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December 20, 1999 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: WWF Armageddon review, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 December 20, 1999

The one thing I can say for WWF Armageddon is, it was a weird show. When it was over, I couldn't say that I liked or disliked it, and based on the response here, a lot of people has similar reactions.

Some of the undercard wrestling was decent. Nothing was particularly good. A few matches were pretty bad. But that's to be expected both from the line-up, which didn't promise on paper one good match, and from the WWF PPV undercards in general. If anything, the quality of the undercard looked to be lacking because its best undercard workers were all wasted in a Battle Royal setting.

The show was built around one match. As a "wrestling" match, it was terrible. Vince McMahon is not a wrestler. He put on a very good performance for a 54-year-old men (or 53, whatever) but it was way too long. For a match with that kind of build-up, it didn't have much heat and reports we heard from those there live is that fans live hated the match, but with so much of the match outside the arena setting, it would be hard for the crowd to get into it. Hunter Hearst Helmsley hyperextended his knee during the practice session they went through earlier in the day, so one has to give him credit for basically carrying a non-worker for 30 minutes on a bad knee and making it at least watchable. This also explains why Raw was booked the next night to where Helmsley was put in a match that he actually never tagged into. At press time we never got a final word on Helmsley's MRI which was done on 12/14 before the Raw show, but they were hopeful the injury wasn't serious and that he'd be back able to actually wrestle a match by the time they go back on the road on 12/26. After the session, Helmsley spent hours icing and getting electrical stimulation on the knee, then wrapped it up and did the match.

As a wrestling match, aside from the powerful angle at the finish, this was below usual Hulk Hogan standards. But somehow it was compelling television in parts. It also clearly pointed out why in movies, the closing fight scenes never last 30 minutes. The finish with Stephanie McMahon turning was widely anticipated, but at the same time, not doing it because everyone expected it would have stupid. It was clearly the best thing for the soap opera.

And then there was the evening gown match. On Monday morning, the WWF send out a press release which read, "During the World Wrestling Federation's TV-14 rated pay-per-view event, titled Armageddon, on Sunday, December 12, 1999, an overzealous Miss Kitty flashed her breasts for less than 1 second in the 4 Corner Evening Gown Pool Match for the WWF Women's title. WWF censors immediately placed a towel over her chest. The WWF apologizes for this unauthorized exposure."

Do you believe it? All I know is that nobody from after the completion of the show until this press release made its way into public said anything about Stacey Carter going into business for herself. It would sure seem you'd have to be incredibly naive to believe that was possible, given the interview on Raw and Smackdown setting it up, the natural reaction of booing when they strongly teased and didn't deliver B.B. getting her bra ripped off, the fact Sgt. Slaughter was right there with a towel and reacted immediately to the spot, and the fact the spot built to the next spot where Mae Young was going to strip. To script something like this with the stock prices plummeting due to the bad publicity and figure it wasn't a risk not worth taking this week may show McMahon has balls the size of grapefruits, but however big his balls are, his common sense and brains are a hell of a lot smaller. Obviously, someone came down on him, because they immediately issued the press release claiming Carter did it on her own. But of course, Carter wasn't taken off television the next night. But the incident also was never once acknowledged on television either or pushed as a selling point on the replay show which no doubt had it been planned would have been a big part of the plan. Due to a lot of systems mechanical failure on the live event ordering, the replay was more important for this show than a usual show. At press time it wasn't clear who exactly laid the smacketh down on them, but they must have been very serious about it.

This week's story is that we were told specifically that Smackdown is going to remained toned down at its present level, that Raw will slowly become closer to Smackdown but there may be some more risque material placed in the second hour (which, come January, will be the hour that more kids are watching than any other hour of wrestling on any night and judging from this week's Raw, they are clearly saying one thing and doing another) and that PPV's will be differentiated by more adult themes. I could see where, given the current circumstances, Miss Kitty baring her breasts this week is stupid given how recently so many advertisers have pulled out. This past week the U.S. Coast Guard said they were airing their final ad on Smackdown and the PTC was specifically targeting MCI to pressure them to stop advertising on the toned down show. There is no pressure for advertisers to stop appearing on Raw. Some have out of consistency of policy and most of them have put pressure on WCW, if they were buying those shows, to also tone down or they'd pull out. Some have just pulled from Smackdown due to the bad publicity.

There is a very interesting issue and I believe PPV is very different from broadcast television. The WWF advertised an evening gown match. They certainly sold the match and you'd have to be a fool from television to not know a women were going to have clothes torn and be left in their bra and panties. Of course, tons of children watched the show, both live and on PPV. But unlike free TV, this was a pay event and it was clearly advertised a womens clothes ripping match. They didn't say a woman would take her bra off but one could say it was at least teased the idea of perhaps seeing a bare breast as its selling point, and the entire match was built largely on the tease of B.B. When it was over, with the tease of B.B. and the actions of Kitty, it appeared to make business sense, at least in the way this business operates, you know doing wrestling without thinking about the potential timing consequences. Apologies aside, the match was built toward the spot. And for future business. Now they can tease B.B. doing it and fans will buy, knowing it's already happened before and they'll believe it can happen again.

There is a secondary question. The WWF had the right to do this on PPV. Far worse of a sexual content airs on PPV. This was outright tame compared to things available on PPV late night (of course this was prime time and with knowledge so many kids would watch) and really not terribly different than many movies that air on PPV during prime time.

However, as a live event, the analogy to this is still a strip show. There is nothing illegal about doing a strip show in most parts of the country, including South Florida. But you also can't allow five-year-olds in. If WWF wants to do high spots like this live, it should have a minimum entrance age and if it did, there is no controversy and by doing so, they are putting their money where their mouth is in regards to the claim they are promoting entertainment not meant for young children but this is all the ultimate example of hypocrisy. Saying one thing--we don't want young children to watch Raw for example. Doing the opposite, marketing Raw to young children and putting the most risque stunts on during the hours that more children are watching than any other hours. And then afterwards, claiming it was all an accident and some performer took it upon herself to do it. But pretending it's an accident after the fact, after it's already been noted in a court case by Rena Mero how she was continually asked to do something similar in a script where they'd later say it was an accident, makes this apology and entire situation pretty transparent. It's also yet another vindication of Phil Mushnick, who wrote before Wrestlemania that WWF was considering doing this on a live PPV as an accident (he had gotten the info from a sponsor that was asked about it being okay ahead of time) and was called a liar by McMahon for the story, despite Mero's claim seemingly being consistent with what Mushnick wrote. The fact when they did the nipple tease with Jacqueline and later had her boobs pop out during Raw, both times saying it was an accident despite the cameras being there perfectly for the shot each time and airing tons of replays, and with this incident seemingly being proof it was.

The show on 12/12 at the NCR Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL drew a sellout 15,749 (announced on TV as 17,054 for whatever reason) with 13,981 paying $402,413 and another $102,044 in merchandise.

1. The Acolytes (Ron Simmons & John Leyfield) won an eight team Battle Royal to earn a tag title shot at the Royal Rumble PPV in 10:54. They did a gimmick in the open with the Mean Street Posse where they would get a member thrown over and the third guy would replace them and they'd continue. Rodney got thrown out and was replaced by Joey Abs. Then Pete Gas was thrown out and replaced by Rodney. Then Gas was thrown out again at 1:56 and this time it counted. Beats me as to why. Head Bangers were out at 2:28 next when Mosh was dumped by Mark Henry. Henry & Godfather were eliminated at 3:19 when the Acolytes dumped Henry. Scotty 2 Hotty and Christian were fighting on the apron over who was going over. Grand Master Sexy tried to get involved but Edge dumped him at 4:47 eliminating Too Cool. D-Von Dudley then dumped Edge in 6:09, eliminating he and Christian. The Dudleys were out next, with them doing the 3-D on Jeff Hardy but Matt threw D-Von over at 7:52. This left the Hardys against the Acolytes. Jeff used a split legged moonsault. Matt and Bradshaw both went out together at 8:49 but ref Jimmy Kourderas missed it so the match continued. Then Jeff used a head scissors flip at 9:48 to throw Faarooq over, but Kourderas missed that as well. Matt dropkicked Bradshaw who took a bump to the apron. Jeff delivered a great missile dropkick off the top onto Bradshaw on the apron but he didn't go over. Matt and Bradshaw ended up on the apron fighting over who would fall first when Faarooq basically threw Jeff over the top and he basically hurdled the top rope and nearly landed on the barricade at 10:54. The finish was good but most of the match with typical bad Battle Royal stuff, wasting a lot of good talent in the process. *

2. Kurt Angle pinned Steve Blackman in 6:56. Angle came out to no reaction. He even missed a moonsault. Technically this was a good match but the crowd chanted boring, whether it was because they are encouraged to by Angle's gimmick or because they didn't want to see these two wasn't apparent. Angle won with the german suplex. After the match, Blackman attacked Angle with nunchakus and for some reason Blackman did get a big pop for that. 3/4*

3. Miss Kitty (Stacey Carter) won the WWF womens title in the evening gown match wading pool match over Ivory (Lisa Moretti), Barbara Bush, actually B.B. as they are calling her (Kathy Dingman) and Jacqueline (Jacqueline Moore) in 2:45. Moolah and Mae Young were referees. The women were rolling around fully clothed in the pool. They tore Jacqueline's dress off and the was struggling to keep her breasts from being exposed because doing so would have killed the pop for the finish. B.B. had her dress torn off and then Ivory went after the bra but somehow couldn't get it off and the fans booed that. Kitty then tore Ivory's dress off to be the winner. She then said she wanted to be called The Cat, stripped herself and took off her bra and Sgt. Slaughter arrived with a waiting towel. Mae Young then stripped off her dress and threatened to go farther but Slaughter put the towel on her as well.

4. Bob & Crash Holly (Robert Howard & Erin O'Grady) beat Rikishi Phatu (Solofa Fatu) & Viscera (Nelson Frazier Jr.) in 4:23. Awful match. I can't understand what's the purpose of Viscera and not recognizing that a Viscera vs. Phatu feud only hurts Phatu. Anyway, they basically never got along and wouldn't tag. There was no heat. Viscera was horrible. Bob gave Rikishi a DDT but he no sold it. Phatu did his piledriver on Crash, but Viscera then kicked Phatu in the head when Bob moved out of the way and Bob pinned Phatu. After the match, Phatu and Viscera brawled, if that's what you'd call what they were doing. It would have been much better to have them all turn on Rikishi together, to allow Too Cool to make the save and have them dance at the end, because quite frankly, the only reason fans pop for Phatu is the ending dance. -*

5. Val Venis (Sean Morley) won the European title over D-Lo Brown (Accie Connor) and British Bulldog (Davey Boy Smith) in 8:20. Bulldog was way off during this match and there were a lot of badly timed spots. Brown opened doing a big running dive on both men. Brown tried a springboard move off the ropes and slipped and looked like he could have really hurt himself. They set up a double-hip toss spot on Bulldog which was completely messed up with Bulldog also landing wrong and you could see, and in fact Ross even acknowledged Brown asking him if he was okay. He was and they did a long double suplex spot. They did a double elbow spot on Bulldog that his bump was totally mistimed. Brown did a great sunset flip power bomb off the top spot on Venis but Bulldog pulled ref Teddy Long out from making the pin. Brown set up his power bomb, but Bulldog jumped way early so the move was a mess. Brown did the frog splash on Bulldog, but Venis did the money shot on Brown and then covered Bulldog for the pin. -1/2*

6. Kane (Glen Jacobs) pinned X-Pac (Sean Waltman) in 8:12 in a cage match. X-Pac was hitting on Tori early so Kane attacked him. Match wasn't much early. The Outlaws came out with bolt cutters, which Road Dogg had a hard time making work. Finally they did and Billy Gunn slammed the cage door on Kane. Road Dogg threw in a chair and X-Pac did the X-factor on the chair. They also threw handcuffs in and X-Pac handcuffed Kane to the cage. X-Pac hit him with a chair to the head. A few more chair shots before Tori ran in. X-Pac spit on her and gave her an X-factor. X-Pac went after Kane with a chair but he kicked the chair in his face and broke the handcuffs. X-Pac tried to climb over but Kane went out the door (which for this match wasn't a finish, because they needed that stip to make this spot work) and stopped X-Pac from hitting the floor by putting him on his shoulders and carrying him back to the door and throwing him back in. Kane came off the top of the cage with a clothesline and pinned him after a tombstone piledriver. Finish was good but the match lacked heat. *3/4

7. Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) won the IC title from Chyna (Joanie Lauer) in 10:17. This was actually the best wrestling match on the show, which is a real credit to Jericho because Chyna was really exposed with her bad looking offense, particularly the forearms which she needs to retire from her repertoire, that Jericho had to sell, and her bouncing off the ropes like someone beginning wrestling school. Jericho took a great bump over the top and Chyna clotheslined him off the apron. Jericho dropped her on the table. At one point Jericho kissed Miss Kitty. Jericho used a quebrada but Chyna got her knees up. They traded nice spots and near falls at the finish. Jericho finally got the walls of Jericho on, and the crowd, which cheered Jericho when he came out and somewhat throughout the match but never booed Chyna like last month, totally popped for the hold. After struggling in the move, Chyna tapped out. After the match, Chyna interrupted Jericho's interview and told him that she was the better wrestler last month but he was this month and shook his hand. **1/4

8. Rock (Dwayne Johnson) & Mankind (Michael Foley) beat The New Age Outlaws (Monty Sopp & Brian James) in 16:28. This was a decent match with a weak finish. Fans were incredibly hot for Rock, as they always are. At one point Rock pulled Gunn's shirt over his head and pounced on him. Rock hip tossed him over the guard rail back into the ring area. Gunn used a diamond cutter on Rock. Rock countered Road Dogg's pump handle slam with a low blow. Rock was worked on for several minutes before doing the float over DDT and made the hot tag to Mankind. Ref bump spot. Mankind piledrove Dogg but no ref. Gunn then tackled the ref and Mankind. Mankind did the double arm DDT and socko claw but no ref. Al Snow ran in and hit Mankind with the head and Dogg pinned him but Rock stopped the count. Actually they should have used this spot as the finish instead of what they used. Rock started pounding on snow and Gunn hit Mankind with the ring bell but he kicked out of the pin for a good near fall. Gunn piledrove Mankind for another good near fall. Mankind hot tagged Rock, who used the Rock bottom on Gunn, when Snow interfered for the DQ. Mankind and Snow brawled after the match and Rock used the Rock bottom on both Dogg and Snow. **

9. Big Show (Paul Wight) pinned Big Bossman (Ray Traylor) in 3:11 to retain the WWF title. Show's wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt in the ring really takes away from the impact of his size. Working next to the deceptively huge Prince Albert doesn't help either. Show choke slammed Albert through the spanish announcers table. The crowd started loud boring chants 2:00 into the match. Show immediately went to the finish with a choke slam. 1/4*

10. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Paul Levesque) pinned Vince McMahon in 29:45 in a match where if Helmsley won, he'd get a title shot and if McMahon won, them Helmsley's marriage to Stephanie would be annulled. They kept emphasizing McMahon was 53. As it regards McMahon's age, I should mention a conversation I had with him in August of 1991, just before his birthday. He brought up his birthday was in the next day or two and mentioned he was going to be 45 or 46. I asked, well, which is it. He replied, I swear I'm not making this up, in that Vince McMahon voice right out of the question on who was going to win before the Survivor Series match, "I honestly don't know" with that same dramatic remark. So I said, well, were you born in 1945 or 1946. He said he was born in 1945. I said that would make you 46. He said, "well, I guess so." So anyway, he's 54. McMahon came out throwing real bad looking punches, wearing gloves. It looked like he was actually laying them in hard but they looked terrible. They went backstage. Mankind brought out a garbage can with objects. McMahon started killing him with garbage can shots and other objects. Helmsley came back using a low blow with a crutch. Helmsley used a road sign. McMahon broke a stick on Helmsley's back. Helmsley ran Vince into some of the objects set up as the Armageddon stage including a helicopter and then hit him with a sandbag. A bunch more garbage can shots. Vince put the garbage can over his head and punched the can. McMahon hit him with a wrench but Helmsley didn't sell it. McMahon whipped Helmsley into the airplane of the Armageddon set and McMahon went backstage. Helmsley dropped an elbow on McMahon on the hood of a truck. Stephanie's facials were actually getting more attention than the match. McMahon wound up outside the building while Helmsley disappeared, seemingly for several minutes. He showed up driving a car, but Vince hopped a guard rail so escaped from being run over. This had gone on way too long by this point and was barely halfway. The two ended up climbing up a ladder for Vince to take his bump. Ross talked about him falling 20 or 30 feet (it was actually 13 feet, and the crowd, which wasn't reacting to the match live, booed this spot because it was obvious he was landing on almost a gymnastics pit. Vince juiced. Helmsley used a gas can and put McMahon's bloody face right in front of Stephanie. Helmsley got a pipe, put the pipe down and grabbed a sledge hammer. McMahon low blowed him and hit Helmsley with the pipe. McMahon got the sledge hammer when Stephanie jumped in. She said she wanted to hit him with the sledge hammer. Helmsley then took the sledge hammer from Vince, went to hit Stephanie but Vince jumped in the way and took the blow. After a second blow with the sledge hammer, Helmsley pinned McMahon, so actually aside from Vince saving Stephanie causing his own downfall, she really didn't cost him the match. Helmsley then teased he was going to take out Stephanie using the sledge hammer, dropped the sledge hammer and they hugged and kissed to end the show. *1/2 (even with the great angle, if Hogan was in the same match, people would be giving it negative stars)

Coming one day after the Stephanie turn, it pretty well was expected Raw would do well, and it did, but not overwhelmingly. The fact is Raw's rating actually dropped despite coming off the PPV with the big angle, which should have meant close to a half point bump. The bottom line for Nitro, is that people can explain away this fact all they want, but it was the lowest rated show since Russo and Ferrara came in, and the second lowest rated Nitro in the past three years (only Nash's final week as late duck booker with a horrible show did a worse rating).

