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January 29, 2001 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Royal Rumble review, Shawn Michaels to return, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 January 29, 2001

In what was one of the best PPVs in the history of the WWF, the company gave a big tease for the eventual Rock vs. Steve Austin match which at this point still looks to be the headliner at Wrestlemania, putting Austin over in the Rumble.

The show, featuring some strong highs and only a few lows, featured an early match of the year candidate in the Chris Jericho IC title win over Chris Benoit in a ladder match. The match was different than most ladder matches, and a change of pace from original thoughts. The original idea was to use multiple ladders, break ladders and revolve the match around ladder spots. Instead they went with an approach that would see them not have to top previous ladder matches for the multitude of crazy ladder spots by revolving much of the match around doing a wrestling match, but throwing in enough ladder spots that nobody felt they weren't getting the gimmick. The five-match PPV aspect of the show also featured a second match along the same lines, with the Dudleys winning the tag titles over Edge & Christian in a match devoid of crazy spots, and while the table was teased, it was never actually used, but the teams still put on a solid opener.

The WWF title match, where Kurt Angle retained the title over HHH due to interference from Austin, lacked a little in crowd reaction because both were heels. Even though the TV storyline seemed to push the idea of Angle as the face, the crowd seemed more toward cheering HHH. Even though HHH has had better matches on PPV, he put forth one of his most impressive performances because with the Rumble going on last and most of the brawling and breaking tables that are usually in the HHH match being saved for that one, the match concentrated on wrestling in the ring with the exception of the two minute catfight. HHH, no doubt studying old tapes, pulled out numerous methods of working the leg and old Ric Flair spots and the two worked a very different style match for both of them, but pulled it off tremendously.

The Rumble itself featured four surprise entrants. Even though Jim Ross wrote a few days earlier that there would be surprises, but not to buy the show based on surprises, basically saying you'd be disappointed, it didn't stop the rumor mill from working overtime, even to the extent the name Bret Hart came up, particularly when word got out that Shawn Michaels would be returning to WWF TV and doing at least one more match. As it turned out, the four surprises were a cameo in the Rumble, taking no bumps and doing virtually nothing physical by comedian Drew Carrey, who is doing a PPV this coming week that McMahon must have some financial involvement in because it was plugged so hard and so often it became totally annoying, Honky Tonk Man in a quick but entertaining segment, Big Show, whose appearance made one question the manufacturer of scales in the greater Louisville area as he looked far too large, and Haku, the former Meng, a totally questionable hiring seemed to serve no purpose than to be a slap in the face of WCW and Eric Bischoff for putting a title, however meaningless the hardcore belt is, on a guy that wasn't under contract and losing him without dropping it. This also may have been a favor to Rock, as they consider him family (isn't everyone?) and there was family pressure when he lost his WCW job to get him in here.

The show on 1/21 at the New Orleans Arena drew a legitimate sellout of 16,056, although that was with more than 2,500 freebies, a higher figure than usual for a PPV as the advance was lagging. The paid was 13,481 paying $666,700 and another $93,253 in merchandise.

A. In a live match on Sunday Night Heat, Lo Down (Accie Connor & Charles Warrington) defeated Kaientai (Shoichi Funaki & Takao Yoshida) in 1:57 with a double-team power bomb and Chaz pinning Funaki. It was announced that one member of the winning team would then get to enter the Rumble, but later in the show, after McMahon gave the slot to Drew Carrey, he showed the beleaguered trio "no respect" by double-crossing them on the stipulation.

1. Dudleys (Mark Lamonica & Devon Hughes) won the WWF tag titles from Edge (Adam Copeland) & Christian (Jay Reso) in 9:59. They have now changed the name of Christian's winning move, the former Tomokaze, which they had called the impaler, to the unprettier after the TLC song. E&C got heat on D-Von for several minutes, but after a missed stereo chair shot (concerto), he made the hot tag to Buh-Buh. They did the wazzup spot on Edge and told D-Von to get the table. After a series of near falls, including a 3-D set-up on Christian where Edge ended spearing Buh Buh to break up the move and the dreadedly named unprettier on D-Von, E&C went for the same noted wazzup spot, but Buh Buh reversed the move cradling Christian for a near fall. Finally the two did the 3-D and Buh Buh pinned Edge to take the title. **3/4

The first segment with Drew Carrey, where the storyline was that since Carrey was doing a PPV, he wanted to meet Vince for tips on how to do a PPV, and ended up in Trish's dressing room where Vince talked him into entering the Rumble. At first they tried to push that Carrey was a big wrestling fan, but they had to change that idea since he was naive to what the Rumble was and thought wrestling was all in fun and nobody got hurt.

2. Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) won the IC title from Chris Benoit in a ladder match in 18:44. Started with a lot of good mat wrestling before any ladder involvement. Benoit at one point whipped Jericho into the ladder. In a spot that couldn't have been better executed, Jericho nailed Benoit with a hard chair shot to the head as he was coming through the ropes with a tope. Benoit came back with a hard chair shot. Both guys took a backwards bump off the ladder in the corner almost like a back superplex. Benoit dropkicked the ladder in Jericho's face. Benoit took a visually amazing whip head first into the ladder which was set up in the corner followed by Jericho doing a perfectly executed teeter totter ladder spot. Jericho did a missile dropkick into the ladder into Benoit's face. Jericho started climbing, but Benoit got him from behind in back suplex position, carried him to the ropes and dropped him over the ropes. Jericho nearly landed head first. That bump done wrong would have ended a career because he was falling backwards, almost straight down to the floor on his head. Benoit climbed but Jericho climbed up after and tied him up with a tarantula like move on the top of the ladder. That, my friends, really is just incredible. Jericho climbed but Benoit shoved the ladder over and Jericho caught his throat on the top rope. Benoit later put the crossface on Jericho, who tapped like crazy, which basically guaranteed he was going over at the end. Benoit missed a diving head-butt off the top of the ladder. Jericho was climbing. Benoit was lying nearly underneath the ladder, and from the ground, tipped it over and sent Jericho flying all the way over the top rope. Benoit was climbing and this time Jericho shoved the ladder and Benoit went over the top, and this time it gave Jericho the chance to climb the ladder and get the title belt. ****3/4

3. Ivory (Lisa Moretti) pinned Chyna (Joanie Lauer) in 3:32 to retain the womens title. They did a vignette where Billy Gunn told Chyna not to do the match because she wasn't 100% to set up the angle. Chyna basically mopped the floor with Ivory and Steven Richards and set up the handspring elbow spot, which she mistimed. She then collapsed, and they sold it as if it was a paralysis angle, noting that her arm never moved, and Ivory quickly pinned her. It got really tasteless from here, because in order to sell it as legit, Jim Ross went into the same tone of voice and Jerry Lawler hit the ring to check on her, identical to the Owen Hart death. It was far too similar for that not to be the marching orders to use what everyone knew was legit to get over this angle because people don't believe these angles anymore. They never mentioned the famous injuries like to Darren Drozdov and Austin that this was something of a take-off of, but WCW also never mentioned Owen Hart when they had the EMT's feverishly working on Kanyon after taking the bump off the cage in Kemper Arena. Chyna ended up being put in a cervical collar and stretchered out. The work itself during the match was a lot better than most WWF womens fare. 1/2*

4. Kurt Angle pinned HHH to retain the WWF title in 24:15. Although HHH had more cheers than Angle, fans overall didn't seem to know how to react, as it was quiet. Because they were going so long, they did long building spots, mainly based around HHH working Angle's left leg. He did a great job in that aspect. Ross and Lawler talked about Carrey in the Rumble and Lawler noted he got national publicity nearly 20 years earlier in the Andy Kaufman angle (not to mention almost as much national pub a few years back reprising it with Jim Carrey as Kaufman) and Ross, who had a small part in "Man on the Moon" which Lawler had a large part in, joked about how "they made a movie about it that only eight people saw." HHH took the Harley Race bump over the top. HHH wrapped Angle's knee around the post, used a chair to the knee and even did the old Indian deathlock, which Ross tried to call a Native American deathlock to be p.c. HHH went for the figure four, including doing the Ric Flair trick of grabbing the ropes. This set up Stratus jumping in to try and alert the ref and Stephanie attacking Stratus. They brawled, rolling over the Spanish announcers table. Vince came out to separate them, but he couldn't break them up. At one point Vince put Trish on his shoulders and was carrying her away, but Stephanie attacked Trish and Vince took a bump underneath. Actually all three did a really good job even with this segment taking several minutes. In a sense it broke the momentum of a good match, but the people were given the payoff of the angle teased between the women, and it also got them out of the way of being a focal part of the finish, which was necessary since Austin had to be. Angle did a german suplex and Russian leg sweep for near falls once the match re-started. HHH did a low blow and a die hard (Splash mountain off the ropes popularized by Dynamite Kansai in Japan). He set up the pedigree, but this one was blocked. Angle did an inadvertent low blow and did a high-arching moonsault for a near fall. Give HHH credit for that one since Angle always misses his moonsault, and the one time he did hit it, it broke the forearm of Bob Holly. Ref Earl Hebner took a bump. Angle did a Kyoko Inoue armdrag superplex but no ref to count. HHH smashed Angle's head into the steps and Hebner got caught in there and took a second bump. HHH grabbed the belt from Mark Eaton but before he could use it, Angle gave him a belly to belly. HHH came back with a pedigree after blocking Angle's belt shot but again no ref. Austin came out and attacked HHH, nailing him with a belt shot, and he bladed. Angle was still selling the pedigree stronger than the belt shot, so Austin hit HHH with the stunner and left, and Angle got the arm over him for the pin. ***3/4

