back to what they knew, which was doing another version of Raw, and as it turned out, it was a pretty huge success, far more than the other version could have ever been). The show will be based out of the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, which is where they'll train the wrestlers and do three hours of television taping every three weeks, with the first tapings set for 9/16 and 10/7.


RINGS announced its second King of Kings tournament with the same format as last year, taking place from October through February.

Last year's 32-man tournament was considered a huge success, with an all shoot format and numerous exciting matches. Dan Henderson, at 198 pounds, was a surprise and controversial winner in an open weight division tournament, since the judging in several of the matches, including his semifinal win, was very much questionable. It also included the RINGS highlight match of Kiyoshi Tamura winning a decision over Renzo Gracie in the quarterfinals.

The 32-man tournament will consist of two separate 16-man tournaments held on 10/9 at Tokyo Yoyogi Gym and 12/22 at Osaka Furitsu Gym. Like last year, they will consist of eight first round matches and four second round matches at each site. The final four survivors from each show will meet in an old-style UFC or K-1 Grand Prix eight-man one night tournament in which the winner has to go through three fights in one night, which will take place on 2/24 at Tokyo Sumo Hall.

The only man announced for the tournament is that 10/9 will feature the RINGS debut of Ryushi Yanagisawa, 28, who fought for Pancrase from the company's inception in 1993 after starting as a pro wrestler with Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, before quitting the company earlier this year and most recently fighting in K-1.


For 9/4 with both shows going unopposed, Raw did a 4.24 rating (4.25 first hour; 4.22 second hour) and a 9.7 share. Nitro did a 3.62 rating (3.20 first hour; 4.03 second hour) and a 5.4 share. The regular season debut of Monday Night Football with the St. Louis Rams vs. Denver Broncos did a 15.51 rating and 27.0 share. The U.S. Open in the regular Raw time slot, going against Nitro, drew a 1.48 rating.

The Nitro rating, its second highest of the year (although that's not as impressive as it sounds since it's only had three unopposed shows this year, all of which drew nearly identical numbers) because it went unopposed, had to be considered a success because the rating was up from the previous week with far tougher competition coming from the NFL opener. The War Games main event going over two segments drew a 4.27 rating, making it the second highest rated match of the year from WCW behind the Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair match on 2/14 at 4.36. However, the final quarter at 4.83 was the highest quarter hour rating for the year on Nitro, and a number that actually beat out every quarter hour on Raw. Of course Raw was in a far worse time slot.

Thunder on 9/6 drew a 2.38 rating and 3.8 share, which was a downer coming off the strong quarter two days earlier.

For the weekend of 9/2-3, Livewire did a 1.5 and Superstars a 1.4, both numbers higher than the shows have been doing, while Heat was way down to 1.76, largely because it started 30 minutes early because of U.S. Open coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time, and there wasn't a ton of publicity (I don't recall it being mentioned once on either Raw or Smackdown) to that fact. For 9/9-10 it was Livewire at 1.3 and Superstars at 1.3.

ECW on TNN on 9/1 and 9/8 both drew a 1.0 rating.

Lucha Libre on Galavision on 9/5 fell to the lowest mark in recent memory, scoring only an 0.9 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, 9/12.

PRIDE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS RETURN OF THE WARRIORS: Thumbs up 102 (100.0%), Thumbs down 0 (0.0%), In the middle 0 (0.0%). BEST MATCH POLL: Vanderlei Silva vs. Guy Mezger 52, Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Renzo Gracie 25, Ken Shamrock vs. Kazuyuki Fujita 12. WORST MATCH POLL: Very few responses listed a worst match, and no specific match got more than three votes

EYADA POLL RESULTS

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

What did you think of Monday night's (9/4) wrestling? a) Raw was better 51.6%; b) Nitro was better 24.2%; c) Didn't watch Raw 3.7%; d) Didn't watch Nitro 13.0%; e) Didn't watch Raw or Nitro 7.5%

Should Steve Austin turn heel? a) Yes, immediately 12.5%; b) Yes, in January to build up Wrestlemania 33.9%; c) No, the fans won't go for it 19.0%; d) No, his career is winding down and he should go out as a face 7.4%; e) No decision should be made right now 27.1%

Should Owen Hart be in the Hall of Fame? a) Yes 57.8%; b) No 33.1%; c) Undecided 7.9%; d) Didn't see enough of him to fairly judge 1.2%

Which PPV show are you most looking forward to? a) WCW Fall Brawl 9%; b) WWF Unforgiven 64%; c) ECW Anarchy Rulz 27%

Of all the modern pro wrestlers that competed in the Olympics, who would you rate as the biggest all-time professional star? a) Mad Dog Vachon 11.4%; b) Danny Hodge 10.2%; c) Riki Choshu 19.2%; d) Jumbo Tsuruta 38.8%; e) Ken Patera 20.4%


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RESULTS

 

9/5 College Station, TX (WCW Thunder/World Wide tapings - 3,168/1,745 paid): Crowbar b Ruben Cruz, Cruiserweight title: Elix Skipper b Corporal Cajun, Disco Inferno b Jeremy Sage, 3 Count b Michael Shane & Chris Kruger & Rob Diggs, Kwee Wee b Lt. Loco, 3 Count b Krnoic-COR, Shane Douglas b Crowbar, Tag titles: Rey Misterio Jr. & Juventud Guerrera b Ron & Don Harris, Sting b Vampiro, Madusa b Torrie Wilson-COR, Bill Goldberg b Lance Storm & Skipper

9/7 Cleveland (ECW - 650): Psicosis b Julio Dinero, Christian York & Joey Mathews b Prodigy & Bilvis Wesley, ECW title: Justin Credible b Nova, Balls Mahoney b E.Z. Money, Tag titles: FBI b Danny Doring & Roadkill, TV title: Kid Kash b Chris Hamrick, Sandman & Chilly Willy b Baldies, Rob Van Dam b Rhino, Tommy Dreamer & Mikey Whipwreck & Jerry Lynn b Simon Diamond & Swinger & C.W. Anderson

9/8 Buffalo (ECW - 2,000): Danny Doring & Roadkill b Christian York & Joey Mathews, Jazz b Musketeer, E.Z. Money & Julio Dinero b Baldies, Steve Corino b Bilvis Wesley, Mikey Whipwreck & Chilly Willy & Balls Mahoney b Simon Diamond & Swinger & C.W. Anderson, TV title: Kid Kash b Psicosis, Rhino & Justin Credible b Sandman & Jerry Lynn

9/8 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL): Starman & Super Kendo b Virus & Karloff Lagarde Jr., Astro Rey Jr. & Mascara Magica b Rencor Latino & Dr. O'Borman Jr., One night trios tournament: Los Villanos b Cien Caras & Mascara Ano 2000 & Universo 2000 in the finals. Other teams were El Satanico & Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero, Black Warrior & Blue Panther & Dr. Wagner Jr., Felino & Safari & Tigre Blanco, Negro Casas & Emilio Charles Jr. & Tarzan Boy, Shocker & Scorpio Jr. & Bestia Salvaje and Lizmark Jr. & Olimpico & Mr. Niebla

9/8 Tijuana, BC (AAA TV tapings): El Bueno & El Malo & El Feo b Guepardo & Multicolor & Ebola 2000, Tornado Negro & Arandu & Baby Cobra b Highlander & King Azteca & Enfermero Jr., Super Crazy & Picudo & Espiritu & Nygma DCOR AAA Psicosis & AAA Mosco de la Merced & Maniaco & Histeria, Mexican national tag titles: El Texano & Pirata Morgan b Hector Garza & Perro Aguayo Jr, Sangre Chicana & Heavy Metal & La Parka Jr. & Mascara Sagrada b Cibernetico & Abismo Negro & Electroshock & Charly Manson-DQ

9/9 Seattle (WWF - 13,786 sellout): Acolytes b Bull Buchanan & Goodfather, Hardcore title: Steve Blackman b X-Pac, Three-way for tag titles: Edge & Christian won over Too Cool and Dudleys, HHH b Chris Jericho, Lo Down b Dean Malenko & Crash Holly, Hardys & Lita b Test & Albert & Trish Stratus, European title: Al Snow b Tazz, Street fight: Undertaker & Rikishi b Kane & Chris Benoit

9/9 Mississauga, ONT (ECW TV tapings - 5,000): Psicosis b Julio Dinero, Simon Diamond & Swinger b Joey Matthews & Christian York, FBI b Danny Doring & Roadkill, Nova b Chris Hamrick, Balls Mahoney & Chilly Willy b Baldies, TV title: Kid Kash NC Mikey Whipwreck, TV title: Rhino b Kash to win title, Rob Van Dam b C.W. Anderson, Three-way for ECW title: Justin Credible won over Steve Corino and Jerry Lynn

9/9 Kuroha (New Japan - 2,000): Katsuyori Shibata & Kenzo Suzuki b Wataru Inoue & Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tatsuhito Takaiwa b Shinya Makabe, Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka b El Samurai & Kendo Ka Shin, Super J & Hiro Saito & Satoshi Kojima b Brian Johnston & Tadao Yasuda & Junji Hirata, Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara b Jushin Liger & Shiro Koshinaka, Manabu Nakanishi b Yutaka Yoshie, Yuji Nagata & Takashi Iizuka & Kensuke Sasaki b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Don Frye & Masahiro Chono

9/10 Denver (WWF - 8,389): A Dupp b Pete Gas, Joey Abs b Just Joe, Steven Regal b Mideon, Acolytes b Goodfather & Bull Buchanan, Hardys & Lita b Test & Albert & Trish Stratus, Hardcore title: Steve Blackman b X-Pac, IC title: Eddy Guerrero b Dean Malenko, HHH b Chris Jericho

9/10 Reno, NV (WWF - 10,311 sellout): Gangrel b Essa Rios, European title: Al Snow b Perry Saturn, Jacqueline b Ivory, Three-way for tag titles: Edge & Christian won over Dudleys and Lo Down, Too Cool b Kai En Tai, Big Bossman b Crash Holly, Jerry Lawler b Tazz-DQ, Undertaker & Rikishi b Chris Benoit & Kane