Overall Raw doubled Nitro in every head-to-head quarter except the main event battle, doing a 6.10 rating (6.14 first hour; 6.06 second hour) and a 9.1 share. Nitro fell to a 2.82 rating (3.58 first hour; 2.35 second hour; 2.57 third hour) and a 4.2 share. Over the head-to-head two hours and four minutes, Raw's 6.10 beat out Nitro's 2.46. Monday Night Football did a 13.26 rating and a 21.8 share.

It was obliteration from start to finish, particularly in the 9:30 to 10 p.m. slot. In the 9:30 to 9:45 slot, Raw, featuring the Vince/Stephanie/HHH interview segment and the Rock interview drew a 6.46 rating, beating Nitro's 2.09 for the ending of Heat & Midnight vs. Revolution & Asya, the angle re-introducing Paul Orndorff and his later "firing," a quick Finlay/Knobs vignette and Jerry Flynn in the block with Smiley and Tank Abbott. Raw's peak rating actually wasn't for the Stephanie in-ring interview, but for the Rock & Mankind vs. Dudleys match which did a 6.57, beating Nitro's 2.12 for Vicious vs. Steve Williams. In the final full quarter hour, Raw's Big Show vs. Bossman & Albert title match and beginning of HHH & Test vs. Outlaws drew a 5.98 rating to Nitro's 2.59 for Piper vs. Hennig. The only sign of life for the night for WCW is that they did get viewers to switch from Raw to their main event, as Goldberg & Hart vs. Hall & Nash grew to a 3.28 while the finish of HHH & Test vs. Outlaws fell to a 5.84, which doesn't look like really a fall, except Raw went one minute longer than Nitro it probably means the real fall was in the 5.6 range.

In other weekend ratings, Livewire fell to a 1.2, Superstars did a 1.8 and Sunday Night Heat fell back down to its normal levels after the big pick up last week to a 3.35. WCW Saturday Night was up to a 1.9, probably due to the end of college football going head-to-head, its best mark in months. It was still the lowest rated show on TBS between noon and 1:30 a.m. for the day.

ECW was in its higher marks on 12/10 doing a 1.14 rating and a 2.0 share. It was the highest rated show on TNN for the day and the rating did consistently grow, peaking at 1.27 for the Sandman vs. Credible match. RollerJam also grew to an 0.72 rating.

In the 12/9 prime time battle, Thunder going in with all the pub of sending all the top stars to the show saw it close the gap on Smackdown as each show had a respective .3 movement from normal levels. Smackdown did a 4.33 rating and 6.8 share, while Thunder did a 2.27 rating and 3.6 share. All things considered, considering the hype Smackdown has been getting and how awful Thunder has been, the fact Smackdown didn't double the rating of Thunder should almost be seen as a good sign for WCW, although just saying that shows just how desperate WCW really is if that's considered a good sign. Thunder peaked at 2.43 for Goldberg & Hart's tag title win, and its low point of the show was the Hall & Nash & Jarrett vs. Rhodes & Vicious & Benoit match at 2.05



The voting period for the 1999 Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards will remain open through January 5, 2000. The awards issue will be dated January 17. I'd suggest to please mail ballots by January 1. If you are faxing or e-mailing them, please do so by midnight on January 5 and tabulations begin the next morning. Every year we get several dozen ballots in the mail or by fax that come after the deadline that don't end up being counted. I know that most people who do these awards work very hard on it and it's a shame if the votes aren't counted because of missing the due date. The time frame for these awards is December 1, 1998 through November 30, 1999. Anything taking place before or after those dates shouldn't be considered in the balloting. There are some minor categorical changes from past years due to changes in the industry. A more detailed breakdown of the criteria for the various categories is in the 11/22 issue.
















































This week's poll results from daily polls on eyada.com. There are new questions up at 6 p.m. Eastern time every day. Results are given on Wrestling Observer Live the next day at 6 p.m. Eastern time:

What was the best November PPV show?: a) ECW November to Remember 42%; b) WWF Survivor Series 14%; c) WCW Mayhem 10%; d) UFC Japan 4%; e) They all sucked 30%

Who would you pick as Wrestler of the Decade?: a) Bret Hart 42%; b) Steve Austin 29%; c) Mitsuharu Misawa 17%; d) Vader 4%; e) Jushin Liger 8%

What did you think of Juventud Guerrera's commentary on Thunder on 12/9?: a) He was funny and should be a regular 22%; b) He was funny but the joke ran its course 25%; c) He was average 2%; d) He was bad 24%; e) Didn't watch Thunder 27%

The traditional Observer poll response to WWF Armageddon at press time: Thumbs up 28 (25.2%); Thumbs down 54 (48.6%); In the middle 29 (26.1%); Best match poll: Jericho vs. Chyna 29, McMahon vs. Helmsley 21, Angle vs. Blackman 11; Worst match poll: Womens evening gown match 25, Big Show vs. Bossman 20, Hollys vs. Viscera & Rakishi 19, McMahon vs. Helmsley 16, Venis vs. Bulldog vs. Brown 10

Online response to the same basic question: a) Thumbs up 60%; b) Thumbs down 8%; c) Thumbs in the middle 16%; d) Didn't watch show 16%

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12/3 Marksville, LA (Superstar Wrestling Explosion - 1,450): Charlie Norris b Brian Costello, Mini P.O.D. b Little Chucky, Public Enemy b Rock & Roll Express, Steve Keirn b Greg Valentine, Tatanka b One Man Gang, Viscera DDQ Road Dogg

12/4 Cedar Rapids, IA (WCW - 2,010): Curt Hennig b Disco Inferno, WCW cruiserweight title: Evan Karagis b Maestro, Barbarian b Prince Iaukea, Jushin Liger b Psicosis, Jeff Jarrett b Dustin Rhodes, WCW tag titles: Creative Control b Jim Duggan & Chavo Guerrero Jr., Chris Benoit b Ric Flair, WCW title: Bret Hart b Sting

12/5 Albany, NY (WWF - 8,147): Head Bangers b Taka Michinoku & Sho Funaki, WWF womens title: Ivory b Jacqueline, Prince Albert b Papi Chulo, Al Snow b Godfather, Cage match for WWF title: Big Show b Big Bossman-DQ, Kurt Angle b Mark Henry, X-Pac b Val Venis, WWF tag titles: Test & Mankind b New Age Outlaws-DQ

12/5 Hartford, CT (WWF - 7,066): Bob & Crash Holly b Pete Gas & Rodney, Rakishi Phatu b Sean Stasiak, IC title: Chyna NC Chris Jericho, European title: British Bulldog b Christian, Rock b Hunter Hearst Helmsley, D-Lo Brown b Steve Blackman, Kane b Viscera, Matt & Jeff Hardy won three-way over Dudleys and Too Cool

12/6 Kanazawa (New Japan - 3,200 sellout): Hiroshi Tanahashi b Wataru Inoue, Shinya Makabe b Katsuyori Shibata, El Samurai b Black Cat, Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto b Minoru Tanaka & Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin, Brian Johnston & Kazuyuki Fujita & Takashi Iizuka b Tadao Yasuda & Yuji Nagata & Junji Hirata, Manabu Nakanishi & Shiro Koshinaka b Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto, Hiro Saito & Satoshi Kojima & Keiji Muto & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Michael Wallstreet & Super J & Masahiro Chono & Don Frye

12/6 Kobe (Michinoku Pro - 243): Chaparita Asari b Saya Endo, Gran Hamada b Super Boy, Minoru Fujita & Masaaki Mochizuki b Shiryu II & Great Sasuke, Jinsei Shinzaki b Curry Man, Yoshikazu Taru & Sumo Dandy Fuji & Cima b Jodie Fleisch & Tiger Mask & Magnum Tokyo

12/7 Madison, WI (WCW Thunder tapings - 3,953/1,864 paid): Dean Malenko b Booker T, Vampiro b Prince Iaukea, WCW tag titles: Bret Hart & Bill Goldberg b Creative Control to win titles, Perry Saturn b Stevie Ray, Lex Luger NC Buff Bagwell, Diamond Dallas Page b Sting, Scott Hall & Kevin Nash & Jeff Jarrett b Sid Vicious & Chris Benoit & Dustin Rhodes

12/7 Osaka (Michinoku Pro - 410): Beef Wellington b Kazuya Yuasu, Saya Endo b Chaparita Asari, Shiryu II & Great Sasuke b Jodie Fleisch & Gran Hamada, Jinsei Shinzaki b Chad Collyer, Curry Man & Super Boy & Cima b Magnum Tokyo & Masaaki Mochizuki & Minoru Fujita

12/7 Mexico City Arena Coliseo (EMLL): Sombra de Plata & El Pegaso b Fiero & Cafre, La Flecha & Ricky Marvin b Sangre Azteca & Enemigo Publico, Solar & Mr. Hoy & Solar II b Super Cacao & Karloff Lagarde Jr. & Valentin Mayo, Halcon Negro Jr. & Violencia & Mr. Mexico b Tony Rivera & Brazo de Oro & Astro Rey Jr., Gigante Silva & Olimpico & Atlantis b Black Warrior & Blue Panther & Mascara Ano 2000 & Apolo Dantes

12/7 Louisville (NWA Ohio Valley Wrestling): Low Rider d American Eagle, Damaja & Rico Constantino b Vito & Guido Andretti, Bull Buchanan & Mr. Black b B.J. Payne & Scotty Sabre, Rob Conway b Nick Dinsmore & Kenny Bolin, Damaja & Constantino b Buchanan & Black 12/8 Tokyo Yoyogi Gym II (All Japan women - 3,880): Ayako Seki b Miyuki Fujii, Chaparita Asari & Hiromi Yagi b Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi, Kaoru Ito & Momoe Nakanishi b Sumie Sakai & Megumi Yabushita, Lioness Asuka b Nanae Takahashi, WWWA tag titles/2 of 3 falls: Tomoko Watanabe & Kumiko Maekawa b Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda, WWWA title: Yumiko Hotta b Takako Inoue, Manami Toyota b Kyoko Inoue

12/8 Hiroshima (Michinoku Pro - 800): Beef Wellington b Kazuya Yuasu, Saya Endo b Chihiro Nakano, Masaaki Mochizuki & Jinsei Shinzaki b Shiryu II & Chad Collyer, Hanzo Nakajima b Yuasu, Super Boy & Curry Man & Cima b Great Sasuke & Gran Hamada & Jodie Fleisch, Magnum Tokyo b Minoru Fujita

12/8 Osaka (JWP): Akyuto Sae & Kyoko Ichiki b Commando Boirshoi & Kaori Yoneyama, Yoshiko Tamura b Misae Genki, Carlos Amano b Kayoko Haruyama, Tamura b Amano, Devil Masami & Runyuyu b Dynamite Kansai & Azumi Hyuga

12/9 Matsue (New Japan - 3,000 sellout): Hiroshi Tanahashi b Katsuyori Shibata, Dr. Wagner Jr. b Shinya Makabe, Minoru Tanaka & Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai b Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Takashi Iizuka & Kazuyuki Fujita b Shiro Koshinaka & Black Cat, Brian Johnston & Junji Hirata b Tadao Yasuda & Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi & Kensuke Sasaki b Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Keiji Muto b Super J & Don Frye & Masahiro Chono

12/9 Dover, DE (ECW - 550): Jerry Lynn b Simon Diamond, Mikey Whipwreck b C.W. Anderson, Danny Doring & Roadkill won three-way over Nova & Jazz and Dupp Brothers, ECW tag titles: Raven & Tommy Dreamer b Steve Corino & Jack Victory, ECW title: Mike Awesome b Angel, New Jack & Axl Rotten b Tony DeVito & Newz, Three-way with Super Calo, Tom Marquez and Ikuto Hidaka was a no contest, Spike Dudley b Little Guido, Justin Credible & Lance Storm b Chris Candido & Rhino

12/9 Hitachinaka (FMW): Yoshinori Sasaki b Naohiko Yamazaki, Kaori Nakayama b Emi Motokawa, Hisakatsu Oya & Tetsuhiro Kuroda b Flying Kid Ichihara & Ricky Fuji, Gedo & Jado b Lance Cade & American Dragon, Masato Tanaka & Mr. Gannosuke & H b Hido & Koji Nakagawa & Kintaro Kanemura

12/9 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (LLPW - 1,600): Carol Midori & Sayuri Okino b Mizuki Endo & Keiko Aono, Noriyo Tateno b Karula (Harley Saito), Shinobu Kandori b Mach Junji, Eagle Sawai & Rumi Kazama b Tateno & Saito

12/9 Jeffersonville, IN (Ohio Valley Wrestling TV tapings): Rico Constantino & Damaja b Rip Rogers & Jason Lee-DQ, Low Rider b Vito Andretti, Sean Casey b Randy Royal, Mr. Black b B.J. Payne, Flash Flanagan b Scotty Sabre, Rob Conway b Bull Buchanan-DQ, Constantino b Mr. Black

12/9 Medicine Hat, Alberta (Stampede Wrestling): Tiger Khan b Michael Lewinsky, Dick Butkus Jr. b Soddam Insane, William Yeats b Wavell Starr, Gothic Knight DCOR Cyborg, Dick Raines NC Greg Pawluk, Bruce Hart & Pawluk & Starr won three-way over Yeats & Ruffy Silverstein & Butkus Jr. and Dick Raines & Khan & Insane

12/10 Osaka Furitsu Gym (New Japan - 6,700 sellout): Hiroshi Tanahashi b Wataru Inoue, Shinya Makabe b Katsuyori Shibata, Tatsuhito Takaiwa b Minoru Tanaka, Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto b Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin, Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsumi Fujinami b Michael Wallstreet & Super J, Brian Johnston & Takashi Iizuka & Kensuke Sasaki b Kazuyuki Fujita & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Don Frye & Masahiro Chono, IWGP hwt title: Genichiro Tenryu b Keiji Muto to win title

12/10 Richmond, VA (ECW TNN tapings - 3,000/2,000 paid): Nova & Kid Cash won three-way over Danny Doring & Roadkill and Dupp Brothers, Jerry Lynn b Little Guido, Mikey Whipwreck b C.W. Anderson, Three-way with Tom Marquez, Ikuto Hidaka and Super Calo was no contest, Simon Diamond b Jazz, New Jack b Tony DeVito, ECW title: Mike Awesome b Newz, ECW tag titles: Raven & Tommy Dreamer b Steve Corino & Jack Victory, Justin Credible & Lance Storm b Rhino & Chris Candido, ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam b Spike Dudley

12/10 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL year end spectacular): Tzuki & Ultimo Dragoncito b Pequeno Pierroth & Espectrito I, Virus & Rencor Latino b Tigre Blanco & Pantera, El Satanico & Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero b Mr. Niebla & Emilio Charles Jr. & Tarzan Boy, Gigante Silva & Brazo de Plata & Atlantis b Pierroth Jr. & Fuerza Guerrera & Gran Markus Jr. & Villano III-DQ, CMLL hwt title: Universo 2000 b Rayo de Jalisco Jr.

12/10 Ciudad Madero (AAA - 13,000 sellout): Alda & Cinthia Moreno & Faby Apache b Tiffany & Rossy Moreno & Miss Janeth, La Parka Jr. & Hector Garza & Oriental & AAA Mascara Sagrada b El Hijo del Solitario & Abismo Negro II & Electro Shock & Blue Demon Jr., Heavy Metal & Perro Aguayo Jr. b Abidies Irison & Kick Boxer, Mexican national atomicos title: Los Vatos Locos b Los Vipers Primera Clase to win titles, Canek & Dos Caras & El Alebrije b Cibernetico & Doink the Clown & Tiger Steele-DQ, Street fight mask vs. mask: Octagon b Jaque Mate (Unmasked as Jaime Alvarez)

12/10 Nagoya (Michinoku Pro - 568): Beef Wellington b Kazuya Yuasu, Hiromi Yagi & Saya Endo b Chaparita Asari & Chihiro Nakano, Jinsei Shinzaki b Minoru Fujita, Cima & Super Boy & Curry Man b Jodie Fleisch & Shiryu II & Magnum Tokyo, NWA middleweight title: Great Sasuke b Masaaki Mochizuki

12/11 Salem, VA (ECW - 2,200): Jerry Lynn b Simon Diamond, Jazz & Nova & Kid Cash b Dupp Brothers, Ikuto Hidaka won three-way over Super Calo and Tom Marquez, ECW title: Mike Awesome b C.W. Anderson, ECW tag titles: Raven & Tommy Dreamer b Angel & Tony DeVito, New Jack b Vic Grimes, Spike Dudley b Little Guido, Sabu b Mikey Whipwreck, Justin Credible & Lance Storm b Danny Doring & Roadkill, ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam b Rhino

12/11 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (FMW - 2,150 sellout): American Dragon & Lance Cade b Yoshinori Sasaki & Naohiko Yamazaki, Kaori Nakayama b Emi Motokawa, WEW six man titles: Koji Nakagawa & Gedo & Jado b Flying Kid Ichihara & Ricky Fuji & Chocoball Mukai to win titles, Yoshihiro Tajiri b Super Crazy, WEW Hardcore title: Kintaro Kanemura b Axl Rotten, Masato Tanaka b Balls Mahoney, WEW tag titles: H & Mr. Gannosuke b Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Hisakatsu Oya

12/11 Tokyo Bay NK Hall (Shooto World Vale Tudo Open Japan '99): Rumina Sato b Rafael Cordero, Tetsuji Kato b Angelo Sergio, Takanori Gomi b Johnny Edouardo, Joao Roque d Hisao Ikeda, Vitor Robiero b Yuki Nakai, Alexandre Nogueira d Uchu Tatsumi, Kaoru Uno d Andre Pedernairis, Hayato Sakurai b Geraldo Bunn

12/11 Yokohama Bunka Gym (Arsion - 3,600): Yumi Fukawa b Candy Okutsu, Ai Fujita & Mary Apache b Rie Tamada & Linda Star, Sky High title: Chaparita Asari b Hiromi Yagi, Magnum Tokyo & Michiko Omukai b Sumo Dandy Fuji & Mikiko Futagami, Queen of Arsion title: Aja Kong b Mariko Yoshida, Twin Stars of Arsion tag title: Ayako Hamada & Akino b Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda

