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March 27, 2000 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: More on WWF leaving USA Network, Beyond the Mat controversy, more

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

PO Box 1228, Campbell, CA 95009-1228 ISSN1083-9593 March 27, 2000

One of the two remaining roadblocks to the WWF/CBS deal was removed this past week when Chris-Craft Industries, Inc. agreed to sell its half of UPN to Viacom for $5 million.

Chris-Craft had sought to block a clause in its dual ownership contract of UPN with Viacom, which gave either side the right to order the other to either sell its half or buy out the other company's half. Viacom had, through that clause, ordered Chris-Craft to make a decision by 3/20. Chris-Craft went to court this week to try and get the buy-sell decision eliminated claiming Viacom had already violated the contract because there was a clause about not buying into a competing network and Viacom had negotiated and is expected to buy CBS. Viacom's defense was that it hadn't purchased CBS officially yet, thus hadn't violated the clause.

The New York Supreme Court ruled against Chris-Craft, giving the company until Monday to either buy out Viacom for $5 million, or sell for the same amount. While $5 million is a tiny amount of 50% of a television network, the real problem is UPN, even in its current state where WWF has saved the network from probable extinction, is a huge money pit and Chris-Craft, which had already lost $400 million (total network losses are $800 million) in funding the network over its first five years, didn't want to handle the future losses on its own. A surprise player got involved toward the end, Barry Diller of USA Network, with the idea that Chris-Craft would buy Viacom and sell the half they bought to Diller, but Diller backed out and some reports say the talks were never serious. Because UPN has the rights to Smackdown, if they choose to pick up the option, through September 2001, Viacom not owning both UPN and CBS would complicate the proposed CBS deal for WWF because it would make CBS less likely to buy an equity stake in a company that has its main network show on a competing network. There are people within wrestling who now consider the WWF's move to CBS as a given. The Federal Communications Commission still has to approve of Viacom owning both CBS and UPN, which violates a law banning the same company from dual network ownership, but Viacom is said to be optimistic the FCC will change the provision due to the changing television landscape with six networks.

According to WWF sources, a decision about the future of the WWF television product is expected in the next few weeks, and if the decision is reached, a possible announcement could be made just before Wrestlemania to get one last big media hype for the company leading into its biggest event of the year. A deal with CBS and Viacom would likely result in Smackdown remaining on UPN along with UPN broadcasting the XFL on Sundays, TNN, undergoing a new name and facelift, carrying the current USA network cable package including Raw is War, cross-promotion on the many Viacom owned networks, TV and radio stations and billboards which include MTV, as well as possible wrestling specials on CBS, TV movies with WWF talent and a possible CBS television show featuring wrestlers. It has been cleared that the WWF Raw show would remain on TSN in Canada no matter what U.S. carrier gets the show, even though TNN broadcasts into Canada.

The WWF strengthened its hand once again this weekend with Dwayne Johnson, Vince McMahon, Mick Foley, Paul Levesque and Paul Wight's appearances on Saturday Night Live leading to that show doing a strong rating. Johnson and Wight in particular came off tremendously in comedy skits.

Vince McMahon responded to his part in the "Beyond the Mat" controversy with what seemingly was an ill-prepared and contradictory interview on the WWF web site over the weekend.

While some of the dispute between the WWF and Lions Gate can be attributed to philosophical differences and different recollections and interpretations, there are black and white issues where one side is clearly lying.

The movie, in its limited release of 298 theaters drew approximately $950,000 for a $3,188 per screen average which was considered a respectable first weekend. It ranked No. 19 in the first weekend which is solid considering it debuted in such a limited number of theaters. It was reported as the biggest open for any non-musical documentary in years. The movie should remain in about the same number of theaters for the next several weeks and will probably be moved into new markets soon. The goal, according to Lions Gate co-President Tom Ortenberg, is to reach the $3 million to $4 million level before completing its theater run.

McMahon's main point and complaint was that the WWF didn't have a financial interest in the movie, which he claimed wasn't fair. There are two major problems with that. The first was, that was the agreement from the start which the WWF signed when it agreed to be part of the documentary. In this case, it was a contract signed when the company was doing poorly, and since the company is no longer doing poorly, and it's thus a complaint about having to live up to a contract. The second is how much credibility could a documentary have if one of its main subjects has financial interest in the movie? McMahon claimed Barry Blaustein lied and deceived him with the idea that the movie would be released in some art houses as opposed to a big national release and that it was a labor of love as opposed to a profit making venture. Blaustein and Universal Pictures told us from the beginning of this having a possibility of a national release from the start as a best case scenario but certainly not anything guaranteed. A screen release wasn't even a serious probability until after the movie did strongly in its Los Angeles test run and even then Universal decided against taking the project to theaters nationwide. WCW and ECW both confirm the same story we were told, if not stronger as both companies said they were of the impression with Ron Howard and Imagine Entertainment behind it that there was a good shot at a theatrical release, which is why WCW was cooperative with it at the beginning and also why it wasn't involved because Eric Bischoff refused to give up creative control over the final product. Roland Alexander, the promoter of All Pro Wrestling, which is also featured in the movie, claimed when they were approached about it in 1995 or 1996 and asked about getting paid for doing it, Blaustein told them it wasn't expected to make money and would probably air on public broadcasting and didn't even expect it even to make it to video.

McMahon was mad that they were advertising it as "The Movie Vince McMahon doesn't want you to see," claiming he didn't care if people saw it or not. However, by refusing to sell ads for the movie, and by having Byrne call it "boring" and a "snoozefest," the combination of the two would make that statement fair advertising. Whether that is the most effective form of advertising to wrestling fans, or to non-wrestling fans for that matter, is a different question, and it did lead to criticism in more than one newspaper by writers who felt the documentary didn't go far enough to reveal the underbelly of wrestling based on how it was being marketed. McMahon was also mad at a photo of Rock being used as one of the three faces (with Foley and Terry Funk) in the newspaper advertising, since Rock was not one of the three most prominent wrestlers in the movie. While there is the germ of a valid point there, it isn't as if Rock wasn't in the movie, or only in for a split second that was being exploited in the ad. WWF had already not allowed them to use any of the WWF's trademark names in advertising the movie. It is typical to print an advertisement for a movie with the idea that the ad would bring the most people to the movie and in that case using Rock instead of Jake Roberts or Darren Drozdov made sense. Many times more marketable stars or women in provocative clothes or lack thereof in movies have the print ads based on them, even if another less marketable person or less marketable photo image actually had more screen time. And this complaint might be a little more valid had it not come from a promoter who advertised Steve Austin for the main event at Survivor Series in November, a show that may possibly have grossed more money than this movie ever will, with the knowledge that he was doing a bait-and-switch because Austin's name would sell more buys than the name Big Show. But then after saying he didn't care if people saw it or not, he proceeded to say the people who go to the movie are doing to be disappointed, that the movie is a lie, that it lacks entertainment value and that in Lions Gates advertising they are hoodwinking the wrestling fans with the idea they are going to see a real movie when it's actually a documentary.

McMahon complained that Foley wasn't going to make any money on the movie and he resented them using his intellectual property in a money making venture, but in reality all of this was the deal agreed upon from the start. At the time, it wasn't as if people were beating down the WWF's doors looking to make documentaries with their characters, and the deal was no different than the deal WWF made and later regretted with High Road Productions with "Wrestling with Shadows" (which Bret Hart and the WWF didn't make any money from as per the agreed upon deal because if they had, as if they had in this film, the credibility of the film would have been destroyed).

McMahon complained that Blaustein changed the nature of the documentary several times, which is true, as anyone who followed the making of the movie from the start here in this newsletter would know. Ideas were batted around to simply explain to the public what pro wrestling really was and why he liked it, but that was nixed because there was so much media pub where every inside secret came out over the next few years which rendered that idea useless. There were ideas to follow a young wrestler, among the possible names were Matt Hyson (Spike Dudley) and Tony Jones, in their attempt to make it with a big organization, but those didn't pan out either. It's pretty clear the subject matter of the documentary was decided more upon what was shot that was the most entertaining and/or interesting as opposed to what the original plan for the movie was when first formulated, which is also similar to "Wrestling with Shadows" where the final product and the original idea were totally different. McMahon complained that he had offered triple what the costs of the movie were to buy a financial interest in it, but was turned down.

Where the stories gets contradictory is that even after seeing the finished product, McMahon, who himself and his company spokesman said wasn't entertaining, the WWF was still pitching a deal to buy into the movie. He also claimed one of the reasons the WWF wouldn't sell them ad time was because of the misleading newspaper ads with Rock's photo and the claim he didn't want people to see the movie. But the newspaper ad wasn't even formulated and was never released until after the decision was made not to sell the ad time. At another point he claimed the WWF had told Blaustein from the start that they wouldn't sell them any ads, but Lions Gate claims to have a contract on WWF letterhead signed just six weeks ago for advertising within the body of WWF shows, ads that weren't pulled until the day they were supposed to start airing. There has been talk that the contract, while signed, did have an out clause where the WWF could cancel airing the ads. While to say the movie was a competing product with the WWF is a stretch, the WWF certainly has the right not to sell ad time and as a company not to promote the venture, whether one would argue it was good for wrestling in general or not, if they didn't want it to succeed for whatever reason, but in turning down ad time after agreeing to it, it inherently makes the statement about it being something the WWF doesn't want you to see accurate. If there were attempts to buy, and it certainly seems that was the case, and clearly there were no nationally purchased ads on those stations who hardly had sold out all of their national inventory, there must be some story somewhere that doesn't ring true because TV networks, particularly one as deeply in debt as UPN, aren't in business to shun advertisers.

McMahon claimed never to have pressured anyone not to take the ads, and the USA network itself claims not to have turned down ads, however more attempts again after this controversy went national to buy ads on USA network for this coming week were again turned down according to Blaustein. UPN when asked that question refused to answer, but the fact that ads didn't air on the networks nationally and had to be bought through the local cable companies for USA, and in the case of UPN, were even turned down on 43 of the 52 local UPN affiliates they attempted to buy, if WWF didn't have a hand in it, seems to indicate one of the weirdest conspiracies in modern television advertising. In what may be a set-up for a later lawsuit, it is said that the movie did considerably stronger business in the nine markets where local UPN stations took their ads.

If the shoe had been on the other foot and if the NFL had refused to sell WWF ad time during the Super Bowl claiming it was a competing entertainment event, one would think the company would have cried bloody murder.

The 3/20 New York Times ran a story on Lions Gate's claim that they had a signed contract with the WWF for advertising within the body of their programs for the movie. Jim Byrne of the WWF countered saying that it is common practice in television to reject ads even if contracts had just been signed, mentioning the WWF's Super Bowl ad that was rejected (although that's misleading because the WWF wasn't banned from advertising on the Super Bowl, a specific ad was nixed due to a content issue, other WWF ads ran on the show, and they could have put a new ad in its place had they chosen to). Byrne said because something like that is common, nobody would publicize it unless they were doing so to promote the movie (and of course creating a controversy about the ad was done in some part to promote the movie), apparently forgetting that the WWF itself heavily publicized the fact its commercial was nixed.

The story quotes said that Ron Howard, whose Imagine Entertainment funded the movie, said he believes McMahon had two motives. After his attempt to invest into the movie was rejected, he wanted to make sure nobody had success with a pro wrestling project that wasn't backed by the WWF and "he is just trying to prove his point to shut down the film." But Howard also said he believes McMahon objects to the way the wrestlers are presented as real people as opposed to cartoon characters.

While McMahon, who claimed on WWF.com that he didn't want to talk publicly on this subject except to WWF.com, had already done an interview with the Los Angeles Times, saying the company felt cheated they have no equity in the movie. Byrne, however, stated the WWF didn't have an interest in the movie after it was finished and that once McMahon saw it, he would have backed out of the project anyway. This makes no sense, if that's the case, to be complaining so much about not being able to buy in, as well as it makes no sense with the time line of what happened.

The movie, which was awarded best movie at the Southern Film Festival this week, did purchase specific market spots bought out through the local cable companies that did air during WWF programming and other USA network programming.

According to an article in Wirednews by Andy Patrizio, Lions Gate had signed contracts for advertising not only from WWF, but also from USA and UPN, which may end up leading to a restraint of trade lawsuit and a complaint being filed with the FCC.

Reports from shortly after Blaustein showed the movie to Vince and Linda McMahon, with Linda being very upset at Vince about the scenes with Foley's children, WWF officials had talked with us, said McMahon had seen it and thought it was a "knock," and said the company was given the directive not to get behind promoting it in its current form. The reasons given to us for the company not promoting it, long before this latest controversy even broke, were not because he couldn't buy it, but because he didn't like it.

The general consensus seems to rate the movie at ***, which were exactly what it was rated in reviews on 3/17 by Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as the New York Post, Newsday, Detroit Free Press, Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times. It did not get a good review from the New York Times and there were many **** reviews including the Arizona Republic.

The Post review missed a few major points. It listed Foley's daughter as saying it would be better if his dad did something else (it was Funk's daughter who said it) and talked about Funk retiring but coming back for one last match (in Amarillo) at the age of 53, when he's still a full-time performer now just months before his 56th birthday. The Post concluded, "Beyond the Mat may not be strictly objective--and it's far from the no-holds-barred expose implied in the ads, but it's the most entertaining look at its world since Pumping Iron." I thought Pumping Iron was a good movie when it came out in the 70s, but it also totally skirted every serious issue in the bodybuilding world (while "Beyond the Mat" never once mentions steroids, to not do so once in a bodybuilding movie is a lot bigger omission) and wasn't nearly as entertaining as this one.

The Newsday review characterized the back room movers and shakers in wrestling as the most abrasive, mentioning Vince McMahon and Roland Alexander (All Pro Wrestling) and that Blaustein treated the wrestlers with more sympathy. It complained little screen time was devoted to rehearsals and backstage huddles setting up the routines. It praised the reunion, set up by Blaustein of Jake Roberts and his daughter saying it was so good it could have been scripted for a Lifetime movie of the week, but it's sadly authentic. It concludes in regard to Foley saying, "While Blaustein goes so far as to point up his own problems with Foley's actions, he leaves the armchair analysis to the viewer, which sometimes makes Beyond the Mat feel as superficial as the sport it is tracking."

Ebert, clearly not a wrestling fan, said watching the movie made him realize just how real pro wrestling actually is. Ebert criticized the idea that Foley's kids were at ringside during his match and how kids that young can understand about scripts. Even one of the most respected movie reviewers of all-time was taken in by Roberts, who he felt "opened up in an extraordinary way to the camera." Ebert did see threw an issue the movie has been criticized by some insiders for not delving into, by saying "What we wonder is, how can you be a pro wrestler and not use drugs? A working wrestler performs 26 to 27 days in a month--twice on weekends (Editors note: there was a period in the 80s when that was true for WWF performers and even major regional circuit performers but today's major league wrestlers wrestle less than 20 matches per month, not saying that's an easy scheduled either, but that figure would have come from a Jake Roberts movie quote which was an accurate statement about his life in the 80s in WWF)

even on a good day, their bodies are slammed around in a way that might alarm a pro football player. Have you ever heard of a pro wrestler being suspended for drug use? Do they even check for drugs?" Ebert said, "Beyond the Mat isn't a slick documentary; some of it feels like Blaustein's home movies about being a wrestling fan. But it has a hypnotic quality. Those who oppose boxing because of its violence acknowledge that it is at least a supervised sport with rules and safeguards. Wrestling is not a sport, but a spectacle, in which weary and wounded men, some obviously not in the best of shape, injure one another for money."

The Los Angeles Times review stated "Barry Blaustein's Beyond the Mat connects the antics of professional wrestlers with their lives out of the ring with such compassion, humor and perception that the result is utterly captivating. By the time this unique and touching documentary is over, you may be surprised how involved you have become with individuals who are full of contradictions and surprises." The review described Foley as "a man of such clear intelligence it becomes all the more difficult to accept that he specializes in the most extreme forms of wrestling." There has also been criticism of the movie's ads which indicate the three stars as being Foley, Funk and Rock (who is only in the movie because he's Foley's opponent in the I Quit match), as opposed to Roberts. Also, the eeriness of seeing the beginning of Darren Drozdov's wrestling career based on how it ended, was lost in virtually every review of the movie except the Detroit one.

The Detroit Free Press wrote, "Beyond the Mat is neither a sociological analysis nor an apology. Blaustein leaves it to us to draw conclusions and assign significance, always returning to his own question: What kind of man makes a living ramming another man's head against a turnbuckle?"

Steve Rushin in Sports Illustrated stereotyped wrestling fans as the group that was at the indie show in North Platte, NE that Roberts was headlining, saying they "board airplanes in flip-flops, enter court wearing tank tops, ask barbers for mudflaps, brain boyfriends with hubcaps, enjoy smoking Luckys and eating at Stuckey's, have the IQ of larva and new wives named Darva, and multiple exes raising kids names for Texas (Houston, Austin, Tyler, Taylor, Kirby, Kyle and Angelina)." Once you've stereotyped wrestling fans like that, it's hard to take anything written seriously, but the author was clearly fascinated with Roberts' life to the point neither Funk or Foley's name made the piece.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote "the exploitation of wrestlers the film reveals is as disturbing as the violence they endure and compared it with "Roger and Me," saying, "it's an amazing example of what happens when you just let the camera roll and invite people to talk about what they do" and said "McMahon's subsequent hostility and attempt to put a choke-hold on the movie's prospects are unsurprising."

The Parkway and West Roxbury Transcript on 3/15 ran a lengthy article on Funk, who said, "The film is as honest as you can be about me and my family. I'm in love with life. I don't ever want it to end."