5. Austin won the Royal Rumble in 61:55. Match was better than most Rumbles, but nowhere close to being the best. It had a lot of slow moments early but had a very good finish. The entrances were supposed to be 2:00 apart, but there was really no set time. The first six were about 1:45, then they were two minutes for some, and 1:45 for others, and most somewhere in the middle. It opened with Jeff Hardy vs. Bull Buchanan (Barry Buchanan). Matt Hardy came in third and they did double-team spots, clotheslining Buchanan out in 2:08. Matt went at it with Jeff to a surprising lack of heat. Faarooq (Ron Simmons) was in next, but they dumped him quickly at 4:34. The Hardys again fought each other to no heat. Jeff in particular missed some spots early. Drew Carrey was next in. He took his time entering while the Hardys fought each other. He got in the ring, but never touched anyone, when they set up a superplex outside the ring spot and both went over at 6:21. Carrey had the ring to himself to 40 seconds until Kane (Glen Jacobs) arrived. Kane tried to set an all-time Rumble record for slowest walk to the ring. It took him more than a minute to get there and nearly another minute of a tease in the ring to actually touch Carrey. By this point, it was Raven's (Scott Levy) turn to arrive. Kane grabbed Carrey for a choke slam but Raven hit him with a kendo stick. Carrey simply climbed over the top and left at 9:07. This was pretty lame because there was no payoff. Granted, it was better than WCW's usage of David Arquette and Jay Leno going over stars, but at least Pete Rose took his annual one bump. Kane did a messed up side slam and Raven came back spraying him with the fire extinguisher. This gave Al Snow (Allan Sarven) a chance to come out early and attack Raven. They brawled with garbage can lid spots and Snow rolling a bowling ball to Raven's crotch. Perry Saturn (Perry Satullo) was next in. All three mainly worked on Kane. Steve Blackman was in next doing the stuff with his sticks. Grandmaster Sexay (Brian Lawler) came in and listed all of 1:13 before Kane hit him with a garbage can and he was out at 17:16. Kane dumped Blackman after hitting him with a can lid at 17:34. Kane followed by dumping Snow at 17:43 and Raven at 17:46, leaving the ring empty for Honky Tonk Man (Roy Wayne Ferris), 47, to arrive as a surprise. Some of the fans in the first few rows popped for his greatest IC champ of all-time routine, but the reality is his heyday was 1987-88 and the long shot showed mostly very confused fans as to who this old guy dressed like Elvis with a guitar was. Anyway, it was entertaining for those who knew. Kane clocked him with the guitar and threw him out at 19:53, so he still lasted longer than several of the contracted guys. Rock (Dwayne Johnson) was in with Kane and they brawled until Goodfather (Charles Wright) joined in. He lasted all of 26 seconds, most of which consisted of him getting to the ring, before Rock dumped him at 22:24. Tazz came in and he technically lasted 20 seconds, again, most of it being his ring entrance, out of there at 24:01. That had to be a rib. Then they let the ring fill up with Bradshaw (John Layfield--who got to look good in a spot by doing his clothesline on Rock), Albert (Matt Bloom), Hardcore Holly (Robert Howard), K-Kwik (Ron Killings), Val Venis (Sean Morley), William Regal (Darren Mathews) and Test (Andrew Martin). To continue their program, Test threw out Regal at 37:15, since Regal is probably far from 100% Big Show (Paul Wight) came in as a surprise. He jumped Test at 39:14 and press-slammed Kwik out at 39:20 and even laid out Kane with a choke slam. Show looked almost as heavy as in his WCW days, so WWF really has a problem right now. They made it so public they weren't going to use him until he got to 400 and kept getting word the weight was coming off. Don't know what happened, but he showed up as big as when he left and either they are going to look bad taking him back after he didn't get the weight off, making them look like WCW management, or he made some very bad decisions that are going to negatively affect a once promising career. Rock clotheslined Show out in 40:27, so he only lasted a hot 90 seconds. But he did choke slam Rock through an announcers table before leaving, allowing Rock to sell for several minutes. Crash Holly (Michael Lockwood) was in next, followed by Undertaker (Mark Calaway). As teased, Undertaker and Kane are back together and between 43:29 and 43:43 they cleaned the ring of Bradshaw, Crash Holly, Bob Holly, Albert and Venis, leaving them as the only two left. Not sure if them being together is good or bad. It's good because they don't have to wrestle each other. It's bad because they have to wrestle other people making for two bad potentially average to bad matches on PPVs unless they make them into a tag team. For a storyline and logic perspective, the Undertaker/Kane saga since 1997 has had more booking holes than the three worst WCW angles combined. Scotty 2 Hotty (Scott Garland) was next in, but he lasted a little more than a minute, being dumped at 45:46. Austin (Steve Williams) was supposed to be in next but HHH attacked him before he got to the ring and Austin juiced big-time as they brawled in the entrance area. Billy Gunn (Monty Sopp) followed, followed by the surprise of Haku (Uliuli Fifita). Rikishi (Solofa Fatu) came out at No. 30, but before he got in the ring, Austin made the big recovery and started brawling with him. Austin put on a hell of a performance down the stretch. Austin threw out Haku in 52:45. Rikishi dumped Undertaker in 53:53. Rock then made his comeback and eliminated Rikishi in 54:15. Austin took a famouser from Gunn, but Austin came back and dumped Gunn at 55:22. Then came the big Rock vs. Austin spot with Kane outside the ring. They traded punches, with Rock coming out the better. Fans didn't boo either man, and popped huge for Austin's stunner on rock. Rock came back and did the rock bottom on a bloody Austin. They threw Kane out through the middle rope and Rock and Austin continued brawling toward the corner. Kane came in for the signature Battle Royal finish where he dumps both guys, but Rock went over in 59:09 and Austin rolled back in the ring. This left Austin vs. Kane. Kane, who lasted 54:55 in total, hit a choke slam and Austin hit yet another stunner. Austin then nailed Kane with three hard chris shots and clotheslined him over to win. ***1/4


Kenta Kobashi, who was expected to undergo knee surgery after the February tour, wound up blowing out the right knee so badly on 1/18 and with all the injuries that were discovered that he was working with after being examined, it was determined he would need multiple surgeries that would keep him out of action for about one year. There is some fear his career could even be in jeopardy.

Kobashi had surgery on both knees in June, which have been in bad shape seemingly forever, because his knees were a mess by 1992 when he only had a few years in the business because he was someone who wanted to do everything he knew every night. He compounded his problems by returning months before he should have to work the debut show of the company on 8/5. He first underwent a four-and-a-half hour operation on 1/22 to remove cartilage in his right elbow and right knee and will be having further surgery later in the week on his left elbow and left knee. The doctor recommended joint replacement surgery in his right knee. The basic scenario laid out to him is that he's going to have to have part of his right knee replaced no matter what, but that he could attempt to come back, although he probably wouldn't be able to wrestle much longer, and then after retirement have the surgery again, or have the surgery now, which would end his career.

After the first surgeries last June, similar to the ones that basically led to the retirement of Mick Foley at 33, the same age Kobashi is, he never got his mobility back even though, like Foley, he was still able to have some great matches including the 12/23 match with Jun Akiyama at the Ariake Coliseum on the company's biggest show in its short history. He was clearly limited in mobility, but made up for it by upping the dangerous spots.

But the knees got so painful that at this point he could barely walk by the 1/18 show at Korakuen Hall which he and Akira Taue headlined beating Mitsuharu Misawa & Naomichi Marufuji. An examination, which led to doctors saying he has the knees of an 80-year-old man, also showed that his elbows were destroyed as well, including a fracture of the left elbow, which is recovering abnormally. He needs surgery on both elbows and there is even some talk that he may need an artificial right knee. If that's the case, his career would be in question. The hope originally was for him to take March and April off and come back in May or June but now they are shooting for early 2002.

It can't be emphasized how big a blow this is for the struggling NOAH promotion, which starts on network television in April and was planning on doing a tournament to create its version of a world heavyweight champion (called Global champ) in the upcoming months. With Misawa somewhat moved into the semi-main events as a single because injuries have taken a toll on him, the idea was the younger Jun Akiyama and Kobashi would carry the action for a promotion, because it draws from the old All Japan fan base, that is weaned on superior work. A healthy Kobashi, who can carry almost anyone to a great match, could work programs with every faction (Vader, Akiyama, Misawa or No Fear) had more star power than Akiyama, was really the most valuable wrestler in the company. His loss with force Misawa to push Akira Taue, who was once a big name in All Japan, but is well past his prime inside the ring.

The idea was for Kobashi to wait until after the February tour for the surgery since Vader is missing the tour and there is a major show booked on 2/25 in Kobe at the 8,000-seat World Memorial Hall and Kobashi is something of a local sports legend in that city, and now that means that two of the three top draws are off that tour and the company has been struggling at the gate to begin with.


There has been much talk regarding a potential shutdown and re-launch of WCW and at press time it appears likely to happen.

Different scenarios have been discussed, but nothing was final as of this writing. The final decision was likely to be made before the end of this week.

In an article on wrestlingobserver.com, we detailed how there was an 80 percent chance that something major would take place at the SuperBrawl PPV to lead to the angle shutting the company down after that show, and they would likely start back up on 3/12 in Knoxville order to promote the 3/18 PPV scheduled for Jacksonville. In that event, the company would undertake a major advertising campaign over the final week to hype the return of Nitro and Thunder and during the weeks that are dark, TBS and TNT would air non-wrestling programming in the usual time slots. There is a chance the shutdown could be longer or shorter, or even take place at another time. WCW has already begun promoting its college campus tour leading to spring break which is being promoted to start in mid-February and end on 3/26 for the annual spring break show Panama City, FL.

Others in the company have noted that deposits have been paid for buildings throughout March, but that no April calendar has been released, thinking that April is a likely time for a shutdown, particularly because the April PPV, scheduled for Easter Sunday, is being reconsidered based on the date and at this point no building has been booked for the show.

If something is to take place in February, it would be considered a "soft relaunch," in that when the show returns, it would have some changes, but not a totally different look. The projection is that the show would eventually have an entire new look, with a new set, new graphics, new production and announcing changes no earlier that late March or early April.


According to an item in this week's Ross Report, it appears that Shawn Michaels will wrestle at least one more match in the WWF and return as a regular television character.

There is basically nothing new to the story than has already been reported other than Vince McMahon made the final decision to use Michaels. Michaels, whose contract expires this summer, was wanting to be used, both because he's a performer and he's been on the sidelines and physically no doubt is feeling better after being out of the ring for two years for his back and knee injuries to heal up (he did one match last year for his own TWA in San Antonio). There were the obvious issues of using him in the WWF, which were basically the reasons he had been off TV for so long. Michaels, who turns 36 this summer, is claiming to have grown up, and at that age, probably also realizes if he does have a chance for a comeback, this is it.

According to the report, Michaels will be returning as a regular television character and wrestle at least one match. No decisions about anything else will be made until they see how his back holds up after the match, and to see if his attitude is what he says it is. His doctor after surgery strongly advised him against ever wrestling again, which is different from Steve Austin's doctor, who was cautious, but throughout the ordeal was very positive about Austin returning. As it turned out, most are very impressed with how well Austin has come back. Originally the feeling was that Austin would work PPV's and only major shows when he came back, and the feeling was he'd probably only be able to work a few months, building to a big farewell at Wrestlemania was at least a strong thought at one point while he was on the sidelines. As it turned out, he is working a full-time schedule, and while saying he's better than ever wouldn't be accurate, he's had very good matches and there is no indication his career is in jeopardy any time soon.


Saturday Night Magazine, which is the Sunday magazine section of the Canadian Post newspaper, ran a lengthy story on the Hart family problems and the lawsuit settlement called "The Widow's Revenge" by Brian Hutchinson.

It was mainly quotes from Martha Hart and Elizabeth (Ellie) Neidhart, both of whom have been cast in villains roles in the situation, dependent upon ones loyalties to either the WWF or ones moral compass. Martha stated, "I got my day of reckoning. I don't think that anybody pays that kind of money if they're not taking responsibility. I've done the right thing by Owen." It noted that Martha tried to distance herself and him from the rest of the family, and claimed they had different morals, values and ideas about what a family was than the rest of the family, which no doubt has the "rest of the family" upset about that quote.

It noted that Owen earned over $30,000 in 1988 and almost $56,000 in 1989 while working for the WWF before quitting the company the first time but wanted to quit and get a regular job with the fire department, but he failed to qualify. She talked about hating the living conditions working for Otto Wanz in Germany. "We were like carnival people. We travelled in a caravan, and for a while we lived in a container, a metal box with one window, a hot plate, two little prison beds, and no running water." It should be noted as it pertained to Owen, he had always told me how much fun working for Wanz was, calling his time in Europe, like being on a long vacation (since they wrestled in the same building every night for a month at a time, the usual drudgery of travel involved with pro wrestling didn't exist) and getting paid for it. When Martha became pregnant, she didn't want to raise her children in a trailer in Germany, so in went back to the WWF in 1992.

