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August 21, 2000 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Steve Austin to return, WCW Thunder canceled, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 August 21, 2000

Steve Austin this past week received medical clearance from Dr. Lloyd Youngblood to return to active wrestling in eight weeks, most likely at the October PPV.

Austin, who had been on the sidelines since November and had neck surgery in January that put his career in jeopardy, got what was regarded as a cautious okay after exams on his neck on 8/10 and on his knees on 8/12. After the neck exam, Youngblood suggested he stay out another two months to be on the safe side. The knee exam showed that with his time off, there had been no added deterioration and his legs themselves are the strongest they have been in years because he's been very limited in his ability to do upper body exercises, so in training has concentrated on his legs. It is still not clear what the future holds for Austin, 35, who was the biggest star in the industry at the time he went down, but had been bothered by a myriad of knee and neck problems at the same time his career was skyrocketing stemming back to his football days and suffering stenosis of the spine which was accentuated by a 1997 injury in a match with Owen Hart, and continuing to perform against the wishes of several doctors who examined him after that injury.

Youngblood reported that Austin is healing very well and the bone fusion is strong, and would likely give him the okay to return to the ring after a subsequent exam at the end of September. It is doubtful Austin will ever return to a full-time schedule but they are hoping for a short-term storyline which would give his career a major sendoff to lead him into a potential acting career.

It has been discussed for Austin to return to television on 9/25, which would be the date that Raw debuts on TNN, although that is far from a definite. As far as returning as a television character, he could return at any time but it really wouldn't make sense given how strong business is, to put him back on television until he's ready to build for a major angle. The TNN debut has two good arguments to be his start, the first, obviously, is to get the new station and viewing habits made from the debut show by heavily advertising Austin's return so people see it as a can't miss show and the viewing patterns of finding the new station to most WWF fans to watch on Monday night with casual fans get established right away. The second is because as the timing seems to work out, the October PPV looks to be when he'll have his first in-ring match.

The scenario WWF officials at this point are hoping is that Austin would be appearing, once he starts, at all the TVs, wrestling on occasion, wrestle on PPVs and maybe wrestle on a few major house shows as well. The time frame of how long this would go on would depend on how well Austin can perform and how well his body can hold up. Austin has said he doesn't want to hang on and be like Hulk Hogan, living off a name. Then again, you can count on probably zero fingers the numbers of wrestlers who have simply walked away from the profession and not looked back while still huge drawing cards even if they were past their physical primes. The hope is for Austin to at least stay active through a Wrestlemania storyline, which will be at the Astrodome in Houston, and perhaps a little longer if he physically is able to perform at the level he wishes to.

Austin has offers on the table for starring roles in two different television series' and one major movie.

In a huge surprise, News Corporation, run by Rupert Murdoch, which includes the FOX network, outbid Viacom to purchase BHC Entertainment including Chris Craft in a $5.35 billion stock and cash deal that, according to many media experts over the weekend, will likely spell the end of the UPN Network and affect its top show, WWF Smackdown in some form.

According to a Los Angeles Times report on 8/13, Viacom walked away from the bidding two days earlier when News Corporation offered to buy out Chris-Craft shares at $85, topping the Viacom bid of $83. Herbert Siegel, who owns BHC, had been holding out for $100 per share, but was also not eager to sell to Viacom because of the lawsuit between the two parties earlier this year which forced Chris-Craft to sell its 50% interest in UPN for only $5 million after the company had already lost $400 million in funding the network losses.

The ten television stations purchased would include UPN affiliates in New York (WWOR), Los Angeles (KCOP) and San Francisco (KBHK), thus crippling the network in three of the five most important media markets. UPN has contracts with the three stations that all expire on 1/15, at which time, barring a deal being cut between News Corp. and Viacom to save the network, it is expected the contracts wouldn't be renewed and it would gravely affect the network. There are even rumors that UPN won't even start its new season in September once the news came out because of the feeling the network is doomed and there is no shot at short-term profitability this year. However, the fall season is in production and Viacom owns "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Moesha," which are believed to have big value later on in syndication.

UPN was on track to lose $150 million this season and was set to undergo a name change to The Paramount Network in January. If the company fails to get stations in any of these top markets, or gets weaker stations, that figure would likely increase greatly due to weakening ad revenue. Viacom owner Mel Karmizan had already stated to company stockholders that if the network couldn't turn a profit this season, that it would be shut down, and the odds were strongly against it being profitable even before losing its prime outlets, since having no affiliate in any of the top five markets, let alone three of the five, dooms the network. There is even feeling that part of the reason News Corp. outbid Viacom for the stations, besides how rare it is that prime stations in major markets become available all at the same time, is because it would kill UPN, which because of Smackdown last season, for the first time became a threat to FOX as the dominant network among young males.

A shutdown of UPN would affect Smackdown, although due to the show's strong numbers, it would theoretically be easily able to find a home somewhere within the huge Viacom empire. But unless CBS takes the show, it would lose the prestige, as well as the lightning rod that is attached to the show, by it, and the WWF itself, being weekly on a broadcast network.

However, without a change, in January, that network tag may be misleading. Currently UPN is available in about 87.7 million homes, which puts it ahead of the top cable stations from TBS, TNT, CNN, Nick, USA and even TNN which range from 77-79 million homes. However, in January, that number with the loss of just New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles would be down to 64 million, which would cut a huge chunk out of the Smackdown audience and the perception of the show as a national hit, far greater than the 26 percent drop the loss of the homes would indicate, since New York and Los Angeles draw far higher ratings for Smackdown then the national average. Because of Smackdown's popularity, if it were to remain on UPN and UPN wouldn't have an affiliate in those markets, it would easily find a home due to its ratings power, but not necessarily in prime time or on Thursday.

The first sign of major cutbacks in WCW were evident this past week, first with a toned down Thunder and later with the announcement that starting in late October, all Thunder tapings are canceled.

In an announcement made by Brad Siegel to the wrestlers before the New Blood Rising PPV, starting on 10/23 in Little Rock, AR, WCW will cut down to one television tapings for week to save costs. There have been two scenarios laid out. They could start one hour before Nitro goes on the air, tape an hour for Thunder, and then tape the final hour of Thunder after Nitro goes off the air live. The more likely scenario is for Thunder to be taped in its entirety after Nitro ends. While not official, it is also the most likely scenario that World Wide would become a package show with no first-run matches. If they could tape Thunder on Monday nights without commercial breaks, they could get the show done in around 90 minutes, meaning on East Coast shows, they could still end the card before 11 p.m.

This step backwards has a lot of negatives, but saves production costs greatly as well as building expenses since recent Thunder tapings had drawn poorly and advances for future tapings have poor. It will be far more difficult to get good crowd reactions to a secondary Thunder show after Nitro live is off the air. WCW has done tapings of this manner in the past when it was taping two Thunder shows every other week. The end result were hoards of fans leaving during the second show, which led to a dead atmosphere with the noticeable empty seats on camera. The best way to avoid this is to advertise a hot dark match and run it after Thunder ends, similar to what WWF used to do in the 80s during the era of four plus hour marathon TV tapings. However, WCW doesn't have a Hulk Hogan level star that fans would stay to see, and in those days, they usually kept Hogan away from the fans until his appearance in the dark match. To duplicate this, they'd have to save one big star and not put him live on either Nitro or Thunder. It becomes a lot more difficult when fans have been conditioned that the matches themselves don't mean anything and they've already seen the stars during the Nitro taping. Still, it's probably a necessary decision.

Little Rock is the first show after the Australia tour. With Tuesdays canceled, it leaves WCW just running five shows per month, a PPV one Sunday and the weekly television tapings since the decision had already been made to cancel all house shows after the ones already on the books are completed, with the exception of those sold to foreign promoters. There is talk of adding a few house show dates per month toward the end of the year, but a lot at that point is dependent upon how the company's economic fortunes are going.

There was limited pyro at the 8/8 Thunder tapings. At the 8/13 PPV, cutbacks were noticeable with only one big screen instead of the usual three, a lack of opening show production to separate it from the typical Nitro and Thunder open, and far less elaborate ring entrances. At this point, none of the big name wrestlers have either been dropped from contract nor have any attempts to renegotiate major contracts begun.

Negotiations have continued and are said to be very serious for ECW to appear in a late night time slot on the USA Network with a two-hour show that would combine elements of the popular MTV show "Real World" with pro wrestling. Negotiations aren't completed but are said to be serious, and ECW is also expected, if getting the slot, to produce more than six PPV shows in 2001.

The idea of putting together a cross between the two shows is not unique, as the Southern California based Ultimate Pro Wrestling has had an idea in the planning stages for a similar show in syndication with its recent Discovery Channel special acting as something of a pilot.

At one point the idea for the show was for it to air during the Saturday 6-8 p.m. time slot, which was during the late 70s through the early 90s, more often that not, the highest rated time slot for pro wrestling with the traditional TBS show, which was just recently canceled. The show delivered up-and-down ratings throughout its run, at one point wrestling in that slot was the highest rated show on basic cable. While the ratings declined throughout the 90s, even as late as the early part of 1998, the show at one point drew a 2.8 rating, although it was hovering between a 1.3 and a 1.5 consistently due to the decline of the WCW product before the plug was finally pulled this summer. However, there were officials at USA network that were squeamish about the content of an ECW show airing that early, so it was felt a late night time slot would work best for all concerned.

Bunim-Murray Productions, headed by Jonathan Murray and Mary Ellis Bunim, who are the producers of "Real World," are expected to handle production of the show, which is said to be giving a reality base to the back stories while continuing the same style of wrestling ECW is already known for.

Kensuke Sasaki added his second G-1 tournament victory to go along with his IWGP heavyweight title reign, winning the most lackluster tournament in history, beating Manabu Nakanishi via submission with a boston crab in 19:42 on 8/13 at Tokyo Sumo Hall before a sellout 11,500 fans.

The tournament was a huge disappointment at the gate, only legitimately selling out two of the six shows, the third night in Hiroshima, which had never had a G-1 tournament show in history, and the finals at Sumo Hall. The first of the three nights at Sumo Hall drew only 8,500 fans, which was not only the smallest crowd ever at Sumo Hall for the G-1, but the smallest Sumo Hall wrestling crowd in many years.

The biggest news of the tournament actually took place on the 8/11 show, when All Japan's Masa Fuchi showed up. Fuchi got into the New Japan ring and basically said that large doors that have been closed for 30 years (between All Japan and New Japan) are about to open and called out Riki Choshu, who shook Fuchi's hand. At that point for the angle, Masahiro Chono came out and told Fuchi to leave and that he wasn't wanted. This was apparently an angle to likely build to some interpromotional matches both on the 9/2 All Japan card at Budokan Hall and the 10/9 New Japan PPV show at the Tokyo Dome called "Do Judge."

The lackluster crowds have caused New Japan to re-think the tournament and Tatsumi Fujinami said they would look to bring in more foreigners next year and go back to the successful World League roots. This year the only foreign competitor was Brian Johnston, due to the fact the top two foreigners for the group, Don Frye and Scott Norton, are both out with injuries. Past G-1 tournaments have been huge successes without any foreign wrestlers involved, but New Japan has lost many of its top stars due to injuries and angles, in particular Shinya Hashimoto, Keiji Muto and even Kazuo Yamazaki and Riki Choshu, without really getting any newcomers over as drawing cards. Last year's tournament was booked tremendously to create Nakanishi as a new superstar, and would have worked, except Nakanishi was so limited. It did ultimately help because fans do take Nakanishi seriously as a top guy, but he still lacks the charismatic drawing power of those who have left.