The City Pages in Minneapolis criticized Blaustein himself for living up to the toothless image of wrestling fans with his "Wonder Years" style narrative gushing about his childhood passion. It wrote, "Had Blaustein offered investigative material instead of naive encomiums, a more compelling tale might have emerged. Much of the WWF's past, which is littered with lawsuits, drug abuse, and rumblings of sexual harassment, seems to demand attention. Yet Blaustein never addresses any of this, as if the mere mention might have threatened his access. Nevertheless, enough unfavorable material surfaces that the WWF has distanced itself from the finished product, forcing the removal of copyrighted names from any promotion of the film."

CNN's Larry King Live on 3/17 ran a full hour on the movie with Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Blaustein and Foley (who just two days before the taping was given the okay to do it by McMahon, thereby causing the King folks to eliminate both Ric Flair and Terry Funk from the show).

Foley was the perfect representative for the WWF. While many question his decisions and his future, he unabashedly feels he went in knowing the consequences of all his actions in the ring, most of what he did that was dangerous he came up with on his own, and he got to live out his childhood dream and got to perform before a larger audience and become a bigger star than even he ever imagined he could. Not to mention all the people in power along the way he pegged him as being doomed to be a mid-carder who would never make serious money and wind up in a wheelchair by his 30th birthday.

On the most telling scene in the movie, Foley explained it by saying his kids were actually fine a few minutes later, but he recognized it was a mistake to have them at ringside for that particular match and Blaustein pointed out Foley is a great father. And the truth is, that match was the exception and not the rule as to what pro wrestling was (as to what it will end up being, that statement may not hold up). In his role as a self-described real life muppet character late last year, bringing his kids to the matches as he sells and comebacks in comedy matches probably isn't anything that is really going to scar them for life. His wife's reaction to the ridiculously brutal I Quit match, similar to Julie Hart as the only normal outsider who by marriage is forced to occasionally reside in the surreal world of con men and 100% of the time swerve artists who think the whole world is like that, is probably the most honest part of the movie. Thus she was vilified by some wrestling fans and others within wrestling, at one time by McMahon, and Foley said she regrets being put in the position as the person who cried during a pro wrestling match. Foley also tried to contend pro wrestling was a sport, saying that if golf and figure skating make the cut, so should pro wrestling (that was the same argument I used to make in high school which got the golf coach furious). Actually the floor exercises in gymnastics and synchronized swimming along with figure skating may be a better analogy then golf, except pro wrestling has no judges voting and sports have outcomes that aren't predetermined (although in many cases they are close to being such based on star power in those sports as well). The actual competition in pro wrestling, while very real for spots on the card and for money is more abstract and political and at the end of the night there are no true winners and losers, as there would be in golf or figure skating. Foley also very classily praised Funk, bumped from the show, as being representative of all that is good about pro wrestling.

Blaustein was there to push the movie, but didn't go into depth about it, just seeming happy that Hogan and Piper didn't knock it, knowing ahead of time where Foley would stand. He even tried to downplay the most serious issue of the movie, the sponsorship boycott with the McMahon didn't push it because he didn't have a financial involvement line. That may be part of the reason why he didn't push it but it's a completely different issue if he tried to bury it. For him to go on about it would have gotten in the way of pushing the movie, which is why he was there, but for King to drop that subject immediately, a genuine serious issue the movie raised far beyond the world of pro wrestling, while devoting so much time to those cheesy WCW backstage clips and clips of Hogan and Flair working in slo-mo, was sad.

The most interesting guest was Piper, who combined his old-time in character routine about the start and body of his career, with what appeared to be a genuine concern of a guy who was a huge star, with knowledge that he's getting out (claiming his Time Warner contract had eight matches left). He came off as the typical older wrestler reaction of wanting the business to be better for the next generation of performers, and the disappointment in the knowledge that it really isn't going to be, and from an injury standpoint, is actually going to be worse. Piper, for the first time on television, admitted his matches were predetermined at one point, but said in the old days all they had was a finish and what they did in the ring to get there they came up with on their own. But later when King, who was of the impression that in wrestling, the good guys always won, and that Piper, who he thought was always playing the bad guy role (who with the exception of about two weeks with WCW in one of those immediately forgotten angles, has been a babyface for the last 14 years), always lost, and King noted he'd probably lose those last eight matches, Piper came back disagreeing saying for him to lose, the matches would have to be fake. On a more serious note, Piper was seemingly sincere in just hoping that wrestlers in the future have the medical benefits and retirement plans that his compadres, most of whom weren't Roddy Piper's and are now in their late 40's, crippled from ring injuries and struggling through life, didn't have. Even Foley, who abused his body more in a quicker period of time, and spent far more years lower on the totem poles than Hogan, who because of his size was a star by his third year in, and Piper, because of his mouth was a headliner by his third year in, didn't talk about the plight of the average wrestler who didn't make low seven figures due to having a best-selling book on the market. Piper, who knew so many over a nearly three decade long career, that are now back where they started because virtually all of his contemporaries are long out of the limelight, seemed to be the only one to have empathy for their plight. He paused slightly when King asked him if he could have made the same money as a bus driver would he have rather done it, but did answer in the negative. Piper was the only one of the three who, act or not, seemed to recognize that the three on stage were the exceptions who made it, and when Piper went to Foley with the Bret Hart analogy of a retired wrestler being taken to the back of the barn by the promoter. While Foley didn't disagree, he said it was no different than an NFL owner, but it was pointed out at that point that is where the lack of retirement benefits and post-career medical actually does make it different. While Piper was adamant about wrestlers needing a union, Foley sort of agreed ("a union would be nice") but it didn't seem like an issue that pushed his buttons, and then disagreed with Piper's assessment that the working conditions for a pro wrestler, at least in the WWF, weren't good. While trying not to insult his former childhood hero, questioned Piper on why he, who had made it big, was so bitter. The term bitter started to change Piper, who tried to be a little more good natured the rest of the program. Hogan when asked about a union, paused, and said "Questionable." Piper, who claimed to have seen the movie three times and loved it, still told Blaustein he didn't go far enough on issues such as how the promoters manipulate the wrestlers.

Hogan's performance seemed him playing the role of the elder statesman of wrestling who had been through it all but is now older and wiser. He was the master in that by running down his injuries right at the start, he stole Foley's thunder, and even it coming out at the end how he earned far more than Foley, it made Foley seem like someone not even at Hogan's level to the general public. As usual, it was the right performance at the right time. Even though anyone looking at numbers today can tell you without question that Foley is by far the biggest star of the three today and he was also clearly the smartest person on the panel, when out there, and not just by the fact King continually demurred to Hogan and treated he and Piper as bigger stars even with Foley's best-selling book sitting in front of him, to the public watching, Hogan came across as the star, Piper as being both concerned and also to the public based on his delivery as being somewhat "out of it" and Foley as a wide-eyed teenage upstart just breaking through to the top, as opposed to "retired wrestler" as he was labeled on the screen or legendary wrestler as modern fans view him. And no point was it more obvious then during the talks about drug problems in pro wrestling. Foley skirted the issue because he, personally, has never had a problem. He's also the exception, particularly when it comes to practitioners of the style he has popularized. Piper admitted he did it all when it came to drugs, but claimed to have stopped when his first child was born (which was nearly two decades ago), and broke into a pro wrestling interview at that point about being a parent which was embarrassing and which caused many wrestlers afterwards to laugh about. Hogan of course did the "I did when I was younger--and before the laws changed" routine, but once he got older and wiser, well, you get the picture. The fact that, just before his 47th birthday, he still looks larger than life and he was wearing a tank top on the Larry King show, never seemed to dawn on King as being something insightful, but King missed a lot more important things than that. Hogan also claimed to have seen the movie and liked it, but offered no actual opinion on it other than he wished he was in it.

King, doing a subject he knew nothing about, was embarrassing, particularly when Foley and Hogan gushed over each other about wanting to wrestle each other (Hogan: "We'd sellout the Pontiac Silverdome") and King asked Foley who would win if they fought on the level, which would be as stupid, particularly after the dialogue that had already taken place, as asking Wesley Snipes if he did a movie with Jackie Chan, who would win if they had a real fight. When the one serious issue in the real world that this movie raised was brought up, the networks refusing to take ads for it because a supplier of programming on their network happened to not like a movie combined with fewer and fewer conglomerates owning more and more of the media, he dropped the ball and treated it as trivial. Maybe it would have bogged the show down from the entertainment value of seeing Brian Knobs in character taking off his shirt and doing a lengthy interview, two things that WCW doesn't even let him do on their own television shows. When Hogan admitted that steroids and pain pills are still prevalent in wrestling today, trying to justify them because it was "just like any other sport," (while true, again, people don't drop dead from drug overdoses with nearly as much frequency in most other sports), but acting as if as he's gotten older and wiser, he doesn't do them anymore, King went on to the next subject without even asking about regulation or drug testing or what happens to these guys in later life or if they have a later life who abuse drugs in wrestling or what promoters do if these problems are still prevalent today. King was seemingly clueless watching tapes of the guys pounding on each other and not understanding how much they all the enjoy the rush of the crowd more than they don't enjoy the pain that comes with it of performing, when even to a non-fan that lure of being "somebody" should be obvious. The most pathetic was a clip of Hogan pounding on Flair, and King asking who it is he was wrestling. While there is a generation of Americans who wouldn't recognize Flair on sight, King has had Flair as a guest on his show in the past, not to mention was scheduled to have him as a guest on this specific show, so his inability to recognize him made him look even more clueless on the subject.

Foley was on WRQX radio in Washington, DC on 3/17, which aired before the King show but after it was taped. He was critical of Hogan and Piper for complaining about all their injuries when he said he's had more injuries than both of them combined. He said that Piper is always in character and never acts normal and has gotten off easy in the business because he's got a big WCW contract and basically does no work. He also talked about his book and backyard wrestling. He said that Mae Young probably shouldn't be doing the bumps she does at her age and definitely shouldn't be stripping down to her underwear and bra. When asked about his retirement, exactly three days before unretiring for the second time this year alone, he said, "Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who feels that I'm actually retired. Nobody believes me. I will probably come back for one big match in about a year, but for right now, believe it or not, I'm working on some children's books and other projects."

In one of the biggest matches in the history of Mexican wrestling, Atlantis unmasked Villano III on 3/17 at Arena Mexico to headline EMLL's first ever PPV show in that country.

Villano III would be ranked on most lists as one of the 15 biggest stars in the history of Lucha Libre. He had worn the trademark Villano mask for 27 years, dating back to his debut as a teenager, and became the first member of one of pro wrestling's most famous families to ever lose his mask in the ring.

According to Ovaciones, the event drew 20,000 fans to the building, several thousand more than capacity. The arena sold out two days ahead of time, making it the earliest Arena Mexico sellout (Mexicans notoriously don't buy tickets for anything in advance) in the 67-year history of the promotion. Another 4,000 standing room tickets were put on sale on Friday morning and they sold out immediately. It is believed to have been the second largest crowd ever overflowing into the most famous wrestling arena in Mexico behind only the 1990 Rayo de Jalisco Jr. win over Cien Caras in a mask vs. mask match. A 1992 mask vs. mask match with Blue Panther beating Love Machine, in order to avoid the problems of the 1990 match where fans turned away at the door stormed the building, overpowered security and with 23,000 in the arena the weight in the upper deck caused structural damage in the building, allowed the overflow to watch the match on a big screen which resulted in about 26,000 watching Love Machine unmask. This past week, police the night of the show found more than 2,000 fraudulent tickets that scalpers had tried to sell in front of the building which resulted in several arrests.

Atlantis won the match in 26:00 with a torture rack, causing Villano III, to nobody's surprise, reveal his name as Arturo Diaz Mendoza, 47, the third oldest son of Rey Mendoza, from Mexico City. The oldest son, Villano I, long since retired, did not attend the show, while the second oldest son, Villano II, passed away many years ago. It was well known that all the Villanos were sons of Mendoza, easily one of Lucha Libre's ten biggest stars in history, who accompanied his son to ringside for this match. Both Villanos IV & V from WCW were also at ringside, as was 18-month-old Arturo Mendoza Jr. and V-3's wife La Infernal. There was no interference in this match and both men were heavily cheered. Villano III had won approximately 45 previous matches with his mask at stake. The match garnered so much interest as the culmination of a many-year feud that this was the first time in years pro wrestling made the front cover of Ovaciones, the country's largest daily sports newspaper. The match was reported as a classic scientific match with Villano, who was a face most of his career until the, reverting back to his old character. Both men juiced buckets and it ended with one near fall after another. Nearly 50% of the crowd, which was an older audience, was pro-Villano and it appeared to be somewhat common knowledge that he was going to lose. Villano was reported paid approximately $9,500 for dropping his mask.

In the semifinal on the show, Shocker & Mascara Ano 2000 & Scorpio Jr. beat Perro Aguayo & Tarzan Boy & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. in a one fall match. The newspapers talked about how the crowd booed Tarzan Boy out of the building, to the point he lost his composure. The show drew an older than usual audience, since Villano III is a superstar from another generation, Atlantis is really someone whose best matches were a decade in the past and Aguayo, the other big draw on the show, is 54 years old.

Ultimo Guerrero ended up as the winner of Torneo Siglo 21, beating Olimpico in the finals of an elimination match that also included Dr. O'Borman Jr., Starman, Violencia, Tigre Blanco, Zumbido, Antifaz, Rencor Latino, Tony Rivera, Arkangel, Mascara Magica, Rey Bucanero, Astro Rey Jr. and Mr. Mexico in what was also reported as a great match. The opener on the show saw Ricky Marvin pin Sangre Azteca.

A rematch at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City, another bloodbath although not at the level of the Friday match, saw Atlantis again win before a second sellout of 5,500 fans and V-3 was heavily cheered.

Amidst backstage turmoil and before the smallest audience ever to purchase a major league PPV event, World Championship Wrestling made no attempt to re-chart its course for the future and ended up with the same product that has put it in its current position.

WCW Uncensored on 3/19 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami went back to being the Hulk Hogan show, as he won not only the main event--twice--but also the world title match that he wasn't even in. It has almost become a dark comedy, that the worse things become for the company and the more obvious changes have to be made, the more they continue to go stronger in the wrong direction. For many reasons, this PPV was also unique because it was the first time they threw in the towel when it came to trying to sell tickets. Early estimates are the show did approximately 47,000 buys--hovering between an 0.12 and 0.13 buy rate, probably in the neighborhood of half of what the ECW PPV the previous week figures to have done. The show drew just 2,543 paid for $97,925 (for those keeping track, it was less than the paid tickets ECW did last week for its PPV in Danbury, CT but for a slightly higher dollar amount), a number even less impressive when one realizes that they only did $7,000 in sales for the show--a few hundred tickets, after the first day they were put on sale at a point when no matches had been announced publicly. That, more than anything, shows the total lack of marketability of every match on the show, in that in every case for every angle shot and every match announced on television, NOBODY bought tickets. It's gotten to the point where everyone has forgotten the entire reason why exactly angles are shot in the first place. Actually the other reason was because the realization before the first ticket went on sale that this was a building that the Rock in his home town a few months back couldn't sellout for a Raw, that it was going to be a problem, so free tickets were plentiful (there were 8,501 freebies out). The show had a slightly better atmosphere than some of the previous WCW major shows, but an audience that got in free is going to have a lower standard of expectation.

1. Artist (Mike Haynor) retained the WCW cruiserweight title pinning Psicosis (Dionicio Castellanos) in 7:22. To show elementary lack of planning, in the pre-match clips to build the match, they showed a finish where Psicosis was pinned by Kaz Hayashi as opposed to the match where he beat Hayashi. Before the two locked up, the music played and Chris Candido came out and he'll be called "Hard Knox" Chris Candido. He got no reaction past the first two rows of ringside. Unfortunately for him, he was immediately buried by being type-cast as a cruiserweight at a time when that division still has the jobber perception. Candido did bring up, without mentioning her name, Tammy Sytch saying they wouldn't let his valet come out with him. Since that was an approved line, that means they must still have her in their plans even though they nixed her coming in at the moment. The match was very sloppy and probably the worst Psicosis match ever on PPV. At one point Juventud Guerrera was getting his ass kicked by Paisley with Mark Madden screaming "catfight," so WCW is now coming down to being the company that spoofs ECW. Psicosis did his legdrop off the top rope but Paisley distracted him before he made the cover. Artist climbed the ropes and HIT THE MOVE AGAIN. That's three in a row. 1/2*

2. Norman Smiley & KISS Demon (Dale Torborg) beat Lane (Len Carlson) & Rave (Bradley Cain) in 3:41. Lane & Rave are now called XS. Horrible. Demon and Rave can't work at all. Lane & Rave's mic work gets no reaction. Miss Hancock, who gets a reaction, came out and announced she was managing Los Fabulosos. Smiley ended up giving this match a mercy killing using the chicken wing on Rave. XS blamed her for the loss and tried to kidnap her. To her acting credit, she didn't even make the slightest attempt to act concerned or fight the kidnapping. Smiley & Demon saved her and brought her into the ring to dance. Somehow that spot gets over a lot better in WWF rings. -*

3. Bam Bam Bigelow (Scott Bigelow) beat Wall (Jerry Tuite) via DQ in 3:26. The highlight was Wall splitting his pants. They brawled to the back where Wall choke slammed Bigelow through a table for the DQ. DUD

After the match, David Flair and Crowbar both attacked Wall. They carried Bigelow out on a stretcher after a choke slam through a table which is a transition spot on an ECW show. Wall and Crowbar ended up on the top of the entrance way, approximately 13 feet in the air and Wall choke slammed Crowbar off into what appeared to be a gymnastics pit covered by a blanket. At least they did the spot fully prepared and with the safety of the performer as the prime concern.