12/11 Memphis (Power Pro TV): B.J. Payne b Blade Boudreaux, Robbie D b Lance Jade-DQ, Steve Bradley b Scotty Sabre, Trailer Park Trash b Alan Steele, PPW title: Rico Constantino b Flash Flanagan-DQ

12/11 Osaka (Osaka Pro Wrestling - 400 sellout): Mandora b Monkey Magic, Masato Yakushiji & Chikako Shiratori b Esther Moreno & Policeman, Daioh Qualtt b Yoshito Sugamoto, Kuishinbo Kamen & Tsubasa b Super Demiken & Ebbesan, Super Delfin & Naohiro Hoshikawa b Buffalo & Dick Togo

12/11 Okayama (Michinoku Pro - 420): Chad Collyer b Beef Wellington, Chihiro Nakano b Saya Endo, Cima & Curry Man b Jodie Fleisch & Shiryu II, Masaaki Mochizuki & Jinsei Shinzaki b Minoru Fujita & Gran Hamada, Great Sasuke b Super Boy

12/11 Toms River, NJ (NWA New Jersey): Kevin Knight b Rich Myers, Backseat Boys b Earl the Pearl & Judas Young, Big Slam b Doink the Clown, Blue Meanie b Julio Fantastico, Great Zorenzo won Battle Royal, Slayer b Biggie Biggs, Ryan Shamrock b Bobcat, Gillberg b Rik Ratchett

12/12 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (FMW - 2,150 sellout): Willie Takayama (Hido) b Naohiko Yamazaki, Kaori Nakayama b Emi Motokawa, Yoshinori Sasaki & Hisakatsu Oya b Lance Cade & American Dragon, Ricky Fuji b Flying Kid Ichihara, Street fight: Gedo & Jado & Koji Nakagawa & Kintaro Kanemura b Super Crazy & Yoshihiro Tajiri & Axl Rotten & Balls Mahoney, H & Mr. Gannosuke b Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Masato Tanaka

12/12 Osaka (Osaka Pro Wrestling - 400 sellout): Chikako Shiratori b Esther Moreno, Mandora & Ebbesan b Kuishinbo Kamen & Monkey Magic, Naohiro Hoshikawa b Super Demiken, Dick Togo & Buffalo & Daioh Qualtt b Super Delfin & Tsubasa & Yoshito Sugamoto

12/12 Osaka (Gaea - 800): Sugar Sato & Chikayo Nagashima b Meiko Satomura & Saika Takeuchi, Sumie Uematsu b Sakura Hirota, Akira Hokuto & Mayumi Ozaki b Kaoru & Chigusa Nagayo, Toshiyo Yamada b Rie, Lioness Asuka & Sonoko Kato b Aja Kong & Chikayo Nagashima

12/12 Fukuyama (Michinoku Pro - 549): Beef Wellington b Chad Collyer, Chaparita Asari b Saya Endo, Cima b Jodie Fleisch, Gran Hamada & Shiryu II b Minoru Fujita & Masaaki Mochizuki, Hanzo Nakajima b Kazuya Yuasu, Great Sasuke & Jinsei Shinzaki & Super Boy & Curry Man

12/12 Fukushima (IWA Japan): Keizo Matsuda b Yuji Kito, Yuki Nishino & Katsumi Hirano b Hiroki Araiwa & Takeshi Sato, Cacao & Masao Orihara b Takashi Uwano & Great Takeru, Jason the Terrible & Leatherface b Freddy Kruger (Doug Gilbert) & Ichiro Yaguchi, IWA hwt title: Tarzan Goto b Yoshiya Yamashita

12/12 White Oak, PA (Steel City Wrestling): Bigg Playa b Trevoe Lowe, Shirley Doe & Lord Zoltan b Mark Mest & Max Havoc, Samu b Christian York, Joey Matthews b Gregory Martin, Cue Ball Carmichael b Notorious Norm, T.Rantula b Playa-DQ, Cody Michaels & Tracy Smothers b Dennis Gregory & Powerhouse Hughes

12/13 Tampa (WWF Raw is War/Jakked taping - 13,826 sellout): Bubba the Love Sponge & Gerald Brisco & Pat Patterson b Rodney & Pete Gas & Joey Abs, Papi Chulo b ?, Val Venis b Gangrel-DQ, Kurt Angle b Mideon, Bob & Crash Holly b Head Bangers, D-Lo Brown b Steve Blackman, Rikishi Phatu b British Bulldog-DQ, IC title: Chris Jericho b X-Pac-DQ, Mark Henry b Godfather, Rock & Mankind b Dudleys, Chocolate pudding match for WWF womens title: The Cat (Miss Kitty) b Tori, Acolytes NC Gas & Rodney & Abs, Cage match: Edge & Christian b Matt & Jeff Hardy, New Age Outlaws b Kane, WWF tag titles: Outlaws b Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Test

12/13 New Orleans (WCW Nitro - 6,835/4,497 paid): The Artist (Prince Iaukea aka Mike Haynor) b Maestro, Spice b Madusa, Roddy Piper ref: Buff Bagwell b Curt Hennig, Bunkhouse match: Jeff Jarrett b Chris Benoit, Tank Abbott DCOR Meng, Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn & Asya b Harlem Heat & Midnight, Power bomb vs. suplex: Sid Vicious b Steve Williams, Sting & Diamond Dallas Page b David Flair & Lex Luger, Chris Kanyon b Bam Bam Bigelow, Body bag match: Lash Leroux b Vito Lograsso, Creative Control b Paul Orndorff-DQ, Chair match: Piper b Hennig-COR, WCW tag titles: Kevin Nash & Scott Hall b Bret Hart & Bill Goldberg to win title


Special thanks to: Mike Omansky, Bryan Alvarez, Adam Pennison, Dominick Valenti, Jeff Beecher, Steve "Dr. Lucha" Sims, Dan Parris, William Burnett, Charles Warburton, Steve Conway, Joe Silva, Chuck Morris, Bill Walkowitz, Robert Edlhauser, Sammy Eans, Tim Noel, Shannon Rose, Trent Walters, Beau Hajavitch, Manuel Gonzalez, Greg Leslie, Rick Murphy, L.S. Jones



1977 - Dory & Terry Funk

1978 - Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta

1979 - Dory & Terry Funk

1980 - Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta

1981 - Bruiser Brody & Jimmy Snuka

1982 - Dory & Terry Funk

1983 - Bruiser Brody & Stan Hansen

1984 - Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu

1985 - Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase

1986 - Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu

1987 - Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu

1988 - Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy

1989 - Stan Hansen & Genichiro Tenryu

1990 - Terry Gordy & Steve Williams

1991 - Terry Gordy & Steve Williams

1992 - Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada

1993 - Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi

1994 - Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi

1995 - Mitsuharu Misawa & Kenta Kobashi

1996 - Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada

1997 - Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada

1998 - Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama

1999 - Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama



11/21 ALL JAPAN: 1. Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa went to a 30:00 draw with Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama in the tag tournament. The last 21:00 aired. This was a dead crowd in the first half and you could see they were going long. Overall this was nowhere close to the two previous strong Match of the Year candidates these teams put on. Fans really got into it as the match got going with all the near falls and it wound up as a great match, but still below expectations. ***3/4

11/28 ALL JAPAN: 1. Stan Hansen & Akira Taue beat Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori in 11:12. Match was really bad but for whatever reason, I guess seeing Hansen in the spotlight since most of it revolved around him, the match had very good heat. Nearly everything they did missed or looked bad. Taue used the nodowa on both guys and Hansen lariated Takayama for the pin. DUD; 2. Misawa & Ogawa beat Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue in a tag tourney match when Ogawa pinned Inoue in 18:38 with a back suplex. Only the finish aired. There was good heat for it; 3. Kobashi & Akiyama & Kentaro Shiga beat Vader & Johnny Smith & Maunukea Mossman in 19:16. Final 10:00 aired. Really good. Crowd really got into it when Vader was destroying Shiga. All action hot match with real good heat. Mossman may have been injured because he was barely in during the match, and just tagged in for the finish where he went for his Hawaiian crush, but Shiga reversed the move into a sunset flip for the pin. ***1/2

11/28 PANCRASE: This was an experimental sort-of PPV show put on by the Osaka Satellite company. It was a live special billed as an experimental PPV. There is just nothing interesting going on right now in Pancrase. 1. Daisuke Ishii beat Kosei Kubota via decision after 10:00. Ishii got behind Kubota and mainly controlled position. At one point he connected on a knee when Kubota shot in. There were no close calls nor did anyone appear in danger; 2. Daisuke Watanabe beat Lesley Allen in 4:47 with a wristlock. Allen seemed to know a little, but with all the fighters in the U.S. with something of a name that are willing to work cheap, the fact they brought in someone with no name tells you something; 3. Shoney Carter drew Takafumi Ito over 15:00 in a Pankration (Vale Tudo) rules match. This was the only good match on the show. It was very competitive and both were in good shape. There were some cool take downs, including Ito doing a back suplex and Carter doing a wrestling whizzer. Ito seemed to have the advantage but also got a bloody mouth, Cater also did an underhook belly-to-belly near the finish. Ito connected on a flurry of punches just before the bell. If there had been judges, it could have been a draw or a close win for Ito; 4. In another Pankration match, Bob Stines destroyed Ryushi Yanagisawa in 1:52. Stines decked him with a right at 1:00. He then decked him a second time with a left jab and threw about a dozen punches and one kick before the ref stopped it. The stoppage looked a little late as Yanagisawa really took unnecessary punishment and was really glazed when it was over; 5. Osami Shibuya drew Manabu Yamada over 15:00 in a ranking Pancrase rules match. Mostly on the mat and both guys were going for stuff and neither came close to getting anything. These Pancrase guys all know each other so well and are about the same size so it's real hard for them to catch the other. One judge gave it to Shibuya and the other two ruled it a draw so it was a majority draw; 6. Semmy Schiltt won the King of Pancrase title from Yuki Kondo in 2:28. This was totally different from their previous match where Kondo just kept taking Schiltt down to earn the decision. Schiltt clearly had trained specifically to avoid the takedown. Kondo was able to get him off his feet, but never control him on the ground. Schiltt delivered a knee on one shoot. On another, Schiltt knocked Kondo down with a knee. Kondo again tried a single leg and Schiltt grabbed a really deep choke and it was clearly over.

12/4 NEW JAPAN: 1. Nagata & Nakanishi beat Sasaki & Koshinaka in 16:36 when Nagata pinned Koshinaka after a back suplex. The last 6:00 aired. The production of the first two matches of this show was unbelievably bad for a network show. It was well below ECW standards and given how important production is for how the general public views the product, I was amazed at seeing New Japan sink to this level. Match itself was okay. Nakanishi looked bad, Nagata looked real good. **1/4; 2. Chono & Super J & Wallstreet beat Kojima & Tenzan & Hiro Saito in 15:58. The last 4:00 aired. It looked like a nothing match ending when Chono used the STF on Tenzan. After the match Team 2000 buried Tenzan under an Aristrist Team 2000 flag and Super J told Tenzan that the NWO was dead; 3. Samurai & Minoru Tanaka & Ka Shin beat Otani & Kanemoto & Takaiwa in 14:58. The last 6:30 aired. This was from a different building and it was back at least to major league production. Match was good in that it was fast moving, good execution and built to good near falls and good heat but it was also way below standards. Tanaka was the standout with his great mat wrestling. Samurai pinned Otani after a swinging reverse DDT. ***1/4; 4. Iizuka & Sasaki & Yasuda beat Nagata & Nakanishi & Koshinaka in 16:13. The final 6:00 aired. This was an average match ending with Iizuka getting the armbar on Nagata to start to build Iizuka for the Tokyo Dome. He still has no charisma. **; 5. Tenzan & Saito & Kojima beat Chono & J & Wallstreet in 7:00. The entire match aired and it was even worse then the previous match between the two teams. Aristrist now wrestles in black warm-ups that look like a cross between an NBA team and a street gang. There was nothing to this match, which for New Japan was sort of a disgrace for a TV main event, with Tenzan pinning J after a diving head-butt. 3/4*

12/5 ALL JAPAN: 1. Kobashi & Akiyama won the tag team tournament beating Hansen & Taue in 20:15. The match itself was about as good as it could have possibly been given Hansen & Taue being in there. There was a combination of excitement and sadness in all this, both in reality and in storyline. First, they showed the 12/2 matches where Kobashi & Akiyama and then Hansen & Taue won their bouts to reach the finals. The first sadness was seeing a small building only half-full for two matches to determine who goes to the finals. While this year's tournament caused the less excitement of any in history, seeing what the next to the last night was reduced to was said. As for the match, there was super heat and intensity to it. Hansen did all he could but his legs are gone. Taue's work has declined greatly over the past two years and while he was over in this match, he wasn't good, leaving Kobashi & Akiyama having to totally carry, which they did. The only lame spot was about 6:20 in, Taue went for a legdrop near the ropes and actually caught the middle rope with his leg on the way down and everyone started laughing. To his credit, he immediately threw Akiyama to the floor, undid the protective mats and DDT'd him. The match picked up with a sequence of moves with Kobashi and Taue. Later, it picked up when Taue teased a nodowa (a sumo throat push that is sort of like a choke slam) off the apron. He actually got it but Akiyama landed on the floor on his feet, but Taue then used the nodowa on the floor. He then used the nodowa in the ring but Akiyama kicked out to a huge pop. Akiyama came back with a high knee, an exploder, and then a second exploder for a huge pop on the near fall. Akiyama gave Taue a flying high knee to the back of the head and a third exploder for the pin. A few post-match things added to the story, all involving Hansen. First, in the trophy presentation, Hansen actually hit Kobashi with a trophy which is unlike usual customs in the post-tourney ceremony of doing an angle. After, Hansen was with Taue and did an interview, basically telling Taue he was sorry, that it was his fault they lost, but that he did the best he could and told Taue that if Kawada was there, that he'd have won the match. It was real sad even though Hansen is many years past his prime it was very much like Babe Ruth fading away because he was the most popular foreign wrestler in Japan for most of the past 25 years. Hansen then did an interview, almost teary eyed, wishing Baba a Merry Christmas. Real heavy stuff. ***1/2

MEXICO: The Arena Mexico season ended with something of a whimper on 12/10, as a small crowd saw Universo 2000 win the CMLL world heavyweight title that Rayo de Jalisco Jr. when Apolo Dantes KO'd Rayo with a foreign object. The Grand Prix tournament, made into a trios tournament called Torneo Siglo XXI (21st century tournament) saw The New Infernales, Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero & El Satanico take the tournament beating Mr. Niebla & Emilio Charles Jr. & Tarzan Boy in the finals

AAA had its final show of the season in contrast, before a huge crowd in Ciudad Madero also on 12/10 headlined by Octagon winning the mask vs. mask street fight match from Jaque Mate, who was unmasked as Jaime Alvarez. Octagon said that he'd retire if he lost, and since stipulation in Mexico haven't been so completely devalued as they've been in the U.S., people thought his career was at stake. There was a ton of outside interference before Octagon won via submission in the middle. Also on the show Los Vatos Locos won the National Atomicos titles from Los Vipers Primera Clase and afterwards Los Vipers P.C. split up. They had billed a co-feature of Canek & Dos Caras & El Alebrije against Cibernetico and two stars from the WWF. In mid-week, although never announced, they were to be Miguel Perez and Savio Vega. The newspapers were hinting at one of them being Steele (Val Venis), who was a big star in Mexico as world heavyweight champion before going to WWF. Not sure what happened, but they ended up being Tiger Steele, who I'm not sure who he is, and Doink the Clown, and God only knows who that could have been

Dragon Kid, who has potential to be one of the greatest high fliers of all-time, debuted for EMLL on 12/12 after missing several months after shoulder surgery

Lola Gonzalez, who was the top Mexican female wrestler of the 80s, is talking about coming out of retirement

At the 12/7 Arena Coliseo show, the Distrito Federal Lucha Commission gave awards to both Ricky Marvin and Sangre Azteca as co-rookies of the year, also gave Mascara Ano 2000 a plaque for being part of the Trio of the year (Los Hermanos Dinamita) and gave Gigante Silva an award for being the biggest drawing foreign star of the year. Speaking of Silva, ont he 12/7 show at Arena Coliseo, Silva did what was described in the newspapers as one of the greatest pescados ever seen. I swear I'm not making this up. They said he got incredible height and distance. Four of the wrestlers were there to catch him. That was in a match with Silva & Atlantis & Olimpico beating Black Warrior & Blue Panther & Mascara Ano 2000 & Apolo Dantes with Olimpico pinning Warrior clean for the second week in a row which appears to set up Warrior's NWA light heavyweight title defense against him for 12/14.