After Montreal, Martha said, "Owen wanted to leave. It was hard for him (to wrestle) under those conditions. Every time he went to work, he was very uneasy around all the guys. There were people who had issues with Bret. He approached Vince and said, `Look, this is a big problem in my family. I need to support my brother. I really want to leave.' Vince wouldn't let him." McMahon in response, gave Hart a raise in downside guarantee from $250,000 to $400,000 and Hart returned one month later. In 1998, with business booming, in his final full year with the WWF, he earned the equivalent of $537,000. Even though business was still weak in 1996, and in 1997 he was part of the top angle with the Hart foundation and feuded with Steve Austin, he actually had earned about $311,000 in 1996 and about $285,000 in 1997 with a $250,000 downside.

Martha talked about inviting Vince to the funeral so he could see first hand the pain Owen's death had caused, she claimed Owen's own siblings, Bruce and Ellie--lobbied Vince for work (and conversely, Vince himself offered Bret a proposition to return). "They bypassed me and hugged Vince McMahon," she said. "They never even hugged me or my children. They didn't give a damn about me. They didn't care what I lost. It was like, `Owen's gone, gee, that's too bad, what can I get out of it.'" Although the lawyers convinced her to name Stu and Helen as co-plaintiffs because they believed it would be better for the case, she at first objected, saying, "They're all backbiting and jealous and competitive with each other, and I just didn't want any part of that. All I wanted was justice. Then I realized that Owen would want his parents to have something, if they were entitled to it. So I invited them on. And from that day on, the siblings were bullying the parents, trying to undermine my lawsuit the whole time, trying to get them to settle. Because they wanted money. It was obscene what they were doing. It just ripped my heart out."

Ellie Neidhart, after all the publicity, is often now afraid of dealing with people in Calgary saying, "I wonder what they are thinking of me. Are they thinking that I'm some monster who sold out on my brother?" She claimed that while Owen was a victim and that the WWF shared some of the responsibility for the death along with the harness equipment manufacturer and supplier, she thought the family should have heard what Vince had to say before suing him and making him an enemy. She noted she would send Christmas presents every year to the McMahons and always got a thank you note back, and glossed over the part her mother brought up about when Vince bought Stampede Wrestling in 1984 from Stu Hart and according to Helen, "he never gave us anything for the business." The story I've always heard is that Vince bought the Stampede territory from Stu for $1 million, which would be paid $100,000 per year over the course of ten years, and in turn, Stu would be the local promoter whenever the WWF came to Edmonton and Calgary and get a percentage of those houses. Vince paid the first $100,000, and Stu was the promoter in those cities for the next several years and got a percentage off the shows, but Vince never paid the remaining $900,000. One version is that Stu never took it any farther, not wanting a legal battle with McMahon that would drain him, and also because he was afraid a lawsuit would endanger the careers of Bret, Jim Neidhart, Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid (Owen wasn't with the company yet). Another version is that Bruce secretly started running his own shows, which was against the non-competition agreement in the buy-out, and McMahon used that as his legal reason not to pay Stu. When McMahon failed to pay the second installment in 1985, Stu, since the sale in his mind was voided, re-opened Stampede Wrestling because the non-payment negated his non-compete clause. But Stampede at that point largely was a money losing company, although the list of talent turned out during that four year period in hindsight was amazing, until closing it down at the end of 1989. Ellie's response to Vince not paying the rest of the money was that, "I guess Vince was a fairly ruthless businessman." But regarding the situation in Montreal, her perspective was, "Bret bit the hand that fed him."

While some of the kids were pushing Stu and Helen for a settlement, Martha's own lawyers, Gary and Anita Robb of Kansas City, were doing so as well. At first, she refused, saying the lawsuit wasn't about the money, saying she didn't want the WWF to stick money in her hand and make her go away. The reporter blamed lawyers from both sides for resorting to childish histrionics publicly in the case. Ellie kept pushing for Stu and Helen to pull out of the lawsuit, thus severely weakening Martha's case. Stu refused, saying that "Vince had the best of intentions...the equipment should have been checked out. I lost a valued son. He was my youngest son. I didn't have much choice but to support Martha." With the family split, the Robbs came up with the document that, as it turned out, forced the settlement, the controversial paper where the brothers and sisters of Owen were to sign, saying in the event of a judgement in Martha's favor, they would get a share of the parents' award if the award came in after the death of the parents, but only those signing and cooperating would share. This was done to attempt to solidify the family and not have members side with the WWF in the case, but didn't work out that way.

Ironically, unless a will specified otherwise (and there was, admittedly, talk of that happening), that would have been the case anyway. Ellie, Bruce and Diana were the only ones who didn't sign. Ellie faxed the document to WWF's attorney, Jerry McDevitt, from Diana's fax machine (the story has it that Diana sent the fax) and that questionable document pretty well forced the settlement, which should at that point have been in WWF's favor. The reason it was still a hefty amount, $18 million, is believed to be the smoking gun, that McMahon, when suggesting the stunt had contacted one or more riggers, who told him the stunt as he wanted it was too dangerous (the only time this has come out anywhere to my knowledge was Bret saying so on Jim Rome, which was actually a huge story that went almost totally unnoticed by wrestling fans who hated Rome for siding with Bret and Bret for speaking evil of Vince, even if Vince had previously blamed Bret for all the negative publicity he had received after Owen's death for not stopping the show). Bruce, who at the time was running Stampede Wrestling and attempting to do co-promotions with the WWF to bolster the territory, said he wanted to support Martha but didn't like the way the document was worded.

Although it was likely the document on one side and WWF having apparently been told directly the stunt as outlined was too dangerous on the other that pretty well forced each side to settle, Martha claimed the settlement was because, "It dawned on me that whether we go to trial or not, the only justice I get in the end is money in my bank account. Nobody goes to jail, nobody gets convicted. Then I just felt sick, so empty and hollow. It was meaningless. I couldn't believe I went through this nightmare and hell."

Ellie noted after this, she and Bret had a big argument at a Sunday dinner, with Bret saying she sold herself out to the devil and she telling him to go to hell. She claimed Bret spat on her and kicked her car with his boot (others there say Bret was furious, and kicked her car, but was wearing flip flips, and did a lot more damage to his own foot than to the car). Ellie also claimed that her own husband, Jim Neidhart (the two are back together after being split for a long time) has had a problem with drugs and alcohol since long before they had gotten together.


In examining the ratings of main eventers for the fall season (beginning on 9/25 when Raw moved to TNN) for Nitro and Raw, here is how things stack up updated through the 1/8 TV show. I didn't include 1/15 in this comparison because once the football and I'm including the music awards and stuff are over, the competition gets easier and you are comparing people against easier standards. Later in the year we'll be a comparison but only include shows beginning on 1/15 so all comparisons are relatively fair (and they are never completely fair because there are changes every Monday as far as competition programming). For a matter of figuring, we are only including nights where both shows aired and are eliminating Christmas and New Years since there was no Nitro, and also because in the case of Christmas, the rating was going to be down because of less people watching TV.

 

NITRO

Biggest rating: 2.85 (Steiner vs. Rection 12/4)

Lowest rating: 1.55 (Steiner vs. Jarrett 1/8)

 

The irony of both the high and low rating is that the focal point of both numbers was the Steiner-Flair situation. The 12/4 show was built to a final Steiner vs. Flair blow-off, which didn't happen, with Rection clearly thrown in as cannon fodder for Steiner leading the Flair situation. But to credit Steiner-Flair for WCW's best main event rating of the season would be unfair to not mention that the Steiner vs. Jarrett match had Flair all over it, ordering both to do the match against their wills, and obviously the wrestling fans, had the power not to watch it against their wills. One theory for this could be that everyone expected Flair and Steiner to be building toward a program, but by 1/8, five weeks later with no more movement in that direction and no hints of Flair and Steiner actually wrestling, that people no longer cared about the program or at the very least, believed it would be advanced or was coming on television that week.

NITRO MAIN EVENT DRAWS (based on ratings average among those with at least two main events this TV season)

Booker T 2.23

Scott Steiner 2.09

Jeff Jarrett 2.08

Mike Awesome 1.96

Sting 1.94

Kevin Nash 1.86

 

RAW

Biggest rating: 6.63 (HHH vs. Rock vs. Angle 10/23)

Lowest rating: 5.05 (Rock vs. Jericho 10/30)

It's interesting that the high and low water mark came on consecutive weeks and both times with Rock as the main draw. Momentum can't change that much in that little time.

 

RAW MAIN EVENT DRAWS (based on ratings average among those with at least two main events this TV season)

HHH 6.36

Kurt Angle 5.74

Rock 5.63

Steve Austin 5.53

Chris Benoit 5.50

Vince McMahon 5.37

Both Vince and HHH only did two main events. Actually Vince didn't do any, but his taking everyone's finisher was really the main event on one Raw, and the next Raw was built up the entire show as him against Angle even though they never actually had a match. In the case of Vince with the numbers not doing well, it's probably an indication that people are interested in the character Vince McMahon, since he spikes ratings for his appearances, but not as a TV main eventer. For HHH, since both his main events happened to be the two highest rated main events of the season, there has to be something there. But this season was largely carried by three men, Rock (seven main events out of the 13 shows studied), Angle (eight main events) and Austin (five). Rock and Angle's numbers, if anything, should be lower if only because it's hard to be something unique on top when you're the steady thing on top. My feeling is if HHH had eight main events, his numbers would be in the same range as Rock and Angle, but maybe they wouldn't.


Raw, going unopposed on 1/22, drew a 5.61 rating (5.41 first hour; 5.79 second hour) and an 8.4 share. The number is better than they did, including a better share, when Nitro went dark over Christmas and New Years, but is still roughly the same number the show has done on several occasions on TNN with both Nitro and NFL competition.

The big news was that the main event, which even more than usual, the entire show built do, with Angle & Trish vs. Stephanie & HHH with what everyone knew would end up with an Austin run-in was not even among the highest rated segments of the show doing a 5.66. The best rated segments, in order, were Benoit & Show vs. Rock & Jericho (5.80 and 6.17 quarters), Rikishi vs. Kane (5.77), APA vs. Hardys and Rock interview (5.74) and even Dudleys vs. Lo Down (5.70) beat out the main event. I don't want to say there is a message being sent unless this becomes a pattern, because you can't ever read too much into one week's rating, but it is something to look out for.

Smackdown on 1/18 drew a 4.48 rating (5.15 realistic rating) and 7 share, leading UPN to a fourth place finish among the six networks. Thunder on 1/17 drew a 2.21 rating and 3.3 share, virtually identical with the previous week. The show actually lost some audience from its lead in of Ripley's Believe it or not, which, believe it or not, did a 2.5 rating.

For the weekend of 1/20-21, Livewire did a 1.2, Superstars did a 1.0 and Heat did a 2.06 rating and 3.2 share.

For 1/15, against the easiest competition wrestling has faced since the summer with no football, no specials on ABC, no Olympics and CBS in reruns, Raw did a 5.25 rating (4.99 first hour; 5.46 second hour) and a 7.7 share and Nitro did a 2.65 rating (3.19 first hour; 2.11 second hour) and a 3.6 share. The audience for wrestling increased 18% to 8.4 million over the record low the previous week due partially to the easier competition, but in comparison to last year at this time, the numbers were 6.83 to 3.06, or a 20% drop across the board as a fair comparison.