4. Brian Knobs (Brian Yandrisovitz) won the hardcore title from Three Count (Shane Helms & Shannon Moore & Evan Kavagias) in 6:51. This was a three-on-one and Knobs had to pin all three men, so naturally, all credibility aside, he killed them. Knobs dedicated the match with Bigelow and Crowbar. I guess they died in valor. Crowd popped for the garbage can shots. Helms, wrestling with a broken nose and a nose protector (he's supposed to be out of action a few more weeks), did a splash off the top of a seven-and-a-half foot ladder. Karagias followed with a corkscrew off the ladder and Moore did a senton off the ladder. That should kill the average mortal, but not Knobs, who got right up as they celebrated and sprayed them all with a fire extinguisher and pinned Helms by putting a chair on his head and smashing the chair with a broomstick in 3:00. Knobs power bombed Karagias over the top rope through a table and pinned him on the floor in 4:15. They did a false finish where Helms dropkicked Knobs off the top rope and they were supposed to go through another table, but that didn't happen and Knobs was pinned while he was all over the ropes. They re-started and Knobs got the pin holding a garbage can to his chest and splashing Moore off the ropes. *1/2

5. Booker (Booker Huffman) & Billy Kidman (Peter Gruner) beat Harlem Heat (Lane Huffman & Tony Norris) in 6:59. This was probably the greatest match the New Harlem Heat will ever have. They mainly got heat on Kidman. Big T tried to hurdle the guard rail and clothesline Kidman and almost made it. Finish saw Kidman do a sunset flip off the top rope on Big T, but couldn't pull the guy over so Booker used a side kick and T went down and was pinned. *1/4

6. Vampiro (Ian Hodgkinson) pinned David Finlay in 8:38 of a falls count anywhere match. The crowd seemed to enjoy this more than any other match. Vampiro's selling early wasn't good but he took a good bump over the guard rail. From that point, they brawled into the concourse area, nearly went into a women's bathroom, and ended up in a men's bathroom. It was your basic hardcore match stuff, with one creative spot of Vampiro coming off the top of the door of a stall and being hit with a garbage can. Mark Madden gave the line of the year when he said in the bathroom that somebody should do a "uranage." They teased that Finlay would throw Vampiro off the balcony. Hey, Giant survived it. Vampiro took a backdrop in the concourse area and at least one fan too close to the action took a bump. Vampiro used the nail in the coffin for the pin. After the match, Finlay put Vampiro over in his interview. **1/4

7. Ron & Don Harris won the WCW tag titles over Big Vito (Vito LoGrasso) & Johnny the Bull (John Hugger) in 8:45. This match was back by popular demand after what a rousing success it was in England. Either Disco Inferno or Mark Madden made mention about how one of the team members was a guy just out of the Power Plant, which is true, but I thought he was a mob guy working for Chuck Zito's family. A boring mess. Disco hit Ron with the title belt but he kicked out. Ron then hit Disco, Vito and Johnny with the title belt and used the H-bomb on Vito for the pin. 1/2*

8. Dustin Rhodes (Dustin Runnels) pinned Terry Funk in 9:01 in a bullrope match. Funk came out and said the only difference between Dustin and his father was that his father was fatter. This led to Funk being booed since Dusty Rhodes' hottest city for much of his career was Miami. Funk worked real hard, but the crowd wasn't buying it. They actually didn't have the bullrope tied up until 4:00 in. Rhodes bulldogged Funk on the cowbell. A guy in a chicken suit ran in, which took whatever seriousness there was in the match away. Rhodes knocked out the chicken with a cowbell. They played clucking noises as Rhodes was pounding and chasing the chicken. Clearly this was either the idea of someone who wasn't a wrestling fan, or someone who simply wanted to make sure this match didn't get over. Funk said he was changing it to an I Quit match. Funk then knocked out ref Billy Silverman. After a million cowbell shots, with no juice, Rhodes quit. Of course there was no ref to hear it. Rhodes then hit Funk with a million cowbell shots and piledrove him on the bell for the pin. *

9. Sting (Steve Borden) pinned Lex Luger (Larry Pfohl) in 7:01 in a lumberjack match. The idea was all the lumberjacks would have casts. The first group of lumberjacks were the wrestlers Luger had done the broken arm trick to, including Doug Dillenger and Jimmy Hart. Hulk Hogan wasn't there, because of the divine powers of Hulkamania (and of having creative control), his arm had already healed to he had no need for the cast, not to mention he's smart enough not to dilute his character by being a lumberjack. Luger then brought out a bunch of guys like Hugh Morrus and Harlem Heat wearing casts. Nothing happened in the match. Tank Abbott came out, and decked Dillenger. On WWF, Vince McMahon does a one punch knockout of HHH. On WCW, the master of the one punch knockout never uses it on anyone higher on the food chain than Dillenger. And they don't understand why nobody gets over. All the lumberjacks started brawling to the back in one of the most unconvincing brawls you'd ever see, particularly watching the former Ahmed Johnson with nobody to brawl with, just walk to the back. Vampiro and Jimmy Hart stuck around. Ric Flair and Liz came out. As Flair interfered and took some bumps for the cause, Liz hit Sting in the shoulder with the bat. Hart dragged Elizabeth away. Luger racked Sting, but Vampiro hit Luger with the bat and Sting scored the pin with the scorpion death drop. This match did have one redeeming value in that Sting and Vampiro came together at the end and were treated as equals, so it should make Vampiro a player. 1/2*

10. Sid Vicious (Sid Eudy) retained the WCW title pinning Jeff Jarrett in 7:36. Jarrett did as good a job as humanly possible with Sid at this stage and it really wasn't bad early on. Jarrett got a near fall after a belt shot, which seems to be the most overused cliche finish in both WWF and WCW these days. After a low blow, Jarrett beat up ref Nick Patrick, which made perfect sense since he then laid out Sid with a guitar shot and there was no ref to count. Mark Johnson ran out to count with Hogan limping behind him. Hogan saved the day, beating up Jarrett and the Harris twins (who were interfering frequently) before giving Jarrett the leg drop and putting Sid on top for the pin. After the match, Scott Steiner came out and cracked a guitar on Hogan's back. *1/4

11. Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) pinned Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) in a strap match in 14:28. Flair came out immediately after Hogan got conked to start the match. Hogan sold for all of 40 seconds the beating from Steiner before making his comeback. Flair juiced. Flair's work in this match was the best it's been in a long time, but because his body is showing his age, people aren't taking him seriously. Seriously, when he took the bumps for Sting wearing the t-shirt he looked cool. His work is good but he's got to wear a t-shirt now or fans can't get past the body and dismiss him at first sight. Hogan whipped Flair with the belt. They traded hard chops. Hogan's offense wasn't good. Luger hit Hogan with a chair and Hogan bladed. They traded more belt shots. They made the announcers look like fools as the announcers were told the only way to win was to drag the opponent to all four corners. So they went for near falls and the ref counted and the announcers (who actually were the stars of the show, particularly Madden's line about Sting comparing him to Alicia Silverstone, which reportedly was actually a Kevin Nash line) looked like idiots trying to explain it. To make things worse, they explained it by saying it wouldn't count, unaware that the finish was going to be a legdrop and a 1-2-3. Hogan did the high kicker on Luger just before the finish. Just to make sure everyone realized everyone in the company is back jobbing for him again, Hogan dragged Flair after the match to all four corners. **1/4

For 3/20, one of the hottest, as far as crowd reactions go, Raw episodes, did a 6.21 rating (6.01 first hour; 6.39 second hour) and a 9.8 share. Nitro just barely reached a new record low of the past few years with a 2.52 rating (2.93 first hour; 2.15 second hour) and a 3.7 share. Nitro bottomed at 2.53. The first hour of Nitro barely beat out "Walker: Texas Ranger" on USA at 2.88. The combined audience head-to-head hit 9.5 million total viewers. Raw picked up approximately 11% of the Nitro audience when Nitro went off the air.

The Raw main event, billed as the Wrestlemania three-way main event two weeks early, drew a 6.41 final quarter and a 7.30 over-run, which is still roughly the same number they do every week in that position. The Nitro main event of Hogan & Vicious vs. Jarrett & Scott Steiner did a 2.94.

Quarter hour comparisons saw Raw at 5.68 (Road Dogg & X-Pac vs. Hardys) to 2.24 (Luger vs. Vampiro), Raw at 6.40 (HHH & Stephanie, Shane & Show and Vince interview segment) to 1.71 (Hogan/Sid press conference, Morrus vs. Smiley), Raw at 6.05 (Godfather vs. Bossman, Too Cool vs. Malenko & Saturn) to 1.68 (Hennig vs. Rhodes, Abbott vs. Barbarian) and Raw at 5.92 to 2.33 (Flair vs. Sting).

Smackdown on 3/16 did a 4.85 rating and 8.0 share. In the top 40 metered markets Smackdown beat out the NCAA Midwest tournament (6.7 to 6.1) but nationally because UPN has poorer national penetration, it finished fourth out of the six network shows. Thunder on 3/15 with the Hogan handicap match against Flair & Luger increased slightly to a 2.04 rating. We don't have quarter hours for the show, but the audience declined steadily and strongly as the show went on, which is a terrible sign for an unopposed show, particularly a rare WCW show which had decent quality action on it.

Weekend numbers for 3/18-19 saw Live Wire at 1.8, Superstars at 1.8 and Sunday Night Heat at 3.19. Chyna appeared on Pac Blue, doing a 2.1 rating, which is right at what the show usually does. WCW Saturday Night did a 1.4 rating.

ECW on TNN on 3/17 did an 0.80 rating and 1.4 share, its weakest performance so far this year. There is no explanation other than ratings for TV shows vary and this opened with an 0.63 first quarter and had the usual rise. RollerJam, built around the tease of Denise Loden skating in only her bra, did the roughly same (0.59 rating and 1.0 share) numbers it does every week.


Results of the Observer survey based on phone calls, fax messages and e-mails as of Tuesday, 3/21:

WCW UNCENSORED: Thumbs up 8 (6.5%); Thumbs down 107 (86.3%); In the middle 9 (7.3%). BEST MATCH: Vampiro vs. David Finlay 41, Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan 19, Dustin Rhodes vs. Terry Funk 10; WORST MATCH: Norman Smiley & KISS Demon vs. Lane & Rave 25; Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Wall 21, Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan 18, Dustin Rhodes vs. Terry Funk 9

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3/14 Uniondale, NY Nassau Coliseum (WWF Smackdown/Heat tapings - 10,259 sellout): Scott Vick b Sho Funaki, Dupes b Julio Fantastico & J.R. Ryder, Test b Gangrel, Scottie 2 Hottie b Esse Rios, Mideon b Big Bossman-DQ, Prince Albert b Joey Abs, Val Venis b Viscera, WWF tag titles: Dudleys b Edge & Christian, Godfather b Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Acolytes b Al Snow & Steve Blackman, Rikishi Phatu b Big Show, Chris Jericho & Tazz b Kurt Angle & Bob Backlund-DQ, WWF lt hwt title: Dean Malenko b Grandmaster Sexay, Perry Saturn & Chris Benoit DCOR Hardys, X-Pac b Rock-DQ

3/14 Fairfax, VA (WCW Thunder/World Wide tapings - 5,891/1,804 paid): Shannon Moore & Evan Karagias DCOR Jamie-san & Yong Yang, WCW cruiserweight title: Artist b Lash Leroux, Lenny Lane b Chuck Palumbo, La Parka & Chavo Guerrero Jr. b Silver King & Dandy, Psicosis b Kaz Hayashi, Tank Abbott b Buzzkill, U.S. title: Jeff Jarrett b Booker, Vampiro b Hugh Morrus, Dog & Brian Knobs b Norman Smiley & Demon, Dustin Rhodes b Billy Kidman, Hulk Hogan NC Ric Flair & Lex Luger

3/14 Mexico City Arena Coliseo (EMLL): Los Rayos Tapatios I & II b Fugaz & Enemigo Publico, Pierrothtito & Fierito b Ultimo Dragoncito & Cicloncito Ramirez, Brazo de Oro & Solar & Pantera b Karloff Lagarde Jr. & Virus & Halcon Negro Jr., Mr. Mexico & Blue Panther & Black Warrior b Emilio Charles Jr. & Ringo Mendoza & Tony Rivera-DQ, Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Mr. Niebla & Tinieblas Jr. b Pierroth Jr. & El Satanico & Bestia Salvaje

3/14 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Onita Pro Wrestling - 2,150 sellout): Takashi Sasaki b Fukumen Taro, Ran Yuyu b Commando Boilshoi, Mitsunobu Kikuzawa & Masashi Aoyagi & Nobutaka Araya b Sambo Asako & Exciting Yoshida & Sanshiro Takagi, No rope barbed wire street fight tornado barricade double hell death match: Fake Onita & Onita Jr. & Shigeo Okumura & Dick Togo & Atsushi Onita b Ichiro Yaguchi & Viking Taniguchi & Great Kendo (Nagasaki) & Shoji Nakamaki & Yase Yaguchi

3/14 Maezawa (Michinoku Pro - 212): Chaparita Asari b Saya Endo, Jinsei Shinzaki & Tiger Mask b Minoru Fujita & Kazuyu Yuasu, Super Boy b Jodie Fleisch, Great Sasuke & Gran Hamada & Shiryu II b Sasuke the Great & Curry Man & Jose Luis Feliciano

3/15 Fukuoka (New Japan - 1,700): Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto b Shinya Makabe & Black Cat & El Samurai, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin b Negro Casas & Jushin Liger, Mike Enos & Shiro Koshinaka b Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto, Hiro Saito & Masahiro Chono & Don Frye b Brian Johnston & Takashi Iizuka & Junji Hirata, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Kensuke Sasaki b Satoshi Kojima & Scott Norton & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

3/15 Tokyo Korakuen Hall (Arsion - 800): Ai Fujita b Reina Takashi, Bionic J b Akino, Candy Okutsu d Gami Metal, Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda & Yumi Fukawa b Ayako Hamada & Fabi Apache & Linda Starr, Sky High of Arsion title: Mari Apache b Chaparita Asari to win title, Twin Stars of Arsion tag title: Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida b Rie Tamada & Hiromi Yagi

3/15 Otsuchi (Michinoku Pro - 260): Beef Wellington b Kazuya Yuasu, Minoru Fujita b Tsubo Genjin, Gran Hamada & Shiryu II b Jose Luis Feliciano & Sasuke the Great, Great Sasuke & Jinsei Shinzaki b Curry Man & Super Boy

3/16 Kyoto (New Japan - 6,500): Hiroshi Tanahashi b Katsuyori Shibata, El Samurai b Wataru Inoue, Shinya Makabe & Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin & Jushin Liger b Negro Casas & Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Koji Kanemoto, Tadao Yasuda & Shiro Koshinaka b Hiro Saito & Michiyoshi Ohara, Brian Johnston & Takashi Iizuka b Satoshi Kojima & Don Frye, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Scott Norton b Kensuke Sasaki & Mike Enos, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi b Masahiro Chono & Tatsutoshi Goto, Nagata & Nakanishi NC Chono & Tenzan

3/16 Yokote (Michinoku Pro - 223): Beef Wellington b Kazuya Yuasu, Sasuke the Great b Jodie Fleisch, Jinsei Shinzaki b Tsubo Genjin-COR, Tiger Mask b Minoru Fujita, Great Sasuke & Gran Hamada & Shiryu II b Super Boy & Curry Man & Jose Luis Feliciano

3/17 Mexico City Arena Mexico (EMLL PPV - 20,000 sellout): Ricky Marvin b Sangre Azteca, Ultimo Guerrero won 16 man elimination match for Torneo Siglo, Brazo de Plata & Mr. Niebla & Emilio Charles Jr. b Cien Caras & Universo 2000 & Apolo Dantes, Shocker & Mascara Ano 2000 & Scorpio Jr. b Perro Aguayo & Rayo de Jalisco Jr. & Tarzan Boy, Mask vs. Mask: Atlantis b Villano III (unmasked as Arturo Diaz Mendoza, 47, of Mexico City)

3/17 Yonago (New Japan - 2,800): Wataru Inoue b Hiroshi Tanahashi, Dr. Wagner Jr. b Shinya Makabe, Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto b Negro Casas & Kendo Ka Shin & Jushin Liger, El Samurai & Takashi Iizuka b Black Cat & Kengo Kimura, Tatsutoshi Goto & Satoshi Kojima b Mike Enos & Tadao Yasuda, Brian Johnston & Yuji Nagata b Michiyoshi Ohara & Don Frye, Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Scott Norton & Masahiro Chono b Manabu Nakanishi & Junji Hirata & Kensuke Sasaki & Shiro Koshinaka

3/17 Worcester, MA (ECW - 1,400): Tom Marquez b Chilly Willy, Little Guido b Kid Kash, Raven b Mikey Whipwreck, C.W. Anderson & Bill Whiles b Danny Doring & Roadkill, Balls Mahoney b Vic Grimes, ECW tag titles: Lance Storm & Justin Credible b Chris Chetti & Nova, ECW title: Mike Awesome b Angel, Yoshihiro Tajiri b Tommy Dreamer, ECW TV title: Super Crazy b Rhino

3/17 Tijuana, BC (Baja California Promotions): Spark & Guepardo b Felino Salvaje & Morfosis, Enfermero Jr. & Mazambula b Conquistador & El Cholo, Lizmark Jr. & Sr. & Felino b Pimpinela Escarlata & El Satanico & Black Warrior, Ladder match for IWC title: Rey Misterio Sr. b Nicho el Millonario, Mil Mascaras & Tinieblas Jr. & Sr. b Pierroth Jr. & Damian & Halloween