ALL JAPAN: Mitsuharu Misawa announced that All Japan would be holding the first wrestling show ever in the new Hokkaido Sports Center in Sapporo on 2/17, a 10,000-seat building which opens four days earlier. Misawa said it would be the second event in the building and that it would be promoted as a Budokan Hall calibre show which would make it the first major show of 2000

The main matches for the January tour were announced this past week. The first show of the year with the traditionally awful Battle Royal will be 1/2 at Korakuen Hall headlined by Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa & Masahito Kakihara vs. Akira Taue & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Johnny Smith, Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Takao Omori & Yoshihiro Takayama & Satoru Asako and Tamon Honda & Masao Inoue vs. Steve Williams & George Hines. Williams going on this tour due to all the politics involved with the New Japan/WCW relationship may end his WCW tenure. Williams is working with WCW on a per-night deal rather than anything long-term. The feeling is that he was probably brought in for one joke, because Russo is actually the one who lobbied to get the WWF to drop him last year, and the joke has long since been played out. The 1/3 show with the traditional junior heavyweight Battle Royal at Korakuen Hall has Kobashi & Akiyama vs. Taue & Jun Izumida, Misawa & Honda vs. Omori & Takayama and Hiroshi Hase & Smith vs. Williams & Hines. Major shows are 1/7 in Hiroshima with Misawa & Ogawa & Hase & Masamichi Marufuji vs. Kobashi & Akiyama & Shiga & Kanemaru and Vader & Williams & Smith vs. Ace & Mike Barton & Hines. 1/9 in Hakata is what I believe to be the first ever singles match with Misawa vs. Hase, plus Kobashi vs. Omori, Akiyama vs. Takayama and Vader & Smith vs. Williams & Hines. 1/10 in Kumamoto has Kobashi & Akiyama defending the tag titles against Vader & Smith. 1/11 in Kagoshima has Honda & Inoue defending the All-Asian tag titles against Izumida & Hase, which would be Hase's first title match ever in All Japan, plus Williams & Hines vs. Ace & Barton, which would be the first match-up of Williams vs. Barton. Based on the Bart Gunn knockout of Steve Williams in Brawl-for-All in 1998, they are going to do a Japanese feud between the two of them. Also Misawa & Ogawa & Kakihara vs. Kobashi & Akiyama & Shiga, Taue vs. Takayama and Vader vs. Omori. 1/17 in Osaka will be the return of Toshiaki Kawada, in a singles match against Kobashi which would be the basically the fourth anniversary of their 60:00 draw which was one of the greatest matches ever. Also Misawa & Akiyama vs. Vader & Taue and the first singles match of Williams vs. Barton since Brawl-for-All. 1/22 at Korakuen Hall has Ogawa defending the PWF jr. title against Tsuyoshi Kikuchi plus the finals of the Asunaro tournament with younger wrestlers. The final show of the tour is 1/23 at Yokohama Bunka Gym with Vader defending the Triple Crown against Akiyama, Kawada & Taue vs. Omori & Takayama and Misawa & Ogawa vs. Williams & Too Cold Scorpio

Akiyama competed in the Bicycle Festival at 12/11 at the Tokyo finishing fourth in the celebrity race

11/28 TV show did a surprisingly high 4.6 rating.

NEW JAPAN: The final major show of the year, or century, or millennium, took place 12/10 in Osaka before a sellout 6,700 fans ending with Genichiro Tenryu becoming on the second wrestler in history (Vader being the first) to win both the Triple Crown and IWGP heavyweight titles. Tenryu, a few months before his 50th birthday making him the oldest major league world champion in Japanese wrestling history, pinned Keiji Muto in 26:32 after two Northern lights bombs. The title switch had been planned for some time but it is a strange booking decision if only because New Japan is similar to WCW in that they are fading companies that desperately need to get younger wrestlers over (New Japan has done a much better job at booking in that direction but still hasn't managed to make the new wrestlers into top draws yet, but unlike WCW, its problems are that its wrestlers in their 30s are breaking down). To his credit, Tenryu works well in the situation of being the older wrestler that the young guys are trying to beat to elevate themselves. This looks to set up for Kensuke Sasaki to get the title since he'll challenge Tenryu on the 1/4 Tokyo Dome show, which, as the world title match, has been moved to the main event spot on the company's traditional biggest show of the year. Sasaki would be the guy on the pecking order who "should" be champion since Muto and Masahiro Chono are both banged up and this isn't the time to go back to Shinya Hashimoto. Sasaki is the right age but the problem is the fans recognize he's a guy who is pushed hard but isn't that great which is why after all these years he's still not at the level of the big three. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima beat Don Frye & Masahiro Chono in the semi in 14:05 when Tenzan pinned Chono with a diving head-butt. They ran two angles underneath. Before a six-man tag (Brian Johnston & Takashi Iizuka & Sasaki beating Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata & Kazuyuki Fujita when Sasaki pinned Fujita), Kazunari Murakami and Naoya Ogawa of UFO hit the ring to go after Iizuka, who they face with Hashimoto at the Dome show. It ended up with Tatsumi Fujinami involved and in a pull-apart. Also, before a jr. heavyweight tag match (Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani beating Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin), Jushin Liger returned and said that in his IWGP jr. title defense on 1/4 against Kanemoto, that if Kanemoto loses, he has to shave his head and start back as an opening match wrestler

The complete line-up, and the order of the matches for 1/4 will open with Otani & Takaiwa defending the IWGP jr. tag titles against Minoru Tanaka & Kendo Ka Shin, followed by Shiro Koshinaka vs. Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit), Liger vs. Kanemoto in the title vs. hair match, Manabu Nakanishi vs. rookie Kenzo Suzuki making his pro debut, Kazuo Yamazaki's retirement match against Yuji Nagata, Kimo vs. Kazuyuki Fujita, Scott Norton vs. Frye, Bill Goldberg vs. Rick Steiner, Iizuka & Hashimoto vs. Murakami & Ogawa, Muto vs. Chono and finishing with Tenryu vs. Sasaki for the IWGP title. The Riki Choshu vs. Atsushi Onita match now appears to be held back for the April Dome show which is scheduled to be headlined by another Hashimoto vs. Ogawa match

Despite all the signs of business being stale and on the way down, and it is, for the total year of 1999, New Japan actually drew more fans than any year since the remarkable 1995 year. New Japan drew, not including the 12/23 Korakuen Hall show, 715,756 fans in 136 shows or an average of 5,263 fans per show. Last year's average was 4,703 per show so attendance was up on a per show basis was up 12% this year. The 1997 average was 5,287, the 1996 average was 4,472 and the 1995 average was 6,631

Regarding the relations between WCW and New Japan, the contract between the two companies expires in about a year

In a real surprise, Tatsumi Fujinami is attempting to revitalize his career by going to his past and going back into the junior heavyweight division that he quite frankly revolutionized even before Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid (although they took it to the next level). Fujinami has over the past month dropped from 255 pounds, very high for him due to not doing any training and only working in the office and occasionally wrestling, to training every morning at 5 a.m. before work and dieting heavily on meal replacement powders to 229 as of 12/14. The junior heavyweight division in New Japan goes up to 220 pounds legit (not that they aren't immune to not being totally strict if necessary either) and Fujinami has talked about next year getting under 220 to feud with Kanemoto, Liger, Otani, Takaiwa, etc., which basically will give life to his career if he can pull it off without looking bad, and also hopefully give them and the division credibility since this is basically the equivalent of a Flair or Savage dropping down to 220 and feuding with the cruiserweights. Fujinami was a prelim wrestler in Japan before they created the WWF jr. heavyweight belt in 1978 for him, and he began to put junior heavies on the map at the time the lighter weights basically meant nothing anywhere outside of Mexico and England after the retirement of Danny Hodge. Fujinami became Antonio Inoki's understudy and the No. 2 babyface in the company on the pecking order which made the jr. title very prestigious within the company for the basically four years he held the title before moving up to heavyweight, at which point the WWF International title, which he feuded with Riki Choshu over, became the No. 2 belt. In 1982, the original Tiger Mask became the king of the junior heavies. While Fujinami was about 210, Satoru Sayama, who played Tiger Mask, was closer to 170. Very early in the Sayama reign they realized that while Fujinami was able to work well with all the heavyweights including huge men like Hogan, Andre and Stan Hansen, that Sayama, at 170, looked too tiny in there with simple large heavyweights like Don Muraco, Dick Murdoch and Masked Superstar, so that's when the junior heavyweights really became their own division and for the most part were kept away from the big heavyweights to not ruin them, a lesson in success that nobody in the U.S. has understood since

After the Tokyo Dome, the next major Tokyo show will be 2/1 at Yoyogi Gym II which is a small 4,000-seater called "Fighting Spirit 2000.

The 12/23 Korakuen Hall show which is the only remaining show on the schedule this year has Shinjiro Otani vs. Katsuyoshi Shibata, Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Koji Kanemoto vs. Wataru Inoue, Shinya Makabe (who is being promoted into the regular junior rotation next year) & El Samurai vs. Kendo Ka Shin & Black Cat, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto and main event is Tadao Yasuda & Iizuka & Koshinaka & Sasaki vs. Muto & Tenzan & Kojima & Hiro Saito

Michael Wallstreet finished up here on the 12/10 show and is expected not to return next year because he's going back to WCW with the Varsity Club gimmick

It is said that Tenryu is up to bench pressing 440, which if true and it almost sounds ludicrous to even consider that it is, is a completely amazing total for a 49-year-old man, even one that probably goes about 275 these days

11/27 TV show at 2:40 a.m. was down to a 1.8 rating.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: All Japan women ran its final major show of the year on 12/8 at Tokyo Yoyogi Gym II before 3,880 fans (if that number is accurate, and who knows if it is, that would be basically a full house) for the first Manami Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue match in several years. Toyota scored the pin in 23:03. In the mid-90s, these two had probably the greatest matches on the planet. Also Yumiko Hotta retained the WWWA title pinning Takako Inoue in 13:29 in a match where Inoue used a stun gun on Hotta twice and Kumiko Maekawa & Tomoko Watanabe won the WWWA tag titles beating Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda in a 2/3 fall match. This match, which aired on the Athena show on 12/11 (which drew a 2.7 rating), was said to have been excellent. After the Toyota-Inoue match, they did challenges to set up Hotta defending the title against Toyota next year. Ayako Seki, the 230-pound 15-year old being groomed to be the 21st century version of Aja Kong, made her debut on the show pinning Miyuki Fujii. Seki did lose in her first week to tiny (100 pounds) Momoe Nakanishi. They are dressing her up in overalls to make her look like a female Haystacks Calhoun, who was a big American draw in the 60s and early 70s

The RINGS tournament finals was announced as being 2/26 at Budokan Hall. They also have the annual all shoot show from Amsterdam, Holland on 2/6 which will include Yasuhito Namekawa vs. Valentijn Overeem and Willie Peeters vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara

Hiroshi Iwata, one of the original pioneers of Japanese pro wrestling promotion passed away on 12/11 at the age of 77 from lung cancer. Iwata was Rikidozan's business manager and booked the foreigners for the old JWA promotion, ran the business and worked as a television announcer for the matches. He also later helped start New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972

Michinoku Pro will have the Great Sasuke 10 year Memorial show on 3/1 in Nagoya

FMW on 12/11 at Korakuen Hall drew a sellout 2,150 fans for a show featuring four ECW guys. The main event saw H & Mr. Gannosuke retain their WEW tag titles beating Hisakatsu Oya & Tetsuhiro Kuroda in 23:24 when Gannosuke pinned Oya using a thunder fire power bomb. Masato Tanaka pinned Balls Mahoney in what was described as their ECW style match, using a lot of chairs and brawling in the crowd. Axl Rotten was Mahoney's manager and interfered as well. They did the same three chair shot spot Tanaka does to get over in every ECW match, before Tanaka scored the pin after a chair to the head off the top rope in 13:34. Kintaro Kanemura retained their hardcore title pinning Rotten in 13:48 in a double juice brawling all over match ending when Kanemura came from off a ladder onto Rotten through a table for the pin in what was said to have been a good match. The reported best match on the show sounded like the same basic real good Yoshihiro Tajiri pin on Super Crazy in 7:20 after a power bomb, a moonsault and a lariat. The other major bout on the show saw Koji Nakagawa & Gedo & Jado win the WEW six-man titles over Flying Kid Ichihara & Ricky Fuji & Chocoball Mukai in 9:30 when Jado pinned Mukai after a lariat. After the match, Ichihara and Fuji issued challenges to each other and if Ichihara lost, he'd have to break up with valet Sena Wakana. Before the show, FMW President Shoichi Arai announced that Kodo Fuyuki was fired (an angle based on him losing to Tanaka on the 11/23 big show) and that next year they would put more emphasis on womens wrestling and announced Kyoko Inoue would wrestle on their shows, which got a pretty big pop. On the 12/12 show at Korakuen Hall which also drew a packed house of 2,150, Hido changed his ring name to Willie Takayama. His real name is Hideo Takayama. Willie is after Willie Williams, the karate star of the 70s who he faced on 11/23 at Yokohama Arena. He's being billed as Williams' new protege doing a martial arts gimmick. Ichihara lost his match to Fuji which means Sena Wakana has to leave Ichihara. In what was billed as a Team No Respect vs. ECW street fight, Gedo & Jado & Nakagawa & Kanemura beat Rotten & Mahoney & Crazy & Tajiri in 13:19 when Kanemura pinned Rotten and the main event saw Gannosuke & H beat Tanaka & Kuroda. Tanaka announced he was leaving Japan to wrestle Mike Awesome for the ECW title on 12/17 in Nashville. In an angle, Tanaka is supposed to be mad at FMW and leaving for ECW because he beat Fuyuki in the loser had to leave the company match, but since then he has wrestled very few main events, with Oya & Kuroda feuding with H & Gannosuke on top

Fuyuki is doing an angle claiming he's going to set up a new promotion called ECW Japan to feud with FMW (he lost a loser leaves town match on 11/23). He went to the ECW show on 12/9 to set up this angle

Only the second man vs. woman singles match in Japanese history took place on 12/9 on the LLPW show at Korakuen Hall which led to a crowd of almost 1,600. Shinobu Kandori, generally considered the legit toughest of the Japanese women wrestlers and a former world class judoka, faced Mach Junji of the Battlarts promotion, a smaller wrestler. Kandori got the armbar but Junji broke it with a low blow. At that point Takeshino, who was Junji's second, ran in. Kandori then grabbed a chair and cleaned house, hitting Junji with it and pinning him. On that show they announced Harley Saito as the LLPW MVP for 1999 and that the Saito LLPW title win over Kandori was the company's Match of the Year

Shinya Kojika is said to be furious that Yoshihiro Tajiri is working for FMW. Tajiri started his career with Big Japan before leaving for Mexico, and being spotted there and joining ECW through the Victor Quinones connection

Arsion ran its final big show of the year on 12/11 at Yokohama Bunka Gym before a crowd announced as 3,600. They had a mixed tag match on the show using male wrestlers Magnum Tokyo and Sumo Dandy Fuji. The top matches saw Aja Kong keep the Queen of Arsion singles title pinning Mariko Yoshida in 12:16 after a spinning back fist. Ayako Hamada & Akino (formerly Mika Akino) kept their Twin Stars of Arsion tag belts beating Etusko Mita & Mima Shimoda with Hamada pinning Shimoda in 22:38 using a Hamada cutter

Toryumon opens its season on 1/16 at Korakuen Hall with the return of Dragon Kid teaming with Magnum Tokyo & Yoshiyuki Saito against Cima & Suwa & Sumo Dandy Fuji

Great Sasuke retained the NWA middleweight title pinning Masaaki Mochizuki on 12/10 in Nagoya

Yoshiko Tamura won the AWF title from Bloody on 12/7 in Tokyo for the JD office

IWA promoter Kiyoshi Asano is the latest pro wrestler to think he's Vince McMahon or Eric Bischoff, as he's going to become a pro wrestler and start feuding with his world champion, Tarzan Goto.

HERE AND THERE: When Gordon Solie went in for the larynx operation a few weeks back, he was told by the emergency room doctor just before surgery that he was down to 40% breathing capacity and that if he didn't have the operation that day, he was down to 72 to 96 hours left to live

Barry Blaustein's "Beyond the Mat" has gotten a national distributor in Lionsgate. The movie will be released in theaters nationally probably in late February or early March. For those in this area, the movie will be screened as part of the San Jose Film Festival in January. When ABC's 20/20 talked with Jim Byrne of WWF about the movie, he ripped it and claimed it gave a distorted picture of pro wrestling and claimed many of the scenes were staged and even fiction. He in particular had the audacity to claim the scenes where Mick Foley's kids were crying while watching the chair shots at the Royal Rumble last year were staged by the producers, which is most definitely not the case

The ABC 20/20 piece on wrestling schools has been rescheduled for 12/16

The WWC "End of the Century" tour will be from 12/16 through 12/19 and in a sense be competition on the small island for the IWA tour which will feature mainly WWF talent including the return of the Undertaker, which takes place on 12/15 in San Juan at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum and 12/16. During those shows, they'll be having a tournament to crown the IWA lightweight champ with first round matches of Pablo Marquez (who has Babu in WWF with Tiger Ali Singh before he ran into trouble and lost his job) vs. Danny Boy (Dan Rivera, the cousin of Juan Rivera aka Savio Vega, who will help run this promotion), Christopher Daniels (Curry Man in Michinoku Pro) vs. Pepe Prado (a Florida indie wrestler), Reckless Youth vs. Taka Michinoku, Alexander Otsuka vs. Mr. Aguila (Papi Chulo in WWF), Jeff Hardy vs. Super Crazy, Great Sasuke vs. Tiger Mask and Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. Black Scorpion. Got a feeling there will be a lot of interest in videos of these matches. The WWC shows are priced from $12 down to $6 while the IWA shows are priced from $44 down to $24. Although they had been advertised on television for several weeks, Kimala, Ivan Koloff and Ron Garvin won't be part of the WWC tour and the biggest names being imported are One Man Gang, Kendall Windham, Dutch Mantel and several wrestlers from Big Japan booked through Abdullah the Butcher including Shadow WX (who has worked for this group before), Mike Samples, Ryuji Yamakawa and Tomoaki Honma. 12/17 in Ponce, PR has Carlos & Carly Colon vs. Ray Gonzalez & Gang, Invader #1 vs. Jim Steele (Wolf Hawkfield from All Japan), Butcher & Samples vs. Honma & Yamakawa, Windham vs. Chicky Starr and WX vs. Rico Suave. 12/18 in Guaynabo has Carlos Colon vs. Gang for the Universal title, Carly Colon vs. Gonzalez, Invader #1 vs. Steele, Butcher & Samples vs. Honma & Yamakawa, Shane vs. Chicky Starr in a coal miners glove match, Victor & Bouncer Bruno (who won the WWC tag titles on 12/11 in Guaynabo beating Invader #1 & Maelo Huertas, also on 12/11 El Exotico won the WWC jr. title beating El Rockero), Windham vs. Dutch Mantel, El Nene vs. Harley Lewis in a chain match and Shadow WX vs. Mustafa Saed

12/11 in Memphis was largely based on pushing the OVW wrestlers with Cornette in as booker. Cornette & Sinn are doing a program with Randy Hales & Brandon Baxter. They introduced The Damaja in promo form and built to a TV main event of PPW champ Rico Constantino defending against Flash Flanagan. Cory Maclin has mispronounced Scotty Sabre (which is pronounced the way it sounds) up to this week as Sabery but this week got it wrong in a new way, calling him "Sabrah." In the TV main, Constantino hit his finisher on Flanagan when Steve Bradley interfered for the DQ