Putting Sasaki, who holds the IWGP title over, is a break from the usual formula. While New Japan has put the IWGP champ over once in the past, as a way to give the title credibility as being symbolic of the true best wrestler in the company, the usual most effective role for G-1 is to create a strong challenger to beat the champion during the tournament, which has been done most years, most successfully in 1996 when Choshu put himself over in G-1 for the first time which built to a Tokyo Dome sellout when he challenged Hashimoto, who he had beaten in a tremendous match early in the tournament, for the title. Even last year, Nakanishi's win over Muto, the IWGP champ at the time, set up a title match for later in the year where the fans did take Nakanishi seriously as a contender, something they had never done in the past. Muto, in 1995, as champ, won the G-1, which turned out in the long run to be brilliant booking because it set Muto up as a real world champion for the lucrative Nobuhiko Takada interpromotional feud. Sasaki's first G-1 win, in 1997, set up his first world title win over Hashimoto just a few weeks later in what ultimately has not been a successful attempt for Choshu to get his protege over as a star of the level of Muto, Chono and Hashimoto. This apparently is another attempt, perhaps, if due to injuries to Chono and Muto and Hashimoto not being there, to get Sasaki over as the ace of the promotion for a feud with someone like a Toshiaki Kawada, in which case it would make sense booking wise. If not, they missed an opportunity to elevate Yuji Nagata, who is the best worker of the top guys in the company, into a serious world title contender with this tournament. The round-robin tournament after five days, saw Takashi Iizuka and Nagata, with 3-1 records, tie in the A block, when on 8/12, Tatsutoshi Goto pinned Nagata and Iizuka used the choke sleeper on Tatsumi Fujinami in a pair of upsets. Fujinami ended up 2-2, Goto 1-3 and Jushin Liger also finished 1-3.

In the B block, Sasaki finished with a 3-0-1 record, with the only blemish the double count out with Hiro Saito, whose gimmick it was to draw double count outs in every match because he claimed he wasn't trying to win any matches, but keep his opponent from getting any points off him. Satoshi Kojima was 2-1-1, Brian Johnston was 2-2, Saito was 0-1-3 and Osamu Kido was 0-4.

In the C block, Nakanishi and Hiroyoshi Tenzan tied with 3-1 records, Tadao Yasuda was 2-2, Osamu Nishimura was 2-2 and Kenzo Suzuki was 0-4. Nakanishi beat Yasuda on 8/12 using the rack, and afterwards, Tenzan, who would have gone outright into the finals with a win, lost to Nishimura's cobra twist submission.

In the D block, Masahiro Chono won outright with a 3-1 record since Tatsuhito Takaiwa upset Shiro Koshinaka on 8/12 so Koshinaka ended up 2-2, as did Junji Hirata and Yutaka Yoshie. Takaiwa was 1-3.

This led to playoff matches on 8/13 before the semifinals, with Nagata beating Iizuka in 10:48 with the Nagata lock and Nakanishi over Tenzan in 11:26 with the torture rack. Sasaki pinned Nagata in 15:12 with the Northern lights bomb while Nakanishi beat Chono via submission with the rack in 9:33 to set up the final match. The final was said to have been a good match and very similar to Sasaki's IWGP title defense earlier this year with Nakanishi. Although the tournament was said to have been lackluster, the final night was reported as a good show with most of the matches having solid heat. Another highlight of the show was that seven members of the Japanese Olympic wrestling team were introduced in the ring and given money for expenses by New Japan. As expected, the biggest pop was for Katsuhiko Nagata, the younger brother of Yuji.

The Iizuka vs. Nagata match on 8/9 in Hiroshima was voted best match of the tournament and Iizuka also got the Fighting Spirit award for hardest worker of the tournament.

The WCW New Blood Rising PPV show from the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC can best be summed up in two words--Overbooked crap.

Aside from a good first and last match, it was a combination of either bad matches, or guys who should have had great matches (Mike Awesome vs. Lance Storm in particular) given a script that, for a number of reasons, killed their match. There's nothing worse than trying to do comedy when nobody is laughing. Even the main event, after a crowd largely killed by undercard excesses, was hurt by three referee bumps. Granted, most of the scenarios have been done in some form on WWF shows (and buy rates seem to indicate that since they've been done far less fans are more satisfied with the WWF PPVs as well but one can argue the WWF did grow during that period), but one thing WCW has never gotten a grasp of is that the two companies have two entirely different audiences. Also, how many movies and television shows use basically a similar formula script? For a dated reference to make this point, there was a classic TV show in the 70s called "The Odd Couple," which was a movie remake. The actors in the lead roles were considered two of the great comedic actors of their time. Decades later, the show was reprised with new actors, but different directors, producers and in some episodes, they used word for word the exact same script of classic episodes of the original. But the remake was terrible, and not because the actors were terrible, although they were nowhere near as good as the originals, but because the people running the show didn't know how to execute the little nuances that make word-for-word, or spot-for-spot the same thing be the difference between good drama, or good comedy, and bad drama and bad comedy. When Nitro debuted in 1995, it was not so much Nitro whittling away Raw's audience, although some of that happened, but more Nitro creating its own audience, largely older and more wrestling as sport oriented, which is why Nitro's ratings used to be hurt more by major sporting events in competition because it was more of a sports audience. That audience has been run off over the past two plus years of bad product so they only have remnants of an audience, basically the difference between drawing 30,000 in the worst weather possible in St. Louis that pop reverently at the name Sam Muchnick and going back and drawing 4,000 people in perfect weather in the same building who don't even react to the name when trying to use it to garner heat. From crowd reactions, whatever it was they were trying to sell, it wasn't what the fans in Vancouver, which should have been hot all night given WCW has never run the market and it's traditionally a strong city for crowd reactions, were buying. The day after the show, I received a letter from Jayson Olson of Irvine, CA, who made a tremendous point, that the people in charge at WCW need to step out of their roles for a night and go to an average family's home and shut up and watch a PPV and see how the person who spent $30 as a fan reacts from the couch. I had a full house over, and they enjoyed the ladder match, and started going in the backyard and not caring after that. The only time anyone came in for more than a quick few seconds were two guys who watched the Major Gunns match, one of whom only lasted for about half the match and the other of whom loved it until the finish, and then ended up hating it because of the angle. One person also watched the entire Booker T match. The much hyped three-way with all the shoot references? Nobody gave it more than a quick glance and went in the backyard taking pity on me for having to take notes on something so uninteresting. These were people, every single one of whom is a fan to some casual degree (none would be serious fans), every one of whom loved Nitro during the summer of 1997, have been to numerous live events in the Bay Area, some going back decades but still are at best casual fans, and still know the Raw storylines. The same basic group that was glued to the set during WCW PPV events of that period, and who theoretically, out of curiosity. came over specifically to watch the show and are the same type of people who responded the way the masses did in the last WCW marketing survey.

As further evidence that the television hyping this PPV wasn't very effective, after the very strong first weekend of sales, before there was any TV hype for this card and before one match was announced, those in the promotions were talking of a possibility of 10,000 paid and a full house with some papering. Once the line-up was made clear and the hype began on television, nobody bought tickets and it stalled at 5,307 sold for $190,228 Canadian, with a total of 6,614 in the building. Merchandise was another $25,801.20 in Canadian dollars which works out to $16,771 U.S. or a paltry $3.16 per head on their first foray into a new market. That was embarrassing also because 56% of the people who got free tickets didn't even show up for the event which is an incredibly bad figure for a major PPV event, particularly in a market the company has never run.

On the bright side, the first match was hot. The main event was well worked. And Konnan's commentary in the four-way was entertaining for a few minutes, until it became clear that by talking straight, it was burying the product because of the quality of the match, and when his commentary took a 180 and he began gushing over an awful match, it came off like a Latino Tony Schiavone.

1. 3 Count (Shane Helms & Shannon Moore & Evan Kavagias) beat Jung Dragons (Yung Yang & Kaz Hayashi & Jamie Howard) in a double ladder match in 11:32 which would end when one team got both the gold record and the contract being hung. You could tell the guys worked hard on this match as there were a lot of innovative spots and the crowd enjoyed the match. Karagias was announced at being 65% because of his dislocated ankle, which was true and he seemed to have hurt it worse as the match went on. Lots of great spots including a stereo Road Warriors double impact by a member of both teams. Jamie did a plancha off the ladder to the floor. Moore did a neckbreaker off the ladder on Yang, and Helms did a different version of a neckbreaker onto Jamie-san also off the ladder. Karagias superplexed Hayashi off the ladder. Moore did a plancha into a teeter totter spot taking out Jamie-san. They did a double splash spot off the ladder on Moore. Jamie-san got the gold record, but the ladder was dropkicked and he dropped the record and Tank Abbott, at ringside, caught it. Jamie-san did a legdrop while Karagias was sandwiched by the ladder. Jamie-san power bombed Moore off the ladder. With both teams climbing, Abbott knocked over both ladders, teasing a turn on 3 Count. Karagias finally got the contract, but when he gave it to Abbott, Abbott left on his own while Karagias was in the ring holding his ankle. ***

2. Cat (Ernest Miller) pinned Great Muta (Keiji Muto) in 6:47. Miller got a nice reaction. Before the match, the FA's made a deal with Cat, that they would guarantee him a win over Muta if they would get a tag title shot at Nitro. Muta did some good matwork early. Like that mattered. Tygress came out. After Muta blew mist, Tygress came off the top rope with a terrible looking chair shot. Too bad nobody in WCW management has been around long enough to remember how well GLOW did when it tried to tour and how many seasons it lasted before going belly up. Muta kicked out from that, but Cat kicked him in the face for the pin. *

3. Buff Bagwell (Marcus Bagwell) pinned Chris Kanyon (Chris Klucsaritis) in 6:45. It was billed as Judy Bagwell on a pole, but actually Bagwell was tied up to a forklift and raised. They turned Kanyon's mic off again, but by this point it's obvious that, like the Vito tables, are a rib. They brawled in the stands. Kanyon did a leg sweep off the middle ropes. He undid the turnbuckle pads teasing if Bagwell went into them, because of his neck problems, it could wind up with him in a wheelchair for life. Kanyon hit the diamond cutter but Bagwell kicked out. DDP's music played, but instead of DDP, it was David Arquette, with Mark Madden screaming out him being one of the great world heavyweight champions of all-time. If that angle had worked and people wanted the world title to be comedy, that's one thing, but since it flopped so miserably, all it does is bury the title and the company bringing up such stupidity. Arquette, who was in Vancouver filming a movie, came out with a construction helmet, which may or may not have something to do with Kanyon's first WCW mini-push being part of a construction workers tag team called Men at Work (quick, name his partner--Mark Starr). Arquette hit Bagwell with the helmet for a near fall. Bagwell came back with a blockbuster on both men and pinned Kanyon. After the match, Kanyon gave Arquette a diamond cutter. Probably the third best match on the show but disappointing given the participants. *3/4

4. In a total mess, Kronic (Brian Adams & Bryan Clark) retained the WCW tag titles in a four-way over Perfect Event (Chuck Palumbo & Sean Stepich), Mark Jindrak & Sean O'Haire and General Rection (William DeMott) & Corporal Cajun (Mark Leroux) in 12:22. The Filthy Animals except Konnan, but with Tygress, were all running around the ring with ref shirts on. Misterio Jr. had devil horns on as well. Disco was in the ring as the main ref and kept counting slow for everyone. The idea was since the Animals were getting the shot, they wanted to fix the match. They kept interfering instead of officiating outside the ring, but again, it was never made clear who they were favoring, so instead of getting heat, this match was confusing the crowd and got the dreaded silence. It was explained the next night on TV that they were favoring O'Haire & Jindrak. Jindrak was so green and four-ways are so much harder to work so the inexperience in two teams and lack of ability in a third really showed bad. At one point Palumbo missed a kick so bad that Konnan, instinctively, went "What was that?" At that point Konnan's commentary changed 180 to putting everyone over as the match got worse. After setting up a High times on Palumbo, Vampiro and Muta came out to make it even more of a mess. Clark hit the melt down on Palumbo but Disco wouldn't count. Adams pressed Stasiak overhead and threw him to the floor. Lt. Loco then hit the ring and attacked Disco, taking his ref shirt on and putting it around his neck and he counted as Kronic did the double choke slam on Palumbo. Wouldn't Loco have wanted MIA to win? DUD

5. Billy Kidman (Peter Gruner) won a strap match over Shane Douglas (Troy Martin) in 8:22. Another bad match with no heat. They didn't use traditional strap match dragging around the corners rules. Douglas used the strap early. Kidman then ripped off Douglas' shirt and began whipping him back. Torrie Wilson accidentally hit Douglas with her shoe and Kidman went for a near fall to zero reaction. Except for a brief hot Kidman comeback, there was nothing to this match. When Kidman kicked out of the Pittsburgh plunge, poor Scott Hudson had to shill for saying he didn't think anyone had ever kicked out of that move before. Yeah, except every single time Douglas has used the move since Johnny Ace started laying out matches. Kidman won with the Tomokaze, or Maritato, or whatever they want to call the move (called the Kid Crush). After the match Kidman whipped Wilson until Douglas jumped him and started hanging him with the strap. Big Vito, who got a nice pop, made the save and ran Douglas off. Reno came out and attacked Vito, and they referenced there must be a story with Vito and Reno, with Vito giving him a high kick and Reno bailed. 1/2*

In the parking lot, they showed Booker arriving at this point (I guess that's a $500 fine) and Jarrett, apparently wanting to instill discipline in the wrestlers, slammed a car door on Booker's knee several times, thus making Booker "injured" going into the title match later in the show.