3/17 Kamikawa (Michinoku Pro - 233): Beef Wellington b Kazuya Yuasu, Saya Endo b Chaparita Asari, Tiger Mask b Tsubo Genjin, Jinsei Shinzaki b Minoru Fujita, Sasuke the Great & Super Boy & Curry Man & Jose Luis Feliciano b Great Sasuke & Gran Hamada & Shiryu II & Jodie Fleisch

3/17 Yokohama Bunka Gym (IWA Japan): Viking Taniguchi b Daisaku, Tomohiro Ishii & Shoichi Ichinomiya b Takashi Uwano & Hiroshi Araiwa, Crusher Maedomari & Shark Tsuchiya b Acute Sae & Tsubasa Kuragaki, Takeshi Ono b Yusaku, Asian Cougar & Great Takeru & Ultra Seven b Yuji Kito & Yuki Nishino & Funakoshi, 2 of 3 falls: Freddy Kruger III & Freddy Kruger & Ichiro Yaguchi & Kendo Nagasaki & Tarzan Goto b Yoshiya Yamashita & Katsumi Hirano & Keizo Matsuda & Jason the Terrible & Leatherface

3/17 Blytheville, AR (Memphis Championship Wrestling): Fabulous Rocker b Danny B, Todd Morton b Chip Diver, Blue Meanie b Jim Neidhart, Reckless Youth b Steve Regal, Curtis Hughes b Jack Diamond, Diamond won Battle Royal

3/18 Cedar Falls, IA (WWF - 10,780): Edge b Prince Albert, Hardcore title: Crash Holly b Christian, WWF tag titles: Dudleys b Hardys, Rikishi Phatu b Big Bossman, WWF womens title: Jacqueline b Lita, Three-way for IC title: Kurt Angle won over Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, Too Cool b Head Bangers, Kane b X-Pac

3/18 Salem, NH (ECW TNN tapings - 3,000 sellout/2,400 paid): H.C. Loc b Chilly Willy, Chris Chetti & Nova b Simon Diamond & Mikey Whipwreck, Little Guido b Kid Kash, Danny Doring & Roadkill & Dusty Rhodes b Erik Watts & Bill Whiles & C.W. Anderson, Death match for TV title: Super Crazy b Yoshihiro Tajiri, Rhino b Balls Mahoney, Tommy Dreamer b Vic Grimes, ECW tag titles: Lance Storm & Justin Credible b Raven & Mike Awesome

3/18 Kurashiki (New Japan - 2,800): Katsuyoshi Shibata b Hiroshi Tanahashi, El Samurai & Negro Casas b Shinya Makabe & Dr. Wagner Jr., Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani b Jushin Liger & Kendo Ka Shin, Mike Enos & Tatsuhito Takaiwa b Black Cat & Tadao Yasuda, Hiro Saito & Don Frye & Hiroyoshi Tenzan b Brian Johnston & Kengo Kimura & Junji Hirata, Scott Norton & Tatsutoshi Goto b Shiro Koshinaka & Manabu Nakanishi, Masahiro Chono & Satoshi Kojima & Michiyoshi Ohara b Yuji Nagata & Takashi Iizuka & Kensuke Sasaki

3/18 Tsu (Toryumon - 1,318): Yoshikazu Taru b Stalker Ichikawa, Makoto b Daiyu Kawauchi, Yasushi Kanda & Susumu Mochizuki b Chocoball Kobe & Ryo Saito, Magnum Tokyo & Masaaki Mochizuki & Genki Horiguchi b Cima & Suwa & Sumo Dandy Fuji

3/18 Memphis (Power Pro Wrestling TV): 2 Falk 4 Sure NC Deion, Alan Steele b Lance Jade, Blade Boudreaux b Seven, Ali NC Rob Harlem, PPW tag titles: Moondog Spot & Derrick King b Wolfie D & Havoc

3/18 Corinth, MS (Memphis Championship Wrestling - 250): Ron McClarity b Hell Raiser, Todd Morton b Fabulous Rocker, Bull Pain b Blue Meanie, Steve Regal b Reckless Youth, Ron McClarity b Curtis Hughes-DQ, K.Krush b Mask Man (Bitty Little, Half Mask Man (Hollywood Little) won Battle Royal

3/18 Tokyo FM Hall (Battlarts - 300): Daisuke Ikeda b Ryuji Hijikata, Ikuto Hidaka b Takeshi Ono, Mohammed Yone b Minoru Tanaka, Alexander Otsuka b Yuki Ishikawa

3/18 Kashimadai (Michinoku Pro - 335): Chaparita Asari b Saya Endo, Sasuke the Great b Jose Luis Feliciano, Super Boy & Curry Man b Jodie Fleisch & Shiryu II, Jinsei Shinzaki b Tsubo Genjin-COR, Tiger Mask & Gran Hamada b Minoru Fujita & Great Sasuke

3/19 Yokohama Arena (K-1 - 11,800): Yusuki Fujimoto b Ryukawa, Takeru b Nakai, Great Kusatsu Jr. b Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, Shingo Koyasu b Futoshi Utakawa, Mirko Filipovic b Hiromi Amada, Chamoakpet Chorchamoang b Kensaku Maeda, Ralf White b Nobu Hayashi, Tsuyoshi Nakasako d Stan Longinidis, Nobuaki Kakuta b Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Hug b Musashi

3/19 Nagoya Aiichi Gym (New Japan - 9,000): Katsuyoshi Shibata b Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinya Makabe b Wataru Inoue, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin & El Samurai b Negro Casas & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Kengo Kimura & Junji Hirata b Hiro Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto, Jushin Liger b Shinjiro Otani, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Michiyoshi Ohara b Mike Enos & Shiro Koshinaka, Masahiro Chono & Don Frye & Scott Norton b Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi & Takashi Iizuka, IWGP hwt title: Kensuke Sasaki b Satoshi Kojima

3/19 Moline, IL (WWF - 9,497): Edge b Prince Albert, Hardcore title: Crash Holly b Christian, WWF womens title: Jacqueline b Lita, Tazz b ?, Too Cool b Head Bangers, Rikishi Phatu b Big Bossman, Three-way for IC title: Kurt Angle won over Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, WWF tag titles: Dudleys b Hardys, Kane b X-Pac

3/19 Motomiya (Michinoku Pro - 378): Beef Wellington b Kazuya Yuasu, Chaparita Asari b Saya Endo, Gran Hamada & Jinsei Shinzaki b Shiryu II & Tsubo Genjin, Great Sasuke b Jose Luis Feliciano, Sasuke the Great & Super Boy & Curry Man b Jodie Fleisch & Minoru Fujita & Tiger Mask

3/20 Chicago All-State Arena (WWF Raw is War/Jakked tapings - 13,544 sellout): Hardys b Road Dogg & X-Pac, Too Cool b Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn, Kane b Rikishi Phatu-DQ, Chris Jericho b Chris Benoit, Al Snow & Steve Blackman b Bob & Crash Holly, Edge & Christian b Acolytes, Test b Val Venis, No winner of tag team Battle Royal, Hunter Hearst Helmsley won three-way for WWF title over Rock and Big Show

3/20 Gainesville, FL (WCW Nitro - 4,456/2,447 paid): Chris Candido b Lash Leroux, David Finlay b La Parka, WCW tag titles: Billy Kidman & Booker b Ron & Don Harris-DQ, Lex Luger b Vampiro, Hugh Morrus b Norman Smiley, Curt Hennig b Dustin Rhodes-DQ, Tank Abbott b Barbarian, Sting b Ric Flair-DQ, Jeff Jarrett & Scott Steiner NC Hulk Hogan & Sid Vicious

3/20 Amagasaki (New Japan - 6,000 sellout): Katsuyoshi Shibata b Wataru Inoue, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Kendo Ka Shin b Negro Casas & Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto b Shinya Makabe & El Samurai, Brian Johnston & Kengo Kimura b Black Cat & Mike Enos, Tatsutoshi Goto & Hiro Saito & Satoshi Kojima b Tadao Yasuda & Shiro Koshinaka & Junji Hirata, Don Frye b Jushin Liger, Takashi Iizuka & Kensuke Sasaki b Scott Norton & Michiyoshi Ohara, IWGP tag titles: Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi b Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Masahiro Chono

3/20 Osaka IMP Hall aft. show (Gaea - 700): Chikayo Nagashima b Sakura Hirota, Rie b Saika Takeuchi, Kaoru b Sugar Sato, Akira Hokuto b Toshie Uematsu, Aja Kong & Lioness Asuka b Meiko Satomura & Toshiyo Yamada, Mayumi Ozaki b Chigusa Nagayo

3/20 Osaka IMP Hall eve. show (Gaea - 800): Meiko Satomura b Saika Takeuchi, Chigusa Nagayo & Sakura Hirota b Rie & Akira Hokuto, Aja Kong b Toshie Uematsu, Toshiyo Yamada & Meiko Satomura b Chikayo Nagashima & Sugar Sato, Devil Masami & Mayumi Ozaki b Lioness Asuka & Kaoru

3/20 Odawara (Toryumon - 982): Kennichiro Arai b Ryo Saito, Yoshikazu Taru b Stalker Ichikawa, Makoto b Daiyu Kawauchi, Yasushi Kanda & Susumu Mochizuki b Chocoball Kobe & Yoshiyuki Saito, Genki Horiguchi & Masaaki Mochizuki & Magnum Tokyo b Sumo Dandy Fuji & Cima & Judo Suwa

3/20 Fukushima (Michinoku Pro - 378): Jinsei Shinzaki b Kazuyu Yuasu, Gran Hamada & Piloto Suicida b Jose Luis Feliciano & Tsubo Genjin, Sasuke the Great & Super Boy & Curry Man b Tiger Mask & Shiryu II & Jodie Fleisch, Great Sasuke b Minoru Fujita

3/21 Edmonton, AB (Stampede Wrestling - 175): Ruffy Silverstein b Cuban Assassin II, Eric Freeze d Bret Holiday, William Yeats b Rawhide Radcliffe, Kurrgan b Stanicious, Cuban Assassin b Tiger Khan-DQ, Kurrgan & Holiday & Radcliffe & Cuban #1 b Khan & Yeats & Silverstein & Freeze


Special thanks to: Robert Bihari, Guy Rusiski, Andy Patrizio, Dominick Valenti, Bryan Alvarez, Dan Parris, Steve "Dr. Lucha" Sims, Mike Omansky, Dan Reilly, Anthony Kozelichki, Trent Van Drisse, Alex Marvez, Pat Crocker, Chuck Morris, David Roberson, Jason Geary, Steve Gerweck, Matt Cail, Elisar Cabrera, Walt Spafford, Robert Letendre, Rob Moore, George Wren, Larry Goodman, Michael Harris, Gene Restaino, Ken Jugan, Shannon Rose, Tadashi Morishita, Chad Mayne, Larry Lee, Anthony Eastman, Jeffrey Bukantz, Jeff Beecher, Chuck Langerman, Marv Rubin, Trent Walters, Sean Liska, Matt Creamer


3/5 ALL JAPAN: 1. Vader & Steve Williams won the Double tag titles from Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama in 25:14. Only the last 7:00 aired on television. It was another of those minor league production set-ups. What aired was tremendous, with Williams carrying things for his team, at least during the period on TV. Akiyama did a double-team power bomb on Williams off the middle rope, followed by a high knee off the top rope and an exploder on both Williams and Vader. As he came off the ropes, Williams hit him with a powerslam. Kobashi hit a power bomb on Williams for a near fall. Match had great heat. Williams power bombed Akiyama on the floor. In the ring, Kobashi hit the lariat on Vader but Williams jumped in for the save. Williams then destroyed Kobashi with a dragon suplex and Vader and Williams took turns giving Williams one splash after another before Vader took the pin after a choke slam. ****1/4; 2. Yoshinari Ogawa retained the PWF jr. title pinning Daisuke Ikeda of Battlarts in 19:04. The second half aired on TV. Ikeda did a lot of submissions that the crowd wasn't into as All Japan using does three counts on the big shows. Ikeda did a pretty awesome DDT. Ikeda worked the crowd well, but as far as working with his opponent making it look good, he was at high indie level. Ogawa got the pin after a back suplex. **; During the show, they aired several clips of the Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Jun Akiyama singles match that Akiyama won on 2/27 from Budokan Hall, saying the match would air on 3/12. Based on the clips, this looked can't miss.

MEXICO: Rey Misterio Sr. beat Nicho el Millonario (WCW Psicosis) to win what was billed as the IWC TV title in a ladder match on 3/17 in Tijuana

AAA is claiming that Oriental and Abismo Negro are both heading to Japan on 4/5 and would be appearing in the Super J Cup tournament

Pirata Morgan retained his claim to the IWRG heavyweight title pinning Dos Caras on 3/8 in Pantitlan.

ALL JAPAN: Kenta Kobashi shaved his face in front of 20 photographers. After his loss to Vader on January 15, 1999, he vowed not to shave his face clean until he beat Vader, which he did in the Triple Crown match on 2/27.

NEW JAPAN: They are doing an angle where Shinya Hashimoto is training under Seiji Sakaguchi to learn judo for his match with Naoya Ogawa, a three-time world judo champion. Sakaguchi was a Japanese national champion in judo during the 60s before becoming a major star in pro wrestling. Ogawa then challenged Sakaguchi to get into the ring and make it a handicap match. Ogawa said beating Hashimoto by himself would be easy. On 3/19 in Nagoya, Sakaguchi said that if Hashimoto wants him to second him, he would do it, but that he wanted Antonio Inoki to second Ogawa. Then Sakaguchi got excited and said he wanted a tag match against Inoki & Ogawa

On the 3/19 Nagoya show before 9,000 fans, Kensuke Sasaki retained the IWGP heavyweight title beating Satoshi Kojima in 25:02 after a punch to the face, a frankensteiner, his ipponzei, scorpion deathlock, northern Lights bomb and lariat. This sets up what was at first announced as the first ever IWGP heavyweight champion defending the title against the junior heavyweight champion with Sasaki vs. Jushin Liger for 4/7 at the Tokyo Dome. Sasaki since said that since both hold titles, that it should be a non-title match. Liger pinned Shinjiro Otani on the same show

The current tour ended before a sellout 6,000 fans in Amagasaki with Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi retaining the IWGP tag titles beating former champs Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan, reforming their team after a lengthy point apart, with Nakanishi racking Tenzan after he missed a diving head-butt in 24:26. Also on that card saw the first ever singles meeting with Frye vs. Liger ending with Frye winning with punches. The tag title match was set up on 3/16 in Kyoto when Nagata & Nakanishi won a non-title over Chono & Tatsutoshi Goto. Tenzan came out after the match and issued the challenge for the tag titles

New Japan and TV-Asahi had a meeting early in the week to decide the order of matches since the 4/7 Dome show is airing live in prime time. The big question they wanted answered was which match would have more mainstream ratings value, Great Muta vs. Chono, since Muta has been out of action since January, or Ogawa vs. Hashimoto. One would bet on the latter due to all the hype involving Inoki

Also in Nagoya, Riki Choshu accepted the challenge of Atsushi Onita but didn't say when and where. New Japan officials afterwards asked why the match would have to be held on a deserted island as Onita had requested

The Young Lions tournament final will be on 5/5 at the Fukuoka Dome.

OTHER JAPAN NOTES: RINGS announced its next show for 4/20 at Tokyo Yoyogi Gym, which is six days after UFC Japan has the same building booked. It's a pretty strong line-up with Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Gilbert Yvel for the RINGS world heavyweight title as the main event which is going to be an awfully tough test for Tamura, Yoshihisa Yamamoto vs. Jeremy Horn, Volk Han vs. Bobby Hoffman, Hiromitsu Kanehara vs. Renato Babalu, Andrei Kopylov vs. Ricardo Arona (who won the recent Abu Dhabi tournament but is much smaller than Kopylov), Wataru Sakata vs. Brandon Lee Hinkle and Yasuhito Namekawa vs. Allister Overeem. Yamamoto and Sakata will also work on the WEF shoot show on 5/13 in Muncie, IN against Hinkle and Lewis Burgett respectively

Neo Ladies President Sasuki Shino announced a show billed as "Remix World Cup 2000" for 12/5 at Budokan Hall which apparently will be a one-night UFC style tournament featuring Kyoko Inoue, Junko Yagi (a pro wrestler with a strong judo background), Becky Levi (an unbeaten female shootfighter), the Gracies top female student and four others with a $100,000 first prize. Shino is trying to sign Kyoko Hamaguchi, the many-time world womens freestyle wrestling champion and Miyu Yamamoto, a world champion in freestyle, to compete. Yamamoto competes in a very light weight class in freestyle so one would think she'd be far too small in an open tournament

It was announced that the winner of the Super J Cup would get the old WWF light heavyweight title belt. This is the belt created by Hisashi Shinma when he was WWF President for Gran Hamada in 1981 and mainly was defended in Mexico until it became part of the J Crown in 1996. When WWF re-created its light heavyweight belt, it threatened a lawsuit over the usage of the title in Japan and Mexico so the title name in Japan disappeared but I believe Great Sasuke kept the actual physical belt, which the WWF didn't own. The belt which on it reads "WWF lightheavyweight champion" will become the J Cup title belt

AAA will be running a five-show tour of Japan from 7/5 through 7/9 with Octagon, Pentagon, Cibernetico, Abismo Negro, Electro Shock, Heavy Metal, Latin Lover (if his knee is ready by this time), Oriental, El Alebrije, Path Finder, AAA Psicosis, Histeria, Charly Manson, AAA Mascara Sagrada, Oscar Sevilla, Mini Abismo Negro, Octagoncito, Esther Moreno, Xochitl Hamada and refs Tirantes and Pepe Casas

Akira Maeda said upon returning from Abu Dhabi that Kiyoshi Tamura was not going to jump to Dream Stage Entertainment and said that Pride doesn't understand how to make matches that fans want to see

FMW is going to run a bigger than usual tour from 4/28 to 5/5 ending with a major show at the Tokyo Komazawa Olympic Park Gym called "Backdraft" which will feature many ECW stars including most likely Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka for the ECW title. The next major FMW show is 3/27 at Korakuen Hall with Tetsuhiro Kuroda defending the WEW title against Kodo Fuyuki and a singles match with H vs. Kyoko Inoue. On the 3/27 to 4/11 tour are Balls Mahoney, Tracy Smothers and Crazy Boy plus a mystery wrestler from FMW. 4/11 at Korakuen Hall has H & Mr. Gannosuke & Hisakatsu Oya & Kuroda & Willie Takayama vs. Inoue & Fuyuki & Mahoney & Chocoball Mukai and a mystery partner

IWA Japan ran its biggest show of the year on 3/17 at Yokohama Bunka Gym which did an American angle where owner Kiyoshi Asano put up the company against Tarzan Goto in a ten-man tag match and Goto's team won, so supposedly Asano must leave the company he created. Goto's team even on 3/24 in the ring did a funeral for Asano, complete with a casket and a hearse. This will probably last about 26 days, which is roughly the median length of most pro wrestling retirements and never coming backs

Gaea ran both afternoon and early evening shows at Osaka IMP Hall on 3/20 to help build up the heels for the Crush Gals reunion. On the first show, Mayumi Ozaki pinned Chigusa Nagayo in 6:48 after 20 spinning backfists (urakens). The second show saw Devil Masami & Ozaki form a tag team to beat Lioness Asuka & Kaoru. Kaoru was laid out early, as Masami & Ozaki had outside help from Akira Hokuto. They all attacked Asuka, who juiced heavily and Masami ended up pinning her. They continued to beat her until Nagayo made the save. Nagayo screamed who wants to be their opponents for the 5/14 Ariake Coliseum show and Hokuto & Masami & Ozaki all raised their hands

JWP and All Japan women are setting up a double title match with WWWA champ Manami Toyota vs. JWP champ Ran Yuyu

Mari Apache won the Sky High of Arsion (equivalent to a jr. heavyweight title) from Chaparita Asari on 3/15 at Korakuen Hall underneath Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida retaining the Twin Stars of Arsion tag titles over Rie Tamada & Hiromi Yagi.