Raw peaked with its Austin & APA vs. Angle & E&C main event at 5.79, and also scored good quarters with Undertaker & Rikishi vs. Rock & Kane at 5.69 and the early interview with HHH, Stephanie, Vince and Angle at 5.56.

Head-to-head comparisons saw Raw at 4.33 (Hardys & Lita vs. Venis & Richards & Ivory) to 2.40 (Kronik vs. O'Haire & Palumbo), Raw at 5.56 (early interview segment) to 1.87 (Konnan vs. Awesome, Cat vs. Bigelow), Raw at 5.11 (Test vs. Raven; Rock interview) to 1.85 (Douglas vs. Rection) and Raw at 4.97 (beginning of Undertaker & Rikishi vs. Rock & Kane) to 2.31 (Steiner vs. Nash).

Other weekend numbers saw Live Wire at 1.3, Superstars at 1.9 and Heat at 2.23 rating and 3.4 share.

Galavision on 1/16 was pre-empted and moved to a 4 to 7 p.m. time slot on 1/20 where it actually did a strong 1.8 Hispanic rating. Starting on 1/30, the show is being cut back from three hours, with the time slot from 7-9:30 p.m. every Tuesday.

Smackdown on 1/11 ended at 4.84 while Thunder on 1/10 was 2.21.


OBSERVER POLL RESULTS

Traditional Observer PPV poll results based on phone calls, fax messages and e-mails to the Observer as of Tuesday, 1/23.

WWF ROYAL RUMBLE: Thumbs up 378 (97.2%), Thumbs down 8 (2.1%), In the middle 3 (0.8%). BEST MATCH POLL: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho 348, Kurt Angle vs. HHH 29, Royal Rumble 13. WORST MATCH POLL: Ivory vs. Chyna 312, Royal Rumble 14

EYADA POLL RESULTS

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

What did you think of Monday night's (1/15) wrestling? a) Raw was better 34.6%; b) Nitro was better 39.5%; c) Didn't watch Raw 1.5%; d) Didn't watch Nitro 16.7%; e) Didn't watch Raw or Nitro 7.6%

What did you think of the WCW Sin PPV? a) Thumbs up 23.2%; b) Thumbs down 2.1%; c) Thumbs in the middle 9.5%; d) Didn't see the show 65.3%

Do you think WCW should have shown the footage of Sid breaking his leg? a) Yes, because it was a part of the match like in a sport 36%; b) Yes, because he okayed it 32%; c) Yes, it should have been shown, but only once 14%; d) It should not have been shown 18%

How would you categorize the first week of WCW since the ownership change? a) Excellent 5.1%; b) Encouraging 26.7%; c) In ring work had improved, but other aspects still need work 39.5%; d) Workrate was better, but that'll only be short term 11.8%; e) Little real product difference from before 16.9%

What did you think about the Royal Rumble? a) Thumbs up 72.2%; b) Thumbs down 4.6%; c) Thumbs in the middle 3.4%; d) Didn't see the show 19.8%


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RESULTS

 

1/12 Tijuana, BC (Promociones Mora): Super Parka & Mascara Sagrada & Principe Arandu b Depredador & Perro Ruso & Pandillero I, La Parka & Los Villanos III & IV b Black Warrior & Apolo Dantes & Blue Panther, Rey Misterio & Rey Misterio Jr. b Fuerza & Juventud Guerrera

1/18 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Pro Wrestling NOAH - 2,100 sellout): Satoru Asako b Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Masashi Aoyagi b Kentaro Shiga, Masao Inoue & Jun Izumida & Haruka Eigen b Makoto Hashi & Rusher Kimura & Mitsuo Momota, Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori b Takashi Suguira & Tamon Honda, Daisuke Ikeda b Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Yoshinari Ogawa b Takeshi Rikio, Vader & Too Cold Scorpio b Takeshi Morishima & Jun Akiyama, Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue b Mitsuharu Misawa & Naomichi Marufuji

1/19 Naha, Okinawa (New Japan - 4,500 sellout): Shinya Makabe b Katsuyori Shibata, Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai b Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka, Takashi Iizuka b Kenzo Suzuki, Jushin Liger & Junji Hirata b Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shiro Koshinaka, Shinjiro Otani b Hiro Saito, 2 of 3 falls: Yutaka Yoshie & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Kensuke Sasaki b Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto & Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

1/19 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL TV tapings): Neutron & Volador Jr. b Fugaz & Sangre Azteca, Rencor Latino & Arkangel & Mr. Mexico b Brazo de Oro & Astro Rey Jr. & Mascara Magica, Safari & Mr. Niebla & Lizmark Jr. b Blue Panther & Apolo Dantes & Fuerza Guerrera, Shocker & Scorpio Jr. & Bestia Salvaje b Negro Casas & El Hijo del Santo & Emilio Charles Jr., Atlantis b Dr. Wagner Jr.

1/19 Tijuana, BC (Promociones Mora): Silver Star & Sparks & Mini Rey Misterio Jr. b Shamu & Extasis & Animal, Mano Negra & Highlander & Conquistador & Medico Asesino Jr. b Kato Kung Lee Jr. & Alcatraz & Principe Arandu & Enfermero Jr., Mask vs. mask: Mascara Sagrada b Los Payaso Coco Verde-DQ, Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Perro Aguayo & Villano III b Cien Caras & Mascara Ano 2000 & Universo 2000-DQ

1/21 Columbia, SC (WCW - 1,031): Jung Dragons won three-way over Jamie Knoble & Evan Karagias and 3 Count, Norman Smiley b Kwee Wee, Cruiserweight title: Chavo Guerrero Jr. b Rey Misterio Jr., Cat b Mike Sanders, U.S. title: Shane Douglas b General Rection, Tag titles: Kronik b Chuck Palumbo & Shawn O'Haire-DQ, Diamond Dallas Page b Jeff Jarrett, WCW title: Kevin Nash b Scott Steiner-DQ

1/22 Lafayette, LA (WWF Raw is War - 8,226): Steve Bradley & Scott Vick b Matt E. Smalls & Ekmo Fatu, Big Bossman b Joey Abs, Taka Michinoku b ?, Essa Rios b Scoot Andrews, Hardcore Holly b Mike Sullivan, Perry Saturn b Chris Nelson, European title: Test b William Regal to win title, Acolytes b Hardys, Rock & Chris Jericho b Chris Benoit & Big Show, Womens title: Ivory b Molly Holly, Kane b Rikishi-DQ, Tag titles: Lo Down b Dudleys-DQ, Hardcore title: Al Snow b Raven to win title, Raven b Snow to regain title, HHH & Stephanie McMahon b Kurt Angle & Trish Stratus

1/22 Winston-Salem, NC (WCW Nitro/Thunder tapings - 5,001/1,206 paid): Michael Modest NC Christopher Daniels, Lance Storm b Konnan, Lex Luger b Diamond Dallas Page, Big Vito & Johnny the Bull b Mark Jindrak & Shawn Stasiak-DQ, Cat b Shane Douglas, Chavo Guerrero Jr. & The Wall b Hugh Morrus & Lash Leroux, Kevin Nash b Buff Bagwell, Shane Helms b Elix Skipper, Helms b Evan Karagias, Billy Kidman b Helms, Kidman b Yung Yang, Jamie Knoble b Kidman, Rey Misterio Jr. b Knoble, Misterio Jr. b Leroux, Misterio Jr. b Shannon Moore, Misterio Jr. b Kaz Hayashi, Mike Awesome b Norman Smiley, Jeff Jarrett b Hugh Morrus, Ron Harris b Crowbar, Rick Steiner b Bam Bam Bigelow, Kronik b Animal & Scott Steiner

1/23 Mobile, AL (WWF Smackdown/Heat tapings): Dudleys b Lo Down & Tiger Ali Singh, Billy Gunn b Albert, Al Snow b Essa Rios, Non-title: Perry Saturn b Raven, Undertaker b Rikishi-DQ, Bradshaw & Jeff Hardy NC Faarooq & Matt Hardy, Big Show b Chris Jericho-DQ, Tazz b K-Kwik, European title: Test b Christian, Hardcore & Crash Holly b Bull Buchanan & Goodfather, WWF title: Kane b Kurt Angle-DQ

 

Special thanks to: Robert Bihari, Bobby Baum, Jeff Marek, Dan Lovransky, Bryan Alvarez, Sonny Gutierrez, Alex Marvez, Mike Omansky, Manuel Gonzalez, Ryan McFarland, Zach Arnold, Phil Jones, Jeff Beecher, Paul Bradbrook, Dave Republic, Jeff Amdur, Robert Bihari, Donny Laible, Georgiann Makropolous, Rob Moore, Larry Goodman, Gene Restaino, Antony Evans, Greg Moser, Trent Van Drisse, Matthew Cole, Jon Massey, Tom Ryan, Cool Ry, Larry Lee, Dominick Valenti, Chad Dood

DECEMBER BUSINESS COMPARISONS

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

Estimated average attendance 12/99 11,794

Estimated average attendance 12/00 10,353* (-12.2%)

November 2000 9,890

 

Estimated average gate 12/99 $309,247

Estimated average gate 12/00 $307,979* (-0.4%)

November 2000 $306,396

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/99 71.4

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/00 50.0*

November 2000 25.0

 

Average Monday night rating 12/99 5.94

Average Monday night rating 12/00 4.85** (-18.4%)

November 2000 5.03**

 

Major show 12/99: Armageddon (15,749 sellout/13,981 paid/$402,413/est. 0.94 buy rate/est. $4.51 million)

 

Major show 12/00: Armageddon (14,920/11,924/$572,990/est. 1.15 buy rate/est. $5.73 million)

 

Est. buy rate +22.3%; Est. overall major event revenue +28.3%

 

*Overseas show not included in average

**Because of Nitro switching to two-hour format, direct comparisons are misleading. A more realistic decline figure over the year is -22.4%

 

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

Estimated average attendance 12/99 3,593

Estimated average attendance 12/00 2,726 (-24.1%)

November 2000 3,469

 

Estimated average gate 12/99 $99,628

Estimated average gate 12/00 $73,508 (-26.2%)

November 2000 $118,351

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/99 0.0

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/00 0.0

November 2000 0.0

 

Average Monday night rating 12/99 2.98

Average Monday night rating 12/00 2.15* (-27.9%)

November 2000 2.45*

 

Major show 12/99: Starrcade (11,799/8,582 paid/$362,550/est. 0.32 buy rate/est $1.53 million)

 

Major show 12/00: Starrcade (6,596/3,465 paid/$157,380/est. 0.11 buy rate/est. $580,000)

 

Est. buy rate -65.6%; Est. overall major event revenue -61.4%

 

*Because of switching to a two-hour format and pre-emptions, direct comparisons are misleading. A more realistic figure would be -27.5%

 

ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

Estimated average attendance 12/99 1,950

Estimated average attendance 12/00 2,138 (+9.6%)

November 2000 1,857

 

Estimated average gate 12/99 $66,300

Estimated average gate 12/00 $66,278 (-0.05%)

November 2000 $69,686

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/99 0.0

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/00 0.0

November 2000 52.9

 

Major show 12/99: Tag team tournament finals (16,300 sellout)

Major show 12/00: Tag team tournament finals (10,000)

 

NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

Estimated average attendance 12/99 4,381

Estimated average attendance 12/00 4,521 (+3.2%)