9/10 Hamamatsu (New Japan - 3,200 sellout): Wataru Inoue b Katsuyoshi Shibata, Tatsutoshi Goto b Kenzo Suzuki, Shinya Makabe & Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai b Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Jushin Liger & Shiro Koshinaka b Hiro Saito & Michiyoshi Ohara, Yutaka Yoshie & Takashi Iizuka b Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi b Tadao Yasuda, Super J & Don Frye & Masahiro Chono b Brian Johnston & Yuji Nagata & Kensuke Sasaki

9/10 Lawrence, NY (USA Pro Wrestling): Ken Sweeney won four-way over Gino Caruso, Prince Nana and Biggie Brooklyn, Angel (ECW) b Vic Rampage, Kid Kruel won three-way over Xavier and Lo Ki, Masked Maniac b Grand Master B, Greg Valentine b Chris Michaels (East Coast version, OVW wrestler of same name is different), Jac Sabboth b New Dynamite Kid, Jimmy Snuka b Mighty Finn, Boogie Knights won three-way over Natural Born Killers and Maximum & Divine, Justin Credible b Balls Mahoney, Big Vito b Sam Dudley, Dog collar match: Tommy Cairo b Big Dick Dudley, Duke Snyder b Red Hot Russ

9/11 Charlotte, NC (WCW Nitro - 3,436/1,657 paid): Tag titles: Rey Misterio Jr. & Juventud Guerrera b Kronic, Reno b Big Vito, Madusa b Torrie Wilson-DQ, Jeff Jarrett b Ms. Jones, General Rection b Lance Storm, Sting b Ron & Don Harris, WCW title, Booker T and Goldberg refs: Kevin Nash NC Scott Steiner

9/11 Niigata (New Japan - 3,800 sellout): Katsuyori Shibata b Wataru Inoue, Minoru Tanaka b Shinya Makabe, Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa b Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai, Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto & Don Frye b Brian Johnston & Junji Hirata & Shiro Koshinaka, Manabu Nakanishi b Kenzo Suzuki, Super J & Masahiro Chono b Yutaka Yoshie & Yuji Nagata, Hiro Saito & Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Jushin Liger & Takashi Iizuka & Kensuke Sasaki

9/12 Roanoke, VA (WCW Thunder/World Wide tapings): Kwee Wee b Scotty Patrick, Corporal Cajun & Sgt. A-Wol b Frog & Marty Garner, Chuck Palumbo & Reno & Mike Sanders b Steve Sharpe & Kevin Northcutt & Robbie Rage, Lt. Loco b Shannon Moore, Mark Jindrak & Sean O'Haire b Tygress & Disco Inferno, Shane Douglas & Torrie Wilson NC Madusa & Billy Kidman, Sting b Jeff Jarrett, Kronic won three-way over Rey Misterio Jr. & Juventud Guerrera and Harris Twins, Lance Storm & Elix Skipper b General Rection, Kevin Nash & Scott Steiner NC Cat & Booker T

9/12 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (New Japan - 1,359): Kenzo Suzuki b Hiro Saito, Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai b Katsuyori Shibata & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Tatsutoshi Goto & Satoshi Kojima b Tadao Yasuda & Junji Hirata, Brian Johnston & Yuji Nagata b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Don Frye, Manabu Nakanishi b Shiro Koshinaka, Michiyoshi Ohara & Super J & Masahiro Chono b Yutaka Yoshie & Takashi Iizuka & Kensuke Sasaki, IWGP jr. tag titles: Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto b Jushin Liger & Shinya Makabe

 

Special thanks to: Jose Fernandez, Dominick Valenti, Robert Bihari, Jeff Beecher, Bobby Baum, Anthony Eastman, Rob Moore, Mike Scerra, James Stanios, Kirk Sheppard, Bart Orkline, Derek Sabato, Andy Schnorr, Jeff Marek, James Tolin, Dominick Valenti, Bryan Alvarez, Zach Arnold, Alex Marvez, Eric Ryan, Michael King, Dan Parris, Bill Henson, Trent Walters, Keith Froehlich, Shannon Rose, Ed McIlvaney, Andrew Evans, Craig Allen, Eric Ryan, Gene Restaino, Sammy Eanes, Mike Gunter, Georgiann Makropolous, Trent Van Drisse, Alan Smolek, Beau Hajavitch, James Byrd

 

MEXICO: A correction on the Fishman deal. His real name is Jose Angel Najera, not Naveja. Magazines are saying his real age is 52, not 50. As it turns out, that show won't be on PPV, but will instead air on free TV in Mexico. After losing his mask, Fishman immediately left the building and had nothing to do with the press, which is totally against Mexican culture as it pertains to the loser of a mask match

They seem to be building toward some sort of a Cien Caras vs. Pierroth Jr. hair match confrontation for the 9/29 Anniversary show and next PPV. On 9/8 at Arena Mexico, they headlined by a one-night trios tournament with all the major teams in the company. In the finals Los Villanos beat Los Hermanos Dinamita when Pierroth Jr. interfered leading V-3 to gain a submission on Caras. 9/29 will be a major day for Lucha with not only the EMLL PPV show, but AAA running their Summer Scandal show finally with Heavy Metal & Perro Aguayo Jr. vs. Latin Lover & Hector Garza and Tijuana running with a major show as well

There will apparently be a four-way match coming up soon with La Parka putting up his mask and Pimpinela Escarlata, Dandy and El Satanico putting up their hair

9/15 at Arena Mexico is the "Mexico vs. The World" show. It's mainly Mexican teams against foreign teams. Main event is Los Hermanos Dinamita against a supposed Puerto Rican team of Pierroth Jr. & Gran Markus Jr. & El Boriqua, probably all of whom are from Mexico. . Felino & Safari & Antifaz face a Caribbean team consisting of Mexico regulars. Pantera & Tony Rivera & Ricky Marvin face a Japanese team of Mexico regulars Ryo Saito & Nozawa & Secret Sasuke (?). Dr. Wagner Jr. & Blue Panther & Black Warrior also defend the CMLL trios titles against Los Villanos

AAA did a TV taping on 9/8 in Tijuana which had some wild stuff. In the main news, El Texano & Pirata Morgan captured the Mexican national tag titles from Perro Aguayo Jr. & Hector Garza in a match where they continued the storyline where Aguayo and Garza couldn't get along. They would trip each other up or punch each other to botch the others' high spots. The finish saw Aguayo hit Garza with a chair, and try to make sense out of this finish--the ref then DQ'd Aguayo for HITTING HIS PARTNER with a chair, and because of the DQ, awarded the match to Texano & Morgan and the belts. At this point, Heavy Metal, who is also turning rudo, joined with Aguayo in giving a beating to Garza, who did a stretcher job. AAA is building its main program for the fall around Latin Lover & Garza vs. Heavy & Perro Jr. Super Crazy worked the undercard and did a Jeff Hardy like senton bomb from the top of the entrance way, which is about ten feet up. AAA brought its own Psicosis and its own Mosco de la Merced. Since the original Psicosis is practically a God in Tijuana as Nicho El Millonario for the rival promoters, the fans chanted "Nicho, Nicho, Nicho" at the fake Psicosis as well as "thief" at both wrestlers that they consider as impostors stealing the gimmicks. It got dangerous as they brawled in the crowd with AAA Psicosis (actually former Tijuana mid-carder Leon Negro) and Crazy and the fans would kick the chairs Psicosis would stand on to make him fall

La Parka and Mascara Sagrada apparently had a problem backstage at the GWAS PPV which nearly came to blows

Mano Negra Sr., who has been retired for about 18 months, is scheduled to return to EMLL to feud with Ringo Mendoza for the CMLL middleweight title. Ringo, who I believe is in his early 50s, is the last surviving pro wrestler to take a nickname after Ringo Starr. I guess that proves Elvis was bigger, since guys still imitate him in pro wrestling to this day.

ALL JAPAN: To show how strange things have become, All Japan took out an ad in Tokyo Sports looking for people who want to train to become pro wrestlers.

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: 8/30 TV did a 1.8 rating.

NEW JAPAN: They opened the new tour on 9/9 in Kuroha for a memorial show for the late Masakazu Fukuda, who passed away of a cerebral hemorrhage after collapsing in the ring and never regaining consciousness, in Fukuda's home town before 2,000 fans. On the tour, Nakanishi will have eight major singles matches, and he won his first four over Yutaka Yoshie, Tadao Yasuda, Kenzo Suzuki and Koshinaka

On 9/10 in Hamamatsu, the IWGP tag champs, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan lost a non-title match to Yoshie & Takashi Iizuka

In what couldn't be taken as a good sign, they went against tradition on 9/12 at Korakuen Hall and announced an IWGP jr. tag title match as the main event, which ended with Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto retaining over Jushin Liger & Shinya Makabe in 21:46 when Tanaka defeated Makabe via submission. What was the bad sign is that they only sold 1,359 tickets for the show, which is the smallest New Japan Korakuen Hall crowd, at least for a full line-up card, that I can ever recall

As has been expected for some time, Tanaka officially announced he was leaving Battlarts, which he was under contract to, to join New Japan. In Tanaka's final match with Battlarts on 9/7, he defeated Ikuto Hidaka (who worked ECW several months back) at Korakuen Hall

Kazuyuki Fujita was training in Brazil this past week and said he would be attending the 9/22 UFC show to cheer on Yuki Kondo and that he wanted to do a UFC in 2001. Fujita is clearly a tough guy as to his ability to take punishment, and is a very good wrestler, but he's been the luckiest man in the world in Pride and they ought to quit while they're ahead, because he can be a shooting legend with wins over Shamrock and Kerr, but if he keeps fighting, he's going to run into someone who isn't going to have a medical problem a few minutes into the match and if they can strike, he's in trouble because his striking defense isn't good