HERE AND THERE: Xtreme Pro Wrestling will begin running monthly shows at the 17,000-seat Los Angeles Sports Arena on 4/15 which is an awfully ambitious undertaking for an independent promotion which starts on TV one week earlier on a station that most of the cable companies in the market don't even carry. XPW starts 4/8 on the America One Network Saturday nights at 11 p.m. Eastern time. The show can also be viewed on the internet during that time period on the America One web site. The company has also reportedly offered six-figure contracts to the likes of Sabu and Shane Douglas

On the 3/18 Memphis Championship Wrestling show, Lance Russell announced they would be holding a tournament for the old Southern title which were some of the matches taped at the last taping. They also announced Bruce Prichard as the commissioner for the group. Prichard is doing a heel role aligning himself with Steve Regal

On Power Pro, they did one of their hottest angles ever when Brandon Baxter shoved Dave Brown. The crowd went crazy for Brown, who has been doing the Memphis announcing for three decades. Randy Hales fired Baxter, but lawyer Perry James claimed that Baxter had an unbreakable contract. Hales told him to sue him. Brown told Hales not to fire Baxter but to keep him employed to make him miserable and Hales agreed. At the end of the show in a tag title match with Moondog Spot & Derrick King vs. Havoc & Wolfie D (now a heel), Baxter was on the top rope and Brown shook the ropes and Baxter crotched himself, and of course the faces went over for the belts. The show ended with Brown threatening that Baxter would get even more next week

The Newark Star-Ledger had a front page story on 3/19 on Jersey All Pro Wrestling, focusing on the fact that many of the 300 or so fans at the hardcore shows are young children. It noted that when New Jersey deregulated pro wrestling in order to get the WWF to put on the 1997 SummerSlam at the Meadowlands, it allowed local promoters to run shows without doctors. Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria tried to shut down JAPW but wasn't able to, claiming he received complaints from parents and clergy but can't find any legal basis to prevent it. He said he believes the state should get back to regulating pro wrestling. Frank Farley, a former President of the American Psychological Association attended several shows and claimed that if Christine Whitman (the sitting Governor who deregulated wrestling so the WWF would run PPV shows in the state) would attend a show, she was initiate legislation to either ban it or at least put age-related restrictions on selling tickets. The show in question featured mouse traps, barbed wire, a machete and a staple gun. This led to a second front page story on 3/21 where Whitman called for legislation in New Jersey to reign in an out of control industry. "We need to do something here to either regulate it or regulate the audience," said Pete McDonough, a spokesman for the Governor, largely outraged by the thought of five-year-olds watching matches involving blading, barbed wire and cheese graters. "She is very interested in some regulation of this entertainment form. It's one thing for consenting adults to decide to attend this sort of event. It's another thing when children as young as 5 are showing up." Jeff Shapiro of JAPW said that he welcomes regulation and agreed that some of the shows had gotten out of hand. Shapiro claimed the company strictly enforces a rule that children must come with either a parent or guardian. The newspaper also wrote an editorial, saying the very least the state should do is set an age restriction for attendance, and then, ignorantly, lumped "extreme wrestling" with "ultimate fighting" and encouraged an outright ban of UFC as New York has done. The problem that the newspaper doesn't realize is that specific lines have to be drawn and what is and isn't allowable to be made clear. With the exception of using cheese graters, every stunt described in the editorial as being abhorrent for kids to see occurs occasionally in the WWF, but nobody right now seems to want to take on the WWF. According to the editorial, "Legislators are anxious to draft a law that will not hurt big-time wrestling, the hottest thing on TV these days

The Galesburg (IL) Register-Mall had a story looking at the major news of the century in that city on old-time pro wrestling. The story said that in the 50s and 60s, every week more than 2,000 fans would jam the East Main Wrestling Arena (now torn down) noting that even Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey had refereed matches in the old arena and that Verne Gagne, Lou Thesz, Killer Kowalski, Hans Schmidt, Yukon Eric and Pat O'Connor all headlined at times

Sabu will be working 3/26 in Guelph, ONT for the Hardcore Wrestling Federation on a show which also includes Chris Candido vs. Rhino in what they are advertising as a WCW vs. ECW flag match. Sabu apparently starts 3/31 with Stampede Wrestling. Kurrgan had been working for Stampede but is leaving to work for Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling in British Columbia.

Marilyn Vos Savant (how do you like that stage name?), who does world's highest IQ gimmick for Parade Magazine was recently asked a question about pro wrestling for kids and called it harmless entertainment. A reader challenged her to watch a show and make that claim. She responded back, "Was I ever wrong! I hadn't watched wrestling since I was a kid, and I'm flabbergasted at how low it has sunk. Please accept my apology for that uninformed opinion.

. The plans for a Christine Jarrett Memorial show in Nashville have been shelved. On the 3/19 NWA Worldwide show in Nashville, the main event saw a loser leaves town for 30 days match with New South (Kory Williams & Ashley Hudson) vs. Main Event (Steven Dunn & Reno Riggins). It was pretty well known in the building that Dunn & Riggins were losing to go on a one month USO tour of Asia. About 7:00 into the match, they did a finish where Main Event won and Riggins took the mic and said, For all you people that think you know what's going on around, here, screw you, I know the booker." After that, however, the match was re-started and the "right" team won anyway

APPLLE is running its debut show on 4/14 at Grand Slam USA in South Plainfield, NJ with El Hijo del Santo, Jasmine St. Claire, some local California luchadores and local area wrestlers. For more info call 570-646-9702

Caribbean Championship Wrestling on 4/7 in Aruba and 4/8 in Curacao has Typhoon vs. Tatanka, Marty Jannetty vs. Mike Enos plus Brian Blair, Steve Keirn and Joe Gomez wrestling and Jimmy Backlund (formerly Jimmy Del Rey of the Heavenly Bodies, whose career ended due to a variety of in-ring injuries) as referee

Joe Laurinaitis (Road Warrior Animal) will be at the Academy Awards as the escort of Marisa Lang. Lang, who is married, said it's all about business, trying to make sure people see Laurinaitis and get a buzz about him, because both Road Warriors are scheduled to star in her next project

Chris Cruise, who will be appearing on the 4/3 Court TV special on pro wrestling (which also includes Linda McMahon and myself), wrote a column this past week in the Winston-Salem paper saying that allowing kids to watch pro wrestling borders on child abuse, and he's saddened by that. He said the excuse wrestling promoters have used for criticism for offensive story lines that they are mirroring society isn't the case because wrestling is not driving trends. Cruise wrote, "promoters are sending the message to them (kids) is that brutality wins, all minorities and women are to be disrespected, blacks are pimps and Asians are sneaky. The suggestion, also, is that it's alright for the good guy to cheat--use chairs, baseball bats, guitars, hammers and shovels--if that's what it takes to win.

ISPW on 3/26 in Tenafly, NJ at the Middle School has Ace Darling vs. Samu plus Steve Corino vs. Mikey Whipwreck. 4/14 in Belvedere, NJ at the High School has Afa the Samoan, Sal Bellomo, Samu, Darling and Afa Jr.

MMA: Shows in Honolulu, a long-time hotbed for MMA with the regular SuperBrawl cards at the Blaisdell Center, is under attack again, as the House of Representatives in Hawaii has introduced a bill proposing the ban on "combative sports." The legislature passed a bill previously banning "Extreme fighting" but the law allowed "legitimate sports." Promoter T. Jay Thompson, called his sport the sport of Pankration and that it was sanctioned by both the United Full Contact Federation and the Shooto Commission in Japan so the law didn't affect his shows. The legislators realized they wrote a law that specifically allowed what they were trying to outlaw, so now they passed a new law stating that boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, judo, tae kwon do, karate and kenpo are the only legal combat sports in the state, and that kickboxing matches could not include using any wrestling holds, striking a downed opponent, submissions or chokes, and everything else is illegal. It appears the bill will be passed in the house before being sent to the state senate. A hearing is scheduled on the bill for this week

K-1 ran its first major event of the year on 3/19 at the Yokohama Arena headlined by Andy Hug beating Musashi via a majority decision. The show drew 11,800 fans, well under capacity. However, the fact they couldn't sellout wound up as a minor story because the TV coverage of the show, which aired from 10:30 p.m. to midnight, drew an 18.1 rating on NTV, considered a phenomenal number for the time slot. The feeling is this really boosted Hug's status as a superstar in Japan because he had no underneath help in drawing the number, and the number was on par with what the Grand Prix did last year. In the main event, two of the five judges gave Hug one round and ruled the other four as even rounds. The third judge ruled all five rounds as even. Musashi fought with a broken finger in his left hand suffered in training. The opener featured sometime indie pro wrestling cult figure Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, who was knocked out in 30 seconds of the first round by Great Kusatsu Jr. (Kenji Kusatsu), making his K-1 debut under kickboxing rules. They made a big deal that K-1 wouldn't allow Matsunaga to use a barbed wire baseball bat. Kusatsu's father was a pro wrestler in Japan during the 70s. Kazuyoshi Ishii announced all the top Japanese fighters in the group including Musashi will be entered into a 16-man tournament which starts with eight first round matches on 5/28 in Sapporo with the final eight going to 7/7 in Sendai to determine Japan's representatives in the K-1 Grand Prix tournament

Due to all the complaints regarding the lack of a main event, DirecTV stopped all the replay airings of UFC after 3/14. It's really weird, because they aired several replays before announcing they were cancelling because of consumer complaints. In a sense, there was a problem since DirecTV was still running ads for the show built around the Kevin Randleman vs. Pedro Rizzo match after Friday for the replays and after it was known the match wasn't taking place. As it turns out, Randleman's injury occurred during the first match, so it was kept from the audience for more than two hours. Still, this was an injury that wasn't known before the start of the show, or worse yet, a booking ripoff (WCW Halloween Havoc 1999, which, by the way, WCW has yet to recover on PPV from that act of booking brilliance, by the way, that was one great feud with Hogan coming back against authority a few months later it built to, huh?), or even worse yet, blatant false advertising and withholding a career threatening injury to the biggest star in the business for the purposes of drawing one more good buy rate with his name (Survivor Series 1999). Despite complaints from consumers on both of those shows, no replays were canceled. The only example of replays being canceled, with all the false advertising done in pro wrestling, was an event that didn't involve false advertising, the 1999 Over the Edge, where one replay aired but all subsequent replays were canceled, but that was a decision made by the WWF, not by the cable or satellite companies, not one of which in any of the above circumstances took it upon themselves to cancel replays because the advertised main event had failed to be delivered

Besides the Vanderlei Silva vs. Tito Ortiz main event, also on the 4/14 UFC show (4/21 U.S. air date) from Tokyo will be Eugene Jackson vs. Sanae Kikuta of Pancrase, Ikuhisa Minowa of Pancrase vs. Joe Slick (who was on the last UFC Japan show in the match where Jason DeLucia get the Joe Theismann on his knee from a throw by Slick) and Yoji Anjoh vs. Murillo Bustamante, a highly regarded Jiu Jitsu fighter from Brazil who has never lost in MMA competition. Kenichi Yamamoto, who won the UFCJ tournament last year, is out of the show and possibly out of MMA for good due to a problem with bleeding in his brain which made him susceptible to be knocked out. Akira Maeda forced him to retire from RINGS some time back for that very problem

Dan Severn vs. Bart Vale in what is billed as a shootfight (Severn has done several works in shootfights and Vale's career was built largely on doing worked matches billed as shoots) headlines a 3/25 show in Corinth, MS

Jerome LeBanner, who headlines the K-1 4/23 Osaka Dome show against Francisco Filho, fought in a boxing match on 3/17 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena scoring a second round knockout. Another K-1 fighter, Mike Bernardo will be boxing on 4/14 in the United States going for some sort of a vacant WBF heavyweight boxing title that was held by the retiring Joe Hipp

Ryan Gracie spent 18 days in jail after the recent assault incident and was released pending trial

Rumina Sato participated in the All Japan championships in combat wrestling, a Japanese sport which combines points for wrestling takedowns and escapes and pins with legalized submissions (different from submission grappling where wrestling scoring moves aren't utilized and the guard is considered a positive where here the guard is a negative because you're pinned when you're on your back), winning at 167 pounds, winning every match but one via submission including beating the national sambo champion in the finals.

ECW: The 3/18 TNN tapings in Salem, NH before a packed house of about 3,000 fans with 2,400 paid, opened with ref H.C. Loc beating Chilly Willy. Loc had challenged Steve Corino to a match when Corino ran him down for counting the pinfall in the Dusty Rhodes match. Corino refused, saying Wily would take the match. Finish saw Jack Victory throw the ring bell to Willy, but Loc ducked the hit, grabbed the bell and used it for the pin and then counted his own pin since he wrestled wearing the ref shirt. Loc, who may be given a name like The Extreme Referee, looked good. Nova & Chetti beat Whipwreck & Tom Marquez. James Vandenburg left with Whipwreck. Guido beat Kid Kash in a match which saw both Sal E. and Jazz interfere. Dusty Rhodes appeared teaming with Doring & Roadkill (in an attempt, which may be premature, to give the rub from Rhodes to get Doring & Roadkill higher on the card) to beat the Dangerous Alliance of C.W. Anderson & Bill Whiles & Erik Watts. The TNN open was then taped, starting with Crazy doing a spanish interview. Cyrus came out and ordered Crazy to defend against Tajiri in a Japanese death match. Gertner went after Cyrus, who backed down and threatened to have Gertner arrested. Cyrus then shoved Styles and threatened to get him arrested. Tajiri vs. Crazy was said to be a hot match with Crazy juicing. This match was built around three table breaking spots, including a power bomb through the table so Crazy kept the TV title. Rhino speared Crazy and Corino and Victory joined in. Cyrus did a promo saying what happened to Crazy is what happens when you miss with the network. Sandman came in and made the save for Crazy, but Tajiri blew the mist in his eyes and Rhino gave him two piledrivers. Cyrus asked if anyone else wanted to defy the network and Mahoney came out, but they all beat him up as well. Rhino later pinned Mahoney in a short match after a spear through a table. Dreamer beat Grimes in a hot match. All the Baldies got involved. They brawled in the stands and Grimes climbed off a scaffold onto Dreamer. Dreamer also came off the scaffold onto Grimes through a table. Finish saw Grimes miss a senton and Dreamer score a roll-up. Main event saw Credible & Storm keep the tag titles beating Awesome & Raven. It was a short match with the requisite catfight spot ending when Francine went to throw powder, Credible ducked and it went in Raven's eyes and Credible pinned him after Storm his a missile dropkick. They teased before the match a Francine babyface turn (already?) when James Vandenburg took credit for putting Awesome & Raven together and Francine said she was the one who deserved the credit

New Jack is expected back in two weeks

Storm may have a mild concussion from the weekend

Mahoney is leaving for another FMW tour for a few weeks

In Worcester, MA the previous night at the house show before 1,400 fans, they put Crazy vs. Rhino for the TV title on top. The fans didn't buy it, chanting "We Want Sandman," (who missed his flight in and arrived literally just after the show ended)

Marty Garner, who was the Dupp Brother (Puck Dupp) that the WWF didn't sign, is remaining here using his old Cham Pain gimmick (which Chris Kanyon saw on a video and brought to WCW)

The 3/17 TNN show opened with a clip of Van Dam with Super Crazy and Fonzie, clearly putting Crazy almost too much in the old Sabu role, with Van Dam saying how Crazy can hold his title for now until he comes back. Sandman pinned Angel in 5:45 after two cane shots. Angel has potential. Sandman is like watching Hogan, except he uses weapons in between his terrible looking offense, and he takes better bumps. It is sort of funny how people who knock Hogan on top look the other way at Sandman's offense. Cyrus did an interview with Rhino. Corino cried about having to face New Jack. They used the stuff from "Beyond the Mat" about New Jack having justifiable homicides on his record and even the Erich Kulas ("if you watch TV in Rhode Island") incident to push the guy. That's the 21st century equivalent of the cheesy "Ox Baker has killed seven men in the ring with his heart punch" line from the 70s. The music played. It was the same weapons stuff. Tajiri distracted the ref and Rhino speared Jack through a table leading to the pin in 4:00. New Jack before the finish had done a balcony dive, and was so shaken up, security literally carried him from the balcony area and nearly dragged him into the ring so they could do the finish. The fact this aired, and the manner in which they attempted to push New Jack AFTER the last PPV (this is not saying they shouldn't push him, which is an entirely different issue, but to continue to glorify that direction after a serious accident encourages everyone in the dressing room to do the same thing. Bottom line is that the lure of a big pop for everyone is maybe more seducing than the worst drug in this business, and nobody will ever say stop if it means turning down a bigger pop because it can always be rationalized by nobody directly said to do it. At least with the steroids in the 80s, the potential health problems in most cases will probably show up after the guys' days as a headliner are over, this direction will lead to health problems occurring regularly and often in any given week). Main event was Awesome vs. Tanaka. This was a good match, but the match is starting to lose its luster because it's the same match they've done so often, and this wasn't as good as previous incarnations. They did the chair spot in the first minute and Tanaka had already hit a plancha within two, and it came off as rushing to get in all the pre-arranged spots as opposed to their usual excellent wrestling match which featured a bunch of big pre-arranged spots. Before it was over, they had broken four tables. Finish saw Jeff Jones distract the ref so Raven DDT'd Tanaka and then DDT'd John Finnegan. Awesome power bombed Tanaka over the top rope through a table. Dreamer made the save but Raven DDT'd him as well and Awesome power bombed Dreamer through the table. Match had no finish

Joey Styles is appearing on an infommercial for selling colorized dollars and coins for New England mint.