November 2000 2,900

 

Estimated average gate 12/99 $224,307

Estimated average gate 12/00 $219,082 (-2.3%)

November 2000 $138,230

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/99 75.0

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/00 60.0

November 2000 27.3

 

Average television rating 12/99 2.40

Average television rating 12/00 2.40 (+0.0%)

November 2000 2.38

 

EXTREME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

Estimated average attendance 12/99 1,620

Estimated average attendance 12/00 900 (-44.4%)

November 2000 1,500

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/99 20.0

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/00 50.0

November 2000 0.0

 

Major show 12/00: Massacre on 34th Street (2,600 sellout/$160,000)

 

PRO WRESTLING NOAH

Estimated average attendance 12/00 3,008

November 2000 1,964

 

Estimated average gate 12/00 $139,358

November 2000 $77,236

 

Percentage of house shows sold out 12/00 25.0

November 2000 53.8

MEXICO: Konnan returned on the 1/12 show in Tijuana during the Rey Misterio & Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Fuerza & Juventud Guerrera main event. In the third fall, both Rey Sr. and Fuerza were pinned, leaving Rey Jr. vs. Juventud, who had a double knockout. Rey Sr. ran in and put Rey Jr. on top for the pin. Konnan did a run-in and started pounding on Rey Sr. with a cheer until Rey Jr. stopped him. Juventud started issuing challenges to Rey Jr. for a cage match. On the 1/18 show in Tijuana for Promociones Baja California, they started phase one of what is supposed to be a Mexico City vs. Tijuana feud with Santo & Negro Casas vs. Misterio Jr. & Nicho (Psicosis) before a packed house of about 5,500 fans. The idea was for it to start out scientific, and gradually, Casas, who in his day was probably the most clever heel in Mexico, would start heeling. The crowd started out mixed even with the local favorites, and the more Casas started heeling, you guessed it, the more the crowd went with him, largely also because Casas & Santo dominated the match on the mat so fans thought they were outclassing them as wrestlers. Finish saw Casas do the low kick for the DQ. With Juventud Guerrera moving to San Diego from Mexico City, he'll probably become a regular at the Tijuana shows and they are trying to make him a face and join Rey & Nicho as the top babyface trio. On the same show, Rey Misterio turned back rudo when Damian & Halloween helped him in a singles match against Scorpio Jr. for the WWA title. Naturally, the fans in TJ love Damian & Halloween even though they are rudos. Also on the show was the debut of Brazo de Plata Jr., the 15-year-old son of Super Porky. Those of you who have seen Super Porky in the last ten years will get a kick out of the line I was told about his son. His son is in better shape than his father. There are few people in this world who aren't in better shape than a man who packs probably 350 pounds on a 5-4 frame. La Parka was scheduled for the show and no-showed, presumably because he was upset about being booked in the middle of the card. There is also talk of bringing in Michael Modest as an American heel. Promociones Mora ran the next night in the same building with Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Perro Aguayo & Villano III over Los Hermanos Dinamita via DQ. Aguayo, who has had numerous retirement matches in Tijuana, said after the match that he was going to come back one more time for a retirement match in TJ and wants a hair vs. hair against Mascara Ano 2000. Also on the show, the original Mascara Sagrada beat Los Payaso Coco Verde via DQ in a mask vs. mask, and he was revealed as Edouardo Ruiz

AAA taped its first TV show of the year on 1/16 in Pachuca (they were doing year-end stuff and they are so far behind they were doing last years tapes until now) headlined by the same Heavy Metal & Perro Aguayo Jr. over Latin Lover & Hector Garza match they've been putting on top forever. Aguayo gave low blows to both opponents for the win. They also turned El Hijo del Solitario tecnico when his partners, El Texano & Pirata Morgan turned on him and left him bloody

The attendance for the 12/15 PPV show at Arena Mexico was about 14,000. The first two EMLL PPV events on 3/17 and 8/4 were both sellouts with about 20,000 the first time and more than 17,000 the second time

The 1/19 Arena Mexico had a non-stip single on top with Atlantis pinning Dr Wagner Jr. clean in a 2/3 fall match and then issuing a challenge for a mask vs. mask match. Can't imagine that match taking place any time soon. Semi saw Shocker & Scorpio Jr. & Bestia Salvaje over Santo & Negro Casas & Emilio Charles Jr. when Charles refused to help his teammates and had words with Casas continuing the Charles turn. 1/26 Arena Mexico is Atlantis & V-3 & Casas vs. Scorpio Jr. & Salvaje & Charles on the rudo side

There was a big match in Juarez with Fishman Jr., Anibal Jr., Marques Jr. and Cobarde Jr. Jr. in a tournament ending with Anibal Jr. losing his mask

Texano & Pirata Morgan kept the Mexican national tag titles on 1/21 in Durango over Dos Caras & Dos Caras Jr. Good storyline here as Sr. injured his ankle. Son fought third fall alone and kept refusing to quit and was being doubled unmercifully until Sr. threw the towel in to stop the beating.

ALL JAPAN: There are a ton of things being planned for the Stan Hansen retirement on 1/28 at the Tokyo Dome. Although Bruiser Brody did get more votes than Hansen in the balloting among the wrestlers for the MVP of foreign wrestlers in Japan, some of the Brody mystique is also because of the nature of his death, and the fact that he was still on top at the time, whereas fans saw age make Hansen into a mere mortal and in recent years, probably something less than that inside the ring. If you figure in longevity and everything else, Hansen would probably have to rank as the biggest foreign star ever to work Japan, which is why his retirement is such a big deal, particularly coming on the heels of All Japan losing both Baba and Tsuruta, and basically most of its company, over the past two years. They set up an exhibit at Korakuen Hall on 1/24 for photos and on 1/27 he'll be having a final meeting with fans doing a speech and a Q&A leading to the Dome show the next day. Gong Magazine will be putting out an issue devoted to Hansen's career on 2/1. He did a network news interview on 1/23 saying he has job offers to teach at the junior high school level, which was the profession he studied for decades ago at West Texas State University before going into pro wrestling, and said he'd love to continue helping out All Japan in any way he could

The first Budokan Hall show of the year is 4/14, which will be the finals of the Champion Carnival tournament. I don't know how they are going to do it, but they are going to end every tour for the rest of the year with Budokan shows

Tenryu supposedly injured his left elbow in training on 1/18. That injury may very well be real, but the story behind it, that he was injured trying to bench 660, is clearly ridiculous

 

PRO WRESTLING NOAH: Kenta Kobayashi injured his shoulder last week and missed the rest of the tour.

NEW JAPAN: The next Dome show is 4/9 at the Osaka Dome which may be where they do the Choshu vs. Hashimoto rematch

Also on the 2/18 PPV show from Sumo Hall is an eight--man junior bout with Shinya Makabe & Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka against Silver King & Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai. A lot of talk that the mystery man on the 2/18 PPV for a singles match with Muto will end up being Scott Hall

Ka Shin didn't sign the contract offer he was given on 1/17. There are still meetings scheduled. The problem is his heat decreased to nothing after the Ryan Gracie match and the company has done nothing to rebuild it. Muto also hasn't signed. They wanted him to work a full schedule this year, but he said with his knees in the shape they're in, it is impossible and he can only work big shows. He also wants to start his own wrestling school

They ran a house show on tour in Naha on the island of Okinawa on 1/19 with only the native crew and were happy that they were able to draw 4,500 without Muto, Chono and Hashimoto, with a show headlined by an eight man best of three falls match with Yutaka Yoshie & Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Kensuke Sasaki over Michiyoshi Ohara & Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tatsutoshi Goto. It was taped for TV and the best thing on the show was a tag match where Ka Shin & El Samurai won a non-title match over jr. tag champs Tanaka & Kanemoto, presumably to set up a title match, with Samurai pinning Kanemoto after a reverse DDT. However, Okinawa is not a place they regularly tour so it's drawing more based on a novelty

Choshu, taking all that punishment in the Hashimoto match on 1/4 at the age of 49, was really hurting afterwards, as you can imagine. It's amazing the lengths wrestlers in the U.S. will often go to for the sake of having a great match, and in Japan, where the standards and higher and in the major companies, the allowable amount of gimmickry is lower, it's even more amazing and sad. It's not always sad. Inoki looks like a million bucks and can move great at 58. Choshu really didn't look bad at 49 and had a hell of a match until the terrible finish. But they didn't do nearly as much in the ring as the guys do today

12/23 TV show did a 2.6 rating and the 1/4 TV show from the Tokyo Dome did a 9.3, which is a tremendous rating for a show out of prime time.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: Gong Magazine went against the grain with its year-end awards. They voted Sasaki as MVP. Not sure how they came to that conclusion other than the idea that Sasaki needs a boost to look like a superstar since he's got to carry New Japan on top with Muto and Chono not in top shape. Kobashi vs. Akiyama on 12/23 at the Ariake Coliseum was named Match of the Year, Nagata & Iizuka were named Tag team of the Year and Sakuraba was named Hardest worker, Kawada was named Most spirited worker and Minoru Tanaka was named Best Technical and Ayako Hamada was named Womens MVP

The first Atsushi Onita vs. Tarzan Goto match in six years will take place on 2/17 at Differ Ariake

The Toryumon promotion will be crowning an NWA welterweight champion in a one night tournament on 1/29 at Korakuen Hall. Expect a major push coming out of this for Genki Horiguchi

CMLL Japan announced the matches for its 1/27 to 2/4 tour. Mostly six-mans on top with Mil Mascaras & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Dos Caras as the main event trio. They are also running an afternoon show on 1/28, right before the All Japan Tokyo Dome. In FMW's strange storyline for the 2/6 PPV, it was announced that Tetsuhiro Kuroda, based on his losing the match to Kodo Fuyuki on 1/16, would divorce his wife and marry Kyoko Inoue and form a tag team with her on the PPV. Also on that show will be Gedo & Jado defending the WEW tag titles against Wing Kanemura & Ryuji Yamakawa.