Hiroshi Tanahashi is out for several months with some sort a broken bone

The regular TV show on 8/13 drew a 3.7 rating and the 9/2 show drew a 2.8. New Japan was pre-empted on 8/20 and 8/27. They had a three-hour G-1 special which was a pretty good show on the afternoon of 8/13 that I never got the number of for some reason. In another bad sign, after being pre-empted for two weeks, the 9/2 show only aired the Ishizawa vs. Ryan Gracie as the feature and filled the rest of the show with replays of the semifinals and finals from G-1, which were two great matches out of three, but had already aired in their entirety on 8/13.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Hector Milian of Cuba, who was training in Japan for the Olympics and last week stated that he was interested in going into pro wrestling afterwards, was listed in Sports Illustrated as a favorite for the bronze medal in Greco-roman wrestling at 286 (Alexander Karelin was of course listed as the gold medal favorite). Japanese are favorites for the gold in judo at both 220 (Kosei Inoue) and unlimited (Shinichi Shinohara) and if either is successful, expect them to be heavily recruited by wrestling promoters. Milian is an Olympic veteran, winning the gold medal at 220 in 1992 and placing fifth in the same weight division in 1996. He won his gold beating Dennis Koslowski of the United States, who pro wrestled himself briefly, in the championship match in sudden death overtime after they drew in regulation

Minoru Fujita and Gran Naniwa announced after leaving Michinoku Pro that Naniwa would stay in Japan and work as an independent while Fujita said that he wanted to go overseas

LLPW will be presenting the second L-1 (womens UFC) eight person tournament on 11/22 at Tokyo Yoyogi Gym. Announced as appearing are Shinobu Kandori, who would be the favorite, Rumi Kazama and Mizuki Endo of LLPW, Yumiko Hotta of AJW, Yoko Takahashi of JD and Naoko Kumagya with two spots often. Booker Kazama wants to bring in two athletes from the Sydney Olympics for the remaining spots. The first L-1 took place in 1995 with 315-pound Russian judoka Svetlana Gundarenko suffocating the competition including Kandori in the finals

Michinoku has shows 10/8 and 10/9 in Tokyo with Great Sasuke doing singles main events against Masamichi Marufuji of NOAH the first night and against Dos Caras the second night

Kazunari Murakami, after taking a pretty bad beating at the finish of his match at Pride against Masaake Satake, returned to pro wrestling on 9/7 for Battlarts at Tokyo Korakuen Hall. Murakami teamed with Naoyuki Taira to lose to Yuki Ishikawa & Carl Malenko (no relation). Murakami's right eye was swollen badly from punches from Satake and worked the show with a broken orbital bone and has been suffering from severe headaches since the match. There apparently has been internal dissension within the company of late with the younger wrestlers and President Ishikawa. They called a meeting at this show and Ishikawa got everyone to agree to work together to save the tour that starts later this week featuring the Road Warriors. It'll be interesting to see what the Road Warriors mean in Japan in 2000, as they were a huge deal in Japan in the late 80s and Japan is a lot better about honoring past their prime legends than the U.S

After Atsushi Onita announced and did what he billed as his Japanese retirement match, he now is trying to get around his millionth retirement stipulation by booking an explosive barbed wire match featuring himself on U.S. Army bases, which he claims would be U.S. government property and thus technically not Japan, on the island. He's stopped talking about working XPW, which was the talk several weeks back

Masakatsu Funaki made his debut playing a samurai in a movie that opens on 10/7. Funaki is a movie buff, averaging watching 250 movies per year.

HERE AND THERE: A U.K. based documentary called "Gaea Girls" appeared at a film festival this past week in Toronto. The U.K. crew followed the path of Saika Takeuchi for one year in her training and early matches with the company. Most of the movie is subtitled in English. It's done by Vixen Films, produced by Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams, who did a Q&A afterwards and appeared to have been totally worked in doing the film, as they believed wrestling to be a shoot and the movie showed the women wrestlers in tears after losses. Told because of that, it would be insulting to a wrestling fans' intelligence. For a non-fan, it would be more interesting as it shows just what lengths the girls go through in their training to become a pro wrestler. Chigusa Nagayo as the teacher, owner and matriarch of the group is said to come off as a real bitch to an average viewer because of how she tortured the women, which is how wrestlers are taught in the old-style dojos

The Urban Wrestling promotion has postponed its first TV tapings twice but it still claiming it will have its first taping within the next month and has the syndication lined up

Dusty Rhodes' Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling will have its first TV taping on 10/28. They are running every Saturday and Sunday in Georgia, mainly doing sold shows, with Ray Lloyd (formerly Glacier) as champion as well as Luther Biggs and Ron Reis and occasional appearances by Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham. Dusty himself also wrestles on occasion for the group. They are trying to syndicate the TV into Florida and Georgia and are hopeful to get in the old traditional 6 p.m. Saturday night time slot on Turner South

Two changes in the NWA title tournament. Dan Severn was pulled due to his being added to the UFC show three days later. Paul Heyman pulled Steve Corino as well. They'll be replaced by Jerry Flynn and Chris Harris, who holds the North American title for the NWA Nashville promotion and is also the bogus Sting on some WCW broadcasts. At one point, there was consideration given to putting Corino over for the belt and putting it back on Severn was at least considered as some point as well

Wrestling legend Harley Race, 57, was arrested on 9/5 for boating while intoxicated near Lake of the Ozarks State Park in Missouri. Race was arrested at a sobriety checkpoint, and charged with a Class B misdemeanor of boating while intoxicated which has a maximum six months in prison or a $500 fine. Race was released later that day on $500 bail. In 1990, Race was involved in a boating accident, where his own boat exploded and two people in the boat it collided with were injured and was charged with negligent operation of a boat

Another wrestling legend, Lou Thesz, 84, is back in the news, having been hired by Kokopelli's Gym in Orlando, FL to start a submission wrestling program. Thesz, who is Director of the pro wrestling wing of the American wrestling Hall of Fame in Newton, IA, moved from his long-time home in Virginia Beach, VA to Winter Haven, FL

Douglas Chevalier, 41, who worked indies in Michigan as the Canadian Destroyer and Hoss James), passed away on 9/10 at his home in Carleston, MI of an apparent heart attack. Chevalier also ran "The Destroyer Wrestling School

Regarding the Australian Wrestling Federation tour headlined by Psicosis vs. Too Cold Scorpio, the 8/31 show in Melbourne drew about 250, 9/1 in Gold Coast drew 150, 9/3 in Sydney drew 200. The crowds were small, but rabid and the wrestlers worked hard. The small crowds are blamed by the far more hyped Superstars of Wrestling tour with Dennis Rodman and the upcoming WCW tour. The main events were said to be excellent and the 9/3 match in Sydney was said to be the best match held in Australia since a 1993 match with Jushin Liger vs. Chris Benoit. Blitzkrieg was the same Jeremiah Ross that worked last year for WCW and was voted Observer's Rookie of the Year, and then fired

Ryuji Yamakawa of Big Japan was brought in for the Combat Zone show on 9/9 in Sewell, NJ. He got bodyslammed off the roof of a truck about 15 feet through two tables that were lit and he caught himself on the fire.

MMA: The 9/22 UFC show will now be headlined by Dan Severn vs. Pedro Rizzo instead of Tito Ortiz vs. Yuki Kondo for the middleweight title. Ortiz is off the show due to a contract dispute which is actually kind of sad, not only because Ortiz vs. Kondo was a very interesting match-up, but because in the midst of the dispute when Ortiz' management pulled him from the show, after the fact they were willing to compromise to get him back. SEG already booked an unknown Brazilian Jiu Jitsu star Alexander (Cafe) Dante so to the U.S. audience, instead of seeing Ortiz, who is one of the few stars the company has at least known to their base audience, they have an unknown Japanese guy against an unknown Brazilian guy to their base audience. Even though Ortiz was trained and ready to go, and both sides made amends and agreed Ortiz would be brought back for an upcoming show, they wouldn't put the match back together for this coming show. Severn, 42, who holds the WEF heavyweight title which is UFC's rival organization, agreed this past week to replace Gary Goodridge on short notice, and there is an agreement that if Severn wins, he'll get a title shot at Kevin Randleman. Goodridge had to be pulled due to his being knocked out in the Pride show. Severn did a lengthy Japanese interview last week where he said he wanted to continue fighting through June of 2003

Some notes from the Pride PPV that aired on 9/8. They aired every match from the Seibu Dome except the Vitor Belfort vs. Daijiro Matsui opener, which was a boring match. They also aired in a 3:30 broadcast, four matches from the 1/30 Tokyo Dome (Coleman vs. Satake, Kerr vs. Enson Inoue, Vovchanchyn vs. Alexander Otsuka and Fujita vs. Hanse Nyman). The added matches hurt the show as a whole because the 1/30 matches were a weak follow-up after the so-called live show, which was actually, and this is a credit to the announcing of Steven Quadros and Eddie Bravo to an extent, better than seeing the original live PPV tape from Japan. Part of it is on the American broadcast, and this has been the case in every Pride American PPV, the impact and sound of the punches comes across so much better than on the Japanese live show which makes the matches better. All the matches that aired came off as good and it came across as an excellent PPV event. Some of the weights listed here last week were a few pounds off as they had the real weigh-in weights on this show, which they didn't on the live show. Shamrock actually came in at 211 and Fujita at 245, which is why Fujita looked so huge and thick next to him. They still have to learn to market the entertainment aspect of the show, as they edited out the best ring entrances (Giant Ochiai and Gary Goodridge), which for American entertainment, the ring entrances, the ring card girls, the pyro, etc. are what would make the show seem major league. Granted, at this point, casual fans don't even know it exists and to the hardcores, they only want to see good quality fights, but it's the trappings around the fights, and DSE is actually good at this because they spend money for the total show, that to a casual fan makes the difference between a major league event and just another of the zillion hours of TV sports every week. They did note that Sakuraba, Fujita, Ishizawa, Ogawa and Murakami were pro wrestlers, and credited Antonio Inoki for developing a stable of pro wrestlers that can actually fight in real fights. For Murakami, whose ring outfit had a UFO patch, they said UFO was a famous pro wrestling organization and blamed his loss on being rusty after switching from real fighting to pro wrestling a few years ago and rightfully noted Ishizawa had no punch defense. In the closing credits for the show was Barry Bloom, who is Shamrock's agent who is the most notable agent for pro wrestlers, and another connection is that Pride is opening a California office and has either hired or has talked of hiring Sonny Onoo

The "Full Contact Fighter" TV show has completed its 13-week commitment on the Sunshine Network. The network is up for renewing the show, but right now it's up in the air unless the show gets a sponsor

While no matches have been officially announced, although they've already shot the angle for Ogawa vs. Satake, the Pride advertising (priced from $1,000 for ringside down to $70 for the cheap seats) for Osaka Castle Hall on Halloween night lists Sakuraba, Goodridge, Otsuka, Takada, Renzo Gracie, Inoue, Satake, Fujita, Kerr and Coleman as appearing and they've also announced Yatsu as appearing

The RINGS USA tournament concludes on 9/30 in Moline, IL. The main bouts will be four-man tournaments involving the survivors of the 7/15 and 7/22 tournaments in Orem, UT and Honolulu. At under-200, it'll be first round pairings of Jeremy Horn vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara and Yasuhito Namekawa vs. Chris Haseman, all of whom are RINGS Japanese veterans. The heavyweight division will have Bobby Hoffman vs. Eric Pele and Tom Sauer vs. Aaron Brink. Brink, who already lost to Hoffman in the tournament, is replacing Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, who pulled out of the Hoffman match due to an injury suffered on the 8/23 show in Osaka.