WCW: There were rumors flying all week about potential management changes. As of press time, nothing has happened. The locker room talk was that Eric Bischoff was going to be taking over from Bill Busch. Bischoff had denied it to everyone, but the fact that meant nothing to quelling to rumors said something for Bischoff's credibility, but then again, nobody has credibility in this business. One thing as it regards Bischoff that nobody has figured is his potential to make the racial discrimination lawsuit disappear because of his long-time friendship with Sonny Onoo. Bill Goldberg strongly backed Busch, who according to various sources among the wrestlers had anywhere from 50% to 80% favoritism among the wrestlers as compared with Bischoff, although Vince Russo is right now seemingly the most popular among the wrestlers, with the exception of Goldberg. Of course the company is experiencing record low ratings and the last two buy rates were embarrassing beyond anyone's wildest imagination and ticket sales over the past few weeks and for upcoming shows are scary

Tentative plans for Spring Stampede on 4/16 in Chicago are Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Vicious as the main event, plus Diamond Dallas Page vs. Dustin Rhodes, Sting & Vampiro vs. Ric Flair & Lex Luger, Bagwell vs. Jarrett and Wall vs. Crowbar in a tables match. Believe it or not, at one point the main event was scheduled to be Hogan vs. Rhodes (which was moved to Thunder) with a Sting vs. Vicious match that Vicious probably would have had to go over in since they are building short-term to Goldberg vs. Vicious. However, that would seem to require Vicious to now beat Hogan. I hope nobody is holding their breath. Actually as bad as it sounds, if they can convince Hogan to do it, which is the "if" that ruins the company anyway, Hogan should go over for the title and then put Goldberg over after a short (I'd say long under normal circumstances but it's important to get Hogan out of the top, but even as much as fans are sick of Hogan on the top, he still means more on top than Sid does and if he would be business, could make Goldberg going over mean a lot more for the company). The down side is that Hogan books everything now to suit his needs and nobody in power wants to get on his bad side because of his political stroke in choosing the new king, so he's booking everything exactly the way he wants it

Add Diamond Dallas Page and Kevin Nash to the list of wrestlers whose pay has been cut in half with the new WCW policy regarding wrestlers on the D.L. The reality of this new policy is twofold. First off, it does encourage wrestlers who are taking more time off than they need to economically to return to work. That's good. The bad is that it also encourages wrestlers who are really hurt to return as quickly as possible, or not to miss any time at all while injured, which encourages injuries not healing properly and is guaranteed to make the drug situation in the company worse for that very reason

Page is expected at this point back in early April. Nash should be back imminently. Hall is on the D.L. and there is expected to be some form of punishment delivered to him once he's back on the active roster

Nitro on 3/20 from Gainesville, FL at the campus of the University of Flair, as the posters said, before 4,456 fans of which 2,447 paid $65,284. It was a decent show, which is a big improvement, particularly building the whole show up for the climactic angle where Hogan continually seemed to hog the spotlight, innocently, from Sid, who took it good naturedly until he snapped. It started with Sid doing an interview with Jarrett, the uncharismatic Twins and Scott Steiner all coming out but Hogan made the save. Did the fans boo the hell out of the Spring Break segments or what? What do you expect when you are at University of Florida and do the segments from rival Florida State? Chavo Guerrero Jr. did his pick pocket gimmick. Luckily WCW doesn't do stereotypical racial portrayals. Candido debuted and looked good pinning Lash Leroux with a diving head-butt in 3:06. Finlay pinned Parka with a forward roll slam in 2:22. The gimmick here was the guy who does the Parka voice started insulting Finlay, which got Finlay mad, and Parka started begging, revealing he wasn't the guy with the voice. After the match, when Finlay gave Parka the mic, Parka threw it away like the mic was infected with AIDS. Parka did a hell of a job here but nobody noticed. David Flair did an interview and challenged Wall. Wall teased a choke slam off the apron. Daffney sprayed him with the fire extinguisher but he no sold it and choke slammed Flair off the apron through a table. They sure know how to book babyface to give the fans confidence to back. Kidman & Booker beat Harris Twins via DQ in a tag title match in 2:00. This match was highlighted by Booker doing the worst uranage in history on one twin. He celebrated by doing the second worst uranage in history on the other. It was actually their fault in not taking the bump right, but now the whole world thinks Booker is the clumsiest uranagist in history, which doesn't mean he pees all over himself. Actually Rock blew that move a few weeks back as well. Don Harris tried to molest Torrie Wilson and Kidman cracked him with a chair. Vito & Johnny seemed to dump Disco, which is good since they had decent chemistry together. Luger beat Vampiro in 5:21 with the rack after Flair distracted Mickey Jay and Luger used a bat shot. There were a lot of missed moves but the fans sensed Vampiro was finally going to win a match. Like a top guy besides Flair will be a team player in this company. There was absolutely no purpose to book this one this way. They did a mock press conference where Sid was answering questions, Hogan came out, and all the "press" was more concerned with Hogan than Sid. This was a great angle, all the more surprising since it involved a lot of work from Sid, some from Hogan, and all from WCW. Morrus pinned Smiley in 2:40 with a moonsault. Demon ran in for the save but he got punked as well. Hennig beat Rhodes via DQ in 1:48. Rhodes punched Nick Patrick and Hogan made the save. Rhodes did an interview challenging Hogan, Piper, Page and Hennig. Abbott KO'd Barbarian in 1:46. Real bad on every level. Sting beat Flair via DQ in 5:02 when Luger interfered when Sting had the scorpion. Flair was far and away the best in-ring performer on the show, which is really scary. He carried Sting for the millionth time to a best match. If Flair is going to wrestle every TV, which he shouldn't, but since they always do the opposite, he at least needs to wear a shirt. The physique just kills everyone under 30 watching, which, granted, is very few, but in a shirt he can take the same bumps and carry guys and his physique won't be a hindrance that everyone points to. Flair gave Sting a low blow and Vampiro made the save. Jarrett & Steiner vs. Hogan & Sid saw Hogan never sell one thing the entire match, look bad (Steiner almost never worked with Hogan) until Sid choke slammed Hogan. Normally guys recover from the choke slam pretty quickly, and normally Hogan recovers from everything immediately, but he decided to put this one over. Sid pinned Hogan and the ref counted three, which makes no sense, and by this point in time, one of the things that should be a priority is to at least make sense. So Hogan & Sid both won and lost the match in 5:27

The tentative idea for Goldberg's in-ring return is now May. He will appear on 4/10 in Denver for the Nitro show, but it will only be for the live house since they have a decent advance and about the only market that can claim that right now, and Denver is the home city of WCW promoter Zane Bresloff. Goldberg won't be appearing on television that night. Alex Marvez on wrestlingobserver.com spoke to Goldberg who said he was annoyed by internet reports that he wasn't supportive of Bill Busch and the current creative team. He said the only reason his return is being delayed is that he dropped 27 pounds due to his injury and thinks he needs six weeks of training to get his "look " back. Goldberg will also be doing a major press tour for WCW starting 3/31 to promote "Ready to Rumble," will be on the Kids Choice Awards on Nickelodeon on 4/14 and has cover shots upcoming for both "Muscular Development" magazine (the current issue uses Torrie Wilson on the cover and there was a funny line in the story about Wilson about how WCW ratings are sure to be going up now that they signed her) and "Sports Illustrated for Kids."

After all that went down before hand, WCW has now decided against hiring Tammy Sytch, apparently feeling she's too much of a risk

On the 3/13 ESPN Sportscenter show they aired a commercial for WCW SuperBrawl which had taken place three weeks earlier

Latest in WCW.com polls. According to one reader, after voting for the Vampiro vs. Finlay match as the best match on Uncensored, Vampiro vs. Finlay's vote total stayed the same, while Hogan vs. Flair added four votes, Jarrett vs. Sid added three and Sting vs. Luger added four. Another reader voted for Vampiro vs. Finlay as the best match, and Hogan vs. Flair also got four votes, Sting vs. Luger got five and Vampiro vs. Finlay LOST two votes. After the show, another reader voted in the poll for Vampiro vs. Finlay, and the result of the vote was Hogan vs. Flair added ten votes and Vampiro vs. Finlay lost six votes. After the controversy broke on "Wrestling Observer Live," the WCW web site changed its format so that viewers would be unable to look at how many votes people had before casting a ballot, so they couldn't see exactly how their vote affected the numbers. WCW has a disclaimer that votes are tallied as a timed event so it make take 30 seconds for votes to appear in the tally, however this doesn't explain how votes could go down when voting for a certain match

Bret Hart taped an interview for "Off the Record" on 3/14 which will air on 4/4. Nothing major other than Hart responded to the comments made about him by Vince McMahon on McMahon's July appearance on the show. Hart made headlines in the 3/20 Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald when he said at an autograph session that he might be forced to retire, which is actually something he had hinted at for weeks including on Calgary radio interview a week earlier. Hart is suffering from bad headaches, slurred speech and occasional loss of memory and losing his train of thought. Hart said even if he does come back, he won't take anymore shots to the head. As part of the media tour for his book (which is your basic coffee table photo book, he is working on a more in-depth book as we speak), he appeared on 3/17 on the Bynon show. Hart seemed bitter on the show at Goldberg because he said Goldberg closed his eyes and never looked at his direction which is why he kicked him so hard and Hart said he would never hit someone while his eyes were closed. In the Herald, he said he holds no bitterness at all to Goldberg saying, "The kind of accident that happened with me is somebody was just a little too real with his kicks." The Canadian Post on 3/21 reported that Hart might be considering a career in Canadian politics. From what we're told, there is zero of substance to this. The newspaper reported that few were taking him seriously, including a quote from brother Bruce, who said, "If you're having head problems, I guess politics is a good option." Bret Hart was quoted as saying, "The wrestling profession is in the toilet. I am looking forward to running as far away from it as fast as possible. I look forward to a day not only when I can wash my hands of it completely, but never have anything to do with any aspect of it." Bret Hart appeared with Geraldo Rivera on 3/20 on CNBC to talk about "Beyond the Mat," but admitted from the start he couldn't comment much on it because he hadn't seen the movie. Rivera was very negative about wrestling and dismissed his book saying it would make a good "door stopper" (this remark may have been off the air but Hart heard it) because it was about wrestling

Booker vs. Kidman is booked as a feud at the house shows

Hogan, on a Miami radio station to promote SuperBrawl claimed he was back in WCW because the younger wrestlers couldn't cut it. That's the way to be a great dressing room leader and boost rapidly declining morale and undercard workrate

On the Gene Okerlund arrest, WFLA in Tampa reported that Okerlund ran a ran red and was bobbing and weaving in traffic and almost hit a police car

Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis' contracts both expire in October. My feeling is that it would take a great offer to keep them with the company. Depending upon what the situation is in October, it could either be a great spot for them to be in to stay. If management is pushing young wrestlers simply because they have to, they are in a great spot. If management hasn't figured out it needs to rebuild by October and they aren't already in the middle of significant pushes, they have to take the idea that management is totally hopeless and leave, even though WWF is clearly the wrong place to go for someone of Guerrera's size. With the exception of Billy Kidman, Bill Goldberg, and maybe Ric Flair, there is probably nobody in WCW that Paul Heyman would want more, but unless he gets a bigger network deal that includes a large cash infusion, he's not going to be able to be competitive for those type of free agents

Brian Adams & Bryan Clarke (formerly Wrath) should be starting soon as Team Kronik. While Clarke has some, or maybe even a lot of potential, and was killed off when Kevin Nash was booker because it was a guy nearly Nash's size who could do a lot more in the ring, I can't see one positive that Adams at this stage brings to the company, and a retread Demolition gimmick isn't going to work today with a slug on the team

Hogan vs. Flair in cage matches are set to headline house shows on 5/19 in Tupelo, MS and 5/20 in Little Rock, AR, which I guess tells you about the short-term future. Dustin Rhodes vs. Funk are still booked high on cards in May, as is Duggan still booked as TV champion. The plan at this point is for Nash to return as a babyface to feud with Steiner, and to continue Page vs. Bagwell when Page returns, as well as do a Meng vs. Abbott feud. In other words, no abrupt changes, which is what the company needs, and the train going down the hill uncontrollably still doesn't have a conductor who knows how to put on the brakes before the track ends and there is nothing but a cliff. Konnan isn't booked on house shows until Tupelo, in a heel role against Duggan

At the 3/11 WCW show in London, England, Acclaim had people handing out ECW hardcore revolution t-shirts, posters and bandannas so there was ECW visibility everywhere at the show. Acclaim people themselves tried to get the crowd to chant "ECW" outside the building

Thunder on 3/14 in Fairfax, VA drew 1,804 paid and 4,087 comps for a $59,606 gate. WCW Saturday Night tapings on 3/15 in Salem, VA drew 699 paid and 1,027 comps paying $14,835. Merchandise is running at about a $6.25 per head pace.

WWF: The current Wrestlemania line-up is a four-man elimination match with HHH, Rock, Foley and Show with Stephanie, Vince, Linda and Shane in the respective corners as the main event, X-Pac & Road Dogg vs. Rikishi & Big Show, Dudleys vs. Hollys vs. Christian & Edge in a three-way ladders and tables match for the tag titles, A Battle Royal for the hardcore title (to get everyone on the show that doesn't have a program), Test & Prince Albert (largely as a vehicle for Trish Stratus who is going to be getting a major marketing push as their manager) vs. Godfather & D-Lo Brown, Big Bossman & Bull Buchanan vs. Al Snow & Steve Blackman and Kat (with Mae Young) vs. Terri (with Moolah) in some sort of a gimmick match where they tease a topless woman as the end result

When Foley did the interview before No Way Out and the match, the idea from his standpoint according to him was for it to be his last match for a long time. He was originally going to just do an interview at Mania as his farewell appearance and come back down the line as commissioner. However, the lure of big payoffs, an eventual program with Rock, and being in the main event for WM this year (as opposed to next year) combined with the idea that he felt nobody really believed he was retiring brought him back immediately and made this latest retirement actually even sillier than Kevin Nash's, which was the all-time standard for a conned retirement but at least that one was so botched up promotionally that nobody cared in the first place. The story line if you go backwards does look like this was planned as a major con from the start, whether it was, or wasn't. But either way he destroyed his own credibility after saying how important it was to him, and the credibility of one of the ten greatest interviews in the history of the business because of how strongly he talked about prostituting a retirement as a way to get a payoff and almost setting the record for quickest return from a highly publicized retirement for a top guy. For all the Terry Funk retirement jokes, he at least was out of action 17 months the first time, which at the time, and of course that was a time when fans actually were trained to believe what wrestlers said, the Japanese fans didn't forgive him for probably ten years if they were fully did, for violating his word