6. Major Gunns (Tylene Buck) pinned Miss Hancock (Stacey Keibler) in 6:43 in a clothes tearing mud match. This was terrible wrestling, but it delivered as much if not more than promised with camera shots up Keibler's butt and Gunns' implants being threatened by the size of her top. Way too long. Actually, for the fans who came specifically to see this match, it at least delivered what they came to see from it. Gunns had a breast exposed. What was even worse was they went in the gym and tried to work out a match, which was about as bad as two kids on their front lawn. It was too long with no heat until they started tearing clothes. Gunns wound up in a typical bikini. Hancock had very short shorts and a more conservative bikini top she was down to. They ended up in the mud. Hancock faked a cramp before getting in the mid. She collapsed in the mud, apparently doing a miscarriage angle, and was pinned, although the next night they explained it as if she was pregnant, with her tone of the announcement a direct ripoff of Beulah in ECW years ago. Gunns and David Flair freaked out as they stretchered her out to an ambulance. I guess the big swerve here is they'll try and tease that David isn't the father. -**

7. Sting (Steve Borden) pinned Demon (Dale Torborg) in :52 with a scorpion death drop. Sting came from the ceiling. Vampiro and Muta came out and attacked Sting and tried to hang in from his cable. Kronic made the save and challenged them to an impromptu tag title match later in the show. DUD

8. Lance Storm (Lance Evers) kept the U.S. Canadian title in another mess over Mike Awesome (Mike Alfonso) in a total time of 9:01. These two could have done a normal match and possibly stolen the show, given that the crowd going in was hotter for this match than anything else on the show. Instead, it was booked in a way that the live audience was taken out of it and everyone else was numbed by its stupidity. Storm got by far the biggest face reaction coming out. Jacques Rougeau was announced as guest ref, which disappointed the crowd which all expected Bret Hart. Rougeau has lost a ton of hair even since the last time he was around. Awesome pulled out a table bringing out loud "ECW" chants. Even though Awesome worked as the face, the fans booed him heavily. Awesome slipped off the ropes, but made a great recovery with a clothesline. He power bombed Storm. Ref Mark Johnson counted three even though Storm kicked out. The bell rang. Rougeau, who was reffing outside, then claimed that Canadian rules state the match can only end with a five count. Awesome then trapped Storm in a dragon sleeper and Storm tapped. Rougeau then stated under Canadian rules that submissions don't count. Awesome then got a pin for a five count with a splash off the top. Rougeau then said that after the pinfall under Canadian rules, that Storm gets a ten count to continue. They kept going. Storm got a near fall four count after a chair shot. Awesome did a twisting powerslam off the top ropes and both men went through a table. Dave Penzer then stated the first man up at the count of ten would be the winner. Does anyone in the company think? Think about that statement. They hadn't even counted ten when this was said. How would you know that one person was getting up and the other wasn't before the count of ten? When they did this finish in a way to make sense, they count both men out for ten. Then the announcement is made about the first man up. Anyway, Awesome got up first. Rougeau decked him before Johnson saw him up. Storm then got up and was ruled the winner. Bret Hart then came out, getting easily double the pop of anyone else on the show, with the announcers teasing what he'd do and with him looking embarrassed to even be associated with such a bad script. He hugged Storm and Rougeau to a big pop. DUD

9. Muta & Vampiro (Ian Hodgkinson) won the WCW tag titles from Kronic in 9:06. No heat and not much to the match. Muta blew the mist but hit ref Mickey Jay. They teased a High times on Muta but Vampiro saved him. At this point, Ron & Don Harris returned and attacked Kronic, allowing Muta to pin Clark after a moonsault. DUD

10. Kevin Nash won the three-way to get the title shot over Bill Goldberg and Scott Steiner (Scott Rechsteiner) in 10:48. Really this PPV was built around this match. The only way this "shoot" stuff works in the ring is if the style in the ring looks different. That's, like mentioned before, how Hashimoto and Ogawa, with the same basic scenario, drew monster TV ratings over the past 20 months with their feud as well as incredible heat and front page newspaper coverage. As soon as someone says a 24 rating in Japan doesn't count, remind them that the biggest television hit in the United States ("Who Wants to be a Millionaire") was from a concept originated for a television show originated as a big hit overseas before anyone in this country had ever heard of it. Not that any pro wrestling could do that number in this culture, but you can learn a hell of a lot on how to do things that do work from what works elsewhere and slightly tweaking it based on cultural differences. Anyway, they announced Goldberg was in a motorcycle accident in Sturgis (which was true and he had road rash which is why he was all bandaged up when he came out) the day before and wasn't there (which wasn't true as he'd been there all day). Nash did an interview basically trying to get over that Goldberg was faking an injury to get out of the match. They played Goldberg's music twice and he never came out, acting as though Russo was trying to embarrass Goldberg because he's known for being vindictive. Just after the match started, Goldberg came out. The idea was for him to attack Nash's knee, but instead he started throwing punches and kicked Steiner. Goldberg began selling his taped up ribs. Nash went for a power bomb on Goldberg, who wouldn't go up and walked away. The announcers started freaking out in the most annoying tone possible about how Goldberg was supposed to go up for the finish and refused to do so. Goldberg walked off. Russo confronted him and Goldberg swore at him and left. They kept calling Goldberg a crybaby and unprofessional, insinuating he went against the script and wouldn't do the booked job. Nash and Steiner continued with this lumbering match that, thanks to Steiner, wasn't that bad at first. Then they did a ref bump and Midajah delivered a low blow to Nash. Can you imagine after the build-up of a supposed shoot, aside from doing wrestling spots poorly, you have a women run in and the guys sell for her? Nash gave Steiner a low blow. Midajah gave Nash a low blow. Nash came back with the worst DDT of 2000 on Steiner. That was explained on the air basically saying that because Nash and Steiner hadn't laid anything out so they didn't know what to do. Midajah continued to pound on Nash with lame offense. At one point near the finish, and I don't think this made the air, she was supposed to run in and break up a pin, she hesitated for some reason, and Steiner screamed "Get in here." Nash came back with a high kick and a power bomb for the pin. The announcers insinuation here, after all this, screaming how Steiner "went up for the move," is that Steiner really wasn't beat, but he did the job as he was told, unlike crybaby Goldberg. DUD

11. Booker T (Booker Huffman) pinned Jeff Jarrett to retain the WCW title in 14:30. A well worked match. Unfortunately, now the announcers were trying to sell this as an all-time classic match some five minutes into the match. They still haven't learned a thing from Ross. Ross saves that stuff for when the match really is a classic, and doesn't start talking about it until 15 minutes in when one can at least make the argument it deserves it. Five minutes into a match that is good, just kills anything the announcers would say even if the match did develop into a classic. T sold his knee the entire match. First T accidentally backhanded Johnson. With no ref, Jarrett hit T's bad knee with a guitar shot and did the figure four. Johnson recovered but T made the ropes. Jarrett grabbed the title belt and went to hit T, but he ducked and Johnson took a second bump. T gave Jarrett a uranage off the apron through a table. Jamie Tucker then ran in. Jarrett hit Tucker with such a lame chair shot that the crowd groaned. That's a third ref bump. Charles Robinson ran in. T did a messed up neckbreaker spot on a chair (it was the only thing in the match that the two did, at least to each other, that didn't look professional). They did an All Japan finish where T went for the uranage, Jarrett blocked it, but T reversed the block and finally hit the move for the pin. ***

Fans live showed the ring with garbage after the match and those live said it was because of disgust with the show and not because of heat by Jarrett.

All Japan announced preliminary plans to revive the Triple Crown title vacated when Kenta Kobashi left the promotion, with a tournament that would end on the company's 28th Anniversary show on 10/28 at Budokan Hall.

All the details haven't been worked out but with only two major native wrestlers, Toshiaki Kawada and Masa Fuchi, under contract, to make this idea work would require bringing in some big name wrestlers from other promotions, and basically New Japan. It is believed that Kawada, Genichiro Tenryu and Jinsei Shinzaki would head up the field. They are publicly saying they want the top stars from NOAH in the tournament, but that sounds like a grandstand type of deal to babyface themselves. Obviously the prime candidate to make this work would be Kensuke Sasaki, since Sasaki holds the IWGP heavyweight title and thus his being in would give it at least some world title credibility. Whether New Japan would allow its world champion to go into a world title-like tournament for another promotion, unless he's promised the win, is a big question mark.

With the competition from NFL pre-season, the pro wrestling audience dropped to 8.7 million as both shows on 8/14 did well under their season average. Raw drew a 5.87 rating (5.24 first hour; 6.50 second hour) and a 9.4 share. Nitro was hovering at the record low level, even coming off a PPV, with a 2.40 rating (2.69 first hour; 2.11 second hour) and a 3.8 share. Out of the 19 weeks since the Kevin Sullivan regime was dumped, the Vince Russo regime now has eight of its shows drawing lower ratings than the all-time low mark (2.52) that Sullivan's regime drew, since the show went to two hours in 1996. With the exception of the show on 7/3 which has the strong holiday weekend excuse, this was the lowest rated two-hour Nitro in history in its regular time slot.

It started out bad as the Goldberg-Russo "shoot" angle drew a 2.00 rating, making it the lowest rated unopposed quarter hour in the regular time slot in the history of the show. Now you can't blame the rating on the "shoot" angle failing because people didn't know ahead of time what was going to be there, but opening the show with such a low number has to be blamed on the fact fewer people than ever care about the product as a whole, and that if intrigue coming off a PPV mean anything to ratings, which is questionable, than this PPV was a major turn-off.

There was no other major story in the ratings. Raw's main event of Angle & HHH & Shane vs. Dudleys & Rock drew a 6.53 final quarter and a 7.19 over-run, solid numbers but below what the show has been averaging of late. Nitro had no main event, as the advertised Nash vs. Steiner match never took place, but that segment with Nash interviewing a cardboard cut-out of Hall and the four way with Sting, Vampiro, Muta and Demon drew a 1.89 rating.

Head-to-head numbers were Raw at 4.79 (Angle, HHH, Shane, Foley interview) to 2.25 (Booker vs. Jarrett, Oulette vs. Smiley); Raw at 4.86 (Blackman & Guerrero vs. T&A) to 2.27 (Vampiro & Muta vs. Misterio Jr. & Guerrera); Raw at 5.48 (RTC vs. Hardys & Lita) to 1.99 (Skipper vs. Kwee Wee); and Raw at 5.81 (Edge, Christian and Foley out; beginning of Undertaker vs. Benoit) to 1.89.

Smackdown on 8/10 drew a 4.70 rating. Thunder on 8/9 drew a 2.39 rating and 4.0 share. Rating built most of the way, peaking at 2.62 for Kidman vs. Reno, and then dropping slightly over the remaining segments. The Madden/Okerlund match drew a 2.47.

Weekend numbers for 8/12-13 saw Live Wire at 1.1 (third highest rated show of the day on USA), Superstars at 1.2 (ninth highest rated which actually made it the third lowest rated show on USA between 10 a.m. and midnight) and Heat at 2.72 (highest rated). The WCW Saturday morning show was up to an 0.9 (still it was the lowest rated show on the station between 8:30 a.m. and 2 a.m.).