ECW: The long talked about plan of moving from doing bi-monthly PPV shows to going monthly appears on the books as they are doing 10/1 in St. Paul, 11/5 in Villa Park, IL and 12/3 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan. With buy rates dropping badly this year for WCW and also dropping of late for ECW, only WWF has held steady and in some cases shown increases during the early part of the year before levelling off the past few months. With 36 live pro wrestling PPVs on the books already out of 52 Sundays in 2001 (actually only an increase from 31 this year), viewers are more and more going to pick and choose rather than make every show a must-see affair, although I guess that has been the case now for some time anyway

The wrestlers weren't paid again this week. Paul Heyman at the Mississauga TV taping told the wrestlers that the company was living week-to-week hand-to-mouth until a TV deal is made. He said because it would take a few days to get the money needed to make payroll this week out of Canada, converted into U.S. dollars and deposited in the bank, and since the show did a big gate, the company should be solvent cash wise by the end of this week at which point the checks would be fed-exed out. The wrestlers have been for some time one pay period behind when one was missed and never made up a few months back. Of late, the wrestlers have been getting checks on Saturday but post-dated until late the next week, usually five days after the checks are handed out, so the money coming in from the weekend which is needed to make payroll is deposited. Heyman told the wrestlers, and Dreamer largely backed him up, that he would be leaving early in the week for Los Angeles to close a TV deal and wouldn't be coming back to New York until the deal is finalized. Most feel a deal is right at being done with USA, but the potential problem is the Delaware Court of Appeals, which still hadn't ruled as of press time on whether or not WWF could move to TNN on 9/25 as is currently scheduled, still hangs in the balance. He also told the wrestlers there is a good chance the road shows this coming weekend in Des Moines, Omaha and Sioux City would be canceled. The advances in two of the three cities, and in particular the third, isn't strong and they aren't in the position to be able to lose money going on the road. The word going around WCW was that several ECW wrestlers were inquiring about getting a job. In addition, there are a lot of injuries that probably could use some rest rather than threatening the PPV

Dreamer injured his left shoulder and it appeared to be serious on 9/7 in Cleveland. He was in a sling and in a lot of pain the rest of the weekend. At press time he hadn't been fully examined but there was fear of a torn rotator cuff and that would require surgery and several months off. This changes most of the PPV undercard so right now only three matches are finalized. The original plan was to shoot an angle at TV this week to lead to Dreamer & Corino vs. Anderson & Swinger & Diamond in a 2-on-3. C.W. Anderson's shoulder also popped out on 9/9 in a match with Van Dam and his arm was in a sling by the end of the weekend. He landed on his hand, which popped his shoulder, in falling from the top rope after taking a Van Daminator. Credible suffered a broken finger on 9/9 and had it splinted on 9/11, but won't be missing any action. His neck has been sore for several weeks, ever since the match that aired on TNN where he was on Van Dam's shoulders and Kash came off the top rope with a Frankensteiner, didn't quite get high enough and both went down out of control. Kash broke his nose in Buffalo landing on a dive, but worked the next night. Anton didn't work the weekend, but was at all the shows, with bruised ribs. Mamaluke after the weekend shows was having hip and rib problems. The original plan was to bounce around the tag titles, but Heyman has been so impressed with the FBI that planned title changes before the PPV were scrapped

They are going to add a stip at the last minute for Credible vs. Lynn that's a big one to act as if Lynn has to win or it's his last shot, or putting up his hair or career or something that hasn't been settled to add more drama to the match

Everyone except E.Z. Money and Prodigette made it across the border, which in some cases, being that at least two of the guys have several arrests, was a little bit of a surprise. Money and Prodigette were traveling together and apparently one of them had a prior so the car wasn't let in

The Mississauga, ONT on 9/9, which is a Toronto suburb, drew a near sellout of 5,000. Most considered the show a major success, as virtually every wrestler was over and the fans knew every storyline and were hot for the product. They also sold every bit of merchandise they brought, although because of high taxation and lower exchange rate, the amount of merchandise brought was below normal standards for a show expected to draw this many people and Heyman estimated they actually will only come out of Canada with $80,000 U.S. from the live gate. Psicosis pinned Julio Dinero quickly in a quick bad match. The two didn't work well together all weekend. Diamond & Swinger beat Matthews & York. FBI beat Doring & Roadkill in the best match on the show. Mamaluke was injured after working some great lucha libre spots with Roadkill. Sal E. interfered giving Doring a power bomb for the finish. Nova beat Hamrick. They worked well overall but blew some spots. Electra and Jazz went at it. Then Chetti ran-in and hit Nova with a chair, and Chetti claimed to swing the best chair shot of anyone in wrestling. This naturally brought Mahoney in. The Baldies attacked him. Chilly Willy made the save with a surprising reaction. Willy wore a Mississauga Ice Dogs jersey, the local junior hockey league team, and got a lot of boos, since virtually nobody was actually from the suburbs and 90% of the crowd was from Toronto, and nobody in that crowd recognized the jersey, which looks similar to and was thought to be a Buffalo Sabres jersey so Willy didn't get the desired reaction. In the match, Mahoney bled from both his head and arm and Angel bled as well. Mahoney worked really hard and it was said to be a really good brawl. For the TNN open, they brought out Lynn. Credible and Corino wound up out there. Corino and Lynn both said they deserved a title shot, and commissioner Spike Dudley, doing a low-rent Mick Foley, announced they would have a three-way dance. Rhino came out and attacked Dudley, but New Jack came in, moving very slow, with some garbage can shots on Rhino and a vacuum cleaner to the crotch. Credible & Rhino wound up leaving New Jack laying. A Kash vs. Whipwreck TV title match went about 5:00 when Rhino laid both men out. Kash was so mad he wanted Rhino right then and there and offered to put up the title. Rhino won the belt in 3:35 with a spear through the table. The title change was to set up the RVD vs. Rhino match on the 10/1 PPV as a TV title match. RVD came out after to heat that up and they did a quick pull-apart. They did basically the same angle they did the previous week for the Hardcore show open to set up an apparent Cyrus vs. Gertner match on PPV. The segment both nights was said to be not good, because guys who shouldn't be doing things physically, were doing things physically. Lou E. Dangerously was doing a promo when Gertner attacked him. Cyrus ran in and he and Lou E. started double-teaming Gertner until Styles made the save wielding a chair. Van Dam beat Anderson in the match where Anderson's shoulder popped out. In the three-way for the title, all three men juiced. One ref got bumped. Heel ref Danny Daniels came out, but he ended up brawling with yet another ref. Lynn had Credible up for his piledriver but Corino superkicked Lynn and Credible hits his spinning tombstone to pin Lynn. Lynn was out first even though he's in the PPV main event as the challenger because the match had to have the Francine vs. Dawn Marie catfight and they had to go to the finish right after that spot, which was Credible scoring the pin with his tombstone. This was the bout Credible broke his finger in, although nobody knows exactly when this occurred as he didn't notice it until his finger looked crooked after the match. Sandman caned him after the match and left doing the beer gimmick

On the 9/8 Buffalo show, which got mixed reviews other than a main event that was said to be hot, it was headlined by Credible & Rhino over Lynn & Sandman due to the heel ref gimmick. Styles got involved on the first shooting of the angle where Cyrus blindsided Gertner with a chair doing a hardcore TV open and Styles made the save chasing Cyrus out with a chair. After Doring & Roadkill beat York & Mathews, the FBI attacked Doring & Roadkill to set up a tag title program since Tajiri & Whipwreck are on the shelf with Tajiri gone for a few weeks to get his working papers in order. Chetti and Nova have officially broken up and did a pull-apart. Kash beat Psicosis in what had what many noted as the most negative spot of the show, when fans paid no attention to a sick over the top plancha by Kash that he appeared all banged up from and came up with a bloody nose because of a chant directed at a woman who was taking off her top. Psicosis didn't look good again. There was a group of about a dozen fans claiming to be the Aldo Montoya Fan Club (Credible's WWF ring name) and Credible through a drink at them. The estimated crowd of 2,000 (some estimates were less than that) was barely more than half of what ECW usually draws in Buffalo, which for consistent attendance, has been the company's hottest live event market for the past year or two

ECW has expressed some interest in Michael Shane, who has already worked some prelims for the company and worked for WCW this past week, who is the nephew of Shawn Michaels, and Ted Annis, who wrestles as Teddy Hart, the nephew of Bret Hart, with the idea of feuding them when they get established. It's not as if this is anything imminent, it's just something that has been batted around. Badnews Allen said that he believes Ted Annis will end up being the best wrestler ever in the family, which is pretty high praise when you think about it. Actually everyone praises Annis' work and he's said to be a natural worker inside the ring like his famous uncles and better than they were at a similar age (which is high praise since Owen was one of the best fliers in the world from day one and Bret was having great matches with Dynamite, and granted, Dynamite at that time may have been one of the three best guys in the world, when he was also very young), but people are far less kind to his overall attitude and maturity, which is why WWF dropped him from his developmental deal so quickly