On the rival Kick Ass Wrestling show, they had a unique atmosphere for their television taping--at a Memphis Womens Correctional Facility. The announcers were bragging about their overflow crowd of 500 fans. Like they had to arrest them and hold them hostage to get fans? At the show, Bill Dundee kept saying that he was going to bring Jerry Lawler in

The AWA has announced a television taping in February at the Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino in Laughlin, NV. They are cleverly listing the names of Rena Mero, The Road Warriors, Lenny & Lodi, Insane Clown Posse, Barry Windham and Dan Severn as "in negotiations" to appear which means they aren't saying they'll be there, only implying

NWA World Wide is back in Nashville on 12/25 headlined by Terry Taylor defending the North American title against Colorado Kid, who is back to using that name after a few weeks of going by real name Mike Rapada. Marty Jannetty is also on the show. It appears Bill Behrens and Bert Prentice are already back running the city. They had sold the promotional rights to Nashville to a guy called The Loan Ranger, and who even knows the status of all of this

The latest WNWA womens PPV date is set for 2/20. There have been three dates so far, all of which ended up being postponed. It was announced this past week that Debbie Malenko is coming out of retirement for the show. Malenko, actually no relation to the Malenkos, real name Debbie Killion, wrestled for a few years in Japan at the time Terri Power (Tori) was a regular and turned into a very good worker during the period when AJW may have had the best wrestling in the world before retiring after suffering a broken leg. She's been playing Ice Hockey of late

Trae Keller, who wrestles as Heinrich Von Keller and Heinrich Franz Keller in Nashville, went to the finals of the FX national tough man contest that was taped this past week before 4,500 fans in Jackson, TN at Oman Arena for a 1/14 air date on FX. According to the Jackson Sun what happened went like this. Promoter Art Dore, who handles the FX taping events, was aware Keller was an American pro wrestler, but he and the show's producers encouraged him to use his pro wrestling German persona to work as a heel in the fights. The story said all of the matches were shoots, but Keller used a worked German accent during his interviews between rounds and matches. He won his first match via 33 second knockout. In his second match, he won a 43 second knockout, but reportedly took a dive taking a knockdown before winning to build up the heat and excitement in that match. In the championship match, Keller faced a 235-pound local club boxer named Brandon Jowers. The promoters told Jowers to come out with an American flag. Keller knocked him down in the second round and Jowers was blown up in the third round, but Jowers still got the split decision and the championship even though most felt Keller had won. Apparently Dore expressed concern that the crowd heat was such they might riot if the decision was given to Keller, so the decision was a judges manipulation. If you can't take judges decisions in tough man as being honest, what's to believe in? Next thing you know we'll find out Don King boxing matches that go the distance have hanky panky in the judging

The PWAA Rock & Wrestling PPV show talked about being taped on 12/18 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena has been moved to 2/10 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, which would be filmed as a taped PPV show. The new schedule of people are musical performers Tito Puente and Sheila E and comedian Paul Rodriguez along with five women wrestling matches. The celebrities will be woven into the story lines and becoming involved in the matches. They are a publicly traded company and are claiming this PPV will generate $2.4 million. Considering ECW does about one-third of that, you can take that projection, stick is sideways

The 72-year-old unnamed family member of a director passed away under strange circumstances at a wrestling school in Cambridge, ONT according to a local newspaper report. The school is called the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling, although none of the actual Hart family is involved in the school. The school is run by Ike Shaw (real name Joe Flocklage), who is from Calgary and is friends with several family members including Davey Boy Smith. Police came to the school with a search warrant raid, and the woman suffered a heart attack and died. Members of the Waterloo, ONT police fraud unit smashed through a glass door at the bottom of the stairwell at the school. The women took ill from the shock and was rushed to the hospital where she was declared dead

Florida Championship Wrestling, which runs shows in South Florida, often at Indian reservations, along with Big entertainment Inc., a NASDAQ publicly traded company, announced on 12/9 that are starting a group called BeachWrestling.com. This will feature webcast matches from Miami's South Beach and other beachfront locations.

Rena Mero did a photo shoot for Muscle and Fitness. Well, she is the world's fittest woman. Speaking of Mero, TV Guide this pat week noted her being on the Sci Fi Channel's "First Wave" on 1/9 as being the last hurrah for Sable. Apparently the deal to do this show was done before she had to give up usage of the name so this will be the last show where she's billed under the name. The piece also noted that the show "Relic Hunter," shot in Canada, saw the press hounding her so much at work causing delays in shooting that star Tia Carrere nixed the idea of Mero becoming a recurring character on the show

Stampede Wrestling has pulled out of running Edmonton largely because they couldn't afford paying a doctor $250 per show as mandated by the commission and another $100 per show license fee plus three percent of the gate going to the commission when the shows weren't drawing well. Ross & Bruce Hart, who are running the company, were told in May when they were planning on opening up, that they wouldn't have to pay for the doctor as long as the wrestlers got their own physicals from a family doctor, and that the commission doctor would just show up, take the boys blood pressure and go home. The local media has been very pro-Harts on this issue because of the claim that in May, commission secretary Ron Hayter had told Bruce Hart that the doctors fees could be waived if the wrestlers got physicals from their own doctor. Stampede claimed it would return to Edmonton weekly if the doctors fees are dropped. It wouldn't be up for a vote before the City Council to overturn the doctors fees until May 2000. It should be noted that during the history of Stampede Wrestling in the 70s and 80s, the promotion paid those same weekly fees. They've also moved the Calgary shows out of the traditional Pavilion to a building with lower rent. Harry Smith, Davey Boy's son, is still working the Calgary shows and Hart sisters Elle Neidhart and Diana Smith have done angles as well. Bruce Hart, who I believe to be about 47, wrestled in the Calgary main event on 12/10 beating William Yeats. Stampede has opposition in Can Am Wrestling, which runs 15 shows per month in Western Canada and drew 80 fans the last time they were in Edmonton. Len St. Clair (Dr. Luther for Onita) and Steve Rivers (Steel) are regulars and they are bringing Kurrgan in next month

The Kansas City Star had a note about Harley Race's bittersweet return to Kansas City, noting he was promoting a World League Wrestling show over the weekend just days after his brother Tom Race was killed 12/6 in an auto accident when he was run off the road near Maryville, MO

Some more indie wrestlers including Knuckles Nelson of the late Tony Rumble's NWA New England show appeared dong a worked angle on the 11/24 Jerry Springer show

Jason Sensation, who did a couple of great WWF angles imitating Owen Hart, made his pro wrestling debut on 11/28 in Toronto. He was said to have looked pretty good for a first match in losing in the main event to El Fuego Kid

The 12/5 Silicon Valley magazine, which is the Sunday newsmagazine of the San Jose Mercury News, did a one page interview with me regarding pro wrestling and this newsletter

Empire Sports Network has a weekly Tuesday night wrestling news show from 9:30 to 10 p.m. called Over the Top Rope

ISPW on 12/28 in Parsippany, NJ at the High School has Fabulous Moolah vs. Desiree Peterson (I think I saw that match in 1975) plus Gillberg, Samu, Ace Darling and more. For more info call 973-684-3137.

MMA: Rickson Gracie and Masakatsu Funaki had a contract signing for their match which will take place on 5/26 at the Tokyo Dome. At the 12/15 press conference to announce the formation of the new Coliseum 2000 promotion in conjunction with TV Tokyo (Ch. 12 in Tokyo), they announced that the card would air live on DirecTV on PPV in Japan and Ch. 12 would air it in prime time later that evening. One can knock the fact that these two shouldn't be the biggest MMA match of the year, but the reality from a business standpoint is that this is the biggest match of next year

Pride held a press conference on 12/9 which apparently was to announce its tournament bracketing for the 1/30 Tokyo Dome show. Unfortunately, the bracketing hasn't been completed so the only thing announced is that the 1/30 show will have eight tournament matches and two non-tournament singles matches. One tournament match was announced, which is Enson Inoue vs. Masaaki Satake, which I guess is somewhat intriguing in Japan from a mark standpoint of an NHB fighter facing a genuine K-1 star, except Satake doesn't have the ground experience to compete with someone of Inoue's level. They announced Takada, Sakuraba, Inoue, Alexander Otsuka, Igor Vovchanchin, Mark Kerr, Royce Gracie, Mark Coleman, Gary Goodridge, Satake (making his MMA debut), Naoya Ogawa and Akira Shoji as appearing, but it was noted that neither Takada nor Ogawa, the two biggest drawing cards on the show, appeared at the press conference. All we've heard is that they went to Frank Shamrock to face Sakuraba on that show but Shamrock asked for $150,000 (which is pretty much the fighters way of turning down a deal) which ended negotiations immediately, and that they are looking for foreigners with some size and some reputation to do jobs for Takada and Ogawa

Got a look at the K-1 Grand Prix finals from the Tokyo Dome on 12/5. First off, all the initial reports of the final match were incorrect in that Ernesto Hoost won the final match with a knockout in the third round, not the first, over Mirko Filipovic. It was a great show overall. The crowd was announced as 58,200 fans. The only time they showed a full crowd shot was after the second match and it looked to be about 30,000. Often at big fights the crowd is late arriving although if that was the case, the people there would be scattered and not clumped in certain sections, and they were clumped with huge empty spots. Considering K-1's popularity, that crowd should be really scary for DSE, which doesn't have nearly the drawing power in its fighters, trying to run the Dome on 1/30, and should even scare New Japan. There wasn't much of note in the Sam Greco win over Ray Sefo via decision, or Filipovic's knockout of Musashi. Hoost vs. Andy Hug, the most looked forward to of the first round matches, was real good. Hoost clearly won, but it was surprising to see just how tired Hug was looking in the third round. Peter Aerts vs. Jerome LeBanner was about as exciting as a short fight is going to be. LeBanner, who had been training at Evander Holyfield's Gym, was up to 262 pounds and ripped and scary looking, kind of like Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV, but having that look that makes you think if he didn't crush someone he'd eventually tire. Aerts caught him perfectly with his patented kick to the side of the head right away and knocked him silly. It didn't look like LeBanner would be able to get up. When he did, Aerts saw his chance and went for the kill and was hammering him. While throwing blows, Aerts left an opening and LeBanner traumatized him with a left to the jaw that knocked him for a loop and ended the fight. His eyes were rolling from the power of the punch and when Aerts recovered, he was in disbelief. Greco vs. Filipovic was a war between two brawlers, with Filipovic eventually taking Greco's leg out. Greco kept fighting, surviving a few knockdowns but you can't fight at this level with a leg damaged that badly. LeBanner came out fired up with Hoost and his power was such that he was moving Hoost with every punch. By the latter stages of the first round, LeBanner got that look in the eye, you know, where the most confident baddest man on the planet suddenly feels vulnerable due to the fear of oxygen deprivation. Still, even late in the round he was still moving Hoost with every blow. In the second round, Hoost came out and threw an amazing flurry and LeBanner was too exhausted and stunned to defend and he was out. Finals saw Filipovic, even with the bad ribs from his previous fight, come out real aggressive in the first round. It wasn't until the third round that a telling blow was thrown, with Hoost crushing him with a blow to the ribs. He got up, but Hoost saw the point of weakness and went back to it and finished him to a huge crowd response

Shooto held its World Vale Tudo Open Japan show on 12/11 in Tokyo Bay NK Hall. Rumina Sato, its biggest star, was put in the opening match (since he lost a title match he has to start from the bottom) and he beat Rafael Cordero, which was actually the most important match on the show from a drawing standpoint, in 1:01 with a kneebar. The other top matches were Kaoru Uno, who beat Sato, going to a draw with Andre Pedernairis, who also beat Sato, and Hayato Sakurai beat Geraldo Bunn via tap out in 1:31 of the third round

UFC lightweight champion Pat Miletich will face Jose "Pele" Landi Johns of Brazil, who in the latest MMA writers ratings are listed as the top two fighters in the world in that weight division, on a World Extreme Fighting (WEF) Championship show on 1/15 in Rome, GA. The show has a really intriguing line-up including a legit Brazilian grudge match with Wallid Ismail, who beat Royce Gracie last year, facing Ryan Gracie. At a Jiu Jitsu tournament in Brazil a few months back after Ismail had marketed himself in the magazines as a Gracie destroyer, and this sounds like pro wrestling, and I guess it is and it isn't, Ryan Gracie pretty much sucked punched Ismail and the two had been challenging each other to fight ever since. The last word on this, based on an interview with Renzo Gracie on Eddie Goldman's "No Holds Barred" show is that Ryan Gracie signed for the match but Ismail didn't because he was expecting to be matched up with Royce at Pride. When Ismail did sign, Renzo said he wouldn't let Ryan fight because in the interim, Ryan stopped training and didn't want him in the match at less than 100% Promoter Jamie Levine said he has a signed contract by both men and that the fight would take place. Another match which on paper looks to have a lot of fireworks is John Lewis vs. Laverne Clark, which is one of those fights that looks great on paper. Also, Antonio Noguiera, fresh off a really impressive showing in the RINGS tournament on 10/28, faces Jeremy Horn. Renato Babalu, who also made it out of the first RINGS tournament and into the final eight in February, takes on pro wrestler Brad Kohler, who was in that same tournament and beat Yoshihisa Yamamoto in his first round match. Matt Hughes, a college wrestling star who scored a win on the 9/24 UFC show, faces Fabiano Iha

The latest UFC plans are to have the first show of next year in March in Tokyo, headlined by Kevin Randleman vs. Pedro Rizzo for the heavyweight title, followed by an April show in the United States headlined by Bas Rutten vs. Renzo Gracie for the vacant middleweight title. The Mexico debut has been pushed back to June. UFC has signed a five-year deal with Crave Entertainment to produce UFC video games for Dreamcast and PlayStation

Pancrase has added UFC veteran Chuck Liddell, who beat Paul Jones on the 9/24 UFC show, who will face Yoshiki Takahashi under Vale Tudo rules on its 12/18 PPV from Yokohama Bunka Gym, along with Kiuma Kunioku vs. Lane Andrews, a 24-year-old from Indiana, Genki Sudo (a young guy being trained by Bas Rutten with a lot of charisma and potential) vs. Nathan Macourt from Colorado and Katsoumi Inagaki vs. Hiroshi Ota, all of which will be Vale Tudo rules matches. Ota, 29, is a very good Greco-roman wrestler, having won the national championship in high school and college (180 pounds) and in 1995 placing second in the Asian games and this past summer won the national businessman division (for retired full-time performers) at 187 pounds

The California State Athletic Commission passed rules that would allow MMA matches (there is still one more political hurdle that needs to be cleared but CSAC was considered the main hurdle) this past week. Not sure the details of compromises made to get the rules in, although one was funny. The MMA community, largely led by Ryan Chenowyth of Neutral Grounds and Paul Smith of the IFC, argued for four ounce gloves to allow for more grappling. The CSAC wanted regulation boxing gloves, which would actually make for more dangerous fights because they'd greatly restrict the ability to grapple, which is of course, a lot less dangerous that pounding someone with punches. The compromise was to make a denser glove, so it would be larger, but it would also allow for grappling, but the dense nature would actually make punches thrown that much more damaging to the opponent (although it should decrease damage to the hand to the person throwing the punches) then the idea brought to the table. It's another example of total ignorance of what they're regulating and forcing changes to make things more dangerous under the guise of safety

Parinya, the 18-year-old Thai cross-dressing kickboxer who has gotten a lot of publicity in Japan and was even written about several times in Sports Illustrated, went through with his/her sex change operation in secret earlier in the month it was reported on 12/11 nationally in Thailand and was later a news story in Japan. Parinya, who once had a legit mixed match shoot with famous Japanese woman pro wrestler Kyoko Inoue and destroyed her badly, it is said now wants to compete as a female kickboxer.