HERE AND THERE: Bobby Heenan is expected to be broadcasting the 2/4 Women of Wrestling PPV and is also in negotiations for a spot with iGeneration wrestling. WWF has seemingly cooled off on whatever interest there may have been in him when he was first let go. WWF does at least have some interest in Larry Zbyszko, who will probably be brought back up shortly for another interview

The coroners report on Rodney Anoai came in this week and listed his death from fluid in the lungs, and not a heart attack as was the preliminary speculation because of his size. There were England tabloids that actually said they thought he died because he had a heart attack after seeing a spider in his hotel room, because there was a silly publicity story put out about this giant sumo who had a deathly fear of spiders

The Urban Wrestling group ended up not debuting on 1/17 on BET because no contract ended up being signed in time for that date. The word we're told is that this is still going to happen, although a timetable isn't known

Randy Savage did the wrestling scenes for the "Spiderman" movie this past week

Tommy Dreamer is going to start working many weekends in Puerto Rico for IWA. IWA has talked about doing a Dreamer vs. Rob Van Dam program but haven't come to any agreement as of yet with Van Dam

The ECWA Super 8 tournament, which is generally considered the premier event of the year for indie wrestlers, will take place on 2/24 in Wilmington, DE, with the eight participants being Low Ki, American Dragon (WWF developmental wrestler trained by Shawn Michaels now in Memphis), Tony Kozina (Pacific Northwest), Billy Fives (Florida), Mike Sullivan (Florida), Jayson Reign (Chicago), Spanky (Michaels student in Memphis) and Reckless Youth

For those who were still paying any attention, RollerJam officially had its last episode on 1/19

In a story that got national pub over the week, Douglas Harrington, the stepfather of a 16-year-old who watched as his stepson jumped off the roof of their house onto a burning table and suffered burns on 20 percent of his body to imitate a pro wrestling stunt was charged in New Philadelphia, OH with child endangerment

Isaac Rosario, a long-time WWC worker, mainly a preliminary wrestler from the mid-70s through the mid-90s and of late the ring announcer and time keeper at the house shows, announced he was retiring from the promotion as he hasn't been back since the final show of 2000. He was suffering from both high blood pressure and angina. He was pretty much out of the ring by the early 90s, but had one final run doing an angle against manager Rico Suave (Julio Estrada) in 1997. Rosario will continue his wrestling school in Vega Alta, where he trained many of the WWC's younger stars such as Carly & Eddie Colon and the tag team of Thunder & Lightning

NWA Florida on 1/23 in Tampa before 650 fans was headlined by Horace Hogan & Dan Severn over Sabu & Mike Rapada when Severn pinned NWA champ Rapada. However, the next show on 2/20 will be headlined by Rapada defending against Steve Corino

Christopher Daniels will headline three shows for Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling on 1/25 in Chilliwack, BC, 1/26 in Surrey, BC and 1/27 in Auburn, WA

Barbarian, Marty Jannetty and Cuban Assassin (Dave Sierra) will all be touring England for Brian Dixon's All-Star Wrestling starting in early February

British wrestler Jonny Storm was injured on 1/19 and hospitalized after taking a power bomb variant move wrong and will be out of action for several weeks

Vann Wallace, a wrestler who worked in the South from the 60s until the early 90s under names like Buddy Wallace and The Green Hornet, passed away at the age of 64 of an apparent heart attack while attending church in Alabama on 1/14. In the 70s, he wrestled for virtually every promoter in the Alabama area including Nick Gulas

21st Century Insurance will be debuting a TV ad campaign based around Anna Nicole Smith, Alice Cooper and Randy Savage, directly targeting young people, looking for personalities they would find entertaining. Sort of funny because aren't all those names stars from known by a lot older demo

UPW valet Loony Lane (Jenny Lane) appears on the TV show "Blind Date" on 1/31.

MMA: Very little info available regarding the UFC sale from Semaphore Entertainment Group, which had been co-owner from the start in 1993, and bought out partners Rorion Gracie and Art Davie when it became a PPV success, to the Las Vegas-based Zuffa company headed by Lorenzo Ferititta, co-owner of Station Casino and a former member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The company headquarters are being moved as quickly as possible from New York to Vegas. The next show will continue as planned on 2/23. There is some question right now regarding the Japanese offshoot, UFC-Japan, since their deal was directly with Bob Meyrowitz. The original schedule had a March PPV show the Japanese offshoot was promoting, but there is no confirmation that show is still going to take place. Obviously the prime goals for the new organization are to get it sanctioned in Nevada, and the belief is, if this group can't get that done, it just won't be done, and use the fact they are sanctioned in Nevada and New Jersey as evidence of being a sport as opposed to a barbaric spectacle and get back on all the PPV companies. Clearly the future of UFC and MMA in general is based on two things. First, they have to get back on PPV. Second, after that, they have to do a major marketing campaign and create some stars the public wants to see. Without both, UFC could be just another Roller Derby with a shorter shelf life. Most feel this new ownership is the best possible scenario for making it work because they have a fight game background and deep pockets. One would think if they get approved in Nevada, it's a formality that Pride would be approved as well, which would set the stage for their planned expansion into the American market

Dream Stage President Naoto Morishita is going to Los Angeles at the end of the month to try and finalize a deal with Rickson Gracie for the match at the 100,000-seat stadium in October, presumably against Sakuraba. If that's the case, it's important to rest Sakuraba up because he fought far too often last year.

ECW: Wrestlers weren't paid again this week, although nobody was realistically expecting to be paid, making them nine weeks behind. As the week went on, several wrestlers were trying to get out the word that the teary-eyed backstage and the celebration in the ring had nothing to do with anyone believing it was the final ECW show. Others were saying they deep down knew it but nobody wanting to publicly, after staying with things for so long, say anything. The company is still the right deal away from remaining in business, but as each week goes by, hope that deal will be made becomes less and less

Paul Heyman claims that he never discussed Corino juicing at the PPV nor did they ever talk about pay, and claims again that since Corino has been paid more than his contract calls for (he signed a long-term contract on a nightly guarantee of a sliding scale at about $300 per show, but Heyman bumped him up to $1,500 per week when he started featuring him), that Corino has no right to complain and that Corino has never asked for his release

ECW is no longer in the TV listings for Sunshine Network so it's basically done as far as a TV show is concerned. The feeling is that they will still run a PPV on 3/11 with whomever hasn't signed, and as of this point, nobody has been given a release and WCW, because they were burned by Sabu and Chris Candido claiming they didn't have contracts when they did, won't make an offer to anyone in ECW unless they have proof they are released from their ECW deal

Tajiri and Crazy are booked for Jersey All Pro on 2/2 in Bayonne, NJ and 2/3 at the Viking Hall in Philadelphia, so they are working ECW Arena for a different group, although ECW no longer has any bookings in that building. Jersey All Pro now wants to run that building twice a month. They've been in a few times and have drawn a few hundred each time

Crazy and Tajiri worked for Combat Zone Wrestling on 1/20 in Newark, DE. Crazy was said to have gotten a huge pop. Corino, Lou E. Dangerously, York and Matthews worked over the weekend for Atlantic Terror Championship Wrestling.

WCW: At this point the SuperBrawl line-up for 2/18 in Nashville looks to be Steiner vs. Nash for the WCW title, Page vs. Jarrett, Kronik vs. Bagwell & Luger, O'Haire & Palumbo vs. Stasiak & Jindrak for the tag titles, Douglas vs. Rick Steiner for the U.S. title, Guerrero Jr. vs. Misterio Jr. for the cruiserweight title, Morrus vs. Wall and a couple of other matches

Scott Rechsteiner was arrested on 1/23 from an incident at the TV tapings the night before which ended up being edited off television. This was after he beat up Daniels and Modest and "broke their legs." They were doing a stretcher job deal and Steiner started kicking one of the EMT's, apparently thinking they weren't real EMT's and were just local indie guys. As it turned out, they used real EMT's, and the one who got kicked pressed charges

Nitro on 11/22 (aired the next night) from Winston, Salem, NC. Show was hurt a lot by weak crowd reactions and by the overemphasis on too many of the older wrestlers. They are trying to push the idea that Steiner is a legbreaker because of the Sid deal, but the announcers make clear Steiner had nothing to do with it. They did announce the new ownership on the show at the beginning, but didn't harp on it or act like it meant major changes. Show opened with Flair and his group out. Flair was cheered for everything he said, but he didn't get anything great of a reaction coming out, which is the typical Carolinas we don't want to pay to boo Flair reaction. He ripped on Wake Forest so a few people booed. He announced Wright as the No. 1 contender. Wright came out and Nash came out. Wright punched Nash, who no sold it and Lance Stormed him, power bombed him through a gimmicked part of the stage with no effort and putting him in his place. Cat then announced Nash was No. 1 contender. Flair set up Luger vs. DDP, winner refs Nash vs. Bagwell and Nash has to win to get the title shot at SuperBrawl. Modest vs. Daniels was a really good match except for Daniels missing a quebrada, slipping on the ropes and landing on his head. He took a while getting his bearings back but it picked up and built well until Steiner came in and destroyed both guys and "broke their legs," thereby establishing both guys as nobody to be taken seriously and setting a new standard for making the term cutting the legs out from under newcomers into a more literal meaning. They'll either learn they have to make new stars or they'll go out of business. Modest looked better than Daniels. Kwee Wee challenged anyone in the back. Nobody came out, so he challenged a security guard and pounded him. Team Canada and the FA's came out and Storm wanted to end the feud with a captains match. Storm then beat Konnan in 1:45 with the half crab. Luger & Bagwell told Douglas that if he beat Cat, he's on the team. Morrus told Leroux to tear off his MIA t-shirt and that MIA is no more, and he went back to the Hugh Morrus gimmick except he doesn't laugh. Cool gimmick, the laughing man who doesn't laugh. They could do more gimmicks like this. The comedian who doesn't tell jokes. The Canadians who aren't from Canada (oh, they already have that). The gay guy whose gimmick is he's doing it with a hot looking girl. The CEO who is trying to bankrupt the company. Luger beat Page in a boring match when Jarrett hit Page with a guitar shot and Luger racked him. In a very strange finish, Mamalukes beat Jindrak & Stasiak via DQ. Vito had Stasiak pinned and Jindrak had Johnny pinned. Palumbo & O'Haire came out and put tried to tell the ref to count Jindrak's pin but instead the ref DQ'd Jindrak's team for them touching him. Made no sense to me either. All four worked real hard and really cool stuff especially from Jindrak and Johnny. Crowd didn't care by this point. Teased the dissension in the NBT's. As they were arguing, Flair pulled Sanders away from the argument and told Sanders he was going to take him under his wing and teach him the manipulative parts of wrestling. Cat beat Douglas in a non-title match for the commissioners job. Sanders interfered first but Cat got rid of him. O'Haire and Steiner also interfered. They had O'Haire look good. Steiner distracted Douglas for Cat to hit the feliner for the pin. Guerrero Jr. & Wall beat Morrus & Leroux when Guerrero pinned Leroux. Except for Wall, everyone looked good but crowd wasn't into it. Nash beat Bagwell. Luger played heel ref, slow counting whenever Nash had the pin, low blowing Nash at one point, and trying fast counts and even holding a chair for Bagwell to dropkick into Nash's face. DDP came out for the save and gave Luger a cutter while Nash power bombed Bagwell and Nash grabbed the prone Luger's hand and counted to three to win the match. Bunch of run-ins after the pin