A fan in Raleigh filed a lawsuit against Paul Heyman, Rob Szatkowsky (Van Dam) and Donald Ray Carroll, owner of the Ritz Theater for alleged injuries that took place on a February 7, 1999 show at a house show in Raleigh. The suit, filed by 44-year-old Michael Murray, alleges that Van Dam did a flip into the crowd, which sent him to the hospital with permanent back and leg injuries. The lawsuit alleges Van Dam was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident. The lawsuit reads that his "mental and physical impairment from the ingestion of controlled substances caused him to miss his target," and hit Murray, who was sitting in the second row. The complaint also claimed that ECW promoted the use of marijuana and LSD among its wrestlers (obviously the Van Dam 4:20 shirt and the Acid drop being the name of Spike Dudley's finisher) and noted some crowd chants at ECW events with marijuana or LSD references. A story about this was in the Raleigh News and Observer over the weekend, and all those involved in the lawsuit didn't comment on it due to it being pending litigation

Credible on the Observer Live show talking about the previous PPV in Los Angeles and the XPW incident which took place right as his main event with Dreamer was starting, said he didn't want to "sell" what they did, but that it did screw up the main event match in that they were sent home early and only did about 40% of what they were planning because of all the commotion

TNN show on 9/8 was probably the best TNN show in a long time, mainly due to the main event, but the entire show was real good and the hot crowd really put over the opening angle. The show opened with Cyrus cancelling TNN, Heyman laying him out from behind with a phone shot, and Rhino putting Heyman (who looked to be bigger than Rhino) through a table. Kash's title win over Rhino was a totally wild scene. The match itself was actually just a backdrop for a hot Sandman ring entrance, a continual series of brawls leading to a Van Dam ring entrance leading to Van Dam doing his Van Daminator and Van Terminator on Rhino and both Van Dam and Kash coming off the top on Rhino for the pin and TV title win. Kash also did a great springboard flip plancha onto half the roster outside to catch him. Even Mahoney over Blue Boy wasn't bad, even though the match was clearly just an excuse to put Jasmine St. Clair on TV and do a spot where Mahoney held her upside down so her dress would fly down and fans would see the panty shot. Blue Boy is tons better in the ring having dropped 100 pounds, but I can't come up with what you can possibly do with him. The tag title match with FBI beating Whipwreck & Tajiri was a ****1/4 match. Tajiri was just incredible again. It's even more impressive when you consider that Guido suffered a broken eardrum in the opening slapfest with Tajiri. When you list the best workers in the U.S. right now, his name has to very close to, if not at the very top of the list. Guido is really underrated and Mamaluke's selling and bumps were great, although his longevity is already in question. Guido pinned Tajiri sort of clean with a chair and a kiss of death on a chair.

WCW: They made Nash vs. Booker for the title a cage match on the PPV, as if the cage means a thing these days, and they made the scaffold match a mixed tag with Kidman & Madusa vs. Wilson & Douglas, which makes a bad sounding match even worse. I guess they could have a woman do a stunt person air mattress dive (actually I was told both women are scheduled to take a bump off the scaffold into a gimmicked spot but that may change as neither woman is exactly thrilled about it) as something different. Goldberg vs. Steiner if no DQ, Storm vs. Rection has Major Gunns returning to MIA if Rection wins and FA's & Vito vs. Thrillers has been added as a straight eight or ten (not sure if Konnan will be in) man elimination match. Vito low back was injured on Nitro and he couldn't work Thunder, but was saying he would work the PPV

Nitro in Charlotte before a crowd that didn't care about anything but seeing Ric Flair, and were none too happy seeing him in nothing but a cameo. Misterio Jr. & Guerrera beat Kronic for the tag titles. No crowd reactions. Konnan was hilarious. When he was asked if they were going to do the face full of stuff trademark spot in the match, he said no, because Kronic wouldn't sell it. They sold nothing. Konnan did get yelled at after the match for saying something too inside. Harris Twins attacked Adams with a TV camera. They should have just used one of those chains because throwing it around costs a whole lot less money. Disco gave Clark the stunner, Juvi gave him the 450 and Rey gave him with legdrop to the groin off the top for the pin. Cat came out. Ms. Jones challenged Jarrett. Jarrett and Steiner then beat up Cat. Reno beat Vito after a ref bump when Johnny the Bull came out, in the guise of making the save, but turned on Vito. It was one of those swerves where everyone watching knew what was going to happen. Weren't Johnny and Vito feuding the last we saw of Johnny anyway? At least in WWF swerves that make no sense, they kept straight who was on who's side at the time of the injury. Madusa beat Wilson via DQ in 37 seconds when Douglas interfered. Douglas gave Madusa a belly-to-belly and put her in the STF. Kidman saved. Madden said that the STF was invented by Lou Thesz, who was also known for beating up women. As it turns out, when Thesz found out about the remark, he was not amused. Awesome came out in a Partridge Family bus singing the theme song to the show. I figure you have to be 38 years old minimum to get that, and they've driven everyone from that age group away. At least they're giving Awesome a gimmick that he can headline shows with. That was facetious. Jarrett beat Ms. Jones, who actually had training and threw some good kicks when Cat handcuffed Jarrett. Jones went for the guitar, Jarrett kicked her and laid her out with the guitar. Duggan came out and retired. It's really sad with all the swerving that when he came out and talked about cancer, there was very little sympathy in the crowd. Crowd shots would show maybe one of every 30 fans, all seemingly over 40, who were caring and the rest looked bored, just doing the Pavolvian flag pops. He gave his gimmick, while crying, to General Rection, so the MIA's will have the flag as the recycled version of Duggan. Storm challenged Rection to a match, which ended when Duggan shoved Storm off the top into a Rection powerslam. The MIA's came in waving the flag after. Stacey got a registered letter, apparently that revealed David wasn't the father. They had the wedding. Crowbar was the best man, portrayed as a total goof. Daffney was there. Let me get this straight. He dumped her after being engaged to her a few months back, and now she's in the wedding party? I know, it happened on 90210 probably. Madden was hilarious with his comments on Stacey and her parents throughout all of this, and she did look ridiculously good as a bride and somehow still isn't showing at all. Fans didn't care at all about this except popping for Anderson and Ric's entrance. Anderson gave a speech to David about not how it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. For those of you who are wrestlers getting married, when other wrestlers enter the room, don't play their entrance music. Anyway, the cops arrested Ric was violation of a restraining order and the wedding stopped. Fans were really upset, not about the wedding ending, but they recognized that was all they were seeing of Ric. They did a segment claiming Russo had suffered a blood clot in the brain and needed emergency brain surgery. Clearly, this was a knock on Hart's column in the Calgary paper, which had a lot of heat from many within the company. Sting beat Harris Twins. Both Twins were killing Sting with big chains. Kronik came out with little chains and pounded ont he Twins and Sting pinned Don. David wanted to marry Stacey again. David and Stacey facially both looked totally embarrassed out there. Finally, when asked if anyone objected, she grabbed the mic, said David wasn't the father, and ran off into the limo with David chasing. So who is the father. Of course the original plan was for Ric, but we're told it has changed. Which means, it'll probably end up being Russo. While the limo took off, Jarrett and the Thrillers pounded on Awesome when Awesome was trying to show Pamela Paulshock the inside of his bus painted up like the Partridge Family bus from the early 70s and he was even singing the theme to the TV show. That career killer gimmick they started him with was more apropos than we thought. Anyway, he's being a team player, but from all accounts, he hates it even worse than everyone else hates it. Nash and Steiner went 2:00 before they beat up on T and Goldberg for a long time. They made their own save, which brought Jarrett driving the Partridge Family bus and the Thrillers to the ring and they laid out T and Goldberg. They handcuffed Goldberg to the bus and Steiner laid him out with a pipe. Goldberg after taking the pounding, pulled the grating off the front of the bus as the show went of the air. The original script called for Goldberg to be handcuffed and Jarrett back the bus up dragging him like he was crucified. It was changed at the last minute to what happened. There were reports that Goldberg went into business for himself on the last spot and if people had seen the script, that would seem to be the case, as only a few people were told of the change which was a last minute deal

Eric Bischoff was announced on 9/7 as being named to the Advisory Board of Hollywood Partners.com, Inc., a marketing and promotions company. In the Bischoff bio, it listed him as heading WCW from 1994 through September 1999, mentioning nothing about his return, and talked about his proposed show "Road Rage," and listed it as being shopped around as opposed to having a done deal

Russo told several employees on 9/8 that no matter what Siegel and Bischoff have said publicly, that the stories of Bischoff meeting with Siegel about buying the company were true and that he's been trying to do so since April

There is also a Japanese promotion looking at buying it, although I'm not sure which one