ECW on TNN on 8/11 also drew an 0.9 rating.

The 8/8 Lucha Libre block on Galavision drew a 1.9 Hispanic rating.


Traditional Observer PPV poll results based on phone calls, fax messages and e-mails to the Observer as of Tuesday, 8/15.

WCW NEW BLOOD RISING: Thumbs up 22 (7.6%), Thumbs down 256 (88.6%), In the middle 11 (3.8%). BEST MATCH POLL: 3 Count vs. Jung Dragons 52, Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett 52, Lance Storm vs. Mike Awesome 22. WORST MATCH POLL: Kronic vs. O'Haire & Jindrak vs. Stasiak & Palumbo vs. Rection & Cajun 34, Miss Hancock vs. Major Gunns 27, Sting vs. Demon 20, Steiner vs. Nash vs. Goldberg 16


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

What did you think about Monday night's (8/7) wrestling? a) Raw was better 63.4%; b) Nitro was better 16.2%; c) Didn't watch Raw 2.0%; d) Didn't watch Nitro 9.8%; e) Didn't watch Raw or Nitro 8.6%

Should Bob Backlund be in the Hall of Fame? a) Yes 51.2%; b) No 25.3%; c) Undecided 5.5%; d) Didn't see enough of him to fairly judge 18.0%

Should Steve Austin be in the Hall of Fame? a) Yes 79.6%; b) No 14.8%; c) Undecided 4.6%; d) Didn't see enough of him to fairly judge 1.5%

Should Chris Benoit be in the Hall of Fame: a) Yes 55.2%; b) No 29.4%; c) Undecided 11.9%; d) Didn't see enough of him to fairly judge 3.5%

What did you think of WCW New Blood Rising? a) Thumbs up 8.6%; b) Thumbs down 36.4%; c) Thumbs in the middle 8.1%; d) Didn't see the show 46.9%

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

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

New message schedule is: Monday--Meltzer on one, Mooneyham on five; Tuesday--Mitchell on two (Raw report), Alvarez on four (Nitro report); Wednesday--Meltzer on one, Alvarez on four and six (Thunder and Smackdown taping report), Laible on five (in-depth interviews with wrestlers, this week will be Perry Saturn); Thursday--Mitchell on two (Thunder report); Friday--Meltzer on one, Alvarez on four (Smackdown report); Saturday--Mitchell on two; and Sunday--Makropolous on three, Alvarez on four.

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

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8/8 Colorado Springs, CO (WCW Thunder - 1,983): Rey Misterio Jr. & Juventud Guerrera & Disco Inferno b Jung Dragons, Vito b Artist, Tag titles: Kronik b Mark Jindrak & Sean O'Hare & Chuck Palumbo & Sean Stasiak, Elix Skipper b Crowbar, 3 Count & Tank Abbott b Sgt. Awol & General Rection & Lt. Loco & Corporal Cajun, Norman Smiley b Mike Sanders, Flag match: Lance Storm b Mike Awesome, Tables match: David Flair & Miss Hancock b Awol & Major Gunns, Billy Kidman b Reno (Rick Cornell)-DQ, Buff Bagwell & Gene Okerlund b Chris Kanyon & Mark Madden, Cat & Sting b Great Muta & Vampiro

8/9 Hiroshima Sun Plaza (New Japan G-1 Climax tournament - 5,200 sellout): Shinjiro Otani & Kendo Ka Shin b Shinya Makabe & Koji Kanemoto, Yutaka Yoshie b Junji Hirata, Satoshi Kojima b Brian Johnston, Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Tadao Yasuda, Kensuke Sasaki DCOR Hiro Saito, Manabu Nakanishi b Kenzo Suzuki, Jushin Liger b Tatsutoshi Goto, Yuji Nagata b Takashi Iizuka, Shiro Koshinaka b Masahiro Chono

8/11 Tokyo Sumo Hall (New Japan G-1 Climax tournament - 8,500): Shinjiro Otani & Hiroshi Tanahashi b Katsuyori Shibata & Kendo Ka Shin, Yutaka Yoshie b Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Brian Johnston b Osamu Kido, Tadao Yasuda b Kenzo Suzuki, Tatsumi Fujinami b Tatsutoshi Goto, Junji Hirata b Shiro Koshinaka, Manabu Nakanishi b Osamu Nishimura, Yuji Nagata b Jushin Liger, Kensuke Sasaki b Satoshi Kojima

8/11 Fort Lauderdale, FL (ECW - 1,500): Chris Cruger b Oz, Redd Dogg b Michael Shane, E.Z. Money & Julio Dinero won three-way over Reckless Youth & Joey Matthews and Nova & Chris Chetti, Jerry Lynn b Chris Hamrick, Scotty Anton b Bilvis Wesley, Little Guido & Tony Mamaluke & Sal E. Graziano b Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri & Psicosis, C.W. Anderson b Tommy Dreamer, Steve Corino & Scotty Anton NC Lou E. Dangerously & Cyrus, ECW title: Justin Credible b Kid Kash, TV title: Rob Van Dam b Rhino-DQ

8/11 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL): Filoso & Olimpus b Alan Stone & Moto Cross, Halcon Negro & Arkangel & Dr. O'Borman Jr. b Tigre Blanco & Neutron & Starman, Safari & Mascara Magica & Tony Rivera b Rencor Latino & Pimpinela Escarlata & Zumbido, Los Villanos III & IV & V b Dr. Wagner Jr. & Black Warrior & Blue Panther-DQ, Gigante Silva & Brazo de Plata & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. b Cien Caras & Apolo Dantes & Scorpio Jr. & Shocker

8/11 Tijuana, BC (AAA): Cirus & Ebola 2000 b Belsebu & Malo, Gringo Loco & Impostor b El Bueno & El Feo, Lola Gonzalez & Martha Villalobos b Miss Janeth & Tiffany, Escorpion Negro & King Azteca & Fifth Dimension b La Parka Jr. & Oriental & Venum Black, IWC hwt title: Hector Garza b Pirata Morgan, hair vs. hair: Garza b Morgan, Cibernetico & Zandokan & Abismo Negro b Latin Lover & Heavy Metal & Super Crazy

8/12 Tokyo Sumo Hall (New Japan G-1 Climax tournament - 10,000): Shinya Makabe & Shinjiro Otani b Koji Kanemoto & Hiroshi Tanahashi, Satoshi Kojima DCOR Hiro Saito, Tatsuhito Takaiwa b Shiro Koshinaka, Manabu Nakanishi b Tadao Yasuda, Osamu Nishimura b Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tatsutoshi Goto b Yuji Nagata, Kensuke Sasaki b Osamu Kido, Masahiro Chono b Junji Hirata, Takashi Iizuka b Tatsumi Fujinami

8/12 Detroit (WWF - 18,368): Hardcore title: Steve Blackman b Big Bossman, Hardys & Lita b Test & Albert & Trish Stratus, IC title: Val Venis b Eddy Guerrero, HHH NC Kurt Angle, Rikishi b Mideon, Three-way for tag titles: Edge & Christian won over D-Lo Brown & Chaz and Dudleys, Road Dogg & X-Pac b Too Cool, Undertaker & Kane b Chris Benoit & Big Show

8/12 St. Petersburg, FL (ECW - 1,700): Psicosis b Michael Shane, Nova & Chris Chetti b Simon Diamond & Swinger, Steve Corino b Redd Dogg, Jerry Lynn b Bilvis Wesley, Scotty Anton b Kid Kash, Tommy Dreamer & Christian York & Joey Matthews b E.Z. Money & Julio Dinero & Chris Hamrick, Little Guido & Tony Mamaluke b Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri, Rob Van Dam b C.W. Anderson, Sandman & Chilly Willy b Justin Credible & Rhino

8/13 Tokyo Sumo Hall (New Japan G-1 Climax tournament - 11,500 sellout): Shinya Makabe b Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yuji Nagata b Takashi Iizuka, Manabu Nakanishi b Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Hiro Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto b Kenzo Suzuki & Yutaka Yoshie & Shiro Koshinaka, Kensuke Sasaki b Nagata, Nakanishi b Masahiro Chono, Jushin Liger & Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai b Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, G-1 tournament finals: Sasaki b Nakanishi

8/13 Springfield, MA (WWF - 4,196): D-Lo Brown & Chaz b Taka Michinoku & Sho Funaki, Ivory b Jacqueline, Crash Holly b Essa Rios, Rikishi b Tazz, Hardys & Lita b Test & Albert & Trish Stratus, IC title: Val Venis b Al Snow, Tag titles: Edge & Christian b Too Cool, Undertaker & Kane b Kurt Angle & Albert

8/13 New Haven, CT (WWF - 4,936): Gangrel b Joe, Dupps b Pete Gas & Rodney, Hardcore title: Steve Blackman b Big Bossman, Mideon b Joey Abs, Road Dogg & X-Pac b Dudleys, Jerry Lawler b Brooklyn Brawler, Goodfather & Bull Buchanan b Acolytes, European title: Perry Saturn b Eddy Guerrero, Chris Jericho b Chris Benoit

8/14 Providence, RI (WWF Raw is War/Metal Jakked tapings - 9,932 sellout): Dupps b Haas Brothers, Mideon b Joey Abs, Gangrel b Bob Evans, Big Bossman b Jay Jaillette, D-Lo Brown & Chaz b Rodney & Pete Gas, Perry Saturn b Dean Malenko, Test & Albert b Steve Blackman & Eddy Guerrero, Bull Buchanan & Goodfather b Hardys & Lita, Undertaker b Chris Benoit-DQ, Tazz b Crash Holly, Road Dogg & X-Pac b Rikishi, IC title: Chris Jericho b Val Venis-DQ, Rock & Dudleys NC Kurt Angle & Shane McMahon & HHH

8/14 Kelowna, BC (WCW Nitro - 3,693): Billy Kidman & Big Vito b Shane Douglas & Reno, U.S. title: Lance Storm b Mike Awesome, WCW title: Jeff Jarrett b Booker T-DQ, Hardcore title: Norman Smiley b Carl Oulette to win title, Tag titles: Rey Misterio Jr. & Juventud Guerrera b Great Muta & Vampiro to win titles, Cruiserweight title: Elix Skipper b Kwee Wee, Sting won four-way over Demon, Vampiro and Muta

8/15 Worcester, MA (WWF Smackdown/Heat tapings): Dupps b Haas Brothers, Joey Abs b Bob Evans, Kurt Angle b Matt Hardy, Goodfather & Bull Buchanan b Test & Albert, D-Lo Brown & Chaz b Just Joe & Al Snow, Dean Malenko b Essa Rios, Perry Saturn & Terri b Rikishi & Kat, IC title: Val Venis b Eddy Guerrero, Acolytes & Crash Holly b Taka Michinoku & Sho Funaki & Big Bossman, Hardcore title: Steve Blackman b Chris Benoit, Edge & Christian b Jeff Hardy & D-Von Dudley, Road Dogg & X-Pac NC Too Cool, Non-title: HHH b Rock

8/15 Kamloops, BC (WCW Thunder/World Wide tapings): Crowbar b Adam Pringle, Vampiro b Big Jack, Sean O'Haire & Mark Jindrak & Sean Stasiak b Jung Dragons, Ron & Don Harris b ?, Kronic b Michelle Starr & Juggernaut & ? & ?, Tag titles: Rey Misterio Jr. & Juventud Guerrera b O'Haire & Jindrak-DQ, Great Muta b Demon, Lance Storm & Carl Oulette & Elix Skipper b General Rection & Corporal Cajun & Lt. Loco, U.S. title: Cat b Storm-DQ, Gene Okerlund b Mark Madden, Vito b Oulette