Thunder taped after Nitro had a good opener and most thought the show was worth watching just for that match. The negative was that they couldn't keep the crowd. There were 5,001 people in the building when Nitro started. When Nitro ended, estimates were as many as half the fans (and remember, most got in free) left and estimates were there were only about 800 in the building by the time the Thunder main event took place. Crowd reactions were also weak much of the night, getting worse as the night went on. There is a big decision that has to be made. The problem is it is very much cost effective to run Thunder after Nitro, because the production is in the place, the building is booked and right now the company loses money every time it runs a show. However, Thunder is doomed to being a weekly gloomy product as long as it's taped after Nitro because almost every week the crowd is burned out. The only Thunders that have been lively in recent months since this happened were the international shows because Thunder wasn't taped after Nitro on those tours. Show started with a cruiserweight challenge to set up the No. 1 contender on the PPV. Basically a gauntlet match which went about 17:00 and was said to be one of the best TV matches for WCW in a long-time. It went like this. Helms pinned Skipper. Helms pinned Karagias. Kidman quickly pinned Helms. Kidman pinned Yang. Knoble pinned Kidman. Rey quickly pinned Knoble. Rey pinned Leroux. Rey pinned Moore after a quick exciting match. Ray pinned Kaz Hayashi to get the shot. Cat plugged SuperBrawl and announced matches for Thunder. Awesome beat Smiley. During this match, Glacier's music started playing. Awesome was killing Smiley while Glacier was slapping hands at ringside oblivious to everything. After Awesome left, Glacier did a run-in and acted like he wanted to fight Awesome. All done for comedy. Glacier then told Smiley he'd always be there to watch his back like he was tonight and then started posing in the ring while paying no attention to a struggling Smiley. Said to be hilarious. Kwee Wee challenged anyone from the back to come out and fight him. Nobody did, so he attacked a planted fan and gave him a piledriver. Jarrett beat Morrus in a solid match, ending when Wall interfered choke slamming Morrus. They doubled on him until DDP came out of the crowd for the save. Ron Harris beat Crowbar in a really bad match. Don Harris interfered doing the switch and the H-bomb finish. Rick Steiner pinned Bigelow. Apparently Steiner potatoed him early and he was groggy the rest of the way and it wasn't a good match, with Steiner winning with the top rope bulldog. Scott Steiner threatened to beat up Cat when Flair stopped him, saying that since Cat was commissioner, Steiner couldn't touch him. Flair then turned around and nailed Cat, saying that since he's CEO, he can touch beat him up and everyone laughed. DDP and Nash were both mysteriously laid out. Rick Steiner and Kronik were tending to them. Steiner told Kronik to take care of business, and when they left, Douglas knocked out Steiner from behind and laughed at Steiner saying who was going to watch out for him. Main saw Kronik over Scott Steiner & Animal. Luger, Bagwell and Cat were out. Steiner, Luger and Bagwell were beating on Cat outside the ring while Kronik double-teamed and pinned Animal inside the ring. Already sounds like an Animal turn forthcoming

According to those at Fusient, all WCW contracts were assignable in the event of a sale including Hogan's (which is something of a moot point since it runs out in March and it's likely he wouldn't be back by then unless he'd make a surprise appearance challenging Steiner at the PPV to build for the March show) because they wouldn't have bought the company if the top guys weren't part of the deal

Bischoff has had a minor hand in the booking, through input to one member of the creative team (presumably Johnny Ace) for the past several weeks to start the direction he wanted the major storylines to go, as well as putting more emphasis on the cruiserweights over the past week. Ace's basic role right now is to finishes that will keep storylines going from the TV so the conclusions will be on PPV rather than ending them, but at the same time having as many clean finishes on TV as possible

Sid Vicious was released from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on 11/16 and is expected to be out of action six to eight months

TSN made the decision not to air the footage of Sid's injury so it was edited off the Canadian version of Nitro. There were many complaints because this wasn't violence against women, but something that happened in the course of executing normal wrestling moves. TSN regularly shows injuries that occur in other sports and aired the Marty McSorley stick attack on Donald Brashear a zillion times

While nobody has officially said so, within WCW, the belief is that the company will be me moving its base of operations to Los Angeles and that a West Coast location will be where the TV tapings will be from at some point.

Some notes from an interview with Johnny Ace on WCW Live. Ace largely echoed a lot of thoughts regarding changes that should be made in WCW. Pretty much most of his thoughts as far as in-ring product and finishes are things I've agreed with. They have to recognize and not lose site that this is still the entertainment business and they have to create good storylines and most importantly, larger than life characters, to go along with providing the good product and getting away from the non-finishes to turn this around. Ace said the past six months have been a struggle but he's finally starting to get the power behind him that he needs to put out a strong wrestling product. He said he wants to work with New Japan or Pro Wrestling NOAH, because he doesn't think All Japan has anyone except Kawada that they could use, and thinks some Japanese wrestlers can be stars in WCW if they are positioned correctly. Ace said that Vicious was injured doing a move that they had worked together on, that was part of Jumbo Tsuruta's arsenal, but it was a freak accident. He said that O'Haire could be a breakout star. Really put over the cruiserweights that said fans needed to be educated to respect the division and its performers and they need to bring in guys from around to world to challenge for the title. He also hinted they may add a cruiserweight tag team title. He also said he wants them to go back to programs that last for months rather than angles shot and blown off all on the same TV show. He was a proponent of winners and losers in almost every match and thought the finishes on both Nitro and Thunder last week with everyone running in was something he didn't agree with. He felt Hogan's name value to the company was still important and put over Douglas' promos. He said he'd love to get Tajiri in, and also put over Kid Kash, Super Crazy and Daniels. He said the swerves should be surprise clean finishes. He put over Van Dam strongly, said Arn Anderson needs to be used better and that WCW needs to improve production

There are numerous ECW wrestlers that WCW has at least some interest in, but because of the situation with Mike Awesome, Sabu, Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch and others over the past year, WCW won't make any offers unless they have a release in writing from ECW, which thus far, nobody has, even though Heyman had told wrestlers they could get it

Goldberg bought a '69 Ford Mustang for $60,000 at the Barrett and Jackson auction televised on Speedvision

The A&E show "Behind Closed Doors with Joan Lunden" which was shot at the Power Plant and includes Madusa taking bumps for Lunden debuts on 2/1 at 9 p.m. It's always smart programming when these smaller networks put their wrestling specials head-to-head with WWF programming

Chavo and Rey are apparently working real hard on studying the tapes to steal the show at the next PPV

WCW wrestlers David Flair, San Greco, Dan Factor (real name Dan Faquir, Dan Devine in New Japan), Robbie Rage, Omen, Mike Sanders, Shannon Moore and Shane Helms all worked the NWA Wildside TV tapings in Cornelia, GA on 1/20. There was also a Chris Kanyon sighting at the show. Kwee Wee, Paisley, Leah Meow and developmental wrestlers Steve Sharp, Scotty Patrick (Scotty Sabre when under a WWF developmental deal before being let go), Kevin Northcutt and Chris Harris will be working for the group this coming weekend with a 1/26 show in the same building

Hogan will be on the 2/3 episode of Walker: Texas Ranger

They are going to continue to produce the World Wide show as they were attempting to sell it in syndication at the NATPE convention

Goldberg was on Bubba the Love Sponge and claimed he had a contract out and was thinking of going to the WWF and wrestling Chris Jericho, but then plugged how he was demanding Hogan to be brought back for him to return to WCW. It's amazing how many people buy stuff on Bubba as being factual and report it as news as opposed to report it as just something to laugh about Hogan's latest angle. When you look back, the show is simply Hogan's forum to shoot his own internet angles and keep his name in the news. In this case, it looks like the idea is that Hogan and Goldberg are going to come back together. At least that was the word going around at Nitro. Still, the timing of this, with the Meng jump, of Goldberg teasing going to WWF isn't exactly the best for the company to be doing angles like this

House show on 1/21 in Columbia, SC drew 1,031 paying $22,295. Nitro/Thunder tapings on 1/22 in Winston-Salem was almost a total papered house as they had 5,001 in the building at the start of the show (although less than 1,000 were still left by the time the Thunder main event took place which tells you what the live audience thought and those are things the promotion has to make note of because when people who get in for free leave midway through the show, it says too much about the nature of the show) but it was 1,206 paying $36,690. Main event in Columbia was Nash over Steiner via DQ in a title match with a Jarrett run-in and DDP save. They did the same finish in the tag title match with Kronik beat O'Haire & Palumbo when Jindrak & Stasiak did the run-in for the DQ. Jung Dragons vs. 3 Count vs. Knoble & Karagias said to be the show stealer. Flair was there. He tried to insult the crowd to get booed but a solid percentage cheered everything he said. Flair announced Steiner would have the night off, but Cat came out and said Steiner would be defending against Nash and Thrillers against Kronik, then Flair said OK, but then Cat had to put the commissioners job up against Sanders, which Cat won.

WWF: Raw on 1/22 from the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, LA was one of the weakest Raw episodes in a long time. In many ways, this came off like a Nitro after a PPV in that they really didn't put over the Benoit-Jericho match on TV like everyone figured they would, and by the next day it was only an afterthought. With the exception of one match, there was no good wrestling and it was the same overexposed characters out there all over the show. They pushed Drew Carrey far more than the ladder match. Show opened with Stephanie & HHH out, and HHH challenging Austin to show up and he was going to destroy him with a sledge hammer. Angle came out and at first got a face reaction until he started acting geeky talking about drinking milk. They ended up issuing challenges for Angle vs. HHH for the title and Stephanie vs. Trish, but Vince came in and was bad they made matches without consulting him (isn't that what they do in the first segment of every show, and shouldn't he simply arrive on time?). They teased those matches the entire show until Vince made it a mixed tag for the main event. Test destroyed Regal in 1:28 with an elbow off the top to win the European title. They teased there was some unexplained deal which caused Regal to lose so quickly (I'm presuming it's his herniated discs in the real life world so they had him drop the strap and get out) but never said another word about it the rest of the show like one of those dangling deals. APA beat Hardys with them teasing dissension among the Hardys. Not nearly as good as most Hardys matches. Jeff hit the swanton on Bradshaw, but he wasn't the legal man, and Faarooq, who was, pinned him after the dominator. Rock did a really good interview regarding not winning the Rumble and that Michael Cole wants to look like somebody out of N'Sync. In the lone highlight of the show, Jericho & Rock beat Show & Benoit in 10:44 when Rock pinned Benoit after a rock bottom. Jericho was laid out early when Show choke slammed him on the floor. They doubled on Rock, but really it was a singles match with Benoit most of the way and turned into an excellent match with super heat. Rock KO'd Show with the ring bell. Jericho came back out from the back right before the finish. After the match, Show choke slammed Rock, Jericho and Benoit. Under normal circumstances, it is smart booking to have the new guy look strong in his first appearance, rather than beat him first so the audience thinks he's not a top guy. In the case of Show, things are very different because it was the first example of WCW discipline which is not a good thing. Bottom line is that Show was sent to OVW to get under 400 pounds and in shape. He was brought back for the Rumble and wasn't in shape and looked to be way over 400. I can understand a short-term story of bringing him in, because he's a name for the Rumble and for him to put someone over as a way to give that person a good win before doing the real return when he gets in shape. But to bring him back out of shape and give him the monster push, destroying the two guys who had an incredible match the night before and the biggest star in the company, undermines all the guys who are in shape and perform well. WWF also did the worst job in a long time in follow-up for two guys who had such a great performance on the PPV, another example of the Nitro feel of the show. Ivory was selling her back big, but beat Molly Holly to keep the womens title when Richards scooped Molly's legs on the top and she crotched herself. Mercifully short but not good. They aired the "Tough Enough" feature and confirmed for all to see that there is nothing more embarrassing than watching people who can't do promos try to imitate Steve Austin and guys with couch potato bodies thinking they can stand next to roid monsters and be pro wrestlers. The sad fact is that if WWF is actually going to use winners as TV characters, then they are going to put ringers into the show because the idea of putting someone on national TV in this day and age with a few months of training and little if any match experience is outlandish considering how much training some of these world class athletes who are still a year or more away are taking. Kane beat Rikishi via DQ in a bad match with no heat when he used the choke slam, and Haku ran in for the DQ. They doubled on Kane until Undertaker saved and did a four-way. Four-way was bad as well. The good news is they're all married to each other but this is one dead program. Lo Down beat Dudleys via DQ in a tag title match when Buh Buh hit Brown with a belt right in front of the ref. After the match, they gave a 3-D to Tiger Ali Singh through a table. Snow beat Raven in a hardcore match. They ended up under the stage and the pyro went off and both guys and the ref sold it big. Raven then used the fire extinguisher. Went backstage into the catering area and ruined a lot of good food and beverages. Raven's face was covered in food. Snow got the pin, but the getaway driver, who is a woman wearing a mask interfered and Raven then immediately pinned Snow to regain and was dragged into the getaway car. Main was pretty much a nothing, and something of a bait and switch as they spent the entire show teasing Stephanie vs. Trish and Angle vs. HHH for the title, and instead turned it into a weak missed tag. They have enough goodwill to where fans will overlook pushing the idea of two matches they want to see and delivering something less at the end, but they better not make a habit of it. HHH & Stephanie over Angle & Trish. HHH and Angle worked a few minutes and were fine. But all the heat was for the women, particularly with them teasing the entire show that Trish had been doing Vince during the last two matches. HHH gave Trish the pedigree and Stephanie pinned her. After the match, Austin finally showed up for a hot run-in and left HHH laying after a stunner