Some notes from 9/12 in Roanoke for the Thunder and World Wide tapings. Hayabusa was there, but was only going to be put on World Wide against The Frog. However, he didn't have documentation of a physical or a blood test since nobody told him ahead of time he'd need it to get licensed in Virginia, so the commission wouldn't let him work. This was his last day in WCW so he ended up never wrestling. Former WWF developmental wrestler Scott Overholtzer (Scotty Sabre) worked as a jobber Scotty Patrick. Steve Sharp (Ali in Memphis, who is a hell of a good interview) also played a jobber role on World Wide for the Thrillers in a six-man tag, as did former High Voltage member Robbie Rage. For Thunder, the theme of the show was David confronting everyone about if they were the father and laying some guys out. In a weird segment, Nash & Steiner & Jarrett came out with Ms. Jones. They wanted to do a kidnapping but S&P wouldn't let it, so she was out there and not acting as if it was against her will. They asked for a replay and told her to lay down for Jarrett to cover, which he did, till T and Cat saved. Jarrett ended up laying out Dave Penzer with a guitar, which was an excuse to get Pamela Paulshock as the ring announcer. Jindrak & O'Haire beat Disco & Tygress but Disco left for help and Tygress was left alone to be pinned. T promised if he won the title on the PPV, he'd give Sting a shot. Awesome tried to hit on Major Gunns. Storm dragged her off. Awesome threw Skipper off the set but Jarrett laid him out with the stroke after. They set up a tag with Rection & Duggan against Storm & Skipper and if Rection & Duggan won, Major Gunns comes back to MIA. One of the best parts of the show was a vignette where a kid wanted a photo of Nash, and Nash bullied the father into paying $50 for the photo and Steiner flexed his arm in the kid's face so the kid wasn't even visible in the photo. Shane & Torrie vs. Kidman & Madusa ended up brawling up the balcony except Madusa, so her team won via COR. Wilson was thrown over but she hung on and eventually never took the bump. Tenay interviewed Ric, who stormed out when he was accused of being the father. Sting beat Jarrett in 2/3 falls, basically with two ref bumps, Jarrett passed out in the scorpion and Sting dropped Jarrett's arm three times and declared himself the winner of the match. Stacey said to David she didn't know who the dad was and Anderson came out. David accused Anderson. After he calmed down, Anderson cut a promo on her saying she's full of it. Duggan was buried backstage under a flag, so Rection had to work a handicap match, which he lost to the half crab of Storm (w/Skipper). Duggan all beaten up ran out and hit the ring just as Rection tapped. The plan is for Duggan to turn heel and turn on the U.S. fans for not caring about him and join Storm. Kronic won a three-way over Harris Twins and Rey & Juvi. Rey & Juvi just watched while Kronic won, but Harris' attacked them after with chains. Main was Cat & T vs. Nash & Steiner with the winner of the fall becoming world champ. No winner as Steiner had T in the recliner when Goldberg drove a motorcycle to ringside and speared and jackhammered Steiner

Thunder on 9/6 (taped the night before) was probably the most entertaining WCW TV show in several weeks, largely because of the excellent segment involving Hart and Goldberg. There were several matches in the 6:00 range so the show didn't seem to be rushing from segment to segment like Nitro usually does, and the interview segments also didn't appear frantic and rushed like the pre-tapes often do. Kwee Wee beat Loco to get the cruiser title shot at PPV. It's funny how they've dropped characters when Stevie Ray, supposedly from Harlem in one breath, talked about being trained by Scott Casey in Texas, and then saying how Kwee Wee, who was supposed to be the make-up guy and not a wrestler, is now a trained wrestler by Paul Orndorff at the Power Plant. Tenay interviewed David and Hancock about the wedding. Tenay played heel, but once again Tenay's closing line got a babyface pop from the live crowd. Segment was largely based on whether Ric would come to the wedding, which, if I recall, Arn Anderson already said on Nitro that he would. There were a lot of complaints internally about not pushing the certainty and the fact that Flair would return on Nitro harder on TV the week before, particularly since Raw was returning to the regular slot and Nitro needed any edge it could muster. Segment wasn't good until Tenay at the end said he gave the two of them six months, tops, which was the line that popped the crowd. The Thrillers went back to the Power Plant. They all attacked Mike Graham. That was funny because Graham leg dives Sanders and put him in a figure four, and when there are six guys ready to jump you, the best thing to do is run, and the worst thing to do is to take one guy to the ground and let the other five stomp the hell out of you. They also attacked Orndorff, who in every camera shot posed tilted so his good arm, which he clearly had pumped up before taping, was right in front of the camera. Danny Farquir, who is somehow connected with Don Frye, and worked New Japan as Dan Devine with Reno and Chuck Palumbo, made the save. 3 Count challenged Kronic. Although I'm sure everyone will deny this, this was supposed to be Karagias' bone for not going to human resources to complain about Goldberg. As it turned out, Kronic hardly sold a thing, but did get counted out brawling with the Harris Twins. Bout was still terrible. The original plan for the match was for 3 Count to pound on Kronic early and get the advantage using baseball bats. Kronic would make a comeback but then get pinned when the Harris Twins interfered. Kronic got the baseball bat beating nixed, so they never sold anything at the beginning, and got the pin changed to a weak looking count out. As you can imagine, people are shaking their heads given there are guys sitting at home for not doing what was scripted. Abbott still KO'd all three guys after. As it turns out, if that's being nice, I'd hate to be punished. Maybe I'd like to be, because in WCW, punishment is being taken off TV over July 4th weekend and being paid in full. Crowbar did an interview regarding Douglas throwing him off the balcony. He talked about himself as Devon and Douglas as Troy Martin. Before when they would do those inside references that 99% of the audience didn't know, the announcers would follow up by not saying anything. Now the announcers acknowledged it by saying he didn't know if Devon was Crowbar's name, or the name of his friend. Crowbar's original name in WCW was Devon Storm of course. They did a Lava lamp segment, a Piper's Pit remake, although it came closer to being a Barber Shop segment or a Flower Shop (two terrible remakes of Piper's Pit) with Mike Awesome, who is this great worker put in a straight jacket with these terrible gimmicks. The plan is to continue the Lava Lamp segments rather than cut losses. Awesome was trying to pick up on Paulshock. Jarrett threatened Paulshock with a guitar shot but Mean Gene made the save, so Jarrett instead hit Awesome, who took a bump backwards and ended up cutting up his hand which bled a lot on something behind the set. Douglas beat Crowbar when Wilson interfered. After the match, Madusa attacked Wilson and kicked the hell out of her on the first kick to the stomach, knocking the wind out of her legit. The show highlight was Hart's interview complaining about everything. It seemed half the fans were cheering him until he directed his complaints about Goldberg. He talked about having 10% brain damage, which is real (and there is a valid argument that by saying it on a wrestling show as part of an angle, it trivializes that reality into just being blurred as part of another worked shoot angle that allows people not to believe it), him not being able to buy a ranch because his pay was cut in half, which is probably also real. He got off a bunch of lines that popped the wrestlers. He got bleeped for saying such cuss words as Diana Meyers (who has heat with the wrestlers since she's the messenger who makes the phone calls informing them that their pay is being cut in half because they aren't wrestling, claiming she put a slug in the back of his head) and chimpanzee (I don't know why that is a cuss word on Thunder except maybe they're an endangered species or something) and mentioned how now Awesome (whose hand was injured doing an ill conceived out of the ring stunt a few minutes earlier) is only worth half of what he was a few minutes earlier. Goldberg came out and did a face promo and he was great. Goldberg was going to leave without attacking Hart saying how he felt bad it was he who gave Hart the injury, but Hart insulted him and Goldberg snatched him. Steiner came from behind and hit Goldberg with a pipe and put him in the recliner while Hart taunted him and Goldberg passed out. It was a hell of an effective heat angle. A large degree of its effectiveness was ruined before the show went off the air. Steiner left with a new mystery woman, which is just what WCW needs is to continually fire male wrestlers and replace them with women that they'll put in the ring with almost no training. Misterio Jr. & Guerrera beat Harris Twins in about as entertaining a match as you could have given the size mismatch and the Harris Twins just being part of it. Kronic interfered and threw Misterio Jr. on Ron for the pin. Sting pinned Vampiro with ICP doing the announcing. ICP was really funny early on but it got old about halfway into the match. After the match, Muta came out and went to blow the mist at Sting, but instead hit Violent J. Goldberg came out, not selling anything whatsoever from the beating 30 minutes earlier, and challenged Hart. Instead Storm & Skipper came out for a handicap match and Goldberg vaporized them in 96 seconds. The only real negative, and it's a big one, is after doing such a great job getting heat on Goldberg, particularly Hart screaming at him while Steiner had him in the recliner, they blew all the heat off by having Goldberg return later in the show and not selling anything about the attack

There was actually serious discussion the afternoon of the show to cancel the show due to lack of ticket sales and the small crowd. I'm not sure why they would do this, because even though it wasn't likely they had a gigantic throng, they've had numerous Thunder tapings of late that have drawn smaller crowds with no thoughts of cancellation. When the discussions were going on, the idea was to replace the taping with another "Best of" type of show. While it would have saved some money, the fact is the crew was already there, the production and stuff had already been set up. Forgetting the irony of this being an overall entertaining show, which is not exactly a regular occurrence, an unannounced taped show at this point in time would have done a poor number. Unless it would have been two hours of nothing but build for Flair coming back, which I doubt was the idea, it would have been very negative for the fans, not to mention no matter what the taped show idea would have been, a cancellation after all the wrestlers were already there would have been devastating to morale of the wrestlers when uncertainty reigns

Add Hart to the list of those fined for arriving late, this happening on 9/5 Thunder

There is believed to be an employee hiring freeze

Tickets were put on sale on 9/8 for the 10/2 Nitro at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. It should be noted that WWF runs a house show in San Jose five days later and they are the same basic media market. There was a decent amount of praise (far from a consensus but more than usual) for 9/4 Nitro and pretty much a consensus that 9/6 Thunder was a very good show, combined with the misleading application of the past two weeks Nitro ratings, led to a lot of it's turned around statements. The reality of when it's turned around will be told quickly, by people buying tickets as they will as soon as the product is hot. Very small TV ratings increases followed by very small decreases that don't result in an upswing of interest in people buying tickets are false illusions as to whether a product is hot or not. Anyway, the reality is, like with Nassau's sales, they sold 1,200 tickets the first day and that's where the company is at this week

The deal with Hayabusa and Nitro is that he was coming in for FMW to shoot an angle with Great Muta, apparently trying to build up a singles match between the two. He was scheduled to fly into Charlotte on 9/11, but Muta gave him the word that he wasn't going to be written into the Nitro show, perhaps because of Vampiro being off the shows for a while, and the two actually met and got the photos shot at Muta's Atlanta apartment

Vampiro is off all the shows temporarily as his wife is going through a tough pregnancy and could give birth at any time over the next five weeks. He will work the PPV on 9/17. This eliminates ICP from the shows and takes Muta's angle away since the idea was to build for them at least teasing a split-up before the PPV to set up the three-way