Specials thanks to: Zach Arnold, James Stanios, Manuel Gonzalez, Bryan Alvarez, Alex Marvez, Richard Sullivan, Joe Silva, Geri Helliwell, Dave Fournier, Robert Bihari, Jonathan Browning, Dominick Valenti, Gene Restaino, Jeff Amdur, Fritz Capp, Bob Magee, Barry Abrams, Steve Gerweck, Philip Laine, James Haase, Manuel Ruiz, Scott Meltzer, Danny Mirabal, Anthony Eastman, Tim Dills, Paul Bradbrook, Scott Teal, Kirk Sheppard, Diane Devine, Dan Parris, Ed Simpson, David Fournier, Gregory Vasquez, Justin Roberts, Jeff Beecher, Rich Palladino, Ken Tuccio, D.D. James, Kris Pope, Paul Sosnowski, Scott Shapiro, Danny Reinig, Trent Van Drisse, Bobby Baum, Steve Blitz, John McInerney, Ryan McFarland, Wilson Rivera II, Peter Gregory, Dafydd Denatale, BARB, Shannon Rose, Jerry Lane, Trent Walters

MEXICO: Perro Aguayo is out for a few weeks as he's banged up from so much wrestling at his age (54). He should be back at the end of September for the Anniversary show. By the way, when is he retiring

Lady Apache has jumped to AAA

Damian beat Pimpinela Escarlata in a hair match on 8/14 in Nuevo Laredo. The day before in the same city, Sangre Chicana beat Cobarde in a hair match

The Global Wrestling All-Stars (GWAS) promotion which debuts shortly announced it would provide all wrestlers with both medical and life insurance for their base wrestlers, and claim they already have 50 wrestlers under contract and want 70, but the only names mentioned are Silver King, Dandy and Fishman. They also announced the Zona de Muerte PPV which would have Silver King & Dandy & Enrique Vera vs. Jake Roberts & Doink the Clown & Marty Jannetty as the main event, a mask tournament with Dr. Wagner Jr., Lizmark, Villano V, Fishman, La Parka, Blue Panther, Shu El Guerrero, Solar and Mascara Sagrada, a triple hair vs. hair match with Tony Arce & Vulcano & Rocco Valente (who were a hot heel trio in the early 90s and put Rey Misterio Jr. on the map when they all jobbed for him when he was still a teenager) vs. Halcon Dorado Jr. & Andy Barrow & Conde Bartok. They said they'd be able to use EMLL wrestlers on their PPV shows but not on their TV shows which air on TV Azteca, a rival of Televisa, which has the contract with EMLL. The TV looks to start from 10 a.m. to Noon in September and they plan six PPV shows, mostly at the 30,000-seat Palacio de los Desportes in Mexico City

AAA is starting a heel turn for Heavy Metal. It started on 8/11 in Tijuana. First, in an IWC heavyweight title match, Hector Garza retained beating Pirata Morgan. In the first fall, when Morgan had Garza in a submission, Heavy Metal ran in and grabbed the towel from Latin Lover (Garza's second) and threw it in, signifying a submission. He then went on the house mic and said he did it because Garza was getting his ass beat so bad. Garza ended up winning and Morgan challenged him to a hair vs. hair match right then and there, which Garza also won. Morgan ran off without getting his head shaved, with the announcer saying since they hadn't actually signed for the match, Morgan didn't have to get his head shaved. It's really cool how stip matches still draw in Mexico and why, particularly in such a wrestling hotbed as Tijuana, it's so stupid to kill stips this way. As you could imagine, the fans, used to stips being honored, were pissed. Latin & Heavy teamed in the main event with Super Crazy, losing to heels Cibernetico & Zandokan & Abismo Negro largely because Latin and Heavy couldn't get along

Lizmark Jr. is out with an injury to his right foot

Gigante Silva returned to Arena Mexico on 8/11 in the main event teaming with Brazo de Plata & Ray de Jalisco Jr. to win a three-on-four over Cien Caras & Apolo Dantes & Scorpio Jr. & Shocker, ending when he came off the top rope (seriously) with a fling body press onto two guys for the pin. He's still there on 8/18 which includes a CMLL tag title defense with Rey Bucanero & Ultimo Guerrero defending against Mr. Niebla & Emilio Charles Jr

El Brazo Jr. will be making his debut soon to form a trio with Brazo de Oro Jr. & Brazo de Plata Jr.


PRO WRESTLING NOAH: Takao Omori had surgery on his right elbow on 8/9 for torn cartilage. They did an angle on 8/6 to explain it where he first lariated the ringpost and then submitted to an armbar. They are saying he'll be back in September but it may be another month

Both the 9/15 and 9/16 shows at Differ Ariake also sold out the first day tickets were put on sale on 8/12. October will be the first real test as they are running shows at Nagoya Aiichi Gym and Yokohama Bunka Gym

8/2 TV, which was the final multi-promotion TV before it started 8/9 as a full NOAH show, drew a 1.8 rating.

NEW JAPAN: In addition to his chronic neck problems, Masahiro Chono is also suffering from ankle problems. Tadao Yasuda was also hobbled by a badly swollen ankle, while Tenzan suffered a knee injury on 8/12 but still worked on 8/13

Riki Choshu after the G-1 said that he would not wrestle again

The major shows in September were announced and again it's largely disappointing. Don Frye returns for the tour. The tour opens on 9/9 in Kuroha for the Masakazu Fukuda Memorial show with Nagata & Iizuka & Sasaki vs. Tenzan & Frye & Chono on top plus Nakanishi vs. Yoshie, Liger & Koshinaka vs. Michiyoshi Ohara & Goto. The big item on the tour is that Nakanishi will have eight major singles matches, against Yoshie, Yasuda, Suzuki, Koshinaka, Iizuka, Johnston, Kojima and Ohara, which is also considered a letdown since he isn't facing Chono, Nagata and Sasaki which would be the three matches with the most intrigue. 9/13 in Sendai will have Takaiwa vs. Ka Shin for the IWGP jr. title, which may be booked as a way for Ka Shin to get his heat back so to speak in case he doesn't fare well on the Pride show at the Seibu Dome in what is expected to be a shoot match against Ryan Gracie. The biggest show of the tour is 9/16 at Nagoya Aiichi Gym, with Nakanishi vs. Kojima on top which is a terribly weak main event for a major arena, plus Johnston & Sasaki vs. Nagata & Iizuka, Yoshie & Koshinaka vs. Frye & Tenzan and Liger & Ka Shin vs. Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka

Osamu Nishimura, who is still suffering from testicular cancer, even though he's been wrestling, is leaving for India looking for a miracle cure

8/5 TV show with Choshu vs. Onita and the Takaiwa jr. title win over Liger drew a 3.9 rating. On the surface, that doesn't sound great for the Choshu-Onita dream match, but the show airs at 3 a.m. and I doubt Raw could do better than half that number if it aired in that slot. Liger vs. Takaiwa was a ***1/2 match. It was funny in a way, because even though it was very good, it was a junior title match with no high flying and mainly just high impact power moves, with the only difference from a heavyweight title match with Sasaki vs. Nakanishi, for example, aside from better work of course, was that the pacing was quicker. Liger concentrated on armbars but Takaiwa came back with the "injured" right arm, "hurting himself" delivering the five lariats for the win. There seems to be a lot of talk of basically phasing out the juniors as a separate division, since they are all doing less high flying due to injuries, and have them work with the heavyweights. Since this does give the main division added depth at a time it needs it and the juniors have wrestled each other to the point from a booking standpoint it's stale, the fact the juniors have been buried for so long when facing heavyweights and with Liger and Takaiwa not having good win-loss records in G-1, they've pre-conditioned fans not to take them seriously as drawing threats, only as guys who will put on good matches and then ultimately lose.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Atsushi Onita on 8/9 did a Gong magazine interview saying he wants to team up with Riki Choshu on the 10/28 All Japan 28th anniversary show at Budokan Hall. The odds of this taking place are minuscule and it was basically just something said to get his name in the paper I'm guessing

Kodo Fuyuki vs. Hayabusa in an explosive dynamite match headlines the FMW show on 9/21 in Sapporo at the Tsukisame Dome

Wrestling International Newsmagazine reported in its 8/1 issue that Alexander Karelin would retire after the Sydney Olympics. In the interview, Karelin, 33, said that he had done one Vale Tudo like event (which was actually a pro wrestling match with RINGS against Akira Maeda last year), but would never do another. There had been a lot of interest not only among pro wrestling promoters in the U.S. including the WWF at various times, but even more so in Japan about using him after the Olympics

Big Japan's Winger broke six bones in his face including his jaw in a match on 8/5 in Isezaki and will be out of action for about six months. The next major match for that company is 8/29 with Ryuji Yamakawa vs. John Zandig for Zandig's death match title. Saw the Big Japan death match from last week in Tokyo. They actually didn't run anyone over with a car, but teased the spot. These guys are so sloppy and try so many killer moves they look like they're just killing each other. They did set the ring on fire and do dives off production trucks through flaming tables and the like and all the barbed wire bumps. It did look like they had a good crowd

The 8/5 All Japan womens TV show which aired after midnight drew a 3.1 rating, which is very strong, for a hot show featuring highlights of the three cards at the Fuji Network TV studios 7/14 to 7/16. It was a really hot TV show airing the Manami Toyota vs. Eagle Sawai WWWA title match (really good including Toyota doing a leap off the top of a ladder on a WWF like stage with a plancha off the stage onto the floor as well as a flip dive from about eight feet or nine feet up off one of the lighting posts which she actually landed slightly short on), Azumi Hyuga vs. Tomoko Watanabe All-Pacific title (also very good) and the tag tournament, which from the highlights looked good as well. Last year they had really hot crowds and very good action, but it was marred because it rained some nights, and poured others. There were some amazing matches in the rain, but this year, they just had a lot of wind to contend with and thus the match quality was a lot better. The tag title match with Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi beating Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda in the finals was one of the best matches so far this year. Nakanishi is tiny and only 20 years old, but she's a tremendous worker. The production values on the show, being in an outdoor studio setting that held just under 2,000 with a stage and elaborate ring entrances were really below only WWF and K-1 level

With Yuko Kosugi (AWF champion) retiring, the will be having a one night tournament for her title on the 8/27 JD show at Differ Ariake

Ayako Hamada won the Sky High of Arsion title (similar to a jr. heavyweight title) from Mari Apache on 8/12 in Nagoya.

HERE AND THERE: Road Warrior Hawk (Mike Hegstrand), 42, was hospitalized for several days in Melbourne, Australia after what was reported as cardiac problems as well as fluid in the lungs. He was rushed to the hospital during the 8/5 show in Melbourne and was finally allowed to return home to Florida on 8/10. Aside from so-so crowds, the remainder of the Australian tour was canceled because by that point Hawk, Animal, Dennis Rodman (who had no more dates booked) and Paul Orndorff had all been injured. In addition, the ensuing tour of New Zealand with the Road Warriors as the headline act also had to be canceled. Promoter Andrew McManus claimed he had made a $20,000 profit in total on the tour and would do another one in March, claiming that rumors it was a big loser are false. McManus blamed the cancellations of the final dates on Curt Hennig's bad knee going out and he had to return to the U.S. for surgery and that the tour couldn't continue without him

A&E filmed a bunch of stuff with Gene Kiniski last week, for a special scheduled in the fall

At the Reform Party convention, they played Hulk Hogan's old WWF "Real American" theme as Buchanan's music as well as "American Made" from WCW later and Roddy Piper's WWF bagpipes entrance

Mitch Snow, who wrestled in the AWA and in the Mid Atlantic area in the late 80s and early 90s passed away from a suicide on 8/3. Snow was apparently despondent over the death of his father the previous day, and of his brother one month earlier. I'd guess Snow to have been in his early 30s

Rick Davidson of the Davidson Brothers tag team in the late 70s passed away on 8/5 at his home in Fort Worth, TX. One of the preachers at the service was Ken Johnson, who worked as Slick as a WWF manager in the 80s. Davidson helped get Johnson into wrestling, doing outlaw shows around Texas with him in the early 80s with the Renestos brothers (John & Tom Jr.). When Tom Sr. was booking Los Angeles, the Davidsons were used as the top heel tag team in the dying days of the LeBelle promotion in 1981. He was probably very late 40s

"Beyond the Mat" will have a theatrical release in Japan in December. The DVD which comes out on 8/22 will have separate audio commentary by Terry Funk, Mick Foley and Barry Blaustein as well as new footage not in the original movie

Mike Marcello, a Florida independent wrestler was found dead in his home in New Port Richey, FL on 8/15. I believe he was in his late 20s. We didn't have any details at press time, but Marcello was trained by Dean Malenko and was later a trainer at the Malenko school of wrestling

Got sent a copy of the 1947 yearbook from Southwest High in Minneapolis from the senior year of Gordon Solie. His real name he went by in high school was Jonard Sjoblom and was nicknamed Josie. He took the name Gordon Solie when he went into broadcasting. He was also awarded "Best Line," "Biggest Flirt" and "Most Talkative" in his class. I can just imagine Gordon Solie picking up women in high school saying "look at the development in his quadricep femoris and spinae erector muscles (which for those of you who didn't grow up watching Georgia wrestling, is actually your hamstrings and low back).