ECW: The top matches on the 1/9 PPV from Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham are Raven & Dreamer defending against Storm & Credible, Awesome defending against Spike Dudley, Van Dam defending against Sabu (hopefully they've learned by now this match will be a lot better at 10:00 than at 20:00), Rhino vs. Sandman (who is losing steam rapidly and isn't close to as over now as he was in his first few weeks back but also hasn't been pushed to do much but get Rhino over), Lynn & Tajiri vs. Crazy & Guido and New Jack vs. Angel

Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka will headline both 12/17 in Nashville and 12/23 in White Plains, NY. No decision has been made regarding Kintaro Kanemura's role. Tanaka will be back from mid-January through mid-March as a regular

There has still been no discussion stemming from either Heyman or Shawn Michaels to WWF regarding asking him to appear on the 1/9 PPV show. It appears that Heyman will agree to use Mic Tierney and Glenn Kulka, which is what the WWF wants him to do, along with using Vic Grimes (who Heyman is already using full-time and likes his attitude because he's working ring crew along with wrestling every night) who are under WWF developmental deals as his offer for a deal to get WWF agree to let him use Michaels

Before the 1/9 PPV show, they will be back in Atlanta on 1/7 for a TV taping at Center Stage (750 capacity), which for years was the home of WCW Saturday Night tapings. They will be offering a free PPV ticket to anyone who buys a ticket to this show

The TV taping for this week was 12/10 in Richmond, VA before about 3,000 fans, of which about 2,000 were paid as they were heavily papering the city the last two days. Nova & Kid Cash won a three-way over the Dupps and Doring & Roadkill. A lot of action. Doring got a black eye. Finish was screwed up as Electra (Doring's valet) wearing a see-through bodysuit and thong, apparently was supposed to run in, missed her cue and the ref counted three because he had to. Everyone stood there, she raked someone's eyes (which apparently was to break up the finish) and then they did a few spots that they were probably going to do to lead to whatever the real finish would have been. Lynn beat Guido when Sal E. Graziano's interference backfired. Mikey Whipwreck beat C.W. Anderson in a match where Anderson juiced, apparently hardway. Calo vs. Hidaka vs. Marquez was no contest when Sabu ran in and put all three through a table. It's said that with Hidaka away from Crazy, his lack of polish was a lot more apparent, but everyone still sees that two years from now he'll be one of the best lighter wrestlers in the world. Calo was limping badly and in tons of pain from his injury last week but at least appeared to be fine during the match. Simon Diamond beat Jazz quickly. Diamond's bodyguard Big Dick Hertz (Brent Hamner) was gone since he's legit suspended for 30 days over a disciplinary problem. Diamond still did his Big Dick jokes. Diamond got a big reaction since the show took place at the college he graduated from. New Jack pinned Tony DeVito, but was then attacked by Vic Grimes and Angel and was stapled in the ear by Angel. The Baldies challenged anyone in the building. Awesome came out and pinned Grimes in a title match. Jeff Jones came out and said that proved Awesome was the real giant in wrestling, which brought out Spike Dudley who laid him out with the Acid drop to set up their PPV match. So much for Awesome long-term as a monster. Corino & Victory came out with Tommy Rich, and said how Rhodes (who was originally supposed to be at this show, and there was talk of doing an angle with Terry Allen aka Magnum T.A. at this show which also never happened--Paul Heyman said he doesn't know what Rhodes' future is with the company, that if it was only the TV last week it's fine and if it amounts to more, that's fine as well--word going around is that Heyman offered Rhodes a certain amount of money and Rhodes wanted more but who knows) made a career riding Rich's coattails. Corino said that Rhodes' contributions to pro wrestling were alcoholism and premarital sex (he should have mentioned killing Jim Crockett Promotions). Dreamer & Francine came out and Dreamer talked about the history of wrestling in the 80s in Richmond. Corino called Dreamer a pathetic mark. Rich jumped Dreamer (Rich was so into this program that he thought Corino's name was "Steve Reno"). This wound up with Raven coming out and he and Dreamer beat Victory & Corino in 2:00. Rich was still ripping on Rhodes after the match. Storm & Credible beat Candido & Rhino to determine the top contenders for the tag titles. Credible & Storm after cut a promo on Sandman who traded cane shots with Credible until Rhino speared him through a table. Van Dam beat Spike Dudley in a great match that went almost 20:00 to end the show

TNN sent out a press release for its 12/10 show regarding the debut of Dusty Rhodes, listing Rhodes as a defection from WCW to ECW and claiming Raven, Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, James Vandenburg, 2 Cold Scorpio, Super Calo and Ray Lloyd all as those who quit WCW to join ECW. Of that last, the only one that would be a true statement about would have been Raven. The rest were either all fired by WCW first, or in the case of Scorpio, God only knows how his name got on the list because he also was fired from WCW, but it was something like four or five years ago, and Ray Lloyd's extent of working for ECW is that he came to the building in Atlanta with Rhodes

. The other house shows were 12/9 in Dover, DE before 550 fans and 12/11 in Salem, VA before 2,000 fans

Kodo Fuyuki flew into Dover largely to get photos taken with Paul Heyman to get over his ECW Japan (NWO angle) for FMW where he lost the loser leaves town match to Masato Tanaka on 11/23. FMW never contacted anyone from ECW, just flew Fuyuki in, so Heyman wasn't even at the show and Fuyuki instead got photos taken with Dreamer

The Rhodes angle with Steve Corino was the main focus and the opener on the TNN show on 12/10. Corino did a real good job and the irony here is just amazing. Suffice to say, there will be a time when Hogan is 55 and he'll be long gone from the mainstream and be looking for one last pop and a small promoter nine years from now will be looking for a big pop and Hogan will be introduced as the main who put hardcore wrestling on the map and the hardcore fans of the day will give him a standing ovation. Rhodes was billed as the leader of the hardcore revolution and got a huge reaction as expected. The funny thing is that 12 years ago, he was by far, more than Hogan or Hellwig or anyone, the most hated wrestler by the hardcore fans in the business. It got so bad at one point that he wouldn't do live interviews at the studio in Atlanta because the fans would boo him out of the place and he booked himself as the top babyface. One year it got so bad that he told PWI, which was the leading wrestling magazine at the time which actually was a fairly powerful entity in the business, that if they didn't give him the most popular wrestler award (and remember, this was when Hogan was in his prime and Piper has just turned face and was almost as popular as Hogan) that they wouldn't allow PWI access. Rhodes attacked Corino and Victory and dropped the elbow on Corino and the place went nuts. Rhodes at 54 still has 1,000 times more charisma than his son, but really looked old out there. Credible & Storm did an interview. How many times has it been written that they need to change that closing catch phrase? Well, add one more to the list. Spike Dudley pinned Uganda in :24. Exactly what you've seen 100 times by now. Awesome beat 2 Cold Scorpio in 9:27. I thought this match was really overrated. They both tried and did a lot of flying moves but didn't work smoothly with each other. It looked like two real green guys doing good high spots. The finish was Awesome using the power bomb off the top rope through a table, and that finish always gets over. Sandman vs. Credible was the main event. Credible is trying even more to copy the Val Venis cadence and delivery on his interviews and he needs to find his own style. It's OK for a mid-card guy to copy a top guy in another company, but Credible is being groomed this year as a potential world champion and the reason he's not over to the level he's been pushed all this time is he comes off from a personality standpoint, forget the work as he's very good there, as a copy of a bunch of mannerisms of top guys rather than his own guy. Sandman looked terrible, like he was in a different city and mistiming virtually every spot. At one point Sandman couldn't even get the table in the ring. Rhino interfered and speared both guys into a table and then left. Storm gave Sandman a springboard dropkick and he was pinned in 6:02. They kept beating on him and Dreamer made the save. When they finally took out dreamer, it left the ring open for the cat fight spot. Dreamer & Sandman were laid out, allowing Credible & Storm in the ring to deliver that awful catch phrase one last time. Show ended in the dressing room with Dreamer mad at Raven for not helping out and Raven saying he'd back up Dreamer but he wouldn't help Sandman

Hardcore syndicated TV was more from Atlanta. They opened the show with just clips they'd hyped on TNN, New Jack doing a balcony dive and Raven attacking both Tom Marquez and Ikuto Hidaka. It was a two match show. Crazy beat Super Calo in 7:16. Calo looked a little rusty which should be expected since this was his first match in about six months. Crazy was tremendous and carried this to a solid lucha style match. Night in and night out Crazy may be the most consistent top level performer in the business. Calo did the dive over the top into the head-butt roll-over on the floor. Crazy did the Asai moonsault, and won the match after two straight moonsaults from bottom, middle and top rope. Then they aired TNN highlights. TV main was Van Dam over Tracy Smothers in 14:37. Joey Styles was hyping Tommy Rich, who was in Smothers' corner, as one of the biggest draws ever in the state of Georgia. He was really huge in the area, and really almost everywhere he went because it was the beginning of national coverage of WTCG (now TBS) during that early 80s period so that's a fair assessment. Van Dam gave Smothers a lot, and probably more than the crowd was expecting him to give. It was the good and bad of Van Dam. He did his good athletic moves and got pops for his spots. Crowd heat didn't build, but part of that was because nobody saw Smothers as a real threat even though Van Dam tried to make him appear to be. Van Dam's punch/kick stuff was weak. Finish saw Smothers get his best near fall after a hard chair to the head. Van Dam came back with Van Daminators on both Smothers and Rich and the splash. No doubt the Sabu run-in must have been totally botched up as per reports because on this it was edited down to not even a run-in, but a break and they came right back with just a clip of Sabu putting Van Dam through a table with no heat set up or even run-in, and the show went off the air

P.N. Newz is either gone, or will be shortly.

WCW: No matter what you hear elsewhere, at this point the company is internally going with the idea that it's Russo's game and they are giving him plenty of time (he's convinced them it's going to take six months before they see results in the ratings, and there is truth to the idea it will take time for the ratings to turn around, but the fact the house shows and PPVs haven't, and they don't take time to move, is not a good sign right now) to turn things around, citing WWF as an example. But any study of WWF during that time frame showed that before the TV ratings moved, house show attendance was growing and the top angles were hot as hell. It did take months after for the ratings to make their move, but the signs they were turning around were evident literally from when Austin, Michaels and Hart got hot as the top stars. There are internal games being played and one person close to the situation said that it's back to everyone being out for themselves and almost nobody thinking about the company as a whole

There is nothing new on the Ric Flair situation. WCW has refused to release him from his contract which expires in February 2001. The next two weeks should prove to be interesting for Flair, and not just from a pro wrestling standpoint as the Republican Party in North Carolina is also interested in his services

Nitro on 12/13 from the New Orleans Arena drew 4,497 paid (plus 2,338 comps) and $150,108 in a 13,500-seat set-up. The show was better than the previous two weeks, but still most of the wrestling was bad and more angles were bad than good. Jarrett and Benoit brawled backstage throwing each other into the doors. The backstage brawling is getting old because every scene is choreographed the same. The Artist formerly known as Prince Iaukea (later referred to as simply The Artist) beat Maestro in 1:55. Fans hated the ring entrances so bad they actually booed Symphony (Alicia Webb, formerly Ryan Shamrock) and it takes a lot for wrestling fans to boo a pretty young woman. Symphony, who they say is the only woman in the industry getting a push without implants, went at it with Paisley and Artist pinned Maestro with a rolling reverse cradle. Jarrett killed both guys after with a guitar. Fans popped for this, because they hated both guys. Not sure if Jarrett is getting over. They are popping for him, but the ratings and house shows say nobody is close to being over. But the fans like the guitar breaking on people's heads. Madusa attacked Spice seeing Evan Karagis flirt with her. Even though Madusa is doing an angle where she's not doing Karagis (but teasing she will after Starrcade) she wore a jersey of her husband, who until recently played for the Bengals. Hart did an interview. Fans booed when he said Goldberg wouldn't beat him. Goldberg came out, followed by Hall & Nash to set up the tag title change. The dirty old man (Gene) stared at Madusa's boobs. Her boobs challenged Spice. Luger got mad about teaming with David Flair. Flair got a present, which turned out to be a headless stuffed animal. Spice beat Madusa in 1:05. Madusa held Spice and told Karagis to hit her. He realized that if he did, Standards and Practices would probably shut down the show. So he did the right thing. But the angle still sucked. Spice shoved Madusa into Karagis. Actually they never touched. Karagis thought about it for a second, then took the bump anyway. Spice jumped on Madusa and got the pin, even though Madusa clearly kicked out. Guess she was less than thrilled about doing the job. Madusa german suplexed Karagis after the match. I guess women are allowed to attack men but not visa versa. Vince Russo told Rhonda Singh he wouldn't even talk to her unless she got an agent. Later in the show, in a really funny segment they had the Nitro Girls dance. Singh came out in a skimpy costume which she decidedly did not look good in, and beat up all three Nitro Girls and then danced. Duggan did an interview, hinting at his secret partners (Varsity Club, which plans were not to announce until making it a surprise at the show) against the Revolution at Starrcade, which last we heard was scheduled as a two-on-four match, which makes no sense since the four are supposed to be the face side. But this is WCW, so making sense is of the lowest priority. The lights and power went out and Duggan was asleep when they went on. Bagwell beat Hennig in 4:54 when ref Piper decked Hennig and gave him a fast count. Jarrett beat Benoit in a bunkhouse match in 7:01. This was a good match. At one point, Dustin Rhodes ran in. Benoit was standing on top of a very unsteady ladder and Jarrett threw Rhodes into the ladder and Benoit took the bump. Finish saw Jarrett hit both Rhodes and Benoit with a guitar. Piper and Russo argued, ending with Hennig hitting Piper with a chair. Abbott double count out Meng in 1:29. This is this week's example that WCW has the least amount of vision in the office of any wrestling company in history. Correctly done, Abbott could have popped a big buy rate against Goldberg (bigger than anyone in the company would be able to do for the next year if done with even the slightest concept of how to promote him because he's got charisma if used correctly) as an outsider who isn't going to do a fake wrestling match and never does a fake wrestling match on TV until showing up at the PPV against Goldberg. But no, they have him do a double count out with Meng with a story that only the boys in the back know and instead of drawing conservatively speaking an extra $1.4 million in company revenue easy on the outsider angle on just one show, they instead drew a 2.3 quarter for an awful one minute match that the fans booed and didn't get. Abbott is dead because he's not a pro wrestler and the only way to get him over is to sell his punching power as a one punch knockout artist. When Abbott threw a punch and Meng stayed up, they might as well have taken his $300,000 per year deal and given the money to charity because it would at least do some good for someone. Now they have to pay him and all he'll bring to the table is no heat, no ability, no money, no ratings and bad matches. Too bad nobody at the New York Times or Entertainment Weekly has clue one about booking and writing of wrestling TV because the ratings already are showing the truth about this game. Douglas did an interview and he's getting good heat for his anti-American gimmick. Malenko & Saturn & Asya beat Heat & Midnight in 4:41. Midnight has super potential and a great look. Actually she's got a great look for a male wrestler. For a female wrestler, she looks like someone who should have a dick. Poor Malenko had to have this woman who was twice his size kick his submission specializing ass. Midnight sold an injury from a leapfrog and Malenko schoolboyed Ray. Abbott and Meng continued to brawl a few more times backstage. They just did that with Saturn and Stevie Ray. Finlay was training Knobs in the swamp making him do sit-ups. His form was horrible. I don't think anyone would be shocked at the idea Knobs hasn't done a sit-up since middle school. Flynn was in the block with Smiley (wearing a Ricky Williams New Orleans Saints uniform) when Abbott showed up as Meng got tired of fighting. Abbott tackled Flynn and they switched scenes. Russo fired Orndorff on the grounds that he taught Midnight too well and that she was giving his men fits. Orndorff, 50, looked really old. Vicious did an interview with his friend Seth. Seth, who is a handicapped kid, lives by him in West Memphis, AR and did some angles in Memphis with him in the past. In a power bomb vs. suplex match, Vicious beat Steve Williams in 2:13 with a power bomb. Williams' offense looked horrible. Couldn't believe how light he was. If he works like that in All Japan, he's dead. He set up the backdrop driver but Sid simply laughed at him. Williams hit Sid with Oklahoma's cowboy boot. No heat at all. Vampiro chased Oklahoma and Sid power bombed Williams and choke slammed Oklahoma. Hall & Nash ran out and Nash laid Sid out with a power bomb. Sting & DDP beat David Flair & Luger in 2:58. Sting and DDP fought each other most of the way. Luger for no reason threw Flair's headless stuffed animal into the crowd and hit Sting with Flair's crowbar. Liz took the crowbar from Luger. Should mention at Starrcade in the Sting vs. Luger match that her contract is at stake. Liz protected Sting. Flair then hit Luger with the crowbar and Liz put Sting on top of Luger. Chris Kanyon returned as Chris Champagne Kanyon, or CCK, managed by Mr. Bigg, who once worked for the WWF as Clarence Mason (he's actually quite funny). He attacked Bigelow to set up their match, which Kanyon, doing the Hollywood star gimmick with two women, won with the flatliner in 4:08. Meng wanted to beat up Smiley, who he faces at Starrcade, but Smiley was hiding. Leroux beat Vito Lograsso in a body bag match in 5:12. Disco missed a chair shot on Vito who sold it anyway and Leroux used his finisher and put him in the body bag. Johnny the Bull attacked Leroux and they after the match put Leroux in the body bag and carried him out to commit murder while Disco must have been snoozing. They took him to the back but forgot where they parked. What mob boss would ever hire nitwits like this? Actually the concept is great except Vito & Johnny are so not funny that it doesn't work. They left Leroux in the body bag. Of course he got out, while Smiley, hiding from Meng, got in. Orndorff had to wrestle Creative Control in a handicap match. A true legend returns to zero heat. Zbyszko can come back because he was never really any good to begin with and basically looks the same and probably is in better shape now than when he was younger. Orndorff, on the other hand, was this really good looking guy with one of the best physiques in the game. Now he's 50, and looks older than his age, and has completely lost his body. Dusty Rhodes can come out old and fat, but if Orndorff isn't handsome and in great shape, he's nobody. Anderson and Zbyszko came out and Orndorff piledrove Don Harris to apparently win at 3:06, but Mark Johnson came out and reversed the decision due to Zbyszko's interference. Piper beat Hennig in 1:16 in a chair match when Hennig simply walked out after taking a few chair shots. Crowd hated this. Finally Hall & Nash beat Goldberg & Hart to win the tag titles that Goldberg & Hart held for an entire six days. Hart was "injured" before the match in one of those mystery beatings. Goldberg was facing both guys when Hart limped out. Nash was apparently supposed to KO Hart with a belt while Goldberg speared Hall. Well, Nash missed the belt shot. Hart didn't sell the missed shot. Goldberg stood there forever waiting to spear Hall. Nash stood there forever with his thumb up his ass until he hit Hart in the knee with the belt. Hart was knocked out by a punch to the knee and Goldberg jackhammered Hall. Since Hall and Goldberg were the legal men, the ref counted as Nash pinned Hart in 6:19 to win the title. Fans pelted the ring with garbage. They didn't even tease the two splitting up. Six days before the main event on the supposed biggest PPV show of the year and they haven't established any heat between the two main event title match guys

Torrie Wilson signed a two-year contract. The WCW offer had a higher guarantee but the WWF's contract does offer huge marketing potential if a character hits. Ultimately, part of the decision according apparently came down to the fact she felt "safer" working in WCW, and didn't want to risk signing with WWF and being put into a lesbian angle or something. Nobody could figure out why she wasn't put on television this week as Billy Kidman is fine and Konnan's injury was a work to begin with and they haven't even mentioned his injury on TV to begin with so keeping him off seems more punishment than storyline. Konnan apparently got in the doghouse for being on Wrestling Observer Live a few weeks ago with Raven. Raven ran down the company huge. Konnan really didn't, although he did rip heavily on the previous booking and power regime, but since nobody actually heard the show that cried about it, Konnan wound up getting credit for a lot of what Raven said