Shawn Michaels' proteges worked the World Wide tapings, in particular Ruben Cruz (whose match with Crowbar got a really strong crowd reaction), Jeremy Sage, Michael Shane (said to be the best of the bunch), Rob Diggs and Chris Kruger. Reports were that nobody looked bad but nobody blew anyone away either. The live crowd accepted them, and often live crowds aren't very receptive to wrestlers who they've never seen

Besides Awesome's hand and Wilson being shaken up, Daffney also has injured ribs and Russo, who suffered a concussion a few months back and has had migraines ever since (which may explain why he wore that helmet in War Games just in case he got hit rather than just to get heat playing the pussy role), got his brain jarred again when Cat potatoed him with a kick on Nitro. Even though Russo usually doesn't go to Thunder, he was originally planning on going, but didn't because he wasn't feeling well

As mentioned on TV, Scott Hudson missed Nitro because his wife gave birth to their first child, a girl named Darvy Rene Hudson late 9/4 and he was also given 9/11 off

Since people from time to time ask about Dustin Runnels, he is still under contract and there is no explanation as to why he's not around. Russo wanted to bring him in with a gimmick similar to Goldust, and he's been waiting for a start date

They did a try-out match at Thunder with Madusa working with Wilson, which took place while some pre-tapes were airing. Obviously it was not good

Mark Madden was upset at reports he talked too much on Nitro, claiming it was because Jeremy Borash, put on TV for the full two hours with little notice (due to Hudson being gone although Borash was scheduled to do one match on the show as something of a try-out) appeared intimidated and didn't say much. The two tried to work an angle out of disliking each other on the air on 9/11

There is some internal divisiveness right now as it pertains to thoughts on Russo vs. Ace. A lot of the better in-ring workers are pushing for Ace to be put in charge, since they figure is product would take advantage of in-ring wrestlers' strengths, while others, mainly those getting their first career pushes or best pushes in several booking regimes, are solidly behind Russo

There was some backstage unhappiness on Thunder regarding the promo Douglas did. Apparently Douglas was only supposed to talk about his program with Kidman and Crowbar, and not bring up Goldberg, but he ended up doing most of his interview trying to act like he stood toe-to-toe with Goldberg, with the feeling his was shooting his own angle to get linked with Goldberg and not promoting the angles he had set up for him. It was actually pretty clever for him except the announcers pointing out that he was delusional when talking about Goldberg which took some of the edge off his cleverness

It is clear right now that the No. 1 priority for the company right now isn't trying to build to draw money or even the TV ratings as much as budget cutting. For example, there is not as much of a problem with having the high priced talent sit at home and continue to get paid because the company feels, because of how their contracts are structured, that by not using them, the company saves money since the guys sitting home like Luger, Page and Hall by contract have to be flown first class and have their hotels paid for, and they can be replaced by talent that can be brought on the road at less company expense

In Hart's Calgary Sun column, he mentioned that he was disappointed with his interview on Thunder and didn't like letting things that have real ramifications to be minimized into a phony storyline. He said the feedback he got was largely that his interview was great, and mentioned how people told him what a great actor he was because of how he put the realistic concussion symptoms into his interview, like stammering and losing his train of thought. He basically said what was sad is that he wasn't acting, and said when the interview was over he had a headache from hell, blurred vision and balance problems and that he's a long way from being able to take bumps. He pretty well ripped into Bob Ryder (without mentioning him by name) for saying he should quit complaining and be happy he's getting half pay since he's not wrestling. Everyone knows my thoughts on the half pay while injured situation, because it leads to guys coming back before they are healed, and we have examples of that seemingly every week in WCW. While some wrestlers, mainly those past their prime, may and have taken advantage of being paid while hurt, which is an improvement over the old days of wrestling where in many cases when you were injured, you either got very little money, or sometimes no money at all, it's still light years behind other sports which don't exactly cut people's pay in half when they're on the DL. The vast majority of wrestlers, left to their own devices, because they enjoy performing and want to improve and get over, will come back too soon even without the added economic incentive. Even guys in WCW who hated going to work (Eddy Guerrero comes to mind as he spoke about it on the Observer show) because of all the internal headaches, still came back from their injuries too soon in hindsight (and Guerrero didn't have the economic necessity to do so at the time) because he didn't want to feel he wasn't earning his money. Having said all that, my opinion when it comes to this situation is that the half pay deal isn't right, and when I've talked with people in real sports about this, they actually think I'm making it up because the idea of it would be so preposterous in the real world, but wrestlers have never unionized and had collective bargaining and no matter how huge wrestling is, until that happens, they won't be treated as well, and their injuries taken as seriously as a baseball team or a football team would. The other end is that some wrestlers are cons and the con mentality was bred into the profession big-time in the old-school way of thinking. We've seen examples of guys with career ending injuries who suddenly return years later after getting huge insurance checks in the interim. But that exists in other sports as well, and the greater good for the wrestlers would still be if there wasn't a strong economic pressure to go along with the mental pressure most wrestlers are naturally going to put themselves in, to return too quickly from a serious injury. And of course there is the difference, like in football or basketball, between, as John Madden puts them, hurts and injuries. It's a physical business and in doing it, one has to accept being hurt all the time as part of the profession. You do have to play with pain if you're going to survive this business, because pain is part and parcel of it. But after real surgery, or a real serious injury, when the doctor says you need six months off, that's totally different from the chronic stiff lower back from taking bumps, and coming back in three because of the feeling one needs to provide for their family in the long run breeds problems, such as an increase in the problems with prescription pain killers not to mention recurrence of that injury that was just fixed, that this industry doesn't need more of. That said, in the specific case of Bret Hart, there is a contract argument, even though because these two issues are completely different, these may not be totally fair points to compare. He did willingly sign that point in his contract and the company is losing lots of money and looking to cut back where ever possible. Of course, that also means if you defend the company on the point that every wrestler who has gotten their pay cut, signed that point in their contract, you have to defend Hogan, because everything he did for the sake of his career and not in the company's best interest was within his contractual rights, and, WCW willingly signed the contract. If you agree with that point, then you can't knock Hart on the contract argument because he did sign a contract that called for half pay if he was incapacitated, even if it was an injury suffered in their rings, and even if one agrees the system itself is wrong, if one believes in honoring contracts, or that WCW is implementing it as a means to save money at this point, than they have a valid point. Since I defended Hart when WWF breached his contract, the only thing I can say is I don't agree with the provision in anyone's contract, but it was in there, and both sides in every case signed it. It's something that should be changed, but no company is going to change it without wrestlers sticking together and I don't see that happening any time soon. I've heard people defend the system, citing Hart's case, because in specific, he's still making seven figures this year so he in specific is actually the single worst example to cite in this case, but by being the biggest name, is the most highly publicized (and the only star big enough to complain about it publicly and even he is taking a lot of heat for doing so, whereas others who would privately complain about the system couldn't do so publicly for fear of the repercussions) and thus because of the amount of money Hart earns, allows people to defend the system. He's making enough money that he in particular is not the one to economically feel sorry for, although if one doesn't have empathy for someone, like them or their character or not, who has suffered legitimate brain damage in the ring (and don't even get me started on people who do vignettes mocking the problem), then they've got their own problems with a different form of blurred reality. But there are only a handful of men in Hart's salary category, and 95% of those that this affects run into economic trouble real fast if their pay is cut in half

Regarding Hart's contract, it expires on 11/30, but there is a two-year option term after that point

Schedule for November and December. There is nothing on the November schedule except for the England tour, Nitro/Thunder tapings and the PPV. 11/6 will be a dual taping in Chicago at United Center. The 11/13 Nitro will be taped on 11/10 in London, England. The 11/15 Thunder will be taped on 11/12 in Manchester, England. There will be a Germany only PPV live on 11/16 in Oberhausen. There will also be dual tapings on 11/20 in Augusta, GA (this show was originally scheduled for Atlanta at the Phillips Arena but was moved out of the home base most likely because they didn't want so much of the main brass and the Turner employees that attend when WCW runs Nitro in Atlanta to see what undoubtedly would be a heavily papered and still relatively empty building. The PPV will take place on 11/26 at the U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee while the 11/27 Nitro/Thunder taping is in Green Bay. They are doing five house shows in December, in Kearney, NE, Monroe, LA, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and Beaumont. Starrcade will be 12/17 at the MCI Center in Washington, DC. The dual tapings are 12/4 in Lincoln, NE, 12/11 in Bossier City, LA, 12/18 in Richmond, CA, and to avoid running on Christmas night, although there will be a Nitro that night, both Nitro for that night and Thunder for 12/27 will be taped on 12/22 in Memphis

10/11 scheduled show in Perth, Australia was canceled

Thunder tapings on 9/5 in College Station, TX (campus of Texas A&M) drew 3,168 fans, which was 1,745 paying $37,630. Nitro on 9/11 in Charlotte drew 3,436 fans, which was 1,657 paying $35,460. That's with the return of Ric. Before the word got out that Ric was going to be appearing on the show, they had sold about 700 tickets.