The IWA in Puerto Rico will be doing a Bruiser Brody Memorial Cup in November or December

Ron Fuller is closing out his summer Friday night series at Chilhowie Park on 8/26 with a benefit show with all proceeds going to benefit a young man named Brett Young with mounting medical bills. They held a press conference and announced that Fuller, who I'd guess to be around 51 or 52 and hasn't wrestled since 1988 after being the area's top babyface in the late 70s and 80s as well as promoter (funny how those things go hand-in-hand), would wrestle Terry Landel, so the angle with Jim Cornette out of the picture, is back on. They are billing this as a (yawn) shoot match as Fuller claimed "Fans should be thrilled to know this will be an historic match. It will be the first ever real shoot professional wrestling match in the history of Tennessee wrestling. What this means is no pre-determined winner, no pulled punches. Geez, Terry Landel, while carrying a mace canister, ran from a 5-2 woman only a few weeks back in the Cornette incident. Like he's going to do a shoot against a guy, even at that age, who is 6-7 and trained in real wrestling under his family from childhood

Remember Paul Alperstein, the multi-millionaire from the credit card industry who funded the old AWF? His other business also failed in a quagmire of lawsuits and he's now waiting tables at a deli outside of Chicago

Reportedly Victor Jovica, the part-owner of WWC passed out from high blood pressure in what appeared to be a heart attack during a match with Dutch Mantel on 8/12 in a cage match in Humacao, PR. It's very strange, if only because they are doing an angle where Mantel is attempting a hostile takeover of WWC, and they use Jovica in the TV role as the majority stockholder in the company. They were doing the cage match when Jovica, a huge star in the company in the 70s and early 80s who once drew at least one crowd of more than 30,000 against Ric Flair, collapsed from what appeared to be a heart attack in a scene eerily similar to the Fritz Von Erich deal in the late 80s. Paramedics arrived 25 minutes later and Jovica was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with 170/110 and spent the night at the hospital under his blood pressure was back under control and went back to work the next day and was scheduled to leave for a business meeting on 8/16 in Croatia

On an indie show at the infamous Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, MA, famous for the Erich Kulas incident, an indie show on 9/8 has a match featuring Mass Transit (Kulas), in apparently his first match in a few years since New Jack sliced his forehead open, with the advertising tag line, "Will history repeat itself?" Can you believe a promotion would stoop to that level? I know, of course you can

More on the FMW video releases. It has been moved to 10/3 (originally it was 8/29) because Tokyopop.com wants more advertising out in wrestling and entertainment journals. They'll be distributed at Musicland Corp. and other retail outlets. The FMW matches and new "Americanized" storylines (see last week's issue) will be augmented by scantily clad Asian female models demonstrating wrestling moves on each other.

MMA: Three more matches added to the 8/27 Pride show at the Seibu Dome are Vanderlei Silva vs. Guy Mezger, Ricco Rodriguez vs. Giant Ochiachi, who fought at the last Seikendo show and sounds like a bad gimmick fighter for Rodriguez to squash; and Masaaki Satake, the former K-1 star, against Kazunari Murakami, who worked as Naoya Ogawa's partner in New Japan. I don't know how to handicap that latter match except that if Murakami can't get Satake off his feet, he's in a lot of trouble. Murakami was a name from the early years of the sport in the United States. He did knock out Bart Vale in the old Extreme Fighting promotion many years ago, but was then knocked out by Maurice Smith in one of the most devastating finishes ever when challenging for the old EFC heavyweight title. DSE has invited Tatsumi Fujinami, Motoko Baba, Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Masa Fuchi, Kazuyoshi Ishii (K-1 President) and Satoru Sayama to sit in VIP ringside seats for the show, probably in great part as a grandstand attempt to boost attendance from pro wrestling and K-1 fans. They announced that Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Renzo Gracie would be in the main event position and that Tokimitsu Ishizawa (Kendo Ka Shin) vs. Ryan Gracie would be second from the top, so Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Ken Shamrock would be third from the top. Naoya Ogawa will second Murakami in his match and Nobuhiko Takada will second Sakuraba

The RINGS debut show in Orem, UT last month drew less than 1,000 fans.

ECW: Highlights from the 8/11 tapings in Fort Lauderdale. Best match said to be a six man with the FBI beating Tajiri & Whipwreck & Psicosis when Tajiri hit Psicosis with the mist. Tajiri then had Guido set for the brainbuster, but Psicosis kicked him low and Guido pinned him with the maritato. Anderson, getting the big push, scored a pin on Dreamer due to interference by Diamond and Swinger. In what appeared to be the TNN open, Lou E. Dangerously did the Danger Zone with Cyrus. Corino and Anton confronted him with Corino heavily swearing. By the end of the segment, Anton turned back heel on Corino and rejoined the Network. Cyrus ended talking about how great TNN was and the fans chanted "USA," and not because Cyrus is Canadian. Credible beat Kash in the exact same match on TV that night except Credible scored the pin. Van Dam beat Rhino in a short match when Credible interfered fir the DQ and Sandman saved him. In St. Pete, they moved Chilly Willy all the way up to the main event with Sandman beating Credible & Rhino which ended when Sandman pinned Rhino after putting him through a table. They also did Whipwreck & Tajiri vs. Guido & Mamaluke which was said to have been the best match of the weekend, with Mamaluke looking the best he has looked since coming to ECW. Both matches were basically to get guys ready for their tag tourney matches and the bouts were said to be good

There is some talk that New Jack will be out of action for a longer time than expected after his recent surgery as his ankle looked really bad at the shows

The feeling on Psicosis after being in for a full weekend is that he's nowhere near what he was when he first came to ECW in 1995 and not the wrestler Super Crazy is, but he bumps and sells well, gets a good pop coming out and is still a good worker who makes his opponent look good so he'll be valuable as a mid-card guy

Not much to the TNN show on 8/11, which featured tons more knocks at the network. The show opened with Lou E. Dangerously in the ring with so much debris thrown at him it was scary. Corino & Riggs were out arguing with him to put them over as faces. Credible came out and Corino got in his face after insulting his catch phrase to set up a tag team feud with Rhino, who ended up involved as well. Doring & Roadkill beat Bill Wiles, now doing the Belvis Wesley gimmick, and Prodigy. There were a million Elvis references during the match. It was funny because they showed C.W. Anderson decking both Prodigette and Jazz, being that an Anderson hates women wrestling, but then digitized it when Tajiri sprayed the mist in Electra's face after she slapped him. They also digitized someone involved in a pull-apart backstage with Kash and Credible saying he wouldn't sign the release form to appear on such a crummy network. Tajiri beat E.Z. Money, who is physically looking a lot better and has been looking good in the ring. Credible and Kash in a title match had no finish when Rhino interfered spearing Kash, and then Van Dam made the save. Most of the show was directed at building up the tag team tournament on 8/25.

WCW: Nitro on 8/14 from Kelowna, BC blew away the PPV, which isn't as high a praise as it sounds, being that most of the reaction to Nitro was negative as well. It was very heavy on dirty language to the point it really had no shock value after five minutes into the show. At least the wrestling was better than the night before. They opened with Russo trying to do this shoot deal where Abbott was going to kick Goldberg's ass. It was hilarious. Russo's out there trying to get over that the match at the Phillips Arena was a work with a script but this match doesn't have a script. They came back from a commercial and you see them calling spots, Abbott selling a kick that missed and doing a pro wrestling brawl using Irish whips and other moves that actually don't work in a real fight. Since Abbott has actually done real fights and Goldberg has trained for them, you'd think they'd be able to work one without having to throw in pro wrestling spots. Russo demanded they go to a commercial as Goldberg was winning out. At least Russo was a good heel and the crowd hated him, but this segment put the show in the toilet from the start. Kidman & Vito beat Reno & Douglas in a match where they all worked hard. Douglas tried to handcuff Kidman but Vito handcuffed Douglas to the corner. Before they could do much damage to Douglas, O'Hare & Jindrak & Stasiak & Palumbo came out as the Fearsome Foursome and Reno left with them. FA's brought out a Mrs. Jones, which is just what the company needs when cutting costs is another useless model on a show overloaded with them. Stacy, who used to be Miss Hancock, told David she was pregnant. Before she came out was an acting job which required Major Gunns to show emotion and cry. I take back everything I've ever written about Stephanie McMahon's acting ability after that angle. Storm got a huge face pop for a pro-Canada promo. Cat was a total heel setting up a match with Storm. Cat played total heel ref until Jacques Rougeau interfered as a babyface and Carl Oulette (hey, maybe they can do a match with Nash that nobody understands) did a cannonball on Awesome to set up Storm winning with a half crab. Elix Skipper also came out with the gimmick he's Canadian since he once played Canadian Football and they formed the Team Canada. There was some talk of trying to get Robert Mallay (Kurrgan) in there as Storm's bodyguard. Storm then gave the hardcore title to Oulette and the cruiserweight belt to Skipper. Jarrett beat Booker via DQ in what was billed as Jarrett's final title shot in 6:54 when Goldberg attacked Jarrett and threw him over the guard rail. This was a better match than their PPV match. Originally this was going to be an I Quit match but I guess it was changed. Somehow I don't believe this is really Jarrett's last title shot. Smiley then beat Oulette to win the hardcore title. Oulette nearly killed Smiley doing a running flip dive to the floor. Oulette came off the top rope with a cannonball through a table but ref Charles Robinson had pulled Smiley to safety, and when the table broke, Smiley fell on top for the pin. Actually, as stupid stuff goes, this finish was clever stupid stuff. The storyline is that Smiley was mad he won because he doesn't want to do hardcore matches. Nash did an interview saying he refused to wrestle Steiner because why does Steiner deserve a second chance when Scott Hall doesn't get one. Misterio Jr. & Guerrera won the tag titles from Muta & Vampiro. Harris Twins attacked Kronic at ringside. Muta blew mist at Juvi when the lights went out and Sting came out. When the lights came on, everyone was lying on the ground dead and Disco rolled Rey on top of Muta for the pin. Sting supposedly had laid him out with a baseball bat, although he was fine, and didn't even have a headache when they demanded a match with Sting immediately after this. This was also a pretty good match, although it makes the tag belts look horrible when Rey & Juvi, who have done nothing but get punked out by big guys since Rey came back, backdoored into the tag titles. Skipper kept the cruiser belt beating Kwee Wee. Regarding the latest Papaya, see comments on Mrs. Jones. Skipper is a great athlete with cool moves but he looks very green out there. He's using a Grey Cup ring (Canadian Football League championship) for his foreign object finisher. He pulled it out, never used it, and a minute later used it for the finish. He really needs to learn timing and psychology in usage of a foreign object. A four-way with Sting, Muta, Demon and Vampiro saw Demon turn on Sting and Muta. Earlier he had demanded the match. Sting beat Muta with the scorpion in 2:04. Muta got to job twice on the same show. Muta & Vampiro cleaned house afterwards and backstage went to stab Sting with a spike but Demon made the save with a baseball bat. Nash did an interview doing nothing but pushing the return of Hall. Bringing Hall back is dump because it just shows the boys there is no discipline in the company. Not bringing Hall back at this point with all the hype they've built for his return is also dumb. It's always better to book angles with win/win propositions if things don't go right instead of lose/lose no matter which decision is made. Nash challenged Booker for the title. Booker came out in clothes but was attacked by Steiner walking to the ring. Goldberg backstage picked up Midajah for a jackhammer and the screen went blank. When Steiner got backstage, Midajah was out cold on top of a broken table