Standards & Practices really came down hard on WCW before the 12/7 Thunder tapings in Madison, WI. There were many things done away with, but the ones that did get around were that Rhonda Singh was going to do a match against Evan Karagis for the cruiserweight title and if she lost, she was going to say she'd strip on TV, and Jim Duggan had a match with Asya. S&P pretty well has banned anymore man vs. woman matches or angles, which is actually good. I'm not against them or for them because at this point wrestling has changed so much that the fact they're stupid if you look at things logically really doesn't matter because logic is no longer part of wrestling. But it's good because they were being done to death to where they were no longer a novelty and the ones in WCW were thrown in there with no good build up so none of them meant a thing. The Karagis vs. Singh match ended up being totally scrapped with Madusa ending up in the ring with Singh even though all the build-up was for Singh, without even a reason given. They sent Duggan vs. Asya to the ring, but they weren't allowed to actually let them lock up

Thunder on 12/7 in Madison, WI, was the first Thunder with all the stars. Hall & Nash did an interview. Hall acted like he was drunk, then talked about his ladder match with Michaels in the WWF. Sid came out and talked about how Nash was always holding him back with his political stroke. Nash made fun of Vader. The fans didn't react at all to one inside comment. Sid came to the ring and decked Nash and shoved Hall off the ladder. Hall took the single most fake bump on purpose. Seriously, if this was a company was any discipline, he should have been fired. Then again, he should have been fired 50 times in the last three years, but it's WCW and that's why the talent will always be unhappy because there will always be a double standard. Hall & Nash got the advantage when Rhodes, who has zero charisma, came in for the save, but Jarrett hit him with a guitar, and Benoit came in, but they left him laying to set up the main event. Tenay announced Rhonda Singh was getting a cruiserweight title shot which is stupid for so many reasons, not the least of which is that stupidity is channel switching stupidity as opposed to ratings grabbing stupidity. Madusa was mad because it was her shot. Revolution came out and Douglas challenged Duggan to the stips. If Duggan's team loses, he has to renounce his citizenship or something like that. If the Revolution loses, they have to work as janitors for 30 days. Juvi came out before this as the color commentator for two hours. Actually he was hilarious for about 40 minutes before he ran out of things to say, and then was even funnier when Luger came out. Malenko beat Booker T with the cloverleaf in 1:56 due to Douglas hitting T with his cast. Revolution continued the attack until Duggan saved. Prince Iaukea with what Guerrera called "the worst gimmick in the entire company" as the artist formerly known as Prince with manager Paisley (Nitro Girl Storm). Oklahoma and Jerry Only were also announcing this match. Prince won in 2:24. Williams back suplexed Iaukea and Oklahoma joined in for the double-team. Russo fired Mona. I think we already saw that angle with Savage. Stevie Ray and Saturn were brawling backstage during cutaways. Madusa pinned Singh (Rhonda, not Tiger Jeet, because S&P would nix that one) in 1:32 when Karagis collided with Singh. Singh started to strip but the lights went out and when they came on, she was unconscious. The idea is that the person who left her dead while the lights were off was Mona, but I don't think anyone caught on to that. Guerrera basically said that Karagis sucks and it's a joke he's got the belt, but in a non-working fashion which made it even more biting and more funny. Jerry Flynn was in the block and Tank Abbott showed up to beat him up and called him a martial arts moron. Hart & Goldberg won the tag titles over Creative Control when Piper told ref Mark Johnson to leave and he took over. Goldberg jackhammered one and Hart sharpshootered the other in 3:01. Saturn beat Stevie Ray due to help from Creative Control in 2:17. T made the save. Piper did a short brawl with Parka in Russo's room and tore Parka's costume. Luger no contest Bagwell when DDP, at ringside attacked Bagwell. No explanation was given. Okay morons who think by having the announcers not acknowledge an angle that it makes it a shoot and therefore will draw money. 1) Brian Pillman's shit never drew one dime although it may have ended up doing so if he wasn't working the people who were the few that were supposed to be in on it with him; 2) Pillman's stuff did get over as a cult deal but it wasn't because Pillman was out there working the internet while the announcers kept quiet talking about it. It was because Bischoff was out there doing commentary and selling everything he did from an announcers standpoint as not being supposed to happen. It was Bischoff, not Pillman, who directed the fans and made them recognize something was "not supposed to happen." When the announcers ignore it and don't tell the fans the story, there is no story. Maybe someone will read this and not waste time trying to fool the boys in the future and figure out how to do the same exact thing and make people watching care about it. During this match Guerrera was hilarious making references to Luger and juice. Tenay tried to deflect it by saying Apple or Orange, and Juvi said he wants to get some of the real juice. Russo cut a promo on Duggan. He looked like a puppy who had just been dropped off at the pound by his evil owner. Duggan vs. Asya never took place when Hennig & Parka & Control & Shane (formerly Vincent) attacked him. Fans chanted for Duggan, but instead they got the Revolution who came out with apple pie and hot dogs and stuffed the hot dogs down his pants and poured mustard all over him before Heat made the save. DDP beat Sting in 1:39 when they had an immediate ref bump and Luger hit Sting with a bat a few times to lead to the diamond cutter. Finally Hall & Nash & Jarrett beat Benoit & Sid & Rhodes in 4:13 when Jarrett hit Sid with a guitar and Nash pinned him. They're trying to with pyro and focus to make Jarrett into Shawn Michaels and, well, they're trying

The original Starrcade idea apparently was that the Revolution, which the idea was would be Malenko & Saturn & Douglas & Asya, would face a mystery team, which would turn out to be the Varsity Club of Duggan & Mike Rotunda & Rick Steiner & Kevin Sullivan. Not sure how that is changing because there is no chance of Douglas being ready for the match, and they're not allowed to put Asya in it anymore. As of 12/7, Steiner hadn't been told about it

They had a meeting on 12/6 with the wrestlers telling everyone that if they arrived late, they'd be fined. On 12/7, Luger, who doesn't like the current direction in that it takes them lots of time to convince him to do the things he's been doing such as the mud deal, arrived five hours late. Everyone is kind of waiting to see what goes down and whether, like with the drug issues, this will be a semi-work

The Zbyszko angle and dialogue was said to be virtually entirely Zbyszko's idea, given to Russo several weeks ago. He's actually had the idea for months, long before they even got there. The plan is to get a group of older wrestlers, with Arn Anderson as their manager (Zbyszko will be one, names talked about for other slots include Flair, Dusty Rhodes who will probably be brought back at that point, Orndorff, and if he isn't turned heel, Roddy Piper would fit into this group) to feud with a group representing Russo

Scott Hudson was brought to the Thunder taping but they decided to go with Juventud Guerrera on color instead of him. The only thing Guerrera was told by Russo was to go out and say what he really thinks about the wrestlers and the situations and not to react like he'd think a wrestling announcer would react. As of the weekend, the idea seemed to be to make Guerrera, Hudson and Tenay as a regular three-man team. Russo was apparently thrilled at the internet response (although our internet poll largely felt it was an idea that ran its course by the end of the show) and wants to keep him a regular. He is smart about one thing. Even though he's booking for a small percentage of the total audience, if he gets over as being cool with that percentage, he'll create a legend for himself as a great booking mind even if the numbers and the profit/loss of the company don't back up the portrayal in the long run and he'll always have work in this profession. See the general portrayal of Paul Heyman as a booking genius, which from a creative standpoint is not a stretch at all, at many times that the company itself wasn't drawing any fans, ratings points or making any money but that really never hurt the perception of Heyman and because of that he could have gotten a job with any company he wanted even if his own company failed

The wrestlers listed in the New York Daily News article about the Gold Club in Atlanta were wrestlers that had been interviewed by the feds regarding owner Steven Kaplan. The wrestlers, who had been assured by their lawyers that their names wouldn't make the papers because WCW has a morality clause in its contracts (nobody appears in any danger because so many more than just the names listed had talked with the feds and none are accused of doing anything illegal, it's mainly being provided free drinks by the owner of the club that's in trouble) that were listed were hardly the entire list of those that were talked with by the feds. Why those names made it and others didn't is probably in the case of Page and Savage, because of their names (although we're told there are names as big as those who were also talked with) and the others simply because their names were recognizable to the writer of the story. It became a headline story in New York because it also involved Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and Dennis Rodman

Madusa, Roddy Piper, Sting and Bobby Heenan were on ABC's "Politically Incorrect" with Bill Maher on 12/10. It turned out to be an enormous waste of time largely because WCW sent the wrong people, Piper and Madusa in particular since they took over the show. Sting and Heenan said almost nothing. Sting, from the little he said, aside from one slip of the tongue where he said WCW does 12 PPV shows every month, seemed the most intelligent. Madusa came off as an airhead and Piper as an out-of-touch punch drunk relic from the 70s. The show degenerated from the start because Maher opened by saying he watched a lot of wrestling to prepare for the show and said that unlike in the old days, the audience today is in on the joke. Piper and Madusa acted like he said wrestling was a joke so Piper pulled down his pants and said he had an artificial hip and said that Owen Hart had died and tell Mrs. Hart that pro wrestling was a joke, which Maher then calmly repeated that he never said wrestling was a joke. The show never recovered, as Piper basically tried to argue that wrestling was real and how A&E and that "Secrets" show were all lies and said how it was only guys who never made it who are the ones saying pro wrestling wasn't a real sport (you know, guys like McMahon, Austin, Rock, Hogan). Madusa tried to back up Piper but she didn't really know what she was saying, other than making a ludicrous comment that WCW's ratings were beating Monday Night Football and Maher clearly thought WCW ratings were much higher than they were as he compared their ratings with "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and how he could never draw the ratings they get (if both Nitro and "PI" were put in the same time slot on the same night, PI would actually draw higher ratings since PI's audience share is much higher than Nitro's and more because it's on a stronger station) not realizing that it's the WWF that's the one that draws the impressive ratings. Sting on the other hand did admit that he's not hitting someone in the head as hard as he could with a baseball bat when Maher pointed out he's seen him hit people in the head with a baseball bat and they don't die, and said he knows the technique, that he uses a real bat, and that he could hit Maher with it and not hurt him which sort of contradicted the point Piper was trying to make. Maher brought up pro wrestling's huge audience of kids (again, not recognizing that WCW's kids audience really isn't that large) and that it may set bad examples of what is acceptable behavior. Piper or Madusa brought up some "R" rated movies as being worse, Maher pointed out those movies as being NC-17, and then Heenan brought up Popeye cartoons and Madusa talked about after going to NASCAR (as if that sport is even marketed so strongly to young kids and while NASCAR has brutal accidents, it really isn't what one would call violence) she gets an adrenaline rush and wants to floor the car, which actually if you think about it sort of makes the point Maher was bringing up. Maher said Popeye was a cartoon. Sting talked about ultimately the parents have to decide and monitor what is appropriate for their kids to watch (Sting has very publicly in the past said that he was against the current direction of wrestling, but in this situation, where his role was to defend it, he never even hinted at comments like that), and then Heenan, in the only point he made the whole show, said that today many families don't have parents at home as they are single parent families with mothers who have to work two jobs and can't be there, which actually is a point against what the other wrestlers were trying to argue, but luckily for the wrestlers, Maher didn't follow up on Heenan's point. I think for hardcore wrestling fans they'd think Piper made Maher look bad because he made some comebacks to Maher's well known and talked about propensity for masturbating before the show starts. But for the general public, they'd view it as the wrestlers being ignorant trying to pretend, largely due to Piper and nobody taking the floor from him, that it was real, which insults everyone's intelligence in the audience. Of course, WCW thought their guys handled themselves great not realizing everyone came off bad because of guilt by association

Saturn on the LAW radio show in Toronto on 12/11 said that since the new creative team took over that there hasn't been one good television show

Goldberg and The Rock met for probably the first time ever during the weekend both companies were in Toronto. The two had a 15-minute conversation talking about their contracts and their futures in Wayne Gretzky's private box in the game where Gretzky was being honored. Also there were Brian Knobs, Hart and Tenay, which was reported on in several newspapers. Apparently just before the meeting, or at the game, Chyna told Rock that Scott Hudson had been copying his catch phrases on WCW Saturday Night earlier in the day and Rock complained to Tenay about it

Ted Turner was on Larry King Live on 12/14 and a caller called to complain about the content in WCW of late. Turner at first thought the caller was confusing WCW with WWF, which he didn't call WWF but "Vince," and said it was the language, violence and sexual content that got Vince back in the game. King then asked Turner where he thought pro wrestling was going and he said he got into the wrestling business for guys slamming each other and not for all the other stuff that's been happening

It appears the revolution was given the anti-American angle with Douglas doing the talking because Hart, while agreeing to basically use the Montreal deal in an angle at Starrcade which has been Russo's top plan from day one for shooting "the big " angle (there were all sorts of rumors of this happening at Mayhem but the plan all along was for Starrcade with Hart playing Michaels of all ironies, Piper apparently playing Hebner, Russo playing Vince and Goldberg playing Hart although nothing in wrestling is for sure until it actually takes place). Russo is apparently trying to recreate it since it was the thing that set the stage for WWF's comeback. That was when it wasn't an angle and circumstances were unique and not after two years of WWF trying to mimic it to death in angles. Hart apparently doesn't want to do the Anti-American part of his old character which is the Hart that Russo wanted because actually if you look at WWF's big turnaround, it started first at the arenas and with that incredible weekly TV heat when Hart was in that role, but again, one of the reasons that worked so well is they were taping so much TV in Canada and the contrast between TV's each week really fueled the feud

Kanyon got the idea of his gimmick from Marty Garner (ECW's Puck Dupp) who used a similar gimmick and the ring name Cham Pain for the Omega Pro Wrestling group and called him up and asked him for permission to use it in WCW. Garner never copyrighted the gimmick so he told him it was okay to use it

Yoshihiro Asai (Ultimo Dragon) is expected to sue WCW (he's already sued the doctor who performed the messed up surgery that ended his career). Dragon had a verbal deal with Eric Bischoff that WCW would take care of him and keep him under contract which is why Dragon ever sued WCW before. Shortly after Bischoff was let go, WCW fired Dragon. The surgery for bone chips in his elbow was supposed to be a routine 30 minute arthroscopic surgery and he'd be back in less than two months. Instead, he wound up with a severed nerve in his elbow and an eight inch star and was never able to wrestle again

Hart in his Calgary Sun column this week talked about going to the Special Olympics in Toronto. He said that a high ranking official from the Special Olympics hinted to him that they may consider disassociated themselves from the WWF because of the content of the shows. He noted the WWF losing some sponsors should be cause for WCW to think carefully about how far they want to go down the same road. He said he'd be greatly saddened to think his appearing at the Special Olympics would be any less welcome based on things happening in wrestling that he has no control over

David Flair signed his new contract about two weeks ago

The Nitro Girls, in particular Spice and the woman who now plays Paisley for Prince Iaukea, have been making noises about wanting raises. They signed contracts specifically to be dancers and not performing talent, and now that they're performing talent (granted using the term performing and the term talent is a stretch) they want to be paid accordingly. All jokes aside, they're right

Thunder on 12/7 in Madison, WI drew 1,864 (there were also 2,089 comps) paying $36,917.

WWF: While none of this is definite at press time, it looks as though WWF is going with HHH vs. Mick Foley, perhaps as Mankind or perhaps as Cactus Jack, as the co-main event for the Royal Rumble on 1/23 in Madison Square Garden. This would lead one to believe that either Foley or HHH will be getting the title from Big Show. I have a feeling HHH was scheduled to win the title from Show on the 12/13 Raw, but with his knee injury, it was impossible for him to do a real match so plans may be changed. The feeling is that Show wasn't ready for the title, although he really only got it in the first place because they felt they needed to shoot a new star to the top immediately and give the people a happy ending at the Survivor Series because the people were being screwed on the Austin false advertising

USA Today had an in-depth but kind of weird story regarding Austin. It quotes his surgeon, Dr. Henry Bohlman of Cleveland, as saying Austin's injuries are a combination of the talked about bone spur in his neck and a spinal disc protrusion in the mid neck region. Austin's narrowing of the spine caused by all the bumps taken as a pro wrestler makes the surgery more complicated because his spinal chord has less than normal room to move or expand, which enhances the possibility of the spinal cord being severed in an injury, which would result in him becoming a quadriplegic. In the surgery, portions of his C-3 and C-4 discs in his neck will be removed along with the bone spur, in order to decompress the spinal cord, relieve pressure and widen the spinal canal in that area. Bohlman will then take a bone graft from Austin's pelvis and use it to fuse the two discs together. By April, Austin should be ready for an examination to determine how much permanent damage has already been done. He should be able to lead a normal relatively pain-free life, but how much wrestling he'd be able to do, despite reports to the contrary, still can't even be speculated upon until April. The feeling is that if he can wrestle, his return probably would be at King of the Ring although it wouldn't be surprising to see him shoot the angle leading to his return on the Wrestlemania show. The story got weird in that it mentioned four other injuries as examples that even though pro wrestling is scripted, serious injuries happen. It mentioned the death of Owen Hart and paralysis of Darren Drozdov, but was weird was it mentioned a career ending broken neck suffered by Lioness Asuka (who did have a recent neck injury but was only out a few weeks and is already back) and claimed that Rey Misterio Jr. had to retire at the age of 25 after three knee surgeries (actually this surgery will be his second major operation and he's not retiring). What's interesting in bringing up Asuka, is that if they were bringing up a Japanese woman wrestler, there have been two in recent years, Plum Mariko and Emiko Kado, who have died related to ring trauma