3/20 in Chicago was one of the hottest Raw crowds in history, drawing a sellout 13,544 paying $392,679. It was almost too hot. There were two women who took off their shirts during the Acolytes match, which killed that one. There was a fan who hit the ramp just as Linda McMahon went to do her interview and HHH jumped on him, and even Jim Ross acknowledged that before the cameras turned off it. Another fan nearly got into a shoving match with Edge as he went through the crowd. And there were hundreds of fans in the lobby of the All-State Arena blocking the cameras from getting any shot of Taz and Crash Holly's brawl which was a copy of the Vampiro-Finlay deal from the previous night. Word to the wise. When you're filming a brawl in the lobby where fans are going to run around, don't do it with two guys who are 5-7. It was a good show on paper made great by the crowd. It should be noted before the show when they aired a package, the crowd booed the hell out of every shot of Mae Young and cheered every time on the screen they showed the Dudleys putting her through the table. They did a tag title tournament and Battle Royal for the title shot which wound up with no winner. Hardys beat X-Pac & Road Dogg in 4:29 when Jeff pinned Dogg after the senton while Kane chased X-Pac around. The crowd popped for everything. Kane choke slammed Tori after the match. HHH & Stephanie did the open with Shane & Show and Vince came out, and said the Wrestlemania three-way would take place on this show but HHH said he'd do it only if it was a one-time only deal and that it wouldn't take place at Mania. Godfather was scheduled against Bossman. They never started the match, which qualifies as great booking. Bull Buchanan helped Bossman attack Godfather and left him laying. Godfather went back to his original catch phrase including the light a fatty reference. Maybe Bossman was a member of the Morality Police department. DX cried about Kane, so HHH booked Kane against Rikishi. Too Cool beat Malenko & Saturn in 5:38 when Grandmaster gave Malenko a superkick as he had the cloverleaf on Scotty. Tons of heat again. Kane vs. Rikishi went 1:13. Kane choke slammed him when Dogg & X-Pac attacked Kane for the DQ. X-Pac gave him a low blow and X-factor but Rikishi then saved Kane to set up the WM tag match. Rikishi wasn't moving well at all, seemingly his knee or ankle was totally stiffened up. Jericho beat Benoit in a great match in 5:59 when Angle hit Benoit with a title belt and Jericho got the pin with a quebrada. Backlund ran out again. Angle KO'd Jericho with a title belt after Jericho slugged the future Congressman from Connecticut. They should put Backlund with some guy like Blackman who needs help rather than use him as an anchor to keep a guy like Angle from taking the next step. Hollys vs. Snow & Blackman killed the crowd. Tazz came out with Teddy Long and chased Crash around so he was doing a hardcore title match while Bob was left alone and pinned by Blackman after Snow delivered a legdrop off the top in 4:43. They did a Run DMC video for the new DX song on the Armageddon label. I remember a bunch of strippers at Score's dancing. GTV was back with Terri and Kat starting their program. Do you realize Terri vs. Kat will be the only singles match on the WM show? Edge & Christian beat Acolytes in a match the women flashers killed. The match was awful for those few actually watching it and not trying to figure out what was going on in the crowd. Faarooq's brain was either trying to watch the women, or somewhere in Moline because he was completely lost. He made Christian look like he was Evan Karagias since he was blowing spots so much. Mideon ran out and hit Bradshaw with a mop by accident and Edge pinned him in 2:47 with the downward spiral. Acolytes beat up Mideon after. To keep things consistent, Faarooq gave Mideon the worst piledriver in modern history, breaking the old record set when Mad Dog Vachon was pushing 60 and still in WWF rings. Test beat Venis in 2:42 with a very sloppy reverse of a rolling reverse cradle. Trish Stratus managed Test. After the match, Albert ran in and attacked Venis for good measure. Stratus announced her new T&A team. Her delivery of the interview all of a sudden made such lucid talkers as Sable, B.B. and Terri look like The Rock. Her lines she was given were lame to begin with but even with fair warning, no words can describe how bad her performance was. The Battle Royal came down to Hardys and Edge & Christian, but the Dudleys ran in and gave both teams the 3-D and power bombed Jeff onto Christian through a table. Finally the Mania main event came. Match was good but the heat made it great. Show is gaining a lot of weight back but worked hard, and thus was blown up pretty quick. Vince KO'd HHH with one punch again. Show choke slammed Rock but he kicked out. Show choke slammed HHH off the announcers table to the floor. Rock set up the people's elbow but Shane interfered hitting Rock with a chair. Vince then did a one punch KO on Shane. HHH decked Vince. It ended with HHH hitting Show with a chair and pinning him after a pedigree in 11:59. Linda then came out and announced the WM main event would be a four-way elimination match with Foley, who ran in and cleaned house on HHH and Show while Rock was in the crowd chasing Shane as the show went off the air

3/14 Smackdown tapings from Milwaukee. Reports are Heat for 3/26 is a really hot show, but Smackdown is boring with some bad wrestling. Scott Vick pinned Mideon in a dark match. Crowd chanted boring but Vick showed good athleticism, but match wasn't good. Head Bangers beat Dupps in another dark match. Heat then started. Venis beat Gangrel with the money shot. Taka Michinoku returned with Funaki to beat Hardys. Said to have awesome spots but too short. Edge & Christian came out as heels and laid Jeff out after he had the match won, so Taka & Funaki ended up winning. Kat challenged Terri to a cat fight at Mania and Terri responded by ripping off her top. Jericho & Tazz beat Edge & Christian in another great match. Christian hit Jericho with an object but he kicked out. Hardys ran in and hit Edge with an object and Jericho pinned him after the quebrada. Esse Rios vs. Stevie Richards was one of those Nitro cruiserweight matches where the APA came out and destroyed both guys. Smackdown opened with HHH saying Stephanie would have an announcement that would rock the foundation of the WWF. HHH asked Linda why Foley was going to wrestle at Mania. She said he was deserving of coming out of retirement for only one match and would then retire. HHH asked what would happen if he wins the match and she said Foley would get to retire as champion and there would be a tournament ending on 4/30 at Backlash, which is to make everyone think they "know" the finish of Foley winning for the happy ending. HHH ended up calling mom a bitch. Ivory was giving Crash Holly a massage. Then that bitch turned on him breaking a vase over his head and went for a pin when Teddy Long arrived, but Crash kicked out and ran away. Caryn Mower, who may be using the name Buffy, did her dark routine. Angle NC Benoit. It was announced that at Mania, there would be two matches with Angle vs. Benoit vs. Jericho. The first match would be for the European belt and the second for the IC title. At least if we're going to see two matches, that would be the one. Not much heat. Jericho, who was doing commentary, laid both guys out with the belt and put the walls on Angle, then on Benoit. Godfather beat Buchanan via DQ when Bossman interfered. Dead crowd except for the ho's. Head Cheese came out to a gigantic pop since they were in Milwaukee (you know, Wisconsin cheese). They wrestled the Hollys. In the middle of the match, a second ref came out and then Bob turned on Crash and went to pin him, but Crash kicked out and the two Hollys fought each other and were counted out. Rock beat Buh Buh Ray Dudley. Lots of heat. Rock whipped Buh Buh into D-Von, who went through the table, and then hit the people's elbow for the pin. Ross interviewed Foley. His explanation was that Linda begged him to come back. He said he turned her down for 20 minutes until realizing he was the idiot for turning down the main event at WM and accepted. He promised he'd beat HHH at the end. Jacqueline pinned Lita to keep the womens title. They went 5:00 but the crowd was dead for it. Shane came out with the Posse, all dressed up like Foley, Rock and HHH. Big Show then destroyed all three of them. Rodney went to do a people's elbow and got choke slammed. The crowd didn't go for this segment. Too Cool & Rikishi beat Malenko & Guerrero & Saturn clean in a good match. Road Dogg & X-Pac attacked Cool & Rikishi as they were dancing and the Radicals helped them in the beating. Finally Kane cleaned house making the save. Stephanie's big announcement was that Linda was a lousy mother and slapped her and Linda sold it while Stephanie posed with HHH, which is probably the end of the show. HHH beat up Patterson & Brisco until Foley laid out HHH with the return of Mr. Socko. The live event ended with Patterson & Brisco doing people's elbows on HHH

At this point the plans are for neither Austin nor Undertaker to appear on the live show, although both will be in Anaheim for the Fan Festival. Depending upon their physical condition, that could change at the last minute. The feeling is it serves no purpose to just have them make an appearance on the show unless they can do enough physically and look good enough doing so that it makes an impact. They are hoping Austin will be ready for that kind of slot (basically enough to where he can quickly do a stunner or two and look tough) by the 4/30 PPV show

The idea of doing the exploding ring match with Kane vs. X-Pac was dropped for a couple of reasons, the main one being that they didn't feel they had enough time to familiarize themselves with that kind of a match, since it had never been done in the WWF, and that they didn't want to not get it right at Wrestlemania because when the explosives go wrong, it kills the match no matter what the wrestlers do because the whole match is determined by the impressiveness of the explosion, and at the same time, this is not the time politically to do something like this and have it screw up and someone actually get hurt

Revised estimates of the No Way Out PPV are coming in slightly higher, to where the buys would be closer to 480,000 and the gross to WWF would be $6.18 million so it would have slightly beaten the McMahon vs. Austin cage match from February 1999. That's an awfully impressive accomplishment given all the build up leading to that match one year ago

The Saturday Night Live episode with Rock as the guest host, plus appearances by Show, Foley, Vince and HHH was a big success. Rock handled himself tremendously doing several comedy sketches and actually Show played his part well as the big goof that everyone makes fun of. Foley also delivered a people's elbow in a sketch where all the wrestlers beat up on an actor. The show was a total home run. The show also drew an 8.3 rating and 21 share on the overnights, making it the highest rated episode of the show this season. It was the highest rating for the show since an episode in May that included Monica Lewinsky and Ricky Martin. The show actually opened with Lorne Michaels talking about how McMahon promised him high ratings

The 3/13 Raw, ironically the show with the Rock putting his career on the line and the return of Vince, was the first Raw episode beaten in the cable ratings in months when the Discovery Channel did a 7.8 rating for "Raising the Mammoth.

At one point, the plan was for Saturn vs. Tazz at Wrestlemania

Taka Michinoku is back in Japan rehabbing his shoulder. He said it was recommended by the American doctors for him to have surgery but he didn't want it. He said he wants to come back 100% because he's looking forward to wrestling Guerrero and Malenko. He said that his contract expires in October and doesn't know if he'll get a new offer or not but said that he'd like to stay. He also said that this year's Super J Cup is weak

The scheduled date (which will probably be delayed several times) for the Owen Hart family Continued on page 17.




Thanks to Mick Foley for giving more of himself than wrestling fans deserved. Thanks for being angry at Vince McMahon about what happened to Bret and Owen Hart. It's mind-boggling that to this day McMahon still isn't openly remorseful about the PPV show continuing.

Thanks for shelving the ghost writer and sharing so many stories in "Have a Nice Day!" Let the literary elite scoff at the popularity of a wrestling book because it's a worth while read. Thanks for the peculiar range of sensitivity, from wanting to let Harley Race hardway your eyebrow at a barbecue to attending the Brian Pillman Memorial show because you regretted not tending to a sinking Brian. It's easy to understand why Steve Beverly chose you as "Matwatch Man of the Year."

When the inevitable reality that Bret Hart so classically expressed in "Wrestling with Shadows," and "It's more real than you think" sinks in, give yourself a break. If your body aches into regret and doubt, let the dream already lived coax you back to an even keel. Enjoy your wife and the kids and take care. Genuine thanks.

Kevin Donlan

Glen Burnie, Maryland

Do you know the rationale behind Mick Foley's false retirement? Wouldn't it at least have saved Foley some credibility with the fans that actually cared about him had he simply wrestled through March instead of doing a kick-ass retirement speech and returning within the month. At least Kevin Nash was off television for an extended period of time. One would hope Foley would have little bit more credibility than Nash, but I guess not.

Scott Miller

DM: Money and ego are the rationale behind most every decision in this business and I doubt this one was any different.


On 3/16, you threw another load of softballs at Barry Blaustein. I thought you were worried about the rampant drug use in pro wrestling. If so, why did you make no mention of the scene where Jake Roberts explained how the demands of the business contributed to his drug use and abuse.

Blaustein glossed over that scene. He even had clips with guys like Jim Ross to characterize Roberts as an exception, a flawed man who brought about his own demise.

You and I both know Jake Roberts isn't an exception. So should Blaustein, based on his own comments on your show that he originally wanted to include Brian Pillman and Louie Spicolli in his movie, but they died before he had a chance to film them. What did they die from? The same kind of drugs that Roberts described in that critical but totally overlooked scene in the movie.

I thought you were worried that somebody might die in pro wrestling trying a reckless stunt?

If so, why did you make no mention of the scene where Spike Dudley explains his willingness to take reckless bumps just to get a pop from a crowd filled with strangers? Blaustein made a joke out of that scene, playing up the irony of the fact Spike majored in English rather than noting that Spike was part of a growing trend, largely spurred on by the success of Mick Foley.

Spike and Mick are hardly representative of pro wrestling in general, but there are enough workers like them that you made a comment on your show that we are likely to see a death from one of those stunts "sooner than later." Why didn't you make that comment to Blaustein when he was on your show? Why don't you ask him why he made a joke of that clip instead of showing it to Mick Foley for an on-camera response?

The two biggest threats to both individual wrestlers and to the pro wrestling industry in general are drugs and stunt bumps. "Beyond the Mat" included important footage explaining the cause of both problems, yet Blaustein totally missed them. To me, a good documentary shows insight. Barry had the footage, but he missed the critical messages. Apparently so did you, at least from the impression I get from listening to your show.

What was pathetic about the Larry King show were performers in a worked industry proudly comparing real injuries. Would it make Penn and Teller better magicians if they screwed up and injured themselves doing their tricks? Of course not. Mick Foley pimping his injuries is sick. Fans marking out for Foley pimping his injuries are disgusting.

Frank Jewett

This is a four-star film, the best movie I've ever seen about the pro wrestling industry, ten times as good as "Wrestling with Shadows."

It's also a very scary film and I'm not sure I want to see it again. There are some humorous moments, such as Darren Drozdov's job interview and Terry Funk's "retirement matches," but the segment on Jake Roberts scared me half to death. I nearly cried watching the scene where his daughter confronts him about his poor parenting as well as the scene where Roberts talks about his drug addictions.

I felt physically uncomfortable watching this man describe his self-destructiveness. It was the most depressing thing I've ever seen watching this man consumed by his multiple personal demons. The last minute of the segment was unnerving.

The Mick Foley segment is also disturbing. The entire audience gasped when they saw the giant gash in his forehead from the multiple chair shots. Foley's wife and kids seemed tremendously distraught. As another reviewer pointed out, the fact Foley even allowed his kids to attend that night almost appears to be an example of unconscionable parenting. Foley makes it clear he's sorry he let his kids see the match and admits he failed his duties as a father by making his kids see him get smashed with the chair shots. I have a lot of respect for Foley as a wrestler, but once you see this film, I'm positive you'll agree that his children had no business being at ringside for that match.

I felt depressed coming out of the theater. I really felt sad about the personal lives of these performers, especially Roberts. I can fully understand why Vince McMahon wants to suppress this film. Although Blaustein doesn't intend to do so, he paints a very negative and unflattering picture of the business that I fear will add credibility to the arguments of wrestling haters in the media such as Phil Mushnick, Brent Bozell and Jim Rome. Wrestling comes off as a corrupt, thuggish, dirty business. It didn't turn me off from wrestling, but non-fans who see this film will come away with a profoundly negative take on the industry I fear.

McMahon doesn't come across badly, but the industry as a whole comes off looking like a sick business that can destroy lives and families. It's fascinating and it's a great film, but ultimately, I fear it will do tremendous harm to pro wrestling. McMahon has done a lot of things I've disagreed with, but considering the depressing face that Blaustein unintentionally puts on the industry, really can't blame McMahon for trying, admittedly in an underhanded fashion, to limit the viewership. Films like this could kill of the WWF's "we're just entertainment" image.

D.R. Tucker

DM: If you feel the movie is an honest portrayal, and you feel the business comes off poorly in an honest portrayal, I think that says more about the business more than about the movie. If it gives critics of the industry credibility to their arguments, maybe their arguments are worth listening to.

No one looked bad in the movie, contrary to everything everyone has said. Yes, Roberts was a sad story. Roland Alexander and Vince McMahon were just what they were, but I don't think anything but the gods honest truth came out. Congratulate Barry Blaustein for the movie.

Lewis Feinman

I thought "Wrestling with Shadows" was much better. The only thing this did better was show the WWF backstage and you get more of Vince McMahon. The big deal is with Mick Foley's wife. She had the kids at ringside. They seemed to be alright until she got hysterical. That's what freaked out his little girl.

John McInerney

"Beyond the Mat" was in my opinion far and away the best product in the current batch of quality-minded wrestling products. It didn't leave me asking questions over select inconsistencies as in Mick Foley's autobiography. Its portrayal of the business was clear and understandable for every viewer, unlike "Wrestling with Shadows." Barry Blaustein didn't fall victim to the lure of cheap melodramatic storytelling as in Shadows.

On the whole, it had only a few flaws, both concrete and aesthetic. On the aesthetic side, it was incredibly painful to watch the footage of Jake Roberts with his father, and even more with his daughter. I don't object to its inclusion. As a method of depicting a complex person, it worked, but it was like being trapped at an uncomfortable family reunion, which in fact, it was. A bigger problem was Blaustein's "Stand By Me" montage intercutting Foley's chairshot fest with footage of his weeping children and warm family flashbacks. This wasn't so much exploitative as much as in poor taste. Sure, it got the point across, but did it in the trashiest sort of tabloid way. The final flaw, which isn't Blaustein's fault, is the lack of inclusion of WCW. Had WCW cooperated, it would have had a much better depiction of the business as a whole.

Frank Strom

Everett, Massachusetts

I thought "Beyond the Mat" was a very good movie, more as a character study of a handful of interesting people who happen to be pro wrestlers and how that fact affects who they are. I was disturbed by the tone of the audience at my viewing. The crowd got the biggest chuckle out of Foley's kids crying as their dad was getting his brains beaten out with a chair. A handful of viewers were more interested in catching glimpses of The Rock than the riveting story taking place in front of them. I'm the type of person who has always jumped to the defense of pro wrestling fans when someone makes a general characterization of them as stupid or bloodthirsty. But the reaction of this crowd at the movie was both. It made me ill. I think I'll just have to keep my opinions to myself

Robert Ashley

The theater I was at didn't laugh at any inappropriate parts. The crowd was pretty quiet throughout the movie but I got the feeling most everyone enjoyed it.