Notes from the 8/15 tapings in Kamloops, BC. Said to be really bad. FA's recruited Mike Sanders as something of a pledge, but he turned on them before the night was over. David asked Stacy to marry him, but before he could get the words out, Wall attacked him and left him laying. Stacy was mad because he couldn't even propose right but took the ring from his pocket. Crowbar (who had the best match on the card in a dark match against local Adam Pringle who he gave a lot of offense to) tried to tell Daffney what he felt but then Daffney got another present. In what was said to be the stupidest finish on a badly booked show, Misterio Jr. & Guerrera beat O'Haire & Jindrak via DQ. O'Haire & Jindrak had the match won when Reno & Palumbo attacked Rey & Juvi, thus allowing them to save their belts. Bout had no heat. Sanders turned on Disco when Disco tried to do a save before the finish. Team Canada beat MIA, which set up Cat doing a promo. Cat screwed up the promo, missing all the important points, so they had a eight minute delay and Cat cut the same promo over, saying his bout with Storm was Canadian title vs. commissionership with Team Canada banned. Well, neither changed since Oulette interfered when Storm was beat. Yep, they made Storm look bad in all three cities where the fans came more to see him than anyone else. Why is anyone surprised after seeing how Flair was booked when they ran the Carolinas the past four years? They plugged Scott Steiner vs. Nash for the No. 1 contendership, which again didn't take place. But they did get a match described as a total disaster with Mean Gene vs. Madden. Smiley came out to help Okerlund. Oulette came out to help Madden. Vito was out. Madden was on the top waiting literally forever for Pamela Paulshock to show up and crotch him, totally ruining the finish, when Gene got the pin. This apparently sets up Madden vs. Pamela at some point. They had a 15 minute delay which first saw 3 Count dance (in storyline, they had already left the building), then Smiley dance with them, then Smiley attack them, and then Smiley dance with Nitro Girls. Oulette got zero reaction in Canada in losing to Vito, which turned out to be the main event. Goldberg attacked Rick Steiner, who went out in an ambulance, and then Goldberg made fun of what he did to Midajah. Show ended with Nash doing an interview calling out Booker. They both played babyface, although the crowd was 50% booing Booker from the start. When Nash turned heel and jumped Booker, this led to 100% cheers for Nash. Booker made his own comeback, but this may have been after cameras went off

Notes from Thunder on 8/8 in Colorado Springs, CO which aired the next day. From our reports, the best match on the show was taped for World Wide with Misterio Jr. & Disco & Guerrera over Jung Dragons. World Wide is put together by Dave Penzer in the afternoon once the Thunder show is booked (largely by Ed Ferrara) and Penzer basically uses the leftover guys. It's become funny because they often have the better matches and it's basically acknowledged that Penzer has a lot better idea of who to put in the ring against each other to have a good match and the ability of the participants than the people who actually make the matches on Raw and Nitro. For the main show, which was pretty bad, Kronik won a two-on-four over Jindrak & O'Hare and Stasiak & Palumbo. The rules were that if Kronik was pinned, whomever got the pin and their regular partner would become tag champs. Even though Mike Tenay explained the stips, Stevie Ray couldn't grasp them. Match got progressively worse as it went on and ended up being really bad with Clark pinning Stasiak after the high times. The FA's stole the tag belts again. Skipper beat Crowbar. Basically this was a backdrop for Crowbar wanting to ask Daffney something, either to be his girlfriend or his wife, but getting tongue tied. Then I.M. Smooth brought out flowers for Daffney, but said he was just delivering them from a secret admirer. Skipper's new "Prime Time" nickname is sort of funny since he messed up his finisher again. During the show Jarrett KO'd Jimmy Hart, Ed Ferrara and Dave Penzer with guitar shots. Penzer was shaken up a bit from his apparently and had a small cut, but appeared fine later on. 3 Count & Abbott beat MIA when Moore & Helms both came off a ladder onto Cajun after Abbott punched him. It was so funny seeing Abbott out there trying to do high spots. Smiley beat Mike Sanders in a hardcore match. Smiley was also KO'd by a Jarrett guitar shot backstage, but since they have to do the pins in the ring, he was wheeled in by Sanders in a wheelbarrow. In the ring, Sanders went to hit him with a chair but instead ended up hitting himself with the chair for the pin. Storm beat Awesome in a flag match that only went 1:57, just long enough for Mighty Heidi to turn on Awesome and take off her shirt revealing, no not that, but a Canadian t-shirt underneath. If this is s storyline way to get rid of her, then that's fine since Awesome was being killed by that stupid gimmick. If not, well, they can bring someone else in for the spot and continue to kill him. Kidman was making out with Reno's girlfriend. David Flair & Hancock beat Awol & Major Gunns in a horrible tables match. Hancock whipped Guns into a table to win. Awol but David through a table after. Kidman beat Reno via DQ when Douglas interfered and Douglas whipped him with a belt to set up their strap match. Vito made the save. This was the best stuff on the show. Reno was very impressive for his prime time debut and Kidman looked very good as well. Booker T did a long interview. Kind of boring really. Bagwell & Gene Okerlund beat Kanyon & Mark Madden in all of 5:18 when Madden tried to low blow Gene, who then pulled out a cup, rubbed it in Madden's face, and Bagwell gave him the blockbuster. Judy Bagwell was at ringside to make this even more torture. At least Okerlund and Madden did everything "right," even if it didn't necessarily look good what they were doing. The stuff where they made Madden do a high spot must have been so the boys would laugh at him because there was no reason for that. Cat & Sting beat Vampiro & Muta in the main event. Cat looked so bad in this match that the other three had no chance to save it. Cat pinned Vampiro after a kick, but after the match Muta blew the mist at both Sting and Cat and Demon put Sting in the scorpion. How did they get a shot on a taped show of a sign that read "Russo fears McMahon.". . Lance Storm had a booking on TSN's "Off the Record" pulled by the office and nobody is clear as to why they'd turn down one of their wrestlers getting national prime time exposure in Canada, particularly since TSN just signed a five-year renewal of its WCW deal

Konnan had his pay cut in half because he's injured even though he's been at almost every TV

On the PPV, Jarrett called Booker T "boy" several times

There has been talk of doing an angle where Vampiro would kidnap and torture one of the TV announcers

They've cut way back on the Australia tour. Originally they were going to send 80 people total, now the figure is less than 40, and probably only two announcers

A legit reason, as opposed to a simple ratings ploy, why the first Russo interview didn't air, could be his strong references to Booker T being held back and never getting a chance (the only major ground he didn't cover on the second interview that did air), because of the feeling it would look real bad for the company in the real lawsuit

The tour dates for the United Kingdom are 11/10 at the London Arena for a Nitro taping that airs 11/13, 11/11 in Newcastle at the Telewest Arena, 11/12 in Manchester at the MEN Center for the Thunder show that airs 11/15, and 11/13 in Birmingham at the NEC Arena. They will also do one date in Germany on 11/16, most likely a Germany-only PPV date, before returning home. Goldberg is coming in on 8/30 to do a four-day promotional swing to kick off ticket sales

WCW filed a lawsuit on 7/24 against AWA Superstars of Wrestling claiming trademark infringement and unfair competition. The suit claimed AWA advertised that WCW trademarked talent Lenny & Lodi "might appear" at a television taping on 2/29 in Laughlin, NV (they didn't appear nor were ever booked to appear). They also claimed AWA referred to the Nitro Girls in promotional material sent to a promoter in Greely, CO for a 6/21 show (Teri Byrne, who was originally Nitro Girl Fyre before being dumped from the troupe has appeared on AWA shows). They also have sent promotional material referring to Tony DeNucci as "WCW rookie sensation" even though DeNucci has never even been affiliated with WCW (or for that matter, isn't a rookie, either)

Add Jim Duggan and Brian Knobs to the list of those cut. Juventud Guerrera was also on the list to be cut after his contract expires. There are forces at work trying to save his job, but we're told it's by no means a lock

Bret Hart will be getting yet another battery of tests done in September

During Brad Siegel's speech, he also announced fines for wrestlers arriving late to shows. It's $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second, $2,000 for a third, a 30-day suspension without pay for a fourth and termination for a fifth. Nash was bragging afterwards that the new rules don't apply to him because in his contract there is a clause that the company doesn't have the right to fine him

For whatever this is worth, and probably not much, before the July PPV, WCW made arrangements for a major public appearance for Jarrett in Toronto telling the people they'd be sending the WCW world champion. The week before this past PPV, when the promoters asked about Jarrett, being that Booker T was the champ, and if they should continue to advertise him as WCW world champion, people with WCW told them, don't worry, continue to advertise him as champion, because he'll be champion by that time (I believe 8/25). That's not to say he's winning the title next week, only that this is how the company treats the title

For the 10/10 WCW show in Sydney, Australia, it is being billed as "WCW Nitro" in all the ads (even though it isn't a taping) with tiny wording saying "not to be televised.

An idea for a match sent in by Richard Sullivan. Tommy Rich (whose mother played the Judy Bagwell role two decades ago) vs. Buff Bagwell with the two mothers on the stage, and every time one of them gets thrown over the top rope, their mom has to put on clothing

If you're wondering why SFX would be so interested in promoting live shows with ECW or WCW, a note from the 8/17 Rolling Stone explains it. SFX owns numerous buildings around the country and is having problems filling dates. The note said SFX has a need to have their venues utilized every night, particularly during the summer, but this past year they've only had 23 percent occupancy so they are just desperate to have tenants to fill dates

On the WCW pre-game show, Larry Zbyszko, showing he watches Nitro every week, or maybe also showing the lack of quality control over the people who scripted his segments and produced his segments, when talking about the Sting-Demon match, stated that we haven't seen Sting since he fell off the screen at the Great American Bash

Thunder tapings on 8/8 in Colorado Springs, CO drew 1,983 paying $41,227. Nitro on 8/14 in Kelowna, BC drew 3,693 paying $130,424 Canadian. Merchandise for the 8/7 and 8/8 shows (only shows of that week) was $33,705 or $6.26 per head, but again, with buildings heavily papered and the per head being based only on paid, it's a misleadingly high figure.