WWF: Besides Rock vs. Kane vs. Undertaker vs. Benoit as the main event and HHH vs. Angle with Foley as ref (at one point the role for Austin on the show was considered as being a ref in this match but obviously they changed it to instead have Austin looking for who drove the car), also on the 9/24 PPV are scheduled to be Edge & Christian vs. Hardys in a cage match for the tag titles, X-Pac vs. Jericho (presumably based on TV as nobody has officially said anything about it) and Lawler vs. Tazz in a strap match

Preliminary estimates for SummerSlam are that it will end up doing 560,000 buys, which is roughly a 1.40 buy rate and $7.21 million as WWFE's share. It's interesting that SummerSlam, traditionally the No. 2 show of the year behind Mania, will at best finish No. 4 as Mania, Royal Rumble and Backlash were all considerably ahead

The first of two nights in Phoenix for Raw on 9/11 opened with the conference with Foley, Rock, Benoit, Kane and Undertaker. Foley asked for whomever ran over Austin to come forward before Austin shows up on the PPV. Rock came out, but said he wasn't the guy. They both put Austin over like crazy until the other guys came out and they set up the main event. Hardys beat Dudleys in a very good match that was way too short when they had the ECRI (E&C run-in) with Edge hitting Matt with the belt, but he fell backwards off the ropes on Buh Buh for the pin. After the match they laid out E&C including a 3-D on Edge on a table that didn't break. Lita beat Ivory in a womens match that wasn't half bad. Eddy (who was the star of the show) & Chyna at first made up for a bout with Too Cool, who the deal was they were friends and would all dance together. Too Cool won the match pinning Guerrero. They all started dancing, but Guerrero laid both out with belt shots. Rikishi came out and destroyed Guerrero and was about to give him the stink face when Chyna hit Rikishi with the belt. GMS juiced pretty heavy from his belt shot. Chyna told Guerrero she was posing nude in Playboy which is out 9/25. Guerrero did another great acting job threatening to beat up Hugh Hefner. It was great promotion for the mag shot. Jericho beat HHH via DQ in a good match that lacked some crowd heat because HHH is a face and worked as a face. X-Pac interfered for the DQ, and HHH shoved down X-Pac for costing him the match. Before this happened, Stephanie came out and Angle dragged her to the back. RTC beat Acolytes. Venis came out to make the save and, shock of shocks, laid out both Acolytes with wicked chair shots. Snow beat Tazz in a quickie when Lawler hit Snow with a photo of David Hasselhoff. Snow came out in this German garb since he's European champ, and had the photo since Hasselhoff is such a big singing star in Germany. Tazz did an interview saying that WWF politics beat him and he's tapping out to the politics. T&A beat Angle in a handicap bout via DQ when HHH attacked them costing Angle the bout. Test was about to hit Stephanie. T&A beat up on HHH and Angle saved HHH. It turned into a three-ring circus at this point with HHH shoving down Stephanie, Stephanie knocking down a ref, Stephanie stopping HHH from giving Angel a pedigree, HHH punching Stephanie, Angle taking a bump knocking Stephanie off the apron. HHH carried Stephanie off and Angle punched him and he dropped Stephanie. This for some reason was so hilarious. Blackman beat X-Pac when Jericho laid out X with a kendo stick on the ramp in a good match. Kane & Benoit beat Rock & Undertaker in 5:00 when Benoit pinned Undertaker, although Kane did the damage with a clothesline as the set up for the jackknife cradle. Match had a lot of heat and was very good. A fan tried to hit the ring which clearly wasn't a plant because they got he cameras away

Regal was scheduled to debut on the show but it was postponed until Smackdown because they ran short on time

At this point it is official that Austin's return to television live will be on 9/25 from State College, PA, which is scheduled as the first Raw on TNN. Austin, 35, and Debra Marshall, 40, are scheduled to get married imminently, as in perhaps before you read this. Jerry Lawler, 50, and Stacey Carter, 30, (Kat) are also scheduled to get married this month

Some notes from the 9/7 Smackdown TV show. X-Pac vs. Jericho was a good match. The finish was not only strange given who went over considering the respective main event potential of each wrestler, but how clean the heel went over. They often do that as a prelude to a turn (the guy turning loses consistently with the idea that once they turn, they're short of a fresh character). E&C and Rock had a really fun interview segment. E&C sometimes get a little too Wayne's Worldish and were in spots, but Rock has so much confidence out there that just cracking a smile can make an entire segment. Benoit-Rikishi finish was kind of weak. Noticed OVW wrestler Trailer Park Trash as one of the guys on the bar, and in fact, the guy who got popped. Later in the show they blew off the feud by having all four guys in the bar drunk making fun of each other with black eyes and blood flowing. Guerrero put on a tremendous performance playing the asshole boyfriend, but Chyna's acting was pretty bad. Undertaker probably had the best in-ring performance he's had since coming back in a good match with Angle, as he took some moves and actually flew around the ring a lot. It was hard to understand that Undertaker had Angle set up for his last ride when Benoit saved. Then Undertaker held his own against both Benoit and Angle, so when HHH came out, it didn't even look like a save as Undertaker wasn't selling to build heat. I guess that makes sense since they didn't want to make it look like HHH was saving Undertaker, just that he was after Angle. However, after all that, there was no need for Undertaker to plant Benoit with the last ride, as since he already had Angle beat and didn't sell for the two top heels in the company, he and Benoit could have gone toe-to-toe even since both are in the PPV main event

Ventura agreed to moderate the proposed Presidential debate on Smackdown if the candidates themselves agreed, and also requested the WWF invite third party candidates to participate

Variety reported that Dwayne Johnson pulled out of a starring role in an untitled sci-fi action film for Revolution Studios which would have paid him $5 million

Ross and a different wrestler will appear all week on Regis from 10/23 to 10/27 to promote Ross' new cookbook that comes out that week in conjunction to the long promoted release of his barbecue sauce

Davey Boy Smith will be cleared to return next week after his shoulder surgery, but that doesn't mean he'll be brought back full-time

Road Dogg will be out until this coming weekend due to his wife being ill

Reckless Youth's developmental deal with WWF runs out this month and he won't be re-signed. He'll return to the Northeast from Memphis on 9/17 and begin taking indie bookings from that point

Dwayne Johnson's latest success is that the song "It Doesn't Matter," performed by himself and Wyclef Jean debuted at No. 3 on the U.K. pop charts. The last time a wrestling single was that high on the charts in the UK was in 1992 when WWF Slam Jam also hit No. 3. Kid Rock's American Badd Ass opened at No. 25, but fell to No. 38 in its second week

Former WWF steroid program administrator Dr. Mauro DiPasquale was in the news this past week backing up the appeal by Canadian Robin Lyons to be re-instated on the Olympic team after testing positive for anabolic steroid norandrosterone. Lyons lost her appeal. In a story in the Edmonton Sun, DiPasquale, who at a WWF sponsored symposium on drug use in sports in 1992 claimed to have developed a testing procedure that was foolproof, including for Growth Hormone (which to this day some eight years later there are still no accepted tests for), now said that the sports community should drop drug testing. "The International Olympic Committee saying we're catching all the (drug taking athletes) is ludicrous. Under proper medical supervision, athletes would not be taking as much of these drugs as they do. At the lower level of competition, testing is useful, because the athlete is not knowledgeable about taking substances. But as an athlete advances in sophistication and financial security, they become more able to best the tests. DiPasquale testified for Lyons saying there are several ways the steroids found in Lyons' urine could have been naturally manufactured by her body. DiPasquale testified back in 1988 that Ben Johnson was probably clean at the time he set the world record in the 100

On the Ross report, Jim Ross said that Big Show is back in OVW after being out a few weeks with a back injury and would be there for several (said to be three minimum) months. He praised Mark Henry for cutting down from 410 to 350 and said Henry could be brought back by the end of the year

Michaels, 35, is saying he's up to 215 pounds with 12% bodyfat (I know that doesn't sound impressive with all the fake 4% talk you hear, but anything under 15% is pretty good condition) and has been training hard for two months. According to friends of his, he's "itching" to get back in the thick of things. Whether he'll wrestle one last match or not still is uncertain

Both Playboy and Forbes are working on McMahon/WWFE stories

In the U.K., the ratings for Heat are going down because the show hasn't been given a regular time slot for months. It's on at a different time nearly every week. Apparently only two executives at Ch. 4 had screened the programming before they bought the rights to it. They thought they were buying a show to hit the 10-16 age demo, and then were surprised at the content. Basically the company didn't know what they were buying, which is why they now insist on the one hour tape delay because they own the rights to show several of the PPV shows. Because the PPV shows air at 1 a.m. and are still edited, when Ch. 4 officials were asked why, they responded "because a lot of children may be videotaping it." Now in its own way, that's funny, even more so because the station itself has a rep for providing edgy programming

Just to show how balanced, so to speak, the major revenue streams are and almost equal in importance, over the last fiscal year, the WWF grossed about $88 million on live events (between live gate and merchandise sold at the venues), $90 million from PPV events,

$94 million from licensing (which includes internet, magazine, books, home videos as well as toys and licensed products) and outside merchandise sales and $89 million from television program sales and ad revenue

Smackdown tapings 9/5 at Freedom Hall in Louisville drew 11,111 (that's a real number, believe it or not, about 1,800 shy of capacity for the Smackdown set-up) paying $344,045. House show on 9/9 in Seattle drew a sellout 13,786 paying $450,501. They did split crews on 9/10, with half the crew working Denver which drew a sellout 10,311 paying $352,490 and the other half working in Reno which drew 8,389 paying $266,891. Raw in Phoenix drew a sellout 13,355 paying $377,235. We don't have all the merchandise figures for the week but it worked out to $7.89 per head. The weekend was a pretty big success with the sellouts in Seattle and Denver, since Rock, who had the entire weekend off from house shows, didn't work in either city. Rock has been getting more and more house shows off of late. Angle was also off the weekend, although that wouldn't have been known (he was booked in Seattle and Denver) due to the after affects of what apparently was a concussion suffered at SummerSlam. Road Dogg was not only off the weekend shows, but also missed TV due his an illness to his wife and is expected back this coming weekend. Val Venis and Steven Richards were also pulled from the house shows because their TV angle had Richards kidnapping Venis and it wouldn't make any sense within the storyline for both to work house shows. Steven Regal made his house show debut on this tenure with WWF by working Mideon in Denver, which was a decision made when management felt he looked impressive and in condition doing TV dark matches and they hurried his road show debut. His debut as a TV character is probably imminent. Seattle was headlined by Undertaker & Rikishi over Benoit & Kane when Kane walked out on Benoit and left him to be pinned in a street fight. After the match ended, Undertaker disappeared, leaving Rikishi and Too Cool to dance. In the other top match, HHH beat Jericho in a match with two ref bumps and X-Pac interfering. Denver had HHH over Jericho as the main event. Reno was headlined by the same Undertaker & Rikishi over Benoit & Kane match. They did a Lawler vs. Tazz match which ended with Tazz DQ'd for putting the choke on Kat, who to the best of my knowledge has never been acknowledged in WWF storylines as being linked with Lawler beforehand.