Joe Lokash

I liked it a lot, and Barry Blaustein did an excellent job. I thought the weakest part of the movie was the reunion between Jake Roberts and his daughter. It was too Jerry Springer for me and thought it took something away from the film, but otherwise a fine effort.

Michael Iong


I was surprised during the Larry King show how open Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper were regarding drug use. But I think the most disturbing part was the fact that nobody batted an eye over what they said. Even King was too clueless to follow up. As a mainstream sports fan, I was offended by Hogan's claim that use of pain pills and drugs in general was rampant across any and all professional sports. And King seemed to accept that without question. That's extremely unfair to professional athletes in this country.

I may be a bit naive on the subject, but I highly doubt baseball and basketball players, for example, could perform at a high level, if they went out partying and doing drugs, both recreational and performance enhancing, on a nightly basis, let alone combined with the rigors of travel. If they did, it would catch up to them and their performances would suffer as a result. It was totally unfair on Hogan's part

Tim Noel

DM: It's a fair statement that performance enhancing and recreational drugs cut across virtually every highly competitive sport and what Hogan said was accurate. You're also right that when it comes to being loaded on pain pills past a certain point, it would negatively affect performance, as it does on occasion in pro wrestling. Great athletes, especially when they are young, have an amazing ability to bounce back from lots of partying and little sleep to perform. The older athletes have to be either smarter or mentally tougher to bounce back, but it does exist. Where wrestling differs, as said many times, is these either sports don't have anywhere near the percentage per capita of drug deaths, which show the problems are worse in wrestling, but that isn't to say wrestling is alone with problems.


I didn't believe your story about the wcw.com voting so I logged in and voted for Vampiro vs. David Finlay. Sting vs. Luger added six votes. Hogan vs. Flair added three. Vampiro vs. Finlay added three. Jarrett vs. Sid added one. I then refreshed the page every 15 seconds or so, figuring that if there were 13 votes during the five seconds it took me to vote, there would have to be similar activity after that. For after checking for more than one minute, there were no changes. WCW is so bush league now it's amazing.

Michael Fourre


I was pleasantly surprised to read about wrestling in India in the 2/21 Observer. Back in the mid-80s, my grandfather had come over from India and used to make fun of American wrestling and tell me about the great Bhola Gladi. He was part of many of the great crowds Matmania mentioned. Bhola, who was deaf, which is what his name means, was known to toy with an opponent and put him away when he felt like it, and occasionally had to be pulled off a brutalized opponent. Most of these matches were held at carnivals and festivals and fought on dirt and grass. I had been reasonably sure the matches were shoots until I thought about the last two points. Is there any way you could verify whether the matches were worked or not? Also, two other wrestlers my grandfather mentioned were Gama Singh and Dara Singh, who is now an Indian film star. I remember seeing a picture of Dara Singh in an Apter-mag, so do you know how much he worked in North America or Japan?

J.S. Dhillon

Sacramento, California

DM: I never heard of Dara Singh wrestling in North America or Mexico, but he was a huge star for years in Europe. I don't know enough about wrestling in India in particular, but do know the pro matches were works long before the 60s.


While I agree I have a limited knowledge of pro wrestling from the 50s on, I feel my knowledge of Frank Gotch and his career is not so limited. I've studied Gotch's career for 30 years. Twice I've been in the very room where he died, and have read his personal scrapbooks, kept by his wife, Gladys. At the time I read them in 1980, I was told I was the first person to look at them for any length of time in more than 30 years. They are a treasure trove of information about the inner workings of pro wrestling for one willing to spend the time to mine the gems. In addition, I talked at length in 1980 with an attorney who knew Gotch fairly well and have talked with Phyllis Moffit, who is the offspring of Gladys and her second husband.

Gotch maintained throughout his career, and in correspondence I found in his scrapbook, that he never worked a match. He admitted to carrying foes, but I've seen amateurs do that. He was a man of fierce pride and truly felt he could whip any man in a no-holds-barred fight. In my estimation after 30 years of researching him, I'm convinced he would never throw a match to Fred Beell or anyone else for money. Money didn't mean very much to him. He made so much of it in Alaska that it was never much of a consideration to him afterwards. Not that he wasn't a tough bargainer. He felt he earned the right to be paid very well for his wrestling, but it was pride that motivated him, not the lure of more money. This fact alone separates him from many great athletes I've known who did everything with an eye on how much they would be paid.

Like most great athletes, Gotch had a strong ego. I saw evidence of it over and over in his personal writings. It also convinced me he would never throw a match, or agree to lose a fall as with your assertion regarding the second Hackenschmidt match. You used the Gotch-Beell match as an obvious example of a worked title match. The New York Daily News reporter and I were talking about world title, and the Gotch-Beell match was for the American title.

Second, you wrote that "anyone with any working knowledge of pro wrestling can see through the Gotch loss to Fred Beell as a worked finish." How do you know Gotch didn't injure himself in a freak mishap during the match. Just because it looked like a worked finish doesn't mean that it was. Strange things happen in sports. Dan Gable won 181 straight matches over seven years, then lost to Larry Owings 13-11. Not only did Owings never even win another NCAA title, but in their other two matches, Gable won easily. Does that mean the loss was a work. Kevin Randleman was knocked out while warming up for his recent UFC fight. Talk about strange. That's a lot stranger than Gotch hitting his head on a ringpost.

If Gotch threw the match to Beell, why didn't he ever throw another match over the next eight years? In fact, he never lost another fall. Why not? If it worked in 1906, why not do it again? Why not at least let someone win a fall. Gotch really liked and respected Mahmout, but chose to demolish him. Why not let him win a fall to build the possibility of a lucrative rematch? What evidence do you have that Gotch threw the match to Beell, other than the strange finish and comments passed on by pro wrestlers years ago? Why did Gotch beat Beell so handily in their next six rematches. Why not keep it competitive?

Please give me evidence Gotch double-crossed Hackenschmidt or that Ad Santel injured him. What are your sources besides gossip of wrestlers fourth or fifth hand? I believe Jack Curley started all these rumors to build up the gate. After Hackenschmidt lost to Gotch the first time, Hackenschmidt was quoted as saying Gotch was the best man he'd ever seen and he could never beat him. Why did he change his tune when he got back overseas? Because Curley convinced him to start accusing Gotch of wrestling dirty so they could have a rematch and make a lot of money. Curley worked on Hackenschmidt until he thought he had a chance. When he was in the U.S. he realized he had no chance, that Gotch was training with a vengeance and he was going to get beaten badly. Did he hurt his knee? Sure. Did Santel do it? How could a virtual unknown get into camp and work with a star like Hackenschmidt? Why is there no mention of this over the next 50 years. Both Hackenschmidt and Ben Roller claimed they heard Hackenschmidt's knee pop while they were working out. Are they both lying? For what reason? Roller said that Hackenschmidt's knee was hurt, but not bad enough to stop a game man. Many great athletes have competed with injuries similar to Hackenschmidt's. The knee wasn't the problem. Hackenschmidt was scared of Gotch. Where is your evidence Gotch agreed to give Hackenschmidt a fall? It goes against Gotch's temperament. That rumor was probably started by Curley, too. He had beaten Hack fairly easy the first time and had greatly improved. Why would he be nervous about losing? What kind of a man do you think Gotch was that he would be so unsure of victory he'd cheat to get it. He would never, in my estimation, want to wan in any way other than a straight shoot.

Here is what Ed Lewis said in Sports Magazine in 1960 about the 1925 match with Munn and its impact: "I guess you can date the end of wrestling as I knew it from that January match with Big Munn in Kansas City. It opened up the flood gates to the flying tackles and anything except what I learned in Evan Lewis' book." That's pretty good evidence you can trace the real changes in pro wrestling to 1925 and I think Ed Lewis qualifies as a good source.

No one can convince me that Joe Stecher vs. Earl Caddock matches weren't legit. Stecher was really upset about losing in 1915 in Omaha to Caddock. I talked with Earl's sons in person for about six hours one day and they told me a fascinating story about their dad and his relationship with Stecher and how Earl walked the streets of New York late one night by himself trying to decide what to do after receiving a huge offer to throw the 1920 match with Stecher. The Caddocks are devout Christians who I feel are incapable of lying, and the story they told me convinces me both Caddock vs. Stecher matches were pure shoots.

What sources do you have better to say all title matches past 1915 were works or that Earl Caddock was lying to his sons? You have to study the character of the men involved in order to understand what was happening back then.

I don't think there is any hard evidence that Santel was even in Hackenschmidt's camp, let alone responsible for the injury. There is no evidence to suggest Gotch threw the first Beell match. Maybe I don't know a lot about pro wrestling after 1940 except for what Lou Thesz tells me, but I think I know quite a bit about it during the Gotch era, maybe more than some so-called experts who have never looked into the character of the men who ere the main players of the era.

Mike Chapman

Newton, Iowa

DM: Regarding Gotch vs. Hackenschmidt II, all stories from that time are pretty consistent with the exception of how Hackenschmidt was hurt, but not who did it. At the time, Roller was a huge name and most sources at the time claimed the injury was from Roller. It would save face for everyone he was training with a big name and popped a knee (which was a serious enough injury that Hack never fully recovered and was never able to lift anywhere near the same weights with the lower body after the injury) as opposed to a complete unknown to the general public double-crossed him as Santel, a primary source, claimed to Lou Thesz, and if he was paid to do so to insure a victory whether it was by Gotch himself or the promoters who clearly were, like promoters today, out to manipulate things, that's not exactly a story that pro wrestling would want to hit the newspapers and parade about to the public. But it's well known Hackenschmidt had after the injury wanted to pull out of the match and the promoters convinced him not to because the advance was so strong. Gotch himself may never have told Hackenschmidt he was going to give up the fall and never have agreed to do it, but the promoters told Hackenschmidt that he was also injured, with a bad neck, and had agreed to let him save face as a way to keep him from leaving. When he got in the ring, Gotch was healthy and the match was a straight one-sided shoot, which left a bad taste in the mouth of the public and killed Chicago wrestling for some time. The first case in New York, which involved some sort of legal action in 1915, that was covered in the New York Times as the first proof that pro wrestling was worked, regarded a tournament in Madison Square Garden where it came out that every match in the tournament was a work and virtually all of pro wrestling by that point in time was.


I read "The Rock Says" and wasn't as impressed with it as "Have a Nice Day." Even if I didn't know about the inaccuracies dating back to childhood, the book would have driven me crazy when it went from the biography to the in character and back to the biography. The book would have been a lot better if he stayed out of character. It made you question everything in the book the way he jumped back and forth. The funniest part of the book I thought, and I laughed out loud, was when Rock was auditioning for Pat Patterson, and his wife thought it was real and was screaming to stop and Rock said they still have it on tape at home.

Regarding the Man of the Century, I disagree with the letter dismissing Ric Flair as a true world champion. As you and I know, that isn't true. In Ric Flair's heyday, he was a true world champion. He went from territory to territory fighting the top contenders and went to many different countries and the title was very different from the WCW title today. Flair was a true touring world champion and a drawing card. For longevity at the top and true wrestling ability, Flair is right at the top and one of my all-time favorites. I don't know if I'd vote for him as the most important wrestler of the century. There was a comment about if Flair hadn't been there that someone else would have come along. The same could be said about anyone, Thesz, Rikidozan, El Santo or Hogan. It's all about fate and being in the right place at the right time.

Grant Zwarych

Peterborough, Ontario

Continued from page 14. lawsuit against WWFE in Kansas City is February 1, 2001 and the trial is expected to last six weeks

The WWF Times Square Restaurant is expected to turn into a late-night early-morning night club on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. It was pretty obvious to anyone who has been at the club of late that it was designed for this, but the night club format is expected to debut within the month. To appeal to non-wrestling fans, the night club part of the Restaurant is expected to tone down its WWF tie-in. Aside from a WWF logo on the carpets, there will be no WWF memorabilia. The Restaurant is usually packed on Mondays and Thursdays with people watching the TV shows so the feeling is there is a built-in audience already there. According to a New York Post story, the restaurant has been successful during special events and for lunch and dinner during periods when school is out, it has not done well during late night hours even though as many as 10,000 people an hour walk by the place due to its Time Square location. The adjacent retail store for WWF merchandise is apparently doing tremendous business, with them predicting $10 million in sales at the location during the year. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has publicly come out against the new club because the WWF was going to open it up to 18-year-olds. New York Magazine claimed Giuliani's people have warned the WWF that at the first sign of bad behavior, "we're going to bust you from A to Z and back again.

. WWF attorney Jerry McDevitt wrote a blistering letter to both defense attorney Jim Lewis and the mother of Lionel Tate, the accused 12-year-old murderer, for courting national media attention in their case of Lionel Tate's alleged murder of six-year-old Tiffany Eunick in South Florida in which Dwayne Johnson was subpoenaed to testify. McDevitt, according to an article in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, wrote "Your statements and associated innuendo that either the WWF, Dwayne Johnson, or both, have some causative role with and to the brutal murder committed by your client are false." Tate's mother was babysitting at the time or the beating, but was laying down upstairs. McDevitt wrote, "Nobody need look any further than the actions of your client and his mother to understand why Tiffany died that day." Lewis responded, "If the WWF doesn't like the media exposure of children being hurt or killed by other children imitating professional wrestling, do not blame me. Blame your shameless marketing of violence to children." The WWF has now threatened to sue Lewis in order to keep Johnson from testifying, who received a second subpoena to appear in court on 4/6. At the WCW Uncensored PPV in Miami, both Terry Bollea and Steve Borden were subpoenaed as well for appearances on 4/7. Lewis said, "I want Hulk to provide the jury with a historical perspective of pro wrestling, on how pro wrestling became increasingly violent and how it caters to kids. And Sting is important because he shot a Sprite commercial where he is shown grabbing a kid, sending him through a window and rattling his head on a fireplace mantel.

TSN in Canada has asked for a public hearing in order to soften the regulations for gender portrayal and depiction of violence, in particular because the p.r. department at TSN gets flooded every Tuesday with complaints about what the network edits off Raw, and it became a big issue when the entire segment where Mae Young was put through the table didn't air. In other Canadian news, Headline Sports, a Canadian cable station, is attempting to get its license changed to give them the ability to carry live events as a way to carry Smackdown, which doesn't air in Canada. Carl DeMarco of WWF Canada has been shopping the show around. TSN turned it down feeling it has too much wrestling product already and CTV wasn't interested

WWF the Music Vol. 4 was down to No. 145 selling 10,828 units. It should drop greatly with the promotional push behind the new Armageddon CD which was released on 3/21

The T&A idea for Trish Stratus was hardly the first idea they had for her, as among the ideas were for her to play a porn star and be affiliated with Val Venis, which she didn't like

On the Rec Sports home video charts in the 3/25 Billboard Magazine, the Rock video moved ahead of Super Bowl 34 after the Super Bowl had the top spot in the charts for the previous two weeks. WWF occupied spots three through 13 with Austin vs. McMahon, Best of Raw, Austin, HHH & Chyna, Women of WWF, King of the Ring 1998, Wrestlemania 15, Best of Wrestlemania 1-14, Armageddon, Foley and DX. WCW had only one video, Sting at No. 14, making the top 20

3rd Rock from the Sun on 3/14 featuring Chyna did a 5.9 rating and 9.6 share. That's actually down from the season average of 6.6/10, and this was a project pushed hard on WWF television. I think at this point it's pretty clear that the top "A" list, which means Rock and Austin and I don't think anyone else, can probably help ratings for a network show, but few if any others mean squat

Dwayne Johnson was on the "Today" show on 3/17 to promote the Saturday Night Live appearance

Bob Backlund's treasurer and campaign manager on 3/16 publicly denied

reports he was dropping out of the race for Congress, claiming they are opening up an office for him in East Hartford, NY. The story broke on a pro wrestling web site by a reporter using a fictitious name, and was repeated on numerous other sites. In a story in the 3/17 Manchester, CT Journal-Inquirer, it did note that about $35,000 of the $38,874 Backlund had raised as of 12/31 was not itemized. His treasurer, Joseph A. Batista said he maintains a list of 4,000 donors and that those who buy pro wrestling merchandise to fund the campaign are asked to sign a piece of paper or fill out a card and claims they check the lists to make sure nobody exceeds the $200 limit where they have to be listed on the quarterly report they have to publicly file

The WCW Classic show airing on Sky in the United Kingdom on 3/13 featured a match with Satoru Sayama

Variety on 3/20 had a feature on Dwayne Johnson making his big-screen debut as a villain in "Mummy 2," which begins filming in May in England. The movie would keep him out of the country for much of May and June, which means WWF would probably want to re-introduce Steve Austin and/or Undertaker on the late April PPV for them to be on the road and on TV to pick up the slack. It also may be used either as a reason for Rock to not win the title at Mania as originally planned, or for it to be a short-term title win if he does

Amy Dumas (Lita) suffered a severe concussion, dizziness, some double vision and an injured shoulder from the power bomb on the floor by Eddy Guerrero on Raw on 3/13 but she still worked short matches on the road against Jacqueline over the weekend

The Micasa web site reported that the "Intelligence, Integrity, Intensity" 3-I's were actually taken from an episode of the old TV series "Family Ties.

Smackdown tapings on 3/14 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY drew a sellout 10,259 paying $318,297. House show on 3/18 in Cedar Falls, IA drew 10,780 paying $313,870 and 3/19 in Moline, IL drew 9,497 paying $263,018. Merchandise over the past week at the arenas totalled $287,370 or $6.52 per head. Rock, HHH and Big Show had the weekend off because they did Saturday Night Live so they used Kane over X-Pac as the main event.