Smackdown and Heat from 1/23 in Mobile, AL. They did an interview on Heat where Richards was downing MTV and Blackman laid him out and also Saturn pinned Raven clean in a non-title match. For Smackdown, the anything goes match with Undertaker and Rikishi ends up with Haku interfering for the first of too many DQ's. They doubled on Taker until Kane came in, but they doubled on him until Undertaker recovered and he and Kane cleaned house. Vince did an interview and was blaming both Angle and HHH for Trish and Stephanie taking bumps last night. Angle was kissing up to Vince unmercifully and taking the blame for Trish getting pedigreed since it was in his match. That wasn't enough for Vince, who ordered him to defend the title against Kane. Bradshaw & Jeff Hardy vs. Faarooq & Matt Hardy ended when the Hardys joined forces to double-team and lay out Bradshaw, and then the Hardys left. Vince tells Linda's doctor to double her medication. Vince said he gave HHH and Austin both the night off, which of course is a code word that they are both going to be involved in an angle but aren't going to wrestle. Show beat Jericho via DQ when Benoit and Rock all attacked the trimmed down and larger than ever man. Rock eventually laid Show out with a belt shot and a rock bottom after Jericho and Benoit were hitting their heads on the ceiling. Tazz beat K-Kwik when Kaientai distracted him and Funaki got to say indeed again. Test pinned Christian after the dreaded high kick, and this was one of the most dreaded ever, to keep the European title. They announce that now Chyna has bone fragments in her neck and needs exploratory surgery. I think the deal is they want her to wrestle in the womans division, and they'll use the neck as a way for the much smaller women to get heat on her. Bob & Crash Holly beat Buchanan & Goodfather when Ivory's attempted interference with the title belt backfired as she hit Buchanan and he was pinned by Bob. There is a brawl with Austin and HHH in Vince's office and again Vince came out taking the real beating. Angle pinned Kane when Haku and Rikishi both interfere and Haku nails Kane with a few chair shots and a superkick. After the match, Haku & Rikishi double-team Kane until Undertaker runs in, but they double on him as well and leave both of them laying as the show ends

Ross Report notes for the week. Austin suffered a mild left knee sprain at the 1/16 Smackdown show. He worked much of the match in a great deal of pain. He got an MRI in San Antonio but it shows no significant knee damage, which is why he didn't wrestle at either TV taping. Rock has had problems with one of his eyes but an examination showed no retina damage. He worked Raw but only did an angle on Smackdown. Regal had an epidural shot in his lower back on 1/18 and was in and out of the Rumble and quickly dropped his belt on Raw and didn't work Smackdown. Guerrero is expected to return on 1/29 Raw in Pittsburgh. Rikishi has a thigh muscle strain and is being encouraged to lose weight. The track record of people the WWF has requested to lose weight publicly (Show, Henry, Vader) as far as the future goes has not been too bright. Malenko should be back in three to four weeks. The surgery cleaned up debris and bone spurs in his knee. Test will be taping an episode of "18 Wheels of Justice" starting 1/29. He praised Billy Gunn and Albert for their Heat match that was taped on 1/16. He said that it is being discussed for Steve Austin to host Saturday Night Live, but it won't be on 2/2. He expects Scott Vick and Steve Bradley to be debuting on WWF television at some point

The WWF is continuing its Smackdown Your Vote campaign, naming Angle as the honorary chairman, which seems to guarantee Angle is going to wind up as a babyface before long

Business 2.0 had a long story about the WWF and the McMahons as it pertained to the XFL. Story was very pro, as in their understanding of teenagers would make the league a success and actually used a skeptical quote from me. Funniest thing in the new history of the WWF is that when the company was down in the late 90s, they now turned it around by hiring writers from the Conan O'Brien show to do their TV. Ultimate slap in the face of Russo, who is now erased completely from the WWF history books. Like him or not, Russo deserves at least some credit for the ascension of WWF (not as much as he took, as history has shown, but still deserves some) just as he deserves credit for the destruction of WCW

Some Smackdown notes from the 1/18 show from Chicago. One of the weakest episodes of the season. Aside from the Hardys and a good, but nothing memorable main event, it was pretty blah. Way too much Steph and Trish, to the point it got genuinely creepy (Trish grabbing Vince's butt and squeezing was far stranger actually seeing it as compared to just reading about it) at times and outright boring (the more Trish is on, the more of what she has she loses because of her acting ability, or lack thereof. Stephanie, when threatening her in one of their zillion scenes together, talked about doing it the easy way or the hard way. Jeez, the lines uttered in famous threats by Strangler Lewis (1931 against Ed Don George) and Lou Thesz (1963 against Buddy Rogers) are now being used in this feud. After seeing the XFL Chicago Enforcers cheerleaders, I immediately recognized what tremendous dancers the Nitro Girls really were. Chyna probably should have at least worn a neck brace to sell what was being billed as a career ending injury just a week or two ago. The idea seems to be that she's going to have a bad neck to show vulnerability and no longer wrestle against men, which is a good thing at this point because whatever novelty value that thing had is all played out. It was funny for Michael Cole to talk several times about 15 straight sellouts at the All-State Arena when the last house show in the building failed to sellout. It came very close and it takes years to build up a number like that so I guess they figure they'll announce it's still on

Ross & Lawler adding the XFL gig is going to make both of their already tough schedules that much more taxing. For Ross, basically he's going to have to be on the road every Saturday for the XFL, fly the next morning to wherever Raw is, do Raw, then Smackdown, fly back, and do the jobs required of VP of Talent Relations Wednesday through Friday. It's going to make far more time constraints to that job, which includes all the payoffs, booking the matches and finishes for arena shows over the weekend, and negotiating contracts. While Lawler doesn't have the office work, he'll be doing three shows every week basically live (Smackdown is live to tape). Luckily, as the schedule has it, there are only one two PPV shows during the XFL season, which, especially Wrestlemania with all the pressure, will be hell weeks for both of them by the time Raw and Smackdown (for Lawler) come around, as once XFL is in the playoffs, there won't be a need for a "B" team game on NBC so I'm presuming the two are only doing ten regular season games starting on 2/3. The two did a practice game on Saturday night and then did the Rumble with no problem. But by Raw, both were noticeably showing signs of fatigue on the air

Forbes Magazine is working on a short story on Chyna

The actual check was cut this past week and received in the out-of-court settlement of the Owen Hart case, so the Hart parents, Martha Hart and her children received the agreed upon money, which totalled $18 million. This led to rumors, that even spread to the wrestlers by the day of the show, that Bret would be a surprise entrant in the Rumble. Bret is concentrating on writing his autobiography and has turned down numerous offers from around the world to be involved in wrestling shows. Even after more than one year, he is suffering from the effects of the concussion although he is able to train lightly. Hart and WWF Canada President Carl DeMarco (who have known each other for years as DeMarco was Hart's business manager before Hart got him the job heading the WWF Canada office after Jack Tunney was phased out) were at a Special Olympics in Toronto but never talked business, but then had a later conversation where DeMarco pitched all the expected ideas of Bret returning, but nothing more came of it since Hart wasn't interested. There was never anything suggested regarding Hart coming to the Royal Rumble

Rock was back to No. 1 on the Billboard Rec Sports video charts this week, with Tony Hawk at No. 2 and the World Series at No. 3. All tolled, there are 17 wrestling videos in the top 20 with WWF occupying slots four through eight (TLC, Divas, Eve of Destruction, Jericho, Best matches of 2000). ECW has slots No. 9, 10 and 14, while FMW has No. 13 and the ICP tape is No. 16

On 1/18, Jay Leno told a Chyna joke saying that she considers herself the Susan B. Anthony of the WWF but said she was more like the Susan was Anthony

Venis' mother passed away on the morning on 1/22. That's the reason a lot of the wrestlers were wearing black armbands on Raw that night

In the UK, Ch. 4 airs the PPVs on a 50-minute delay (which is doubly hard on the WWF crew, since they have 50 minutes to re-edit the show and have it ready for UK broadcast) because of sensitivity to product content. The funny thing is, before the show aired at 1:50 a.m. on that station, they aired a documentary on the London underworld, which included showing a trip club with close-ups of tits and people bragging about stealing, drug dealing and beating people up. The Ch. 4 claims that even though the show airs at a late hour, it has to be edited before viewing on free TV because so many kids tape it

The plan, and this was going back to the interview Rikishi did when it came out he was the driver that ran down Austin (funny thing that now they acknowledge on TV that HHH was the driver) about the island boys is that there are plans of making a clique with Haku, Matt E. Smalls (Matthew Anoai--son

of Sika) and Ekmo Fatu (younger brother of Sam and Solofa Fatu). Smalls and Ekmo will likely be called the Fat Boys. Matt is about 400 pounds and can work, does moonsaults and was a decent college football player at the University of Hawaii before having a brief run in ECW with Samu at the Samoan Gangsta Party. Nobody else is scheduled to join that clique

For the UK ratings for the week ending 1/14, Raw drew 420,000 viewers, while Nitro, going head-to-head, dropped to 40,000. Most feel Bravo, the station that carries Nitro now, made a huge mistake in putting it head-to-head with the established Raw. Smackdown had 290,000 viewers. Heat, which airs on broadcast Ch. 4 on Sunday afternoons, drew 1.2 million. In Germany, the Best of 2000 Nitro the week ending 1/13 took a huge hit falling from 310,000 to 190,000 the week before with a regular show

Drew Carrey was on Stern on 1/23 and talked about being in the Rumble. A caller asked why he didn't take a bump and he said because he wasn't trained as a wrestler

There was a faux pas on Heat as there was a glimpse of Show taping up behind Tazz in one of the camera shots

Bruce Prichard is scheduled to go to Puerto Rico shortly and set up for some of the developmental talent to be assigned to the IWA promotion

Probably the reason there is no Halftime Heat this year is because the Super Bowl is on CBS, which is owned by the same parent company as owns TNN, and they already have a much promoted halftime show scheduled with N Sync and Aerosmith on MTV

Smackdown tapings on 1/16 in Chicago at the All-State Arena drew a sellout 13,626 paying $477,618. Raw on 1/22 in Lafayette, LA drew 8,226 (about 1,300 shy of capacity) and $277,760. Between the two shows, merchandise was another $161,191, or $7.38 per head.