Raw on 12/13 drew a sellout 13,826 paying $328,474. Jericho came out and X-Pac interrupted him. It was almost as if they were trying to turn Jericho face already because people cheer his ring entrance so much. They had a match with Chyna and Kitty watching. Jericho wrestled the match as a face. Chyna hit the ref for no reason at 3:23. The ref then said Jericho won for no reason via DQ. 1.5 million viewers switched off Nitro for some reason all at the same time. Mark Henry was shown in bed, exhausted, sweating profusely after the most exciting sexual encounter of his life with Mae Young, who was smoking a cigar. I've finally figured it out. Before the 1996 Olympics, they gave Henry a ten year contract at $2.5 million. I think they're trying to humiliate him so bad that they can screw him out of the deal. And I think he's never quitting. Young was managing Henry. They came out arm-in-arm. Henry did not do a very convincing job walking down the aisle with her of making it look like they were in a romance. Henry schoolboyed Godfather in 1:48 after Mae Young distracted Godfather. Vince arrived with a sledge hammer and pounded a door that read DX on it. Vince got to the ring and called out HHH. He called him a rapist. He should know that there are no storyline rapes on WWF television. Stephanie came out with a new look. They don't dress her like a little girl anymore, but she's still wearing these matronly looking tops with the leather skirts which was sort of a mismatch. She delivered the greatest promo of her entire life, basically saying Vince used her to get at Austin and she was waiting a year to get back at him and that HHH, her husband, was the only one who stood up to Vince and kept outsmarting him. Vince was out there comically overacting. Fans chanted slut at her. Hey, he's the one who had her kidnapped. HHH came out. Vince and Shane then left the arena leaving HHH and Stephanie in charge of the show. This was a great segment. Rock did an interview introducing Wade Boggs. Rock would read the phone book and people would think it was a great interview. In fact, I think that's what he did this time out. Rock & Mankind wrestled the Dudleys. First the ref DQ'd the Dudleys for using a chair in 2:53. HHH & Stephanie came out and said it was a no DQ match. They re-started the match. Buh Buh bled hardway from a chair shot. D-Von was missing a lot of his spots. Rock used the people's elbow on D-Von but Buh Buh pulled the ref out. HHH ordered a ref in a Vince mask to run down. D-Von pinned Mankind and the ref counted the pin. Mankind unmasked the Vince ref revealing Al Snow. Rock then Rock bottomed Buh Buh and another ref counted the fall at 13:00. Don't these people know that a 13:00 match on competitive TV is the kiss of death to the ratings. It can't be done in this time and age because fans will turn to the other channel. Oh yeah, this was the highest rated segment of the week. Miss Kitty said she was now The Cat. They made Tori strip to her bra and panties to do a chocolate pudding match with her for the title. X-Pac fell on Tori and Kitty won in 1:08. Needless to say the finish looked terrible, but that wasn't the object. After the match Kane threw X-Pac in the pudding and Kitty threw Lillian Garcia in because she called her Kitty instead of Cat. The funniest thing of the night aired next. Lawler was plugging an Austin action figure which actually cuts a promo. They held it to the mic and he didn't cut a promo. They tried again to demonstrate it and again it didn't work. So Lawler and Ross decided to say that they heard it work, even though it didn't. Boy did they end up looking like fools when later in the show, Lawler explained that it needed batteries to work and then they tried again and it worked. Okay, if it needed batteries, then why were Lawler and Ross both saying earlier how it worked? That's the kind of stuff that could only happen to Schiavone and Heenan. Acolytes beat up Mean Street Posse for 1:08 and the match just ended with Acolytes music playing. Edge & Christian beat Hardy Boys in a cage match in 5:35. No heat but lots of good moves. Christian gave Matt a russian leg sweep off the top rope to the mat. Jeff missed a somersault senton off the top of the cage. That bump was along the lines of that bump Foley took in the Hell in the Cell that nearly broke his back. Edge came off the top of the cage with a twisting plancha but at least he was being caught. Matt and Christian climbed over together and both landed on the floor simultaneously. They ordered the match to continue. Jeff climbed the cage to escape but Edge beat him by getting out the door. Outlaws beat Kane in a handicap match in 2:42 after Kane survived several near falls before being pinned with a spike piledriver. Show won a handicap match to keep the title beating Bossman & Albert when he choke slammed both guys and pinned Bossman in 1:58. Show has dropped so much weight he's down below 415. Somehow the loss of weight has made him even worse in the ring when it comes to timing. Finally Outlaws wrestled HHH & Test. Test worked the whole match and Stephanie was cheering for him. Despite all this and HHH being out there with Stephanie, the match had no heat. Finally HHH turned on Test and they all beat him up with Stephanie slapping him around and HHH laying him out with several chair shots

In a dark match at the taping, it started out as local d.j. Bubba the Love Sponge, who wrestles on every WCW, WWF and ECW show in Tampa, facing Gerald Brisco. Brisco played heel even though he's a face on TV. Patterson came out to help Brisco attacking Bubba. The Mean Street Posse attacked Patterson and Brisco but then Bubba attacked the Posse and it turned into a six-man tag with Bubba splashing Rodney and Pete Gas to win

L. Brent Bozell has written two more reports about the past two weeks of Smackdown. He said that McMahon has delivered on his promise to clean up the show, but still complained about some sexual talk, phrases like suck it, poontang pie, words like hell, screw, ass, suck, etc. and delivering of moves like low blows and chair shots, and noted that on 12/9 the word ass was used 21 times. Bozell has urged PTC members to put pressure on Burger King (which pulled out of advertising on Smackdown but went back due to the show being toned down) and on MCI so the game is still on. The fact the game is still on shows the company's absolute stupidity in being more risque on Sunday and Monday specifically because they know Bozell himself only watches on Thursday. The stock, largely due to the media publicity of advertisers pulling out, dropped at press time down to 16 5/8

WWF will do a two hour radio special on 1/22 at 8 p.m. Eastern time as a Royal Rumble preview on Westwood One affiliates featuring Rock, HHH and Mankind

WWF the Music Vol. 4 dropped to No. 43 on the charts selling 64,043 units this past week while the WCW Mayhem CD dropped to No. 109 selling 23,356 units

On the 12/6 Raw show, Jim Ross thanked the audience claiming Raw had drawn its record rating the previous week. This falls into the famous pro wrestling, and WWF in particular, category of the truth being impressive enough so why not tell it category. The 6.54 rating was strong, particularly against football. But the record is 8.09, so it actually came nowhere close. The only explanation seems to be that the WWF was under so much media scrutiny and got so much negative ink that they had to tell their audience that, see, all that stuff doesn't matter because we drew our all-time record rating, you know, that the bad publicity equals good publicity, or maybe as a way to jack up the negative image and maybe desperation to jack up the falling stock prices of that week. It's sort of a company m.o. under similar circumstances in the past to do things similar

Only notes from 12/9 Smackdown since we basically covered it last week, is that the acting in the Test/Stephanie backstage deal where they broke off their engagement and she gave him back the ring was the worst ever

The WWF Cafe is open for certain meals already before the official grand opening on 1/19 in time for the Royal Rumble. Reports are that the food is good, priced high, but the portions are large. There is a Hulk Hogan pinball machine in the arcade. The facility is huge, including having a 1,000-seat theater which will house live wrestling matches twice a week once it gets going

ABC's 20/20 is preparing a story for late December or early January about Mick Foley

The WWF was moved out of the top slot in the Rec Sports video listings (by the way, shouldn't WWF not be in the sports listings at all?) by the 1999 World Series video. WWF occupies slots two through seven (Rock, a new Austin vs. McMahon release, Austin, HHH & Chyna, Best of Raw, and another Austin and a third Austin release is at No. 9). WWF was two new releases out of its 13 in the top 20, Andre the Giant home video at No. 14 and Unforgiven PPV at No. 20. WCW got two of its new videos into the top 20, with the Sting video debuting at No. 10 and the Nitro Girls swimsuit video (now that certainly has no business in the sports charts) at No. 16. "Wrestling with Shadows" dropped out of the top 20

Steve Austin will be doing another "Nash Bridges" episode in January before his neck surgery. At this point there are no plans to put Continued on page 18.




In your 11/1 comments concerning Vincent K. McMahon's starting responsibilities for his father and Capitol Wrestling, you make historical errors of fact. You imply he was handed Capital Wrestling on a "silver platter." Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me correct your perspective because I was there.

My new advertising agency represented Abe Ford here in Boston. We negotiated the initial TV contract with WISH-TV, Ch. 38, owned by the Archdiocese of Boston. I worked with General Manager Monsignor Francis Flaherty. The station was a religious educational station except for two hours a day when it accepted commercial broadcasting. They broadcasted on the then new UHF band where TV sets had to have a converter in order to receive UHF programming. We paid the station $25 per week. The wrestling program was supplied by Vincent J. McMahon. The wrestlers who performed at the Boston Gardens were supplied by Vincent J. McMahon. Revenue was shared by McMahon and Ford, after expenses.

Prior to this relationship, Ford had not promoted wrestling in Boston. Ford owned the Fort Theatrical Agency on Stuart Street. He booked night club acts and exotic dancers. Wrestling had been promoted early on in Boston by Paul Bowser, then later by Bower, Eddie Quinn of Montreal and Johnny Doyle under the name Atlantic Athletic Corporation, with Walter Kowalski being the champion. Sam Menacker was the announcer doing a live 90 minute Saturday afternoon show from the studios of WBZ-TV in 1957-58. Most of the talent was Canadian and some was supplied by Vincent J. McMahon.

After the first start on Ch. 38, after four or five unsuccessful events, the promotion was stopped. About a year-and-a-half later, McMahon and Ford again attempted to promote wrestling in the Boston Garden now that more TV homes could receive UHF. The breakup came when Ford tried to sell the promotion to Canadian interests without consulting McMahon. McMahon felt Ford was selling a business that he didn't own, or at the very least, as he viewed it, was only a minor partner in a business where all the ingredients were supplied by Capital Wrestling. To prove the point, McMahon cut off supply of talent and TV programs. It happened suddenly one night when during intermission at a Boston Garden event, Angelo Savoldi, then McMahon's road manager, informed Ford there would be no next event. I was there.

Ford sued, claiming a conspiracy between McMahon, the TV station, now WSBK-TV owner by Storer Broadcasting and the Boston Garden. The case was settled shortly after McMahon and my depositions. Ford received enough to cover his lawyer fees. Capitol Wrestling, Ch. 38 and the Boston Garden were each to pay one-third. McMahon eventually repaid the Boston Garden and Ch. 38 as he felt they had been unfairly drawn into the dispute. Upon receiving the reimbursement, Ch. 38 thanked McMahon, then canceled the wrestling program. I was successful in clearing wrestling on the new Ch. 56. Vincent J. McMahon ran the Garden events adn we became representatives of Capitol Wrestling here in New England. The promoting rights to the Boston Garden were never handed over to his son. I know because I was at every event. Angelo reported the receipts by phone from the Garden accounting room to Vincent J. McMahon in Delaware or Florida. We held the TV contracts and paid the advertising and they were billed to Capital Wrestling in Washington, D.C., not to Vincent K. McMahon.

We began to expand the number of stations in New England that were airing the program to Bangor, Portland, Manchester, Springfield and Providence for Vincent J. The territory at the time remained New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington/Baltimore.

Ray Morgan approached Vincent J. McMahon and demanded AFTRA/SAG union national talent fee because the program was airing in a number of cities. McMahon offered to raise it from local to regional fees. Morgan felt he had the upper hand and McMahon couldn't do the show without him. McMahon asked me if he had to pay the national union fee rate. I advised had to pay at least the regional fee because many stations were union shops and wouldn't air the show if Morgan filed a grievance. The only exception I knew would be if Vince or a member of the family were to do the announcing, then he could bypass the union rate, so long as the union dues and pension fund fees were paid. Vincent K. McMahon, who was employed at Capitol Wrestling doing entry level jobs now was paid nothing above his regular small salary to do the announcing.

Regarding promoting in Bangor and other small towns around New England. In order to make a living, Vincent K. McMahon had to promote some small markets. He was not just handed those towns. He had to buy out the local promoter with his own money or find a town that had not been previously promoted. We are talking metropolises like Burlington and Rutland, VT, Bangor and Augusta, ME and Nashua, NH. To make, $50, $75 or $100, he drove to those events in a near wreck of a blue Buick. Our invoices for his advertising and promotional expenses were billed to him directly in West Hartford, CT, where he was living in a trailer park with Linda, Shane and Stephanie, who was a baby at the time. He often carried bricks on construction jobs to earn a few extra dollars. Howard Finkel, who helped Vince worked at the Marlin Firearms Factory in the first aid department. Bills went to West Yarmouth and were always separate from those for Capital Wrestling. Vincent J. McMahon made it quite clear to me that his son had to pay his own bills and I was not to look to Capitol Wrestling if he fell behind.

Vincent K. McMahon began to buy out his fathers' 49% minority partners, Phil Zacko, Arnold Skaaland and the late Gino Marella. They all gladly sold their interests as profits at the time were getting slim. They thought the kid was foolhardy for offering such a large sum, which turned out to be small in retrospect.

Vincent K. offered a number of times to buy the additional few percentage points from his father to get controlling interest. He was repeatedly turned down. When Vincent J. became ill, he set the terms for the complete buy-out. They were harsh. I know because I was there. Over the next two year period of the buy out as Vincent K. took more control, we began to expand into other territories. Vincent K's obtaining controlling interest would not be complete until the last penny was paid after two years. This resulted in numerous disputes between father and son. On one occasion, we had cleared TV in Cleveland. When the inactive Cleveland promoter complained, Vincent J. promptly gave him the TV clearance. This all took place in a limo with the promoter who that night was Vincent J's guest and neighbor in Fort Lauderdale on the way to the traditional dinner at Jimmy Weston's following a Madison Square Garden event. Vincent K. could do nothing. He was still in the two year period of buying out his father. A few years later, when the local promoter vacated the market, we negotiated a new agreement.

I cleared San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tulsa, Milwaukee and a dozen other markets for Vincent K. when the old-time promoters were still in business. Vincent K. received many threats including death threats. The fans made the choice of which events to patronize, a fact I brought to the attention of a local sportswriter in San Francisco who championed the cause of a local football hero turned promoter.

All the promoters continually complained to Vincent J. with the result being a great deal of disagreement between father and son over the old vs. new way of doing business. Being a product of the old way, I was at first reticent to clear markets in other people's territories. Vincent K. told me that he didn't pay all that money to keep the old set-up, we're going national, even international. The last part even I didn't believe then. Since I'm still contributing to WWFE, I was wise in not disputing his vision.

Joe Perkins

Newton, Massachusetts

DM: Perkins is a member of the WWFE Board of Directors. And I'm still trying to figure out what happened to Bill Cardille.

Shane McMahon gets my vote for Rookie of the Year. His bump taking ability is very impressive for someone never groomed to be a wrestler. Other rookies to consider are Rhino and Blitzkrieg.

James Zordani

Watseka, Illinois

DM: Rhino has wrestled regularly for a few years including a full-time stint for Otto Wanz in Europe.

Several years ago I resolved that I would never let my children watch wrestling. It didn't matter which company. Although I enjoyed wrestling, I admitted to myself that it really had little redeeming value or a child. I watch wrestling a lot less now, not necessarily because of the content, although that is a contributing reason, but more because I simply have no time with two children in diapers, the oldest of which has cancer.

I learned of Brian Hildebrand's struggle and ultimate death in the Observer. I wrote you at the time. Now I read about the Paul Wight father angle with cancer and feel compelled to write again.

You may recall that at one time I represented Paul Wight and his agent Jim Strausser. I was on retainer, and helped them negotiate with Eric Bischoff. I haven't talked to Paul in two-and-a-half years, but he owes me nothing. I suspect he doesn't even know my son is ill. And of course, Vince McMahon doesn't know me or my son at all.

I can't imagine how I might have explained their angle to my son if we had been watching. Learning about this angle, as well as many other recent angles, validated the decision I made years ago.

I will never let my children watch wrestling. I was never embarrassed to be a wrestling fan, but I am now embarrassed that I spent so much time writing and reading about wrestling. It never was or will be my livelihood. I wish I spent some of that time pursuing more noble causes. I should have been volunteering at a Childrens Hospital or visiting senior citizens living centers instead. My children won't make that mistake.

Ray Asher

Chicago, Illinois

In light of Vince McMahon's amazing, seemingly boundaryless propensity for turning real-life events of questionable taste into wrestling angles, I ask for your thoughts on this. If Shane McMahon were to be tragically killed in an auto accident while traveling with a member of current enemy DX, do you think that Vince would work his son's death in any way, shape or form into an angle either now or at some point down the road?

Jeff Siegel

Evanston, Illinois

DM: No.

It's amazing to me how Vince McMahon capitalized on his role in the Bret Hart screwing to create a truly believable, and rightly so heel persona, which has now brought him great success. I just can't help avoid the feeling that these real life ingredients that make McMahon a believable heel will also contribute to his personal excesses and abuses, which will contribute to his downfall.

Vince McMahon is neither a genius, a man of integrity, a man of great intelligence or of class. He's just an exploiter of society's lowest common denominators. His is a lucky recipient of the rewards that are accrued by the likes of Jerry Springer, Dennis Rodman, Hugh Grant, Latrell Sprewell and Howard Stern, who are somehow perceived as heros due to our lowering of standards and due to glorification of low class behavior.

Dore DeQuattro

Bayside, New York

Continued from page 16. him on television before the surgery but that could change on a moments notice

Smackdown will begin airing in the U.K. on Sky One starting 1/8 every Saturday night at 11 p.m

Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young were sent by WWF as presenters at the Billboard awards. While it may seem like a funny joke within the WWF, when they spread it to the outside world it didn't work at all. They should have sent Rock or a top guy to an event this major. The audience there didn't know who these old women were nor did they care. Mae Young is so famous in pop culture that they referred to her as "Mae Wong," and the guy who came out to present the awards with them got Moolah and Mae mixed up. Mae took her bump and basically the crowd didn't care at all

Darren Drozdov did a WWFbyte.this interview saying his situation was tougher mentally than physically, but did say that he's starting to regain feeling in his thumb

Although there are a lot of rumors to the contrary, the Sean Stasiak firing was not a work or an angle

The 2/14 Raw show in San Jose, which is advertised for a 7:30 p.m. start, is not an error, because Raw will air live that evening at 11 p.m. Eastern time due to the Westminster dog show

New York Magazine had a short piece on McMahon calling him a postmodern P.T. Barnum and a television-age Cecil B.DeMille as well as a lowbrow Walt Disney

Smackdown on 12/7 in Boston drew a sellout 12,479 paying $289,622. Between Boston and Raw in Tampa, merchandise was $181,277 or $6.89 per head.