WWF: The top matches for SummerSlam at this point look to be Rock vs. Angle vs. HHH for the title, Jericho vs. Benoit 2 of 3 falls, Undertaker vs. Kane, Edge & Christian vs. Hardys vs. Dudleys in a ladders, tables and chairs match for the titles, Lawler vs. Tazz, Venis & Stratus vs. Guerrero & Chyna and Road Dogg vs. X-Pac

The Undertaker-Kane match was set up on a last-minute angle on 8/14 when the WWF sent Big Show home as a disciplinary measure. There are numerous reasons involved. Management believes Show is terribly out of shape and pushing him sets a bad example for the rest of the crew (I know you can bring up Undertaker and Rikishi aren't in tip-top condition and don't get heat for it). He was sent to Louisville to get back in shape and threw up in training. He worked the house show on 8/12 in Detroit and was given Benoit as tag partner against Undertaker & Kane in the main event with the idea Benoit would work most of the match and he'd only have to go in for spots since he wasn't ready to perform, but still blew up quickly. He showed up the next night in Springfield, MA, but early in the night, had back spasms and couldn't wrestle in his main event and Albert, who wrestled in a six-man tag earlier in the show, was put in the match teaming with Angle against Undertaker & Kane. Where he wound up with tremendous heat, is whether this was real or not, and being wrestling, nobody trusts anyone, is that after the show, his back spasms cleared up and he left the building fine. He showed up the next day in Providence for Raw and they had an angle planned for him and the back spasms acted up. The decision was made to take him off the active roster, and fill in for his SummerSlam spot by doing an Undertaker-Kane angle for the millionth time. There are many complaints that Show, who in many ways is a protege of Hogan, can't get away from the Hogan training and diet regiment and is obsessed with getting bigger, which is actually humorous if you think about it, which takes away from his ability to perform in the ring because he's carrying excess weight. When his back problems subside, the plan is to send him full-time for the Mark Henry treatment at Ohio Valley Wrestling until his conditioning it as what they consider acceptable levels

Raw on 8/14 from Providence, RI started with the big speech. Angle did maybe he best interview of his career comparing himself to Nancy Kerrigan and HHH to Tonya Harding, although he said they were in the same Olympics (they were in the Winter Olympics in 1994, he in the Summer games in 1996). The interview was so god and Angle came across as such a heel that HHH got a huge face reaction coming out, which apparently was something he was dreading all afternoon since everyone knows he's going face, but he wants to keep his heel reaction until the turn. They were about to fight but Shane broke them up saying it was making his sister mad. They did a show-long Acolytes/Kaientai skit where Kaientai took them out for a night of drinking, the little Japanese children-like characters couldn't handle their liquor and got rude and obnoxious and eventually Funaki threw up on Bradshaw and they beat them up. A totally racist segment on many levels. Speaking of the strangest sponsors, they have all those ads on Raw telling kids not to smoke, and then on Raw, they have these cool babyface characters smoking in every segment. T&A beat Blackman & Guerrero when Albert hit Blackman with a kendo stick to lead to the pin. RTC beat Lita & Hardys when Goodfather pinned Lita after a shoulderbreaker. Richards also superkicked Lita. More soap opera with HHH and Stephanie with Stephanie storming off crying. Undertaker beat Benoit when Shane interfered. Kane came in and did the angle choke slamming Undertaker through the ring. The ring didn't break the first time so they had to do it again. Tazz choked out Crash quickly, and then stole J.R.'s hat and shoved him down. Lawler made the save to a huge pop. Road Dogg & X-Pac beat Rikishi by both pinning him after a spin kick by X-Pac. The main spot was X-Pac laughing while Rikishi gave Dogg the stink face. Jericho beat Venis via DQ when Benoit attacked Jericho for the title saving DQ. Benoit put Jericho in the STF instead of the crossface. Angle and HHH were about to go at it in the parking lot when a limo showed up. Both got in. Finally the guy in the limo came out, and it was Vince who scolded both like a parent and told them they had to team. Angle & HHH & Shane had no finish with Rock & Dudleys. Edge & Christian hit the Dudleys with chairs, taking them out. Angle gave Rock his Olympic slam and HHH gave him a pedigree. Their music just played and the show ended without them doing a pin. I guess someone couldn't figure out a way out of getting them to do their finishers on Rock but couldn't get Rock, or the company, to pull the trigger on Rock doing another job so they just did nothing

Dave Hebner (Earl's twin brother who works as a road agent) underwent an angioplasty to clear up blockages in three arteries leading to his heart after suffering a mild heart attack on 8/7 at Madison Square Garden. His arteries were in pretty bad shape as he had 90 percent blockage in one and 70 percent blockage in two others. He was released from the hospital late this past week, but then suffered a staph infection from where his IV was hooked up and was back in the hospital by the weekend. They were hopeful he'd be out of the hospital by the end of this week

Taping highlights from 8/15 in Worcester, MA. Rock and Wyclef Jean lip synched "It Doesn't Matter" as a taping for the Source Hip Hop 2000 awards, which won't air on WWF TV. For Heat, every report said Angle over Matt Hardy was a fantastic match. Stephanie attacked Lita and Angle used the womens title belt on Matt to set up the win. Stephanie held Angle's hand up after the match. Richards took Stratus to the back before a RTC vs. T&A match. Smackdown opened with Shane, Stephanie, HHH and Angle out. HHH and Angle apologized but kept the tension going. Foley came out and plugged his Christmas book (geez, it's only August). Venis beat Guerrero in an IC title match. Chyna at one point power bombed Venis but Stratus hit Chyna breaking a pitcher of water on her head. As Guerrero checked on Chyna, Venis rolled him up. Acolytes & Crash beat Bossman & Kaientai when Bossman walked out on them. Blackman beat Benoit to keep the hardcore title when Jericho hit Benoit with a chair. Edge & Christian beat D-Von Dudley & Jeff Hardy. Jeff accidentally hit the swanton on D-Von, who was pinned. This led to a Dudleys vs. Hardys pull-apart. Tazz choked out Lawler as he was doing a promo for SummerSlam. Kane choke slammed Dogg & X-Pac, who were wrestling Too Cool. Undertaker came out and slapped Kane, but Kane laid Undertaker out with chair shots and left him bloody. Foley announced Blackman vs. Shane for hardcore title and Stephanie vs. Lita for womens title on Raw on 8/21. Main was non-title with Rock vs. HHH. Angle hit Rock with a chair setting up HHH's clean win with the pedigree, which explains why they didn't do the pinfall the previous night because I guess they felt Rock getting pinned two straight nights was enough. Angle and HHH celebrated. After the show ended, Rock did the rock bottom on both guys and the people's elbow on HHH

SummerSlam had 15,549 tickets sold (less than 700 shy of capacity) for $1,071,590 as of the weekend

Jericho was in the Bahamas this past week doing a Chef Boyardee commercial

According to various reports, the PTC marketplace was shut down largely due to wrestling fans protests against the group

Regarding that angle 18 years ago with Piper, Muraco and Gordon Solie that the Tazz-Lawler angle was a duplicate of, there is some interesting trivia regarding it, because the match never took place. Right after doing the angle, Muraco was fired and they brought Lawler in to Georgia, and he did some of the greatest interviews of the period building up a match with Piper. Well, before that match could take place, Piper also was fired, so all that hype went for naught and Lawler ended up wrestling Tommy Rich. We're told the fact the angle aired 18 years to the date after the original and it was just a week plus after the death of Solie is all purely coincidental as the people who wrote the angle actually had zero knowledge of that era of wrestling and would not have seen that angle

Brian Gewritz is the name of the writer who deserves a lot of the credit for the scripting of the HHH/Angle/Stephanie segments

The ho who took the table bump on the 8/7 Raw from Goodfather is named Lisa Marie Veron. The other blond with her who is also full-time is Frosty Moore. Both are from Ultimate Pro Wrestling in Southern California

Dwayne Johnson and Joanie Lauer (Chyna) are both scheduled to appear at the Democratic convention. Chyna's book is also due out in January

Brian Keck, who placed fifth nationally in the Olympic trials in Greco-roman wrestling in the superheavyweight division (286 pounds), signed a developmental deal and is headed to Ohio Valley. Keck also tried MMA fighting in Brazil and didn't do as well as one would expect from a wrestler of that calibre, losing a tough fight to Pedro Otavio (known in pro wrestling circles for beating Koji Kitao in Japan in a shoot and losing to Keiji Muto on a New Japan show in a work). Keck had a 20-11 record this year, trained in MMA under Mark Coleman, and as an amateur held a win over 1996 Olympic silver medalist Matt Ghaffari. Keck also set a U.S. Olympic trials record beating Corey Farkas 4-3 in an overtime match to determine fifth place which went 26:30, the longest match in the history of the Olympic trials

Road Dogg and Test were both injured at the tapings early in the week but back in the ring by the weekend house shows. Test had a slight ankle injury on 8/7 which is why he missed the Smackdown show. Dogg was injured slightly during the taping of the Heat show and couldn't come back out for Smackdown

WWF registered 10,000 people to vote over the past week

In a totally embarrassing statement for a reporter from Time Magazine, Margaret Carlson on the Capital Gang show on CNN on 8/13 when talking about the Republicans inviting Rock to the convention called him as "white skinhead hateful wrestling guy." I sympathize with her viewpoint on the hypocrisy of the Republicans (and for that matter the Democrats as well given the political beliefs of their Vice Presidential nominee), not in inviting Dwayne Johnson, the actor playing a role based on his scripted giving a woman a rock bottom or hitting someone with a chair, but in inviting him as a WWF representative and inviting the WWF (as did the democrats) due to the nature of the product they produce at times combined with the huge childrens audience and how they contradict the beliefs espoused by members of the party as it pertains to childrens television. Being that this is politics and there is tons of hypocrisy in looking for votes, I'm not surprised nor alarmed. But that was totally unfair to say about Rock or Dwayne Johnson, and not just the funny part about him being white but calling him a skinhead. She also noted Rock appearing as her outrage of the weak stating "The GOP keynoter Wednesday night was the Rock of World Wrestling Federation's awful show "Smackdown," the show that celebrates anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black sentiments with language so coarse and vulgar I can't repeat it here. He loves violence and takes metal chairs, shovels, sledge hammers to his opponents. The Rock appeals to a growing group of white, working-class youths, and you would think the Republicans would rage against his rage theatrics, like AT&T (don't they still advertise), Coca-Cola and MCI, which have withdrawn their advertising. Instead, they legitimized him.

2000 NCAA heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar became the third former NCAA champion (with Kurt Angle and Sylvester "Collector" Terkey) to debut under the auspices of the WWF on 8/13 at the Ohio Valley Wrestling show in Louisville before 60 fans. Lesnar, who had only been in camp less than two weeks before being put in the ring, which is awfully fast for someone under Jim Cornette tutelage (Kurt Angle actually debuted under Dory Funk's tutelage after just one week of training) and was said to look very good in his debut against B.J. Payne. He had a nice chain of moves into a hip toss. Was described as very quick and agile for a guy as big as he is, but at four minutes, looked noticeably blown up in the ring. He also threw a very high dropkick, sold well, and had lots of presence and charisma in the ring, and using a similar finish as Angle. Lesnar's parents and grandparents were at the show. Lesnar is expected to start appearing on the OVW TV show within the next week or so, which is amazing in and of itself because Cornette usually doesn't allow anyone on TV until they are ready to be put on TV, and the WWF hasn't pressured Cornette to rush anyone, even a much

hyped prospect. They also debuted a huge ripped guy called Rage, who was described as very stiff moving in the ring and couldn't work, who teamed with Shelton Benjamin. That may be David Nelson, a former football player and bodybuilder who has been in the camp for a couple of months and was actually recommended to the WWF by Leigh Steinberg (who the movie "Jerry Maguire" was based on). Former UFC fighter Ron Waterman, who has also just debuted, using the ring name H20 Man (get it, Waterman--which actually was his UFC nickname as well) against Terkey

Benoit vs. Jericho will headline an IWA show on 9/30 in Puerto Rico

Smackdown on 8/8 at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ drew a sellout 14,182 paying $375,735. House show on 8/12 in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena drew 18,368 paying $483,690 (about 600 tickets shy of a sellout). The split crew on 8/13, which was also without Rock or HHH working either show (Rock had the weekend off, HHH only worked Detroit) did see a noticeable drop in both cities from the usual nearly packed houses as Springfield, MA drew 4,196 paying $127,700 and New Haven drew 4,936 paying $150,287. Raw on 8/14 in Providence drew a sellout 9,932 paying $305,775. Arena merchandise for the past week totalled $433,059 which was $8.39 per head. In Detroit, they had Undertaker & Kane over Benoit & Show as the main event. They also did the first HHH vs. Angle match. I guess it's good they had them work together for a match (no contest ending) before the PPV, but still surprising to have their first singles match on a house show. Probably better on a house show than on TV because at a house show really so few by percentage actually see the thing. They ran a split crew on 8/13. In Springfield, MA, with Show out, they used Albert & Angle as the main eventers losing to Undertaker & Kane. In New Haven, Jericho pinning Benoit was the main event with Saturn over Guerrero as the semi and they filled out the undercard with matches like Lawler vs. Brooklyn Brawler, Joey Abs vs. Mideon, Dupps vs. Mean Street Posse and Gangrel vs. Joe. Joe didn't look good and didn't get much heat although people were high on him after his TV match against Malenko on Heat. Posse got a lot of heat. Blackman got a huge ovation since it was three matches in before they got to see a guy who had been pushed on the main TV shows. Lawler vs. Brawler had Kat in Lawler's corner and Harvena (Harvey Wippleman in drag) in Brawler's corner.